The regions of Scotland
Edinburgh needs no introduction. As the capital city and the most-visited tourist destination in mainland Scotland, it’s home to many of the country’s top attractions including Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, not to mention beautiful green spaces like Holyrood Park and stunning viewpoints such as Calton Hill.
The city is also home to an eclectic mix of traditional pubs and ultra-modern bars and restaurants.
Recommended attractions: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park.
- How to Explore Edinburgh – Must-Know Tips & Advice
- The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Edinburgh
- The Best Things to Do in Edinburgh for Families
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and is home to a dizzying number of tourist attractions – most of which are completely free. Kelvingrove Museum will keep families entertained for hours while children will be fascinated by the activities in the Glasgow Science Centre.
There’s also the Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, the City Centre Mural Trail and The People’s Palace, to name just a few.
Recommended attractions: The Riverside Museum, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Science Centre.
- The Best Things to Do in Glasgow for Adults
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- Discover the Magic of Glasgow on a Weekend Getaway
The Highlands is the largest area of Scotland, yet it’s also the least inhabited. Visitors to the Scottish Highlands can lose themselves in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes where dramatic mountain ranges and vast glassy lochs are waiting to be discovered around every corner.
Highlights include the North Coast 500 and the Cairngorms National Park.
Recommended attractions: Bealach na Ba, Loch Morar, Glen Etive.
- The Best Places to Visit on a Scottish Highlands Tour
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- How to Bag a Munro in Scotland: The Ultimate Guide
Outer Hebrides and Inner Hebrides
Scotland’s Hebridean islands offer visitors some of the best experiences in the United Kingdom. The archipelago is split into two regions – the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides.
Highlights of the Inner Hebrides are the stunning scenery of Skye and the whisky distilleries of Islay. The Outer Hebrides, meanwhile, are famous for the ancient stone circle at Callanish on Lewis and the white sand beaches of Barra.
- The Ultimate Guide to Islay Whisky Distillery Tours
- 20 Interesting Facts About the Isle of Skye
- Beaches on the Isle of Tiree: Complete Visitor Guide
Central Scotland, Tayside and Fife
The regions of Central Scotland, Tayside & Fife are absolutely chock-a-block full of beautiful landscapes. From the pretty coastal villages of the East Neuk and St. Andrews in Fife to the serene waters of Loch Leven Nature Reserve in Perthshire, visitors have endless choices when it comes to finding things to do.
Recommended attractions: Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, Culross Village, Schiehallion Mountain.
- The 10 Best Things to Do in Central Scotland for Families
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Strathclyde has a lot going for it. In addition to its amazing castles, coastline, forests, mountains, and lochs, this region is one of the best places in Scotland to use as a base for sightseeing tours.
The gorgeous Loch Lomond and Trossachs lie to the south, Glasgow and Clyde Valley sit near its centre, and the northern section extends into Argyll & Bute – all of which are some of the finest tourist destinations in Britain.
Recommended attractions: Ben Cruachan, Inveraray Castle, New Lanark World Heritage Centre.
- 11 Most Beautiful Lochs to Visit in Scotland: Ultimate Guide
- How to See Scotland by Train: A Comprehensive Guide
- Top Tips for Avoiding Biting Midges in Scotland
The Lothian region is perhaps best known as the home of Edinburgh, but that shouldn’t stop tourists from exploring beyond the city as there are a multitude of attractions waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s water sports on the Firth of Forth or castle tours in East Lothian, this is one area of Scotland that’s an absolute must-visit.
Recommended attractions: Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Tantallon Castle.
- East Lothian’s Top Historic Attractions: The Complete Guide
- The Best Things to Do in East Lothian for Families
- How to Visit Outlander’s Filming Locations in Scotland
Grampian is a diverse region that includes the city of Aberdeen, part of the Cairngorm National Park, and the superb coastline between Fraserburgh and Nairn. As well as being an outdoor lover’s paradise it is highly rated by whisky enthusiasts thanks to the Speyside area which is one of Scotland’s largest producers of single malt whisky.
Recommended attractions: Braemar Village, Dunnottar Castle, Elgin Cathedral.
- A Complete Guide to Exploring the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail
- The 11 Best Free Attractions in Aberdeenshire and Moray
- The Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Trail Visitor Guide
The Scottish Borders
The Borders is a region that’s best known for its beautiful abbeys, tranquil forests, and gorgeous coastline. It can be reached within an hour from Edinburgh so it’s ideal for visitors that want to escape the city to enjoy the world-class 7Stanes mountain biking trails or walk along rolling hills on the John Muir Way.
Recommended attractions: Glentress Forest, Melrose Abbey, Cove Bay
- A Guide to the 25 Most Picturesque Forests in Scotland
- The Best Places to See Red Squirrels in Scotland
- The 14 Best Free Attractions in The Scottish Borders
Dumfries & Galloway
Dumfries & Galloway is a very popular tourist destination, partly because of its attractive coastline and partly because of its vast stretches of unspoilt forest. The region plays host to a number of festivals each year including the superb Big Burns Supper, and it’s one of Scotland’s top destinations for nature lovers thanks to the stunning Solway Firth.
Recommended attractions: Gretna Green Blacksmith’s Shop, The Solway Firth, Caerlaverock Castle.
- The Top Spots for Viewing the Northern Lights in Scotland
- Scotland’s Most Beautiful Non-Touristy Places to Visit
- The 14 Best Free Attractions in Dumfries and Galloway
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FAQs about the regions of Scotland
How many counties are there in Scotland?
There are 32 counties in Scotland. These are:
Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland Isles, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian, Western Isles.
What are Scotland’s regions?
The regions of Scotland are:
Strathclyde (including Glasgow), Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders, Lothian (including Edinburgh), Central Scotland, Fife, Tayside, Grampian, Highland, Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney.
What is the smallest county in Scotland?
Clackmannanshire is the smallest county in Scotland. It is also the smallest county in Britain. Clackmannanshire (often abbreviated to Clacks) has a total size of 61.4 square miles, or 159 square km. The population is around 51,000.
How many cities are there in Scotland?
There are 7 cities in Scotland. These are:
Inverness: Location – Highland. Size – 26.6 sq km. Population – 47,000.
Aberdeen: Location – Northeast. Size (including council area) – 185.7 sq km. Population – 198,000.
Dundee: Location – Southeast. Size – 51.8 sq km. Population – 150,000.
Stirling: Location – Central. Size – 16.7 sq km. Population – 38,000.
Glasgow: Location – Southwest. Size (including council area) – 175 sq km. Population – 632,000.
Edinburgh: Location – Southeast. Size – 119 sq km. Population – 507,000.
Perth: Location – Central. Size – 17.5 sq km. Population – 47,000.