Scotland has a lot to offer those looking for an unforgettable family vacation or a romantic couples’ trip. There are several enjoyable activities to partake in this tiny nation to the north of England, from touring the nation’s main attractions to thrilling outdoor experiences. Please look at our ranking of the best cities in Scotland to ensure that you get the most out of your vacation plans to Scotland.
How many cities are in Scotland?
There are currently 8 cities in Scotland listed in our database.
It has been difficult to compile a list of Scottish cities that will satisfy everyone because there is some ongoing debate about what constitutes a “city” (it’s impossible!). However, this list only includes those towns and cities that have received a royal charter from the United Kingdom, designating them as recognized cities.
City: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Dunfermline
Best Cities in Scotland You Should Visit
Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, is most known for its magnificent medieval castle, which constantly ranks among the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. However, there are many more fascinating areas of this lovely city to discover.
The Royal Mile is a lengthy cobblestone boulevard that connects the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is bordered with various beautiful old townhouses and historic structures, including churches and museums. Additionally, it’s a terrific area to visit whether you want to do some serious souvenir buying or want to take a break at a top-notch restaurant or café. Edinburgh is renowned for its festivals, which include the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the renowned Edinburgh Fringe.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest and most developed city, while Edinburgh serves as the country’s capital. In fact, we can claim that Glasgow is a few centuries older than Edinburgh if you go back to St. Mungo’s Church.
Glasgow developed become Scotland’s most significant commercial hub as a result of the vast River Clyde and its location on the west coast. The wealthiest individuals in Scotland for ages were its merchants.
Glasgow offers so many entertaining activities! Many of Scotland’s top restaurants are located in Glasgow, which also has a lively nightlife. Glasgow is divided into various sections due of its size. The best shopping in Scotland may be found in the city center.
Many people believe they may experience Scotland more closely in Glasgow because it is also less touristy than Edinburgh.
Aberdeen, often known as “The Flower of Scotland,” is home to several parks and gardens, much like Glasgow. By far the most well-known is Duthie Park, the location of one of the largest indoor gardens in the UK and the critically praised David Welch Winter Gardens. You can come here and take in the year-round exhibits of tropical plants and exotic flowers that are housed in a number of sizable greenhouses.
If you go in the spring or summer, be sure to give yourself enough time to explore Duthie’s outdoor attractions, which include ponds and flowerbeds. If you remain until dusk, you might even witness a performance of the attraction’s well-liked Opera in the Park season.
Dundee is a short day trip from Edinburgh and is well-known for its breathtaking river crossings. The views are breathtaking as you travel the two miles of steel that make up the structure, which is regarded as one of the best rail journeys in the world. If you can’t cross by rail, two viewing platforms provide spectacular vistas of Dundee.
The city’s waterfront is merely a short stroll away from the bridge. Top Dundee attractions like Discovery Point, a maritime museum, a number of historic vessels, as well as a family-friendly science museum are now located in this ancient port district, which has undergone a significant makeover.
Although it is not nearly as tiny as St Andrews, Inverness is another smaller city in Scotland. The largest and most significant city in the Scottish Highlands is Inverness, which is located close to Loch Ness on the banks of the River Ness. Consequently, it is frequently referred to as the “capital of the Highlands.”
The city is far further northerly than any of the other cities on this list, and because of its isolation, tourists will be able to take in the famed Scottish countryside.
I spent many years in this small town, which is only a short distance from the North Sea and is home to the most renowned golf course in the world.
Since it lacks even a train station, the town is isolated from the majority of Scotland, but this adds to its allure. Additionally, there are a lot of students in this area, so you can expect a fun night out when you come.
There are many wonderful beaches in the vicinity of St. Andrews, with West Sands Beach being the most well-known. This two-mile stretch of sand is only a short distance from the golf course and is perfect for a stroll.
The town of Falkirk is worth a visit and is only a 30-minute train ride away from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland (and on the rail line to Stirling). The Falkirk Wheel and the renowned Kelpies are two of the main attractions in this area.
Visit Falkirk to view the Kelpies, one of Scotland’s most striking pieces of art. The sixteen nearby municipalities have commissioned these magnificent horse heads to serve as a meeting place.
Try one of Scotland’s deep-fried Mars bars for a quick sugar rush as you go around. You have to get used to it! A cruise and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Wheel should definitely be scheduled in addition to seeing the attraction’s educational visitor center.
The renowned Kelpies are about a 15-minute drive away from here (or a fun canal tour). These towering 30-meter-tall statues, which resemble horses’ heads, dominate the landscape and make for a truly original selfie backdrop.
At the southern end of the Caledonian Canal, the bustling coastal resort of Fort William serves as a fantastic jumping off place for excursions into the pristine Northwest Highlands and Ben Nevis.
Following the First Jacobite Rising, Fort William itself—after which the town subsequently took its name—was constructed in 1654. The West Highland Museum, which is well-known for its vast collections of historical paintings, weapons, furniture, and Highland garb, is one of the town’s attractions.
Glenfinnan Viaduct is a fantastic day trip from Fort William and is well known for appearing in several Harry Potter films. Additionally, you can take a steam excursion on the Jacobite steam train over the bridge, which is regarded as one of the most breathtaking rail journeys in the entire world.
Spend an afternoon discovering Perth’s historic charm if you have the time. It’s very simple to travel to Perth from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Take a train, and you’ll arrive in just over an hour!
When visiting Perth, there are actually a surprisingly large number of attractions to check out and activities to keep the traveler in you pleased.
Start by visiting Scone Palace and Elcho Castle to learn more about Scotland’s royal past and ancient splendor; who knows, you might even meet your own Prince or Princess Charming there. Or, at the very least, a Scottish-accented ogre.
The charming village of Oban, which is about an hour’s drive from Fort William, is well worth considering on your Scotland vacation itinerary. Its bay and harbor area, which are protected by the nearby island Kerrera, complete the area’s gorgeous backdrop (be sure to include the ferry ride to the island in your visit).
Whatever your hobbies, Oban has a ton of exciting things to offer, and the town itself makes a fantastic starting point for trips to the nearby islands, notably Staffa and Iona, which are well-known for sea kayaking and other outdoor activities.
Oban is also incredibly walkable, whether you decide to take a leisurely stroll along the lovely Corran Esplanade or up McCaig’s Tower by way of its 144 steps. Even better, visit both locations because they both have breathtaking vistas.
What is the largest city in Scotland?
Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, is today a major player in advanced manufacturing, technology, and culture after emerging from a post-industrial collapse at the close of the 20th century. More over a quarter of all people living in Scotland live in its metropolitan area, which has a population of about 1.8 million.
What is the smallest city in Scotland?
If you apply the definition provided on the principal cities in Scotland page, Stirling is the smallest of all the smaller Scottish cities.