The Northern Highlands and the Western Isles: Places to Explore


  • Achiltibuie

    Off the beaten track, Achiltibuie is a small coastal community set at the foot of magnificent mountains. It looks out over the Summer Isles, whose history dates back to Viking raids. Cruises leave from... Read more

  • Dornoch

    A town of sandstone houses, tiny rose-filled gardens, and a 13th-century cathedral with stunning traditional and modern stained-glass windows, Dornoch is well worth a visit. It's noted for golf: you may... Read more

  • Dunbeath

    A tiny coast village, Dunbeath is bordered by moors on one side, the sea on the other. A few interesting museums make it worth a stop.... Read more

  • Durness

    The sudden patches of green surrounding the village of Durness, on the north coast, are caused by the richer limestone outcrops among the acid moorlands. Here you'll find the country's highest cliff, Clo... Read more

  • Gairloch

    Aside from its restaurants and lodgings, peaceful Gairloch has one further advantage: lying just a short way from the mountains of the interior, this small oasis often escapes the rain clouds that can... Read more

  • Golspie

    The little coastal town of Golspie is worth a stop if you're heading for Dunrobin Castle. It has a number of shops and accommodations.... Read more

  • Helmsdale

    Helmsdale is a fascinating fishing village with a checkered past. It was a busy Viking settlement and then the scene of an aristocratic poisoning plot before it was transformed into a 19th-century village... Read more

  • Isle of Harris

    For most people, Harris is forever linked to tweed. Woven here and on nearby islands, the tweed has colors that echo the tones of the landscape. The dramatic mountains of the northern part of the island... Read more

  • Isle of Lewis

    The history of Lewis stretches back 5,000 years, as archaeological sites scattered across the island attest. Here the Highland past persists in the Gaelic that is spoken everywhere, and the clan names... Read more

  • Isle of Skye

    The misty isle, Skye is full of romance and myth, lush gardens and steep, magnetic mountains (a compass is useless in the Cuillin Mountains). It ranks near the top of most visitors' must-see lists: the... Read more

  • John o'Groats

    The windswept little outpost of John o'Groats is usually taken to be the northernmost community on the Scottish mainland, though that is not strictly accurate, as an exploration of the network of roads... Read more

  • Lochcarron

    Strung along the shore, the village of Lochcarron has some attractive croft buildings, a couple of churches (one an 18th-century ruin set in a graveyard), a golf club, and some handy shops.... Read more

  • Lochinver

    Lochinver is a quiet shoreside community of whitewashed cottages, with a harbor used by the west coast fishing fleet, and a couple of good dining and lodging options. Behind the town the mountain Suilven... Read more

  • North Uist

    Stunning coastal scenery and ancient ruins are the main draws on North Uist. You’ll find art throughout the island: at the end of roads or paths or on the shore, only visible from a boat. Be sure to visit... Read more

  • Scourie

    Scourie is a small settlement catering to visitors—fisherfolk especially—with a range of accommodations. The bay-side town makes a good base for a trip to the bird sanctuary on Handa Island.... Read more

  • Shieldaig

    Just west of the southern coast of Upper Loch Torridon is Shieldaig, a village that sits in an attractive crescent overlooking a loch of its own, Loch Shieldaig. For an atmospheric evening foray, walk... Read more

  • South Uist

    Carpets of wildflowers in spring and early summer, superb deserted beaches, and historical connections to Flora Macdonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie head the list of reasons to visit this island.... Read more

  • Thurso

    The town of Thurso is quite substantial for a community so far north. In town are the Thurso Heritage Museum and Old St. Peter's Kirk, which dates back to the 12th century. There are also fine beaches... Read more

  • Ullapool

    Ullapool is an ideal base for hiking throughout Sutherland and taking wildlife and nature cruises, especially to the Summer Isles. By the shores of salty Loch Broom, the town was founded in 1788 as a fishing... Read more

  • Wick

    Wick is a substantial town that was built on its fishing industry. The town itself is not very appealing, but it does have the gaunt, bleak ruins of Castle Sinclair and Castle Girnigoe teetering on a clifftop... Read more