I love the expressions that I get when I tell people I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for five years. (See, you just did it.)
Scotland is one of Europe’s wildest terrains.
From the raging waves pounding the North Sea coastline, to the pubs and tearooms of the capital streets, Scotland has a variety of experiences beyond the stereotypical images of tartan kilts and rainclouds.
While in the country I belonged to a local walking group that took a number of fun trips all across Scotland.
The Best Scotland Adventures
It’s hard to narrow it down to 7 favorites, but here are some of my favorite Scottish adventures.
Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of time on your trip to explore these and more to find your own.
1. Put Your Hand on the Center Stone of the Standing Stones of Callanish
You probably know of Stonehenge, made famous when Chevy Chase backed his car into one of the Neolithic stones in European Vacation. (While it would be hard to back a car into Stonehenge, sadly there IS a highway running right next to it.)
One of the oldest stone circles – many say centuries older than Stonehenge – is the Standing Stones of Callanish, found on a windswept plain on the west coast of Lewis, an island on the Outer Hebrides.
There’s not much here for miles, and the historians have more questions than answers about this stone, but one thing is certain: you’ll understand why people have been coming here for centuries by placing one hand on the center stone.
2. Visit the Moon… I mean, the Island of Staffa
If there were a place almost like the moon in Scotland, it would be the island of Staffa.
Getting here is no feat and isn’t possible on inclement weather days – you’ve got to get to Oban, Mull, or Iona and then grab an onward smaller boat to the island’s dock – which is simply a spot where boats can pull in and you can jump off.
The island is made up of s a stone that looks like some sort of human giant built the island.
Shown above is Fingal’s Cave, a spot that looks – and sounds – like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. This place is strange and if you manage to get here (as I said, only on calm weather days is the final boat ride possible), you’ll never forget it.
Read: The Legend of the Giant’s Causeway for more on Basalt Columns in Ireland.
3. Spend the Night in a Haunted B&B
If you want to spend the night in a haunted castle (or B&B, or hotel, or normal apartment building), Scotland is the place to be – I’ve seen more ghosts and “unexplained” things there than anywhere else in my life.
Perhaps it’s all of the wars and battles that have been fought on these grounds, from the Vikings to the Scottish Clans to Scotland and England’s warring days (which are now mostly just political, thankfully).
My top recommendation would have been Lunan Lodge – without a doubt the most haunted place I have ever been to in my entire life.
I can’t even explain some of the things I’ve experienced here. Sadly, I have just learned the owners have decided not to open the B&B this year.
However, there are plenty of other options – Airth Castle and Tulloch Castle are both very comfortable and have a lot of “strange goings on.”
Order Now: How The Scots invented The Modern World
4. Go Munro Bagging
Despite the weather, hiking is perhaps one of the most popular outdoor sports in Scotland – and for good reason, because there is plenty of gorgeous terrain to cover.
You are spoilt for options if you’re staying in Edinburgh, but if you’re heading north into the Highlands, consider munro bagging.
A Munro is simply a mountain over 3,000 ft. Some people spend years trying to climb them all (“bagging”) – there are nearly 300 of them.
The most famous of all is Ben Nevis, which is the tallest mountain in the British Isles.
A great hike if you’re staying in Fort William, I would agree with most others in saying that the most picturesque trail up this Munro is the main route, known as the “Tourist Trail.”
Whenever hiking up mountains, small or large, please bring warm clothes, water, and make sure someone knows where you are going – bad weather can settle in rather swiftly.
5. Raise Your Glass in one of Scotland’s Oldest Pubs
A visit to some of Edinburgh’s many pubs that line the Royal Mile will leave you thinking most bars in the city are centuries old – or at least haven’t been cleaned in centuries.
But the bar that calls itself the city’s oldest, fact or not, is the Sheep Heid Inn, which is located behind Holyrood Park.
A walk in/around the park is a great way to stretch your legs, before kicking back a pint here in the pub.
While you are here, how about a game of skittles (bowling) – the alley here is still in use since built in the 16th century!
Visiting Scotland? Pick up your copy of The Lonely Planet Scotland Travel Guide
6. Practice Your Driving Skills on a Single Track Road
I actually didn’t think they still existed, but Scotland still has single track roads – roads that are made of one lane, with pullouts in various points along the road to allow for passing.
Yes, there are single track roads on the mainland, mostly in the far northwest. You’ll also find single track roads on most (all?) of the islands off the west coast.
This is not for the weak of heart – you’ll need to remain vigilant of traffic and be prepared to pull over into a passing point ahead of meeting an oncoming car. Y
ou may also want to practice courtesy and allow faster drivers to pass if you’re taking your time.
You might notice the above photo there are two lanes – the extra lane ends shortly. I was too scared by my driving partner’s somewhat harsh driving skills to get the camera back out!)
7. Take a Haunted Edinburgh Tour
Edinburgh has plenty of adventures, and it’s hard to pick just one – but I will, and I’ll suggest you take one of the many haunted Edinburgh tours by Blackheart Entertainment.
Their guides are the best and will not only take you into some of the city’s darker, stranger spots, but they will also provide insightful commentary on the history of Edinburgh.
The city has a very quirky, strange history (you would too if you spend centuries being beaten up by neighbours from all sides) and the result is a wonderful atmospheric city we have today.
Feel like watching something Scottish? Rent or Buy the Academy Award winning Braveheart
Scotland has many more miles of hikes, shoreline, hills and valleys.
I encourage you to spare plenty of days, take your time, and explore the details of this colourful country.
There are adventures waiting around every corner.
Where to stay in Scotland:
- Booking.com has over 6000 different properties in Scotland. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
About the Author: Andy Hayes is the author at Plum Delux where he writes about light adventure travel.
46 thoughts on “7 Crazy Adventures in Scotland”
Amazing blog, really interesting blog, I loved reading it, please keep on writing blogs like this.
I love Scotland,worked there in 68 and 69 ,survey work in Royal Engineers.,on North and South Uist ,Stayed in Sollas and benbecala, Isle of Skye Harris ,and Lewes up to Stornaway,all the Ayrshire Coast and up to Kyle of Lochalsh,Lockcarron,Applecross that’s where you would enjoy driving,wouldn’t make bends in one go,brilliant,and stayed in Plockton,and done the northern Ireland coast line from Magiigan point to Bangor stayed 3 weeks on the Ailsa Craig stayed in Girvan ballintrae to Stranraer, Only now I realise how lucky I was,also in Faslane and Coulport,Stayed Helensburgh,,and I’m Irish,Loved your country and toured rest of Scotland since,,Edinburgh,Dunfermline and Inverness my favourite Cities
Hi all ,I am from Australia, and I am planning a 6 week holiday to Scotland ,late December through to end January, in a cpl yrs, and I want to set my itinerary before leaving Australia, I am planning a fly / drive trip, and the only definate plan at present , is spending a week approx in and around Hamilton, as this is where my grandmother came from. I would appreciate if anyone could give me ideas, on places to stay, and visit during my time there.
With many thanks
Lâche pas ton rêve!
I love that Andy has put pubs in an article about ‘adventure’ travel. That’s my kind of trip!! 🙂
Agreed. Pubs are definitely an adventure:)
I lived in Edinburgh for a year and half and gosh do I miss it… I didn’t do any of these things though, except for a few munroes
Great landscape! I would love to spend a night in a haunted b&b 🙂
Me too. I love being terrified in that way.
I love the road stretch, just wondering how long this kind of weather lasts for.looking forward to visit one day, my wife loves Scotland.
I would love to hike around the Scottish highlands. It just looks beautiful.
Edinburgh was my favorite part of Scotland. I definitely need to go back, but this time not the dead of winter. Seriously, why did I think that was a good time to go?
I love Scotland! I climbed Ben Nevis and saw the Standing Stones of Callanish, but there’s so much more I want to do there – staying in a haunted apartment sounds especially appealing! You really have gotten around 🙂
Kind of part of the job 😉
A night in a haunted B&B? So cool!
I’ve never been to Scotland, and of all the things I’ve read about it, your piece is the most persuasive. I really love Fingal’s cave, but all of it is appealing.
The island of Staffa reminds me of the geographic rock formations at the tip of Northern Ireland. Cool Stuff.
I’ve always thought that Scotland would be a lovely place to visit, but a rough place to live (considering the weather and all that rain). But we just moved to Seattle, so….. maybe it’s time to give Scotland another chance! 🙂
I don’t think the weather is as bad as you think 🙂
What a treat and definitely bookmark-able now that Tamara and I are living in Edinburgh.
Staffa is just the kind of thing that appeals to me – raw nature.
There is so much to see here in Scotland – we visited the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth last month to see the huge puffin colonies up close and the guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes on the sheer cliff sides.
We came back to shore passing near Bass Rock – and we plan to land there another time. It is a must-see for the tens of thousands of gannets covering every inch of the rock.
When you are passing this way, give us a shout and we can give you a proper welcome 🙂
Or even just eating haggis is an adventure!
Scotland is my favorite country – of all the ones I haven’t visited yet. I have a huge fascination with this country and can’t wait to visit (Yes, I love reading stories from Keith’s blog). Give me the hiking any day! I would love to go Munro bagging but I’ll pass on staying at a haunted B&B 🙂
We haven’t been to Scotland yet! Andy’s post really makes me want to go sooner than later.
Munro bagging is certainly something that looks to be an epic thing to do in Scotland, besides a few pints at the pub of course!
A big thanks to Andy for writing this post for us. He’s made us want to go and Scotland has just shot up to the top of our list!
Great post! I’ve just come back from hiking the West Highland Way. 152 Kim’s of pure adventure. It’s a beautiful country and definitely a great place to travel to.
Wow Velvet! That is quite the adventure! how long did that take? You must be in amazing shape right now too!
I did it over 8 days. People do it in 5-11 days – depends how challenging you want it to be. It was just so beautiful – great people, great food, amazing scenary. Although I think my week in London afterwards undid all my fitness!
Haha, we know the feeling. We always have an epic adventure followed by pigging out and pampering. The 2 p’s of post trekking:)
Looks cold, but otherwise a good time! What a beautiful country side they have.
It really is a beautiful country isn’t it. We’re looking forward to going one day soon.
Thank you for the informative post. We are heading to Scotland in 3 weeks so the timing could not have been better. We are really hoping to get out to Staffa as long as the weather cooperates. I think we may now check out a Haunted Tour in Edinburgh thanks to your recommendation. We will be in Edinburgh during the festival, do you have any must-sees for that?
The Edinburgh Festival is crazy – so much is going on! I do suggest getting out of town for some fresh air, but diving into the fest fun is an experience in itself! Don’t miss the Water of Leith while you’re in town; great place to grab a coffee and go for a relaxing walk.
Thanks for all the tips Andy. Your photos and list have shot Scotland right to the top of our must visit list!
Have a great time in Scotland Tracy and let us know how the trip goes! We’ll be sure to follow along on twitter.
Staffa looks just like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland! An almost straight line between the two as well. Makes you wonder if the legend is just that or maybe more. 😉 Having been to one, I’d love to visit the other someday.
Yes, as you allude to, there is a legend that a Giant built a road between Scotland and Ireland. The road would have been to the Mull of Kintyre, which is further south than Staffa, but it does make for interesting conversation. 🙂
I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland! Love the haunted features here – My wife would totally be down for the tour…but a haunted B&B – might be a sleepless night with that one!
I forgot you lived there! When i first met you 8 thought you were Scottish. I’m dying to go back!
Do it 🙂
I thought that same thing when I first connected with Andy. I was sure he was Scottish too! It confused me when I met him in real life
Actually there are single track roads all over the country! It’s just that main roads have been built near most of them, so they only get used by locals 🙂
Good guide though – I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over a year now and I’ve barely visited any of Scotland!
Karen, I spent a couple of years just exploring Edinburgh. I strongly encourage you getting in the car and heading to the west and north coasts. It’s just so breathtaking.
We’ve been considering doing it by bicycle. I think it would be awesome to cycle around the country for a month or so. What do you think? To rainy, windy or hilly? Or is it just right:)