Scotland has something for everyone: Travelers who enjoy the outdoors will love the natural scenery, photography, and hiking. Golf fans will love the beautiful courses. Beach-lovers will find no shortage of stunning beaches and picturesque seaside cliffs. History nerds, don’t even get us started: you’re in for a treat. And if you like a fine Scotch? Look no further.
Below we discuss the best cities to visit in Scotland and the highlights of each. As if you needed another reason to get out that passport…
Best cities to visit in Scotland #1
Consistently rated as one of the best cities to visit in Scotland, Edinburgh (Scotland’s capital) is built on top of two volcanoes. Don’t worry, though: the volcanoes are extinct.
The city boasts traditional cobbled streets which lend a medieval feel, whereas some of the architecture dates from the 18th century. This gives parts of the city an ornate, regal vibe, much like London’s West End.
Edinburgh Castle, arguably the most popular tourist attraction in all of Scotland, has existed since the 12th century. The site draws about 1.5 million tourists per year.
Other attractions include the National Museum of Scotland, and hiking at Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill.
Scotland has ample train routes, too. Merely an hour’s train ride away is…
Best cities to visit in Scotland #2
This city has a vibe of its own: with trendy art, theatre, and music scenes, this is a can’t-miss for millennials, art-lovers, and even foodies.
The city’s artistic elements carry into the varied architecture, too. Visitors will appreciate the architectural styles ranging from Victorian to Art Nouveau, to classic Greek and Roman.
And we’re not sure about you, but walking the city streets sounds wayyyy more fun than that architecture class we had to take in college…
Glasgow is also a huge shopping center, perfect for checking out the latest styles in fashion or home decor.
Best cities to visit in Scotland #3St. Andrews
Located on the east coast of Fife, this is a hot destination for golf lovers. People have been playing golf in St. Andrews since the 15th century, making it one of the best cities to visit in Scotland for golf enthusiasts.
Other attractions in the city include the University of St. Andrews, which is where Prince William attended school. Holy Trinity Parish Church and St. Andrew’s Castle are also located here, both of which are stunning architectural sites.
Golf enthusiasts may want to check out the British Golf Museum, too.
But a final word: if looking to actually play golf at St. Andrews, tee times are booked up months (if not years) in advance. Get in early!
Best cities to visit in Scotland #4Aberdeen
Some travelers say that Aberdeen is a blend of Edinburgh’s old world charm and Glasgow’s vibrant nightlife. What’s not to love?
For maritime lovers, this is a great pick. Some parts of the city have an industrial, shipping-hub feel. Consider checking out the Maritime Museum, too.
Another one of Aberdeen’s most notable features is the use of granite throughout much of its architecture. For this reason, it’s been called the “grey” city, but make no mistake: Aberdeen is anything but dull.
Balmedie Beach is a popular spot, too. While it isn’t as nice as the Outer or Inner Hebrides (see below) it’s a lovely spot for taking photos or letting the kids run off their energy.
Best cities to visit in Scotland #5Elgol (Inner Hebrides)
Believe it or not, Scotland boasts its own islands. Skye Island is one of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, a chain of nearly 80 islands (roughly half are inhabited.)
The Hebrides are loaded with whiskey distilleries, sweeping beaches, and rugged mountain scenery – perfect for photo opportunities.
From Elgol, one of the best cities to visit in Scotland, the mountain views of the Black Cuillin mountain range are to-die-for.
Nature-lovers can also go for a swim in the clear springs of Glen Brittle’s Fairy Pools. Yes, you read that right: Fairy Pools. The vibrant green and blue hues of the water give the springs something of a mythical appearance!
Consider taking a boat ride around the isle, or checking out other outdoor attractions like Loch Coruisk, Camasunary Bay or Spar Cave.
Best cities to visit in Scotland #6Orkney
Orkney is one of Scotland’s two most northerly archipelagos (the other is Shetland.) It’s a gorgeous, remote chain of islands perfect for getting away from the big city crowds.
Here you’ll find Skara Brae, an architectural housing site of more than 5,000 years old. In nearby Kirkwall, there’s also a lively folk music scene.
Other popular attractions include the Saint Magnus Cathedral or the Italian Chapel. Yesnaby Cliffs are a sight to behold, too.
Or if you’re looking to burn off all those ales, consider a walk along the Brough Of Birsay. This is an uninhabited island that’s accessible by foot when the tide is low. Just keep those tide tables handy: you don’t want to get stuck on a remote Scottish island… or maybe you do.
Best cities to visit in Scotland #7Isle of Arran
Arran is one of Scotland’s lesser-known gems but we still consider it one of the best cities to visit in Scotland.
Also within easy reach of Glasgow, this isle is small enough to be explored in its entirety within a day or two. The area consists of adorable seaside villages and a number of natural formations, perfect for hiking or photography.
If you can’t get enough of the castles and old estates, consider Brodick Castle which is a popular attraction. The castle also boasts some beautiful gardens and footpaths for walking.
Active travelers will also enjoy a mountainous hike along the Goat Fell or Glenashdale Falls. The natural scenery in this part of Scotland will not disappoint!
Keepsakes from the Best Cities to Visit in Scotland
Wherever you decide to go in Scotland, don’t forget to turn your memories into keepsakes!
Whether to give as gifts or keep for yourself, we can help you turn your photos and images into beautiful, life-long treasures like postcards. Check out our offerings today to get inspiration for your next project!