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The Cairngorm mountains from Glenmore © VisitScotland/Airborne Lens

Landscapes and nature

Scotland's National Parks and Natural Heritage Sites

Take a walk on the wild side and discover the beautiful landscapes and fascinating flora and fauna of national parks in Scotland and many other special sites and nature reserves.

Alongside Scotland's two National Parks, the Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, you'll discover 43 National Nature Reserves, which are nationally and internationally renowned for their wildlife and habitats; three UNESCO Global Geoparks (Lochaber, North-West Highlands and Shetland) containing unique prehistoric landscapes and billion-years old geology; and two UNESCO Biospheres (Wester Ross and Galloway & Southern Ayrshire), where sustainable communities live in harmony with their remarkable surroundings.

Scotland's National Parks

Twice the size of the Lake District National Park, the Cairngorms National Park covers a large part of the eastern Highlands and west Aberdeenshire and is the largest in the UK. It contains more mountains, rare and sub-arctic habitats, ancient forests, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, friendly villages and attractions than you could hope to explore in a lifetime. Well, you might make it round them all, but you'd better start soon!

Further south in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, you'll uncover centuries of history, appreciate breath-taking views, walk in the shadows of towering mountains and amidst precious natural environments, and join in the many wild and wonderful outdoor adventures, right on the doorstep of Scotland's central cities.

Scotland's National Nature Reserves

Wherever you go in Scotland, you won't be far from a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and visiting one is so rewarding. These special areas are created and managed to allow you to appreciate them without disturbing wildlife or damaging the very things that make them so unique. 

Admire ancient Scots pines at Abernethy NNR near Aviemore, watch as thousands of geese flock to winter at Caerlaverock NNR in Dumfries & Galloway, or marvel at the breath-taking views over Loch Maree from Beinn Eighe NNR (the UK's first, set up in 1951) and you'll know you're in one of Scotland's precious places.

Scotland's UNESCO Global Geoparks

Scotland is an ancient land, formed over many millennia and our geoparks provide us with the best insights into how our breath-taking landscapes have developed over billions of years.

See the amazing Parallel Roads in Glen Roy in east Lochaber that so captivated Charles Darwin in the 1830s, follow one of the Pebble Routes through the North West Highlands Geopark or explore an ancient extinct volcano at Eshaness in Geopark Shetland.

Scotland's UNESCO Biospheres

Loch Ken, Galloway

These special places demonstrate a balanced and harmonious relationship between people and nature in a world-class natural environment. At present, there are two UNESCO Biospheres in Scotland and only six in the UK.

Use the Explore Biosphere Routes to learn more about Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere in the south-west. Wester Ross Biosphere in the north-west Highlands was created in April 2016 and is a stunning part of Scotland to visit.