The UK has some stunning scenery waiting to be explored, and now could be the perfect time to discover something new. We have a diverse landscape, from beaches to mountains, forests to lakes. But no country in the United Kingdom is more diverse than Scotland.
Scotland’s distinctive landscape has evolved over millions of years to give us the breathtaking views we see today. Walk through deep glens surrounded by mountains in the Highlands, or take in the beautiful rolling hills of the Lowlands. Encounter impressive coastal features in the west of the country, and tour the dramatic royal settings of the east. Check out our guide to the best walks in Scotland, with each providing a unique glimpse into Scotland’s natural heritage.
1. Brave one of the biggest hikes in Scotland
Ben Nevis, Lochaber
For one of the best hikes in Scotland, look no further than the mighty Ben Nevis.
Lovingly known by locals as ‘The Ben’, it was once a massive active volcano which exploded and collapsed inwards on itself millions of years ago.
Standing at 4,411 feet high, close to the small town of Fort William in Lochaber (and part of the Grampian Mountain range), the famous peak attracts around 125,000 walkers a year.
A hike to the summit of Ben Nevis is not for the fainthearted, and it usually appeals to more serious hikers and mountain climbers. It takes around 8 hours to complete, and as it’s the UK’s tallest mountain, you’re sure to come across some snow on your way up (even in the summer).
It’s best to go between June - September when the weather is more reasonable, but even in the summer months the weather can still be unpredictable, so you need to go prepared!
2. Discover this majestic viaduct in the West Highlands
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Inverness-shire
The Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail is not to be missed.
Made famous in the Harry Potter films, this 2.5 mile walk offers stunning views of Loch Shiel, and you can visit the Railway Museum at Glenfinnan station and the Glenfinnan Monument, which is a striking tribute to those who fought in the Jacobite Risings in 1745.
It’s a fun and fairly easy trail, though the path can get a little steep in places. Look out for the Jacobite Steam Train which passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and catch a glimpse of otters and drippers in the rivers, and red deer and golden eagles on the hills and crags.
3. A coastal walk to celebrate St Andrew’s Day
Fife Coastal Path, Fife
Experience dramatic cliffs and caves, stunning sandy beaches, beautiful fishing villages and ancient castles along the Fife Coastal Path.
Running 63 miles from North Queensferry at the foot of the mighty Forth Bridge, to the historic university town of St Andrew’s (which is named after Scotland’s patron saint), you’ll also spot a variety of wildlife along the way, including basking seals and puffins.
This walk will take you around 5 days, but if you’re looking for even more of a challenge, there’s also the option to walk an extended route beginning in Kincardine-on-Forth and ending at Newburgh, which is a total of 117 miles.
You can book overnight stays in charming locations including Elie and Crail, with picturesque harbours, castle remains, a windmill and a number of churches and caves to discover.
4. Follow Scotland’s most famous long distance trail
The West Highland Way, Perthshire
There are several good walks near Glasgow, but the most famous, and the most popular has to be the West Highland Way.
A great challenge that spans 96 miles between Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William in the Highlands, this long distance path is steeped in history.
Nestled in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the variety of landscapes along the way makes this one of Scotland’s premier walking routes. It has well-maintained paths and tracks throughout, and you’ll find plenty of accommodation along the route so you can relax after a tough day’s walking.
You’ll need to allow around a week to explore the whole route, though it can be broken down into more manageable chunks if you fancy a shorter trip.
5. Do some Nessie-spotting at this world-famous Loch
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands
One of the best walks in the Highlands, no holiday to Scotland would be complete without a visit to the home of the ever-popular Nessie.
Just over 20 miles southwest of Inverness, this famous loch will not disappoint. While a sighting of the friendly monster is slim, there are plenty of other wildlife to spot around the impressively picturesque lake. Alongside it, you’ll also find the ruins of 1,000-year-old Urquhart Castle.
It’s worth grabbing a ticket to the castle as you’ll get to climb the Grant Tower, which provides the perfect look out across one of the most stunning places in Scotland.
6. Explore one of the best hikes in Glencoe
Lost Valley Trail, Glencoe
The Lost Valley is a hidden and mystical valley surrounded by the impressive Three Sisters of Glencoe.
It served as a cattle hiding place for the MacDonalds of Glen Coe, who escaped the 1692 massacre. It provides a fantastic day out for hikers of all abilities, and the route offers a stunning scenic walk not to be missed.
It’s an exhilarating 2.5 mile round trip, and the path is easy to follow, though it does present enough of a challenge for regular walkers with some steep and rocky terrain. If that doesn’t phase you, then the dramatic landscape is well worth the effort.
7. Follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns
January sees celebrations all over the country to remember the life and works of famous Scottish poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns.
Born in 1759, he had many famous poems, but his best known is Auld Lang Syne, which is still sung on New Year’s Eve today. The annual Burns Suppers traditionally take place on 25th January—known as Burns Night—which is Robert Burns’ birthday, with haggis, whisky and recitals of his poems.
If you want to discover more about the man himself, then why not take a walk around his home village of Alloway in Ayrshire? The Burns’ trail is a 3.75 mile circular route which explores the birthplace of Robert Burns, including points of interest, and surrounding woodland and parks.
8. A fantastic hike for the whole family
Loch an Eilein, Cairngorm National Park
You’ll find Loch an Eilein deep in the forest of Rothiemurchus, sheltered by ancient Caledonian Pines.
It has lovely views of a 13th century island castle, which won the UK’s best picnic spot back in 2010. The low level route around the loch is perfect for families, even with buggies! And there’s lots of interesting wildlife to look out for, including red squirrels and Scottish crossbills.
Grab an ice cream from the shop, or why not take your bikes and do a little cycling? It’s also a popular UK ski destination in winter, making it the ideal place for outdoor adventures.
9. A one-day hike to see Orkney's most famous landmark
Old Man of Hoy, Orkney
Catch a ferry across to the island of Hoy (part of the Orkney Islands), off Scotland's northeast coast to catch a glimpse of the iconic red seastone sea stack - the Old Man of Hoy.
The UK’s tallest sea stack at 450 feet, the 3 hour walk (round-trip) begins at Rackwick, and will take you along some of Britain's highest sea cliffs.
This popular hike has an easy-to-follow path, though it can get a little rocky in places. The famous sea stack attracts climbers from all over the country too, and in 1967 television history was made when it was conquered by a team of 6 on screen.
10. Unforgettable mountain views
Stac Pollaidh, Assynt
It might not be the tallest, but Stac Pollaidh (also known as Stac Polly) is certainly one of the best mountains in Scotland.
Standing at just 613m high in the Northwest Highlands, it’s a popular hiking destination, and for good reason! The peak displays a rocky crest of Torridonian sandstone, with lots of pinnacles and steep gullies to discover.
The hike only takes around 3 hours, climbing up the steep winding pathway, but the summit provides unforgettable panoramic views. Spot mountains like Cul Mor and Suilven, which rise steeply from the watery Inverpolly Nature Reserve.
Whether you’re looking for challenging hikes or family-friendly strolls, Scotland has it all. There are also plenty of other stunning walks all over the UK. Take a look at our guide to hiking in the British Isles, with inspiration for one-day escapes and weekend stays.