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The Best Outdoor Activities to Do in Scotland

The Best Outdoor Activities to Do in Scotland

Going outdoors is in every Scot’s blood because we love basking in amazing views, breathing in that fresh air, and doing something outside of our comfort zone. 

Maybe that explains why the country’s a haven for all enthusiasts with its numerous attractions from mountains to beaches. If you’re running out of ideas, we rounded up the best outdoor activities in Scotland to pack a punch to your daily life.

Climbing Ben Nevis

Address: Lochaber, Highland, UK

Operating hours: Always open

As the famous saying goes, you either go big or go home. So, if you plan to climb a mountain in Scotland, opt for the tallest one in the UK, the famous Ben Nevis. 

This 1,345-metre Munro (Best Munros Scotland) is sure to give you an adrenaline-pumping experience.

You might have to do a few steep climbs and walk past loose stones, but the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands on top makes all the ache worth it.

Pro tip:
Although the climb is a tad challenging, take a moment to breathe and observe your surroundings. Notice the vibrant heather and wildflowers, especially on the lower slopes.

When you reach the higher slopes, you’ll see some alpine plants.

Hiking Tay Forest Park


Address: Old Military Rd, Dunkeld, PH8 0JR, UK

Contact details: +44 300 067 6380

Operating hours: Always open

Tay Forest Park is one of the most well-known spots in the Big Tree Country aka Perthshire. It’s an ideal place for a long hike with a long list of attractions including

Drummond Hill, Loch Tummel, Pitlochry Dam, and Castle Menzies.

But one of our favourite spots is the Queen’s View where we got a perfect panoramic view of the entire Scotland. No wonder, even Queen Victoria couldn’t help but fall in love at first sight in this exact place in 1866 – in fact, this location was named after her!

Pro tip:
You can park at the available space near the foot of Drummond Hill to start your hike to the top. It’s a long and steep walk, but the lovely views over Kenmore and Crannog Centre are too good to pass up.

If you don’t want to continue to the higher path, there’s a longer loop path back to the car park. Even if it’s narrower, it has a lot of shade and is not as strenuous.

Swimming in Loch Tay

Address: Kenmore, Aberfeldy, Perthshire, PH15 2HG, UK

Contact details: [email protected]

Operating hours: Always open

If you’re dropping by the Big Tree Country during summer, try cold-water swimming in the largest freshwater loch in the area, Loch Tay, to cool off. It’s an exhilarating experience where the temperature drops the deeper you go.

But we highly suggest you wear water shoes since there are lots of stones and debris in the beach area. Don’t forget to put on some sunscreen because you’ll be out in the sun for a while.

Pro tip:
Do some sunbathing by the small beach near Kenmore where there are fewer crowds. You can also try sailing and watersports like kayaking or paddleboarding in Loch Tay if you want to add more excitement to the experience.

Exploring the Isle of Skye


Address: Isle of Skye, IV42, 8YD, UK

Operating hours: Always open

You’ll better appreciate the beauty of the outdoors when you explore the Isle of Skye with its beautiful natural scenery, various wildlife species, and historical attractions. 

Whether it’s walking around the mystical Fairy Pools or hiking the Old Man of Storr, there is a long list of things you can do on this vast island. We even had an amazing time touring different distilleries and taking a sip or two of the best whisky.

Pro tip:
Apart from having your fill of the best scenic views, you can also fill your stomach with the most delicious local food in the Isle of Skye. 

We recommend the Munros Bar with its outdoor seating that has pretty views of the nearest loch. For a fine dining experience, Loch Bay Restaurant has delectable seafood dishes, especially the Fruits de Mer tasting menu with wine pairings.


Facebook: Leven Links Golf Course

Address: Promenade, Leven, KY8 4HS, UK

Contact details: +44 133 342 1390

Operating hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 7:30 AM – 5 PM
  • Saturday to Sunday – 7 AM – 5 PM

Known as one of the oldest golfing courses in the world, Leven Links has been a mainstay in the country for the past 150 years. It even hosted amateur and professional tournaments like the Scottish Champion of Champions and Standard Life Gold Medal.

Even if it’s your first time, there’s a guide like Neil who’ll greet you by the entrance and help you out. He even gave us tips on where to find the best holes in the course and how to improve our form.

Pro tip:
Try the delicious food at the Thistle Club. One of our favorites is the carvery. They also have a pro shop that gives out gifts to members so sign up and become one of them, especially if you plan to play golf often.

Paddleboarding on the Isle of Arran

Address: Isle of Arran, KA27 8EH, UK

Operating hours: Always open

For a brief outdoor escape away from Glasgow, we suggest you take a ferry to the Isle of Arran. It’s less crowded than most islands but has beautiful attractions like Goatfell and Machrie Moor Stone Circles.

We love Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Lochranza, at the northern tip of the island. It’s a quiet location with a view of the dramatic castle and a distillery from the distance.

Pro tip:
If you don’t have your equipment, we suggest you borrow one through SUP Arran. They don’t only have boards for hire but also offer lessons for beginners.

Canyoning at the Falls of Bruar

Address: Bruar Water, UK

Operating hours: Always open

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, canyoning involves different outdoor activities like hiking, cliff jumping, and swimming where you follow a water route in far-flung areas. If that strikes your fancy, you can take the plunge at Falls of Bruar.

It’s a gorgeous cascading waterfall, known as a local favorite for over 200 years already. You can read about its enthralling beauty in the poem by Scottish legend, Robert Burns. 

Pro tip:
It was our first time trying cliff jumping, and instead of going to the highest point, we chose the lower section. 

Of course, it was heart-racing but gladly, we booked a session with an expert guide who gave us all the safety briefing and equipment necessary for the activity.

Hill-Bagging at Glencoe

Address: Ballachulish, UK

Operating hours: Always open

Ask any Scot and they’ll surely agree that you can never go wrong with going hill-bagging (Best Hills Walks Scotland) at the stunning Glencoe area. It’s brimming with famous peaks like Bidean Nam Bian and Aonach Eagach that’ll leave your blood rushing for more.

Plus, the village is only a couple of hours away from Glasgow so it’s worth the road trip. Oh, another thing, you should keep an eye out for well-known wildlife species in the area like grouse and deer.

Pro tip:
We highly encourage you to climb Bidean Nam Bian in the most ideal conditions when the weather’s clear and dry. Attempting to climb it during the wet season is highly risky since there are no proper paths and the entire hike is physically demanding.

Kayaking in Oban

Address: Oban, PA34 4BP, UK

Operating hours: Always open

Oban, also known as the Gateway to the Isles, is a resort town within the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. It’s found on the west coast of the country where there is a long and stunning coastline that’s perfect to traverse in a sea kayak.

Kayaking is a fun activity that’s suitable for everyone in the family. We recommend booking a tour if you’re a large group that needs all the help you can get.

Pro tip:
You can find several kayaking tours in Oban but one of our favorites is Sea Kayak Scotland. They have an expert guide, Kenny, who taught us the ropes so we easily got the hang of the activity in no time.

Touring the Ring of Brodgar


Address: B9055, Stromness, KW16 3JZ, UK

Contact details: +44 185 684 1815

Operating hours: Always open

Believe it or not, the Ring of Brodgar is 5,000 years old and is older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt. It’s one of the four monuments under the ‘The Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ by the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Strolling around this spine-chilling location is like a visit to the past, where our ancestors were once laid to rest. Originally, it had 60 stones, but only 36 of them survived to this day.

Pro tip:
Continue your adventure by walking to nearby locations like the Standing Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe tomb, and the neolithic village of Skara Brae for a more immersive experience of our country’s rich history.

Skiing in the Cairngorms


Facebook: Cairngorm Mountain Resort

Address: Cairngorm Ski Area, Aviemore, PH22 1RB, UK

Contact details: +44 147 986 1261

Operating hours: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM daily

Dubbed as the ultimate winter playground in Scotland, Cairngorms Mountain is perfect for different sports like skiing and snowboarding. It’s been in the industry for over 50 years with 30 kilometres of ski runs, 11 lifts, and a fully functional freestyle park.

What we like best about the Cairngorms, apart from its several challenging trails, is we can hire all the necessary equipment on-site. You can even take some lessons while you’re here, especially if it’s your first time.

Pro tip:
Although the snowsports season usually starts in December until April, this still varies every year so be on the lookout for the latest weather conditions in the area. 

In late January 2023, they re-opened their funicular railway reaching up to the Ptarmigan building so the skiing experience gets more thrilling.

Strolling around Ness Islands


Address: Great Glen Way, Inverness, IV2 4QS, UK

Operating hours: Always open

Situated in the middle of River Ness, Ness Islands are connected by river banks with spectacular Victorian footbridges. It’s a serene environment that’s perfect for a long stroll, even if you’re by yourself.

The different spots you’ll pass by during your walk include the Inverness Castle, Inverness War Memorial, and Whin Park among others. You might even see some seals bobbing in the river while you stroll around the banks.

Pro tip:
Pack a picnic and find a bench on any part of the islands. There are even some tables with unique shapes that were sculpted by unnamed local artists worth checking out. 

Surfing in Thurso East


Facebook: Discover Thurso

Address: Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7QU, UK

Operating hours: Always open

With its consistent and barreling right-hand waves reaching up to 20 feet, Thurso East is a must-visit for all surfing enthusiasts. It’s a famous cold surf (Best Surfing In Scotland) destination that hosts various championships for both men and women categories.

On top of that, the long coastline has lots of reefs, beautiful beaches, and river mouths for us to uncover. You can also find famous attractions like Meadow Well, Thurso Bridge, Swanson Gallery, and more.

Pro tip:
Whether it’s summer or winter, it’s highly recommended to wear a thick wetsuit that’s ideally 6 millimeters thick because of the low temperature. The best season to surf is around October to April for the chilly weather and high waves.
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