Caithness & Sutherland: The Best Things to Do

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Caithness & Sutherland

Located in the far north of Scotland, the Caithness and Sutherland region is a place of remote rugged beauty that feels a million miles from the hubbub of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The area’s northernmost tip is on the same latitude as Norway and its coastlines are bounded by the North Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, with very few towns and villages between them.

The geography of Caithness is known for its flat, fertile farmland and low-lying moors, while Sutherland boasts wild, mountainous landscapes, its highest point being the 3,270-foot Ben More.

The coastline is a spectacular combination of steeps cliff, golden beaches, and hidden-away bays, with the Pentland Firth – one of Britain’s most treacherous stretches of water – separating the mainland from the Orkney Islands beyond the famous John O’ Groats.

Free attractions in Caithness & Sutherland

The Flow Country, the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe, spreads across much of the region to create a vast wilderness that’s a haven for wildlife. Further west, the mountains of Sutherland, including the distinctive peak of Suilven, offer stunning panoramas and challenging hikes.

The region is also home to a wealth of beautiful lochs including Loch Shin, Loch Naver, and Loch Assynt, while the beaches, particularly along the North Coast 500 route, present visitors with a panorama of golden sands and turquoise waters that rival those in any tropical location.

When it comes to tourist attractions, Caithness and Sutherland have plenty of sites that are worth visiting. The Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother’s former residence, is a must-visit with its lovely gardens and views across the Pentland Firth.

For history enthusiasts, the 5,000-year-old Neolithic burial chambers of the Camster Cairns offer a glimpse into Scotland’s ancient past, while for nature lovers, the Handa Island Wildlife Reserve is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to an array of seabirds including puffins and guillemots.


The region’s towns also hold appeal. Wick, in Caithness, was once the herring capital of Europe and its past can be explored at the Wick Heritage Centre. Thurso, the northernmost town on the UK mainland, is popular with surfers and is home to the fascinating North Coast Visitor Centre.

One particular highlight is the remote village of Durness which is home to Smoo Cave, a vast sea cave with a waterfall inside, as well as the picturesque village of Tongue which offers stunning views over the Kyle of Tongue from a viewpoint at Castle Varrich.

Find places to visit and things to do in Caithness & Sutherland with these visitor guides.

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