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Visiting rural Scotland: What you need to know for the perfect summer trip

Rural Scotland offers majestic and wild scenery and blissful seclusion amid lochs and mountains.

By LLM Reporters  |  July 20, 2022
Scenic view of old medieval Kilchurn castle ruins in Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom

Planning a luxury staycation this summer? If long, hot days on the beach aren’t your thing, then the Cornish coast might not hold quite the same appeal to you as it does to many – but the good news is that the UK is filled with breath-taking destinations to suit all types of traveller.

If you’re the kind of person who loves spectacular scenery, hiking in the great outdoors and getting off the beaten track for some real rest and relaxation away from the masses, then the Scottish Highlands are the perfect pick, with a huge amount to offer adventurous types as well as those simply looking for some much-needed peace and quiet.

Beyond immersing yourself in rural Scotland’s scenic landscapes, a trip to the region promises to make for a rich and intriguing cultural experience encapsulating decadent food and drink, interesting music and traditions, and much more.

For the sake of this guide, we’re going to assume you’re not a seasoned rural Scotland lover. Maybe you’re a city dweller in Glasgow or Edinburgh or coming from beyond the border to see the fabled Scottish Highlands. If that sounds like you, we’ve got the guide for you. All of these tips will be helpful to those not ingrained in the culture but might be too obvious for the average rural Scots road tripper. Take a look at our guide to figure out what you need to know when travelling around rural Scotland.

Before you go: Pack for all-weather

View over Loch Affric Scottish Highlands during stormy weather
It might be summer at the moment, but the only thing predictable about Scottish weather is that it is unpredictable

It might be summer at the moment, but the only thing predictable about Scottish weather is that it is unpredictable. There is no taming Mother Nature when you get closer to the coast, so with this in mind, it’s wise to pack for all-weather. It might be tempting to fill your designer suitcase with expensive sandals, shorts and swimwear, but investing in some quality outdoor attire will likely become a decision you live to be glad of – hiking boots, plenty of warm layers and some wet weather gear will ensure you’re covered for all eventualities. The winds can be cold in this region, too, so fleeces and cosy socks are a must.

Travel like royalty

A view over the Highlands of Scotland with a motorhome parked up in a layby along the North Coast 500 route.
One of the very best ways to travel around the Scottish countryside is via a quality motorhome

Some of the best experiences aren’t about the destination, but the journey itself – so why not travel in style? Hiring a lavish motorhome is a great way to guarantee comfort and luxury from start to finish and will give you complete flexibility, too – so if you like to go with the flow and take things as they come while exploring the countryside rather than sticking to a hard and fast itinerary and fixed accommodation, then it’s the perfect choice. 

If you’re a first-timer in the Scottish Highlands and feel a little apprehensive about planning your trip, then ariescape.co.uk won’t just set you up with the perfect motorhome, but will help you to plan your route, too. Of course, you can still make changes to it as and when you see fit to ensure it suits you, but it’s always handy to have an idea of where you’re going before you set off to ensure you get to include all of Scotland’s highlights.

Go island hopping

Ruins of Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness, Scotland
The Scottish Highlands offers majestic and wild scenery and blissful seclusion amid lochs and mountains

Rural Scotland goes beyond the mainland alone. The top half of the country looks like a crumbling cookie, and there are plenty more islands running around the coast that are worth taking the time to visit to get a well-rounded experience that takes in all of the best sights.

Tiree, off the west coast, hosts the famous Tiree music festival every year, attracting visitors from all over the country. When the festival isn’t taking place, the area’s fine sand beaches are well worth a visit and have even been compared to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, although the traditional Scottish cottages you’ll see scattered along the coast is something of a giveaway that you’re somewhere a little closer to home.

Mull and Tobermory are also interesting places to see, and were the inspiration for popular children’s TV series, Balamory. Pretty, colourful fishing villages and quaint towns make for some picture-perfect destinations where you’ll want to ensure you always have your camera on hand.

Further north, you’ll find the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland by bridge and is known for its rugged landscapes, medieval castles and Tolkein-esque Fairy Pools. The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, the town of Portree makes for the ideal base from which to explore.

Sample the local whisky

Ardbeg distillery exterior on the isle of Islay
Scotland is renowned for its excellent whiskies, and the Highlands offer numerous opportunities to delve a little deeper into its history, find out how it is made, and of course, have a good old taste of some of the very finest varieties money can buy

Scotland is renowned for its excellent whiskies, and the Highlands offer numerous opportunities to delve a little deeper into its history, find out how it is made and, of course, have a good old taste of some of the very finest varieties money can buy.

The Talisker distillery, on the Isle of Skye, is perhaps one of the best places to get a flavour for it, but the Malt Whisky Trail, in Speyside, is also worth a visit. You’ll learn all about the process of producing some of the nation’s most famous single malts, and have the chance to savour several drams while you’re at it. And of course, the region’s many pubs and bars will be only too happy to recommend you some of their finest when you pop in for an evening drink to expand your ‘research’.