100 fun things to do in the Highlands
With breathtaking scenery, the Highlands of Scotland make the perfect location for your next adventure. Covering over 10,000 sq miles, the area forms the largest region in Scotland.
There are lots of things to do in the Highlands! Many of the best activities are free, so it is not surprising many people return every year. Explore thousands of miles of coastline with some of the best beaches, alongside some of the most dramatic landscapes. Start planning ahead and discover some fun things to do in the Highlands.
Tips for a perfect weekend in the Highlands
- Unless you’re shooting the next episode of Top Gear and love driving, explore one area and make the most of it.
- 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 good weather and bad weather plan.
Browse activities and attractions in the Highlands
Visit Loch Ness
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 magically spell of Harry Potter.
Plan a road trip on the North Coast 500 (NC500)
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 if 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
Golf fans are served by some of the top links courses, including the Championship Course at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club – according to records golf was first played in Dornoch in 1616. Other big names in golf include Nairn and Castle Stuart. But there are many more gems to be found, including Golspie and Brora on the east coast. 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 an MTB Beds 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 look out 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
If you’re looking for something fun to entertain the kids, the Highlands is the place to be with a range of free, supervised and unsupervised activities. 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! If you’re looking for a fun-packed adventure both on land and at sea, Ridgeway Adventure runs fantastic summer camps for different age groups, bespoke adventures for all ages, and sea kayaking days to explore the coast.
If your looking for a full-day-out with the kids, consider a day out at Landmark. 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 th 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.
Find out more about whisky – tour a whisky distillery
There are around 47 distilleries in the Highlands, making it one of the biggest whisky-producing regions in Scotland. So expect a wide range of styles both peated and non-peated. Famous names include Glenmorangie, Pulteney, Clynelish, Highland Park, Ben Nevis and Oban to name a few. One of the best ways to find out more about a particular whisky is to go on a warehouse tour, where you get special bottlings not normally available on the wider market.
As the largest region by area in Scotland, there are lots of places to visit and things to do in the Highlands – start planning now.