The Scottish Highlands are frequently regarded to be desolate and wild, and to some extent, this is correct. In this part of the planet, there aren’t many people. Those who do call the Highlands home, on the other hand, make all visitors feel sincerely welcomed. The welcoming of strangers is an ancient way of life, and it is an important component of the Highlander’s psyche. There is so much to see, do, experience, and learn that a single visit is not enough, yet you may find yourself returning, as many do. Here are 12 compelling reasons why you should visit the Scottish Highlands.
Scotland is stunning, especially the Scottish Highlands. Visitors have been drawn to this area of the world for many years, from the mountains to the sea and all in between. Views here will take your breath away, especially as the seasons, weather, and light change. No two visits will ever be the same.
Those who live in the Highlands uphold historical hospitality traditions, providing a warmth and welcome that makes the visitor feel like an old friend. Sharing is a natural aspect of life in the Highlands, whether it’s sharing the views, the natural richness of food available, or laughter, dance, music, or whisky – all of these things bring visitors returning, eager to be included again.
The Highlands can be shrouded in mist and low clouds one minute and stunningly clear the next, only to be greeted by stinging showers later in the day. All four seasons in a one day. It can be difficult to draw yourself away from staring at the sky at times. The clouds have their own language here, and if you understand it, you can predict what the weather will be like. It also helps that the clouds lend another dimension of beauty to the scenery.
Whisky in its Natural Element
Whisky, the nation’s spirit, is a significant aspect of Highland culture. The water here is pure and gentle, and the care, attention to detail, and sheer artistry of those who manufacture single malts is legendary. A drink beside the fire on a cold autumn evening, or with new acquaintances mid-ceilidh, is something to remember.
The Sea and Coast
The Highlands, despite their name, may just as readily have been termed the coastlands. The coastlines here are shattered, lengthy, and ever-changing as a result of old glaciers, fierce rivers, and unrelenting ocean. There are parts of the beach that are peaceful, and others of the beach that drop away to a raging ocean below. With thousands of kilometers of shoreline, choosing your own isolated place is simple, possibly shared with otters, seals, orcas, or dolphins offshore.
Inverness, the Highlands’ capital, has experienced a revival in recent years. Restaurants and cafés that employ local and sustainable resources and translate them into delicious meals have replaced outdated and clichéd establishments. Similarly, the visitor attractions. With excellent hotel options for all budgets, Inverness has firmly established itself as an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area.
Any visitor to the Highlands will note right away that this region of Scotland is appropriately titled. The high areas are always present, whether you’re driving along the coast, amid jagged peaks, or staying the night in a glen. The mountains are always nearby, whether it is wide or narrow. Munros are mountains that are more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) tall, but they typically appear much larger since the ground rises quickly from sea level.
The Loch Ness Monster
The most famous Loch in the world, home to the world’s most famous monster. Inverness is merely a short drive from Loch Ness. There are various fantastic ways to enjoy the loch, like walking or cycling the length of the Great Glen Way or taking a boat excursion out to the ruins of Urquhart Castle, which is well worth a visit in and of itself. The Loch Ness Centre and display will answer any questions you may have, and who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to catch proof of Nessie?
Music and dancing
There’s nothing quite like a ceilidh. When the violin hooks you and the drum beat drags you to the floor to dance a reel, waltz, or jig, no matter how far you’ve been, Scotland can suddenly feel like home. The pure delight of dancing for enjoyment, new friends teaching you the steps, and everyone laughing together – this is a powerful and ancient magic that you may not want to stop experiencing.
The Highlands have a fascinating history, one that is often brutal and terrible (as George R.R. Martin discovered while weaving pieces of Scottish history into his Song of Ice and Fire), often tragic and haunting, but one that is deep and interesting on many levels. The legions attempted but failed to cross the Roman boundary. Because the Vikings realized that establishing was preferable to pillaging, many Highlanders can claim Viking ancestry. More recently, the Highland Clearances cleared enormous swaths of land, with many thousands embarking for Canada, America, and other destinations, mostly against their choice. The history here will captivate you, and if you have Scottish Highland ancestry, visiting the country of your forefathers will be a deeply personal experience.
The Highland Games
Following the failed 1745 revolt, traditional modes of life, including meetings for sports, were forbidden throughout Scotland for many years in an attempt to destroy the Highland way of life. The Victorians modernized and updated the games, but eventually saved them. These days, the games are unquestionably a must-see. The Highland Games, no matter how far they have spread, must be experienced in their native glens, where cabers are flung, burly kilted contestants (heavies) compete with good nature and raw strength, and the swirl of the bagpipes resonate across the site.
Scotland is famous for its wild landscapes, as well as the birds and critters that live there. This is especially true in the Highlands, where tourists can witness a dizzying assortment of animals, including golden eagles, pine martens, otter, seals, dolphins, whales, wildcat, and the glen’s king, the red deer stag, if they are lucky. Experiencing nature’s magnificence firsthand in the Highlands will last a lifetime.