100 fun things to do in The Highlands

With breathtaking scenery, the Highlands of Scotland make the perfect location for your next adventure. A stunning and rugged region, characterized by its rolling hills, majestic mountains, and glistening lochs, making it a popular destination for adventure-seekers and nature lovers alike.

Home to some of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, including Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, and Loch Ness, the legendary home of the elusive monster. These breathtaking sites are sure to leave an impression on visitors and provide an unforgettable experience.

For those who prefer a slower pace, the Highlands is also home to a number of charming villages and towns, each with its own unique history and character. Take a stroll through the streets of Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands, and enjoy the local shops, pubs, and restaurants. Or, visit the charming village of Inveraray, with its castle, jail, and boat museum, and enjoy a picnic on the shores of the loch.

For those who love history, the Highlands is a treasure trove of stories and legends. From the ancient Picts to the legendary battles between the Scots and the English, the region is steeped in rich history. Visitors can explore the ruins of ancient castles, learn about the lives of the Highlanders at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, or visit the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks.

For foodies, the Highlands is a gastronomic delight, offering a range of local specialities. Visitors can sample these dishes at one of the many local restaurants and cafes, or join a food tour to learn more about the region’s unique cuisine.

Book ahead. If you would like to go out for a nice dinner, play a round of golf, enjoy a trip on a steam train, or go ice wall climbing in Kinlochleven, book ahead. Especially in the summer months when things can get busy. When the weather is good, the Highlands can be fantastic.  Prepare a fair weather and bad weather plan. 

Visit Loch Ness

Visit Loch Ness, one of Scotland's famous lochs

Loch Ness, one of Scotland’s famous lochs, stretches for almost 23 miles,  reaches depths of over 650ft, and forms part of the Caledonian Canal, connecting Inverness on the east coast to Corpach near Fort William on the west. On the shores of Loch Ness, don’t miss Urquhart Castle. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, with a turbulent history stretching over 500 years. The last government troops stationed here blew up the castle when they left.  The popular site is just a few miles from Drumnadrochit village.

Heading west, Fort William, lies at the northeastern end of Loch Linnhe and at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. The original fort was built in 1654 to keep the peace in the Highlands. It was later ruined and in 1690 rebuilt and named for the British monarch William III.

Fort William regularly hosts the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup. It is a popular destination for mountain bikers. If you’re interested in climbing, one of the best indoor ice climbing walls is only 21 miles from Fort William, at Kinlochleven. For a more leisurely approach, experience a spectacular journey on the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig. It takes in some amazing scenery including the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made even more famous by the magical spell of Harry Potter.

Plan a road trip on the North Coast 500 (NC500)

Fun things to do in the Highlands

Regularly reviewed as one of the World’s top road trips, the NC500 makes the most of the Highland’s dramatic scenery, with stunning coastal roads and spectacular views. For a really big challenge, why not tackle the NC500 by bike? Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont recently smashed the record for the fastest ride around the route, crossing the finish line in a blistering 28 hours 35 minutes. Taking a more leisurely approach, many visitors take over 3 or 4 days by car.

Bealach na Bà is a twisting 9km mountain pass on the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross and is undeniably the most famous section of the NC500. Rising over 2,000 feet at its highest point and reaching 20% at its steepest gradient. One of the great climbing challenges is going by bike.  It is best approached from east to west, with stunning views across to Skye.

Plan a golf trip with some of the best golf courses in the Highlands

Royal Dornoch Golf Club - fun things to do in the Highlands.

Golf in the Highlands of Scotland is a popular activity for both locals and tourists and is served by some of the top links courses. The region is known for its scenic beauty, and many of the golf courses are set against the backdrop of stunning landscapes, including lochs, mountains, and forests. Some of the notable golf courses in the Highlands of Scotland include:

  • Royal Dornoch Golf Club: This is a links course located in the town of Dornoch and is considered one of the finest courses in the world. According to records golf was first played in Dornoch in 1616.
  • Castle Stuart Golf Links: This course is located near Inverness and is designed to take advantage of the stunning views of the Moray Firth.
  • Nairn Golf Club: This course is located near the town of Nairn and is another well-regarded links course.
  • Spey Valley Golf Course: This course is located near Aviemore and is part of the Macdonald Resort.
  • Brora Golf Club: This course is located near the village of Brora and is considered one of the best links courses in Scotland.

Golfers are well served in the North. Golfing in the Highlands is a unique experience, with stunning views, exceptional local hospitality and world-class golf courses.

Exhilarating mountain bike trails in the Highlands

Do you want to go mountain biking in one of Scotland’s most spectacular areas? Are you looking for a big mountain experience complete with a chairlift to ferry you to the top? Then head along to Glencoe Mountain Resort and explore one of their many technical downhill trails. Are you looking for a full-on adventure deep into wild Scotland? Join a mountain biking trip to the Cairngorms and explore spectacular Scottish mountain biking with the support of an experienced guide.

Find out more about the history of the Highlands at award-winning museums

The 1746 Jacobite Rebellion came to a brutal end at the Culloden Battlefield, which is 5 miles from Inverness. You can experience, the battle up close, at the visitor centre’s 360-degree immersion theatre. You can find out more about the history of the Highlands in a number of award-winning museums including Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Historylinks in Dornoch, Timespan in Helmsdale, and the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.

If you’re on the lookout for some stunning castles, one of the most photographed is Eilean Donan Castle at the Kyle of Lochalsh, while on the east coast, Dunrobin Castle is one of the most lavish. Just outside Forres, 24 miles east of Inverness is Brodie Castle, which is now looked after by the National Trust of Scotland.

Fun things for kids to do in the Highlands

The Highlands of Scotland offer a wide range of free, supervised and unsupervised activities for families with children. Who doesn’t like a day out on the beach?  With over 300 miles of unspoilt beaches, the Highlands is nature’s gift to children. With amazing views, they’re not bad for adults too!

Here are some fun things to do for kids in the Highlands:

  • Visit the Land, Sea and Islands Centre: This interactive museum in Kyle of Lochalsh offers hands-on exhibits and displays about the local wildlife, geology, and history.
  • Take a trip on the Strathspey Steam Railway: This heritage railway runs through the heart of the Scottish Highlands and offers a nostalgic journey through stunning scenery.
  • Visit the Cairngorms National Park: This national park is home to a wide range of wildlife, including red squirrels, deer, and golden eagles. The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and skiing.
  • Explore the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery: This museum has a variety of interactive exhibits and displays on local history, geology, and culture.
  • Visit the Highland Wildlife Park: This park near Aviemore is home to a wide range of wildlife, including polar bears, wolves, and wild cats.
  • Explore the Dinosaur Kingdom in Scotland’s Biggest and best dinosaur experience all year round, there are 22 moving, roaring, realistic dinosaurs.
  • If not checking out the dinosaurs, why not try your pan and find some gold! Gold panning is available on the Suisgill Estate near Helmsdale. Bring lots of warm clothes.
  • On the West coast near Fort William, learning how to climb ice. Ice Factor is one of the biggest indoor ice climbing walls in the world and the National Ice Climbing Centre. The indoor facility features different routes for novice and expert climbers.
  • Go pony trekking: There are many stables in the Highlands that offer pony trekking trips through the stunning local scenery.

These are just a few of the many activities that are available for families with children in the Highlands of Scotland, with a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities to suit different age groups.  Enjoy!

Find out more about whisky – book a distillery tour

There are around 47 distilleries in the Highlands, making it one of the biggest whisky-producing regions in Scotland. Its numerous distilleries produce some of the finest whiskies in the world, each with its own unique history, character, and production process.

One of the most famous distilleries in the Highlands is Glenmorangie, located in Tain. It is known for producing smooth and delicate single-malt whiskies that are aged in ex-bourbon casks. Another notable distillery is Oban, which has been producing single-malt whiskies for over 200 years. Oban’s whiskies are known for their rich, full-bodied flavour and hints of salt and smoke.

Dalwhinnie is another popular distillery in the Highlands, located in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park. Its single malt whiskies are known for their smooth and honeyed character, and they are aged in ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of 15 years.

The Talisker distillery, located on the Isle of Skye, is known for producing robust and smoky single malt whiskies. Its whiskies are aged in ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of 10 years and are known for their bold and peaty flavour.

In addition to the well-established distilleries, the Highlands is also home to several newer and smaller distilleries. These distilleries offer unique and innovative whiskies that showcase the region’s diverse terroir and production techniques.

The Highlands is a diverse region that spans from the north coast of Scotland to the northern boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. This diversity is reflected in the character and flavour profiles of the whiskies produced in the region. From smooth and delicate to bold and peaty, the Highlands offers a range of whiskies that appeal to a wide range of palates.

Whether you are a whisky connoisseur or a newcomer to the spirit, a visit to one of the Highlands’ distilleries is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.

In conclusion, the Highlands of Scotland is a magical and mysterious region that offers something for everyone. Its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an adventure or a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. Whether you’re looking for a heart-pumping adventure or a peaceful escape, the Highlands of Scotland is the perfect place to visit.

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