Guide to the Highlands and Islands

The Highlands and Islands really are the peak of everything Scotland has to offer, a beautiful and inspiring region made up of fascinating landscapes and buildings. There are endless corners to get lost in and explore, from rolling green hills which greet the flowing lochs, to snow-capped mountains.

A 7 day ITINERARY for the Highlands and Islands

There are so many things to experience on a trip to the Highlands and Islands that seven days may not be enough, however we have compiled the best of the best to ensure you make the most of your holiday.

Wildlife Spotter

On the first day why not jump right in and get to grips with nature, although the animals on show might not all be native to Scotland, a trip to the Highland Wildlife park near Kingussie is a fantastic attraction and makes for a great family day out. You will discover Scottish wildlife, along with endangered animals of the world, from red pandas and polar bears to red deer and Scottish wildcats – it can provide an educational experience for any little ones whilst still being just as intriguing for the adults.

It is inevitable, that with 105 hectares of safari park and zoo land to explore the hunger and thirst will start to kick in, the Highland Wildlife park have this covered with an Antlers Coffee Shop, The Oystercatcher and Polar Express Kiosk all topically named and serving up delicious refreshments allowing you to make a day of it.

Step back in time

Scotland is packed full of heritage and historical charm, home to many iconic castles and forts, each with its own fascinating story to tell, a visit around some of them can provide hours of fun and interest to visitors of all ages.

It can be difficult choosing which castle to visit first, our advice would be to choose the one nearest to where you are staying but the Dunvegan Castle is an intriguing destination to explore and will certainly fill you with that olde worlde medieval charm.

This castle makes for a good starting point as visitors can enjoy tours of the extraordinary castle steeped in history and clan legend, appreciate the formal gardens or take a fishing trip and loch cruise in one of the traditional clinker boats – providing a fun and enjoyable day for all the family! After a day delving back in time you will of probably worked up an appetite, so why not stop by The MacLeod’s Table Café on your way home for a delicious dining experience.

Sightseeing

If you find yourself over on the West coast then you will have the perfect opportunity to indulge in one of the world’s greatest railway journeys and step aboard the Jacobite Steam Train which crosses over the grand viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter films.

The most stunning sightseeing experience is to be had here, allowing you to admire the picturesque views over the Glenfinnan Monument and across Loch Shiel. This 84 mile round trip will finally arrive at destination next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!

Whilst in the area of Loch Nevis why not stop off at Mallaig Tea Room for a traditional cream tea, or if you are feeling adventurous – of course haggis is also on the menu!

A day on the water

With so many beautiful landscapes in Scotland, made up of mountains, hills, lochs and rivers, it is the ideal destination to get active and try out a range of activities.

With all the indulging we all tend to do whilst on holiday participating in a sport can make you feel less guilty about the fish and chips you had the night before! A good place to start your activities would be to learn the basics of windsurfing, with Loch Morlich, providing great opportunities to get out and experience the water.

Loch Morlich, situated high in the pinewoods in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, is just one of the areas where you can enjoy tuition, or if you’re already comfortable with the water, you can also hire equipment to venture out on your own.

After a tiring day, why not stop by the The Chippy at Granish, which is located close by to the loch, to take away a delicious meal to enjoy back at the comfort of your holiday cottage.

One for the thrill seekers

If all the water sporting activities have inspired you to experience some more adrenaline based fun then the Highland Adventure Centre makes for an exciting day out for the whole family to enjoy.

The Highland Adventure Centre is an activity centre in Perthshire, Scotland offering outdoor activities in beautiful and peaceful Glenisla on the border of the Caingorms National Park, whether you fancy trying your hand at archery and target air pistol shooting or hill walking and survival skills you will be able to do just that! With experienced instructors being able to gauge the level of difficulty according to your age, conditions and fitness, no previous ability is required which can help to take the pressure off.

Being in such stunning surroundings provides you with the perfect opportunity to take some provisions and take advantage of alfresco dining in the afternoon when everyone is worn out!

Retail therapy

After a busy week exploring the many attractions on offer, a relaxing day is definitely called for. Only on holiday can you get away with sweet treats for breakfast so why not make the most of it, at Girvans tea room you can do just that. If you rise early enough make your way over to this adorable venue situated in Inverness to sample a slice of their delicious home made cake, washed down with a cream and marshmallow topped hot chocolate – if you are feeling extra indulgent!

Eastgate shopping centre also situated in Inverness would be the perfect chance to pick up those last minute holiday gifts for your loved ones and to do some retail therapy for yourself. Home to some of the world’s top fashion and lifestyle brands this shopping venue gives you the opportunity to indulge yourself with some luxury designer shopping or just immerse yourself in some good old fashioned shopping.

I Spy Nessie

No visit to the Highlands would be complete without spending a day on the coast, wherever you turn you will be pleasantly greeted with vast water views, whether that’s the sea or a loch, both are crucial to Scottish heritage and culture.

Why not head to one of the many local farm shops selling native produce to make a typical Scottish picnic then make your way to Loch Ness to try your hand at spotting the Highland’s resident monster – Nessie!

This will make for a fascinating day out for individuals of all ages and you will be spoilt for choice with things to explore. If you don’t get the opportunity to spot the real thing then opting for a visit to Nessieland can ensure no disappointed faces, after having a spot of lunch in the café the children can enjoy the climbing frames, chutes and swings all Nessie themed.

Top 5 lochs to visit

  • Loch Duich
  • Loch Nevis
  • Loch Morar
  • Loch an Dubh Lochai
  • Loch Ness

A guide to the coast

Bring your bucket and spade and prepare to discover hidden gems, isolated spots and captivating landscapes all encased within the Highland’s beautiful beaches.

The Highlands and Islands holidays

Feeling inspired? The beautiful Highlands and Islands landscapes are waiting!

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