Each morning when we wake up, we have a choice: curl up in the covers for a bit longer or jump out of bed and seize the day! It’s true, both options have something going for them – we all like a lie-in now and then. But if ever there was a reason to get out of bed, it would be to watch the sun rise in a beautiful Scottish setting. Bliss!
So set your alarm and check out these stunning places to watch a Scottish sunrise. Remember to follow current Covid-19 restrictions – unless you live nearby you might need to save these ideas to try later.
The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. Please follow any current restrictions – you might need to save these ideas to try later on a future trip.
Scotland is operating a 5-level Covid-19 system on a local basis. Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering your trip. You can search for businesses that are open, and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.
1. Kirkwall, Orkney
You’ll have every reason to get up early in Orkney, as there is simply so much to do. From stunning landscapes to ancient stone monuments, this place is magical. Kirkwall, the island’s capital, is home to a stunning cathedral, charming shops and Viking heritage at every turn.
2. St Abbs, Scottish Borders
Watch the sunrise over the sea by the lighthouse at St Abbs. This Borders fishing village is a pretty place year-round and the stone harbour completes the picture. Those wanting to get out on the water can book sea angling, sub-aqua diving, bird-watching and sightseeing boat trips.
3. Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders
Some would say the triple peaks of the Eildon Hills are the most distinctive single landmark in the Scottish Borders. At their feet in the valley of the Tweed lies the bustling Borders town of Melrose. Those with an interest in Scottish history could also visit Sir Walter Scott’s romantic mansion of Abbotsford, which is nearby.
4. Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire
This castle photographs well at any time of day, but at sunrise it is particularly evocative. An impregnable fortress that holds many rich secrets of Scotland’s colourful past, Dunnottar Castle was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in the land.
5. Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
Unique architecture, stunning sea views and shopping, just some of the things Aberdeen is famous for. Start your day early and watch the sunrise for an experience you’ll never forget.
6. Assynt, Sutherland
Tucked away in the far north west corner of mainland Scotland, Assynt is an otherworldly region of mountains and rugged coastline. Famous for iconic hills such as Suilven and Stac Pollaidh, this place has some epic sunrises.
7. Forth Bridge, Fife
The Forth Bridge is one of Scotland’s major landmarks, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This magnificent railway bridge was built between 1883 and 1890 by Sir John Fowler, Benjamin Baker and over 4,500 men.
8. Finnieston, Glasgow
One of the coolest neighbourhoods in Scotland, Finnieston is a thriving hub of exciting bars and restaurants, trendy shops and friendly people. Catch the sunrise over the iconic Finnieston Crane before going for coffee in this lively part of Glasgow.
9. Cairngorms National Park, Highlands
The Cairngorms National Park is packed with mountains, forest paths, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, friendly villages and distilleries. Twice the size of the Lake District, you’re sure to find a special spot to watch the sun come up.
10. Torridon Hills, Highlands
What could be more exciting than waking up early in a dramatic and desolate setting like the Torridon Hills? This part of the Highlands contains some of the most awe-inspiring peaks in Scotland as well as cliffs, gorges and forests.
11. Skye, Highlands
Skye is full of one-of-a-kind activities, from incredible walks to local history, this much-loved island is truly a stunning place to see the sunrise. Discover more about the Isle of Skye on our dedicated page.
12. Inverness, Highlands
Fascinating city, captivating skies – a visit to Inverness promises cosmopolitan living with the beauty of the Highlands on your doorstep. Take a stroll along the River Ness or a day trip to Loch Ness to enjoy the beautiful water around this northerly city.
13. Moray, Highlands
One of the best areas in Scotland for experiencing rural life (and whisky!) Moray has some truly beautiful natural vistas. Take a thermos and head out early to watch the sun come up in this pretty part of Scotland.
14. Glenshiel, Highlands
Visit Glenshiel for lochs, glens and mountains – the quintessential Highland experience. Start your day early to create lasting memories with the dawn chorus as a soundtrack!
15. Conic Hill, Stirlingshire
Right at the heart of The Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park you’ll find the sharp little summit of Conic Hill. This is the perfect place to see the early sun surrounded by some of Scotland’s most breath-taking scenery.
16. North Berwick, East Lothian
Where better to see the sunrise than by the beach? Take a trip to the East Lothian town of North Berwick and you’ll find Scotland at its most photogenic. If you’re a golfer, why not squeeze in an early round of golf afterwards?
17. South Uist, Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides are full of mystery and magic, standing stones, ancient landscapes and fascinating history. The island of South Uist has a desolate beauty, with magnificent mountains and long stretches of barren coastline. Stunning!
18. Lewis, Outer Hebrides
With dramatic landscapes and a unique Gaelic culture, Lewis is a great place to start a Hebridean adventure. You will be blown away by wild mountains, immense white beaches, rugged coastlines and lunar landscapes.
19. Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire
Rising sharply from the banks of the River Tay in Perth, Kinnoull Hill is the highest of the five hills to the east of Perth. The surrounding park features grassy paths and waymarked nature trails through fine mixed woodland.
Have we convinced you to get up early? Maybe! If you want to find out more about stunning Scottish scenery check out our landscapes and nature page. And if you’re more of a night owl take a look at our dark skies page.