Top 5 Famous Scottish Landmarks

Planning a trip to Scotland? Or maybe you live here and are planning some excitement over the upcoming spring? Scotland is full of beautiful landmarks with historical and thrilling backgrounds.

Whether you’re looking for an easy-going day out or a wild adventure, here are the top five famous Scottish landmarks you have to visit in Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

Everyone’s heard of it, and if you’ve been to Edinburgh you’ve definitely seen it, but not everyone has visited the castle itself or knows the rich history surrounding it. Edinburgh Castle is one of the world’s most famous historical castles.

It sits on the massive Castle Rock in central Edinburgh, which has been thought to be occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age.

Royals lived in the castle since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be lived in and occupied by royals until 1633. After this, royals lived and visited the castle significantly less, and by the 17th century, it was only used for military barracks.

Modern-day research identified Edinburgh castle as "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world". It’s safe to say a lot of battles, invasions, and historically significant moments happened at Edinburgh castle, making it an important landmark for Scottish heritage.

Because of this, Edinburgh castle has been restored and is massively protected by the Scottish Government.

Discover the highlights of a visit to Edinburgh Castle, from the Royal Palace and Honours of Scotland to Mons Meg and the Scottish National War Memorial.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is the second deepest loch in Scotland and is definitely the most famous. Located in the highlands amidst the beautiful Scottish countryside, Loch Ness is most known for its famous mystical creature, the Loch Ness Monster.

If you grew up in Scotland, chances are you’ve been enchanted by the legend of the Loch Ness monster. Films have been made, sightings have been claimed, and investigations have been carried out on the myth of Nessie, and to this day, people still visit the Loch to attempt to catch a glimpse.

The myth of the Loch Ness monster goes back to before the 16th century AD. The story of the Loch Ness Monster appears in the Life of St. Columbia, written by the author Adomnan. Adomnan wrote about an Irish Monk, Saint Columbia, witnessing an attack of a ‘water beast’ along the shores of the Loch Ness. Columbia and his followers tamed the monster, and the stopped attack was perceived as an act of God and became a religious story.

Nessie has become a mascot for Scotland over the years and even if she isn’t scientifically proven, we still love her. To this day, Loch Ness is one of the most famous bodies of water in the world and is visited by tourists in their masses to try and catch a glimpse of the monster. 

To see if you can catch a glimpse of Nessie herself, we recommend taking a Loch Ness tour.

Arthur’s Seat

If you’re looking for the best view of the capital city, Arthur’s Seat is definitely worth the climb.

Standing tall at the height of 822 feet, Arthur’s Seat is thought to be around 350 million years old. It’s famously the result of an extinct volcano; giving it a unique shape and jagged rocks. Mesolithic and Neolithic stone and flint tools found in Holyrood Park reveal human activity on the site since at least 5000 BC.

The name of this landmark is largely debated in Scotland, and many believe it to be the residence of the famous King Arthur. There are huge Royal links to Arthur’s Seat, with Holyrood Park being visited for thousands of years. Monarchs who enjoyed visiting the park included:

  • David I
  • James IV
  • James V
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Prince Albert took a particular interest in Holyrood Park, greatly aiding its conservation. He organized the park’s landscaping in the 1840s and 1850s. This introduced a new drainage scheme and the road layout is still in use today.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the United Kingdom. Many adventurers challenge themselves to reach the summit each year, but its extreme height and weather conditions make it no easy adventure.

Ben Nevis stands at 1,345 meters tall and is the highest land in any direction for 459 miles. The mountain is located within the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Highland region of Lochaber, close to the town of Fort William.

The mountain is a popular destination for tourists, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year. It’s advised that climbers use the mountain track from Glen Nevis, which around three-quarters opt to do.

The summit, which is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano, features the ruins of an observatory, which was continuously staffed between 1883 and 1904. The meteorological data collected during this period are still important for understanding Scottish mountain weather.

To visit Ben Nevis, we recommend using a guide

Glen Coe

When visiting Glen Co, the scenery speaks for itself on why it’s one of the most visited locations in Scotland. The stunning landscape sits about eighteen miles south of Fort William in the Western Highlands.

Glen Coe is a deep glacial trough bounded by steep slopes rising steeply from sea level to summit altitudes over 3000 feet (900m).

Glaciers were present in Glen Coe until around 10,000 years ago and the resultant steep rock walls prove popular with climbers.

The beautiful sights are not the only thing that makes Glen Coe famous. It also bears the location of a notorious massacre. On February 13th 1692 a group of government troops acting on military orders turned on their hosts, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and killed at least 38 of the local clan community. Although, the final death toll was probably much higher due to a combination of starvation and hypothermia. A memorial to the 1692 massacre is located in the village.

These days, Glen Coe is a tourist hotspot for Scotland and is filled with visitors year-round. There’s an abundance of activities to enjoy amongst the stunning scenery including cruising and fishing trips on nearby Loch Leven, golf at Ballachulish, horse riding, and water sports.