The wild landscapes and majestic scenery of the Scottish Highlands offer travellers a feeling of remote soul-stirring solitude, probably not found elsewhere in the UK. The vast openness and big skies draw you in while breathtaking views still the mind.
Home to the great Ben Nevis, this mountainous region is dotted with peaks of all sizes, fields of heather and shining lochs, lonely glens and fast-flowing burns. Outdoor adventures await, on two feet or two wheels, with summits to climb and off-road routes for riders. Wildlife thrives here in the Highlands and in the coastal waters: dolphins, sea eagles and minke whales are common sights; while ancient castles, abandoned crofts and fortified towns all speak to the past. Oh, and there’s whisky too.
Recommended holiday cottages in the Highlands
Why book a self-catering holiday with Sawday’s?
For over 25 years’ we’ve been inspecting and selecting independent hotels, B&Bs, inns and self-catering places, in the UK and Europe, that are run with passion by real people. Our experienced team visit and revisit each place in our collection to make sure you can feel secure booking directly with the owner. Our self-catered apartments in Edinburgh are filled with character, creativity and a generosity of spirit. Ranging from the humble to the grand, the modern to the ancient, but we’ve visited every one and can safely say we love them all.
A few articles to inspire your next getaway to Scotland
*Spoiler alert: visit anytime, it’s magical year round. Whenever you decide to travel, you’ll discover that each season has its own ethereal magic so we’ve put together a wee guide on the best things to do throughout the year.
Here’s our guide, with owner recommendations, to the best places to eat and drink on your holiday in the Highlands.
Where do serious hikers and competitive Munro baggers head for challenging walks? The Scottish Highlands, of course. Home to the great Ben Nevis, this mountainous region is dotted with peaks of all sizes, fields of heather, shining lochs, lonely glens and fast-flowing burns.
You can expect all the usual character, creativity and generosity of spirit in this collection of hand-picked cottages with the added bonus that your dog will be made very welcome too.
Whether you’re seeking an ancient ruin in the wild and majestic scenery of the Scottish Highlands or a full-blown tour with historical artefacts, gardens and a cafe, Scotland can deliver. Here are five of our favourite awe-inspiring castles in the Highlands, and where to stay nearby.
The wild landscapes and majestic scenery of the Scottish Highlands offer travellers a feeling of remote, soul-stirring solitude. Here’s our pocket guide to the Scottish Highlands.
Our holiday cottages in the Highlands
Our bright and cosy collection of Highland cottages are mostly designed for you to gaze at the wonderful wild views, while inside is set up so you can feel cosy even when the weather hurls itself at the windows. Expect log fires, plump sofas and sheepskin rugs. A couple have hot tubs or baths with views, all have gleaming kitchens waiting for you to rustle up feasts from all the delicious local produce you’ve picked up nearby. We can guarantee, in this wild part of Scotland, that you’ll always be in the midst of nature; surrounded by water, either loch or sea, and mountains, moors and glens.
What makes the Highlands special
The vast landscapes, the feeling of wilderness, the glorious walking (or biking), the sparkling night skies with barely a drop of light pollution, the sheer amount of wildlife, the layers of history. We could go on! The Highlands stretch to over 9,900 square miles of uncannily beautiful landscapes with breathtaking scenery, a warm welcome from friendly Scottish folk, delicious local whiskies and sublime, just-caught seafood. Scale towering mountains, paddle over (or swim if you dare) deep lochs, switch off on remote islands. You get beaches all to yourself, miles of rugged coastline with birds of prey soaring overhead and seals, minke whales and basking sharks gliding through crystal blue seas.
Where to stay in the Highlands
Each wild corner of the region, from rural coast and countryside, to town and village, has its own magic. The starkly beautiful west coast between the Kyle of Lochalsh and Ullapool, circled by sea and mountains, Munros, silvery lochs and ancient castles, is hard to beat. Stay deep within the Cairngorms National Park and walk the Strathspey Way, discover miles of white sandy beaches along the Moray Firth and gawp at spectacular night skies. Pitch up near the North Coast 500 and explore part of its 500-mile scenic coastal route ribboning around the far north of the country. The Highlands have a clutch of National Nature Reserves to visit, The Trossachs on its southern edge and Loch Lomond straddling the Highland border. Urbanites should try Ullapool, gateway to the Western Isles, outdoorsy Aviemore, or Inverness – monster hunting territory – on the shore of the picturesque River Ness.
What to do in the Highlands
There’s fabulous walking in the Cairngorms National Park, home to the UK’s sixth highest mountain – the funicular up Cairn Gorm is due to reopen in winter 2023. Watch the steam train (best known as the Hogwart’s Express) chug over Glenfinnan’s magnificent 21-arch viaduct. History buffs will enjoy visiting the Culloden Battlefield and visitor centre, site of the final battle of the Jacobite Rising; and the area is dotted with romantic castles: Cawdor, Dunrobin, Brodie and Eilean Donan to name a few. South of Fort William is the magnificent Glen Coe and, not far from Inverness, the ancient stone circles of Clava Cairns. Two of the region’s most famous lochs are found in The Highlands: Ness and Lomond. Distilleries abound: visit Dalwhinnie Distillery in the Cairngorms, Balblair in Edderton, or Glenmorangie in Tain. And the seafood, especially on the west coast, is a knockout.