If you’re wondering what are the best things to do in The Highlands, this guide will tell you everything.
In fact, The Highlands is one of our favourite destinations for a camping holiday, and rightly so. From rugged mountains to deep blue lochs, it is fun to explore miles of unspoilt landscape where the red deer rule the hills and eagles rule the skies.
Yes, the Highland weather can be changeable, but with mists one minute and brilliant spells of sunshine the next, it can add up to a pretty magical experience.
To get you started, here’s our top ten of the very best things to do in The Scottish Highlands!
10 Things To Do In The Highlands
1. The heart of the clans in Argyll
When it comes to the history and culture of the clans, the Highlands are steeped in it. If you’re in Argyll, head to the village of Kilmun and the Argyll Mausoleum: the resting place of the Campbell chiefs from the 14th century right up to 1949. Or delve into the background of the MacDougalls with a visit to the clan’s stronghold just outside Oban. The impressive Dunstaffnage Castle was built in 1220 and is one of the country’s oldest stone fortresses.
2. Bringing Britain’s beavers back home
At the north end of the Kintyre peninsula, in the heart of Argyll, lies Scotland’s very own rain forest. And if that doesn’t sound too inspiring, think again, as the Knapdale Nature Reserve is an important habitat for otters and, in more recent years, has become the first place for beavers to be reintroduced into the UK (after an absence of 400 years). The best time to see beavers is in the early morning or evening, and at other times of day you can look out for beaver “chew sticks” and the distinctive tooth marks on the trees they’ve felled.
3. Experience the best of Inverness
Known as the “city in the Highlands”, Inverness – with its impressive castle (now a courthouse), St Andrews cathedral and its historic Old Town – is a popular destination for visitors. From the city, take a stroll up to Craig Phadrig, the Iron Age hill fort, and enjoy fantastic views out across the Moray Firth. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bottlenose dolphin or two!
4. Look out for “Nessie” at Loch Ness
No Highland camping trip would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness and its legendary monster. If you’re keen to optimise any slim hope of sighting the elusive Nessie, why not head out onto the water itself with a Loch Ness cruise?
Hikers, meanwhile, can strike out on the South Loch Ness walking trail, taking in the waterfalls at the village of Foyers as they go. (Fans of poetry may know these as the Falls of Foyers, made famous by Rabbie Burns.)
5. Take a wildlife tour in the Cairngorms
The Cairngorms is the UK’s largest national park and, as you’d expect, there are plenty of activities here for nature lovers and sports fanatics alike. There’s skiing at Aviemore in winter and the sandy beach at Loch Morlich in summer, or for a year-round adventure the Glenlivet Wildlife Tours are an interesting option. From golden eagles and black grouse to mountain hares and the endangered Scottish wildcat, the Glenlivet crown estate has been a haven for wildlife for centuries. Take a closer look at the local fauna that thrives here by booking yourself onto a Land Rover safari or guided walk.
6. Surf’s up in Brora
The idyllic village of Brora, in the north-east Highlands, is named after the river which runs down to the sea from Loch Brora, a two-mile walk inland. This spot is popular with otters, seals – and also surfers.
When the surf’s up, the harbour here is pounded by up to 10ft waves (great for surfing but it does prevent small fishing boats from getting out). The village is also known for producing fine yarns and tweeds, as well as whisky. So there’s something here for all tastes!
7. Can you tell a marilyn from a munro in Perthshire?
Sir Walter Scott called Perthshire “The fairest portion of the northern kingdom” and it remains popular with hikers to this day, not least for the number of munros to be found here. (That’s a mountain above 3,000 feet, since you ask.) Munro baggers should head for Schiehallion– aka the “Matterhorn of Perthshire” considered one of the easiest to climb – or else Ben Lawers, the highest mountain in the central Highlands. And don’t get us started on the marilyns.
8. Precious personal mementos from “Mrs Brown”
Fort William gets its name from the garrisons housed here, and the town’s more “oppressive origins” can be explored at the West Highlands Museum where you’ll find exhibits such as neck irons and a birching table (for administering corporal punishment!). Also on display are a rare beetle wing dress (decorated with brightly coloured insect wing cases), a sporran worn by the outlaw Rob Roy and a brooch that Queen Victoria gave to her beloved servant, John Brown.
9. The north-east’s famous John… and lesser known “Duncan”
Walking from Lands End to John o’Groats doesn’t feature on everyone’s bucket list, but don’t let that stop you visiting John o’Groats itself. The village is famous for being the northeastern-most point of the mainland and you can set out from here to reach poor neglected Duncansby Head – the actual furthest point.
Admire the views of Orkney from the headland, then continue past the lighthouse until you arrive at some eerie, pointed rock formations: Thirle Door and the twin Duncansby Stacks. So it really is worth going that extra mile or two!
10. Wick’s heritage of Vikings, herrings and whisky
Travel south from John O’Groats and you’ll come to Wick, which started life as a Viking settlement and was known from the 1850s to 1940s as the herring capital of Europe.
The vast shoals of fish may be long gone, but Wick retains strong connections with the sea today, though mostly due to the maritime malt whisky made at Old Pulteney Distillery. You can discover more about the town’s fishy past – and get an introduction to the basics of kippering and coopering – with a visit to the Wick Heritage Centre.
Booking campsites in The Highlands
Campsited offers a choice of great sites in the Highlands– so do check out our campsite listings for Argyll, Caithness, Highlands and Perthshire. Once you’ve got the gear packed, site booked and the things to do sorted you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic camping trip to see the best things in The Highlands. Have a great trip!