Historically, the Highlands were distinct from the Lowlands of Scotland in several important ways. The primary language of the Highlands was established as Scottish Gaelic in the 10th century, and it dominated for centuries – but has been in decline since the 1700s. In 1755, it’s estimated that 22.9% of the Scottish population were Gaelic speakers, but this was just 1.1% by 2011.
Places to Visit in the Scottish Highlands
From a spot of sightseeing to the three W’s (walking, wildlife and whisky) there’s something for everyone, though lovers of nature especially will be particularly impressed with this ruggedly beautiful wilderness. Let’s take a look at some of the best places in the Highlands to add to your itinerary, whether you’re visiting for a weekend, a week, or even longer.
One of the most iconic destinations in the Highlands, Glen Coe is a must-visit. You’ll be astounded by its beauty as you drive through the area, and there’s plenty to explore off the beaten path for those who want to get better acquainted with this beautiful part of Scotland.
If you’re a James Bond fan, you’ll recognise this area as the setting for Bond’s childhood home from Skyfall, and it’s also featured in plenty of other films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The road through Glen Coe takes you along the heart of an ancient volcano, with stunning mountains on either side. Have your camera at the ready, as there are jaw-dropping views at every twist and turn of the road. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, to soak in the views or head on a walk. For a gentle walk, head from An Torr woods to Signal Rock, or take the trail around pretty Glencoe Lochan, located just north of the picturesque village of Glencoe. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of Munros to bag in the area, including the almighty Aonach Eagach ridge – not for the faint-hearted!Of course, if you’re in the area, you can also visit the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. If you’re a Lord or a Lady, drop by to visit your plot, or simply spend some time exploring our beautiful grounds.
And of course, Loch Ness isn’t just famous for its beautiful scenery and historical significance – it’s gained worldwide recognition as the home of the Loch Ness Monster. People have been hunting for Nessie, as it’s affectionately known, since 1933, when multiple sightings were reported in the national and international press – although there are sightings of the monster dating back to the time of Saint Columba! Will you spot Nessie on your trip? Don’t forget your binoculars!
Along the way, you’ll pass over the Bealach na Bà on the way to Applecross, one of the steepest roads in the UK, with winding hairpin bends. It’s not suitable for campervans or caravans, but if you’re travelling by car, it’s one of the highlights of the trip, with spectacular views. Pull in at the top to enjoy the views before continuing down the hill to the pretty village of Applecross.
The north coast also has some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find anywhere in the country. From the gorgeous white sands of Achmelvich to the Sandwood, the most remote beach in the UK, be sure to plan in some time to enjoy these incredible places.
The north coast of Scotland is a magical place, with plenty to see and do, whether you want to sample the best of the local cuisine, explore some of the Highlands’ most wild and remote mountains, or simply soak it all up from the comfort of your car.
Best Scottish Highlands Castles and Museums
History buffs are spoiled for choice in the Highlands. This area is rich in history, with plenty of fantastic castles and museums to explore.