in the UK
The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are broadly the Scottish Highlands, plus Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
The Highlands and Islands are sometimes defined as the area to which the Crofters' Act of 1886 applied. This area consisted of eight counties of Scotland:
Ross and Cromarty
Many people like to be able to say they have been to the most northerly point in Great Britain, John o’ Groats. However, in reality, the most Northerly point is a little bit further and is actually Dunnet Head.
John o' Groats is often used as a starting or ending point for charitable events such as the 876 mile walk or cycle ride between Lands End and John o Groats.The place has previously had mixed reviews and some have described it as a "seedy tourist trap". However, great efforts have been made to improve John o Groats. The refurbishment of landmark buildings and the addition of some new welcoming features should ensure an influx of new visitors able to say " I went there in 20xx"
Loch Ness is best known for the reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster known affectionately as "Nessie". Loch Ness is a freshwater loch, approximately 23 miles long (37km), up to 755 feet deep in places and water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. Given these conditions, it is hardly surprising that sightings of the Loch Ness Monster have never been verified.
The Loch Ness Exhibition centre provides background
information about the Loch and the legend. The centre offers a hi-
This scenic railway journey has been voted one the best train routes in the world. The 84 mile round trip between Fort William and Mallaig starts near Britain highest mountain, Ben Nevis before passing alongside Lochs and rivers, over Glenfinnan Viaduct and onwards to reach Mallaig.
The Jacobite Steam Train runs through an area of outstanding natural beauty and has been used in films such as "Highlander" and "Local Hero". Warner Brothers used this train line in the Harry Potter films and the train can be seen passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The Strathspey Railway runs for approximately 10 miles from Aviemore to Broomhill. The journey will take you through the stunning Cairngorms National Park and they have a number of difference experiences such as ‘ultimate dining’ on offer to make the day extra special.
This ride allows people of all abilities to reach the mountain top Ptarmigan Restaurant and terrace. At the top you can enjoy stunning views over Strathspey as well as relax and enjoy a meal or drink in the Ptarmigan Restaurant.
Aviemore offers the best skiing and snowboarding in the UK. The ski season on CairnGorm Mountain's 30 kilometres of piste runs run from December to April. Even if you don't intend to ski you can enjoy fantastic views by taking a ride on the funicular railway to the Ptarmigan top station. For those that ski they can cruise two kilometres back down through stunning mountain scenery.
Special 'fun park' facilities have been set
aside for Snowboarders and extreme skiers in Aviemore and the Cairngorm Mountain
ski resort. The best cross-
Landmark Forest Theme Park in Carrbridge is easily a whole day's entertainment and activity. It is huge outdoor forest theme park complete with water rides, treetop trails and more, all set in 30 acres of Pinewood forest in the heart of the Spey Valley.
Activities include Adventureland -
The Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie has a wide and diverse range of animals. From native species such as the Capercaillie and Scottish Wildcat to those from further afield such as the Amur Tiger and Polar Bear.
The idea behind the park when it first opened was to show native Scottish species of animals in a Scottish Highland environment. They also wanted to include animals that were once present in Scotland, hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago.
However, as the wildlife park has developed over 40 years, the mission and conservation aims of the Park have grown and it has matured into an important centre for the conservation of endangered species. The Highland Wildlife Park is now the only place in the country that you are able to see Polar bears.
The centre in North Kessock offers a range of tours and activities including: Land based dolphin watching, Wildlife walks, the UK’s largest ice house and discover the fascinating history of Spey Bay.
Centre, Loch Garten RSPB -
Highland Farm -
Isle wildlife and Country Park -
Reindeer Centre -
Loch Insh water sports & Skiing centre in Kincraig have a range of watersports that includes: sail sports, paddle sports, raft building, fishing, rowing and pedalos on the loch. Off the water they have archery, play parks, and a dry ski slope.
Distillery tours are one of the most popular
things to do in the Scottish Highlands. The Glenmorangie
Distillery tour gives you unparalleled access to the distillery and warehouses.
With the help of an expert guide you will experience all stages of the whisky
making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturing -
You may also enjoy visiting these distilleries:
Dalwhinnie distillery visitor centre
Nevis distillery -
Glen Ord distillery visitor centre
Ice Factor in Lochaber is a place where you can climb both indoors and outdoors. The centre offers rock climbing and also Ice climbing on a 50 ft wall of ice. A range of climbing courses are provided by qualified instructors at the Ice Factor. Courses are offered on the centre's ice wall, where visitors have the opportunity to gain skills in ice climbing. Visitors can also try out the centre's rock climbing or aerial adventure course that is 15m above the ground and is a 250m circuit.
The castle is open to visitors between April and October and it is possible to enjoy a guided tour of the impressive rooms. The castle has extensive parkland with coastal views and is ideal for relaxing walks. There are Bird of Prey displays usually twice a day.
As one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan castle is recognised all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands.
Cawdor Castle hosts a variety of events throughout the year. With everything from whisky tasting events to concerts.
Up Helly Aa is also known as the festival of fire. The festival takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year and involves about 1000 people marching through the town in Viking costumes, carrying blazing torches and dragging a Viking ship. The ship is the sacrifice and all the blazing torches are thrown into the Viking ship. All this takes place to the backdrop of booming brass band music and firework rockets launched from the harbour. Very spectacular and attracting visitors from all over the world.
Jarlshof is a site containing the remnants of ancient civilisations that existed about 4000 years ago. The site is a mixed tapestry of grassy mounds containing underground buildings, walls, hearths, passageways where ancient tribes lived. Perhaps they lived in this way due to the severe weather or the danger of being detected by invading Vikings or a combination of both?
Smoo cave is Scotland's largest natural cavern and was used by the Vikings to hide their longships during raids. During the summer you can hire a ferryman to take you deep into the cave to explore the narrow passages within.
As long as you have a ‘good head for height’ this is a spectacular place to visit. The footbridge across the gorge is 60 feet and sways very gently as you walk across admiring the Falls of Measach 200 foot below.
If you like a challenge then this road could be for you. This is Britain’s highest road and is heavily loaded with severe hairpin bends and steep 1:5 gradients. The road will reward you with spectacular views of Loch Kishorn 2053 ft below.
Plockton is a small village in a very remote part of Scotland. Visitors will be greeted by quaint colourful cottages, un spoilt sandy beaches and a maze of footpaths to explore.
Neptune’s Staircase is a series of locks that enable Ocean going ships to be carried from the sea to the glens on coast to coast journeys. The series of locks is the high point along a 60 mile journey between Fort William and Inverness.
Find great things to do, the best Scottish Highland attractions, cheap family days out, romantic weekend breaks & fun things to do visiting the Scottish Highlands & Islands this weekend.