Top reasons to visit the Highlands of Scotland
Living in Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands are almost on my doorstep and I visit this area frequently, especially to hike. Whatever the season, the views of mountains, hills, lochs, glens and coast are often stunningly beautiful.
I am fortunate to live so close to this world class destination. Here, I reveal some of the reasons why I would encourage others to visit the Highlands of Scotland, perhaps booking a trip with a luxury Scottish tour operator or simply crating your own bespoke itinerary.
Many reasons to visit the Scottish Highlands
For fabulous scenery
The landscapes are a huge attraction. The vast Highlands region of Scotland is low on population but high on gorgeous empty places, well, except for the sheep, Highland cows and wild goats perhaps!
From the UK’s highest mountains to glorious glens, through vast forests, along the shores of lochs and winding rivers and to a long and dramatic coastline, wherever you go there is a great deal to see.
I advise you get out of your vehicle to discover some the best places to walk surrounded by a small chunk of this wonderful scenery.
A wonder world of whisky
Scotland is renowned for its whisky and the Highlands offers a multitude of places to discover how it is made and the wide variety of tastes.
With such a huge choice of whisky distilleries to visit, from Talisker on the Isle of Skye to the many distilleries on the Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside and plenty more in between, I recommend you pick a few and focus on them perhaps visiting one each day for a few days.
You’ll enjoy learning about the traditions and craftsmanship of the production of many famous single malts – and some lesser known – while also savouring a dram or two.
Remember, too, that many hotels have a great whisky selection in the bar and bar tenders are often knowledgeable about the tastes of the spirit so you could ask for recommendations for an evening dram.
A growing world of gin
Scotland has become a hotbed of creation, invention and innovation in the increasingly popular world of gin making. The nation even has a Gin Map, so you can choose a few gin distilleries to visit.
Scotland has a wealth of delicious naturally growing botanicals that are frequently utilised for making some very tasty gins.
Coast and islands
While the mountains and moorlands, with plentiful lochs, are what many visitors imagine the Highlands to offer, the area also boasts a long coastline and many islands. The coast boasts long inlets of fjord like sea lochs, high cliffs, sandy beaches and pretty coves.
Some of the islands include Skye, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. They are all served by a regular schedule of ferries or planes and each has a unique atmosphere and scenery It is difficult to choose the best island, so I suggest you take your time to island hop and visit a few over one holiday in Scotland.
The coast of Scotland is also famous for wildlife spotting including dolphins, porpoise, seals and, if you are lucky, whales and sometimes basking sharks.
Capital of the Highlands
The city of Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and it is going through an exciting renaissance period. There are plenty of accommodation providers, as well as good quality restaurants and cafes to enjoy.
There are lots of other attractions, too, both in the city and very close by, such as the historic battlefield of Culloden, a Bronze Age chambered tomb and even a scale model of the Titanic. See things to see and do in Inverness.
Inverness is a great base for exploring the Highlands.
A spot of Nessie watching
The infamous Loch Ness Monster is said to reside in Loch Ness. The country’s deepest loch is a short drive from Inverness. You can take a boat trip on the dark waters of the loch and also visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle, spectacularly located on the shore of the loch.
There’s also the Loch Ness Centre, which has a permanent exhibition and, apparently, offers proof of the existence of Nessie.
The North Coast 500
Acclaimed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the NC500 route offers a 500-mile driving circuit of the north-west Highlands, starting and finishing in Inverness.
Life is more relaxed in the Highlands compared to the rest of the UK and people usually have time to chat, share tips about places to go and perhaps even share a dram with you in a pub. Take the time to stop to talk to local people and you may well be charmed.
Music and dancing
If you get the chance to join a ceilidh evening – a night of traditional Scottish music and dancing – or hear the bagpipes being played at full volume (hopefully outside!), then do. The Highlands is a hotbed of musical talent and you will come away with a huge smile on your face.
Most people find that one trip to the Scottish Highlands is never long enough – so they pledge to com again, and again.