Travel advice and tips for the Scottish Highlands (Dreamstime)
Advice Words : Team Wanderlust | 05 June 2019

23 things you need to know before travelling to the Scottish Highlands

You picked the Highlands as your ‘Top UK Destination’ in our Reader Travel Awards, but where to begin? From spotting elusive red deer to hot-tubbing with royalty, here are Wanderlust readers' top tips…

Tips on what to pack for the Scottish Highlands 

You should pack comfy, worn-in walking boots for your trip to the Scottish Highlands (Dreamstime)

You should pack comfy, worn-in walking boots for your trip to the Scottish Highlands (Dreamstime)

Make sure you take waterproof jackets and trousers. Layer up and then you can unpeel as the weather warms up and take comfy, worn-in boots

— Sally Fielden  

"Pack clothes for every scenario (pack-a-macs are a bonus) and pack plenty of snacks and fluid."

— Adam Gleave

"Use Avon’s Skin So Soft spray to combat midges. Locals use it, as do the Royal Marines when training in the Highlands.” 

— Archie Robertson

"Take your camera because there are some amazing views you won’t want to miss!"

— Claire Ross

Tips on how to get around the Scottish Highlands

Flying through the Scottish Highlands on a bike (Shutterstock)

Flying through the Scottish Highlands on a bike (Shutterstock)

Hire an e-bike in Aviemore, ride up to Loch Morlich, then explore the forest or relax on the beach. It’s downhill from there, so stop pedalling and just fly back down

— Lesley Elding

"The best and most sustainable way to see the Scottish Islands is via small ship cruising!  The Majestic Line cruises take you to the most stunning places on the west coast of Scotland, visiting places inaccessible by car."

— Fiona Forsyth 

"For peace of mind, travel with an extra can of petrol. When driving across the remote Highlands, it might be worth going out of your way to see some deserted beach, but doing so will take up more fuel and you don’t want to be stuck."

— Susan Hahn

"When driving, maps are way more reliable than GPS – if you manage to connect to any phone signal at all."

— Katey Macallister

Tips for seeing some of the best views the Scottish Highlands have to offer 

Memorial Cairn at the battlefield of Culloden near Inverness (Shutterstock)

Memorial Cairn at the battlefield of Culloden near Inverness (Shutterstock)

The roof of the National Trust for Scotland visitor centre is one of the best spots to view the expanse of Culloden Battlefield. Once there, you can imagine Jacobites and Redcoats lining up against each other – and the bloody aftermath.

— Andrew Baxter

"Sometimes the drive is the best part, consider that when planning. The views are beautiful, roads usually peaceful."

— James Bennett

"The most northerly point of Scotland - Dunnet Head, has a wild majestic beauty that you can enjoy whether you are an agile walker or like to see a view from a window as you drive by."

— Heather Saunderson

"Don't be scared to go off the beaten track. You will find some amazing hidden gems such as little fishing villages and lovely views from some of the hilly walks."

— Gill Trembecka

Tips on choosing which route to take 

Wanderlust reader Hayley Hopkins-Edwards enjoying her time in the Scottish Highlands

Wanderlust reader Hayley Hopkins-Edwards enjoying her time in the Scottish Highlands

The drive from Loch Ness via Fort William to the village of Mallaig is charming. Make sure you try some of the local seafood, and from there you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Skye. It’s a fantastic route with some great B&Bs along the way, plus the Silver Sands of Morar are as magical as they sound – a silvery beach with a view of the surrounding islands. All of this along one route!

— Hayley Hopkins-Edwards

"Take A84 to Crianlarich, drive through Callander, en route you will pass Loch Lubnaig, absolutely stunning, Loch Voil.  Turn off and visit Balquhidder and visit Rob Roy's Grave. Keep driving up the side of the loch for 6 miles and you will come to Monachyle Mhor Hotel, owned by Celebrity Chef Tom Lewis, the hotel is pink which represented a safe house in Jacobean times.  Enjoy the stunning views and some home made scones."

— Lesley Mitchell-Robertson

"Take the Far North Bus to Kinlochbervie, then walk to Sandwood Bay and wild camp. Bring water as it can be a trek to find a nearby freshwater stream. You can also stay in a bothy – but they must be respected and left clean."

— Marie Byrne

“Drive the North Coast 500, starting and ending at Inverness. Meander through the wilderness, explore castles and let your breath be taken away by misty peaks, deserted beaches and cascading waterfalls. Keep your fingers crossed and you may see a golden eagle or a rutting stag on the hillside.”

— Keith Hill

Tips on some top things to see and do in the Scottish Highlands 

Steall Waterfall is the second highest in Scotland (Dreamstime)

Steall Waterfall is the second highest in Scotland (Dreamstime)

“Visit Steall Waterfall, near Fort William, and walk alongside rushing rapids or glimpse a herd of red deer. It’s below Ben Nevis, but it’s not as well known, so it’s much quieter. A fun wire bridge is suspended across the river for the more daring to try.”

— Megan Windell 

"Make sure you visit the beautiful  Plockton on the West Coast... No visit is worth it until you've had some Plockton prawns cooked by Ewan at the Plockton Inn."

— James Moore 

“One of the most scenic spots is Glen Etive, where part of the James Bond film Skyfall was shot. The drive is a 45km round-trip and it’s off the beaten track, so you can enjoy the vistas without hordes of tourists.”

— Rosalind Edwards

“Be sure to visit Dry Island, near Gairloch. It actually declared independence recently to become the Kingdom of Islonia and is accessible via a floating bridge. Once there, you can go fishing with King Ian for langoustines, then later enjoy a freshly caught seafood lunch cooked by Queen Jess. There is also an overnight cabin, which has a hot tub that you can soak in while gazing up at the northern lights.”

— Peter Dodd

Tips for wildlife watching in the Scottish Highlands 

Wanderlust fan Jacki enjoying feeding the gentle reindeer in the Cairngorms

Wanderlust fan Jacki enjoying feeding the gentle reindeer in the Cairngorms

Definately visit the Cairngorms and book to walk into the mountains to hand feed the reindeer. It's an absolutely amazing experience. They are incredibly friendly and gentle creatures.

— Jacki Constantine 

"I would recommend visiting Mull for the amazing wildlife. Take the Mull Charters boat trip from Ulva to have the most amazing encounter with the sea eagles."

— Amy Vigrass

"On any trip to the Highlands, visiting the magical island of Mull is a must... you will be guaranteed to see stag and deer running in the hills, a curious seal or two popping up in a loch or even a pair of playful otters."

— Leanne Carr

"Head to a little waterfall known as Buchanty Spout, near Crieff. Time it right and you may spot salmon leaping upstream."

— Andy Jacques

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