Scotland is a true treasure trove of interesting landmarks and unique sightseeing opportunities. There are so many options that some incredible spots often go overlooked. These are my top 5 Scottish Sightseeing hidden gems that you should absolutely tick off your list next time you're in Scotland.
Castle Campbell was the lowland residence to the powerful Campbell dynasty, where the Protestant reformer John Knox came to preach and Mary, Queen of Scots came to feast. This brooding medieval castle, is set high in the hills above the quaint town of Dollar. Access can be via a steep winding road that leads to a small car park a short walk from the castle. For the more adventurous a rough path snakes up through the Dollar Glen taking in plunging burns and tree lined ravines.
Once at the castle, explore the Scottish history that has taken place within the strong walls over the centuries. Climb to the top of the main tower, which commands spectacular views over the Dollar Glen below and the Forth Valley beyond. If the weather is on your side take time to sit and relax in the castle gardens. I try to make Castle Campbell an obligatory stop while doing Golf Tours of the East Coast of Scotland.
Nestled in the hills above the popular Perthshire town of Pitlochry, Edradour Ditillery is noted for being the smallest in Scotland. Founded in 1825, the distillery was originally run by just 3 men, but now there are just 2! The distillery can be reached by road or for the more adventurous about an hour’s trek takes you up through a wooded trail from the town of Pitlochry.
I make sure to stop here and enjoy one of my favourite whiskies every time I'm driving one of our Highlands Golf Tours. Thankfully it's only a 90 minute drive from St Andrews, which makes it perfect for a day trip!
The National Museum of Scotland, situated on Chambers Street, a short walk from the Royal Mile, is a great place to spend a couple of hours exploring the history of Scotland from its formation thousands of years ago, all the way up to the present day. The main Grand Gallery is a stunning piece of architecture with its soaring pillars and high windows creating a light-filled atrium, off of which the museum’s galleries lead.
The interactive exhibits provide great entertainment for children of all ages, even the grown-ups! With free access it great place to spend time, especially if the Scottish weather isn’t on your side.
The castle ruins at Dunnottar sit high up on a rocky outcrop, just south of the fishing village of Stonehaven on the east coast of Scotland. Access to the castle from the mainland is via a narrow strip of land along which a steep path leading up to the gatehouse. The surviving buildings date mainly from the 15th and 16th Century, but the site is believed to have been fortified since the middle ages.
Due to its strategic location and defensive strength Dunnottar castle has played a prominent role in Scottish history through to the 18th century Jacobite risings. Dunnotar Castle is best known as the place where the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown jewels, were hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s invading army in the 17th Century. A visit to Dunnottar Castle will provide you with countless photo opportunities, due to the dramatic and stunning location. Being just a mile off of the main road north to Aberdeen, it’s a great place for a quick stop to stretch the legs to view the castle from the mainland, or to take a longer stop to explore the history and stores of this iconic castle. A must-see if you're doing our St Andrews and Aberdeen Golf Tour.
Balmoral Castle, Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family, is situated in the stunningly beautiful Cairngorm National Park, near to the village of Crathe. The short walk from the car park takes you over the River Dee via a bridge designed and built by the renowned architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel. From the main gates you can take a host of small trails or stick to the main driveway that leads up to the main house. Balmoral has been a royal residence since it was bought by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria in 1852.
The current castle was designed by Scottish Architect William Smith of Aberdeen and was completed in 1856. The Balmoral estate has been added to by successive members for the royal family, and this working estate now covers over 50,000 acres of grouse moors, forestry and farmland. As the castle is still used as a holiday residence by the Royal Family, there is limited access to the castle, but you will be able to marvel at the Castle Ballroom. With a host of separate exhibitions laid out in the courtyard buildings of the castle you will gain a insight into the history of the castle and the daily life of this working estate. A visit to Balmoral can easily be complimented by a trip to the nearby Royal Lochnagar Distillery, or a short drive the quaint village of Braemar.