The Highlands

The Highlands


The Highlands is an inspiring region of magnificent mountains, enchanting lochs and sandy beaches. Discover wonderful wildlife, local produce, outdoor activities and historic attractions, all set against world-renowned landscapes such as Ben Nevis and Loch Ness.


Whether you are exploring the thriving city of Inverness, charming towns and villages or the stunning Isle of Skye, you will find a culturally distinct region influenced by a turbulent history, magnificent nature and geography and the Gaelic language. You will never tire of this heavenly part of Scotland.


Explore Britain’s largest national park, the Cairngorms National Park, which features ancient forests and a great deal of precious wildlife which you can spot all year round. Why not visit Beinn Eighe, Britain’s first National Nature Reserve?


And who hasn’t heard of Loch Ness, Scotland’s most famous loch? Try to catch a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, or visit either end of the loch to see the 18th century Caledonian Canal.


Cross the sea (or the bridge) to the romantic Isle of Skye, spend some time in Caithness exploring the royal connections at the Castle of Mey and flora and fauna at the Flows National Nature Reserve or uncover the magical Moray coast. Travel to the pretty Black Isle - a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Cromarty Firth, the Beauly Firth and the Moray Firth - and enjoy the friendly nearby city of Inverness.


The Highlands has countless historical attractions with iconic castles like Cawdor, Dunrobin and Eilean Donan. Make the trip to Culloden Moor, the site of the last major battle on British soil. Or take to the Malt Whisky Trail in stunning Speyside, home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries.


It is an ideal base for those with a sense of adventure and a love of the great outdoors. Go skiing and snowboarding in one of the three ski centres in the Cairngorms National Park, at the Nevis Range or Glen Coe. Of course there’s great climbing too in the Cairngorms, Sutherland and on Skye.


Mountain biking is very popular with the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup held every year in June in Fort William, the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’. Try your hand at fishing, head to one of Scotland’s finest golf courses or take a walk and look out for magnificent birds of prey in the sky and dolphins in the waters.


When you’re done with your day’s activities, enjoy some locally sourced food and Highland hospitality at a restaurant or inn. You might even manage a dram of whisky at one of many distilleries including Pulteney, Talisker, Dalwhinnie and Glenmorangie.




The past is written all over the Highlands landscape which features famous battlefields, majestic monuments and intriguing ancient relics.


Glencoe is a place of great significance in Scottish history. You can learn all about the infamous massacre of 1692 at the Glencoe Visitor Centre and Glencoe & North Lorn Folk Museum.


The Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen and the history of the Jacobite Rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie is told at the nearby visitor centre.


Culloden was the last battle fought on British soil and you can walk the battlefield, while in the visitor centre, you can get vivid detail of the Jacobites’ 1746 defeat by government troops.


Nearby Fort George was built by the government in the wake of Culloden and is one of the finest feats of 18th century military engineering. It took 20 years to complete and remains unaltered.


The Picts were the indigenous people of the north and left behind remarkable ancient relics. See the impressive Sueno’s Stone in Forres and follow the Pictish Trail from Inverness to Golspie.


Discover the history and heritage of Highland communities. Newtonmore has the Highland Folk Museum and the Skye Museum of Island Life portrays life on the island during the 19th century.


The infamous Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries saw Highlanders driven from their homes by ruthless landowners. Learn more about this notorious episode of Highland history at the Strathnaver Museum.


Explore your roots in the Highlands too, with family records held in the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness and the North Highland Archive in Wick.


Arts and Culture


The Highlands is home to many talented artists who draw inspiration from the landscapes and culture that surround them. Boutiques, galleries and studios display many great works of arts and crafts.


Browse paintings, photography, jewellery, glassware, ceramics and textiles including tweeds and tartan. Support local creativity by taking a piece of the Highlands home as the perfect memento.


Such is the vibrant culture of the Highlands that a range of arts festivals take place throughout the year. The region has become home to some of Scotland’s most popular annual music festivals, like RockNess on the banks of Loch Ness, and the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival near Beauly.


The Blas Festival celebrates Highland music and the Gaelic language while Loopallu is a charming music festival in Ullapool. Both Ullapool and Nairn stage book festivals where you can hear from celebrated writers and poets and meet them too.


There is creativity in the shape of whisky too. The skilled craftsmen at the Speyside Cooperage make whisky casks using traditional methods and tools, and the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival features tastings, dinners and traditional live music. 


From the Cairngorms National Park to the Moray Firth, the Highlands is home to a remarkable range of wildlife.




There is some remarkable marine life in the coastal waters surrounding the Highlands. The Moray Firth has its bottlenose dolphins and the Cromarty Firth has its colony of common seals. Minke whales and humpback whales can be seen off the north and west coasts in the summer months.


The Highlands also has a wonderful variety of birdlife. Witness the sea eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey, on the Isle of Skye. The north Highlands is one of the best areas for spotting golden eagles.


The cliff-tops of the north coast draw large numbers of puffins, guillemots and razorbills. Visit the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten to view ospreys in their nests. The RSPB’s Abernethy Forest Nature Reserve by Nethybridge attracts Scottish crossbills and capercaillie.


The Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie not only has native wildlife like red deer, Scottish wildcats and pine martens, but also more exotic animals such as tigers, red pandas and polar bears.


The Highlands were chosen as the base for BBC's Winterwatch, which was broadcast live from Aigas Field Centre, just west of Inverness, in January 2013. The programme followed many different species active in the area, including otters, pine martens, red squirrels, water shrews and beavers, which were successfully reintroduced to Scotland at Aigas.


Food and Drink


The Highlands offers a rich seasonal larder in addition to all that ravishing scenery. From fresh seafood caught in coastal waters to prime meat from local farms, you can eat extremely well in this food-loving region, whatever your taste and budget. The numerous malt whisky distilleries are also worth a visit, where you can enjoy a tour and sample unique drams.


The Highlands are bursting with seasonal produce and glorious scenery. You can enjoy fresh local produce anywhere from Michelin-star restaurants to homely country inns in Inverness, Nairn & Loch Ness and beyond.


Combining the best of land and sea, Skye & Lochalsh provides the ideal environment for producing fine local food and drink. Fresh, delicious seafood is widely available, as well as venison and game birds that are brought in from the hills.


Savour the true flavour of the Highlands as you travel around Fort William & Lochaber. Feast on wild salmon and trout, fished from the area’s lochs and rivers and tuck into Highland game, beef and lamb, accompanied by seasonal vegetables.


In the North Highlands, the emphasis is firmly on local produce that is beautifully cooked. Due to the bountiful waters off the coast, seafood regularly features on menus, including that of Michelin-star restaurant, The Albannach. Mey Selections produce the highest quality farm and food products including beef and lamb. Try out their delicious produce at local hotels.


Eating out in the Cairngorms National Park provides the perfect combination of delicious flavour and stunning scenery. The pristine natural environment, with its clean air and pure water, means local chefs make the most of the fine beef, lamb, venison, game, salmon and trout as well as locally grown strawberries and handmade cheeses.


Feast on fresh fish and shellfish plucked from the waters of the Moray Firth, or enjoy tender beef and lamb, along with vegetables grown locally, since so much of Moray Speyside is rich farmland.


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