Plum’s Pick of the Most Beautiful Places in Scotland
Whether it’s city streets or mountain lakes that get your heart beating faster, here are the beautiful places Scotland can’t keep secret.
Trying to compile a list of the most beautiful places in Scotland is like trying to celebrate Burns Night without haggis and whisky – it simply can’t be done. But here at Plum Guide we don’t back down from a challenge, whether it’s finding the most luxurious homes around the world or attempting to rank Scotland’s stunning scenery, so we’ve had a crack at it.
It should come as no surprise that Edinburgh is first on our list of the most beautiful places in Scotland. If you are surprised, where have you been? The gorgeous cobbled capital, with its skyline of majestic turrets, towers, and an extinct volcano, constantly comes out on top – in 2016, a Rough Guides poll declared it the fourth most beautiful city in the world, and even then we feel it was robbed of first place. If you’re looking for the most beautiful city break, these narrow streets and closes are crammed with chic cocktail bars (don’t miss a stop at speakeasy-style Panda and Sons) award winning dining (there are four Michelin-starred restaurants here, more than anywhere else in Scotland) and enough culture to keep your days full no matter how long you’re here for. Throw in a wealth of luxury shopping in the shadow of an actual castle and some seriously beautiful townhouse apartments to stay in, and we’re already packing our bags.
You’d be hard pushed to discover many places more beautiful than Aberdeenshire. This coastal county in Scotland is one of our favourite places for a beachy getaway. No, it might not be bikini weather, but with the golden stretches of Balmedie Beach perfect for a stroll, and craggy cliff walks offering spectacular views over the waves, who cares? Put on a scarf and get exploring. Move further inland and you’ll discover about a dozen castles and a wealth of cinematic scenery – Aberdeenshire has featured on screen in films like The Queen, Mary Queen of Scots, and The Crown. (Sensing a theme here?) We can’t promise you a stay inside the pink walls of Craigievar Castle, which is said to have inspired Disney’s Cinderella, but our home critics have found some alternatives that are just as regal and have some slightly more modern conveniences.
Sorry, Nessie, but Loch Ness is so overplayed. If you’d like a holiday shrouded in Scottish mist and mystery without vying for views against hordes of monster-hunters, Loch Lomond is our top choice for the lakes. It doesn’t hurt that the loch is set in one of the most beautiful places in Scotland; surrounded by the hills and heritage of the romantic Scottish Highlands, this would make the perfect honeymoon destination. Keep an eye out for red deer while exploring the forests, and venture into the historic village of Luss for a cracking Sunday lunch and a look at the ancient stone cottages.
Can’t get enough of the Highlands? We don’t blame you – this regal, rugged land is amongst the most beautiful places in Scotland, and Dornach Firth has been rightly recognised as one of Scotland’s National Scenic Areas. So it’s got the seal of approval from the Scottish government and Plum Guide, which is really all a place could ever wish for. City-slickers may not approve of the lack of luxury shopping and modern bars here, but if you’re craving a trip back to nature there’s no better place. Take a big group of friends and your walking boots to really make the most of Dornach Firth’s gorgeous landscapes. Our top tip? Don’t end your day as darkness falls. This is one of the best places in the UK for stargazing, and there’s nothing like staring up at the twinkling skies to make your stay a holiday to remember even if you don’t know your Big Dipper from your… well, any other constellation. (Don’t judge us – we’re home experts, not astronomers.)
Perth and Kinross
You could spend a whole mini-break just admiring the mountainous scenery in Perth and Kinross, but it would be a shame to miss out on the variety of fun that one of the most beautiful places in Scotland has on offer. You can squeeze between barrels at Edradour, Scotland’s smallest malt whisky distillery, try your hand at fishing for wild Atlantic salmon from the banks of the River Tay, or spend a happy day wandering the independent shops on quaint George Street. You can also visit Scone, which was the ancient crowning place of Scotland’s kings. Macbeth (yes, him from Shakespeare), Robert the Bruce (yes, him from Braveheart) and Charles II (yes, him from… history textbooks?) were all crowned here. And of course, you can bed down in the four-posters in this stunning Plum home, which is a destination in its own right.
When it comes to beautiful places in Scotland, Fife has got to be the jackpot. Nestled between Edinburgh and Dundee on the Scottish coastline, it’s the best of all worlds. If you can’t think of a more beautiful sight than a golfing green, you’ll love the world-class courses, including the Old Course in St Andrews, where the game was invented over a thousand years ago. Looking for a historic town filled with scenic ruins and plenty of cosy pub stops? University town St Andrew’s is a must-visit. If you’re seeking sandy shores, Elie and Burntisland beaches are amongst the best in the country. And of course, Plum’s home critics have scouted out some beautiful places to stay in Fife, which is always a bonus.