25 Unusual & Fun Things to Do in Scotland

I love Scotland, but then I would say that as I’m Scottish. However, I’m sure you can appreciate why, once you’ve read about some unusual and fun things to do in Scotland,  selected from posts about Scotland written by the Europe a la Carte blogging team. If you want to explore beyond the major Scottish cities, you’ll need to hire a car, as there’s isn’t much public transport in rural areas.

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North of Scotland

Admire the Beauty of St Ninian’s Beach, Shetland Islands

I visited the Shetland Islands for the first time in May 2010 and they are absolutely beautiful.  My favourite spot was St Ninian’s Beach, which was recommended to me by the taxi driver who picked me up at the airport. Which just goes to show it’s always worth asking locals for tips. If you stay in the Shetland capital Lerwick, you can explore the main island from there and/or take day trips to some of the smaller islands.

Things to Do in Scotland

St Ninians Beach, Shetland Islands

Go North at Dunnet Head

Andy visited Dunnet Head, which is the most northerly point of the UK mainland and not John O’Groats as popularly believed.

Things to Do in Scotland

Dunnet Head by ifry

Get in Touch with Your Mystical Side at Callanish Stones, Hebrides

Andy also wrote about his visit to the Callanish Stones, a stone circle on the Island of Lewis in the Hebrides. I’ve been to the stones on a misty morning when no-one else was there and it was a really mystical experience. 

Things to Do in Scotland

Callanish Stones by luxpim

Marvel at the Cliffs on Staffa, Hebrides

Andy thought that the hexagonal basalt cliffs on the island of Staffa look like they’ve been sculptured but it’s all natural.

Things to Do in Scotland

Staffa by wjmarnoch

Go Underground at Smoo Cave, Durness, Highlands

Durness is the most north westerly village on the UK mainland. Taking a boat trip into Smoo Cave is the best way to see the interior.

Things to Do in Scotland

Smoo  Cave

Be Amazed You’re so Far North at Inverewe Gardens, Highlands

Inverewe Gardens, located on the west coast close to Poolewe in Wester Ross, lies in a sheltered bay warmed by the Gulf Stream. I’ve been there twice and it’s hard to believe that you’re in the north of Scotland.

Things to Do in Scotland

Inverewe Gardens

Be Wowed by Colour at the Biblical Garden, Elgin

The very colourful Biblical Garden in Elgin contains all 110 plants mentioned in the Bible.  The sculptures around the garden are based on characters in various parables including the Good Shepherd and the Prodigal Son. You can see all my Biblical Garden photos on Flickr.

Things to Do in Scotland

Biblical Garden, Elgin

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Imagine Watching Horse Racing from Pitfour Observatory, Aberdeenshire

Pitfour Observatory was constructed by a rich Lord to get a good view of the race track he had specially made, so he could indulge in his hobby of horse racing while still on the grounds of his estate.

Things to Do in Scotland

Pitfour Observatory

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Central Scotland

Visit the Queen Mother’s Birthplace at Glamis Castle, Angus

Andy asked if Glamis Castle is Scotland’s prettiest castle.  I’m not sure about that as it’s got some stiff opposition and it didn’t make my three favourite Scottish Castles. It was the birthplace of the mother of the current UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Things to Do in Scotland

Glamis Castle by Andy Hayes

Imagine Yourself in Antarctica at Discovery Point, Dundee

Board the Antarctic explorer Captain Scott’s ship at Discovery Point in my city of birth Dundee, where the ship was built. You can buy a joint admission ticket for the Verdant Works which tells of the history of Dundee’s jute industry. Here are my recommendations for hotels in Dundee.

Things to Do in Scotland

Discovery Point, Dundee

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Meet Robert Burns at the Birks of Aberfeldy, Perthshire

The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the Birks of Aberfeldy after taking a walk up to the Mo’ness Falls. The sculpture was unveiled in 2009, in honour of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Scottish poet.

Things to Do in Scotland

Robert Burns Sculpture at the Birks of Aberfeldy

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Explore Two Follies at the Hermitage, Dunkeld, Perthshire

The Hermitage was created as a landscape garden for the local Duke, complete with two follies, Ossian’s Hall overlooking the Falls of Braan and Ossian’s Cave.

Things to Do in Scotland

Falls of Braan and Ossian’s Hall at the Hermitage, Dunkeld

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Walk for Miles along West Sands Beach in St Andrews, Fife

Although St Andrews is synonymous with golf and the University where Princess Diana’s elder son William studied, there’s a lot more to this lovely historic town.  There are two beaches, West Sands (pictured below) and the smaller East Sands and a very tempting ice cream shop.

West Sands, St Andrews

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Go Back in Time at Culross, Fife

Step back to into the 17th century in Culross, with its palace and abbey.

Things to Do in Scotland

View from Culross Palace Garden

See Pictish Cave Art at Wemyss Caves, Fife

In the Wemyss Caves you can see several drawings believed to date from over 2000 years ago.

Things to Do in Scotland

Trident in Jonathan’s Cave

Explore the 14th Century Alloa Tower, Clackmannanshire

Alloa Tower, renovated in the 1990s, is the largest surviving medieval tower house in Scotland.

Things to Do in Scotland

Alloa Tower

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Discover History at the Old Town Cemeteries, Stirling

On the way up to Stirling Castle it’s worth spending some time in the cemeteries. The Old Kirkyard has headstones from as early as the 16th century.

Things to Do in Scotland

The Valley Cemetery, Stirling

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Be Spoiled for choice by Glasgow Restaurants

I reckon that Glasgow has the best selection of restaurants you’ll find in Scotland. Two of my favourites are the Kama Sutra and Rogano.

Things to Do in Scotland

Rogano Restaurant Glasgow

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Stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh

The Water of Leith Walkway stretches for 12 miles from Balerno through the city centre, with an Aids and HIV memorial between the exits for the Gallery of Modern Art and Dean Gallery. The river flows into the Forth Estuary at Leith. The Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront is located a few minutes walk from the Water of Leith.

Things to Do in Scotland

Water of Leith Walkway Edinburgh

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Follow the Prestonpans Murals Trail, East Lothian

I love the Prestonpans Murals Trail which celebrates the industrial heritage of the village. The cow below is at the site of a former dairy. You can get to Prestonpans by bus from Edinburgh city centre.

Things to Do in Scotland

The cow mural at Prestonpans

Fly 1st Class at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, East Lothian

The big attraction at the National Museum of Flight is a Concorde. I was fascinated to learn that the first return crossing of the Atlantic by air was undertaken by the airship R34 which took off from East Fortune in 1919.

Things to Do in Scotland

The Concorde Experience at the National Museum of Flight

South of Scotland

Learn About One of the Fathers of Conservation in Dunbar, East Lothian.

Discover the life story of the conservationist John Muir at his birthplace in Dunbar. You could then walk along the beautiful red cliffs. It’s easy to get to Dunbar by rail from Edinburgh.

Things to Do in Scotland

Display at John Muir’s Birthplace, Dunbar

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Contemplate the Power of the Sea at St Abbs, Scottish Borders

St Abbs is a pretty little fishing village which is now a marine reserve and popular with divers. The Eyemouth Fishing Disaster Memorial in St Abbs portrays some of the anguish caused by the death of 189 fishermen on October 14 1881.

Things to Do in Scotland

Eyemouth Fishing Disaster Memorial, St Abbs

Find Out About 1930s Motorcycling at Hawick Museum, Scottish Borders

Hawick Museum, located in Wilton Park, has a display about the 1930s motorcycling champion, Jimmy Guthrie, who was born in Hawick. There’s a lovely walk along the River Teviot through Wilton Park. If you walk along the river toward the town centre, you’ll find the James Thomson Bridge, opened in 2006 to honour the 19th century local poet.

Things to Do in Scotland

Hawick Museum in Wilton Park

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Take the Waters at St Ronan’s Well, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Drink from the Spa in the village of Innerleithen, featured in Walter Scott’s novel, St Ronan’s Well.

Things to Do in Scotland

View from St Ronan’s Well, Innerleithen

Enjoy Threave Gardens, near Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Threave Gardens consists of several themed areas; a secret garden, a rock garden, a rose garden and a peat garden. If you’re lucky with the weather, the cafe has an outdoor seating area.

Things to Do in Scotland

Threave Castle Garden

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Where to stay in Scotland

Find the best deals at hotels all over Scotland with the HotelsCombined price comparison site, which quickly searches through more than 30 of the best travel sites to find the lowest prices for you.

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More Tips for the UK

We’ve articles on 25 Things to Do in England and 25 Fun Things to Do in the UK.

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