The mere mention of the Highlands often conjures images of vast open countryside, uninhabited and wild, with only tiny remote villages interrupting the rolling hills. You’d be right to think that parts of the Highlands are exactly as you’d imagine them to be – far from civilisation, incredibly peaceful and completely unspoilt – yet the reality is that the Scottish Highlands have so much more to offer.
Being home to Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK, the Highlands have certainly earned their title as an outdoor activity centre. Hiking, water sports and fishing can all be enjoyed at all levels and altitudes, but perhaps the most exciting activities of all are amongst the snow-capped peaks where you’ll experience a true winter wonderland the likes of which you might only have seen in the movies. Who would have thought that you could see herds of reindeer, go skiing and ride a sled pulled by a pack of huskies, all in the UK?
Breath-taking natural sights are available throughout the region, with beautiful open spaces including the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and the magical Cairngorms. Both National Parks offer expansive countryside with plenty of water-based activities to enjoy, ranging from gentle boating to more thrilling activities such as white-water rafting.
The biggest city in the Highlands, and the most northern city in the UK, is Inverness. It is here that you can enjoy more modern amenities such as cinemas and popular chain restaurants, should you wish to return to civilisation. Inverness also has its own castle, a number of art galleries, botanic gardens and museums such as the popular Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum, with a 1:10 scale model of the Titanic along with other artefacts and models to enjoy.
A short distance south of Inverness, along the River Ness, you will find Scotland’s most famous tourist attraction, which brings people to the country from all over the world. Loch Ness is of course purported to be the home of Nessie the monster, and if the legend of the creature has you intrigued there are some excellent walks and cycle paths to enjoy while you try to catch a glimpse. Nearby Drumnadrochit also features the Loch Ness Centre, detailing the history of the story and of the region.
Beyond the Loch Ness Monster, another reason to visit Scotland and the Highlands in particular is to see the many whisky distilleries, and to sample the various malts. The Malt Whisky Trail is ideal for this, letting you explore a number of distinct producers within a short distance, with tours that are designed to complement each other meaning you can understand more of the whisky-producing industry and the spectrum of whiskies that are available.
What makes the Highlands such a joy for a holiday is that there are no real barren areas, and there are sights and attractions everywhere. Whichever Highlands hotel you decide to book, you can rest assured that you’ll find much to entertain you nearby.