10 of the best places to stay in Scotland

Coastal, Days out, Rural

Posted by Kate Williams on 23rd December 2021

Best places to visit Scotland

If you’re planning a trip to the remarkable country of Scotland but have yet to find the perfect place to stay, we’ve done our research and have discovered ten top destinations in Scotland that will inspire you to make the journey.

There are so many impressive Scottish towns and villages ideal for a break and unforgettable sights in Scotland worth visiting, it can seem an impossible task to narrow it down to just one wonderful holiday getaway. In this blog, you’ll find what we consider to be a few of the best places to stay in Scotland and recommendations of things to do during your exciting trip to help you on your way.

Read through these top destinations in Scotland to begin planning your next extraordinary holiday in the UK, and take a look at our collection of holiday cottages in Scotland to find a wonderful retreat for your next trip. 

Cottages across Scotland

Visit the capital city of Edinburgh

1. Edinburgh – best for short breaks

The cobbled streets of this magnificent city come to life during the spring and summer, however, Edinburgh is far better known for being one of the best places to visit in Scotland in winter. With cosy cafes serving up foaming hot chocolates, wonderful indoor attractions to duck in to escape the chill, and the impressive Edinburgh Castle which looks even more magical after a light dusting of snow, enjoy a short break to beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland.

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city centre, a few of the best places to visit in Scotland near Edinburgh include the charming rural village of Roslin, the beloved riverside village of Culross, and the tranquil coastal town of Dunbar.

Edinburgh cottages

View across tranquil Loch Lomond

2. Loch Lomond – best for couples

From Scotland’s vibrant capital to one of the country’s renowned national parks, retreat to the tranquillity of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in Scotland and spend time out and about in this scenic holiday destination.

Boating is one of the most popular activities in Scotland and at Loch Lomond you could hire a speedboat, rowboat, or paddleboat and explore the loch at your own pace, keeping an eye out for local wildlife as you navigate the area and get to know the best of Scotland. If you prefer to keep both feet on solid ground, enjoy a stroll around the perimeter of the loch, or venture into the wooded glens and braes of the Trossachs before heading out to dine in a restaurant overlooking the water.

Loch Lomond cottages

Rhue Lighthouse near Ullapool

3. Ullapool – best for explorers

A hidden gem set on the wild northern coast of the Scottish Highlands, in the region of Ross and Cromarty, Ullapool is a coastal town boasting just 1,500 inhabitants yet it can still claim to be the largest town for miles around.

Somewhat of a hub for this area, Ullapool is the perfect place to base yourself so you can strike out on adventures across the landscape, visiting impressive Munros and coastal inlets during your getaway. Ullapool has its own golf course, leisure centre, ferry terminal, and shorefront places to eat and shop so there are lots of activities to do in town if you don’t feel like venturing far. Make your escape with your partner to this remarkable country with our guide to the top 5 romantic places in Scotland.

Ullapool cottages

The historic streets of Aberdeen

4. Aberdeen – best for night owls

The port city of Aberdeen is wonderful during the day, full of fun attractions perfect for families or big kids on an exciting break, but when night falls the city comes to life. With a choice of theatres, bars, and nightclubs to frequent, you can really make the most of your holiday. If you do decide on an evening out, make sure you visit The Tunnels music venue that sits beneath the city in two underground tunnels.

When daylight returns, there are many excellent museums, galleries, and a choice of beaches to discover across the city and along the surrounding coastline.

Aberdeen cottages

Dornoch Beach

5. Dornoch – best for golfers

If you’re searching for serenity and relaxation during your holiday, head to Dornoch in Sutherland and Caithness. Renowned for its world-class Royal Dornoch Golf Course and as the birthplace of course designer Donald Ross, it’s the ideal place for a golfing getaway with places to eat and the spectacular Dornoch Beach to visit too.

After a morning on the course, pull on your walking boots as this wonderful landscape hides a variety of walking routes to ramble including the fourth and fifth sections of the coastal John O’Groats Trail which you could follow north to Tain or south towards Golspie, taking in breathtaking views along the way.

Dornoch cottages

River Ness

6. Inverness – best for history buffs

Inverness is an ancient coastal stronghold that is bursting with culture and heritage including the 19th-century Inverness Cathedral, the 18th-century Old High Church, and the Victorian Market that can all be found within the city’s beautiful Old Town. Meanwhile, in nearby Loch Ness – a must-see destination in the Scotland Highlands – you can search for the mysterious Nessie. Gardens, theatres, clubs, shops, and a wide range of other attractions ensure you’ll have a fun-filled holiday in Inverness.

If you’d rather stay in a cottage outside of the bustling city, a few of the best villages near Inverness are Nairn, Fortrose and Drumnadrochit, all offering delightful alternatives for a peaceful and quiet place to stay.

Inverness cottages

Boat sailing away from the Cowal Peninsula

7. Cowal Peninsula – best for wildlife watching  

The alluring Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute is surrounded by lochs making it popular with sailors, and the serene landscape makes this a must-see place on the West Coast of Scotland.

Dunoon is the main town on the edge of Loch Long, with many attractions and shops while, further afield, the serene Cowal landscape remains unchanged. The extensive Argyll Forest Park covers much of the north of Cowal, the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way winds through the region, while otters and red deer can be spotted across the area and porpoises, seals, and basking sharks in the surrounding waters.

Dunoon cottages

A waterfall on Rannoch Moor

8. Rannoch Moor – best for walkers

The Great Moor of Rannoch is an awe-inspiring wilderness near Glencoe and has to be one of the most iconic and best places to visit in the Scottish Highlands. This vast terrain encompasses 50 square miles of blanket bog, rivers and rocky outcrops with an estimated 82% made up of water or bog – one of the largest areas of blanket bog in Britain.

You’ll not run out of places to uncover with a network of walks and paths crossing through this unique destination. Begin with a walk along this relatively short route before moving on to other longer trails as you conquer the wild landscape of Rannoch Moor, Scotland.

Pitlochry cottages

Calanais Standing Stones

9. Isle of Lewis – best for surfers

There’s a whole host of wonderful places to go and sights to see on the Isle of Lewis but if you’re looking for something a bit different during your holiday, this is one of the most unusual and breathtaking places in the UK to go surfing, offering some of the best beaches in Scotland. Dalmore and Dalbeg are the top two surfing beaches on the Isle of Lewis while there are surf schools in Stornoway if you’re keen to learn.

Ancient historical landmarks, winding walking routes, and serene beaches provide more options if you’d prefer a quiet coastal holiday or an island adventure with family and friends in the far north of Scotland. Discover more stunning sandy beaches with impressive waves in our guide to the best places to go surfing in Scotland.

Isle of Lewis cottages

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Sky

10. Isle of Skye – best for unforgettable views  

A place full of natural wonders, the Isle of Skye is far and away one of the most beautiful places to stay in Scotland. Things not to miss include the impressive beauty spots like The Storr and The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, which is easy to get to via the free bridge that connects this serene island with the mainland of Scotland.

Portree is the characterful capital and largest town on the island with many colourful houses lining the seafront making for stunning photo opportunities. If you’re looking for things to do in Portree, then walk along Portree Harbour, visit the shops and tea rooms in the centre of town before venturing out in the wilderness of the Isle of Skye’s remote and spellbinding landscape.


Isle of Skye cottages

View our top 10 places to visit in Scotland on a map

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Stay in one of these top destinations in Scotland

Read our Discover Scotland guide before you escape to one of these fantastic places for an unforgettable holiday with family and friends, or just you and your partner.

Will you discover one of our scenic spots in the Scottish Highlands, retreat to a characterful coastal village or delve into the exciting hustle and bustle of a city break? We have a wonderful collection of holiday cottages across Scotland so if you have yet to decide on your perfect location, you could plan your trip around which of our impressive holiday lets catches your eye.

Browse cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.