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The 11 Best Walks in Scotland

There’s no denying that there are tons of fantastic walks in Scotland’s beautiful and rugged countryside, especially the scenic Highlands. The northernmost part of the country is stunning to visit, especially for those looking to explore on foot.

Scotland’s long-distance walking routes, such as the Great Glen Way and the West Highland Way, are some of the best ones in Britain, suitable for hikers of all levels. Scottish Highland walks are distinctively earmarked, largely off-the-beaten-track, and offer a range of charming places to stop along the way.

What makes Scotland’s walks truly unique are the amazing views you’ll come across, from iconic castles to the rugged moorlands and lochs. If you’re planning a visit to Scotland and walk to see some of its famous countryside on foot, here’s our guide to eleven of the best walks in the region.

The Best Hill Walks in Scotland

  1. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is a jagged, grass-covered hill rising from the urban space of Edinburgh, offering some of the city’s best views. Getting to the highest point requires a short and slightly strenuous hike, but the stunning views make it well worth it. 

Located at Holyrood Park, at the bottom of the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat is the remains of an extinct volcano, which erupted some 300 million years ago. As one of the most popular walks in Scotland, there are several different route options for reaching the summit. 

For a leisurely walk with the best views over Edinburgh, choose the Salisbury Crags. But if you’re prepared to take a more strenuous hike with more dramatic views of the city, Arthur’s Seat is the best option. Despite being slightly strenuous, it is a steady and gradual climb. Anyone with a reasonable level of physical fitness can manage to do it, kids included.

  1. Bennachie, Aberdeenshire

Bennachie is the best place in Scotland for hill walkers. At only 528 metres, it’s accessible to walkers of all levels and is beloved by locals for its far-reaching views.

Bennachie’s imposing views have made it an inspiration for poems, folklore, and songs. It is even believed to have a religious significance during the Bronze Age, as evident in the hill’s numerous standing stones.

The best way to get started with your walk is through the woodland on the forested slopes. When you are near the top of Bennachie, the landscape changes again, turning into a rocky granite. Once you get to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with far-reaching views of the landscape all the way to Aberdeen and the North Sea.

The Best Mountain Walks in Scotland

  1. Ben Nevis, Fort William

There are numerous beautiful walks in Scotland, but Ben Nevis is the king of them all. Located in the northwest Highlands close to Fort William, this famous mountain peak attracts thousands of walkers each year. Whether you are an avid walker or you simply want to marvel at the scenic landscapes, Ben Nevis is the best place to go when walking the Highlands.

Ben Nevis is part of the Grampian Mountain Range and was once a massive active volcano that exploded and collapsed some million years ago. At its summit, there’s evidence of explosions in the form of light-coloured granite.

Remember that this is a Scottish walk that requires a good amount of hillwalking experience, a reasonable level of fitness and navigation skills. Make sure you plan your walk well, especially if you plan on coming here in winter.

  1. The Saddle, Kintail

The Saddle in Kintail is considered one of the most beautiful places to walk in Scotland, and rightfully so. It’s located at one of the most magnificent mountains in the Highlands, close to the Shiel Bridge and only a short drive from the Isle of Skye. Your walk will cover eight miles in length and involves traversing two mountains, making it one of the most challenging walks in Scotland.

Most hikers hike over the Pintail Saddle then cross towards Sgurr na Sgine before descending into Glen Shiel. Your efforts will be rewarded with gorgeous views of nature, so the strenuous trek will be worth it. 

While there are no signs or markers along the trail, it is easy to follow. The walk will take you through wet marshes, so expect your feet to get wet.

The Best Short Walks in Scotland

  1. Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail, Glenfinnan

Some of the great Scottish walks aren’t particularly long-winded. If you’re looking for short walks in Scotland that still provide outstanding views, the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail is worth checking out. 

This trail may be short, but it offers you a chance to explore the area’s interesting history with tons of fantastic viewpoints, historical sights, and spots that were featured in movies such as the Harry Potter series. You may also come across the Jacobite Steam Train as it crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is located approximately 17 miles west of Fort William, so the most convenient place to park is in the Glenfinnan Monument Car Park. The route is marked by wooden posts, but the path can be a little unclear, especially at the start. Some of the best attractions to check out are the Glenfinnan monument and the Railway Museum at Glenfinnan Station. 

  1. Pap of Glencoe, Glencoe

Sitting 742 metres tall, The Pap of Glencoe is a short walk, but its steep incline and uneven terrain have made it a bit more challenging to conquer. The area is also close to the other famous walks in Scotland, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail. From Fort Williams, the car park for the Pap of Glencoe is about a 30-minute drive.

The Pap of Glencoe trail is moderate, although it can be somewhat challenging for those not used to hiking mountains. It’s all uphill from the start, with a summit scramble that could be difficult for beginners. 

The best time to attempt this walk is between May and September, where there’s a higher chance of clear conditions. It’s not recommended to tackle this hike during poor weather, as the steepness and uneven, rocky sections can be challenging for even the most experienced hikers.

The Best Coastal Walks in Scotland

  1. Fife Coastal Path, Fife

The Fife Coastal Path is a linear trail along the Fife peninsula and offers a classic Scottish walking route with incredible coastal views. When conquering this trail, it is best to start from Kincardine-on-Forth so that the prevailing wind will be at your back for most of this anti-clockwise route. 

Starting from Firth of Forth all the way to the Firth of Tay, this walk will take you across a range of terrains, from levelled paths to wild and demanding rocky terrains.

You’ll also visit the old mining towns in Fife, the university city of St Andrews and the coastal villages of East Neuk, which are a stark contrast to the industrial areas in the west. 

The scenery along The Fife Coastal Path also includes idyllic beaches, beautiful estuaries, and fascinating wildlife reserves.

  1. Old Man of Hoy, Orkney

The Old Man of Hoy is among the tallest sea stacks in the British Isles and one of the most beautiful Scottish walking routes. First conquered by some of the world’s famous mountaineers in 1966, the red sandstone stack became even more popular when a live broadcast covered the ascents of the mountaineers, and other top climbers followed the year after. 

Since then, this area has become a magnet for mountain climbers. Although the main route going to the sandstone stack is now relatively straightforward, conquering the trail is still a serious undertaking given the fragile nature of the stacks. Therefore, this is one of this article’s Scotland walks that are only recommended for more experienced climbers. 

You do not need to climb to the Old Man to get a glimpse of this spectacular landmark. You will find another route from Rackwick Bay, which follows the amazing Hoy Coastline out into a vantage point that overlooks the stack. If you want, you can continue walking north along the coast to get to the summit of St John’s Head.

The Best Circular Walks in Scotland

  1. The Ring of Steall, Mamores Mountains

The Ring of Steall is one of the most spectacular walks in Scotland with a notoriously challenging total ascent of 1676 meters. This circular walk involves traversing five mountains, four of which have an altitude of at least 3,000 feet. 

The walk usually starts in Glen Nevis, Fort William. It’s a route that should only be tackled by experienced hikers, as there are some steep scrambles involved, but can be done in under a day if you set out early enough in the morning. 

This is also an excellent option if you’re looking for a Scottish walking route that won’t be overcrowded with tourists, even in the summer months.

10. Smuggler’s Trail, Eyemouth

The Smuggler’s Trail is one of the most fascinating walks in Scotland with a truly fascinating history. It is said to be the path that smugglers previously used to transport their illegal cargo discreetly. Nowadays, this scenic trail is a haven among avid hikers, taking you to incredible views and historical places. 

Many of the paths that the smugglers used are still present today, such as the Eyemouth to Coldingham section of the trail. This encompasses little beaches, which at first glance can only be accessed by climbing down steep grassy slopes. But on closer inspection, the old tracks that smugglers used when transporting their cargoes are revealed.

11.  Lost Valley, Glen Coe

The Lost Valley is a hidden valley surrounded by the iconic peaks of Gearr Aonach, Beinn Fhada, and Aonach Dubh, more famously known as the “Three Sisters of Glencoe”. This is a circular Scottish walking route that is intensely dramatic and can be conquered by hikers of all levels.

The Lost Valley route is fairly rugged and will occasionally require wading through low stream and dirt tracks. There will be some moderate scrambling involved, although hikers of all levels should be able to manage. 

If you continue towards the Stob Coire Sgreamhach, the route becomes a bit more challenging as it involves steeper climbs and passing through rocky paths.


In order to fully enjoy your walks in Scotland, make sure you come prepared; research the trail conditions and familiarise yourself with the walking routes. Spring and summer will be the best time to tackle the hills and mountains to enjoy the best weather, but walking in the winter means you’ll get the chance to see the stunning Scottish highlands covered in snow.

These beautiful Scottish walking routes prove why this part of the world is known as a hiker’s paradise. From family-friendly circular trails to some of the most challenging climbs in the UK, there’s a route suitable for every kind of visitor to the region.

If you’re planning a Scottish walking holiday and are looking for somewhere to stay during your trip, check out our extensive range of holiday cottages across Scotland.

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