A guide to Scotland's best national parks

Days out, Walking

Posted by Hayley Kitto on 1st July 2021

A guide to Scotland's best national parks

Scotland: lochs, forests and mountainside

There has never been a better time than now to visit Scotland's two beautiful national parks. Discover fascinating wildlife, try your hand at some exhilarating outdoor activities or just bask in the Scottish sunshine whilst enjoying a traditional family park. The national parks in Scotland are such a significant part of Scottish culture that we feel they deserve a guide of their own!

How many National Parks are there in Wales?

How many National Parks are there in Scotland?

Scotland is home to two national parks: the Cairngorms National Park, and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Covering an area twice the size of the Lake District, the Cairngorms can be found in the eastern Highlands and Aberdeenshire. Containing Munros, ancient forests, rushing rivers, deep lochs, rare sub-arctic habitats, cosy villages and a ski resort, there's a lifetime of places to go and things to see in the Cairngorms. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is found north-west of Glasgow and is home to its titular lake and some of the bonniest scenery in the nation. Within easy driving distance of Glasgow and the Ayrshire coastline, it's a superb destination for holidaymakers.

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Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in the national parks. We have properties deep in the countryside, in glens, by rivers and on the slopes of Munros. If you are planning a walking holiday or are hoping to explore the parks for castles and wildlife, we have the property for you. Providing the perfect refuge after a day of extreme sport or trekking, our holiday accommodation is situated close to the action, putting you within reach of all there is to see in Scotland's wonderful national parks.

Cottages in Scotland


Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park is the largest park in the UK, located in north-east Scotland, established in 2003. The unspoilt wilderness of this spectacular landscape provides hours of fun for any age or ability. The Cairngorms National Park covers 4,500 sq km of stunning mountains, vast green forests filled with wildlife, friendly villages and picturesque clear lochs across four regions.


Enjoy some of the best hillwalking in the country, ski down snow-covered mountains, explore Britain’s highest and biggest mountain range – this special place will take you back to your childhood and allow for the best exploration you could possibly experience.


Highlights in the Cairngorms National Park

A sanctuary for wildlife

A sanctuary for wildlife

A staggering 25% of the UK’s endangered species can be found in the Cairngorms National Park, providing a wealth of opportunity when it comes to seeking out the wildlife inhabiting the area. If the idea of discovering some of the UK’s most fascinating bugs and animals appeals, then you can join an organised tour, go out and about with one of the park rangers or visit the famous RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. However, if free-roaming is more your thing, then you certainly won’t be disappointed when taking a simple stroll in the woods either; you are sure to bump into a red squirrel or see a wide variety of bird life. The rich density of wildlife to be found makes it a dream for photographers, with the land providing many opportunities to capture some stunning shots.

A rich cultural landscape

A rich cultural landscape

Separated by the great bulk of the mountains, different areas of the Cairngorms National Park have their own distinct identity and cultural traditions, however the diverse areas all share the same strong connections to the same environment. Scotland’s Cairngorms Park is steeped in character and history waiting to be explored, you can delve into the past at the many castles and other historical sites such as the open-air Highland Folk Museum. Although much of the culture stems from previous stories and traditions, the culture of Scotland today lives on and can be clearly seen in this area. With rich heritage and a focus on music, you will find huge amounts of live entertainment at all times of the year, helping to celebrate the variety of the Scottish arts. Trek to roaring waterfalls in this remarkable landscape, stop by traditional Scottish villages, you might even be able to see the northern lights! 

Northern lights in Scotland

A place for adventure

A place for adventure

The Cairngorms is a natural playground, the area offers such diverse terrains and landscapes which provides the perfect opportunity for sports of all types. For the more adrenaline seeking of you, the area offers water sports, snow sports and some incredible walking and cycling routes. It’s even home to the only sled dog centre, and the first permanent bridge-based bungee jump, in the UK. If you are after a more relaxed, low-level sport there are plenty of short walks to be explored and golfers are very well catered for, with 12 courses available in the park.

Highlights:

  • Highland Folk Museum
  • RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten
  • Mount Cairngorm

Free family days out

Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in The Cairngorms National Park. Escape to one of these fantastic places to visit in Scotland for an unforgettable holiday with family and friends, or just you and your partner. We have a wonderful collection of holiday cottages in the Cairngorms so if you have yet to decide on your ideal holiday home, have a browse of our collection for inspiration.

Cairngorms cottages


Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was Scotland’s first National Park and comprises 720 square miles of some of the finest scenery in Scotland, beautiful mountains, glens and lochs. It is a location of diverse landscapes, from rolling lowland landscapes in the south, to high mountains in the north, and many lochs, rivers, forests and woodlands encompassed in-between.

The landscapes in this region provide a wealth of exploration - hours of fun for the whole family. Many days can be spent appreciating the area of outstanding beauty or getting involved with the vast amount of activities on offer.

Dizzying heights

Beautiful mountains in the Trossachs

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a treasure trove of mountains, Munros and magnificent corries waiting to be discovered; they are sights of pure natural beauty and are completely unmissable. The area is very popular with hillwalkers and ‘Munro baggers’ alike partly due to its close proximity to Scotland’s largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also due to its spectacular scenery and high density of accessible hill tops.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park contains some extensive mountain areas in the north for the more experienced climber including Ben Lomond and Ben More, however if you aren’t seeking quite such a daunting challenge, then there are 19 Corbetts (mountains between 2,500 and 3,000 feet) waiting to be climbed!

The photo opportunities from these mountainous vantage points are spectacular; being surrounded by 360 degree panoramic views makes for an unforgettable experience.

Climb Scotland's mountains

A culinary adventure

It is impossible to mention Scotland without making some kind of reference to the presence of food and drink within its culture.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park definitely does not shy away from showcasing the vast and delicious produce available in the region. It is celebrated vividly in the form of festivals and events located directly in the parks, a few not to be missed are Trossach’s Beer Festival, 10th Annual Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival and Mhor 4th Annual Festival. From haggis to kippers, if you are looking to taste some of the traditional Scottish delights, you certainly will not be disappointed. There is also an immense range of eating venues for you to try, covering every palate.

Scottish food and drink

A place for adventure

Adventure on Loch Lomond

With Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park consisting of such a large amount of land space, you might need a helping hand when it comes to planning what to do when you get there. Just like the Cairngorms, there is a wealth of sporting activities for you and the family to try your hand at, making for cherished holiday memories.

What better way to spend a day in the Scottish sunshine than out on the water getting to grips with a new water sport or out in the depths of the countryside enjoying a leisurely cycle? There really is something for everyone. If the idea of heading out into the forests with just a backpack fills you with terror then do not worry, there are plenty of schools and instructors on hand to help you out along the way, and you can then take your new found skills back home with you to show off to your friends and family.

Highlights:

  • Ben Lomond
  • Ben More
  • Loch Lomond

Book one of our Scotland properties to explore Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Our accommodation can include such features as alluring hot tubs and saunas. Book a large cottage for the whole family or spend quality time with your partner at one of our romantic hideaways. Bring the dog too, as many of our properties in the National Parks welcome pets. Where will you stay?

Loch Lomond Cottages


Stay in Scotland

Escape to one of Britain's best landscapes with a trip into the remote and dramatic Cairngorms or the lush Trossachs National Park. Book a holiday let in one of these remarkable locations or plan a getaway into the stark Highlands, the thriving cities or the serene coast. 

Cottages in Scotland


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.