Summer in Scotland is here and what better way to explore the outdoors than at some of the best photography spots on offer? From the northern tips of the Highlands and the spectacular Orkney Isles, to the Kyles of Bute on the west coast, magnificent castles on the east coast, and of course the stunning landscapes of south Scotland, these are just some of the best places to visit in Scotland in summer.
Keep reading to find out more about just a handful of these picture-perfect locations, and make sure to share your favourite snaps with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #VisitScotland or #OnlyInScotland for your chance to be reposted.
The southern regions of Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, are home to immaculate landscapes, hidden gems, rolling valleys and plenty of places to snap a Scottish summer picture or two. Here a few of our favourites:
1. Mellerstain House, Scottish Borders
Mellerstain House & Gardens is a grand estate tucked away between Lauder and Kelso in the Scottish Borders, about an hour’s drive south of Edinburgh. This stately home is listed as one of Britain’s Best Stately Homes by The Telegraph and features many hidden gems and things to uncover, including this little thatched dwelling known as Tea Cottage. The house itself was an original, unique design by Scottish architect, William Adam, in 1725, and was later added to 50 years later by his son. Set in an idyllic countryside location, wander through the pretty gardens and grounds and bask in the tranquil atmosphere, before stopping by the courtyard café for delicious takeaway teas, coffees and soft drinks.
*Please note, the house will remain closed to visitors in 2021.
2. St Abb’s National Nature Reserve
Enjoy a coastal day out at St Abb’s Head with the family and explore the scenic National Nature Reserve. Scotland is home to a number of NNR’s which create the perfect habitat for a range of wildlife, birdlife, flora and fauna, and at St Abb’s you can experience just that! Boasting glistening blue sea waters, dramatic clifftops and coastal formations, as well as a cute coastal town, St Abbs is a great destination for snapping up a picture or two. Follow the easy trails around St Abb’s Head with many vantage points and a lighthouse along the way, stop in for ice cream, find a bay to dip your toes in the water, and explore the streets of St Abb’s town.
Did you know, St Abb’s is twinned with the fictional New Asgard after the town featured in the 2019 Marvel film ‘Avenger’s: Endgame’?
3. Portpatrick, Dumfries & Galloway
Heading west to Dumfries & Galloway, Portpatrick is a lovely coastal spot in the very south west corner of Scotland. Located on the Rhins of Galloway Peninsula, you’ll be blessed with immense seaside views everywhere you turn, with plenty of beaches, coves, coastal trails and more to explore, you won’t be lost for things to see and do. Get your camera at the ready as you wander past the pretty pastel-coloured houses of Portpatrick, admire the historic ruins of Dunskey Castle, get your boots on and explore part of the Southern Upland Way walking route, or relax with some local seafood as you watch the sun set from the harbour.
Venture east where the coastal towns of Aberdeen, St Andrews and Fife won’t disappoint, as well as many mesmerising inland locations to uncover too.
4. Crail, Fife
Who doesn’t love a quaint coastal town? Crail is located on the very east coast of Fife, just south of St Andrews. This picturesque fishing village boasts charming cobbled streets, a miniature harbour, which is surrounded by cliffs, and features historic fishing cottages too. As you wander through the town, you’ll come across many stone buildings and cottages where fisherman once lived when the town supported a bustling fishing trade. They also make for great photo opportunities! Stop by the award-winning Crail Fish Bar for some of the best fish & chips in Scotland. Or visit the harbour and tuck into a tasty ice cream whilst admiring the views out to sea.
5. Kingsbarns, St Andrews
Another coastal gem, Kingsbarns is situated just before you arrive at St Andrews in the East Neuk of Fife. As well as a golfing hot spot, Kingsbarns is also popular for its stunning beaches and seaside location. Stroll along the golden sandy shores, enjoy a dip in the crisp sea waters, relax in the sun or stretch your legs with a walk along the Cambo Sands to Leuchars section of the Fife Coastal Path. On a nice evening, why not tuck into a picnic on the beach and watch the sun set? Make sure you have your camera handy; it’ll be a stunning sight to capture.
6. Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire
Who doesn’t love a castle moment? Perched on the Aberdeenshire coastline, Dunnottar Castle won’t disappoint. This magnificent stronghold is a popular spot for tourists, locals and the avid videographers and photographers and once you’re here, you’ll be able to see why! The castle holds many fascinating secrets and stories of the past, including famous visitors such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots. Just a 30 minute drive south of Aberdeen to Stonehaven, find the best vantage point to snap up a shot of two of the castles to take home as a souvenir.
7. Dunkeld, Perthshire
Often known as ‘Big Tree Country’, Perthshire is home to, you guessed it, A LOT of forests and woodlands. This makes for a great opportunity to get outdoors and snap up some amazing shots of these towering feats of nature along the way. Situated on the banks of the River Tay, Dunkeld is a lovely little village featuring the majestic Dunkeld Cathedral which stands today as part ruin, part parish church and is even home to the tomb of the notorious Wolf of Badenoch. His real name was Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan, and he became known for being particularly cruel, abusing his power, and maintaining a rule of terror across much of the Highlands by imprisoning and murdering those who offended him.
This vast area of Scotland is made up of magical scenery, towering mountains, elusive wildlife and plenty of Instagram-worthy spots to photograph.
If you’re looking for an island getaway, look no further! The Orkney Isles are an incredible archipelago of dramatic landscapes, rugged cliffs, ancient sites and stunning seascapes to explore – an excellent location for any budding photographers. From the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae, to the Old Man of Hoy and the Standing Stones of Stenness, there are hundreds of historic spots across the islands to explore.
9. Portree, Isle of Skye
Continuing the theme of islands, the Isle of Skye is a popular location for travellers and outdoor enthusiasts. Portree is the main town on the island and is a bustling port with a vibrant culture scene. Admire the pretty, colourful houses that line the harbour, head out to sea on a chartered boat trip, and make sure you venture around the island, exploring many magnificent features, including Trotternish Ridge to the north, and rock formations such as the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the towering pinnacles of the Quiraing.
Plockton is a real gem in the west Highlands of Scotland. Situated in a sheltered bay on Loch Carron, this town is surrounded by wild landscapes and rolling hills. Boasting a charming seaside atmosphere, the harbour is lined with neatly painted cottages that look out onto the bay where you can see bobbing yachts and picturesque scenery. Plockton also has a creative edge, with artists, painters and photographers often making use of the waterfront, with its row of shaggy palm trees, Highland cattle, flower gardens and boats, as inspiration for their work!
11. Outer Hebrides
Off the west coast of mainland Scotland lies a realm of incredible islands, each with their own character, culture and charm to explore. The Outer Hebrides features hundreds of stunning beaches with golden sands and crystal clear waters, that are often mistaken for Caribbean oases. Alongside immaculate scenery to photograph, the islands here are also rife with Scottish wildlife and a great place to visit if you want to learn more about the Gaelic language and culture. Across the islands you can discover historic ruins, thrilling outdoor activities, delectable seafood cuisine, and walking routes and trails, with plenty of vantage point and picture-worthy spots.
The west coast of Scotland will make you feel like you’ve arrived in another country, with colourful birdlife, jaw dropping coastal formations, untouched islands and more to explore.
12. Isle of Staffa
The Isle of Staffa is home to Fingal’s Cave which is a real sight to see and has quite the backstory to tell! Located not far off the Isle of Mull, Staffa boasts immense basalt columns and vibrant birdlife that you can get up close to on a chartered boat trip. The island is uninhabited but during spring and early summer, the grassy slopes come to life with an array of birdlife, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills. Take a boat ride to explore one of the best places to visit in Scotland in summer, and learn all about the fascinating tales and stories that accompany this ancient island.
13. Dun Na Cuaiche, Inveraray
A traditional town in Argyll, Inveraray is a pretty location that overlooks the sparkling waters of Loch Fyne just west of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Throughout the town there is an array of buildings that feature Scottish Georgian architecture, of which many are worth visiting, including the neoclassical church, and Inveraray Jail and Courthouse; now an award-winning museum that explores medieval times up until the 19th century. Head out into the surrounding scenery and enjoy the panoramic views along the Dun Na Cuaiche woodland walk among Inveraray Castle estate.
14. Rest and Be Thankful, Arrochar
It wouldn’t be a scenic outing in Scotland without a bit of stargazing. The Rest and Be Thankful pass on the A83 is a famous beauty spot and boasts incredible views, no matter what time of day. At night Scotland comes to life with shooting stars and constellations often visible against the dark sky. You don’t need to venture far in Scotland to find a good vantage point for witnessing the starry night sky, just somewhere with low light pollution, but the west of Scotland boasts dozens of ideal locations. From the stunning Isle of Coll and Coats Observatory in Paisley, to Campbeltown and more, there are plenty of locations to choose from, so set up your telescope or binoculars and see what you can spot.
15. Ardlamont Point
Just south of Portavadie, enjoy a trip to this south westerly point which offers incredible sea views and coastal experiences, perfect for a Scottish summer picture opportunity. Ardlamont Point overlooks the surrounding landscapes of Isle of Bute, Isle of Arran and the westerly shores of Tarbert and Campbeltown. Head off on a wander or cycle around Ardlamont Point where you can see out to the nearby islands, keep your eyes peeled to spot the resident cows and wildlife, or why not take a tasty picnic to tuck into as you admire the immense landscapes around you?