By Rachel Diebel
For the adventurous at heart, the Scottish Highlands are full of fun and exciting things to see and do. Featuring everything from breathtaking sights to engaging museums for the whole family, the Scottish Highlands is the perfect destination for everyone.
Visit the Isle of Skye
Arguably the most beautiful place in Scotland, the Isle of Skye is part of the inner Hebrides, a far north chain of Scottish islands. The island is 50 miles long and accessible via a bridge. It has wildly diverse wildlife, breathtaking lakes, and gorgeous sunsets. The island is also rich with history, having experienced everything from the dinosaurs to the Jacobite Rebellion. The island features some spectacular walks, such as the hike to the fairy pools and walking along Talisker Beach.
Go Monster Spotting at Loch Ness
No trip to the highlands is complete without a visit to Loch Ness, made famous by being the alleged home of the Loch Ness Monster. Known to the locals as Nessie, the creature has been drawing tourists to the loch (the local word for a large, landlocked arm of the sea) since its first sighting in the 1930s. Monster or not, the loch is undeniably beautiful and an easy day trip from nearby Inverness.
Tour Whiskey Distilleries
Scotland is known for its quality and variety of fine whiskey. An essential piece of visiting the highlands is touring one of the many distilleries scattered around the country. The highlands in particular have numerous distilleries housed in ancient, picturesque family-owned buildings that are worth a visit all on their own. Dalmore Distillery, located north of Aberdeen, is a standout example, offering tours, tastings, and master classes in whiskey brewing. The distillery sits of the banks of the Cromarty Firth, a beautiful estuary, making for a great view from the visitor’s center.
Marvel at the Dornoch Cathedral
Brought to the public’s attention when pop star Madonna had her son christened there in 2000, Dornoch Cathedral is a vast and striking 13th century cathedral located right in the heart of the quaint coastal town Dornoch. Though small, the cathedral is nonetheless worth a visit, as it features 27 intricate stained glass windows spaced throughout the building. When the sun is high in the sky, the light through the windows paints the entire cathedral in beautiful colors.
Hike Ben Nevis and Shop Fort William
Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom, rises straight up from sea level to tower above the town of Fort William. The more adventurous visitors venture up the side of the mountain, following the pony trail from a nearby glen. The summit features the ruins of an old observatory used to collect meteorological data until 1904. Fort William, located directly below Ben Nevis, is the perfect town to stop and shop for trinkets and oddities at the many antique (and more modern) stores.
Revisit History at the Highland Folk Museum
If you need a break from hiking and sightseeing, make a pit stop at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore. The museum acts as a time capsule, showing how the highland people lived their lives before electricity and modern technology. From how they tilled their soil to how they dressed, the Highland Folk Museum is chock full of fascinating information. It also offers various activities throughout the summer, from churning your own butter to learning leatherworking.
Swim at Camusdarach Beach
Camusdarach Beach combines the perfect view of land, sky and sea. A picturesque white-sand beach with views of the Isle of Skye and the sea cliffs of Eigg, Camusdarach Beach is a wonderful location to relax and go for a swim. Featured in the movie Local Hero, the beach is a popular stop for many film location tours. Located an hour west of Fort William, the beach also offers campsites for those who want to spend more than one day at this great locale.
Isle of Skye: Jonathan Combe via Flickr
Loch Ness: Dave Conner via Flickr
Dalmore Distillery Truck: DSLRManu via Flickr
Dornoch Cathedral: Mark Harkin via Flickr
Ben Nevis: Michel Curi, Jr., MBA via Flickr
Highland Folk Museum: Sebastian Ruff via Flickr
Camusdarach Beach: Ian Robertson via Flickr