Lunan Bay, near Montrose

Holidays

5 Unique Summer Holiday Ideas in Scotland

With long hours of daylight, lush landscapes and plenty of fantastic events and festivals, Scotland is the perfect place to find unforgettable summer holiday ideas.

From hiking through the lush countryside of Angus to going on a west coast island hopping adventure in Argyll, there are plenty of unique experiences in Scotland that make great summer break ideas. Read all about these quirky holiday ideas and find unique things to do in Scotland:

If you’re looking for a real get-away-from-it-all summer escape, Shetland is a fantastic choice. This is Scotland’s most northerly island group and was once a Norwegian province, giving it a distinctly unique culture that will make your holiday truly memorable.

You’ll still find strong reminders of the islands’ Neolithic past, Scandinavian heritage and Viking history, which infuse Shetland’s distinct culture to this day.

Things to see and do

Historic sites you can visit include ancient settlements, such as Jarlshof near Sumburgh which dates from around 4,000 years ago, and Clickimin Broch, the remains of a 1,000 year old stone-built roundhouse, near Lerwick.

To learn more about the formation of the islands from their geological origins to the present day visit Shetland Museum and Archives at Hays Dock in Lerwick. You’ll learn how the land that is now Geopark Shetland began its formation millions of years ago and move through the history of its early people, including its Viking colonisation, to how culture and society have evolved in more recent centuries.

Some other fantastic museums and heritage centres where you can learn about the history and culture of the islands include Unst Heritage Centre at Haroldswick on the Isle of Unst, the Fetlar Interpretive Centre on the Isle of Fetlar, and Shetland Croft House Museum at Dunrossness on Mainland Shetland.

Learn about Shetland’s proud textile heritage at the Shetland Textile Museum at Gremista near Lerwick where you can see beautiful examples of Fair Isle knitwear, Shetland Taatit rugs, intricate Shetland lace and woven tweed.

Delve into the islands’ present day culture with a visit to Mareel, Shetland’s creative industries hub, which is located in Lerwick. Browse the programme of films, live music and performance events, grab a bite to eat in the light and airy café, and browse for gifts in the shop.

From 13 – 21 July 2019 celebrate the unique culture of the Isle of Unst at UnstFest, the UK's most northerly festival. Previous events have included geocaching (using GPS to search for hidden objects), a Viking village, photo competitions, family events, walks, food and drink events, live music and much more.

During Shetland Boat Week, from 5 – 11 August 2019, you can immerse yourself Shetland’s seafaring heritage at a range of demonstrations, talks, boat trips, tours and much more.

Eating out

Just some of the great places to eat in Shetland include the Scalloway Hotel in Scalloway, Da Steak Hoose in Lerwick, Frankie's Fish & Chips in Brae, Braewick Café in Eshaness and Victoria's Vintage Tea Rooms in Unst.

Find more food and drink in Shetland.

Getting there

Fly directly to Sumburgh Airport from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Kirkwall in Orkney. You can also take the NorthLink ferry from Aberdeen which takes around 12 hours overnight.

Stay

Find accommodation in Shetland.

For self-confessed foodies who enjoy leisurely days exploring scenic countryside, the Scottish Borders is an ideal location.

The charming market towns, pretty villages and splendid rolling hills of the Socttish Borders make it a perfect region for touring. It also boasts an abundant natural larder and great eateries, so why not treat your taste buds and enjoy foodie experiences whilst exploring the area?

Things to see and do

If coming from Edinburgh, your first stop could be Whitmuir the Organic Place in West Linton. Wander around the working farm, browse the shop for incredible organic produce, or grab something tasty and warming from the Larder Café. There's also an art gallery too!

For those with a sweet tooth, don't miss Cocoa Black chocolate boutique in Peebles, where you can enjoy indulgent tasty treats created by Ruth Hinks, the UK World Chocolate Master. Budding cooks can perfect their chocolate and pastry skills at The Chocolate & Pastry School.

Stop off in Hawick to visit The Borders Distillery and discover the process for making Scotch whisky. Housed in Victorian industrial buildings that have been carefully restored to retain many original features, the distillery produces both single malt whisky and gin.

In Jedburgh, Born in the Borders is the premier foodie destination. It’s home to a brewery, distillery and a well-stocked store packed with regional delights, as well as an innovative café and restaurant.

Or, at nearby Kelso, pop into The Cobbles - it's the brewery tap bar of Tempest Brewing Co., and has a great reputation for serving hearty, quality home cooking.  Meat lovers will adore the steak menu, featuring fine cuts from the Scottish Borders' most renowned meat producers.

Eating out

Save room for a tasty evening meal and book a table at the Blue Coo Bistrot and Bar at the Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells. This coaching inn dates from 1836 and has a menu which really showcases the best of the Scottish Borders' produce.

Other places to look out for include The Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswells, Firebrick Brasserie in Lauder, Osso Restaurant in Peebles and Ebbcarrs Café in Eyemouth.

Getting there

The Scottish Borders is easily reachable from both central Scotland and northern England by road. From Edinburgh, you can also get as far as Tweedbank, near Melrose, by taking the Borders Railway.

Stay

Find accommodation in the Scottish Borders.

Located north of Aberdeen, on the beautiful Moray Firth coastline, Fraserburgh is a key Scottish fishing port with a proud seafaring heritage. It’s also a key stop on the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail and the North East 250 driving route.

Things to see and do

One of Scotland’s most unusual attractions, Kinnaird Head Castle & Lighthouse is an 18th century lighthouse built through the heart of a 16th century castle. Visit the adjacent Museum of Scottish Lighthouses to learn about the building of the lighthouse – the first on the Scottish mainland – in 1787.

Located in a former herring barrel store house, Fraserburgh Heritage Centre will take you on a journey through 400 years of the town’s history, charting how the town grew to become Scotland’s biggest herring port.

No seaside break is complete without a stroll along a beach. Head to the golden sands of Fraserburgh beach and the Waters of Philorth Local Nature Reserve and beach to breathe in the fresh sea air and see if you can spot dolphins swimming off the coast. Both beaches are also great for watersports, including surfing and windsurfing.

If you’re a golf fan don’t miss the chance to play a round at Fraserburgh Golf Course, a traditional links course that was designed by golfing legend James Braid.

Outwith Fraserburgh, other great coastal attractions in the area include Loch of Strathbeg RSPB Nature Reserve near Crimond, Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead, New Aberdour beach and Sandhaven Meal Mill in Sandhaven.

If you want to explore even further afield, why not follow the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail or the North East 250 driving route to visit charming towns and great attractions on your way through beautiful north east scenery.

Eating out

Just some of the great places to eat in Fraserburgh include Mrs Maitland's Restaurant & Coffee Shop, Nooks and Crannies, Cheers Café, Bar and Tavern, and The Davron Hotel restaurant.

Find more food and drink in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire.

Getting there

Driving to Fraserburgh takes 1 hour from Aberdeen and 2 hours 30 minutes from Inverness.

You can also catch the bus from Aberdeen (changing at Ellon) which takes under 2 hours.

Stay

Find accommodation in and near Fraserburgh.

From invigorating coastal rambles to challenging Munro hikes (mountains over 3,000 feet/914.4 metres), Angus offers a huge diversity of walking routes for you to explore. Get out in the Scottish countryside and let your feet lead you on new adventures.

From 30 May – 2 June 2019 you can book guided walks as part of the Angus Glens Walking Festival, which offers a range of fantastic options.

Things to see and do

On the Angus coastline, the wide sands of Lunan Bay are a must-stop location to soak up the sea air. Stroll along the sands and snap a picture of the Red Castle which overlooks the beach.

Continuing further north you’ll reach the bowl-shaped Montrose Basin, which offers a great circular walk that is perfect for spotting migratory birds, including pink-footed geese.

Travelling further inland, the north of Angus is home to the Angus Glens, which include Glen Clova, Glen Doll, Glen Isla, Glen Prosen and Glen Esk.

At the south of Glen Prosen and Glen Colva you’ll find the walk to Airlie Monument which sits atop Tulloch Hill. The memorial was built in memory of the ninth Earl of Airlie who was killed in 1900 during the Boer war.

One of the beautiful routes you can follow in Glen Clova is the scenic hill walk up to Loch Brandy, a beautiful hill loch hidden in a steep-sided mountain corrie.

Heading a little further up Glen Clova you’ll find the car park for the stunning Corrie Fee walk in Glen Doll. This splendid bowl-shaped corrie was formed millions of years ago by moving ice from glaciers. Continue the walk to the tumbling waterfall to enjoy lovely views back across the corrie.

One of the walks you can enjoy from Glen Esk is the Loch Lee and waterfalls circuit. Follow the track along the side of shimmering Loch Lee to reach the circuit, where you’ll pass two waterfalls – the Falls of Unich and the Fall of Damff – before crossing moorland on the return journey.

If waterfalls are what you’re looking for it’s worth visiting one of Angus’ most impressive waterfalls, Reekie Linn, which is in Glen Isla. Follow the short Reekie Linn walk through woodland till you reach the natural viewpoint, though be careful on the path as it follows the rim of a deep gorge.

Angus is also home to three towering Munros, making it the ideal place to challenge yourself to an invigorating hill climb. Beginning in Glen Clova, the Munros Mayar and Dreish are connected and can be ‘bagged’ in one hike. Mount Keen, Angus’ third Munro and the most easterly in Scotland, can be reached via the Mount Keen walk from Glen Esk and offers panoramic views from the top.

If you’re looking for a multi-day long distance walk, Angus also hosts one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the Cateran Trail, which takes several days to complete and takes in some stunning parts of Perthshire and Angus.

Find more walking routes in Angus.

Eating out

Just some of the great places to eat in Angus include Peel Farm near Kirriemuir, The Old Boatyard in Arbroath, Longparke Farmshop & Café in Monifieth and Glen Clova Hotel restaurant.

Find more food and drink in Dundee & Angus.

Getting there

Driving to Forfar in central Angus takes 25 minutes from Dundee, 1 hour 5 minutes from Aberdeen and 1 hours 40 minutes from Edinburgh.

You can also take the train from Edinburgh to Dundee which takes 1 hour 25 minutes.

Stay

Find accommodation in Dundee & Angus.

With towering mountains, steep-sided glens, glittering lochs and many picture-perfect islands it’s easy to see why Argyll & The Isles is perhaps best known for its ruggedly beautiful landscapes.

Explore this enchanting part of Scotland to find hidden gems, fantastic food and drink, and miles upon miles of scenic driving routes.

Things to see and do

From fantastic attractions and events to outdoor activities and island hopping, you’ll find plenty of things to make the most of your summer break in Argyll & The Isles.

Outdoor activities

Known as Scotland’s adventure coast, Argyll & The Isles is the perfect playground for a whole host of outdoor activities.

Choose from the many walking routes in Argyll or challenge yourself to a multi-day long distance walk, such as the Loch Lomond & Cowal Way, the Kintyre Way, the Three Lochs Way or the West Island Way.

Go coasteering near Oban with Vertical Descents, book a sea kayaking adventure with providers such as Sea Kayak Scotland, based on the Isle of Seil near Oban, or Sea Kayak Oban. You can also choose from horse riding, paintballing, crossbow range or laser blast with Argyll Adventure, near Inveraray.

For something unique book a boat tour out to see basking sharks with Basking Shark Scotland. These gentle giants eat only plankton and make for a mesmerising sight swimming in the waters around you.

Island hopping

Some of the beautiful west coast islands you can visit include Mull, Iona, Islay, JuraTiree and Coll.

Head to Mull to see Duart Castle and the colourful houses of Tobermory. From the Isle of Mull you can also take a boat trip out to the otherworldly looking Isle of Staffa.

On the Isle of Islay take a tour of the island’s famous whisky distilleries or head to the Isle of Tiree for a get-away-from-it-all experience and try your hand at adrenaline pumping watersports, including windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Events and festivals

See traditional sports at a Highland games and catch live music being performed at a music festival.

Events to look out for include:

Find more events and festivals in Argyll.

Eating out

Just some of the great places to eat in Argyll & The Isles include Ee-Usk in Oban, The Puffer Bar on the Isle of Easdale, Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at Clachan, The Oystercatcher at Otter Ferry and Ninth Wave on the Isle of Mull.

Find more food and drink in Argyll & The Isles.

Getting there

From Glasgow you can reach Argyll in under an hour by car, or you can travel by bus or train. There are also lots of ferry services that will whisk you out to the west coast islands.

Find out more about getting to Argyll & The Isles.

Stay

Find accommodation in Argyll & The Isles.

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