Scotland’s most inspiring places to visit on holiday

Are you thinking of going to Scotland on your next holiday?  We love this exciting country full to the borders with inspiring landscapes, views, beauty spots and sheer natural spectacle - it’s so difficult to do justice to Scotland in words and photographs.  

To know Scotland is to fall in love with the place, it’s inspired painters, writers, filmmakers and poets for decades, if not hundreds of years. We’ve put together a unique list of inspirational and lesser known spots, found the length and breadth of this sharp mountain, glen gilded, loch laden, country specifically to persuade you to go and enjoy a real undiluted experience for yourself.  

Let Scotland inspire you.

Old Man of Hoy, The Orkneys

Old man of Hoy

As the name would suggest, The Old Man of Hoy is situated just off the Orkney Island of Hoy. Perhaps the most distinctive landmark in the Orkney’s this 450-foot sea stack is a remarkable sight. If you love trekking there is a three-hour circular path that can be picked up in Rackwick.  It can also be seen from the water if you happen to be taking the ferry between Scrabster and Stromness.

Places to stay in the area

Lower Midgarth (sleeps 7) - 10 miles by ferry

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, Glasgow

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Here’s a true hidden treasure, found down on of the narrower streets of inner city Glasgow, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is a cultural wonder. First opened in 1996, after the success of sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudky and theatre-director Tatyana Jakovskaya’s initial successes in their native Russia.  Scrap metal miniature humans and creatures combine to portray unusual stories in the maker’s kinemats – which are gigantic clockwork, mechanised, kinetic structures that turn, wind and move. The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is truly magical and an enchanting experience for all the family. 

Places to stay in the area

Bellabreck (sleeps 7) - 1 mile

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh

St Mary's Close

Below the streets of Edinburgh is a once-forgotten street, sectioned off and frozen in time. The Royal Exchange was built on top of the remains of several streets that led to some notoriously bad tenement blocks where many people perished from the Black Plague in the 17th century.  Rediscovered in the 1990s, visitors can now embark on a tour of these subterranean streets and learn the stories of the who may have lived there and of the hauntings.  Edinburgh is the perfect place for a romantic city break. Visit our collection for a range of holiday apartments and houses.

Places to stay in the area

The Firkin (sleeps 4) - 2 miles

Ingle Apartment (sleeps 5) - 1.5 miles

Castle Views Apartment (sleeps 5) - 0.25 miles

Fingal’s Cave, Inner Hebrides

Fingal's Cave

One of the world’s recognised caves, Fingal’s Cave lies on the Isle of Staffa which is a part of the Inner Hebrides.  It’s a distinctive fluke of nature with its straight edges and hexagon shaped jointed rock formations. It’s inspired musicians and composers such as Pink Floyd and the ‘Hebrides Overture – Fingal’s Cave’, by Felix Mendelssohn. You can book a tour from the Isle of Iona. It is possible to walk inside the cave along a naturally formed ridge at the high-tide mark. Please check local websites for any accessibility issues.

Places to stay in the area

Appin (sleeps 4) - 40 miles (incl. ferry)

Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey

In the grounds of the Palace of Holyrood house you can see the enchanting ruins of Holyrood Abbey. It is home to one the largest intact surviving Gothic facades in the country. It fell into rack and ruin in the late 17th century under the rule of James VII, but today is managed by the Royal Collection Trust.  Also relax in the tranquil grounds and see what the Palace has to offer. The Abbey is a great location for those that like to sketch or paint, or perhaps read a book in sunshine close by.

The Cooperage (sleeps 2) - 2 miles

York Lane Mews (sleeps 2) - 0.25 miles

Ocean Drive (sleeps 4) - 2 miles

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeen

Dunnottar Castle

Close to the town of Stonehaven is this imposing ruin of a 15th and 16th century castle. The fortress remains sit atop an outcrop of land and high up above the mainland. A small fee is levied if you want to explore the castle and its outbuildings, but it is worth it for the panorama and the unforgettable location.  The sea and the cliffs are bound to inspire daydreams of when the fort, in previous incarnations was sacked by Vikings or visited by Charles II, William Wallace, and Mary Queen of Scots.

Places to stay in the area

Durris Tower (sleeps 6) - 6 miles 

Scott’s View, Melrose

Scott's View

Sir Walter Scott is one of Scotland’s most famous authors of all time, having written Ivanhoe, and Rob Roy, and this next inspiring location would well be the vista to kick start a few ideas for authors, poets, and biographers.  The hilltop is a former volcano and there’s a bench at the summit to take the famous three peaks that characterise the local landscape around Melrose and Kelso. Well-worth the climb if you fancy a fine view and to stir the creative juices after a bracing climb.

Places to stay in the area 

Todrig Bothy (sleeps 2) - 10 miles

The Forth Bridges

The Forth Bridges

The three bridges that cross the Firth of Forth just outside Edinburgh are iconic landmarks combined and you can walk across the Forth Road Bridge for some of the best views. The railway bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built between 1883 and 1890 and is an utterly impressive feat of 19th century engineering.  A third bridge was opened in 2017 and is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.  To learn about the history of the three bridges at the Queensferry Museum.

Places to stay in the area

Forth Bridges View (sleeps 10) - 0.25 miles

Northern lights

Northern lights

Inspiration can be found simply by looking up into the heavens. Scotland is a wonderful place to see the Aurora Borealis because of the country’s northerly aspect.  The natural, colourful phenomenon is a wonderful sight and can be seen across Scotland away from built up areas where light pollution is prevalent. The most popular places to see these epic sky displays are Noss Head, Nairn, Portknockie, Cairn o’ Mount, The Cairngorms, St Andrews, and the Shetlands, and the Orkneys. And these are just a few. We recommend Noss Head near Wick. Visit in the autumn and winter.

Places to stay in the area

Bulchatton Cottage, nr Wick (sleeps 4) - 5 miles

North Coast 500

North Coast 500

Perhaps the ‘daddy’ of all road trips in Britain, the NC500 is (as the name suggests) a 500-mile round trip around Scotland taking in some of the windiest and most challenging highways available. If you love driving, then some of the grandest views and places of historical importance await. These include Beauly Priory, Smoo Cave, Glen Ord Distillery, Reraig Forest, Corrieshalloch Gorge, John O’Groats, Fairy Glen, Clashnessie Falls, Sandwood Bay, the Whaligoe Steps, and Bealach Na Ba (the UK’s steepest road). The noose shaped NC500 originate in Inverness then bisects west and north at Muir of Ord. Why not begin or end your road trip with a stay in Inverness?  

Places to stay in the area

1 Priory Court (sleeps 4) - 12 miles

For even more inspiration on how places to go in Scotland visit our blog page.

If you're ready to make plans for a holiday above the border we have a large collection of inspiring cottages in Scotland to choose from.

Posted by Ed on 1st May 2018