Blessed with a natural landscape and a rich cultural heritage, Scotland is one of the best countries to visit in Europe. Picture rolling hills (Teletubbies?) dotted with fairytale-styled castles and craggy coastlines with other-worldly natural rock formations, who wouldn’t fall in love with this gorgeous country? No wonder that the country has inspired so many writers, poets and musicians. I know, I am inspired to write this blog post!
Scotland is a small country and it’s not difficult to see its highlight in a short itinerary. But if you truly want to live it through your travels, you have to get off your boring itinerary and open up to experience Scotland like the locals do.
And to help you get started, follow my guide to find out the best cities to visit in Scotland:
It is the sheer natural beauty which makes Inverness one of the best cities to visit in Scotland!
Inverness is a great home base for taking a trip out to the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.
The famed Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle are both located a short drive away from here.
This beautiful city is the beginning of one of the biggest draws to Scotland in recent years, the North Coast 500.
Akin to route 66, The North Coast 500 has gained quite popularity as a great road to have a scenic drive.
The 500+ miles drive will take you through some of the most stunning landscapes of the country.
And along the way, you will find stumble upon many attractions and come across quite a few picturesque villages where you can take a break for the night.
While in Inverness, don’t miss Inverness Castle, great if you can take a guided tour.
Victorian Market is a godsend for shoppers while Inverness Cathedral will impress you with its historic architecture and its green surroundings.
A hot favorite amongst active travellers, St. Andrews is one of the best cities to visit in Scotland.
Around 90 minutes drive from Edinburgh, St. Andrews, is located on the eastern coast.
Known for its fine golf courses, St. Andrews is very the epitome of the game.
The most famous of them all is ‘The Royal and Ancient Golf Club’. Founded in 1754, it is considered to be the finest course on the planet! Round-off your visit with British Golf Museum, which will give you all the fascinating details about the sport.
Once you have taken in your share of golf-related sightseeing, head to the sand West Sands Beach for great sea views.
And that’s not all, the city is also famous for its university, St. Andrews University.
As the oldest university in Scotland, and one of the best in the UK’s academia, it has lots of interesting architecture for you to see.
Though small in size, Dundee is in my opinion one of the best cities to visit in Scotland.
The V&A is by far the most standout piece in the city having been constructed on the waterfront and having taken influence from not only the surroundings but it has an almost ship-like feel to it.
Dundee is also home to many other pieces of beautiful architecture like the McManus Galleries, The Courier building, and St Paul’s Cathedral in the city center.
Dundee Law which is an extinct volcano in the city where being at the top gives you 360-degree panoramic views over the city.
Wander around the McManus Galleries and learn about the history of Dundee.
The old town of Perth is home to some really interesting museums, churches, and historic buildings.
The 15th century Church of St. Johns is one of the top highlights of the town.
Other attractions include the Perth Museum, dwelling on the city’s past.
Add Branklyn Garden to your plan, for a visit somewhere around mid-day, and spend some quality time in nature.
You might be surprised how the lesser known Perth could be one of the best cities to visit in Scotland, but many are not.
If getting up close with nature interests you, make your way to the small city of Aberdeen.
Nicknamed ‘The Flower of Scotland’, lovely gardens and leafy parks are spread throughout this Scottish city.
At the very least, visit Duthie Park, this is where you will find the famous David Welch Winter Gardens.
It is midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and reached in under an hour by train.
The erstwhile capital city has its importance in the Scottish independence movement.
This is where the Scottish king Robert the Bruce defeated the British back in 1314.
Don’s miss the imposing Stirling Castle looking protectively over the city.
One of the best cities to visit in Scotland, Stirling will help you have a relaxed time.
Another one of best cities to visit in the Scotland is the tiny Ayr.
Ayr is best known as the birthplace of Robbie Burns and is well worth spending a day or two.
Scattered through the city you will find several sites related to this legendary poet.
Located on the west coast of Scotland, Ayr is also known for its scenic setting.
It is typical to do the Burns’ Heritage Trail, which culminates at Alloway, just outside the city.
Here, you can see the lovely cottage where the famous poet was born. Combine it with the museum to get to know more about his work and life.
One of the best cities to visit in Scotland, Edinburgh is frequented by millions of tourists every year.
The historic Edinburgh Castle is perhaps the most well-recognized attraction of the city.
The city’s most famous resident in recent times has been J.K. Rowling, who captured the imagination of the readers through her Harry Potter series.
As you walk along the city’s stony streets, a whole lot of interesting sites will slow unravel in front of you
Old houses, museums, and churches line the most fascinating street of the old town, the Royal Mile.
The city host many popular festivals all through the year – The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Fringe are two of the most visited ones.
From Princes Street, slowly climb up Calton Hill to enjoy some of the most stunning views over this beautiful city.
Scattered through the city you will find a number of sites related to the Harry Potter books. Some of these include the Elephant House and Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Located on the banks of River Clyde, Glasgow is one of the most attractive cities in Scotland.
In the olden times, trade brought prosperity and wealth that to this day reflects in its plush architecture.
The city is located about 50 miles from Edinburgh and is easily reached by train. The largest city in Scotland is also a cultural powerhouse of the country.
Start with George Square, the main square, pretty much the center of the old town. Once there, turn around 360 degrees admiring the historic buildings.
Tracing its roots back to thousands of years, Glasgow Cathedral is one of the most recognized structures of the city.
Not only that, but the city also acts as a launchpad for touring the nearby destinations of Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.
Since the city is known for its vibrant music scene, make it a point to catch a live show at one of the fine venues – King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, the Hydro, or iconic Glasgow Barrowlands.
The city offers its visitors an array of unique museums and galleries, Kelvingrove Museum is one of the most visited amongst those.
To get the sense of a weekend market, the Barras qualifies as a place where you will find merchants set up stalls selling their crafts.
No wonder that people flock in droves to see the modern-day offering of one of the best cities to visit in Scotland.