Scottish Highlands

Ben Nevis

Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands, usually referred to as simply ‘the Highlands’, is a stunning region that covers an area that sprawls across the northernmost part of Scotland, defined by the Highland Boundary Fault which arcs its way from Helensburgh in the southwest to Stonehaven on the east coast.

The geography of the Highlands comprises a rugged and dramatic landscape which is home to some of the highest mountains in the British Isles, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak of all, which stands an incredible 4,411 feet above sea level.

The Highlands are also characterized by deep valleys known as glens and expansive lochs that were carved by the last ice age, including the world-famous Loch Ness. The region’s coastline is equally breathtaking thanks to a combination of sheer cliffs, sandy beaches, and quaint coastal villages.

In terms of flora and fauna, the Highlands have a diverse ecosystem. Vast areas of heather-covered moorland are interspersed with ancient Caledonian pine forests that are home to a variety of wildlife from red deer to golden eagles, while the coastal waters are home to otters, dolphins, and whales.

Silver Sands of Morar

For those who love outdoor activities, the region provides ample opportunities for hiking, climbing, and cycling, from the Great Glen Way (a 79-mile long-distance route that stretches from Fort William to Inverness) to the North Coast 500, a 516-mile scenic route around the northern coast of the Highlands.

The iconic Eilean Donan Castle, dramatically positioned on a small tidal island overlooking lochs Alsh, Duich, and Long, is one of the most photographed spots in Scotland, while the Culloden Battlefield – where the last battle of the Jacobite uprising took place in 1746 – offers a poignant reminder of Scotland’s turbulent past.

Nature enthusiasts, meanwhile, will love exploring the Cairngorms National Park which is famed for its snow-capped mountains, sparkling lochs, and vast forests, while sightseers will fall in love with Glenfinnan which features a viaduct that carries the famous ‘Harry Potter’ Jacobite steam train on its journey from Fort William to Mallaig in North Morar.

The Highlands also offer a taste of traditional Scottish culture. Visitors can explore quaint villages like Ullapool, sample traditional Scottish food like haggis and shortbread, and perhaps even take part in a traditional ceilidh, a social event with Scottish folk music and dancing.

Culloden

Subcategory


Find places to visit and things to do in the Scottish Highlands with these visitor guides.

  • 13 Free Things to Do in the Scottish Highlands

    13 Free Things to Do in the Scottish Highlands

    Visiting Scotland’s tourist attractions can be an expensive business, especially for those visitors travelling with a family. In this article you will discover a list of completely free-to-visit attractions in the Scottish Highlands that are suitable for all ages, including historic buildings, walking routes, museums, and public parks.

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  • Bealach na Ba

    Bealach na Ba

    The Bealach na Ba is a twisting mountain pass on the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross, Highland. This single-track road rises over 2,000 feet (0.61 km) at its highest point and is famous for being one of the most scenic drives in the world, as well as one of the most dangerous due to its…

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  • Ben Hope

    Ben Hope

    Ben Hope is a 3,170-foot Munro (a mountain over 3,000 feet) in the Sutherland area of Scotland. The mountains is best known for being the most northerly peak in mainland Britain and it offers a superb hike into the Highlands with spectacular views from the summit. Discover Ben Hope with this complete visitor guide.

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  • Bidean Nam Bian

    Bidean Nam Bian

    Located on the south side of Glen Coe, Bidean nam Bian is the highest mountain in the county of Argyll. It rises to a 1,150-metre elevation but there are several flat plateaus along the ascent, making it a favourite with beginner and advanced hill walkers alike. Discover Bidean nam Bian in this guide which includes…

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  • Cairngorm Mountain Railway

    Cairngorm Mountain Railway

    Cairngorm Mountain is home to Scotland’s only funicular railway, which offers spectacular views from its highest point at 3,500ft (1.07 km). The Cairngorm mountain range is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts and year-round hill walkers, but many visitors go there just to experience the funicular. Discover this exciting attraction in this complete guide…

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  • Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

    Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

    This castle (actually castles – more on that later) stands on one of the most dramatic viewpoints in Scotland (in my humble opinion) with a wild and windswept coastline that instantly brings to mind a scene from Game of Thrones rather than a tourist attraction thanks to its near-impenetrable cliff-face setting.

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  • Castle Varrich

    Castle Varrich

    Perched on top of an exposed promontory on the Kyle of Tongue sits Castle Varrich, a small fortified tower that offers superb views of Ben Loyal mountain from its sturdy viewing platform. The castle is easily accessed from a well-managed footpath that runs from the village of Tongue through woodland and fields. Discover Castle Varrich…

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  • Causeymire Wind Farm

    Causeymire Wind Farm

    This pleasant walk will take you across Dale Moss near Thurso and up close to the Causeymire wind farm where you will see the impressive turbines generating power for the local area. There are lovely views to take in along the way on paths that are gravelled and well-maintained, making this wild part of northeast…

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  • Culloden Battlefield

    Culloden Battlefield

    The battle of Culloden was the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil, which saw the Jacobite uprising come to a final bloody end in 1746. The battlefield is open to visitors and features a large museum with interactive exhibits, a restaurant, and a viewing platform. Discover everything you need to know about…

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  • Duncansby Head

    Duncansby Head

    Duncansby Head is located approximately 5 miles along the coast from John o’ Groats. It is the furthest northeast point of mainland Britain. The area is popular with visitors due to the number of seabirds that thrive in the area, especially the adorable puffins that are frequently seen nesting on the immense rock pinnacles of…

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  • Dunrobin Castle

    Dunrobin Castle

    Dunrobin Castle, located in Sutherland in the Northern Highlands, is the most northerly ancestral castle in Scotland and dates back to the early 1300s. The castle is styled after the great châteaus in France and it is widely recognized as the most beautiful historic building in Scotland.

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  • Eilean Donan Castle

    Eilean Donan Castle

    The beautiful Eilean Donan Castle dates from the 13th century and is located on an island where three lochs meet in the Kintail National Scenic Area. The castle is a popular stopping-off point for tourists on their way to the Isle of Skye which lies just 10 miles to the west. Discover Eilean Donan Castle…

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  • Faraid Head

    Faraid Head

    Faraid Head and Balnakeil Bay are located on a peninsula on the north coast of Scotland, 3 miles north of Durness. The peninsula is a popular tourist destination thanks to the wide expanse of golden beach at Balnakeil Beach which faces a shallow bay. The area behind the beach is covered in dunes and grasses…

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  • Fascinating Facts About Inverness

    Fascinating Facts About Inverness

    Welcome to Inverness, the picturesque capital of the Scottish Highlands. Steeped in history, brimming with charm, and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, Inverness is a city that offers visitors a surprising number of attractions and activities. In this article, you’ll embark on a captivating journey to uncover facts about Inverness, one of Scotland’s most overlooked tourist…

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  • Fort George

    Fort George

    Fort George was built in 1746 in the wake of the Battle of Culloden, and it is recognized as one of the largest 18th-century fortifications in the world. The fort is still in use today by the British Army, but it is also open for tourists to explore thanks to Historic Environment Scotland which maintains…

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  • Glen Etive

    Glen Etive

    Glen Etive is located in the Scottish Highlands between Loch Etive and the A82. The valley is surrounded by mountains and offers one of the most scenic walks in Scotland thanks to the combination of snow-capped peaks and the River Etive which runs alongside a single-track road for 12 miles. Discover the stunning landscape of…

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  • Glencoe Visitor Centre

    Glencoe Visitor Centre

    Glencoe Visitor Centre, set in the breathtaking landscape of Glencoe, contains a café, shop, and an exhibition about Glencoe and the infamous massacre. Discover Glencoe and the visitor centre in this handy guide which includes an overview and visiting advice.

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  • Glenfinnan Monument

    Glenfinnan Monument

    The 18-metre Glenfinnan Monument commemorates the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It was built on the northern end of Loch Shiel in 1815 and is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Discover this fascinating historic monument and the stunning landscape it’s situated in with this complete guide.

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  • Highland Wildlife Park

    Highland Wildlife Park

    Sitting in around 260 acres of beautifully managed parkland in the Cairngorms, the Highland Wildlife Park showcases some of the wildlife that can be found in the mountains and wilderness areas of Scotland, as well as several species that are currently endangered in mountainous regions all over the world.

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  • John O’ Groats

    John O’ Groats

    John O’ Groats is a popular tourist destination on the northernmost tip of Scotland that has gained popularity since becoming a major stop on the NC500 tourist trail. The site includes several family-friendly attractions including an art gallery, gift shops and restaurants, but it is the signpost that’s the real draw and getting a photograph…

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  • Loch Morar

    Loch Morar

    Loch Morar is a freshwater loch in the Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands. The loch is the fifth-largest in Scotland and is the deepest body of freshwater in the United Kingdom, with the deepest sections plummeting to an incredible 310 metres. As well as being a popular location for water sports, Loch Morar offers…

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  • Loch Morlich

    Loch Morlich

    Loch Morlich is a stunning freshwater loch located deep in the heart of the Cairngorm mountain range and Glenmore forest. The loch features a sand beach, a sports centre, and a yacht club. There are lots of paths surrounding the loch that run through the forest, and the Glenmore Forest Visitor Centre and the Cairngorm…

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  • Loch Ness

    Loch Ness

    Loch Ness is one of the most famous, most visited, and most photographed tourist attractions in Scotland. It is best known for the mysterious monster that’s rumoured to live in the loch’s 230-metre depths but it is also a popular tourist destination with visitors who come to sail along it on pleasure cruises. Discover everything…

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  • Muir of Dinnet

    Muir of Dinnet

    The Muir of Dinnet is a national nature reserve located on the eastern border of the Cairngorms national park in the Scottish Highlands. The reserve features a wealth of different habitats including heath, woodland and wetland, but it’s perhaps best known for ‘the vat’, a natural gorge formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago.

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