Scotland is a wild and beautiful place with a tapestry of landscapes that range from rough mountains to calm beaches. In this land, history can be heard through old stones, and wild and lively culture coexist. Scotland is a great place to go walking because it has so many trails for all skill levels. With this complete guide, we want you to discover the best walks Scotland has to offer. Every step you take in Scotland, from climbing steep hills in the Highlands to relaxing on beautiful beaches in the Outer Hebrides, gives you a chance to learn more about the country’s history and see its beautiful scenery.
The Scottish Highlands are a treasure trove of walking trails that cater to all levels of hikers. Whether you’re a seasoned mountaineer or a casual walker, the Highlands have something for everyone.
Ben Nevis Summit
The Ben Nevis Summit is the crown jewel of Scottish hiking experiences, offering a challenging ascent to the highest peak in the UK.
Insider Tip: When planning to conquer Ben Nevis, come well-prepared with proper hiking gear, including sturdy boots and warm clothing, as the weather can change rapidly. Begin your hike early in the day to allow ample time to reach the summit and return safely. Follow the Mountain Track for a well-defined path, but always exercise caution.
The panoramic views from the top are worth the effort and provide a sense of accomplishment like no other. Remember to respect the mountain environment, follow Leave No Trace principles, and enjoy this incredible natural wonder with reverence.
Often referred to as the “Weeping Glen” due to its hauntingly beautiful landscapes, Glen Coe is a must-visit in the Scottish Highlands. This glen is a dramatic masterpiece, with towering peaks, hidden valleys, and a tragic history dating back to the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. Hikers can explore its trails and absorb the raw, rugged beauty.
Insider Tip: To fully appreciate Glen Coe’s atmosphere, visit during early morning or late afternoon when the crowds thin out. Be prepared for rapid weather changes, so pack waterproofs and dress in layers. For an even more immersive experience, consider guided tours that delve into the glen’s rich history and legends.
Cairngorms National Park
As the UK’s largest national park, Cairngorms is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Its vast expanses include ancient forests, pristine lochs, and rugged mountain ranges. Wildlife abounds, with chances to spot red deer, golden eagles, and elusive pine martens.
Insider Tip: Cairngorms’ weather can be unpredictable, so bring layers and rain gear. For an immersive experience, join guided wildlife tours to increase your chances of spotting elusive creatures.
Additionally, respect the park’s fragile ecosystems by sticking to marked trails, and consider visiting during the quieter shoulder seasons for a more tranquil and intimate encounter with this natural wonderland.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye, often referred to as the “Misty Isle,” is a mythical realm of breathtaking landscapes. Its ethereal beauty includes mist-shrouded mountains, cascading waterfalls, and dramatic sea cliffs.
Insider Tip: To fully appreciate Skye’s magic, rise early to witness sunrise over the Old Man of Storr or Quiraing. Beat the crowds by visiting popular sites during weekdays or in the shoulder seasons. Sample local cuisine, including Skye’s renowned seafood, and cozy up in traditional pubs for a taste of island life. Consider hiring a local guide for hidden gems and legends that bring Skye’s captivating scenery to life.
The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye is a geological wonder, a place where nature’s artistry is on full display. This otherworldly landscape features towering pinnacles, sweeping cliffs, and a winding path that offers panoramic views.
Insider Tip: Visit the Quiraing during the early morning or late evening to witness the interplay of light and shadows across the landscape. Wear sturdy hiking boots for the uneven terrain and be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Photography enthusiasts should keep their cameras ready at every turn, as this place offers countless opportunities for stunning shots. Exploring with a local guide can provide valuable insights into the geological history and folklore of this unique site.
Tucked away in Glen Brittle on the Isle of Skye, the Fairy Pools are a series of crystal-clear blue pools and waterfalls, making it a fairytale-like destination.
Insider Tip: To avoid the crowds, plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon. Remember to bring waterproof footwear, as you’ll need to cross streams to reach the pools. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a refreshing dip in the pools, but brace for chilly water temperatures. Local guides can enhance your experience with stories of the fairies that supposedly inhabit this enchanting place and offer safety tips for your visit.
Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is an iconic pinnacle of rock on the Isle of Skye, known for its dramatic appearance and breathtaking views. This natural wonder, shaped by centuries of geological processes, stands as a testament to the island’s unique beauty.
A hike to its base offers an up-close encounter with this colossal rock formation, while those who venture further are rewarded with panoramic vistas of Skye’s rugged landscape. To experience the magic of the Old Man of Storr at its best, arrive early in the day, allowing you to savor the tranquility and witness the sun casting its enchanting light upon the rock.
Edinburgh & Lothians
The capital city of Edinburgh and its surrounding Lothian region offer a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that’s unparalleled.
Insider Tip: To explore Edinburgh’s historic charm, wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town and soak in the atmosphere of the Royal Mile. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which offers panoramic views of the city. For a breath of fresh air, hike up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in the city center, to enjoy stunning vistas. Explore the picturesque Pentland Hills for scenic walks just outside the city. And be sure to indulge in the local cuisine and perhaps sample a dram of Scotch whisky in one of Edinburgh’s cozy pubs.
Dominating the Edinburgh skyline, Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and a natural oasis in the heart of the city.
Insider Tip: Start your hike early to avoid crowds and witness a mesmerizing sunrise from the summit. The main trail is well-marked, but sturdy footwear is essential for rocky sections. As you ascend, the cityscape unfolds, revealing Edinburgh’s historic and architectural gems.
The summit rewards you with 360-degree views, including the Firth of Forth and distant mountain ranges. For a unique experience, consider joining a guided tour to learn about the volcano’s fascinating geological history and its role in local legends. It’s a must-visit for both nature lovers and history enthusiasts.
Located just outside the city, the Pentland Hills offer a network of trails suitable for all levels of walkers. It’s a peaceful retreat from the urban bustle.
Insider Tip: The Pentland Hills are a local gem. To truly immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere, visit during weekdays or early mornings when it’s less crowded. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there are trails to suit all preferences. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including red deer and a variety of bird species. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a meal with a view at one of the many picturesque spots within the hills.
The Trossachs & Loch Lomond
Nestled in the heart of Scotland, the Trossachs and Loch Lomond region is a captivating tapestry of rugged mountains, pristine lochs, and lush forests. It’s often referred to as the “Gateway to the Highlands” for its stunning natural beauty and accessibility.
Insider Tip: To fully appreciate this area, venture off the beaten path and explore its hidden gems. Discover secluded spots along Loch Lomond’s shoreline for a quiet picnic or a peaceful swim. Hike the trails of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, which offer a chance to encounter local wildlife.
Consider taking a steamship cruise on Loch Katrine, a serene journey through stunning scenery. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking tranquility, the Trossachs and Loch Lomond have something to offer every traveler.
Overlooking the shimmering waters of Loch Lomond, Conic Hill offers one of the most accessible and rewarding hikes in the region. Its summit promises breathtaking panoramic views.
Insider Tip: Set out early to witness the sunrise from Conic Hill, casting its warm hues over Loch Lomond. While the path is well-marked, sturdy hiking boots are essential for the rocky sections. As you ascend, take your time to admire the changing landscapes, from woodlands to open moorland. The summit rewards you with vistas that stretch across Loch Lomond and its picturesque islands. After the hike, consider visiting the nearby Balmaha village on the loch’s shores for a meal, savoring local treats while relishing your achievement.
West Highland Way
Stretching over 96 miles, the West Highland Way is Scotland’s premier long-distance walking route. It takes you through some of the most iconic landscapes in the country, including Rannoch Moor and Glencoe.
Insider Tip: Thorough planning is essential for the West Highland Way due to its length. Consider breaking it into sections or tackling the entire trail over several days. Ensure you have the right gear, including a comfortable backpack and waterproof clothing. Resupply points are available along the route, so plan your stops accordingly. To truly immerse yourself in Scotland’s wilderness, consider wild camping, but be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles. Lastly, engage with fellow hikers to share experiences and gather valuable tips along the way.
Cairngorms National Park
As the UK’s largest national park, Cairngorms is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Its vast expanses include ancient forests, pristine lochs, and rugged mountain ranges.
Insider Tip: Cairngorms’ weather can be unpredictable, so bring layers and rain gear. For an immersive experience, join guided wildlife tours to increase your chances of spotting elusive creatures. Additionally, respect the park’s fragile ecosystems by sticking to marked trails, and consider visiting during the quieter shoulder seasons for a more tranquil and intimate encounter with this natural wonderland.
Loch an Eilein
Loch an Eilein, nestled within the Rothiemurchus Forest in the Cairngorms National Park, is a hidden gem known for its tranquil waters and historic island castle ruin.
Insider Tip: Arrive early to have this serene spot almost to yourself. You can explore the area by taking a leisurely walk or bike ride around the loch. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including red squirrels and a variety of bird species. Picnicking on the shores of Loch an Eilein is a delightful experience, so pack a lunch and enjoy it with the breathtaking scenery as your backdrop. This place is a haven for photographers, especially during the autumn months when the surrounding forest bursts into a symphony of colors.
Rothiemurchus Forest, located within the Cairngorms National Park, is a pristine natural wonderland with ancient woodlands, shimmering lochs, and a rich tapestry of wildlife.
Insider Tip: For an immersive forest experience, explore the network of trails that wind through Rothiemurchus. Keep your eyes peeled for red deer, pine martens, and capercaillies. The Uath Lochans, a series of small lochs, offer peaceful reflections and a chance to spot waterfowl. If you’re an angler, the lochs and rivers in Rothiemurchus provide excellent fishing opportunities.
Additionally, visit the Rothiemurchus Estate and Visitor Centre for information on the forest’s history and guided activities. Whether you’re an avid adventurer or seeking tranquility in nature, Rothiemurchus Forest has something enchanting to offer.
The Orkney Islands, a remote archipelago off the northeast coast of Scotland, are a treasure trove of history, natural beauty, and archaeological wonders. Explore the islands’ rich history by visiting ancient sites such as Skara Brae, Maeshowe, and the Ring of Brodgar. Take time to appreciate the stunning coastal scenery and white sandy beaches, especially on a sunny day.
Orkney is also a birdwatcher’s paradise; don’t forget your binoculars to spot puffins and seabird colonies. Sample local seafood, including Orkney scallops and freshly caught fish, at charming island restaurants. Lastly, immerse yourself in the local culture by attending traditional music events and festivals. The Orkney Islands are a unique destination, where history and natural beauty blend seamlessly.
Skara Brae to Skaill Bay
This coastal walk on the Orkney Islands offers a journey through time, taking you from the prehistoric village of Skara Brae to the picturesque Skaill Bay.
Insider Tip: Begin your walk at the Skara Brae visitor center to learn about the village’s history. As you stroll along the coastal path, take your time to absorb the stunning seascapes and keep an eye out for seabirds, seals, and perhaps even dolphins. The walk is particularly magical during sunset, as the sinking sun casts a warm glow over the bay. After your walk, visit Skaill House, a historic mansion with beautiful gardens overlooking the bay, and indulge in a slice of Orkney’s famous fudge at the tearoom. This walk is a perfect blend of history, nature, and coastal beauty.
Hoy’s Old Man of Hoy
Rising dramatically from the sea, the Old Man of Hoy on the Orkney Islands is a striking sea stack and a challenging yet rewarding destination for adventurous hikers and climbers.
Insider Tip: This hike is for experienced hikers and climbers. Ensure you have proper gear and check weather conditions before attempting it. If you’re not a climber, you can still enjoy the view by taking a ferry from Stromness to the island of Hoy and viewing the Old Man from below. The nearby Rackwick Bay offers a picturesque spot for a picnic or a peaceful walk along the beach. Keep in mind that the Orkney Islands are known for their strong winds, so dress accordingly and be cautious near cliff edges. This is a remote and awe-inspiring natural wonder worth experiencing.
The Outer Hebrides, an archipelago on Scotland’s northwest coast, beckon with their rugged beauty, pristine beaches, and rich Gaelic culture.
Embrace the island pace of life and take your time exploring these remote gems. The beaches on the Isle of Harris, such as Luskentyre Beach, are among the most beautiful in the world. Try your hand at kite surfing or simply relax and soak in the scenery.
Explore the rich history and archaeology of the islands, including the ancient standing stones at Callanish. Don’t miss the chance to sample local cuisine, including fresh seafood and traditional dishes like black pudding. Lastly, immerse yourself in the Gaelic culture by attending local music events and ceilidhs. The Outer Hebrides offer a unique blend of natural splendor and cultural richness.
Located on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, Luskentyre Beach is a pristine stretch of shoreline that often ranks among the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Insider Tip: To fully appreciate the tranquility and natural beauty of Luskentyre Beach, visit during the early morning or late evening to witness breathtaking sunrises or sunsets. The shallow, crystal-clear waters make it a safe spot for swimming, so don’t forget your swimsuit on warm days. Bring a picnic and enjoy a meal with a view, as there are picnic tables overlooking the beach. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seals and a variety of seabirds. Whether you’re seeking solitude, a romantic stroll, or a picturesque backdrop for photography, Luskentyre Beach has it all.
Isle of Harris
The Isle of Harris, part of the Outer Hebrides, boasts a network of scenic walkways that allow you to explore its rugged coastline and rolling hills.
Insider Tip: When embarking on the Isle of Harris Walkway, consider starting in the village of Tarbert and heading south. The trail takes you through diverse landscapes, from heather-clad moorlands to pristine beaches. Keep an eye out for the island’s wildlife, including eagles and otters.
Plan your walk with care, as the terrain can be challenging, and the weather on the Outer Hebrides can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring waterproofs. The walkway offers a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in Harris’s unspoiled beauty and connect with nature.
West Coast – Kintyre Peninsula
The Kintyre Peninsula, located on the west coast of Scotland, is a hidden gem known for its stunning coastal scenery, historic sites, and musical heritage.
Explore the Kintyre Peninsula at a leisurely pace, allowing time to savor its charming villages and breathtaking landscapes. Take a walk along the picturesque Machrihanish Beach or indulge in water sports such as surfing and kayaking. Visit the historic village of Campbeltown, known for its whisky distilleries, and enjoy a dram of Scotch. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse, famously celebrated in a song by Paul McCartney. The Kintyre Peninsula offers a delightful blend of coastal beauty, culture, and history that’s sure to captivate any traveler.
Mull of Kintyre Trail
The Mull of Kintyre Trail is a captivating walking route that stretches across the Kintyre Peninsula’s scenic landscapes, offering a taste of Scotland’s west coast beauty.
Insider Tip: To fully immerse yourself in the magic of the Mull of Kintyre Trail, break it into manageable sections and explore at a relaxed pace. As you hike, keep an eye out for wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and a variety of bird species. Take time to appreciate the picturesque fishing villages and sandy beaches along the way. Visit local pubs and restaurants to savor fresh seafood and traditional Scottish dishes. And, of course, don’t forget to enjoy a dram of whisky, as Campbeltown is known for its distilleries. The Mull of Kintyre Trail promises an unforgettable journey through Scotland’s coastal splendor.
The Gigha Circular Walk offers a delightful exploration of the picturesque Isle of Gigha, known for its sandy beaches, gardens, and tranquility.
Insider Tip: Begin your Gigha Circular Walk in the village of Ardminish, and take your time to explore the island’s beautiful gardens, including Achamore Gardens with its exotic plant collections. Stroll along the sandy bays and enjoy views of the surrounding islands. Keep an eye out for seals and seabirds, which are often seen along the coastline. Visit the Gigha Hotel for a taste of local cuisine and a relaxing break. This walk is perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape and a chance to connect with nature’s beauty.
Cairnryan & Dumfries and Galloway
The regions of Cairnryan and Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland offer a diverse range of landscapes, from rugged coastlines to lush forests and rolling hills.
Begin your exploration in Cairnryan, where you can visit the Stranraer Museum and learn about the area’s maritime history. Take a leisurely walk along the scenic Loch Ryan Coastal Path, where you may spot seabirds and enjoy breathtaking views. Heading into Dumfries and Galloway, explore the Galloway Forest Park, home to serene lochs and excellent stargazing opportunities.
Don’t miss the Galloway Dark Sky Park for a celestial spectacle. Visit the charming town of Dumfries to explore its history and enjoy local cuisine. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, or stargazing, Cairnryan and Dumfries and Galloway have something to offer every traveler.
Mull of Galloway
The Mull of Galloway is a scenic coastal walk that allows you to explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Galloway Peninsula in southwest Scotland.
Insider Tip: When hiking the Mull of Galloway Trail, start in the picturesque village of Drummore and follow the well-marked path along the coastline. The trail offers stunning views of the sea, cliffs, and rugged terrain. Keep your binoculars handy for birdwatching, as this area is rich in birdlife, including puffins.
Make a stop at the Mull of Galloway, where you can climb the lighthouse for panoramic views and visit the RSPB Visitor Centre to learn about local wildlife. The trail is a fantastic way to appreciate the natural beauty and tranquility of this remote corner of Scotland.
The Glen Trool is a picturesque walking route in the Galloway Forest Park, offering a blend of forested trails, serene lochs, and breathtaking mountain vistas.
Insider Tip: Start your Glen Trool Loop adventure at the Glen Trool Visitor Centre, where you can gather information about the trail and the park’s rich natural history. The loop provides a variety of walking options, so choose the distance and difficulty that suits your preferences.
Keep an eye out for red deer and other wildlife in the forested sections. The highlight of this walk is the view of Loch Trool and the surrounding hills, so be sure to have your camera ready. This tranquil loop is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.
Scotland, with its diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes, offers some of the best walking experiences in the world. From the rugged Highlands to the remote Orkney Islands, and from the tranquil beaches of the Outer Hebrides to the historic trails of Dumfries and Galloway, there’s a path for every type of explorer. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Scotland’s walking treasures are waiting to be discovered.
As you embark on your Scottish walking adventure, remember to plan your trips carefully, considering weather conditions and safety. Engage with the local culture, savor traditional cuisine, and take time to appreciate the natural wonders that make Scotland a truly captivating destination.