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15 Best Cities in Scotland To Visit in 2023

15 Best Cities in Scotland To Visit in 2023


Scotland is without doubt one of the world’s most sought-after places. The northernmost nation of the UK is thought for its tales of Scottish kings and queens, patriotic sense of tradition, and artistic skills. And whereas rural areas just like the Scottish Highlands have engaging, windswept views, cities in Scotland are a few of the finest locations to embrace Scottish life – previous and current. You’ll discover museums, galleries, eating places, hikes, and historical past galore.

The Very Best Towns and Cities in Scotland

This information will cowl the most effective cities in Scotland, with a couple of of essentially the most unmissable cities sprinkled in for good measure. Scotland’s cities and cities are internationally famend, which is unimaginable contemplating that some have such small populations. Excited? You ought to be. Let’s get began.

1. Edinburgh

Best cities in Scotland Edinburgh
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Edinburgh is the plain beginning place when planning to go to Scotland. The capital metropolis of Scotland is essentially the most well-known of all of the cities in the nation. It is filled with historic buildings and wealthy historical past. Edinburgh is a fantastic metropolis with a photogenic metropolis middle. You’ll have to dedicate time simply to stroll the streets in Edinburgh Old Town – belief us, you’ll be determined to maximise time on the cobbled streets with Edinburgh Castle above you.

When you aren’t in the Old Town or visiting Edinburgh Castle, there are many different actions in Edinburgh. As the second largest metropolis in Scotland, it has top-of-the-line attraction scenes and a energetic ambiance, added to by Edinburgh University. We advocate mountain climbing the quick stroll to Arthur’s Seat for dawn or sundown, buying on the Royal Mile, climbing the Scott Monument, and visiting the Sheep Heid (considered one of Scotland’s oldest pubs).

Edinburgh was all the time assured a spot on our record. The iconic capital metropolis is just not solely one of the vital stunning cities in Scotland but additionally one of the vital thrilling for numerous sights and issues to do. Edinburgh is well accessed by worldwide guests. It can be well-connected to London by practice in case you are touring from England.

Read extra of our Edinburgh guides

2. Aberdeen

Top Cities in Scotland Aberdeen
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Aberdeen is the third most populous metropolis (take a look at the official Aberdeen inhabitants right here) and top-of-the-line cities in Scotland. Aberdeen is thought for being a port metropolis positioned on the shores of the North Sea. The metropolis can be famend for producing native granite and has an industrial however cosmopolitan ambiance. Its historical past of granite manufacturing has given town centre a particular look, with eye-catching silvery-grey buildings which might be beautiful to admire whereas wandering round on foot.

The finest issues to do in Aberdeen embrace visiting Duthie Park, the Gordon Highlanders Museum, St Machar’s Cathedral, and Aberdeen Art Gallery. The metropolis has a combination of out of doors and indoor sights, with loads of museums and historic sights. Overall, Aberdeen received a spot in this information for its sense of character and lingering industrial historical past.

3. Glasgow

Best Cities in Scotland Glasgow
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Glasgow has a popularity for being Scotland’s ‘other city’, recurrently coming second behind Edinburgh. However, over the previous few many years, Glasgow has actually come into its personal, and it’s now thought of top-of-the-line cities in Scotland. Glasgow is located inland, slightly below Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and ideal for nation day journeys. The metropolis has a lot of museums. It is Scotland’s largest citiy, providing loads of leisure to sink your tooth into. Glasgow has nice inexperienced area, too, with the River Clyde operating by way of town centre and parks like Glasgow Green, Richmond Park, and Pollok Country Park.

The finest issues to do in Glasgow are Glasgow Cathedral, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Science Centre, George Square, and the People’s Palace. While in order for you a extra laidback expertise, you may spend an hour or two hopping between the outlets and nice eating places in the bustling metropolis centre. Glasgow has a various and fast-paced ambiance, touchdown it in our information.

4. Perth

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Perth is a riverside metropolis located alongside the banks of the River Tay. It is a fantastic metropolis with a regal ambiance and distinguished historic structure. Perth is nicknamed the ‘Fair City’ of Scotland resulting from its shut hyperlinks to Scottish royalty all through historical past. Before Edinburgh rose to stardom, Perth was Scotland’s capital metropolis till round 1452. Many contemplate it Scotland’s ‘first city,’ house to many traditions and historic occasions. For occasion, the Stone of Destiny was housed at Scone Abbey, and plenty of monarchs have been topped there in town’s youthful years. For these in Scottish historical past and royalty, a go to to Perth ought to be on the playing cards.

The finest issues to do in Perth are to go to Elcho Castle, Branklyn Garden, Black Watch Museum, Fergusson Gallery, and Perth Museum and Art Gallery. Of course, to understand town’s royal historical past to the fullest, a go to to Scone Palace can be a should. The palace has over 1,000 years of historical past and was the designated crowning place of Scottish kings. As you might have guessed, Perth’s shut ties to Scottish royalty and royal historical past earned it a prime place in our information. It is a singular and interesting small metropolis to go to in Scotland.

5. Dundee

Beautiful Scotland cities Dundee
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Dundee is one other metropolis on the jap coast of Scotland and a incredible place to go to. Dundee is the fourth largest metropolis in the nation and well-known for its artistic industries, being a UNESCO City of Design and internet hosting the one V&A museum, not in London. If you desire a dynamic expertise in a Scottish metropolis with numerous artwork, design, and artistic tradition, Dundee is the one for you. Its artistic tradition makes it one of the vital thrilling cities in Scotland and has secured it a spot in our information.

So, what’s there to do in Dundee? In quick, lots. You can go to the Discovery Point and RRS Discovery, Contemporary Arts Museum, Glamis Castle, Scotland’s Jute Museum, Dundee Science Centre, and Mcmanus Art Gallery & Museum. Prioritize a go to to Dundee’s artwork museums, that are incredible locations to spend a moist and windy day.

6. Stirling

Best Cities in Scotland Stirling
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Stirling is without doubt one of the most historic cities in Scotland and a massively photogenic metropolis break. Stirling is thought for its political historical past – be that the crowning of Mary Queen of Scots or rebellions towards the English. The metropolis is laid out with Stirling Castle on an remoted crag above Stirling Old Town and the spire of the National Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig. Speaking of William Wallace, Stirling additionally overlooks the battleground of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the place William defeated the English in 1297. Stirling is a legendary metropolis – full of tales of fights for Scottish independence and massively related to the Scottish warrior hero William Wallace. The quantity of emotionally participating Scottish historical past in Stirling assured it a spot in this information.

The National Wallace Monument is Stirling’s hottest attraction and hosts quite a few reveals in reminiscence of William Wallace. The most prized artifact is Wallace’s longsword, which is an enormous 1.63 meters in size. Apart from the monument, the most effective issues to do in Stirling embrace visiting Stirling Castle, the Holy Rude, Old Town Jail, and Robert the Bruce Statue. Spend at the very least two days in Stirling, as this metropolis has lots to unpack.

7. Inverness

Best Cities in Scotland Inverness
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Inverness is one other metropolis central to Scottish historical past. The small metropolis is without doubt one of the most northern Scottish cities and is only a quick drive away from Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield. These two sights draw most individuals to Inverness, with Loch Ness rumored to be the house of an important sea monster and the Culloden Battlefield, the hallowed final standpoint of the Jacobite Uprising. A go to to Inverness is coming nose to nose with darkish tales and tragic historical past. It is without doubt one of the finest locations in Scotland to study concerning the historical past of the UK and youth in Scotland.

Apart from visiting Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, you possibly can tour Urquhart Castle. This fairytale-like fort is positioned simply an hour’s drive north of Inverness, making it an easy day journey. In town, there’s additionally Inverness Castle, Inverness Cathedral, the Ness Islands, and the notorious Leakey’s Bookshop.

Read extra about visiting Inverness

8. Fort William

Best Scottish Cities and Towns Fort William
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Fort William is technically a city, however it’s such a major spot in the Highlands we needed to embrace it. It is a gateway to Ben Nevis, Loch Linnhe, and Scotland’s main snowboarding scene. Hiking lovers will adore staying in Fort William as Ben Nevis is the best peak in the UK – recognized all around the globe. While in winter, skiers descend on town to benefit from the slopes. Fort William can be simple to go to if you wish to expertise the Highlands with out renting a automobile, as it’s linked to Glasgow and Edinburgh by public transport.

Fort William is an thrilling city in Scotland and top-of-the-line locations for out of doors adventures in the UK. Whether you need to go mountain climbing, snowboarding, or fishing, it’s a peaceable however adventurous vacation spot. And, while you aren’t holding lively, you may loosen up in the quaint streets with loads of unbiased outlets and cafes. There’s additionally the West Highland Museum and Ben Nevis Whiskey Distillery to discover.

9. Kirkwall

Best Scotland Cities Kirkwall
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Like Fort William, Kirkwall lacks the Scottish metropolis standing. However, this city has lots to supply – beginning with a singular location on the Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland. Kirkwall is the most important city on the Orkney Islands and was initially a Norse settlement. Nowadays, it has a inhabitants of round 7,000 folks and is a picturesque little port ‘capital’ of the archipelago. It continues to be stuffed with Viking historical past and character, although.

Kirkwall’s putting location and fascinating historical past bagged it a spot in our information. However, it has some good sights as effectively. The finest issues to do in Kirkwall embrace visiting the St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Museum, Highland Park Whisky Distillery, Ring of Brodgar, and Orkney Wireless Museum.

Kirkwall is an excellent alternative in order for you a lesser-visited, distinctive vacation spot in Scotland. Kirkwall is finest reached by ferry, and common ferry companies depart off the north shoreline – what higher approach to channel your interior Viking?

10. Portree

Scotland Cities Portree
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Portree has an identical vibe to Kirkwall, regardless of being simpler to achieve. Portree is the most important city (and unofficial capital) on the Isle of Skye. It is reached by crossing over a big bridge connecting the island to the mainland. It is taken into account the gateway to all Skye has to supply – together with the magical Old Man of Storr hike – and is characterised by its famed row of colourful homes overlooking the harbor. For a cute, slow-paced introduction to Scottish island life, Portree is a simple and delightful possibility. It is right for many who need to keep on the principle vacationer trails however get off the Scottish mainland.

The finest issues to do in Portree embrace visiting the enduring harbor, the Lump, and mountain climbing the Scorrybreac Trail. Of course, it is best to benefit from Portree’s location to discover the Isle of Skye, with sights just like the Fairy Pools, Kilt Rock, Mealt Falls, An Corran Beach, and Fairy Glenn inside driving distance. Portree made our record as the most effective city to make use of as a base to expertise the Isle of Skye.

11. Oban

Scottish cities Oban
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Oban is a big city in Argyll and Bute. It is a resort hotspot, with its inhabitants ballooning every summer time with the drastic inflow of visiting vacationers. Oban wears many caps; some seek advice from it as Scotland’s seafood capital, and others because the gateway to the Western Highlands or Hebridean Isles. Whatever you select to affiliate Oban with, you’ll benefit from the port views and beautiful ruins on Battery Hill above the city centre.

Things to do in Oban embrace visiting McCaig’s Tower and Battery Hill, going whisky tasting at Oban Distillery, stress-free on Ganavan Sands, and exploring Gylen Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle, and Dunollie Museum. Oban has numerous historical past and is very walkable. It is gorgeous and compact – excellent for many who desire a Scottish city with which they will rapidly develop into acquainted. Oban can be ideally suited for taking day journeys from close by Scottish islands in case you really feel extra adventurous. The hottest are Lismore, Mull, and Iona.

Read extra about Oban

12. Ayr

Best Cities in Scotland Ayr
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Ayr is a fantastic place to go to in Scotland and is called a summer time holiday-style vacation spot, with lengthy sandy seashores and that barely tacky seaside attraction. The city is walkable and stuffed with enjoyable. For these in poetry, Ayr additionally has a declare to fame by way of Robert Burns, Scotland’s nationwide bard. Robert was born in Ayr, and you’ll go to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum throughout your keep.

Ayr is a ‘seaside town’ getaway. However, it isn’t simply arcades and seashores – which is why it made it onto our record. Ayr has many sights, similar to Burns Cottage, Alloway Auld Kirk, Rozelle Estate, Belleisle Conservatory, and the Wallace Tower. It additionally has a robust sense of tradition by way of its literature hyperlinks to Robert Burns. For a lighthearted, enjoyable seashore getaway, Ayr has some good sightseeing to stability out the seashore days.

13. St Andrews

Best Cities in Scotland St Andrews
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St Andrews sits on Scotland’s east coast, simply above Edinburgh. The city has many optimistic qualities. However, it’s most recognized for its golf programs and unimaginable {golfing} tournaments. St Andrew’s most famed golf course is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which you’ll guide to go to. St Andrews can be recognized for its college, so while you aren’t on a golf course, you may expertise a sociable, youthful nightlife.

Further sights in St Andrews embrace St Andrews Museum, St Andrews Castle, the Wardlaw Museum, and (to not stray too removed from its {golfing} identification) the R&A World Golf Museum. You also can go to the Old Course, which homes an historic 18-hole course based in the fifteenth century.

14. Dunfermline

Best Cities in Scotland Dunfermline
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Looking for extra royal historical past and perception into early Scottish life? Dunfermline acted as one other capital metropolis of Scotland, masking the time interval between Perth and Edinburgh. The city was favored in the reign of Malcolm III and was seen as a royal stronghold. Nowadays, you may nonetheless discover Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, albeit in ruins. It is a incredible metropolis to flee the crowds of Edinburgh but nonetheless embrace royal historical past and notable structure. This stability of a lesser-trodden vacation spot with famend sights received Dunfermline a spot in our information.

You can go to the Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, take a stroll in Pittencrief Park, or cease by the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. On town outskirts, Townhill Country Park can be beautiful to stroll round on a sunny day. Dunfermline is a a lot quieter metropolis to expertise in comparison with others on our record, and you’ll simply sightsee all the metropolis centres in a day or two.

15. Falkirk

Cities in Scotland Falkirk
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Another vacation spot simply outdoors of Edinburgh, Falkirk is a city most famed for its colossal statue of kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. The Kelpies are two huge horse heads depicting a Scottish mythological legend that drew males into water to drown. The 30-meter-high statues are made from metal and are fittingly set subsequent to water options in true holding with Scottish legends. Falkirk is very related to its relationship to water. It is correct subsequent to a collection of canals, together with the Union and Forth, and Clyde canals. The Falkirk Wheel famously connects these two with a rotating boat elevate system.

Falkirk is an excellent place to go to and expertise extra residential life in Scotland. The city is finest skilled by the canal – who is aware of, you’ll be courageous sufficient to sort out the Falkirk Wheel. You can keep a few nights in the city centre after which guide a few nights on a canal vacation, exploring the environment independently by boat.

Scotland FAQs

Scotland Cities FAQ
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What are the 7 major cities in Scotland?

The major cities in Scotland are Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling. These cities are all necessary centres of inhabitants, tradition, and trade in Scotland, and every has its personal distinctive character and historical past.

What is Scotland’s largest metropolis?

Glasgow is the most important metropolis in Scotland in phrases of inhabitants. It has a inhabitants of roughly 600,000 folks and is positioned on the River Clyde in the nation’s west-central lowlands.

How many cities are in Scotland UK?

There are roughly 79 cities in Scotland. Some of the most important and most well-known cities in Scotland embrace Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee.

Which metropolis is extra stunning in Scotland?

It is tough to find out which metropolis in Scotland is essentially the most stunning, as magnificence is subjective and totally different folks might have totally different opinions. That being mentioned, there are numerous cities in Scotland which might be recognized for his or her pure magnificence and historic appeal. Some cities which might be continuously cited as being notably stunning embrace Edinburgh, with its fort and historic Royal Mile; Inverness, positioned in the Scottish Highlands and recognized for its pure magnificence; and St Andrews, a coastal metropolis recognized for its stunning seashores and historic college.

To Conclude

Scotland is a massively common nation in the UK, and after listening to extra about its finest cities, you now know why. Scotland’s cities and cities make up the various hearts of the nation. A metropolis break is an ideal approach to immerse your self in Scottish tradition.

Have a beautiful journey to Scotland. And when you’ve got additional time, why not mix a metropolis break with the North Coast 500 street journey?

Plan Your Next Trip to Scotland With These Resources



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