Looking to explore Scotland in a little more depth? Here is my guide to the regions of Scotland, from the Highlands to the islands and from the cities to the lowlands.
One of the largest regions of Scotland – and one of our hidden gems – Argyll covers much of Scotland’s beautiful west coast. Make your base on the Mull of Kintyre or at Inveraray at Loch Fyne or Island hop from Oban to Mull, Coll and Tiree. Here are my guides to Argyll:
Things to do Inveraray, Argyll’s capital
Visit the Isle of Mull
Go whisky tasting on Islay
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
Located in the northeast of Scotland, Aberdeen has 165 miles of gorgeous coastline, the beautiful Royal Deeside, 263 castles to visit, and the quirky city of Aberdeen – at 6000 sq km, Aberdeenshire is the fourth largest of the 12 main regions of Scotland and is perfect to explore on a road trip. Here are my guides to planning a trip to Aberdeenshire:
Why you should visit Aberdeenshire
The Silver City – Things to do in Aberdeen
How to visit Royal Deeside
Ayrshire and Arran
Ayrshire sits on the Southeast coast of Scotland, above Dumfries and Galloway stretching north to Glasgow. Ayrshire is Robert Burn’s country and is a land of vast vistas, sweeping coves, granite islands and incredible views.
Off the coast of Ayrshire is Arran, and with rugged highland mountains, windswept beaches and ruined castles, and, of course, its own whisky, the Isle of Arran truly is ‘Scotland in Miniature’.
How to visit the Isle of Arran
How to drive the SWC300 – and visit Ayrshire
Dumfries and Galloway
Whilst South West Scotland might be well known to those arriving off the ferries from Northern Ireland, to many visitors (and locals!) the delights of Scotland’s secret south west corner – from the Solway Firth to Scotland’s most southerly point, and the dramatic mountains of the Southern Uplands – are a true hidden gem.
How to drive the SWC300 – and visit D&G
The Cairngorms National Park
With forests pepper-potted with deep green lochans, a seemingly endless Arctic tundra where the temperature can drop as low as -27 degrees in the depths of winter, and home to ospreys, reindeer, pine martens and red squirrels, the Cairngorms is one of Scotland’s true wildernesses.
Here’s how to get outside and explore the lochs, glens, and Munros of the Cairngorms National Park.
Visit the Cairngorms National Park
Dundee and Angus
Like so much of Scotland missing from the ‘things to see in Scotland before you die’ lists, the east coast of Scotland between Aberdeen and Dundee is underrated and crying out for you to visit.
With beautiful beaches, the spectacular Dunnottar Castle, and arty cool city of Dundee. Here’s how to visit one of the sunniest regions of Scotland (yes really!)
Drive the Angus Coastal Route
Edinburgh and the Lothians
Scotland’s capital really sells itself – it is one of the world’s best cities to visit. However, we all know how easy it to fall into the trap of visiting the ‘top ten’ places – you need a local to show you around! Surrounding Edinburgh are the Lothians – East, Mid and West, which are all worth a day trip.
Local’s guide to Edinburgh
Unusual things to do in Edinburgh
Things to do in East Lothian
Voted ‘No 1 outdoor destination’ in Scotland by Scottish Natural Heritage eight years in a row; it’s no wonder I love Fife – and make it my home.
With 117-miles of stunning east coast coastline, pretty 16th-century villages, huge beaches, St Andrews, Michelin-starred restaurants and fish n chips, along with a whole host of brilliant outdoor activity providers, here is my guide to things to do in Fife.
My guide to things to do in Fife
How to get outside in Fife
Guide to the East Neuk
Forget everything you thought you knew about Glasgow. With a lively music scene, a huge art community and people who can make a party out anything, Glasgow has a natural vibrancy which most cities dream of. Here’s what to do in Glasgow.
My guide to things to do in Glasgow
The Highland of Scotland really need no introduction, lets just get planning…
How to visit Wester Ross
Things to do in Lochinver and Assynt
How to visit Ardnamurchan
Visit Fort Augustus and Loch Ness
Things to do in Fort William
How to visit Glencoe
Things to do on the Isle of Skye
How to drive the North Coast 500
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Covering 720 stunning square miles, with two forest parks, 22 large lochs, 40 hills over 2000ft, and one of the UK’s largest nature reserves (phew!) your visit to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park should be much more than a day trip.
Here’s my guide to getting outside and exploring the lochs, glens, and Munros around Loch Lomond.
Guide to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
Moray / Speyside
The Scottish east coast from Inverness to Peterhead at first might seem a little tame to those who love the fjord-like dramatics of the west coast, but with picturesque harbour villages, waves crashing over towering sea cliffs, huge swathes of beach, incredible changing light and not forgetting a famous soup.
Further south, Speyside is one of the main whisky regions of Scotland.
Guide to the Moray Firth
The Northern Isles – Orkney and Shetland
With stone-age villages, huge sea-scapes, a vibrant arts culture and a genuinely warm welcome (and not just from the Orkney gin!) we took a weekend trip to Orkney to dip into 5000 years of history.
Much further north, Shetland lies 110 miles off mainland Scotland and is home to Orcas and a totally unique Viking heritage.
How to visit Orkney
The Outer Hebrides
A visit to the Outer Hebrides is an otherworldly dip into Scotland’s remote edge of the world island culture.
However, the Western Isles are more than Harris Gin, the home of the Gaelic language, the famous Callanish standing stones, Norseman tales and world-famous beaches and turquoise seas. This 130-mile long island chain 24 miles off the northwest coast of Scotland also makes for an incredible adventure playground.
How to visit the Outer Hebrides
One of my favourite regions of Scotland, Perthshire is full of lochs, Munros, glens and woodlands – they don’t call Perthshire Big Tree Country for nothing. Discover this central region of Scotland by foot, SUP, kayak or on horseback, Perthshire is a great destination for an adventure holiday. Make sure you don’t miss a visit to the region’s main town – Perth.
Things to do in Perth
The Scottish Borders
Scotland starts here!
Fancy trekking with alpacas, spotting dolphins in a marine reserve, hurtling down a world-class mountain bike trail and staying in an ancient tower house on the beautiful River Tweed? Well you can do all of this in the Scottish Borders.
Things to do in the Scottish Borders
How many regions are there in Scotland?
There are 12 main regions in Scotland:
- Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire
- Argyll and the Isles
- Angus & Dundee
- Ayrshire & Arran
- Dumfries and Galloway
- Edinburgh & the Lothians
- Glasgow and the Clyde Valley
- The Highlands
- Moray & Speyside
- Scottish Borders
I’d also count the two National Parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms National Park – as two distinct regions, and I’d also the Outer Hebrides and the Northern Isles as part of the 16 regions of Scotland.
Map of the regions of Scotland
Want to see where these regions of Scotland are on a map? Find out with this map of the regions of Scotland on Scotland.org