Scotland is so much more than simply just Edinburgh, bagpipes and haggis. Here, we have gathered the ultimate guide to the best autumn destinations in Scotland – all recommended to you by local travel bloggers.
Local’s Pick: The Best Autumn Destinations in Scotland
I think we can all agree that autumn is a stunning time of the year. The scenery changes, the air gets crisper and the nights get darker. Personally, I adore everything slightly related to autumn!
Anyway, you might have picked up the great news that Scotland was recently voted the most beautiful country in the world. While we might assume that certain neighbouring countries felt pretty grim when they first heard the news, there is no doubt about the fact that tourists are flocking to Scotland like never before.
And in few places does the autumn get more beautiful than in bonnie Scotland.
After more than 2 years in Scotland, people constantly ask me about the best Scottish destinations. Furthermore, people seem to be increasingly interested in off the beaten track destinations and hidden gems. So as always, your wish is my command. Are you wondering where to find the best sights in Scotland? Where you should eat on Isle of Skye? Wonder no more, darling.
In this article, I have gathered a list of the best autumn destinations in Scotland. These stunning destinations have two things in common: 1) they are all off the beaten track destination in Scotland, and 2) they are all recommended by local travel bloggers who know their country well. As a wee conclusion, this list contains all the hidden gems you need to explore when you visit Scotland during autumn (or during any time of year, to be honest!).
1. Hiking in Arrochar and bagging Ben Arthur
My favourite autumn destination in Scotland is undoubtedly Arrochar and the surrounding Arrochar Alps. It’s a true gem for those of you who are looking for an active weekend destination in Scotland – without travelling too far from the big cities.
Your visit to Arrochar can be both a day trip from Glasgow or – if you prefer – a relaxing long-weekend away from the hustle and bustle of big city life and stress. Arrochar can offer you stunning scenery, what is probably the best Gin & Tonic north of the border, and amazing hiking trails. The Arrochar Alps are also a great option for those of you looking to bag your first munro (if you’re new to the country and wonder what the bloody hell I’m talking about, I can recommend this article explaining the Scottish custom that is munro bagging).
While Arrochar is undoubtedly an off the beaten track destination in Scotland, it certainly won’t disappoint those of you who are looking for a weekend filled with stunning landscapes and hiking trails that will eventually connect you to the infamous West Highland Way.
Hiking the Arrochar Alps is also highly recommended during autumn – imagine the view from the top of Ben Arthur as the landscape is changing its colours!
Read More: Guide to Hiking the Arrochar Alps
2. Experience Foodie Adventures on Isle of Skye
You simply cannot visit Scotland without paying a visit to the majestic Isle of Skye. Besides the stunning scenery, this is also quite the right place for those of you who are looking for a proper foodie adventure. Don’t miss the infamous Three Chimneys and remember to book in advance – this place gets busy, even in the autumn! We also stopped for lunch at Kinloch Lodge, on the way back to mainland Scotland and I can thoroughly recommend it. Chances are you won’t stay hungry for long while visiting Isle of Skye.
But what should you see on Isle of Skye? The island is filled to the brim with beautiful scenery, and our favourites include climbing the Old Man of Storr, passing the Needle rock formation, walking at the Quiraing, visiting Neist Point and the famous Kilt Rock. We did not make it to the Fairy Pools this time, so we have the perfect excuse to return.
If you are longing for a quiet holiday, try to avoid high season and visit during autumn instead. Skye can get really busy and you will certainly not have these beautiful places all to yourself…
Ildiko Rusvai is the blogger behind The Edinburgh Enthusiast.
3. Chase History in Linlithgow
Linlithgow Palace and Loch is my absolute favourite autumn destination in Scotland.
It’s located in West Lothian, and it’s the perfect place for an off-season visit to Scotland.
Of course, the landscape is great all year round, but in autumn, with all the intense and beautiful season colours, it’s just breathtaking. Save one hour or so to walk the circular path around the Loch, I can assure you the Palace view from the other side of the loch is absolutely stunning!
Bonus tip: if you are looking for a cosy pub to have a real ale or some food after the stroll, don’t miss The Four Marys. Also, fun fact: Linlithgow is actually the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots!
Ana is the blogger behind Lovely Scotland.
4. Go Wildlife watching at the Isle of Rum
5. Explore the World Heritage Site in New Lanark
There’s plenty of amazing spots to enjoy autumn in Scorland, but one you might not have on your list yet is New Lanark World Heritage Site in South Lanarkshire.
Just a couple of minutes outside of the wee town of Lanark and less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow, New Lanark is an 18th century cotton mill village – and an incredible window into Scotland’s industrial past. Autumn is the perfect time to visit as the grounds are much quieter adding a lot more atmosphere to the historic worker’s village and above all else the surrounding colourful foliage will blow you away.
You can spend a full day exploring the site, marvelling at the architecture and learning the stories of the mill workers who lived there. But if you want to explore a little nature too, the site leads directly onto walking trails that will take you out to the Falls of the Clyde. This beautiful waterfall can be found just up river giving you wonderful views and a even more bursts of autumn colour. A perfect day trip from Glasgow – and the perfect place for an autumn adventure!
Kirstin blogs at The Tinberry Travels.
6. Hike Autumnal Trails in Dunkeld
Dunkeld Hermitage has a fantastic woodland scenery and it is at its absolute best during autumn. The locations is perfect as it’s only a 1.5 mile walk from Dunkeld/Birnsm station. Not fond of walking? Get a taxi to the car park instead.
Dunkeld is the perfect Scottish day trip, and this is a good option for those of you looking to capture the autumn colours on camera. Dunkeld Hermitage feautures some of Scotland’s tallest trees, Douglas Firs, but you can also find plenty of Larch and Oak that will give you those spectacular autumn colour you are longing for.
It is also easy to follow the trails and there is even a folly next to a very tolkeinesque waterful – and bonus point: there is a good chance of seeing salmon leap at that time of year!
7. Chase the Northern Lights on Lewis and Harris
Not many people know it, but autumn can actually be one of the best times to visit Lewis and Harris, the largest island in the Outer Hebrides. Not only are the roads, beaches, and hotels all quieter after the summer holidays, but the weather can still be quite mild, and all the usual tours and activities are still running.
With autumn’s arrival comes some of the islands’ best annual events, like the Harris Mountain Festival, and Faclan, the Hebridean Book Festival at the An Lanntair arts centre. This is also the time of year when the heather is blooming, and a crisp morning walk in the Lews Castle Grounds gives you a view of the leaves slowly changing.
As the evenings draw in, you’ve got higher chances of seeing the Northern Lights here, too – always a bonus on a cold, dark, night!
You can visit Lewis and Harris by flying from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, or Inverness to Stornoway, or by Cal Mac ferry from Ullapool, Berneray, or Uig.
Kathryn is a Scottish journalist and travel blogger. You can find her articles at Stories My Suitcase Could Tell.
8. Dance Around on Music Festivals in Ullapool
Ullapool is ideal in Autumn. As the leaves begin to fall, the bustle of the North Coast 500 roadtrippers beings to fade but that does not mean the party’s over. In fact, it is only just getting started. In September, Ullapool celebrates its festival, Loopallu, which kicks off on the last weekend of the month. This year The View, Glasvegas and Turin Brakes will be taking to the stage following in the footsteps of Paolo Nutini, Mumford and Sons and Franz Ferdinand.
How to get to Ullapool:
Buses and trains run to Inverness from all big cities, Ullapool is on the bus route from Inverness (1 hour 30 mins). Alternatively, take a car so you can drive to Stac Pollaidh and hike up and down in under 2 hours .
Other things to do in Ullapool include eat, drink and be merry. Ullapool is a hub for musical talent. Most evenings see planned or impromptu sessions in at least one of the pubs. Look out for my ridiculously talented good friend, Kim Richards.
Gemma and Craig are the travel bloggers behind Two Scots Abroad, where you will find travel tips, quips, and pics that please. Go on, MAKE TRAVEL HAPPEN.
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