Autumn in the Scottish Highlands

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Advisor - Misha Sharp
Curated By

Misha Sharp

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Boutique Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Luxury Travel

  • Mountains

  • Hiking

  • sightseeing

  • Autumn

Bridge in orange grassy hills.
Curator’s statement

The Scottish Highlands offer uniquely rugged landscapes full of dramatic hiking, ancient castles and cozy lodge fireplaces to enjoy an evening dram of whisky. There is an exceptional sense of place and identity in the Highlands, with a strong sense of culture that shines throughout. As summer bends to fall in September and October, the lush greens take on the fiery hues of red, orange and yellow, and the crisp air makes the hiking and fireplace drams all the more enjoyable.

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Where to stay in Scotland

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Things to do in Scotland

A white castle surrounded with trees.

The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms, located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, are a diverse and dramatic mountain range encompassing ancient forests, stunning glens, shimmering loch and rugged peaks.

Balmoral Estate is the Scottish home of the royal family displayed prominently in “the Crown.” While tickets are available until mid-August to enter and tour the castle grounds, there is public access any time of year to parts of the estate for beautiful hikes with local area guides.

The Braemar Highland Games Centre is open Wednesday through Sunday until the end of October, and offers a charming window into the tradition of the summer Highland games.

Get outside! The Cairngorms offer a wealth of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, golfing, bird watching and more.

Visit the Rothiemarchus Forest or head out to climb one of the famous peaks in the area, Ben Macdui.

Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is an ethereal gem on Scotland’s northwest coast with dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, hidden fairy pools and iconic natural landmarks.

Circle the island in search of scenic hiking. My favorites include the Old Man of Storr and the Fairy Pools, but be sure to bring your weatherproof clothing and hiking gear!

Visit ancient castles like Dunvegan and Eileen Donan to experience centuries of Scottish heritage and history.

Stop into a local pub in the charming coastal town of Portree, and walk alongside its famous colorful harborside houses.

Places to eat & drink in Scotland

An inside view of a restaurant.

The Cairngorms

The Flying Stag and Bertie's Whisky Bar at the Fife Arms - A renowned Scottish pub and whisky bar that exudes rustic charm and warm hospitality, where locals and visitors alike gather to savor hearty cuisine, indulge in fine whiskies and soak in the lively atmosphere of this beloved Highland establishment. Try the excellent haggis and neeps and tatties.

Royal Lachnagar Distillery - Single malt Scotch whisky located near Balmoral with a storied history dating back to Queen Victoria.

The Highlander's Bakehouse - Homey hot chocolates, specialty coffee and freshly baked scones to warm you right up.

The Bothy Braemar - Hearty breakfasts, cakes and coffees in a lovely riverside setting.

Isle of Skye

Scorrybreac Restaurant - Seasonal Scottish cuisine overlooking the colorful Portree harbor.

Merchant Bar and Dulce and Brose at the Bosville Hotel - Lively surroundings for an excellent cocktail, pint and dinner after a full day of activity.

Talisker Distillery - No trip to the Isle of Skye would be complete without a visit to the island's most famous waterside whisky distillery to enjoy its full bodied single malts.

The Three Chimneys and the House Over-by - An upscale restaurant featuring loch views and Michelin-Starred dishes with a Nordic, Scottish technique.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Annie Decker's guide, Experiencing the Magic of Scotland in 7 Days.

Advisor - Misha Sharp

Travel Advisor

Misha Sharp

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Scotland.