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16 Fun & Unique Scotland Staycation Ideas

Planning a staycation in the UK?

Whether you want to connect with nature, treat yourself to a bit of luxury or just wind down on the beach, Scotland has something to offer all travellers.

If you want to go on an amazing holiday without leaving the UK, check out these Scotland staycation ideas suggested by travel bloggers.

The Isle of Harris | Scotland Staycation Ideas
The Isle of Harris. Photo by Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite.

1. Explore the Isle of Harris

The Isle of Harris is one of the islands that make up the Outer Hebrides north of mainland Scotland. The reason to come here is for the magnificent scenery, best admired by walking along the white sandy beaches or climbing the hills for panoramic views.

Two beaches which should not be missed are Scarista and Luskentyre, and two of the best hills to scale are Ceapabhal Hill and Beinn Dhubh.

In terms of accommodation, renting a self-catering cottage is the best option since there are few hotels and restaurants. From April to October most holiday cottages are only available for 7-day rentals.

The weather in this area is very unpredictable but by spending a week on the island you are likely to get some nice days and have time to visit all the sites.

Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite

Glenfinnan Viaduct | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Glenfinnan Viaduct. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

2. Take a scenic train journey

“There are some fantastic train journeys to take around Scotland. It is possible to combine 3 of the best Scottish rail trips in a loop which start and end in Edinburgh. I recommend travelling clockwise for the best views.

From Edinburgh, catch a train to Fort William, which takes you through the West Highlands for spectacular views of Rannoch Moor, Scottish lochs and even Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. Change trains at Fort William and head up to Mallaig. This train crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct (as seen in Harry Potter). Don’t miss views of Loch Shiel and the Jacobite Monument on the right as you cross the viaduct.

From Mallaig catch the ferry to Skye before making your way across the island by bus and back onto the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh. Here you will catch your second train which will transport you to Inverness.

From Inverness you have two train route options – travel back to Edinburgh via Stirling or via Aberdeen and Dundee. I recommend taking a week to complete the route with accommodation booked along the way at Fort William, Isle of Skye and Inverness.” 

Tracy from UK Travel Planning

Urquhart Castle | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Urquhart Castle. Photo by Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys.

3. Visit a haunted castle at Loch Ness

“The Scottish Highlands are stunning. This remote area of Scotland is known for the myth of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. Inverness is the gateway to the region, an area surrounded by cute small towns and magical scenery like Glen Affric and Loch Ness.

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater lake where sightings of the mythical monster have been made in the past. Taking a boat ride along Loch Ness is a great way to get a feel for its vastness and learn more about Nessie. But for us, the real highlight was the super picturesque Urquhart Castle.

Like the myth of Nessie, Urquhart Castle is shrouded in mystery. For example, there are supposedly 2 secret chambers beneath the castle, one containing gold, the other, the plague! No one has ever dared search for this secret treasure for fear of opening the wrong door and catching the plague. 

As a gay couple we loved exploring the Scottish highlands and discovering the gay scene of Inverness. We felt very welcome there.”

Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys

Hike from Sligachan to the Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

4. Escape to the Isle of Skye

If you’re looking for a weekend staycation idea, head to the Isle of Skye.

Skye is fantastic for anyone who wants to spend time outdoors – either hiking, watching wildlife or practising their photography.

For the adventurous, you can kayak, rock climb or abseil. You can also hire bikes and cycle around the island – a great way to see some of the more hidden places (and find all the best pubs as you go!) 

If the weather is unkind, you can explore castles or enjoy a whisky tasting tour or sheep shearing demonstration!

There’s so much to do on Skye. You definitely won’t be able to see it all in a weekend, but if you plan your 2-3 day Isle of Skye itinerary carefully, you should be able to see a lot!”

Kat from Wandering Bird

A boat trip on Loch Coruisk | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye. Photo by Maja from Away With Maja.

5. Take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk

“The Isle of Skye is one of the most popular places in Scotland, and with good reason. The scenery is dramatic and incredible, and there are lots of great opportunities for outdoor activities.

If you’re looking for a unique Scotland staycation, head to Elgol on the Isle of Skye and take the ferry out to Loch Coruisk. There are two companies operating this ferry route: Bella Jane and Misty Isle. Both companies offer fairly similar trips—the most popular being a 3-hour trip.

The ferry ride takes approximately 45 minutes from Elgol to Loch Coruisk, and you can then enjoy 1.5 hours at the lake before the ferry ride back. You’ll hopefully get to see some seals from the ferry on your way to/from Loch Coruisk. The view of the Cuillin hills from Loch Coruisk is a must on any trip to Skye!”

Maja from Away With Maja

Glenapp Castle | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Glenapp Castle. Photo by Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel.

6. Spend the night in a Scottish castle

“Live out your fairytale dreams and feel like royalty for the night in a real Scottish castle. While there are over 2000 castles in Scotland, several of which offer accommodation options, it’s hard to beat a stay at Glenapp Castle.

Glenapp Castle is a flawless blend of Victorian character and charm, with all the luxury and amenities you expect from a 5-star hotel.  Upon arrival the welcoming staff make you immediately feel like you’ve arrived at home – a rather opulent one!

Located 70 miles south of Glasgow on the Ayrshire Coast, Glenapp Castle is nestled into the rolling countryside in Ballantrae.  It is only two miles from the coast and some of the rooms provide sea views.

Take time to explore the six acres of grassland and woodland surrounding the castle, keeping an eye open for deer and red squirrels. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there are many different activities and excursions you can take from the castle, including a Hebridean Sea Safari, deer stalking, kayaking, distillery tours and castle tours.  

For a more relaxing Scottish staycation, laze about the castle, read a book in the library, indulge in the incredible cuisine or enjoy a massage in your room.”

Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel

Whisky Tasting in Islay
Laphroaig Distilley, Islay. Photo by Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor.

7. Go whisky-tasting in Islay

“As the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, Islay is surprisingly simple to reach given its far-flung location. This is mainly thanks to its whisky industry and the popularity of its distinct peat-smoked malts with whisky obsessed travellers. In fact, Islay is a mecca for whisky lovers.

Daily and regular passenger ferries connect the island to the mainland with boats leaving Kennacraig to arrive at either Port Ellen or Port Askaig on the island of Islay. While it is possible to do a quick day trip to Islay, an overnight stay is recommended, or maybe a 9-night staycation to make the most of the 9 active distilleries on the island.

Port Ellen would be the recommended arrival port on the island as it marks the start of the “Three Distilleries Pathway”, which is a 3-mile walking route connecting between 3 of the better-known distilleries of the east coast, including Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.”

Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

Hike the West Highland Way | Scotland Staycation Ideas
The West Highland Way. Photo by Sheree from Winging the World.

8. Hike the West Highland Way 

“The West Highland Way is the UK’s most popular long-distance hiking trail and makes for a great outdoor adventure. Starting in Milngavie just outside Glasgow and finishing in Fort William, this epic trek totals 96 miles through some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery! 

Whilst there are lots of companies who offer guided treks, planning your West Highland Way route independently has never been easier, owing to the wealth of information online.

Most people complete the trail in around a week, walking around 14 miles per day. Whilst the trail can be walked year-round, spring and autumn are great times as the weather is cooler, the landscape is beautiful and you can avoid the worst of the midges.

In summer, the trail gets crowded so you will need to book your accommodation or risk wild camping! Be aware, there are some camping restrictions along parts of the route.”

Sheree from Winging the World

Malt Whisky Trail in Moray Speyside
Moray Speyside. Photo by Eric from Food and Drink Destinations.

9. Do the Malt Whisky Trail in Moray Speyside

“Home to some of the biggest names in whisky, the Moray Speyside region of northern Scotland is a great place for a Scottish staycation. The region is approximately three hours from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, making it ideal for a weekend getaway or a week-long stay.

Moray Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail allows visitors to explore nearly a dozen different distilleries. At the distilleries guests will learn how whisky is made and of course enjoy a wee sample.

While the whisky distilleries are the main attraction in Moray Speyside, the region offers something for everyone. From a stunning coastline to ancient castles and an incredible culinary scene, Moray Speyside is a must-visit during any trip to Scotland.”

Eric from Food and Drink Destinations

Isle of Muck | Scotland staycation holidays
Isle of Muck. Photo by Jordan from Inspired By Maps.

10. Enjoy a weekend break on the Isle of Muck

“The Isle of Muck is a 1,500-acre island on the west coast of Scotland, located off the more famous Isle of Rum, and on of the aptly named ‘Small Isles.’

Accessible by ferries from Arisaig and Mallaig, the Isle of Muck is a quirky and fun weekend getaway destination with only around 80 residents and no church, pub, or post office. However, what Muck lacks in modern conveniences it makes up for in pure natural beauty and fun activities.

There are just so many things to do on the Isle of Muck. You can walk around the entire island in a day, kayak to meet sea lions, swim in crystal clear sea water, lie on white-sand beaches, go horse riding or even take a boat trip to see dolphins.

Accommodation options are a bit limited, but there is a small lodge, a guest house, and very cool Mongolian-style yurts. Perfect for a long weekend away, the Isle of Muck is one of the best Scotland staycations you could have.”

Jordan from Inspired By Maps

Staying in a peel tower in the Scottish Borders | Scotland staycations
Aikwood Tower. Photo by Heather from Conversant Traveller.

11. Stay in a peel tower in the Scottish Borders

“The Scottish Borders is a remote and beautiful rural area, perfect for a Scotland staycation away from the crowds. Peppered with ancient ruins, magnificent castles and stately houses, this is a place for anyone who loves history. And what better way to experience this place than by staying in your very own castle.

Aikwood Tower is an imposing 15th century peel tower in the Ettrick Valley, and has been splendidly renovated into a retreat for luxury self-catering holidays in Scotland. The tower has five ensuite bedrooms, a traditional great hall complete with open fire, and of course a spiral staircase all the way up to the top.

Perfect for a long weekend family holiday, Aikwood Tower is ideally situated for exploring the wider Borders area with forest walks, heritage sites and traditional eateries right on the doorstep.”

Heather from Conversant Traveller

Loch Lomond | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Trossachs National Park. Photo by Stephen from Copenhagen Rocks.

12. Go on an adventure at Loch Lomond

“Loch Lomond is a stunning slice of Scotland’s landscape; teetering on the border between the Scottish highlands and lowlands.

When picturing the perfect Scottish staycation, look no further as this beautiful loch has everything you need within reach. There are a handful of small, quaint towns at Loch Lomond, each one oozing with Scottish charm and personality. Boat tours circle the loch multiple times a day, letting visitors take in the views of the surroundings.

The loch is also on the doorstep of Trossachs National Park – perhaps the most noteworthy attraction in the area. Trossachs National Park is filled with the raw, untouched beauty of Scotland. You can spend the day hiking through the thick woods, road tripping in the small mountains, or exploring the glens.

Loch Lomond has everything you need for a weekend break. It’s a magnificent spot for an outdoorsy Scotland staycation.”

Stephen from Copenhagen Rocks

Glen Affric | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Glen Affric. Photo by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple.

13. Connect with nature at Glen Affric

“Glen Affric is often described as the most beautiful glen in Scotland. This slice of paradise immerses you in complete wilderness and is one of the best Scotland staycation ideas for those who enjoy hiking, mountain biking and wildlife spotting.

Hike to Plodda Waterfalls, or Dog Falls. Alternatively, you can walk along the circular path of Loch Affric. Grab your binoculars and do some wildlife spotting in Strathfarrar. You can find red deers, fox, badgers, red squirrels, ospreys and golden eagles.

The best places to stay include Beauly, Cannich or Tomich – the towns surrounding Glen Affric. There are places that cater to all kinds of travellers, but our absolute favourites are Eagle Brae (luxury log cabins) and Glen Affric Holiday Park.

Although Glen Affric is an all year destination, we highly recommend visiting during the autumn.”

Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple

Dunnet Bay | Scotland Staycation Ideas
Dunnet Bay. Photo by Charlotte from Bursting My Bubbles.

14. Hit the beach at Dunnet Bay

“On the northeast coast of Scotland is Dunnet Bay, the ultimate beach staycation. It is home to large stretch of golden sandy beach, where you can go on coastal walks, surf, swim and just have a beautiful day by the sea.

Dunnet Bay is just down the road from John o’ Groats, so you can go to the most northerly tip of the UK. There is also a village nearby with plenty of places to eat and drink.

And the best bit? It is so peaceful and quiet! Dunnet Bay really is a place where you can relax and unwind. If, like me, you suffer with anxiety when travelling this is the best place for you to go – you can just sit on the beach watching the sunset with a Thistly Cross!”

Charlotte from Bursting My Bubbles

Cairngorm Mountains | Scotland Staycations
A reindeer in Cairngorm Mountains. Photo by Christa from Expedition Wildlife.

15. Get close to wildlife at Cairngorms National Park

“In the northeast of Scotland’s Highlands is the massive Cairngorms National Park, the largest natural park in the country. This stunning gem is perfect for visitors looking to get away for a weekend to enjoy the outdoors, especially hiking and birdwatching.

Trails meander all throughout the region, from stunning lakes such as Loch Morlich all the way to the mountains, including Cairngorm Mountain. The trails from the Cairngorm Mountain car park offer some of the best views of ptarmigan in their winter plumage, and the old-growth forests of Glenmore and Abernethy are perfect spots for all variety of birdlife.

Aviemore, a sweet town considered the gateway to the Cairngorms, is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the region – a nice meal at The Winking Owl or live music at the Cairngorm Hotel make a wonderful evening to a fun-filled day!”

Christa from Expedition Wildlife

Union Canal | Unusual Things To Do in Edinburgh
The Union Canal. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

16. Get off the beaten path in Edinburgh

“Edinburgh is a great place to spend your Scotland staycation – even as a local! There are plenty of hidden gems to explore in the Scottish capital, from lesser-known tourist sites like Craigmillar Castle to quirky neighbourhoods like Leith.

Spend a few days exploring Edinburgh beyond the guidebook. Cycle along the Water of Leith, go on a kayak trip along the Union Canal, or hit the coffee shops in Bruntsfield.

You could also go hiking in Edinburgh. The city is home to several green areas, including The Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill, and Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve.”

Daniela from Grumpy Camel

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Best Scotland Staycation Ideas
Best Scotland Staycation Ideas

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Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo

Hi! I'm a Maltese blogger based in Scotland. I created Grumpy Camel to help travellers connect with places through culture, history and cuisine.

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