Scotland is home to some incredible landscapes, rare habitats, untouched corners, and elusive species of wildlife that you can experience only in Scotland. With thousands of acres of woodlands, mountain-scapes, green spaces and more, Scotland is an environmental haven that you can visit and enjoy all year round.
With sustainable and responsible tourism becoming more and more important, we’ve rounded up some of the best eco-friendly places to visit and green tourism places to stay in Scotland, who have all been awarded either a bronze, silver or gold Green Tourism Award. These amazing businesses have adapted and changed their way of operating to become more eco-friendly and give back to Scotland’s special scenery. From recycling and using solar power, to Tesla charging points and supporting local businesses wherever they can, these great companies are leading the way to a more sustainable Scotland.
Indulge in a luxury getaway at a country estate or grand hotel for a truly relaxing sustainable place to stay surrounded by Scotland’s stunning scenery.
1. Carberry Tower Mansion House & Estate, East Lothian
This magnificent mansion house is set in 35-acres of beautiful grounds in East Lothian. A grand estate which was once a childhood holiday home for the Queen, you can guarantee the finest of luxury stays here. Just picture tree-lined driveways, sweeping lawns and landscaped walkways, all of which create the ideal space for outdoor activities such as archery, falconry and laser clays. Enjoy a stay fit for royalty with Carberry Tower and choose from 30 elegantly appointed en-suite bedrooms, many of which still feature their original fireplaces and working shutters.
East Lothian also offers hundreds of incredible things to do, beaches to explore and coastal cuisine delights to try on your stay here.
2. The Torridon Hotel, by Achnasheen
Combine grand luxury with a sense of adventure at The Torridon Hotel. Situated amongst 58 acres of dramatic scenery at the end of Loch Torridon, you’re in the best place possible if you want to experience the thrills of Scotland’s outdoor activity scene, then end the day relaxing in the luxury of a Victorian retreat. Originally built as a shooting lodge in 1887, The Torridon has been restored into a beautiful hotel, featuring 18 individually-designed bedrooms with Victorian-style opulence set against contemporary palettes and furnishings.
From biomass energy and natural spring water, to 60% of produce used grown in The Torridon Farm and Kitchen Garden, to gifting wildflower seeds as you leave that you can plant to help the bee population, The Torridon Hotel is committed to self-sufficiency and helping the environment thrive.
3. Mackay’s Hotel, Wick
Bring your pooch along to this dog-friendly, cosy getaway in the northern corners of mainland Scotland. Located just 16 miles from the most northern point in Scotland, John O’Groats, Mackay’s Hotel is the perfect place to be if you’re looking to uncover the untouched, ancient landscapes of Caithness and beyond to the Orkney Isles. Wick is an ideal spot for a romantic getaway or weekend break from the city, with superior king-size beds where you can recharge and relax in this pretty corner of Scotland. You’ll be in a warm and welcoming atmosphere in this boutique hotel, with each room offering ensuite facilities, free Wi-Fi, and amenities for your canine companion too.
Mackay’s Hotel are proud owners of a Gold Green Tourism Award, and are eco-conscious with every decision they make in running their lovely hotel. They also offer a Tesla charging point for drivers that want to be that little bit more eco-friendly too.
4. Kingshouse Hotel, Glencoe
Located in one of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes, it would be hard to say no to an eco-friendly stay in Glencoe. Nestled just 40 minutes away from Fort William, choose from over 50 delightful rooms to suit all tastes and preferences, whether it’s a mountain or river view, or you want to get to know the friendly neighbours: the deer. After a day of exploring ancient mountains and dramatic surroundings, what better way to warm up than in front of a crackling fire, accompanied with beers, single malts and delectable dishes made from only the best locally-sourced food?
Kingshouse Hotel is also dog-friendly, so bring your canine companion along and get exploring many famed attractions and great things to do, such as Buchaille Etive Mor, the West Highland Way and more.
Find more Luxury & Boutique Green Hotels in Scotland.
Glamping & Camping
Camping is a great way to get back to nature and is already a great green option for staying in Scotland. Here are some campsite and glamping parks that have gone the extra mile to offer sustainable nature tourism.
5. The Lazy Duck, Nethybridge
Tucked away in the lush landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park, The Lazy Duck is situated just 20 minutes from Aviemore, but with all the dense Caledonian Pine Forest surrounding you, you’ll feel like you’re a whole world away from the city. Cosy up in one of three eco mountain huts; The Woodman’s Hut, The Duck’s Nest and The Lambing Bothy, perfect for a couple’s getaway. Bring your pals and stay in the rustic bunkhouse (sleeps 5), or pitch up in the four-tent campsite for a back to nature escape.
Nearby, you’ll have hundreds of things to see, do and experience, from mountain biking trails, and Munros to conquer, to a range of watersports, horse riding, and even The Reindeer Centre, to name a few. It’s a true haven for the outdoor enthusiasts!
Dedicated to creating an organic and eco-friendly place to say, The Lazy Duck has been growing for decades and strives to source products and services responsibly; promoting local communities and businesses, and reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill by composting, recycling, re-using and upcycling. They are also active in taking responsibility for the local environment too, including the care of wildlife, forests and moorlands, as well as prioritising the well-being of their staff and guests.
6. Black Isle Permaculture & Arts
Relax in a self-catering cabin at Black Isle Permaculture & Arts in the glorious surroundings of the Highlands near Dingwall. Offering a bespoke timber cabin which combines eco-friendly features, a dash of artistic design, and an authentic charm, it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking to experience simple living. Siskin Cabin accommodates up to two people – great for a solo weekend away or a couple’s retreat. Recharge on the outdoor decking and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the Scottish woodland, as well as the many birds and animals you may hear too.
Since 2012, owners Clive and Julie, have been making lasting and sustainable changes to how they run their cosy cabin, with their sustainable habits creating a thriving habitat for people, plants, trees and animals alike.
7. Haven: Craig Tara Holiday Park, Ayr
A great choice for a family holiday, Craig Tara Holiday Park is situated on the sparkling Ayrshire coast. Just a stone’s throw from the beach, enjoy coastal days out splashing in the crisp sea or making sandcastles until your heart’s content. Onsite, there are plenty of activities and facilities that will keep you and the little ones entertained all day, including the adventure village, a heated indoor pool, adventure golf course, segways and much more. There is even an onsite supermarket for everyday essentials, meals, hot snacks and souvenirs to take away with you.
Head out of the park and you’ll be met with dozens of golden sandy beaches, rugged Ayrshire coastline, family experiences and more to enjoy. If you have a furry four-legged friend in your family, not to worry. Craig Tara is dog-friendly so your pooch can enjoy the family holiday too!
Haven have various holiday parks situated across Scotland and have gone the extra step to make sure you enjoy a greener holiday that benefits the environment, and your wellbeing. From fresh air and more green spaces across their parks, to reducing their carbon footprint through energy efficiency measures, and being members of The Wildlife Trust.
Find more Green Camping & Glamping in Scotland.
Self-Catering Farm Stays & Cottages
If you fancy something a little closer to home, a cosy self-catering option or a rustic, eco-friendly cottage may be the choice for you.
8. Brecks Barn, Orkney
Enjoy a stay in this characterful farm cottage on the magnificent island of Orkney. Brecks Barn is a spacious accommodation option that has room for up to 6 people across three bedrooms, complete with a sun lounge, fantastic views, free Wi-Fi and everything you need for a relaxing self-catering getaway with friends or family. With hundreds of things to see and explore on Orkney, you’ll never be lost for something to do. From the Old Man of Hoy and Skara Brae, to the UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney and the Ring of Brodgar, to name a few.
Boasting a four-star accreditation as well as a Silver Green Tourism Award, Brecks Barn is committed to helping the environment through carbon off-setting. In 2010 they planted 6,000 trees on the farm, and they are now planting one tree per booking to help off-set the carbon emitted whilst travelling to and from the farm. The planting takes place in autumn and spring and guests can even help out with the planting if you fancy.
9. Burmieston, Perth
Experiencing life on a farm doesn’t have to be just a dream. Nestle into a stay in a renovated farm steading in the glorious landscapes of Perthshire that can sleep up to 12 adults across 5 bedrooms – perfect for those big get-togethers. Complete with everything you need for a self-catering stay, including a play barn with a table tennis set-up, you’ll have friendly chickens, ducks, sheep and geese as your next-door neighbours, as well as immense panoramic views to wake up to each morning. Your welcoming host can also organise on and offsite activities, including archery, paddleboarding, kayaking and walking, to name a few, and with no TV or Wi-Fi, it’ll be a true digital detox.
Burmieston steading was renovated using as many recycled and eco-friendly materials as possible, as well as small everyday choices leading to a greater positive impact on the environment. From using bagless teabags and baking soda and vinegar for cleaning (instead of harsh chemicals), to LED lightbulbs, using their own spring water, and supporting locals artists and businesses, Burmieston is doing great things to help the environment.
10. Home Farm Cottage, Stranraer
Tucked away in the glorious south west corner of Dumfries & Galloway, Home Farm Cottage offers a quaint stay in the countryside surrounded by lush greenery and the tranquil atmosphere of Corsewall Estate. Immerse yourself in the historic woodland that encompasses this cute, gingerbread style cottage – a perfect base if you’re looking to explore the region and beyond. Featuring 3 bedrooms (sleeps 5) and a rustic log burning stove, this newly renovated self-catering spot boasts an ideal getaway option for couples and families alike. Indulge in home comforts, enjoy a barbeque on the rear patio in summer, and wander through the forest trails or explore the area by bike.
Committed to running their estate as eco-friendly as possible, they generate their own electricity in excess of what they consume, for heating fuel they use wood chip bio-mass fuel off setting and exceeding any limited oil consumption they have. All water is also sourced from a historic spring. Also home to two wind turbines, this allows the estate to be carbon neutral, in terms of electrical energy consumption.
Find more Green Self-Catering and Cottages in Scotland.
Things to See, Do & Visit
If you already have your accommodation sorted, why not explore the range of eco-friendly things to do Scotland has to offer? From historic centres and museums, to castles and even exhilarating outdoor activities, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
11. National Museum of Rural Life, East Kilbride
Head west to East Kilbride to the National Museum of Rural Life. Here you can explore a historic working farm and learn all about the land, people and ways of working that have shaped Scotland’s rural history. Browse the extensive collection of tractors, combine harvesters and other farming machinery, and see how they’ve developed and changed throughout the years. Head out for a walk around the museum and farm and say hello to the array of farm animals along the way; from cattle, pigs, sheep and hens, to Sooty, the farm cat, patrolling the farmyard.
Before you leave, stop off at the award-winning café on site for delicious home-baked good, teas, coffees and more to tuck into.
12. The Devil’s Porridge Museum, Dumfries & Galloway
Situated near Annan in Dumfries & Galloway, The Devil’s Porridge Museum offers a fascinating insight into HM Factory Gretna. Once the largest munitions factory in the world during the First World War, you can explore how this once quiet rural town became a hub of wartime activity. The museum features displays and exhibitions that feature artefacts, information panels, film and audio, photographs and stories that bring this dramatic period of Scotland’s history to life.
Kids can get involved in dressing up, interactive games, ‘factory pass’ stamping, and a Kids Zone. Whilst the adults might prefer looking in detail at the history of WW1; from the trenches and the processes within the Gretna Factory, to the Women’s Police Service and the Chapelcross Nuclear PowerStation.
13. Dumbarton Castle
Perched on the River Clyde just a 30 minute drive from Glasgow, Dumbarton Castle is one of Scotland’s greatest strongholds. Featuring breathtaking views over the Clyde, Loch Lomond and the surrounding area of Argyll, the castle also features a dramatic position atop coastal cliffs – Dumbarton Rock was once an active volcano some 350 million years ago. Peruse the intricate examples of 18th century Georgian military architecture and enjoy stunning views from the Tower Crag, explore the fascinating connections to the Vikings and Scottish Wars of Independence, and you can learn about the many fortifications and defence strategies along the interactive family trail.
Historic Environment Scotland, who manage Dumbarton Castle and many other attractions across Scotland, are passionate and committed to protecting the environment. With eco-friendly things to do, they strive to be as sustainable as they can in the running of their locations, and encourage visitors to use public transport when travelling to their attractions too.
14. Castle of Mey, Thurso
Head to the very northern corner of mainland Scotland to the Castle of Mey in Thurso where you can explore the former home of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Situated on the north coast of Caithness, the castle boasts an immense vantage point with stunning views across the Pentland Firth, and on a clear day you can even see over to the Orkney Isles. The castle is also home to a romantic garden, surrounded by the 12ft high Grey Wall of Mey that protects the shrubbery and plants from the high winds and salt spray. Wander around the grounds and gardens, taking in the magnificent architecture of the castle, the tranquil atmosphere, and soak in the fascinating history and stories of the area too.
In 1996, Her Majesty gifted the castle to The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust who are proud owners of a Gold Green Tourism Award. The trust is dedicated to monitoring and reducing their impact on the environment through a number of measures, including energy efficient lighting, recycling waste, purchasing local produce, and encouraging the use of public transport.
15. Doune Castle, Stirling
This striking 14th century courtyard castle in Stirling will truly take you back in time. You may recognise or have heard of Doune Castle for its starring role as Winterfell in Game of Thrones, as well as Outlander and Monty Python, but there is so much more history to be explored behind its walls. Marvel at the intricate architecture and design across the castle that was once built for the Regent Albany and admire the views from the battlements over the River Teith and towards the Menteith Hills and Ben Lomond. Bring your own phone and headphones to tune into the audio guides to learn more about the castle and its history as you wander around.
Another Historic Environment Scotland site, they are dedicated to protecting the environment. They strive to be as sustainable as they can in the running of their locations, and encourage visitors to use public transport when travelling to their attractions too.
16. Go Ape, Aberfoyle
Find your sense of adventure with a trip to Go Ape in the picturesque Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Embrace your inner Tarzan with treetop courses and exhilarating zip lines surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of mountains, rivers, lochs and dense forests. Home to two of the longest zip lines in the UK, fly over trees and waterfalls for a true adrenaline rush. Bring the family or head out for a day with your friends, everyone is guaranteed a fun-filled outing.
Go Ape also has course in the Scottish Borders and Aberdeen too.
As these locations are situated in beautiful and valuable environments, Go Ape are serious about caring for and preserving these areas. Specialists have been involved from the start when designing the treetop course to make sure they are as low impact as possible to the trees and environment. Braces rather than bolts are used to grip the trunk and to rest the platform on, which are inspected regularly and loosened to allow the tree to continue growing. The courses are also friendly to the wildlife in the areas, and Go Ape uses local goods and services for the production and maintenance of the courses too.
17. Lochter Activity Centre & Fishery, Aberdeenshire
Organise an exciting break away full of outdoor activities and fun experiences that the whole family will love. Situated in the north east of Scotland, Lochter Activity Centre offers a range of things to do, from go-karting on the outdoor track, clay pigeon shooting, and archery, to segways, a zip line, water zorbing and so much more. The centre also offers a selection of packages including a variety of activities, so you can make the most of your adventure holiday.
If you fancy a more laidback getaway, why not try your hand at a spot of fishing? With three lochs -Muckle Trout, Osprey and Heron – together there is approximately 20 acres of water for fishing, stocked with beautiful rainbow trout.
18. Highland Safaris Cycling, Aberfeldy
You can’t beat a trip to Perthshire when it comes to outdoor activities. Highland Safaris offer a range of outdoor activities, including mountain safaris, walking trips, a red deer centre and more. They also provide bike hire and an array of mountain biking trails that take in the incredible landscapes and terrain of Aberfeldy. If you want to get out on your bike but are keen to try out skills and tricks, why not explore the Bike Trax? Perthshire’s first purpose built Mountain Bike Skills Loop features fun-filled bike trail wynds, twists, turns and is full of exciting obstacles too.
Highland Safaris are passionate about providing an amazing outdoor experience for visitors, whilst having a minimal impact on the environment. They have long-term relationship with Dun Coilich, a local community woodland, where they operate a practical and measurable carbon offset scheme. They are also members of Wild Scotland, and being based in Perthshire’s ‘Big Tree Country’, they are working hard to preserve this ancient corner of Scotland.
Explore more Green Tourism things to do and experience in Scotland.
Places to Eat
19. The Scottish Café & Restaurant, Edinburgh
Enjoy a trip to the capital where The Scottish Café & Restaurant serves up delicious, locally-sourced and sustainably-produced food with a menu that showcases the best artisan dishes from around Scotland. Nestled in the centre of Edinburgh by The Mound, stop in for a warming tea or coffee, lunch, or a tasty bite to eat when catching up with friends. Boasting incredible views over Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument, it’s a great place to admire the beauty of Edinburgh while treating yourself to a delectable dish or two.
The Scottish Café & Restaurant aims to help the environment by sourcing the best locally produced ingredients that don’t skip out on quality, minimise water use and waste production, and endeavour to find a secondary use for all waste materials, or recycle where re-use is not possible.
20. Locavore, Glasgow
Head west to the bustling city of Glasgow for a sustainable bite to eat at Locavore. Located near Pollockshields, this unique spot is the only fully organic place to eat out within the city and boasts mouth-watering food that is sustainable and freshly prepared from scratch in the kitchen every day. With a range of dishes on offer, including a special which changes every day, there are also plenty of options for vegan and vegetarian eaters too.
Locavore is very considerate and conscious when it comes to the environment and their impact. By 2023 they plan to further reduce their carbon production and be net carbon-negative. With their Veg Boxes being a huge success, they’ve had to expand to use vehicles for delivery, but since the beginning of 2020 they have introduced electric vans which, combined with a new route-planning software, has allowed them to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
21. The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye
Our islands are immaculate places to visit, often with hidden gem restaurants and places to eat too. The Three Chimneys is a true delight on the Isle of Skye and offers up an exquisite menu featuring some of the world’s freshest and most beautiful ingredients. Home to an authentic and natural larder, Skye is the perfect place to source fresh, local food that is inspected to the highest quality before being cooked to perfection in a range of tasty dishes.
Proud owner of a Silver Green Tourism Award, The Three Chimneys aim to ensure that their unique location on the stunning Isle of Skye is preserved for visitors and the local community for years to come by reducing their impact on the environment. From working closely with their suppliers to reduce carbon emissions, and sourcing all food locally or within Scotland, to using eco-friendly cleaning products and recycling materials wherever possible.