Stumbling across natural beauty in Scotland isn’t exactly difficult. With a population of just over five million, much of the country’s area is given over to expansive stretches of rugged countryside punctuated by soaring peaks, vast lochs and evergreen forests. Even in the cities, you’re never far away from nature here. For example, in Edinburgh, a walk up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano in the heart of the city – makes for a popular escape from urban life for locals and visitors alike.
But if you really want to experience Scotland’s natural wonders at their most undisturbed, it’s worth making your way to some more remote locations. We can create a custom-made Scotland tour for you taking in some of the greatest highlights of the Sottish landscape. And the best part? There’s a good chance you’ll have at least some of them completely to yourself.
Read on for some inspiration – and the natural treasures below are just the beginning.
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
Although their existence is certainly no secret, the Fairy Pools get less tourist traffic than many mainland natural attractions, since visiting them involves a journey to the Isle of Skye. The pools are famous for their extraordinary clarity and their bright blue-green tinge, especially apparent on sunny days. They’re a gift to photographers and wild swimmers alike – although keep in mind that water temperatures in Scotland are never very high, so if you’re planning to take the plunge, it’s a good idea to bring a wetsuit!
The pools take their name from the wealth of folk legends that surrounds them. In the past, they’ve been thought to be the home not only of fairies, but of selkies – a mythical Scottish being that switches between seal and human forms.
Neist Point, Isle of Skye
Skye is a treasure trove of natural gems, so we’ll limit ourselves to just two for this list. But Neist Point just had to have a mention. In the west of the island, a coastal walk with dramatic sea views culminates in the most dramatic view of all: that of Neist Point Lighthouse, perched on a clifftop. The walk itself if likely to take you around 45 minutes, but once you reach the tip of the point, you can spend a lot of time exploring the rocks that make this such a scenic spot too. Get your timing just right during the summer and you might be lucky enough to arrive as a whale or a basking shark makes its way through the waters below.
The Beaches of Iona
It’s certainly got a lot of competition, but the tiny island of Iona has to be among the most stunning destinations in Scotland. With a population of only around 120 people and access involving a ferry trip to Mull and then another one out to the island, the little island never feels crowded, and you’ll often find its beautiful beaches completely empty. Of particular note is Port Bàn, a gorgeous white-sand cove lapped by turquoise waters. When the sun comes out, it could easily be mistaken for a Mediterranean beach rather than a Scottish one.
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Lewis and Harris
Luskentyre Beach, Harris
Lewis and Harris are the two parts of a tranquil island that lies off the northwest coast of Scotland, in the archipelago known as the Hebrides. As with Iona, getting here takes some effort – but the rewards for those who make the journey are rich. While the interior of the island offers ample opportunity for almost unbelievably picturesque walks, the beaches are the highlight for many – with Luskentyre Beach in Harris being the star of the show. This pure white strand has to be one of the top beauty spots not only on the island but in the entire country.
Seeing The Northern Lights in Scotland
The Northern Lights, seen from Scotland
Whether the Northern Lights are hidden gems or not is up for debate. In theory they, can be seen in many parts of Scotland; but in truth, most Scottish people will never see them here, never mind visitors to the country. In order to maximize your chances of taking in this spectacular natural show, you need to plan your visit for winter, and head as far north as you can. The remote archipelago of Shetland, off the northeast coast of the country, is widely regarded as one of the best places to spot the lights, with its northerly location and lack of light pollution adding to the chances of visibility. But the lights can sometimes be seen in the Hebrides, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Caithness, in the north of Skye and in other rural locations besides.