Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries in the world and is well worth a visit at any time of year. We’ve put together our travel tips of what to see in the Northern Scottish Highlands, to help you get the most out of your trip.

What to See in the Scottish Highlands

From the world renowned Loch Ness, to Urquhart Castle and lesser known sights such as Glen Strathfarrar and Plodda Falls, there’s lots to see in the Scottish Highlands. We recommend spending at least a week if you can, and hiring a car to get around.

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1. Arrochar

This charming village in the West Highlands is nestled on the banks of Loch Long. Close to the Arrochar Alps, it’s popular with mountaineers and hikers.

You can easily access Argyll Forest Park from here. Claymore Hotel was formerly known as Arrochar House and was the seat of the MacFarlane clan.

Arrochar village in the West Highlands, Scotland

2. Beauly

Meaning “beautiful place”, this little town takes its name from Mary Queen of Scots’ reaction when she stayed here in the sixteenth century, “C’est un beau lieu”. Beauly is located next to the River Beauly, one of Scotland’s most well know salmon fishing streams.

What to See in the Scottish Highlands - Beauly Priory
Beauly Priory

This lovely Scottish town is a 20 minute drive from Inverness. Beauly Priory was founded in 1230 and the burial ground for the chiefs of Clan Lovat, the Frasers.

There are some charming gift shops and cafés, including The Old School House, plus an award winning deli. If you’re here in the Summer, make sure to check out the Pipe Band who perform in the square every Thursday evening.

Beauly Old School House in Scotland

3. Dog Sledding in the Scottish Highlands

There are lots of interesting activities in the Highlands including walking and fishing but our favourite has to be dog sledding.

Dog sledding in the Scottish Highlands is great fun

4. Glen Afric

A “glen” in Scotland is a valley, generally a deep, narrow one and sometimes with a watercourse running through it. One of the most scenic of these is Glen Affric, immortalized in the Monarch of the Glen, painted by Landseer. It still looks like something from a painting these days.

Scottish sheep

Stretching for 30 miles, it’s situated within the Highlands National Nature Reserve and a beautiful place for a hike, bike or drive.

A lake near to Plodda Falls, Scotland

5. Plodda Falls

Also located within the Highlands National Nature Reserve, Plodda Falls near the village of Tomich are 46 metres high. They’re one of the best hidden gems in Scotland. To reach the falls, you first walk through a stunning forest before arriving at the viewing platform.

Plodda Falls review

This Highlands waterfall is quite a hidden gem so unless it’s the weekend you may well get the place to yourselves.

Plodda Falls viewing platform

Take in the view to the rocks below. If you have the time and energy, there’s a path that leads all the way to the bottom.

Plodda Falls waterfall

7. Golden Retriever Statue

On the way back from Plodda Falls at Tomich, there’s a statue celebrating the golden retriever. The breed was created on this estate in the 1800s by landowner Dudley Marjoribanks, known as Lord Tweedmouth. He crossed a Tweed water spaniel with a wavy-coated retriever, and the golden retriever was born.

The Golden Retriever

8. Glen Strathfarrar

Rivalling Glen Affric in beauty is Glen Strathfarrar, an exceptional valley that many consider to be the most majestic in Scotland. What makes it exceptional is that the road into the Glen is private.  Access to motor vehicles is restricted so it is relatively traffic free, although you might find some sheep creating a jam 😉

Highlands sheep | Scotland | Scottish Highlands

The River Farrar flows for 12 miles before converging with the River Glass to form the River Beauly. It’s well known for its salmon and trout fishing.

Glen Affric Scottish Highlands

9. Monar Dam

Towards the end of the Glen Strathfarrar route, you come to the Monar Dam, the largest arch dam in Britain.

A scenic hydro station in the Scottish Highlands

You’ll  definitely feel like you have stumbled on the set of Skyfall, it is so remote and the only thing that is missing is a Bond villain.

Hydro dam Scotland

10. Loch Ness

No visit to the Highlands would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Famed the world over for the elusive Loch Ness monster, it’s a must see. We started at the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, a surprisingly scientific investigation into the mystery of Nessie. Whilst it leaves you to make up your own mind, it does debunk some of the hoaxes.

Loch Ness exhibition Scotland

Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area, but the largest in volume in Great Britain thanks to its great depth. I wonder what that black dot is on the lower left of this photo…could it be Nessie…or a powerboat 😉

Loch Ness Nessie

11. Urquhart Castle

Scotland’s second most visited tourist attraction after Edinburgh Castle is an impressive sight, located on the banks of Loch Ness. Dating from the 13th to 16th century, it has fabulous views from the Grant Tower battlements.

Once one of the largest castles in Scotland, Urquhart was fought over by the English and Scottish from the 14th to the 17th century.

Urquhart Castle Scotland

12. Glenfinnan Viaduct

Immortalized in the Harry Potter movies, Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of the most photographed landmarks in the Scottish Highlands. The viaduct has 21 arches and overlooks Loch Shiel.

The Jacobite Steam Train, run by West Coast Railways, passes over the viaduct on its way to Mallaig. In the Harry Potter films, it’s known as the Hogwarts Express.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Scotland features in the Harry Potter films
Glenfinnan Viaduct features in the Harry Potter films

Lunch in the Scottish Highlands

Fiddler’s is a well known restaurant serving up delicious local specialties, a stone’s throw away from Loch Ness.

The Fiddler's restaurant Scotland

They have an award winning malt whisky bar with a huge selection of whiskys.

Dramnesty International and the Worldwide Whisky Web

Where to Stay in the Scottish Highlands

All of these attractions are located within 30 minutes of Eagle Brae, a collection of luxury log cabins that’s the perfect base for exploring the Highlands in style. After your visit to the Northern Highlands, Gleneagles in Perthshire is a good option as part of a road trip to Edinburgh.

An amazing log cabin at Eagle Brae in the Scottish Highlands

Are you planning on visiting the Scottish Highlands? If you have already been, what was your favorite spot?

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Read all our Scotland travel features here.

What to See in the Scottish Highlands

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73 thoughts on “What to See in the Scottish Highlands: 8 Great Scottish Highlands Places”

  1. I have been to Scotland but only to Edin and Glasgow… I know in my heart that I have to go back one day so that I can see beautiful untouched parts like this.

    www.LUXESSED.com

  2. Wow such a unique and beautiful place! I want to visit it some day, but may be first stop is England. The nature is peaceful! Love that place!

    xx

    cvetybaby.com

  3. The Highlands look absolutely gorgeous! I’d love to visit and explore everything you’ve mentioned someday!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

  4. Tanja / The red phone box trav

    Gorgeous scenery! great pics! Love the coat, I too have a red coat but it’s different!:)

  5. I haven’t had a chance to visit Highlands yet however probably next year I will be doing that. Scotland is a beautiful place and there are so much to see! These photos are great!

    www.elabellaworld.com

    1. It’s a huge country, I’d have loved more time to go to the coast but it’s amazing how much you can cram into a weekend

  6. Suzanne Jones - Travelbunny

    Scotland really does deserve more of my attention – some beautiful photography in this post Suze 🙂

  7. The Scottish Highlands have been on my list for the longest of times – there’s something so Downton-Abbey-holiday special / Amanda Brooks-y about them that I’ve always been drawn to. This post is quite helpful and bookmarked for when I finally go!
    Sophia
    http://plaidismyfavouritecolour.blogspot.com/

    1. Yes there’s a really retro vibe that I love, having said that there are all the mod cons like high speed wifi too

  8. Kathleen Buytaert

    I loved this post. The highlands are on our to do list… Don’t know when we could ever visit, but I hope that we will be able to one day… What a beautiful place! Love, Kathleen

    1. I do hope that you get the chance to visit, Kathleen – they’re so easy to get to from Inverness yet you feel like you are a world away from anywhere once you’re there!

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  11. The highlands look so picturesque! I am really keen to visit sometime 🙂 I would love to try dog sledding too!

    Ash | Liakada

  12. Gorgeous! Your post really makes me want to visit the Highlands. I’m interested in the dog sledding too. I had no idea this was an option there!

  13. These pics are simply amazing! I really like your blog 🙂

    xoxo

    https://voxofvanity.wordpress.com/

  14. oh wow beautiful photos! and great recommendations! I am dying to visit Scotland one day so I will be keeping this post in mind! thanks for sharing!

    lifeisashoe

  15. I really want to visit Scotland, and Ireland and Wales, there’s so many beautiful places to see in the UK!

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

  16. to spend time close to nature is my drea. I love all of your photos and the nature all around.
    xxx
    mari
    www.ilovegreeninspiration.com

  17. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Oh I’d just love to see the Scottish highlands, those views of the lakes are utterly breathtaking – so underrated by so many British travellers as a destination (myself included). A road trip through these highlands would be such a perfect way to recharge the batteries and get in some fresh air and nice walks.

  18. Some great choices and lovely photos. I never knew the golden retriever was from the highlands and that waterfall looks stunning

    1. I didn’t either, we stumbled upon that by chance – the waterfall was lovely and so peaceful

  19. Wow! The scenery is breathtaking and so are your pictures. I would love to visit once!

    Love, Layla Rosita

  20. footnotes and finds

    wow, such beautiful photos and landscapes! definitely got to go there one day!

    http://www.footnotesandfinds.com

    1. Yes I found that fascinating about the golden retrievers, they’re one of my favourite breeds of dog

  21. Breathtaking pictures, Scotland is so beautiful. I would love to tour Scotland so many hidden gems, wonderful scenery and wildlife Lucy x

    1. You’re right Lucy, it has lots of hidden gems and is a lot easier to get to than I’d imagined

  22. Kia / house of KTS

    Of course I’d love to see the Scottish Highlands :). And I am so happy you posted this today. I really love serene places and this seems like one of them. I am so loving everything about the highlands, simply beautiful.

    Kia / KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

    1. It was so great to unwind and take in that scenery, see the deer and the dogs. I can see why people fall in love with the place!

  23. It all looks great (the gorgeous greenery!) but if I’m honest what I most like is your coat xxx

    crossinglemons.com

  24. I have just added the Northern Scottish Highlands to the list of places I have to visit. Really beautiful!

    Danielle
    www.spring2spring.com

  25. OMG Amazing Colors!!!!! Beautifull Place….

    How to survive the Mother Law

    Follow my Fashion history on snapchat: @FrancyGFashionBlog

  26. I love Scotland, and your photos really do it justice! So beautiful. Looks like you had such a fun time. I’m looking forward to the dog sledding post 🙂

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

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