Author: Craig Neil
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Last updated on May 9th, 2023.12 minutes to read.
Scotland is a true paradise for photographers. From its rugged, untamed landscapes to its charming villages and historic towns, this country is brimming with opportunities to capture Instagram-worthy shots that demand to be shared with friends and family.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy taking photos as a hobby, Scotland has something to offer you wherever you go.
In the following list of places to photograph in Scotland, you’ll find endless inspiration from the incredible Highlands to the sublime west coast islands.
The best places to take photos in Scotland
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
As the capital of Scotland – and a city with over 1,000 years of history – it’s no surprise that there are literally hundreds of fascinating places that are worth photographing during a visit to ‘Auld Reekie’.
While you could spend all day with a camera just in Edinburgh Castle, for the best views in the city you have to make a short journey to Calton Hill which is widely regarded as one of the best Instagram spots in Edinburgh.
Situated a short distance from Princes Street Gardens (home of the architectural wonder, the Scott Monument), Calton Hill offers visitors a chance to escape the city centre and take in some of Edinburgh’s most breathtaking views.
From the top of this remarkable viewpoint you can see a collection of the city’s most famous landmarks including Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park and the iconic Holyrood Palace.
In the distance, the gentle slopes of the Pentland Hills lie to the south, while the rolling waves of the Firth of Forth can be seen in the opposite direction.
In addition to the sights of the city, Calton Hill is home to several photogenic monuments including the National Monument, the Nelson Monument, and the City Observatory.
Don’t miss this all-too-often-missed tourist attraction on your next trip to Edinburgh.
The Quiraing, Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is easily one of the best places to visit in Scotland, especially for visitors who love taking photos.
Not only are there unmissable natural wonders like the Fairy Pools and the Old Man of Storr, but there are also historic buildings such as Armadale Castle and attractive coastal villages like Portree.
However, for truly jaw-dropping scenery, nowhere beats the Quiraing.
Nestled on the northernmost summit of Trotternish, the Quiraing is a breathtaking area of natural beauty that was formed by a series of landslips thousands of years ago.
The result is a surreal landscape of mountainous peaks, rocky outcrops and hidden plateaus that make it one of the most photogenic wilderness areas in Scotland.
Your camera will go into overdrive as you explore the five-mile walking loop of the Quiraing, which takes approximately two to three hours to complete.
Along the way, you’ll come across some of the area’s most famous landmarks including The Needle (a 120-foot tall pinnacle), The Table (an enormous flat plateau), and The Prison (a rock outcrop that looks like a medieval fort).
Bay Of Skaill, Orkney
Step back in time and snap stunning shots at the Bay of Skaill in Orkney. This location is home to the famous Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old neolithic village uncovered in 1850 after a powerful storm blew away the dunes that had covered the ancient buildings for over 2,000 years.
The bay is situated to the north of the village of Skaill and to the south of the village of Birsay, and it’s known for its beautiful sandy beach as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site of Skara Brae.
During a visit, you’ll get a glimpse into the past and see what life was like in this ancient settlement while exploring the nine surviving neolithic houses that are complete with original furniture and artefacts including gaming dice and jewellery.
A visit to the Bay of Skaill is a must for anyone who wants to find ancient places to photograph in Scotland.
Fort William, Scottish Highlands
Nestled in the landscape of the Scottish Highlands, Fort William beckons photographers from near and far. Surrounded by stunning mountains and set on the banks of the picturesque Loch Linnhe, this charming town offers endless photo opportunities.
Hiking the Ben Nevis trails is a must for any photographer visiting Fort William. As the highest peak in the British Isles, Ben Nevis is a veritable playground for photographers thanks to the astonishing views at every twist and turn.
If you’d rather not climb Ben Nevis’ mountain peaks you’ll be pleased to know that Fort William is a wonderful tourist attraction in its own right thanks to Loch Linnhe which borders the town on its northern side.
The loch is a wonderful place for wildlife photographers as there are several tour boats that will take you out to watch seals, otters, and a variety of birds such as golden and white-tailed eagles.
In addition, there are many other places to visit in the surrounding area, from the historic Glenfinnan Viaduct (15 miles from Fort William) to the rugged beauty of Glencoe (17 miles from Fort William).
Glencoe is a village in the Highlands, located in the Lochaber area of Argyll and Bute which is famous for its dramatic landscape of rugged mountains, steep valleys, and winding rivers.
Glencoe is located in a glen (valley) of the same name, surrounded by the mountains of the Glencoe Massif which include Buachaille Etive Mòr, Bidean nam Bian, and Aonach Eagach.
Because the glen is surrounded by towering mountains and immersed in a tapestry of blue lochs and verdant forests, it offers endless opportunities to capture the stunning seasonal changes of the Scottish landscape – hence the reason it’s frequently voted one of the best photography locations in Scotland.
But Glencoe is more than just a feast for the senses – it’s also a haven for wildlife.
In the spring and summer months, herds of majestic red deer roam freely through the glen, providing the perfect subject for your lens. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot a golden eagle soaring overhead, its keen eyes scanning the hills and corries for prey.
Ullapool, Wester Ross
No photo tour of Scotland is complete without spending time in Wester Ross, a region in the Highlands that boasts some of the country’s most picturesque villages.
Strathcarron, Applecross, Torridon, and Gairloch are all great bases for exploring the area’s soaring mountain peaks and misty sea lochs, but none (in my opinion) compare to the charm of Ullapool.
Located on the northwest shore of Loch Broom and surrounded by a sweeping hill range, Ullapool is an ideal base for exploring the Highlands with a camera.
The city of Inverness is just 80 minutes away by car while the beautiful lochs of Maree and Ewe can be reached in the same amount of time to the south.
Loch Broom itself is a sight to behold, but it’s also an excellent jumping-off point for excursions to the Summer Isles, a group of mostly uninhabited islands known for their wild coastlines teeming with seabirds and marine life such as basking sharks, seals, and dolphins.
In addition to the tour boats departing from Ullapool there are also regular ferry sailings to the Isle of Lewis, so visitors have the opportunity to spend a few nights in the Outer Hebrides in between photo tours around the mainland.
For an adventure with your camera that’s within an easy 90-minute drive of Edinburgh, consider immersing yourself in the beauty of Perthshire, AKA ‘Big Tree Country’.
There are countless places to visit in this corner of Scotland from dramatic castles like Blair Castle to pretty forests like Faskally (home of the ever-popular Enchanted Forest event), but perhaps the highlight is exploring the county’s attractive towns and villages which include Pitlochry, situated on the banks of the River Tummel.
Pitlochry is a popular tourist destination that’s well known for its stunning natural surroundings with Tay Forest Park, Loch Tummel, and the sweeping vistas of Ben Vrackie all within a 20-minute drive of each other.
Must-see attractions in the town are the Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder and the Blair Athol Distillery, while nearby are the historic Edradour whisky distillery (dating back to 1825) and the Falls of Bruar – a hidden waterfall within a spectacular forest setting.
With so much to see and do, Perthshire is a must-visit destination for travellers seeking a true taste of the Scottish Highlands.
Bealach na Bà, Wester Ross
Nestled amongst the mountainous peaks of the Applecross peninsula in Wester Ross, the winding road of the Bealach na Bà beckons photographers and adventure seekers alike.
Well known for its steep and winding road – considered one of the most challenging drives in the UK – the pass has an elevation of 626 meters (2,053 feet) and is infamous for catching out unwary drivers due to its surprisingly steep gradients and tight hairpin bends.
Despite the challenges, this extremely popular driving route has been dubbed one of the most photographed roads in the country (no mean feat when it comes to Scotland) and is a paradise for shutterbugs looking for a picture-perfect backdrop.
As you traverse this twisting mountain road you’ll be treated to a range of landscapes from towering mountains to serene lochs, all with a backdrop of rolling hills blanketed in heather and gorse.
Those looking for an off-road adventure can park at the summit of the Bealach na Ba and follow a number of walking trails that wind their way across the surrounding peaks, the highlight of which has to be the mighty 896-metre Beinn Bhàn.
Isle of Arran
Nestled to the west of Glasgow in the Firth of Clyde, Arran is a gem waiting to be discovered by touring photographers.
At 167 square miles it’s one of Scotland’s larger islands and is often called “Scotland in miniature” thanks to its diverse landscape of hills, mountains, lochs, woodlands, and beaches.
The main village, Brodick, is a charming coastal settlement with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to keep visitors entertained for hours on end, but for a true taste of the island you’ll have to lace up your hiking boots and hit one of the many trails that crisscross it.
The ever-popular Goatfell mountain is a must-do for hikers and has incredible views from its summit, while easier walks can be found at Brodick Castle & Gardens and the Arran Coastal Way.
Photographers will find much to love on Arran with its ever-changing coastline and awe-inspiring mountain ranges and wildlife photographers, in particular, will love snapping away at red squirrels, red deer, golden eagles, seals, and even basking sharks.
Whether you’re a fan of photography, hiking, or water sports, the Isle of Arran has a little bit of something for everyone.
Get ready to be transported into the magic of Scotland with a visit to Glenfinnan, a picturesque Highland village known for the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Glenfinnan Monument which presents visitors with one of the best viewpoints in Scotland.
This impressive Victorian structure has captured the hearts of travellers and film enthusiasts alike with its amazing views and appearances in movies such as Harry Potter where the Hogwarts Express (actually the real-life The Jacobite) thunders its way across it to the legendary wizard’s school.
Even if you’re not a die-hard Harry Potter fan, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a must-see destination for any photographer looking to capture the beauty of Scotland as the views looking southwest along the waters of Loch Shiel are second to none.
After a busy day exploring the area you might like to visit the Glenfinnan Monument which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
The monument sits at the foot of Loch Shiel and is dedicated to the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
The location is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in front of his massed ranks of Highland warriors and declared his intent to retake the British throne – a cause that came to a final bloody conclusion at the infamous Battle of Culloden.
Facilities at the site are pretty good thanks to a visitor centre featuring a museum and cafe as well as the Glenfinnan Viaduct car park which allows easy access to the shoreline of Loch Shiel.
Braemar is a charming village nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. This idyllic spot is the perfect base for exploring the Scottish Highlands and is, without a doubt, one of the finest Cairngorms photography locations.
Not only is Braemar a picturesque destination in its own right, but it’s also conveniently located close to a number of historic castles.
The nearest is the 17th-century Braemar Castle which was built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar and is now a community-run attraction that offers guided tours.
Next on the list is the much larger Balmoral Castle, located just nine miles from Braemar, which is a must-visit for photographers. While most of the castle is off-limits to the public, part of it is open to tourists who arrive by the busload to see the famous royal Highland residence.
Even if the castle is closed, you’ll find plenty of other photo opportunities in the area thanks to the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail. From Dunnottar Castle to Crathes, Blair, Glamis Castle, and Scone Palace, there’s no shortage of historic attractions to photograph along the route.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most photographed thing in Scotland?
There are many popular subjects that are frequently photographed in Scotland such as the country’s stunning landscapes, historical landmarks, and cultural events. Some of the most photographed things in Scotland include:
1: Edinburgh Castle: Located in the capital city of Edinburgh, this iconic castle is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions and is often featured in photographs of the city.
2: Loch Ness: The deep, freshwater Loch Ness is famous for its alleged resident monster and is a popular spot for photography.
3: The Isle of Skye: This beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland is home to a variety of picturesque landscapes including the Quiraing which is a series of dramatic cliffs and rock formations.
4: Loch Lomond: This is the largest body of freshwater in the UK by surface area and is one of the country’s most-visited tourist destinations. Popular points to explore the loch are Loch Lomond Shores on the southern end and the village of Luss which lies midway up the western side.
Is street photography legal in Scotland?
Street photography is generally legal in Scotland as long as the photographer is not trespassing on private property and is not harassing or interfering with individuals.
Photographers are free to use their photographs of people taken in public places as they wish – including for commercial gain. However, It is a good idea to be aware of and respect the privacy of others while taking photographs in public spaces.
A good resource for current laws regarding photography in the UK is the Metropolitan Police website.
How do I find a good place to take a picture?
There are a few key elements to keep in mind when searching for the perfect spot to snap a photo. Firstly, lighting is crucial for setting the mood and highlighting your subject. Look for locations that offer a mix of natural light and interesting shadows.
Next, pay attention to the composition of the scene. Are there strong lines or patterns that could lead the viewer’s eye towards the subject? Is there a clear focal point that you want to draw attention to?
Additionally, be mindful of the background and whether it enhances or detracts from the overall image. Finally, consider the practicalities of the location. Is it easily accessible or will you need special permission to photograph there?
Can someone take pictures of my property without my consent in Scotland?
In general, it is not illegal to take photographs of someone’s property in Scotland as long as they are taken from a public place. This includes the exterior of a building and the surrounding land.
However, it is important to respect people’s privacy and not take photographs of people without their consent, particularly if they are in their own homes or on private property.
If someone is taking photographs of your property from a public place and you are concerned about their actions, you can ask them to stop. If the person does not stop you could ask a police officer to intervene. However, it is unlikely that the police would take action unless the person is acting in a threatening or harassing manner.