Best Hidden Gems in Scotland
Scotland is on top of your bucket list but you dream of a different holiday outside the beaten track? This ranking is for you! Here is a selection of the best hidden gems in Scotland.
From St Kilda to Oban, through the fairy pools in Skye, Plockton, Smoo Cave and the Kelpies, you'll discover secret places in Scotland.
Dunmore - Falkirk
This building, one of the strangest buildings in Scotland, is a folly, an architectural term to refer to a building that is built primarily for decoration, but can also suggest through its appearance some other purpose.
Dunmore Pineapple was created by Lord Dunmore who wanted his house to look different; he wanted to cultivate pineapples, so this exotic fruit became the symbol for his folly.
Lord Dunmore was not that eccentric and extravagant: he had even been a governor in Virginia for many years and had returned to Scotland to retire. He was following in the footsteps of Scottish sailors who used to place a pineapple on a lamp post facing their house to show that they had just come back from exotic lands.
The Dunmore Pineapple is managed by the Landmark Trust and, incredible as it may seem, it is possible to rent it as a holiday home at a very attractive price (60 pounds per night for 4 people - dogs are allowed).
How to get there: Book your flights to Edinburgh or Glasgow and join Dunmore (40 minutes by car - 2 hours by public transport).
Where to stay: 5km from the "Dunmore Pineapple", "Inglewood House and Spa" features treatments rooms, a thermal suite and an outdoor hot tub.
Forth and Clyde Canal - Falkirk
Horses are the most important living beings in the history of Scotland, whether to work the land, defend oneself from numerous attacks or as a means of travelling. The Kelpies, a Scottish term, are strong mythical water horses ten times more powerful than common horses just like the Scottish watercourses,
These two monumental sculptures are there to defend the Forth and Clyde Canal but also the whole country.
How to get there: Book your flights to Edinburgh (20 min by car - 1h by train + bus).
Where to stay: "Tigerlily" is an award-winning boutique hotel a 10-minute walk from the most popular shopping area.
Crovie is a small village in the North of Scotland in the Aberbeenshire region. There is only one road and 50 houses facing the sea. The road is so narrow that the inhabitants have to park their car outside the village.
Why are they all gathered on this narrow strip of land facing the sea? The reason is hard to imagine: the wealthy landowner of Crovie had once decided to drive all the inhabitants out of his property because he loved to see his sheep graze on his meadows! The inhabitants had had to take refuge on this small strip of land facing the sea. Some inhabitants still live there although a certain number of houses are now holiday homes.
How to get there: Book your flights to Aberdeen (1h by car, 3h by train).
Where to stay: "49 Crovie Village". Stay in the heart of the village.
Fionnphort - Isle of Mull
No other cave in the world is similar to Fingal's Cave. The dramatic basalt cave rising from the sea is incredible and will captivate those travellers who dare to venture inside.
Wildlife abounds and you may be lucky to encounter the cute puffins in season. Boat tours are organized several times a day from Fionnphort.
How to get there: Book your flights to Glasgow and drive to Oban (2:15), then take the ferry to Craignure (50 min).
Where to stay: "St Columba Hotel" set 200m from Iona Abbey has a garden and a bar.
Isle of Skye - Highlands
Portree is the largest city on the Isle of Skye. It is a perfect starting point for excursions in the Inner Hebrides. No need to use a ferry to get to Portree, just cross the bridge in Loch Aillse.
If you are a fan of highland games the first two weeks of August are perfect, but if you want to avoid crowds, book before or after the event when prices are more attractive.
How to get there: Book your flights to Inverness (3h by car - 5h by train).
Where to stay: "Harbor House" is one of our top picks in Portree.
St Kilda Archipelago
The first question that comes to mind is "How to get to this remote Scottish Island? ". Located in the Outer Hebrides, this world heritage site has one of the highest sea cliffs in Scotland.
Discover the incredible story of the island's inhabitants who had to leave in 1930. St Kilda is a unique destination in the United Kingdom. It was one of the most isolated inhabited islands. Today since all its inhabitants have gone and it is the ideal destination for birdwatching. On the Isle of Harris various companies offer boat tours to visit St Kilda. It is even possible to make a multi-day cruise with "The National Trust for Scotland".
Where to stay: "Finsbay Lodges" situated in the Isle of Harris, Finsbay Lodges features a sauna.
Argyll and Butte - West Scotland
This small town of 8000 inhabitants is a must-see destination in Scotland. Oban whose name means "small bay" is a perfect destination for nature and sea lovers. It is also known for its many restaurants on the pier, a nice way to end the day after visiting the Hebrides, the Isle of Mull, Staffa, Kerrera...
How to get there: Book your flights to Glasgow (2h) or Edinburgh (2h30).
Where to stay: "Katie's flat" is rated for the best value in Oban.
Isle of Iona
Facing Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull, the Isle of Iona is one of the best hidden gems in Scotland.
This small secret island in the Inner Hebrides is a 4-hour drive from the nearest airport. Known as the cradle of Christianity in Scotland, the island of Iona marked the history of this nation.
Discover this small island and its 120 inhabitants and enjoy a stay punctuated by the waves and the fresh air of the pure Hebrides.
How to get there: Book your flights to Glasgow and drive to Oban (2:15). There you can take the ferry to Craignure (50 min). You will then drive from Craignure to Fionnphort (1 hour drive). Last step: board the boat from Fionnphort to the Isle of Iona.
Where to stay: "Iona Pods" is only at 10-minute walk to the beaches.
Glenbrittle - Isle of Skye
Located on the Isle of Skye, a 2.5-hour drive from Inverness, the Fairy Pools is one of Scotland's hidden gems. The fairy pools located near Glenbrittle are waterfalls which form real natural pools. The crystal clear water invites the bold swimmer to dive into its very cool fresh waters!
How to get there: Book your flights to Inverness (2.5 hours by car). The walk starts from the road to Glenbrittle. You can park in the Forestry Commission car park.
Where to stay: "The Boat House". Every room has sea views.
The Dean Village grew around the Dean River. The river was essential for water mills that produced flour for more than 8 centuries for the whole city of Edinburgh.
With the decline of water mills, the village was gradually abandoned, only the poorest lived there. A few years later, the Dean Village became a popular place for artists and people who wanted to live in a quiet place, close to nature and the city centre.
How to get there: Book your flights to Edinburgh. Dean village is a 15 minutes’ walk from the Edinburg castle.
Where to stay: "Historic Dean Village" is one of our top picks in Edinburgh.
Durness - Highlands
Located in the far North of Scotland, 5 minutes from Durness and a 2.5 hours’ drive from Inverness, Smoo Cave is one of the hidden gems of Scotland. We suggest you take the guided tour to the foot of the falls.
The cave is open every day from 10h to 17h. but the visit might be interrupted by heavy rain. We advise you to watch the weather forecast before driving to the cave.
How to get there: Book your flights to Inverness (2h30 by car, 7h by train).
Where to stay: "The Tongue Hotel" offers luxurious rooms and a cosy restaurant.
Isle of Skye - Highlands
Plockton is considered the jewel of the Highlands. It is a perfect destination for nature lovers. Open the windows in your guesthouse, Loch Carron is just in front of you. everything is peaceful and blissfully quiet...
If you want to discover the surroundings, take a boat trip to Loch Carron. You can also go sailing, sea kayaking, cycling or simply stroll and enjoy the stunning scenery and beauty of this wild coast. Book your flights, accommodation, tours and activities in Scotland, such as a Best of Isle of Skye full-day tour.
How to get there: Book your flights to Inverness and drive to Plockton (2h by car - 3h by train).
Where to stay: "Kinloch Lodge Hotel and Restaurant" is a family-run hotel.
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