By Craig Neil
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Scotland is one of the most romantic places in the world thanks to its stunning landscapes and captivating cities.
But with a country this beautiful you might find yourself struggling to choose the perfect destination for your next date, and even if you do decide on a place to meet up, what should you do when you get there?
In this article you’ll discover a collection of fun, exciting, and slightly unusual things to do on a date in Scotland that will give both of you a memorable experience, whether it’s winter or summer, the city or the great outdoors.
Things to do on a date in Scotland
When it comes to taking a new partner on a date, you’ll find there are a million places to choose from in Scotland. Sure, you could do what everyone else does and sit in yet another pub or coffee shop, but why would you want to when there are so many amazing attractions on offer?
From Edinburgh to Glasgow and the Borders to the Highlands, Scotland is full to the brim with romantic destinations that will blow the socks off any lad or lass you’re hoping to impress.
We all know that going on a first date is enough to turn most people into armpit-soaked nervous wrecks, but even the worst meeting can be rescued by going to the right places and choosing the right activities.
With that thought in mind, in this article you’ll find a collection of ideas for amazing dates in Scotland that won’t break the bank and are guaranteed to bring a smile to both of your faces.
You won’t find skydiving jumps in the following list (seriously, why do so many people on dating sites say their favourite sport is skydiving?) but you will find suggestions that are fun, easy to take part in, and just a wee bit different.
Oh, and if the suggestions below don’t float your boat you might like to take a look at this article instead – The Most Romantic Places in Scotland.
Snowboarding in the Cairngorms
A visit to the Cairngorms isn’t going to work for everyone, but if you’re in the eastern Highlands there aren’t many places more scenic than the UK’s largest national park.
If you’re in Scotland outside of winter you’ll find a wide range of activities that would be ideal for a date, whether it’s climbing a Munro (there are 55 of them in the Cairngorms), walking through Scotland’s oldest forests, or visiting historic sites like Braemar and Blair Castle.
The fact is, there are so many places you could go on a date in the Cairngorms it would be impossible to fit them all into one article, so instead, let’s concentrate on the winter sports that the park is most famous for.
You’ll find three of Scotland’s five ski centres in the Cairngorms, all of which offer slopes for beginners and advanced skiers alike.
Cairngorm Mountain near Aviemore is by far the most popular snow sports centre in the region, mainly because they have some of Scotland’s best downhill runs on their doorstep and they cater for all skill levels thanks to a ski school and advanced freestyle areas.
If your other half doesn’t look like they’re up for skiing or snowboarding you can always jump into a giant inflatable ring and go zooming downhill at warp speed, or you can grab a coffee with spectacular views across the mountains and Loch Morlich.
The Lecht is one of the smaller snow sports centres, but that means it’s usually less busy and they’ve still got an amazing selection of slopes to enjoy.
If you’ve both been on skis before you can get a limited area pass that allows you to access the easier runs or you can get a half-day pass that opens up the steeper areas (although you’ll be looking at around £30 per ticket).
The third snow sports centre in the Cairngorms is Glenshee near Braemar.
I’ve been a few times and totally recommend it to anyone that enjoys skiing, but even if you don’t it’s worth visiting as there are stunning walks through the surrounding hills and there’s a café at the centre to warm up with hot drinks at the end of your romantic trek through the wilds of Scotland.
- Cairngorm Mountain: Cairngorm Ski Area, Aviemore, PH22 1RB
- The Lecht: Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, AB36 8YP
- Glenshee Snowsports Centre: Cairnwell, Braemar, Aberdeenshire AB35 5XU
Luxury spa day at the Crieff Hydro
Crieff Hydro in Perthshire is one of Scotland’s premier leisure centres and they’ve got a huge range of activities for couples of all ages to enjoy.
The Hydro began life as a hydrotherapy centre in 1868 by a doctor who believed fresh air and mountain scenery was the key to a happy life, and he was obviously right because the hotel is still going strong 150+ years later.
To say Crieff Hydro is a hotel isn’t completely accurate though. Yes, they have a selection of more than 200 rooms and suites available for overnight stays, but the main reason to visit is the fantastic range of leisure activities on offer.
The main hotel building has a couple of very good cafés and restaurants on the ground floor that are perfect venues for a first meeting, but if it’s your second or later date I suggest making a beeline to the rest of the complex instead.
Inside, you’ll find an adults-only Victorian swimming pool along with a spa and health centre, while outside you’ll find two golf courses, a horse riding centre, tennis courts, an off-road driving course, mountain bike trails, treetop rope courses, paddleboarding and even Segway hire.
If you can’t find something suitable for a fun date out of that lot there’s also a superb hillside forest trail that offers beautiful walks through the countryside surrounding Crieff Hydro, or if you’d like to explore further afield you’ll find a number of forests within a short drive. This is, after all, the heart of Scotland’s ‘Big Tree Country‘.
Explore Glasgow on the city centre mural trail
This is one of the more unusual date ideas in this list and is possibly more suited for the artistic types out there, but most people will enjoy it whether they have an interest in art or not.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and there are literally hundreds of places you could go on a date, but if you fancy something a wee bit different to the standard meet-up at Starbucks, you might like to give the Glasgow city centre mural trail a look.
The mural trail is a council-run project that aims to bring the less-visited areas of the city to people who would otherwise never know they existed.
If you’ve been to Glasgow before you’ll know there are lots of very creative artworks plastered across buildings and walls throughout the city, most of which are away from the standard tourist trails.
The street murals are designed to rejuvenate some of the more run-down buildings with artworks that are creative, quirky, amusing and sometimes downright bizarre.
The official Glasgow Mural Trail website has a very handy street map which you can follow to see all the artworks – there are around 25 at any one time – as well as an audio tour, but if you’re on a date you might like to just follow the map and walk around the city in whatever direction you like.
Having done the trail myself I can say hand on heart it’s a superb way to explore the city and it’ll definitely give you something to talk about, with the bonus being there are dozens of pubs along the way should you feel to need to warm up with a drink or three at the end of it all.
I’ve created a wee guide about the mural trail which gives you a good overview of what to expect and there’s also an official YouTube video that goes into detail about why the trail was originally created – see below.
Enjoy a dram at a distillery
Nothing helps calm nerves on a date better than alcohol, and thankfully Scotland has lots of places to go for a drink whether your preference is a pint or a cocktail.
However, I’m not even going to bother with recommending pubs and bars for a date because everyone seems to go to the same places over and over again – as you’ll witness in virtually every boozer on a Saturday afternoon.
Instead, one option your prospective partner might enjoy is a visit to a whisky distillery, and you’re pretty much spoilt for choice in this country.
Most distilleries have superb visitor facilities so you can meet, have a coffee in the on-site café, go on a tour around the distillery, and round it all off with a few tasting samples at the end.
There are hundreds of distilleries to choose from and it would be impossible to detail them all in this article, so instead I’ll list a few of my favourites in no particular order.
Edradour: Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5JP. Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland and its also one of the oldest having been founded all the way back in 1825.
The distillery consists of a collection of quaint, whitewashed Victorian buildings set on a hillside with a burn that gently babbles its way through it, and I have to say it really is an idyllic place. After you’ve finished the tour I recommend going for a walk along the nearby River Tummel, or pop into Pitlochry where you’ll find lots of restaurants, pubs, and cafés.
Benromach: Invererne Rd, Forres, Morayshire, IV36 3EB. Speyside is one of the most prolific whisky-producing regions in Scotland so every whisky-lover should try to visit at least one distillery in the region, and I reckon Benromach is one of the best.
The distillery is located close to Forres on a spectacular stretch of the country that’s famed for its stunning coastline, meaning a visit to this distillery can be nicely rounded off with a romantic walk along a beach.
Glenfiddich: Dufftown, Banffshire, AB55 4DH. Pretty much everyone has heard of Glenfiddich as it’s one of the most popular single malts in Scotland. As another Speyside distillery it’s a nice alternative to Benromach and it’s much more geared towards tourists, though some people might not see that as a good thing.
The tour is excellent and many of the traditional Victorian buildings you get shown around are very Instagram-worthy, plus the facilities include a superb whisky lounge, a café, and a gift shop
Auchentoshan: Dalmuir, Clydebank, G81 4SJ. This is a lovely wee distillery that I’ve included because it’s just a 30-minute train ride from the centre of Glasgow to the Kilpatrick station and a 2-minute taxi ride from the station to the distillery.
Auchentoshan is an easy-drinking whisky which means a visit is ideal for anyone that struggles with stronger flavours, and the tour is highly recommended with a free sample at the end and the possibility of filling your own bottle straight from the cask.
Drive a Go-kart at Knockhill
I admit this is going to be a hard sell for anyone that doesn’t like motorsports, but if you both have a passion for four wheels you won’t go wrong with a visit to Knockhill Racing Circuit.
Your options for a date at the track are numerous and if the pair of you like watching car and bike racing you should take a look at the official Knockhill website to see which fixtures are upcoming.
Major events staged at the circuit include British Superbike and touring car championships as well as rally car races, but if there aren’t any events running when you visit you’ll still be able to enjoy the sound of squealing tyres by joining one of the many experiences that Knockhill offers.
Unfortunately, many of these are quite pricey, so unless you’re rolling in cash I wouldn’t recommend booking a Ferrari or Aston Martin experience for a date (expect to pay around £200 per session), but there’s a much cheaper and almost-as-enjoyable option which is to bomb around a track in a go-kart.
These karts are serious fun and if either of you is competitive you’ll have a blast trying to beat each other on the outdoor track.
There are a maximum of 11 karts on the track at any one time so there’s no need to worry about it becoming a bumper-fest and safety is paramount so you’ll be provided with full race suits, helmet, neck brace, and you’ll be given a full safety briefing before putting the pedal to the metal.
There are two options for races which are either 20 or 30 minutes and you’ll be given your lap times at the end so you can always have another go to see if you can improve on them, but be aware the costs can quickly mount up as you’ll have to pay around £30 per session.
Address: Knockhill Racing Circuit, Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 9TF.
Go pony trekking in the Highlands
The Scottish Highlands is one of the most gob-smackingly beautiful places on earth, so it makes sense to take your date there if you really want to impress them.
There are so many activities in the Highlands it’s difficult to know where to begin, but for an activity that’s not too strenuous and is guaranteed to give you an ‘awh’ moment, how about hopping on the back of a cute Highland pony?
While you’ll occasionally find pony treks in winter, most operators only run trips in the warmer months between April and October, which is when you’re most likely to benefit from Scotland’s long summer days when it stays light till 10 pm (and even later depending on how far north you go).
Most pony treks take place in small groups so you’ll have other people to talk to without feeling like you’re stuck in a big crowd, and many operators also offer beginner treks that are ideal for anyone who’s feeling a bit nervous about roaming around on horseback.
On the occasions I’ve been pony trekking I have to say I loved it, and even though I was worried about being too heavy for these small horses, I can assure you that Highland ponies are more than capable animals.
If you’ve not seen one yet, they’re quite short compared to other breeds – but bigger than Shetland ponies – and very muscular having been specifically bred as working horses for the Scottish Highlands.
They’re also good-natured animals so riding one is a great introduction to getting on horseback, and as you’ll be slowly trotting along quiet trails away from main roads you won’t have to worry about loud noises spooking them.
All-in-all I would have to say a Highland pony trek could be the perfect date suggestion for couples that love the great outdoors.
If you’re wondering which pony trekking company to book, your best option is to simply find the nearest ones on Google, but two operators I can recommend having used them myself are Highland Pony Trekking at Glenshiel and Rothiemurchus in the Cairngorms National Park, both of which are very professional and have healthy, well cared for animals.
Take a trip on the Harry Potter train
The 84-mile rail journey across the Scottish Highlands from Fort William to Mallaig has been described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, and with good reason.
This scenic route has become a favourite with tourists from far and wide thanks to the beautiful landscapes that whoosh past the steam locomotive, and sightseers can expect to see every aspect of the Scottish countryside from mountains and lochs to forests and rivers.
It’s fair to say that passengers on The Jacobite steam train will experience sights that rival any in Europe, and possibly the world.
There’s Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain), Loch Morar (the deepest freshwater loch), and Loch Nevis (the deepest seawater loch in Europe), to name just a few.
Fans of the Harry Potter movies might recognize the Jacobite train from scenes where Harry travels on the Hogwarts Express, but there’s much more to the journey than Harry Potter-spotting opportunities.
The most impressive part of the route is crossing the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct which sweeps around the shores of Loch Shiel where the Glenfinnan Monument can be seen with its memorial to the Highlanders lost during the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
The train also stops at Glenfinnan station where you can stretch your legs and explore the West Highland Railway Museum, before continuing the journey to the coastal town of Mallaig.
Once at Mallaig you can walk around the old fishing harbour and grab a bite in the traditional pubs, or you can hop onboard a nature cruise that sails around the coastline before climbing back on the train for the return journey home.
Admittedly, this is a rather expensive date for first-timers, but if you’re three or four dates in and looking to make a lasting impression, I guarantee you won’t go wrong with a trip on The Jacobite.
Go on a cocktail-making masterclass
Would you consider yourself a gin giant or a vodka veteran? A whisky wizard or a tequila titan? Either way, if you’re after an experience that’s great fun (and you both like a drink) how about attending one of the many cocktail masterclasses regularly held in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s bars?
These fun events see cocktail-making maestros conjure up a range of drinks with interactive demonstrations that not only take you through the origins of each cocktail, but also show you how to create them yourself.
Although many of these classes are attended by groups there are just as many that are comprised of couples, and it’s not difficult to see why the experience has exploded in popularity in recent years.
They’re a great way to meet new people and you’ll come away having learnt a new skill, and of course, there’s alcohol involved so you’re bound to have a good giggle during the demonstrations.
Edinburgh has a vibrant scene of cocktail bars that are scattered throughout the city in every corner, so it’s easy to find bars that offer these courses, but two of the most popular are Tigerlilly and LeMonde on George Street.
Moving onto Glasgow you’ll find an equally impressive collection of cocktail-making experiences across the city, but for the best ones try Revolucion de Cuba on Renfield Street or October in Princes Square.
And best of all, once you’ve finished learning how to create delicious cocktails you can head out into the city’s bars and clubs to sample a few more – purely for research purposes of course…
Spend the night in a castle
This date suggestion is more appropriate for couples that have already had a few previous encounters, but if you’re looking for a new experience that you won’t soon forget, how about spending the night in one of Scotland’s many castles?
There are too many castles that allow overnight stays to include in this article, but one that I can personally say is first-class is Auchen Castle near Moffat in Dumfriesshire.
This former home of the Kirkpatrick family is believed to have been built in 1220 AD, although it was extensively extended over the years and is today used mainly for weddings and informal gatherings.
Auchen Castle is a bit of a fairytale palace and it’s easy to see why so many people choose to hold their wedding celebrations there, what with its eclectic collection of spires and turrets and its 25 luxurious rooms, but I think it’s the grounds that give the place an extra-special feeling.
The castle is nestled inside 34 acres of private gardens and woodland, and it’s the perfect setting for relaxing on a sunny afternoon.
If you want to leave the castle and get some fresh air then you can do more than just roam around the grounds as there are falconry and archery experiences to take part in, and if you fancy visiting other attractions in the area you can take a drive to the nearby Garden of Cosmic Speculation and Eskrigg Nature Reserve.
In addition, if you go to Auchen Castle to have a romantic liaison but want to experience even more history than the castle has to offer, you’ll find that it’s not far from the famous Gretna Green Blacksmith’s Shop which has served as the marriage site of young lovers eloping from England since the mid-18th-century.
Take part in a spooky event
Bit of an off-the-wall idea here, but if you want to go on a date that’s guaranteed to give you something to talk about afterwards, how about joining a spooky tour or event?
Scotland readily embraces the grisly history of its cities, and you’ll find a number of ghost tours in Edinburgh and Glasgow that delve into the gruesome stories of the past.
In Edinburgh, you can board the Ghost Tours Bus which drives its way around the city’s top historic attractions with a guide who’ll tell you all about the murders and executions from Auld Reekie’s past.
The tour lasts around an hour and starts and stops in the city centre, so you can easily pop into a bar afterwards for a good laugh about the experience.
Alternatively, there’s Real Mary King’s Close on The Royal Mile, which takes visitors on a subterranean guided tour of the deserted streets that housed dozens of families during the time of the black plague.
It’s a genuinely interesting tour and as the attraction is located in the middle of The Royal Mile it’s easy to find bars, pubs, and restaurants within walking distance when you leave.
Glasgow, meanwhile, has the creepy Necropolis, which is an enormous graveyard full of elaborate Victorian gravestones. Yes, I know walking around a graveyard doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s an incredibly atmospheric place and as it’s set on a hillside you’ll get fantastic views of Glasgow as you explore it.
There are official guided tours of The Necropolis but I suggest just walking around at your own pace instead, as most of the tours concentrate on Glasgow’s history rather than its ghost stories.
That being said, check out the Get Your Guide website as they have a great selection of walking tours of the city including a few that concentrate on its darker side.
Another option for a fun date is to join a ghost-themed event. We love celebrating Halloween here in Scotland and you’ll find a number of events held in most towns and cities between October and November.
The first event is staged in the town of Paisley near Glasgow which is transformed into a carnival with more than 500 costumed actors and outdoor performers parading through the streets.
Alternatively, if you’re in the capital then the Samhuinn Fire Festival is one of the most colourful events in Edinburgh’s calendar where fire-worshippers wearing colourful costumes depict characters from Scotland’s ancient folklore alongside displays of fire, music and street theatre.
- Get Your Guide. If you’re thinking of joining a guided tour for a date then you’ll find loads at the Get Your Guide website. They feature whisky and gin tasting tours, history tours, ghost tours, sightseeing tours and every other type of tour imaginable. Find a great selection of tours on their website: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling.
- Design My Night. This is a superb website for finding bars, pubs, and restaurants in your town. You can reserve tables, book experience tickets, and even get restaurant meals delivered to your house.
- The List. This website is one of the best for finding shows and festivals near you. They have constantly updated lists of things to do in each area of the country and you can search by type of event, date, and location.
- If the earlier suggestions for snowsports has piqued your interest, make sure you check the road conditions before setting out and take a look at an accurate weather forecast. I recommend visiting Traffic Scotland.
- If you’re a couple that loves the great outdoors and you think you’ll be enjoying a few more dates together, consider getting a National Trust for Scotland joint membership. Membership prices are very reasonable and you’ll get free entry to a bucket-load of historic places as well as free car parking at all NTS sites.
- Outaboutscotland.com has lots of articles that include tips and advice on the best places to visit in Scotland, what to do in each region, and suggestions for tourist attractions to add to your romantic sightseeing itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can I purchase alcohol in Scotland?
In Scotland, alcohol can be sold between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm unless the retailer is a pub, club, or restaurant which has been granted a licence, in which case they can stay open till the early hours (usually 2-3 am).
Where is the most romantic place in Scotland?
Many people consider Gretna Green Blacksmith’s Workshop to be the most romantic place in Scotland as this is the site where thousands of couples eloped to get married when England introduced strict marriage laws in the 18th-century. It’s still one of the most-used marriage venues in Scotland today.
When is Valentine’s Day in Scotland?
Valentine’s Day is held annually on the 14th of February in Scotland. Traditional gifts to exchange between couples are cards, flowers, and gifts in the shape of a heart.