Beautiful and wondrous Scotland often missed off during a trip to Europe, with so many cities and towns to explore along the Europe Backpacking Route is is difficult to decide what to include and what to miss when time is of the essence.
Away from the busy cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland has a whole host of hidden gems, secret undiscovered hideaways and off the beaten track wonders to explore.
The best time to visit Scotland is without a shadow of a doubt the late summer months. As the sun cools the bright blue cloudless skies stay crisp and dry offering you illuminated views of Scotland’s stunning scenery.
Here are the best secret and natural places in Scotland that are just crying out to be explored!
#1. Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle is a picture perfect moated medieval castle surrounded by unique rolling Scottish countryside. Caerlaverock Castle means Castle of the Lark and has stood imposing over Scotland’s great lands for over 400 years.
Retaining its rustic and delicate charm Caerlaverock Castle stands on the very edge of Solway Firth. Magical and majesty Caerlaverock Castle looks over Scotland’s gorgeous kingdom with its unique and eye catching shaped rank.
A wonderful location to explore with all the family Caerlaverock Castle is open to the public year round and host a wide variety of family fun days and history inspired events.
#2. St Ninian’s Tombolo
On the St Ninian’s Isle in the Shetland Island in the very north of Scotland can be found the 500m long shandy St Ninian’s Tombolo which is certainly one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. This beautiful active sand Tombolo is the largest of its kind in the UK and is a truly unique geographic feature that is photogenic and memorable.
Although Shetland is away from the mainland it is certainly worth a visit and its the epitome of beautiful British coasts. Although island life is far from that of the tropics, life on Shetland is slower and more relaxed than that of mainland Scotland and the residents of St Ninian’s Isle are warm and welcoming. Abundant in wild flowers and grasses along the sandy dunes St Ninian’s Isle sweeping beaches have soft white sands and crystal clear blue waters…if a little chilly though!
#3. Smoo Cave
Smoo Cave in Durness is a beautiful and expansive sea water cave combined with a fresh water cave set in the limestone cliffs of Sutherland. This dramatic coastal setting is perpetually missed by travellers along the Europe backpacking route and it’s a crying shame for Smoo Cave exhibits Scotland’s wondrous and varied geography and geology at its finest.
The cave is so deep and wide that is can be explored by boat or by foot along the specially design trail. Smoo Cave is floodlit to add a real sense of mystery and magic to a visit.
#4. Sueno’s Stone
Found on the north east edge of Forres Suneo’s Stone is a perfectly preserved Picto-Scottish stone that stands at an imposing 6.5m high. This undiscovered Scottish landmark is the largest and most beautiful of the numerous carved stone artefacts that have survived through the centuries from Scotland’s medieval period.
Now proceeded by a sheer glass housing Sueno’s Stone is steeped in history and local residents are proud to have it housed where it belongs in rural Forres. Sueno’s Stone weighs over seven tonnes and it a vital and pivotal part of Scotland’s rich heritage.
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#5. Skara Brae
Island hopping is not an activity that springs to mind when planning a trip to Scotland but with so many islands dotted along the north peninsula you’d be a fool not to find your sea legs and explore the Isle of Orkney and Skara Brae. In the southern shore of Bay O’Skaill can be found the ancient ruins of Skara Brae.
The Neolithic village of Skara Brae is widely regarded as one of the most remarkable and impressive prehistoric landmarks in all of Europe. Take time to learn about the impressive and important history of Skara Brae and the fables and tales to match. Skara Brae is one of Scotland’s most hidden places and is waiting to be explored!
#6. Isle of Jura
Scotland’s last true wilderness the Isle of Jura is known the world over for their Jura Scotch Whiskey. The Southern Hebridean Isle of Jura is home to just 200 people in a small and close-knit community. The population of deer outnumbers that of human! Over 5,000 deer roam free on the beautiful and picturesque countryside.
The Isle of Jura is a landscape photographer’s dream and a hiker’s paradise. The Paps of Jura is the most popular area for ramblers and the island offers unlimited freedom to roam and wander which is a truly wonderful and unique experience and an opportunity too good to miss. Jura’s distillery opens its doors to visitors by appointment and certainly does not disappoint.
Wild and wondrous the Isle of Jura is a hidden gem too good to share!
#7. St Mary’s Loch
We are all familiar with Loch Ness but have you heard of St Mary’s Loch? This beautiful and tranquil Loch can be found between Moffat and Selkirk, 70km south of Edinburgh in the heart of the Scottish borders. Situated on the at the hunting ground of Ettrick Forest St Mary’s Loch embodies everything you anticipate from a day in rural Scotland. Peaceful and still waters surrounded by steep rolling hills and bountiful woodland forests. The perfect place to relax with a book and breathe in the fresh Scottish air.
#8. Loch Katrine
Home of the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Loch Katrin is steeped in history and proud Scottish heritage. The best way to explore Loch Katrine is on a micro-cruise liner. Feel the breeze in your hair as you coast across the placid water. Take in the vast and rolling landscapes that surround Loch Katrine and look to the water to see the hill’s rippling reflections. Situated in the county of Stirling Loch Katrine freshwaters are enticing and enriching.
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When we think of the Glens we think of the Scottish Highlands but don’t be fooled there are beautiful Glens that can be found further a field an none so pretty as Glentrool and Galloway Forest Park.
This idyllic forest area is perfect for mountain bikers and hikers a like and is the perfect spot to appreciate Scotland in all its glory. Sunsets at Glentrool are second to none so be sure to stay late and enjoy the colourful spectacle.
#10. Isle of May
Last but by no means least there is the Isle of May in Fife. This small but perfectly formed Isle is home to a number of endangered and protected bird species and comes alive with the sounds of Puffins during mating season. The tiny Isle of May is less than a kilometre wide and only 1.8km in length and is uninhabited by humans in order to conserve the precious landscape for the birdlife. Boats visit the Isle of May daily during the summer months.
Far from the beaten track the Isle of May is the epitome of hidden gems in Scotland and should rank high on your must see places in Scotland.
The Secrets of Scotland…
From the Outer Hebrides to the Shetland Isles, from Orkney to Fife Scotland has a myriad of hidden places, secret spots and true wildernesses to explore. Pack your map and your sense of adventure and get prepared to have the adventure of a lifetime in Scotland’s great lands.
Come rain or shine, stormy weather or placid skies Scotlands vast and rolling landscape boast breathtaking vistas the year round.
Linda is the Founder/ Main Editor of easytravel4u.com. She’s passionate about traveling and she is excited to share with you all her travel experiences and tips on her blog. You can her connect via her Twitter.