Lagangarbh Cottage sits by the River Coupal and is surrounded by heather with the mountains of Glen Coe in the background

The Ultimate Guide to the Scottish Highlands

Impressive mountain peaks, magical woodlands and atmospheric lochs are waiting to be explored. Do you fancy an awe-inspiring escape to one of the most magnificent corners of the world?

Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or an action-packed adventure with the kids, the Scottish Highlands has something for everyone.

Join us as we explore the beauty of this historic region of Scotland and offer top tips to plan the perfect Highland visit.

Where are the Scottish Highlands?

Winding road descends to the banks of Loch Duich with the mountains of Kintail in the background

First things first, the Highlands are enormous. Located in the northwest of the country, the dramatic landscapes cover almost half of Scotland’s total landmass.

The southern boundary of the Highlands sweeps down into the equally-beautiful lowlands — home to the stylish city of Glasgow and Scotland’s stunning capital, Edinburgh.

The biggest city inside the Highlands is Inverness. The so-called ‘Capital of the Highlands’ sits north-west of Aberdeen on the shoreline of the North Sea.

How to Get to the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh

Although the Highlands are home to some of the best driving routes in the world, taking the wheel yourself can be confusing if you’re used to driving on the other side of the road.

The best plan of attack is to find an organised tour group who can get you to your destination without you lifting a finger.

Hop on a luxury coach from either Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness to explore the Highlands in style and enjoy a comfortable ride through stunning countryside.

Choose from city tours around Inverness, one-day trips to Loch Ness or epic five-day adventures through the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

The peaks of Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps seen across the silvery water of Loch Lomond

Things to Do in the Scottish Highlands

If you’re looking for a combination of rich cultural heritage and breathtaking scenery, the Highlands is the place for you.

Discover ancient castles, world-famous landmarks and magnificent mountains as you follow in the footsteps of Scottish kings and queens, rebels from the Jacobite uprising and even film stars from your favourite movies.

The Highlands are brimming with unmissable treasures that everyone needs to see. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

The Jacobite Steam Train

The black engine and red carriages of the Jacobite Steam Train cross the Harry Potter bridge

For the Harry Potter fans out there, the Jacobite Steam Train, or ‘Hogwarts Express’ as it’s more commonly known, offers an unforgettable journey along the breathtaking West Highland Railway.

Forty miles of twisting track gives you plenty of time to enjoy a ride on what Wanderlust magazine called the “best rail journey in the world.”

Let your imagination run wild with a two-day tour on the Jacobite Highlander. Cruise across the world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct and soak up stunning views of the Cairngorms National Park.

Dolphin Spotting

A fast-swimming dolphin rises out of the water of the Moray Firth

Yes, you heard it right — we have dolphins.

While haggis and bagpipes come to mind when they think of Scotland, our stunning coastline is home to some of the world's most spectacular marine wildlife.

Hop on a mini-coach in Inverness before exploring the banks of Loch Ness, having a nosey around Beauly and knocking back a warming dram at the Glen Ord Distillery.

To top off the perfect day, grab your binoculars as you try your luck at spotting one of the 130 Bottlenose Dolphins that live in the Moray Firth. The views from Chanonry Point are simply breathtaking.

Whisky Tasting

Visitors enjoy a tutored whisky tasting at Dalwhinnie DIstillery

You can’t visit the Scottish Highlands without paying a visit to a traditional whisky distillery.

Whether you’re a complete novice or a Scotch connoisseur, a guided tour of the Glenlivet Malt Whisky Distillery is a must.

Enjoy a whisky-filled day as you hop on a tour in Inverness to visit a historic castle before sheltering from the weather with a warming dram of single malt whisky. For the ultimate Scottish souvenir, treat friends and family to a bottle of your favourite tipple from the distillery's gift shop.

Search For Nessie

Urquhart Castle overlooking the bright blue water of Loch Ness with bright yellow gorse in the foreground

It’s time to grab a camera, don your walking boots and hit the water as you set sail on the ultimate monster hunt.

After over five-hundred years of haunting myths and photos claiming to have spotted the infamous beast, the search for the Loch Ness Monster continues. There’s no better way to appreciate the wonders of the Highlands and Loch Ness than taking to the water on a boat cruise.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled -- Nessie lurks in the deepest and darkest spots of the loch.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Scottish Highlands?

Snow capped mountains reflected in a highland loch during winter

The wonderful thing about the Highlands is the way it changes with the seasons. Every year, we enjoy our beautiful home from four different angles.

Brilliant bluebells dazzle woodlands in spring, sandy beaches come to life in summer, leaves crunch underfoot in Autumn and the crisp air fills your lungs in winter. 

There really is no ‘bad’ time to visit the Highlands. The Scottish people are prepared for every weather and the countryside never fails to disappoint, come rain or shine. Of course, whenever you travel you'll be assured of a warm welcome.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your umbrellas, swimming costume and perhaps even some sun cream as you take a dive into the endless beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Two golden-coloured Highland Cows enjoy a paddle in a loch

Explore the Highlands with Scottish Tours

If you have uncontrollable wanderlust to explore the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, why not treat yourself to an unforgettable adventure with Scottish Tours?

We’re here to help you discover the place we call home and take you to the most iconic locations in the land. Our award-winning tours offer a full-immersive taste of Scottish life as you set sail on the trip of a lifetime.

Choose from one-day trips around Inverness to epic adventures to the Outer Hebrides with Scottish Tours.

Browse available tours and book online today.