Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!
Hiking My Story Scotland

My Off-Beat Scotland Bucket List for 2017

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Last updated on November 1st, 2017 at 01:07 pm

2016 has been another crazy year for me in terms of traveling. I left the country often and to far away places, like Canada, the Faroe Islands, Monaco and Austria. Don’t get me wrong, I loved these trips, and seeing new countries (or ‘old’ ones again) is great – but after three years in Glasgow I feel like I still haven’t seen as much as I’d like to of Scotland. That’s why in 2017 I want to focus more in traveling within the country and made up an ever-growing Scotland bucket list to tick off along the way.

Even though I have some international trips planned for the new year already, I hope to keep them to the absolute minimum of visiting family and research trips for university. I’d rather finally explore the different far-flung corners of Scotland that I haven’t seen so far! Here’s what is on my Scotland bucket list:


1) A Road trip along the North Coast 500 route

Ever since Visit Scotland started marketing the North Coast 500 route, it has been on my list of things to do in Scotland. Naturally I tend to go as far north as possible, and therefore I am actually surprised that I haven’t been to the far north of mainland Scotland yet.

Route 500 starts in Inverness and leads around the north-west tip of Scotland, along the rugged coastlines and past some beautiful castles and beaches. I would probably want to put a week aside for this trip, including driving from Glasgow to Inverness and back.

For inspiration I like to look at Two Scot’s Abroad full NC500 guide.

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via North Coast 500


2) Standing Stones of the Orkneys

After visiting the Shetlands in 2016, the Orkneys are very high up on my 2017 Scotland bucket list. It’s not just because I studies Scandinavian Studies with a focus on Old Nordic cultural studies that I love everything related to Nordic mythology. I find it simply fascinating to think that thousands of years ago, people were able to make, transport and erect these standing stones!


3) Glamping near Loch Ness and Inverness

And while I’m up there, I’d love to finally try some proper glamping – maybe at the Black Isle Yurts…

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via Black Isle Yurts


4) Beaches of the Outer Hebrides

You must have guessed it by now – I’m in love with islands far up north! What makes the Outer Hebrides so appealing to me, is not just how remote they are, but also the tropical-looking beaches you can find there on a sunny day. Not that I’d want to dip my toes into the icy water… I also have a friend up there, and visiting her is long overdue!

For inspiration check out Migrating Miss’ 11 reasons to visit Lewis & Harris!


5) The Islay Festival of Malt and Music

Seeing that I recently discovered my growing love for Scottish whisky, I feel like the Islay Festival of Mald & Music would be the perfect occasion to learn more about Scotland’s most iconic single malts. The festival takes places in the last week of May every year and offers a programme of whisky tastings, distillery tours, ceilidh dances, Gaelic lessons and of course traditional music performances.

Even though Islay whiskies are not my favourite malts at the moment – so smoky! – I might warm up to them hop on a ferry to the Southern Hebrides next year!

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via Lagavulin Distillery


6) Solo Walk the West Highland Way

To counter act the whisky galore, I would like to fulfil a dream and walk the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William. I’m aware that there are less trodden paths and long-distance hikes to chose from, but for a first solo hiking experience I wouldn’t mind bumping into other hikers and possible little helpers frequently along the way.

I don’t mean to do a ‘Wild’, but rather see some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery from the hiking trail and challenge myself to hike and camp several days in a row.

Ticked off! Read my West Highland Way story here.


7) Taking the Hogwarts Express train

Once I’ve reached Fort William, I will reward my tired legs and get aboard the Jacobite Steam Train – otherwise known as Hogwarts Express. I’ve seen the Harry Potter train cross Glenfinnan viaduct before, but this time I’d like to be actually on the train. The journey from Fort William to Mallaig is one of Britain’s finest train rides and the scenery is a stunner!

Ticked off! Read my Hogwarts Express story here!

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!


8) Visit the Isles of Staffa & Iona

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you will know that I love Oban enough that I have written a little guide to Oban. One thing on my Oban bucket list that I haven’t managed to do yet, is a Three Island Boat Tour which brings you to Mull, Iona and Staffa. The Isle of Staffa in particular has caught my eye, because of its bizarre rock formations, beautiful caves and high chance to see Puffins.

But also the Isle of Iona has been stuck in my mind ever since I saw the beautiful film ‘Iona’ by Scott Graham!

Ticked off! Read the story here.

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via Visit Scotland


9) Hike the Aonach Eagach

Thanks to the many landscape and adventure photographers from Scotland I follow, my general goal for the future is to go outdoors more often and hike the many munro and hills the Highlands and Cairngorms have to offer.

One place that has been on my Scotland bucket list ever since my very first Mountaineering Club meet in Glen Coe, has been the intimidating ridge of Aonach Eagach. The first step was to learn how to pronounce it, but now I feel like with a bit of training I would actually successfully tackle this route. I wouldn’t dare to hike this between autumn and spring, because of snow and ice it is necessary to bring crampons, ice axes and ropes with you – just in case; but during the summer months the ridge turns into a manageable ridge tour, and all I lack is an experienced partner… any volunteers?!

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!


10)  Go Ape in Aberfoyle

It might be much easier to find a partner in crime to hit up Go Ape in Aberfoyle – a tree top walk in the Trossachs National Park with zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope bridges and other obstacles. Ever since driving past this on our way to hiking Ben A’an, I’ve wanted to come back for an adventurous day out.

Ticked off! Read more about by bananas time at Go Ape here!

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via Go Ape


11) Explore the Scottish Borders region

While there are many areas in Scotland I haven’t seen yet, there is one entire region where I have never been – the Scottish Borders region in the south. Somehow it never crossed my mind to venture further south than the central belt and to be very honest I don’t know what would expect me.

In my mind there are images of rolling hills all the way to Hadrian’s Wall in England. I’d like to see with what else this region would surprise me!


12) Visit the Kelpies

Last but not least: the Kelpies; two 30m-high horse head sculptures standing right beside the Forth & Clyde Canal. Sounds crazy right?

This is probably the first item on this Scotland bucket list for 2017 that I will actually tick off, because Rabbie’s has started to offer half-day tours to the Kelpies and the Falkirk wheel starting in Glasgow!

Would you like to try it too? You can book it right here!

Ticked off! Read my Kelpies story here!

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

photo via The Kelpies


With twelve items on my Scotland bucket list, I will make the ambitious attempt to do one little trip every month and see a new corner of Scotland every few weeks. Some might require only a day or weekend trip, others will turn into longer journeys, but the goal is to every month go somewhere I haven’t been before.

What’s on your Scotland bucket list?

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

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46 Comments

  1. Pingback: 5 Reasons to Fly with Go Ape Aberfoyle | Watch Me See

  2. There’s some great ideas on this blog. We’re reading it all eagerly as we plan to visit Scotland for a week in late October. Keep up the great writing.

  3. Ooh let me know if you do the NC500 and stop by Dornoch/Tain. Would love to say hello 🙂 It’s so beautiful up here!

    • I’m actually going to do it around Easter next year! My friend is doing our itinerary (he’s writing an article about it for an Austrian magazine), but I’ll let you know I’d that’s on our schedule 🙂

  4. Dont forget the beautiful Moray firth, National Geographic lists it amongst the top ten coastal destinations in the world.. Miles of empty sandy beaches, and one of the best places in europe to watch bottlenose dolphins (you don’t even need to leave the beach to see them close up).. More than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries are situated in the Speyside area of Moray – and there are less midges than the west coast!

    • I’d love to explore that area – Speyside whiskies are my favourite 🙂 I’ve been as far as Banff, but not further West – next time!!

  5. Oh I love this list!
    I’ve been to Inverness in December 2015 and I’m planning to go to Edinburgh in late October (or early December).
    But I got the Scotland bug again and looking at a roadtrip by train through the country. Starting in Glasgow and ending in Inverness. Just need to figure some things out and if it fits in my life right now 🙂

    • Sounds like a lovely plan! In December you’d have the Christmas markets already open… just saying ** Be aware though, that there is no train connection between Fort William and Inverness – trains to Inverness run along the east coast of the country, not through the Highlands! There are busses though, and the train from Glasgow to Fort William is amazing!

  6. I’m seeing this from Inverness! It’s a great place to live too 😁

  7. Gary Fruland

    Was just in Scotland in May and canoed and camped with 9 others in the Nortwest Highlands. Probably the highlight was canoeing close to Suilven and then climbing it. There is something about that mountain! I live near Chicago and We have some pretty majestic mountains in our country but Suilven has a mystery about it that I can’t quite figure out. Scotland is my favorite country and this was my 10th trip to Europe. Your people and your beautiful country are second to none!

    • Thanks for telling me about Suilven – I love anything to do with kayaks/canoes and would love to do a holiday like the one you described – did you go with a tour company? I’m glad you enjoyed Scotland; hearing things like that always makes me proud calling it my home 🙂

  8. I hope you do manage the Borders – always overlooked as everyone heads north for Edinburgh, Glasgow and points north. You will need your own transport as public transport is almost insignificant. Lots of great houses to visit – the silver staircase at Mellerstain, Sir Walter Scott’s home at Abbotsford for example ; Berwick, the last town in Britain to be fortified by walls (by Elizabeth I of England against the Scots) and although technically in England, it’s as much a part of the Borders as if it was on the other side of the Border; lots of pretty villages as you pass through (usually with tasty tea shops); walking – the Southern Upland way as an alternative to the West Highland Way; castles – especially in the west, such as Threave and Caerlaverock or Drumlanrig if you want something with a roof on. Of course, you can combine it with a trip south to Hadrian’s Wall which should include a trip to Hexham or Carlisle Castle if you have time.
    It’s a big area and lots to do. Have fun!

    • Thanks for all the tips! Sounds like I should take at least a week off and explore the Borders 😀 Can your recommend a section of the Southern Upland Way that you find particularly beautiful for a day- or 2 day-trip?

  9. I don’t live in Scotland but have been to many of these places and they are all wonderful. I did a great write up in puffins and the tour that took me there. You should really head that way it is amazing.

    • Lucky you! I’m going to Mull in August and a Staffa boat tour is high on my list. Maybe we can do one with a focus on wildlife <3

  10. Scotland is spectacular, Kathi! I would love to go there as soon as possible!

  11. Betty Lou

    Spent 9 days (Not Enough!) in Scotland for our second honeymoon last May. The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies were cool 😎. We only did part of the NC500, beautiful! The cliffs at Dunnet Head are amazing, take binoculars to get the best views of the many birds. We’ll be back!

    • How lovely – and what a choice for a honeymoon 😀 I’ll make sure to stop at those cliffs when I finally make it up there! Thanks of the tip!!

  12. Walking the West Highland Way is my absolute dream! I also really want to take a journey on the Belmond Express. If you haven’t heard of it yet – you’re going to die. I may have to save up for quite a while for that one though!

    • Oh, I’ll need to look into that! I love train travel 🙂 I’m going o. The Harry Potter train in May! Thanks for your comment. X

  13. What about coming over to Angus and the Mearns, Kathi? We have some great walking in the Glens, beaches of sand and shingle, cliffs, historic buildings, big sunset skies – and even distilleries 🙂

    • Never thought about this – I will definitely add it to my list 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  14. Question! Just traveled to Iceland last April where we could pull over on the roads at our leisure, hop out and hike a mountain wherever we pleased. It was our own isolated piece of the world for miles and miles. Would you say that Scotland has the same appeal?

    • Thanks for your question! I think it really depends on where in Scotland you go… The main roads between Glasgow and Skye will be quite busy between May and August, so are the more popular hiking trails; but you will always find a calmer side road or hiking trails off the beaten track. I think it many ways the Scottish and Icelandic landscape are similar, mostly due to the absence of trees (for most of the Scottish Highlands anyways) – so if you liked Iceland, you wil lalso love Scotland!

  15. I looooove Scotland and this article should be shared with the whole world. <3 I especially love driving in Scotland.

    • Thanks for your comment! I hope the whole world sees my blogpost 😀 Road trips in Scotland are among the best, such beautiful roads!!

  16. Krystal Brauer

    I’m planning a solo trip for 3 weeks in JUNE to Scotland, I’m pretty nervous about going alone. This blog has given me a jumping point get my planning started!!

  17. What a great list. I did spend a little time in Scotland and I didn’t do any of these things, so it is a great starting point for when I plan my next trip! I pinned for later.

    • Absolutely – this is not a list of all the highlights typically for a first-time in Scotland, but rather little gems to discover on a return trip. I hope you make it back soon 🙂

  18. I’d love to go all of these. The Isle of iona looks amazing and I want to go to the very north to see the puffins.

    • Oh yes, the puffins are high up on my list as well! I saw them in the Faroe Islands last summer – they’re just the cutest <3 Thanks for your comment!

  19. A great list! I definitely have a lot of those on my Scottish Bucket List as well 🙂 I’ve done a few and I highly recommend them – except for GoApe, I was let down by it (I’ve done much better courses in North America). A friend of mine did the West Highland Way hike last year to celebrate her 30th and she said it was tough but oh so worth it!

    • Oh really? That’s sad to hear about GoApe – but I guess it might just be more geared at families, right? Definitely want to do the West Highland Way soon – before turning 30 sounds like a good plan! Thanks for your comment!

  20. Love this! I have a mini love affair with Scotland. We were only there for three days and I am itching to go back. Actually, we glamped near Loch Ness in May at Loch Ness Glamping. We weren’t a huge fan of Loch Ness, but glamping was fantastic!

  21. Love this! I have a mini love affair with Scotland. We were only there for three days and I am itching to go back. Actually, we glamped near Loch Ness in May at Loch Ness Glamping. http://bootsnotroots.com/my-first-glamping-experience-and-why-it-wont-be-my-last/ We weren’t a huge fan of Loch Ness, but glamping was fantastic!

  22. Epic list! Most of these are on my list too and the ones that aren’t I might have to add!

  23. Scotland is so beautiful. I have the Isle of Skye on my bucket list and Edinburgh. So I’m staying in Edinburgh for five days in January and would love if you could recommend some unusual things to do their if you know of anything 🙂

    • Hi Marteen, thanks for you comment! Have a look around my Edinburgh section – I’ve done several weekend trips there and wrote plenty about cool activities and great restaurants! I loved the Botanic Gardens in particular and think you should definitely head to Leith & Leith Water!

  24. I am actually looking into preparing tours in Scotland for a travel agency, and your blog post helped me with inspiration. The pics show the fairytale side of it and the Go Ape walk in the woods seems alot of fun! Thank you 🙂

  25. Yes, I think it is easy to go explore places outside the one you live – we have been in Scotland for almost a year and while we’ve been to several places on your list, there are many places we have yet to see. We haven’t done any of the walks, visited any of the islands other than Skye, or done any of the long-distance hikes among others! Just a note, Hadrian’s Wall is in northern England not Scotland, but is an easy day trip from the Scottish Borders which is a beautiful region.

    • Yeah, I guess it would just be nice to see the entire southern Scottish region 🙂

  26. I want to go to Scotland so bad, and think it might just be on the cards for 2017! Thanks for sharing this list, it has made me very excited 😀

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