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15 Best Cities in Scotland To Visit in 2023

15 Best Cities in Scotland To Visit in 2023


Scotland is likely one of the world’s most sought-after places. The northernmost nation of the UK is understood for its tales of Scottish kings and queens, patriotic sense of tradition, and artistic abilities. And whereas rural areas just like the Scottish Highlands have engaging, windswept views, cities in Scotland are among the greatest 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 one of the best cities in Scotland, with a number of of probably 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 must be. Let’s get began.

1. Edinburgh

Best cities in Scotland Edinburgh
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Edinburgh is the apparent beginning place when planning to go to Scotland. The capital metropolis of Scotland is probably 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 heart. You’ll must 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 the most effective attraction scenes and a energetic environment, added to by Edinburgh University. We advocate climbing the brief stroll to Arthur’s Seat for dawn or sundown, purchasing on the Royal Mile, climbing the Scott Monument, and visiting the Sheep Heid (considered one of Scotland’s oldest pubs).

Edinburgh was at all times assured a spot on our checklist. The iconic capital metropolis just isn’t solely some of the lovely cities in Scotland but in addition some of the thrilling for varied points of interest and issues to do. Edinburgh is definitely accessed by worldwide guests. It can also be well-connected to London by prepare 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 the most effective cities in Scotland. Aberdeen is understood for being a port metropolis situated on the shores of the North Sea. The metropolis can also be famend for producing native granite and has an industrial however cosmopolitan environment. Its historical past of granite manufacturing has given town centre a particular look, with eye-catching silvery-grey buildings which can be gorgeous to admire whereas wandering round on foot.

The greatest issues to do in Aberdeen embody visiting Duthie Park, the Gordon Highlanders Museum, St Machar’s Cathedral, and Aberdeen Art Gallery. The metropolis has a mix of outside and indoor points of interest, with loads of museums and historic points of interest. 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 repute for being Scotland’s ‘other city’, often coming second behind Edinburgh. However, over the previous few a long time, Glasgow has actually come into its personal, and it’s now thought of the most effective 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 house, too, with the River Clyde operating via town centre and parks like Glasgow Green, Richmond Park, and Pollok Country Park.

The greatest issues to do in Glasgow are Glasgow Cathedral, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Science Centre, George Square, and the People’s Palace. While if you need 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 environment, 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 environment and distinguished historic structure. Perth is nicknamed the ‘Fair City’ of Scotland because of 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 think about 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 must be on the playing cards.

The greatest 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 also be a should. The palace has over 1,000 years of historical past and was the designated crowning place of Scottish kings. As you’ll have guessed, Perth’s shut ties to Scottish royalty and royal historical past earned it a high place in our information. It is a novel 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 japanese coast of Scotland and a improbable 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 a lot of artwork, design, and artistic tradition, Dundee is the one for you. Its artistic tradition makes it some of the thrilling cities in Scotland and has secured it a spot in our information.

So, what’s there to do in Dundee? In brief, quite a bit. 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 improbable locations to spend a moist and windy day.

6. Stirling

Best Cities in Scotland Stirling
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Stirling is likely one of the most historic cities in Scotland and a massively photogenic metropolis break. Stirling is understood for its political historical past – be that the crowning of Mary Queen of Scots or rebellions in opposition to 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 – filled with 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 displays 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, one of the best issues to do in Stirling embody visiting Stirling Castle, the Holy Rude, Old Town Jail, and Robert the Bruce Statue. Spend at the least two days in Stirling, as this metropolis has quite a bit 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 likely one of the most northern Scottish cities and is only a brief drive away from Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield. These two points of interest draw most individuals to Inverness, with Loch Ness rumored to be the house of an amazing 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 likely one of the greatest locations in Scotland to be taught in regards to the historical past of the UK and formative years in Scotland.

Apart from visiting Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, you possibly can tour Urquhart Castle. This fairytale-like fort is situated 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 embody 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 very best peak in the UK – identified all all over the world. While in winter, skiers descend on town to benefit from the slopes. Fort William can also be simple to go to if you wish to expertise the Highlands with out renting a automobile, as it’s related to Glasgow and Edinburgh by public transport.

Fort William is an thrilling city in Scotland and the most effective locations for out of doors adventures in the UK. Whether you need to go climbing, snowboarding, or fishing, it’s a peaceable however adventurous vacation spot. And, whenever you aren’t protecting energetic, you may chill out 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 quite a bit to supply – beginning with a novel 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 remains to be stuffed with Viking historical past and character, although.

Kirkwall’s placing location and fascinating historical past bagged it a spot in our information. However, it has some sensible points of interest as properly. The greatest issues to do in Kirkwall embody visiting the St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Museum, Highland Park Whisky Distillery, Ring of Brodgar, and Orkney Wireless Museum.

Kirkwall is a superb alternative if you need a lesser-visited, distinctive vacation spot in Scotland. Kirkwall is greatest reached by ferry, and common ferry companies depart off the north shoreline – what higher solution to channel your inside Viking?

10. Portree

Scotland Cities Portree
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Portree has an analogous 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 choice. It is good for individuals who need to keep on the primary vacationer trails however get off the Scottish mainland.

The greatest issues to do in Portree embody visiting the enduring harbor, the Lump, and climbing the Scorrybreac Trail. Of course, it’s best to reap the benefits of Portree’s location to discover the Isle of Skye, with points of interest just like the Fairy Pools, Kilt Rock, Mealt Falls, An Corran Beach, and Fairy Glenn inside driving distance. Portree made our checklist as one of the best 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 confer with 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 gorgeous ruins on Battery Hill above the city centre.

Things to do in Oban embody 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 a lot of historical past and is very walkable. It is gorgeous and compact – good for individuals who desire a Scottish city with which they’ll rapidly change into acquainted. Oban can also be preferrred for taking day journeys from close by Scottish islands for those who 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 enchantment. The city is walkable and stuffed with enjoyable. For these in poetry, Ayr additionally has a declare to fame via Robert Burns, Scotland’s nationwide bard. Robert was born in Ayr, and you may 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 checklist. Ayr has many points of interest, reminiscent of Burns Cottage, Alloway Auld Kirk, Rozelle Estate, Belleisle Conservatory, and the Wallace Tower. It additionally has a powerful sense of tradition via its literature hyperlinks to Robert Burns. For a lighthearted, enjoyable seaside getaway, Ayr has some good sightseeing to steadiness out the seaside 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 identified 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 be able to guide to go to. St Andrews can also be identified for its college, so whenever you aren’t on a golf course, you may expertise a sociable, youthful nightlife.

Further points of interest in St Andrews embody St Andrews Museum, St Andrews Castle, the Wardlaw Museum, and (to not stray too removed from its {golfing} id) 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, overlaying 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 improbable metropolis to flee the crowds of Edinburgh but nonetheless embrace royal historical past and notable structure. This steadiness of a lesser-trodden vacation spot with famend points of interest 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 also be gorgeous to stroll round on a sunny day. Dunfermline is a a lot quieter metropolis to expertise in comparison with others on our checklist, and you may simply sightsee the entire 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 protecting with Scottish legends. Falkirk is very related to its relationship to water. It is true subsequent to a sequence of canals, together with the Union and Forth, and Clyde canals. The Falkirk Wheel famously connects these two with a rotating boat raise system.

Falkirk is an excellent place to go to and expertise extra residential life in Scotland. The city is greatest skilled by the canal – who is aware of, you’ll be courageous sufficient to deal with 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 foremost cities in Scotland?

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

What is Scotland’s greatest metropolis?

Glasgow is the most important metropolis in Scotland in phrases of inhabitants. It has a inhabitants of roughly 600,000 folks and is situated 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 embody Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee.

Which metropolis is extra lovely in Scotland?

It is tough to find out which metropolis in Scotland is probably the most lovely, as magnificence is subjective and completely different folks could have completely different opinions. That being stated, there are a lot of cities in Scotland which can be identified for his or her pure magnificence and historic attraction. Some cities which can be incessantly cited as being notably lovely embody Edinburgh, with its fort and historic Royal Mile; Inverness, situated in the Scottish Highlands and identified for its pure magnificence; and St Andrews, a coastal metropolis identified for its lovely seashores and historic college.

To Conclude

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

Have an exquisite journey to Scotland. And in case you have further time, why not mix a metropolis break with the North Coast 500 highway journey?

Plan Your Next Trip to Scotland With These Resources



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