Top 10 Things to Do in Scotland
Planning your perfect Scotland staycation? We've listed ten things that have to make it onto your bucket list!
1. Adventure to Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle started out as a rather dull and unremarkable fortified tower house. Around 1775 the Earl of Cassilis commissioned architect Robert Adam to transform Culzean from a dowdy fortress to a grand, romantic and fashionable castle.
The work to transform Culzean into a mansion of sumptuous proportions and elegance began in 1777 and lasted almost 20 years. The Kennedy family spared little expense in the decoration and craftsmanship of their clifftop home. Culzean was gifted to the nation and fully restored in the 1970s.
Its grounds became Scotland’s first public country park in 1969. It’s a castle of such fantastic grandeur and beauty that it must be seen to be appreciated.
2. Stroll around Benmore Botanic Garden
For the green-fingered nature lovers, who are looking for things to do in Argyll, a stroll around the Benmore Botanic Garden should do just the trick!
Set amongst stunning mountains and located just seven miles north of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula, Benmore Botanic Garden is a magnificent mountainside paradise.
At the gateway of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park the garden is made up of 120 acres of stunning and varied flora and fauna. You’ll see plants from the Orient and the Himalayas, trees and shrubs from North and South America and also an impressive 300 species of rhododendrons.
You arrive at Benmore through an avenue of 150-year-old giant redwoods. This striking entrance is only matched by the glorious interior of the garden. There’s a serene pond, from which visitors can climb through exotic plantings to a dramatic viewpoint at 450 ft. At this viewpoint it is possible to see Holy Loch 2 miles south, and the tops of neighbouring mountains.
3. Visit Shetland’s very own St Ninian’s Isle
If your perfect holiday involved white sand and crystal blue seas, you don’t need to go all the way to Barbados. In fact, you’d be forgiven in mistaking St Ninian’s Isle for somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Linked to the mainland by a natural sand causeway with sea on either side, St Ninian’s Isle never fails to capture the heart of holiday makers. This beautiful strip of land is secluded but easily accessible by plane or ferry. Whilst it might look like a tropical paradise, the sea temperature tells a different story. If you’re a thrill-seeker and don’t mind the cold you might even fancy a quick (probably very quick) dip in the shallow waters of the UK’s most northerly islands.
4. Get a culture top-up from the National Gallery of Scotland
Even before you enter the National Gallery of Scotland, the neoclassical building will catch your eye. Depending on who you ask, the gallery is often referred to as the one of the finest smaller galleries in the world.
The National Gallery of Scotland is home to works by the greatest names in Western art: Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, El Greco , Rubens and Monet, to name but a few. There’s also plenty of Scottish masterpieces to keep any any museum goer captivated.
5. Fish in Loch Awe
Loch Awe is the longest loch in Scotland and the fifth largest by volume. It’s 25 miles long and at its widest point it’s a mile wide.
Set in spectacular scenery, Loch Awe is the perfect setting for visiting anglers from all walks of life. The loch can be used for both wild trout and coarse fishing. More experienced anglers might attempt to catch Loch Awe’s large predatory ferox trout or pike.The loch also currently holds the British record Brown trout of 31lb 12oz which was caught in 2001. A record just waiting to be broken!
The trout fishing season on Loch Awe runs from March 15th to mid October. The best fly fishing for wild brown trout is to be had during the first few months of the season before fish move into deeper water and at the back end of the season when the fish move back into shallower water. Trolling for Ferox trout is a very successful and popular fishing method used on Loch Awe.
Even if you’re not especially interested in fishing, Loch Awe is still a simply stunning destination to add to your list of things to see in Scotland.
6. Visit Edinburgh Castle
Dominating the Edinburgh skyline as it has done for more than 800 years, this castle is both a national icon and the country’s most popular visitor attraction.
The site has been the “UK’s favourite heritage attraction” winner multiple years. Din Eidyn, or “the stronghold of Eidyn”, from which Edinburgh takes its name, was the vital possession in Scotland’s wars. The castle is drenched in historic interest, with roles across the centuries varying from royal palace, barracks, prison and parliament. It is now home to the Scottish crown jewels and the fabled Stone of Destiny.
This most famous of Scottish castles has a complex building history. The oldest part, St Margaret's Chapel, dates from the 12th century. The Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510, the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century, and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War.
7. Take a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre
This £75million millennium project is a great family attraction. It provides a fun and inspiring presentation of all things art and science and it is definitely one of our top things to do in Scotland.
One of the main attractions of the centre is the Science Mall. Here you’ll find a huge, titanium clad building housing three floors of hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and special-effect theatres. Just across from this is the world’s only revolving tower and an IMAX cinema projecting gigantic 3D films. A great rainy day activity!
Whether or not you’re particularly enamoured with science, you’ll be sure to find something to delight you at the Glasgow Science Centre. There’s lots of activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained for hours. There are two acres of interactive exhibits, workshops, shows, activities, a planetarium and the IMAX cinema.
8. Visit the Helix and meet the Kelpies
The Helix is a parkland space providing activities such as cycling, walking, watersports and much more.
Located between Falkirk and Grangemouth and described as 'A place for everyone' there is plenty to do for all ages. As well as being a great centre for activities, the Helix is also famously home to The Kelpies, two 30-metre-high horse head sculptures were easy entries into our things to see in Scotland list.
The magnificent Kelpies are the world's largest equine sculptures. Designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott and completed in 2013, these sculptures are each made with 300 tonnes of structural steel and are monumental tributes to the horsepower heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland.
Even the name “Kelpies” comes from the mythical transforming beasts said to have the power of 10 horses representing the strength of Scottish industry.
9. See Loch Lomond from Duncryne Hill
Loch Lomond is the second iconic and beautiful Scottish loch to make it onto our list of must see attractions in Scotland.
There are countless viewpoints of this famous loch, but we believe (and we hope you’ll agree) that from Duncryne Hill is the best one. Duncryne Hill can be found to the South of Loch Lomond and offers a fantastic view of Scotland’s second largest loch. It’s a few minutes uphill walk, but it’s always worth the effort as Duncryne Hill at Gartocharn is a great place to see where the Highlands of Scotland start.
Even if the typical Highland rain is pouring and the clouds are low enough to obscure the view, you can always take refuge in the Loch Lomond shore shops in Balloch.
10. Hike and explore the Torridon peaks
Framing Loch Torridon in North-West Scotland are the diverse and exciting Torridon peaks. If hiking and mountaineering are your idea of a great getaway in Scotland then this is the spot for you!
The Torridon peaks offer some of the most glorious mountaineering experiences in highlands. The awe-inspiring glacial trench Glen Torridon runs between these magnificent peaks from Kinlochewe down to the coast. Here, the landscape changes completely as the great fjord of Loch Torridon is bordered by pinewoods and beautiful vistas.
The mountains are truly breathtaking to behold and as it’s only an hour and a half’s drive from Inverness it can be fairly easily accessed. There are three great mountain ranges to the north of Glen Torridon: Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. Each contains two Munros (peaks over 3000 feet) giving six in total to the north of the glen. To the south lie three further Munros, deep within the Coulin forest.
Experiencing Scotland to the Full
Excited to visit Scotland now? We don’t blame you, there is so much to see and do!
Of course, it's too much to experience in one day, so finding the perfect accommodation to go out and explore from is crucial. We have a number of holiday parks in the Argyll region which are lovely bases to really get to know Scotland. Find out which holiday park is perfect for you: