Welcome to Scotland, a land of rugged mountains, glittering lochs, and cities steeped in history. From the bustling city life of Edinburgh to the remote beauty of the Isle of Skye, Scotland is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be unlocked.

With a population of just over 5.4 million, this dramatic region has a spectacular variety of mountains, valleys, and islands as a result of the Ice Age glaciers that carved out its dramatic landscape. But there’s more to Scotland than stunning landscapes. It boasts over 2,000 castles; it’s the birthplace of golf; it’s the location of the world’s biggest arts festival; and it’s home to the world’s finest whisky distilleries, amongst many other achievements.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a collection of recommended places to visit in Scotland with a list of Google Maps that show attractions in the main cities and their surrounding areas, as well as maps that highlight mountains, lochs, and castles. Click each marker to open information panels and click the links to view more information on Google Maps.

Map of Aberdeen

Aberdeen is Scotland’s third-most populous city. It’s located on the northeast coast of the country and is known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and thriving oil industry. The city’s buildings have a distinct look due to their construction from local grey granite, with many sparkling in the sunlight due to their high mica content. It’s this unique look that has led to Aberdeen’s nickname, ‘the granite city’.

Aberdeen has a history of at least 8,000 years of habitation, with fishing, textiles, shipbuilding, and papermaking serving as the city’s primary economic drivers. In more recent years, oil was discovered in the North Sea in the 1960s, leading to an economic boom that continues to this day.

Aberdeen boasts a vibrant cultural scene with numerous museums, art galleries, and music venues. The city is also home to two universities: the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University. The Cairngorms National Park, which is close by and offers breathtaking scenery and a haven for wildlife, is also close by and offers a variety of outdoor activities including golf and hiking.

  • Council area: Aberdeen city
  • Land size: 21.7 square miles
  • Population: 197,000
  • Primary airport: Aberdeen Airport

Map of Dundee

Dundee is Scotland’s fourth-largest city and is a vibrant cultural hub. It’s located on the eastern coast of the country along the estuary of the River Tay. Dundee is known for its long history in industries like jute, jam, and journalism, earning it the nickname ‘the city of J’s’.

The city is home to several prestigious institutions, including the University of Dundee and Abertay University, and it’s also the first UNESCO City of Design in the UK, showcasing its significant contributions to fields like medical research, comics, and video games.

One of the city’s most famous landmarks is the RRS Discovery, Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition vessel which is now a fascinating museum. Dundee’s waterfront also hosts the V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, which is an architectural marvel in itself.

  • Council area: Dundee city
  • Land size: 20 square miles
  • Population: 148,000
  • Primary airport: Dundee Airport

Map of Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a stunning amalgamation of ancient and modern that’s well-known for its historic buildings and vibrant culture. The city is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, an enormous fortress that offers breathtaking views of the city from its position on Castle Rock. The Old Town and New Town, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offer a contrast of historical and neoclassical architecture.

Edinburgh is also famous for the annual Edinburgh Festival, a series of various festivals usually held over four weeks from early August. Among these, the Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival which spans 25 days and features more than 55,000 performances of over 3,500 different shows in 300+ venues.

Moreover, the city is home to several museums and galleries including the Museum of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Museum of Childhood. It’s also a city of literature, being the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and featuring attarctions like the Writers’ Museum and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

With beautiful parks and gardens such as the Royal Botanic Garden and Princes Street Gardens, the city also offers plenty of outdoor activities.

  • Council area: City of Edinburgh
  • Land size: 102 square miles
  • Population: 465,000
  • Primary airport: Edinburgh Airport

Map of Glasgow

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third-largest in the United Kingdom. It’s situated on the River Clyde in Scotland’s western lowlands and has roots that date back to prehistoric times. The city flourished in the 18th century due to trade and shipbuilding, which is still evident in its impressive Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture.

Glasgow showcases a vibrant mix of cultural attractions, including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum of Transport, and the Glasgow Science Centre. The city is also renowned for its thriving music scene, featuring several live music venues including the famous King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

Glasgow is surrounded by beautiful parks like Pollok Country Park and Glasgow Green which offer a wide range of outdoor activities, but it’s best known for its urban areas such as The West End which is home to the University of Glasgow, while the East End is home to the historic Glasgow Cathedral and the bustling Barras Market.

  • Council area: Glasgow City
  • Land size: 68 square miles
  • Population: 621,000
  • Primary airport: Glasgow Airport

Map of Inverness

Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands that’s renowned for its natural beauty and history. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’, it offers a mix of stunning landscapes and historic attractions. The city is located near the site of the 18th-century Battle of Culloden, which took place on Culloden Moor and it’s also at the northern end of the Great Glen where you can find Loch Ness, home to the legendary Loch Ness Monster.

Inverness boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with many festivals and events celebrating its Celtic heritage. The city centre is compact and offers a range of shopping, dining, and nightlife options, while Inverness Castle, perched atop a cliff overlooking the River Ness, is a must-visit.

The area around Inverness is filled with opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, golfing, and wildlife spotting, and Fort George, an enormous 18th-century fortress, and the Moray Firth, known for its resident population of dolphins, are just a short drive away. For whisky lovers, the city is a great starting point for exploring the Malt Whisky Trail in the neighbouring Speyside region.

  • Council area: The Highland Council
  • Land size: 8 Square miles
  • Population: 64,000
  • Primary airport: Inverness Airport

Map of Perth

Perth is a historic city located in Central Scotland, on the banks of the River Tay. It’s known for its royal history, having once been the capital of Scotland in the Middle Ages, which is now home to a population of about 47,000 people.

The city offers a mix of modern amenities and traditional charm, with a plethora of cultural attractions that includes St. John’s Kirk, the oldest standing building in Scotland, and the Black Watch Castle & Museum. It’s also home to the Perth Concert Hall and the Perth Theatre which both offer a variety of performances and events year-round.

Perth has beautiful landscapes all around it and features a wide range of outdoor activities. Kinnoull Hill is a popular spot for hiking and offers panoramic views, and the city is also a gateway to the ‘Big Tree Country’, making it an ideal base for exploring Scotland’s forests.

  • Council area: Perth and Kinross
  • Land size: 7 square miles
  • Population: 47,000
  • Primary airport: Dundee airport

Map of Stirling

Stirling is steeped in history, featuring landmarks such as Stirling Castle, the Church of the Holy Rude, and the Old Town Jail, which are all within easy walking distance of the city centre. It played an important role in Scotland’s mediaeval past and was the backdrop for some of the most significant battles for Scottish independence in the country’s history.

The city is also a cultural hub, offering a range of festivals, events, and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. It’s home to the University of Stirling, which has a large student population, and it also offers a great mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. In addition, tourists have easy access to stunning landscapes including Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for a city with a unique character and charm, Stirling has something to offer everyone.

  • Council area: Stirling
  • Land size: 6 square miles
  • Population: 36,000
  • Primary airport: Edinburgh airport

Map of Skye

The Isle of Skye, located on the west coast of Scotland, is famous for its rugged and dramatic landscapes. It’s the largest island in the Inner Hebrides and is one of the best sightseeing places in the country thanks to its varied assortment of picturesque villages, medieval castles, and breathtaking coastlines.

The island’s diverse topography ranges from the enigmatic Fairy Glen to the alien-like rock formations of the Quiraing. The Isle of Skye is also home to iconic landmarks such as the Old Man of Storr, a massive pinnacle of rock set against the backdrop of rolling hills, while for history enthusiasts, the island’s cultural heritage is displayed through sites like Dunvegan Castle and Armadale Castle.

The largest town, Portree, is a bustling port with a range of shops, restaurants, and amenities, and the island is highly regarded for its whisky, with the Talisker Distillery being a popular tourist attraction.

  • Council area: Highland
  • Land size: 639 square miles
  • Population: 10,000
  • Primary airport: None

Map of the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the United Kingdom’s largest national park, covering an area of 1,748 square miles filled with lush forests, clear rivers, serene lochs, and rugged mountains, including five of the six highest peaks in the UK.

The park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including red squirrels, golden eagles, and the rare Scottish wildcat. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, fishing, skiing, and snowboarding, and there are also cultural and historical sites within the park, including ancient stone circles, castles, and six whisky distilleries.

The park is dotted with charming villages like Aviemore and Braemar which offer cozy accommodation and delicious local cuisine, while for outdoor enthusiasts, the Cairngorms features some of the best ski centres in Britain including Glenshee, Lecht, and Cairn Gorm, as well as 55 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet).

  • Council area: Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth, and Kinross.
  • Land size: 1,748 square miles
  • Population: 18,000
  • Primary airport: Inverness airport

Map of Castles

Scotland is renowned for its plethora of castles. These fortresses are scattered across the country and range from imposing stone-walled strongholds to opulent royal palaces.

Starting from the simple motte-and-bailey fortresses of the 12th century, they evolved into fortified tower houses in the middle ages before transitioning to elegant stately homes in the 18th century. Some of these castles, like Edinburgh Castle, are steeped in history and have played pivotal roles in the nation’s past, while others, such as Eilean Donan Castle, are renowned for their stunning locations.

Despite their age, many of these castles are exceptionally well-preserved and offer visitors a chance to step back in time and experience firsthand the intrigue, grandeur, and romance of Scotland’s past. Their stunning architecture, combined with the breathtaking landscapes that surround them, make Scotland’s castles a must-visit for any history enthusiast or sightseeing tourist.

Map of Lochs

Scotland’s 30,000 lochs are a spectacular part of the country’s natural beauty. They vary greatly in size and each one holds its own unique charm and character, such as Loch Ness which is famous for its legendary inhabitant, Nessie, AKA the Loch Ness Monster.

Loch Lomond, part of the Trossachs National Park, is another well-known Loch. It’s the largest in terms of surface area and is renowned for its array of activities, especially on the loch’s southern shore which is home to the superb Loch Lomond Shores entertainment centre.

Scotland’s lochs don’t just offer natural beauty; they also provide opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. Whether you’re seeking tranquilly or adventure, Scotland’s lochs are an essential addition to any sightseeing itinerary.

Map of Munros

Mountains over 3,000 feet in Scotland are known as Munros, and climbing them is one of the most popular activities for tourists as well as locals.

Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, is one of the most popular and challenging climbs. It’s located near Fort William and offers breathtaking views from the summit. The Cairngorms National Park, another notable area, provides a more serene mountain climbing experience, while the Cuillins of Skye are famous for their sharp peaks and challenging climbs.

Each of these mountain areas in Scotland has its own unique charm and challenges, offering a variety of experiences for all levels of adventurers. From the daunting heights of Bidean nam Bian in Glencoe to the serene beauty of Ben Ledi in the Trossachs, Scotland’s mountains are a testament to the country’s wild and untamed beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the Scottish Highlands?

Traditional thinking divides Scotland into two halves, with the Highlands making up one half and the Lowlands the other. This boundary follows the Highland Fault.

The fault line starts close to the area of Helensburgh, approximately 40 miles north of Glasgow, and extends to Stonehaven in the northeast of the mainland.

Which are the highest Mountains in Scotland?

Ben Nevis (1,345m).
Ben Macdui (1,309m).
Braeriach (1,296m).
Cairn Toul (1,291m).
Sgor an Lochain Uaine (1,258m).
Cairn Gorm (1,245m).
Aonach Beag (Nevis) (1,234m).
Aonach Mor (1,221m).
Carn Mor Dearg (1,220m).
Ben Lawers (1,214m).

How many castles are there in Scotland?

There have been more than 2,000 castles in Scotland throughout its history but many of them do not exist today. Historic Environment Scotland currently lists around 500 buildings that can be classed as fortified dwellings.

How many lochs are there in Scotland?

There are an estimated 31,460 freshwater lochs and lochans in Scotland, mostly located in the Scottish Highlands, plus 7,500 located in the Western Isles.

Only 350 of these lochs are notable for their size. Some are actually reservoirs, but they are classified as lochs if they originated from natural bodies of water.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.