Scotland is a hiker’s paradise! But which trails are the best and how should you include them in your itinerary? This post is a guide to some of the best hikes in Scotland. Everything you need to know about my favourite trails in the Scottish Highlands and walking routes on the islands, in the central lowlands and the Southern Uplands in south Scotland. Tighten your boots and let’s hit the trail!


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Are you planning a hiking holiday in Scotland? Then you’ve come to the right place!

There are many hills to climb in Scotland, cliffs to scale, Munros to bag and glens to walk down. It can be hard to choose where to begin!

This Scotland hiking guide will give you plenty of ideas, whether you live in Scotland and need some hiking inspiration, or plan a trip to visit Scotland and want to make sure you hike the most scenic trails.

My selection of hikes is split up in easy trails, mountain trails, Munros and long-distance walks.

  • Easy trails are short and easy to incorporate in most road trip itineraries. They offer great views and beautiful scenery but don’t require a ton of experience or navigation skills. 
  • Mountain trails turn it up a notch. These hikes climb big hills and small mountains that takes half a day or a full day. They have straight forward paths to follow but are a bit more challenging.
  • Munros are Scotland’s mountains over 3,000 ft. There are 282 of them but in this list, you will find beginner-friendly Munros for experienced hikers.
  • Long-distance walks are a great way to see Scotland off the beaten track. The here chosen trails take between 2 and 6 days.

Read on and be inspired by my favourite hikes that will take you all over Scotland. I promise you will find a hike that piques your interest!

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Easy trails in Scotland

Easy trails are easy to incorporate in any itinerary – even if you mostly plan to road trip around the country to see as much as possible.

The following 6 hikes take up to 3 hours, follow easy trails and are not too physically strenuous. They are suitable for everyone – even complete beginners without much hiking experience.

One of them is wheelchair-accessible.

Arthur Seat, Edinburgh

Did you know that Edinburgh was built on seven extinct volcanoes?

Arthur Seat is one of them and the most prominent of them all. Towering high above Holyrood Palace, it rewards eager hikers with fantastic views of the city, the Firth of Forth and the sea.

How long? 45 minutes one-way.

When to go? Any time. Sunset & Sunrise are unique experiences (bring a headlamp + take car walking up/down in the dark).

Why go? Stunning views, urban adventures, climb an extinct volcano.

Wear + Bring: Sturdy shoes, water, snacks

Beware of: Muddy and slippy trails, gushes of wind, steep cliffs of Salisbury Crags.

Start Point: Holyrood Park.

Travel guide to the area: Climbing Arthur Seat is one of my favourite outdoor activities in Edinburgh. Read my 2-day Edinburgh itinerary to learn what else to do in the city.

You might also like: 14 romantic hotels in Scotland

The view over Edinburgh from Arthur Seat

St Abbs Head, Scottish Borders

When it comes to beautiful coastal walks in Scotland, St Abbs Head on the east coast of the Scottish Borders is hard to beat.

St Abbs Head Nature Reserve is dominated by dramatic cliffs with stunning views of the crystal-clear waters below. The trails run on top of the cliffs, down to peaceful bays and beaches, and across wide meadows. The headland and is home to a plethora of sea birds and other wildlife.

The area makes for a fantastic day trip from Edinburgh and is within easy reach from anywhere in the Borders.

How long? At least 2+ hours to walk to Mire Loch, a lighthouse and along the cliffs. 

When to go? All year-round, but summer is particularly good to spot nesting seabirds, wildflowers and butterflies.

Why go? Stunning coastal views, wildlife spotting, the charming village of St Abbs was used as Asgard in Avengers: Endgame.

Wear + Bring: Binoculars, plenty of water and a tripod to take awesome selfies by the cliffs.

Beware of: Steep drop-offs

Start Point: St Abbs Head car park.

Cost: £3 for the car park, free for National Trust for Scotland members. Join here!

Travel guide to the area: Explore the area with this post about things to do in Melrose. Thinking of discovering more of south Scotland? Check out my one-week itinerary.

Walk to St Abbs Head in Scotland

Elie to Anstruther Walk, Fife

The Fife Coastal Path is a stunning 9-day long-distance walk along the entire coast of Fife, a region just north of Edinburgh.

The 6-mile section from Elie to Anstruther is one of the most beautiful parts of the entire trail. It passes through picturesque fishing villages, runs past castle ruins and nature reserves, and visits a beautiful wind mill by the sea.

How long? Approximately 2-3 hours for the 6-mile distance. Return to your starting point by bus.

When to go? Fife is one of the sunniest areas in Scotland. This hike is best done in Spring or Summer.

Why go? Stunning coastal scenery, varied experiences from castle ruins to fishing villages.

Wear + Bring: Binocular for wildlife sightings and sunscreen.

Beware of: The tide. Some parts of this walk might be not accessible during high tide. However, there are always low tide alternatives.

Start Point: Ruby Bay car park in Elie (free).

End Point: Anstruther (or Crail). Take the bus back to Elie.

Hiking guide: For a more detailed description of this hike, read my Elie to Anstruther hiking guide.

Travel guide to the area: Planning to stay in the area for longer? Here are the best things to do in Fife.

Wooden staircase and sandy beach on the Fife Coastal Path in Scotland

The Hermitage, Perthshire

Perth in the heart of Scotland is also known as Big Tree Country. The vast woodlands of Perth offer many beautiful trails, but the Hermitage is by far one of my favourites.

Stop at the Hermitage near Dunkeld for a short walk to Ossian’s Hall, the folly you see in the picture below. It was built in the 18th century to awe visitors – and has just the same effect today. You can enter the hall for a great view of the thundering Black Linn Falls.

PS: The Hermitage is an Outlander film location used in the fifth season. Find out about other Outlander locations in Scotland.

How long? A 10-minute walk from the car park to Ossian’s Hall. Plan 2 hour to walk the Braan Path.

When to go? Autumn is my favourite time to visit the Hermitage to see the trees change colours.

Why go? Romantic location, beautiful waterfall, relaxing woodland walk.

Wear + Bring: A loved one.

Beware of: Other people! The Hermitage is a popular place to visit. It’s best to plan some extra time to wait for a photo opportunity without people around.

Start Point: The Hermitage car park.

Cost: £3 for the car park, free for National Trust for Scotland members. Join here!

Travel guide to the area: The Hermitage is just one of my favourite places to visit in Perthshire.

The Hermitage in Scotland

Newburgh Beach, Aberdeenshire Coast

The Aberdeenshire coast is one of my favourite places in Scotland – perfectly off the beaten track, yet so much to offer!

The walk to Newburgh beach is extra special as it is a great place to watch a 400-strong grey seal colony basking in the sun. You can walk along the banks of the River Ythan or make your way through the sand dunes.

How long? Approximately 1 – 1.5 hours.

When to go? Year-round, but during the summer you can also observe nesting birds.

Why go? See a seal colony, play in the sand dunes.

Wear + Bring: Binoculars, a beach towel to sit in the sand, a picnic.

Beware of: Disturbing the seals. Don’t make unnecessary noise and avoid sudden movements. They are on the other side of the river, but you can see them. Some might even swim up to take a closer look to you. If you walk with a dog, keep it on a lead.

Start Point: Car park near Newburgh Golf Club.

Travel guide to the area: Read more about this hike & other things to do in the area in my Aberdeenshire travel guide.

A local seal colony on Newburgh beach.

Big Burn Falls, Golspie

The most magical glens of Scotland are tucked away and only reveal themselves to the most curious visitors. 

The walk down the Golspie Burn Gorge to the Big Burn Falls is one of these hidden gems on the North Coast 500. An hour north of Inverness and a few minutes drive from Dunrobin Castle, this walk features some picturesque waterfalls and lush green vegetation.

How long? 1 – 2 hours.

When to go? Year-round. Particularly lovely in the Spring when you can also pick fresh wild garlic.

Why go? Exploring off the beaten track, discovering a hidden gem, stunning scenery.

Wear + Bring: This trail can be quite wet – it’s best to wear shoes with good grip.

Start Point: Big Burn Walk car park.

Travel guide to the area: Driving the whole North Coast 500? Check out my highlights on the route!

North Coast 500: A woman at a waterfall near Golspie

Intermediate mountain hikes in Scotland

Let’s turn it up a notch. The following 5 mountains hikes in Scotland climb steeper trails up small mountains.

They are half-day or full-day activities. These hikes won’t require navigation skills but are more strenuous than the trails I talked about so far. You need to be physically fit and prepared to walk 3 to 6 hours.

Hiking boots and waterproofs are a must on these trails.

Ben A’an, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park

Ben A’an is also called a mountain in miniature. The hike is a short but steep climb with great rewards.

Despite its modest height (only 1,491 ft / 454 m), it offers a breathtaking 360° panoramic views of the much taller mountains and deep-blue lochs around it.

How long? 2 – 4 hours.

When to go? Year-round. The earlier in the day the better as this is a popular walk.

Why go? Incredible views from the top.

Wear + Bring: Plenty of water and snacks, especially on a sunny day.

Beware of: Midges near the top.

Start Point: Ben A’an car park.

Cost: £3 for the car park.

Hiking guide: For more info about this trail, read my detailed hiking guide for Ben A’an.

You can't leave Scotland without climbing at least one mountain. On a sunny day there is nothing better than spending a day hiking in the Trossachs north of Glasgow. This is a complete guide to hiking Ben A'an with a trail description, what to bring and what else to get up to in the area!

The Galloway Hills, Southern Uplands

Even though it is not in the Highlands, South Scotland is by far not flat. Did you know that there is a significant mountain range in Galloway?

The Range of the Awful Hand in the Galloway Hills comprises of five mountains between 2,200 and 2,800 feet. The tallest – Merrick – is just over 200 ft short of Munro status! Off the beaten track and almost entirely uninhabited, this mountain range promises pure wilderness.

How long? 4 – 5 hours (Merrick), 6 – 7 hours (Lamachan Hill)

When to go? Year-round, although the midges are bad during the summer. Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit.

Why go? Explore off the beaten track, uninhabited wilderness for miles.

Wear + Bring: Hiking equipment, binocular for wildlife spotting.

Beware of: Midges, exposure to weather.

Start Point: Bruce’s Stone car park, Loch Trool.

Travel guide to the area: The Galloway Hills are inside the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, a great adventure destination on Scotland. Thinking of exploring more of south Scotland? Check out my one-week itinerary.

Mountain Trail at Beinn Eighe, Torridon

Supposedly Britain’s only waymarked mountain walk, the Mountain Trail at Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve is a great trail for adventurous road trippers on the North Coast 500 or moderate hikers on a trip to Torridon.

The trail leads from Loch Maree through ancient pinewoods and up a steep rocky path. At the top, the trail reaches an extensive plateau with spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range.

How long? 3 – 4 hours.

When to go? Year-round.

Why go? Alpine feelings on an intermediate hike, stunning views.

Wear + Bring: Proper hiking boots, wind- and waterproof clothing. Plenty of water and snacks.

Beware of: Exposure to weather, especially on the plateau the winds are very strong.

Start Point: Coille na Glas Leitre Trails car park.

Travel guide to the area: Read up on other things to do in the north-west of Scotland in my North Coast 500 travel guide.

Mountain trail in the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve in Scotland

Grey Mare’s Tail & Loch Skeen

Grey Mare’s Tail is a waterfall that cascades 60m down a gorge in the Moffat Hills in southern Scotland.

The hike leads from the bottom of the waterfall to its top and on to its source, the exposed Loch Skeen. The views of the Moffat hills and the lush green valley is incredibly beautiful.

How long? 2 – 2.5 hours

When to go? Late summer, when the hills are green and the heather is blooming purple, is particularly beautiful.

Why go? Chasing waterfalls, spotting wild goats on the steep slopes of the gorge, hiking off the beaten track.

Wear + Bring: Plenty of layers as the top of the hike is very exposed.

Start Point: Grey Mare’s Tail car park.

Cost: £3 for the car park, free for National Trust for Scotland members. Join here!

Hiking guide: For more info about this route, read my detailed hiking guide for Grey Mare’s Tail.

Travel guide to the area: Thinking of exploring in the south? Check out my south Scotland itinerary.

Grey Mare's Tail waterfall in Dumfries & Galloway.

Goatfell, Isle of Arran

Goatfell is the tallest mountain on the Isle of Arran, and island that is nicknamed “Scotland in Miniature” because it has a little bit of everything Scotland has to offer.

The trail is signposted at the bottom and easy to follow all the way to the top. From the summit, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Goatfell Range, the Ayrshire coast in the east and the Paps of Jura in the west.

How long? 4.5 – 6 hours from Brodick Castle + 1 hour one-way from the ferry terminal.

When to go? A fantastic for a long summer day.

Why go? Big-mountain feels on a hill, easy to reach by public transport.

Wear + Bring: Bring plenty of water and clothes for bad weather as the trail is very exposed.

Beware of: Steep edges.

Start Point: Brodick Castle (easy access by public transport).

Hiking guide: For more info about this route, read my detailed hiking guide for Goatfell.

Travel guide to the area: Want to see more of Arran? Follow my footsteps and take this 3-day tour to Arran with Rabbie’s!

Don't let a sunny day on the Scottish west coast go to waste by spending it in the office. Try a day trip to Arran and hiking up Goatfell instead!

Munro bagging in the Scottish Highlands

Munros are Scottish mountains over 3,000 ft. Climbing a Munro is called “Munro bagging” and many people have made it their goal to bag all 282 of them.

The following 5 Munros are great walks for experienced hikers who have the mental and physical capacity for strenuous days out. However, some of them are also suitable for first-time Munro baggers as long as they go with another experienced walker and take their time.

Proper hiking equipment (hiking boots, wind- and waterproof clothing and safety equipment) are essential on these routes.

Loch Ossian Munros

Loch Ossian is a remote freshwater loch at the eastern edge of Rannoch Moor. It can only be reached by train (West Highland Line, Glasgow – Fort William) or on foot from Rannoch station.

There is a youth hostel by the loch which is a great home base for hikes to the Munros around the loch. 

The easiest Munro at Loch Ossian is Beinn na Lap, north of the loch. Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg, the two other Munros south-east of the loch, require a more strenuous day hike.

How long? 3 – 5 hours (Beinn na Lap), 7 – 8 hours (Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg).

When to go? Year-round. The hostel is popular – book far in advance, go mid-week or plan a day trip by train!

Why go? Easy Munro bagging (you start at 1,300 ft), remote wilderness.

Beware of: Bog – Beinn na Lap is incredibly boggy. Exposure to weather on the ridge.

Start Point: Corrour Station (no road access).

Travel guide to the area: Read everything about my hiking trip to Loch Ossian & stay at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel.

The road leading from Corrour station to Loch Ossian Youth Hostel.

Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe

This Munro in Glencoe is another beginner-friendly option. While the ascent up Buachaille Etive Beag is steep and long, the trail is easy to follow.

The views from the two peaks of the mountain are well worth the effort/ You can see the peaks of the Three Sisters, neighbouring Buachaille Etive Mor and the deep-blue water of Loch Etive below.

How long? 5 to 6 hours.

When to go? Summer.

Why go? Munro bagging for beginners, scenic views from the summit.

Wear + Bring: Hiking poles for the steep ascent and descent.

Beware of: The narrow ridge at the top.

Start Point: Beehive car park in Glencoe.

Travel guide to the area: Glencoe is one of my favourite places to visit in Scotland. Use my Glencoe travel guide to plan your trip.

Walking in the Scottish Highlands

Schiehallion, Perthshire

Famous for its conical shape, Schiehallion in Perthshire is one of the most popular Munros among beginners. From the top, you get to enjoy 360° views of the surrounding lochs and mountain ranges as far as Glencoe.

The path starts out easy to follow – it’s very well maintained – but becomes a bit tricker, once you reach the boulder-littered top section.

How long? 4 – 6 hours.

When to go? Summer.

Why go? Iconic Munro bagging, sweeping views.

Wear + Bring: Hiking boots with good ankle support.

Beware of: The boulders near the top – be careful not to twist your ankle on the rocks. Move very carefully when visibility is poor.

Start Point: Braes of Foss car park.

Cost: £2 for the car park.

Travel guide to the area: The Schiehallon hiking trail is one of my favourite things to do in Perthshire.

Schiehallion hiking trail in Scotland

Beinn Ime, Arrochar Alps

Beinn Ime was my first Munro, so it has a special place in my heart. One of the peaks in the Arrochar Alps, it makes for a challenging, but enjoyable day out in the Scottish Highlands.

Most people hike Beinn Ime from Succoth car park and on the same day as its neighbour Beinn Narnain. I, however, approached it from the other side, scaling its back slope from Butterbridge and coming down towards Arrochar.

If you have more time, you could camp near the Narnain boulders and hike Beinn Ime, Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) in 2-3 days.

How long? 4 – 6 hours (from Butterbridge), 6 – 7 hours (with Beinn Narnain).

When to go? Year-round.

Why go? Panoramic views of the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond Munros. Great multi-Munro option.

Beware of: Cost of parking. You can also reach Arrochar by train.

Start point: Succoth car park.

Cost: £9 for the car park.

Travel guide to the area: Argyll is one of my favourite regions for micro-adventures and outdoorsy weekend escapes.

Aonach Eagach, Glencoe

The rugged ridge of Aonach Eagach, which towers high above the northern edge of Glencoe, has been on my Scotland bucket list for many years – but I have yet to dare the climb. 

It is the narrowest ridge on the British mainland and presents a challenging traverse for avid scramblers.

You will summit two Munros along the way: Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.

How long? 7 – 9 hours.

When to go? Summer. In winter conditions, you must bring a rope and other winter equipment and know how to use it.

Why go? A challenging traverse, incredible views.

Wear + Bring: Full mountain equipment.

Beware of: Rockfall, narrow paths on the ridge, scrambling.

Start point: Small car park near Allt-na-reigh, Glencoe.

Travel guide to the area: There is a lot to do and see in Glencoe. Use my Glencoe travel guide to plan your trip.

Glencoe mountains in Scotland

Multi-day hikes in Scotland

The final 5 trails on this list are multi-day hikes and long-distance walks all over Scotland. They take between 2 and 6 days. Some offer plenty of B&Bs, hostels and hotels along the way, others require a more minimalist approach with wild camping.

For more trekking ideas read my detailed post about long distance walks in Scotland.

Speyside Way

Leading 65 miles through Scotland’s most productive whisky region, the Speyside Way is a long-distance hike for outdoor fans and whisky-lovers alike.

The Speyside Way leads from the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park along the River Spey to the Moray Coast, a hidden gem in north-east Scotland.

You will pass many whisky distilleries (only Aberlour offers yours ON the trail though) and can arrange to visit even more with short detours (Glenlivet, Tomintoul, Dufftown etc.).

Start Point: Aviemore, End Point: Buckie

How long? 65 miles, 6 days.

When to go? Spring, summer or autumn.

Why go? Diverse Scottish scenery, wild swimming in the river, hike from distillery to distillery.

Wear + Bring: Carry what you need with you or book an organised hike with luggage transfer.

Beware of: Long walk on Day 3. Lots of road walking on Day 5. Stay in Cullen after finishing the walk.

Detailed hiking guide: Keen to do hike in the Speyside? Use my Speyside Way hiking guide to plan your trip!

A glimpse of the sea from the Speyside Way trail near Spey Bay.

Harris Walkway

The Harris Walkway is one of my favourite sections on the Hebridean Way, a long-distance hike that crosses 10 islands in the Outer Hebrides and covers 155 miles.

This 2-day section on the Isle of Harris leads from Seilebost to Tarbert and on to Scaladal on Loch Seaforth. Starting by the famous beaches on the west coast of Harris it passes over the mountains to the rugged east coast and runs north deeper into the mountain glens. 

You can camp halfway at Minch View Campsite or stay in Drinishader.

Start Point: Seilebost, End Point: Scaladale

How long? 23 miles, 2 days.

When to go? Summer.

Why go? See iconic Scottish landscapes, spot eagles, and experience Scottish Gaelic language + culture.

Wear + Bring: Binoculars.

Travel guide to the area: Check out Stages 9 and 10 in the Hebridean Way hiking guide to plan your trip.

Trekking in Scotland is more than just the West Highland Way! Read on to find out about the best long-distance trails in Scotland and which ones should be on your bucket list!

Affric Kintail Trail in the Northern Highlands

To many, Glen Affric is the most beautiful glen in Scotland. While I have not had the pleasure yet to hike it, Affric Kintail Trail is therefore in a top position on my trekking bucket list.

This 4-day trek from Loch ness to Morvich on the west coast is a real adventure. At the halfway mark, you can stay at one of Scotland’s remotest youth hostels, for the other nights, you have to carry a tent and camp.

The landscape along Glen Affric and through the mountains of Kintail is supposed to be breathtaking – enough reason to go! 

Start Point: Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness, End Point: Morvich

How long? 44 miles, 4 days.

When to go? Summer.

Why go? Mindblowing landscapes, roughing it with wild camping.

Wear + Bring: Camping equipment – read my wild camping tips and trekking packing list to prepare!

West Island Way, Isle of Bute

The West Island Way on the Isle of Bute is one of the shortest long-distance hikes in Scotland and thus ideally suited for beginners or as a warm-up for longer treks. 

You could stay in B&Bs on the island, but wild camping allows you to spend your nights at remote beaches and have them all to yourself.

The hike passes stunning beaches, climbs small hills and offers sprawling views of the Isle of Arran in the west and the Cowal peninsula in the north.

Start/End Point: Rothesay (Loop Trail)

How long? 30 miles, 2 – 3 days.

When to go? Year-round.

Why go? Exploring off the beaten track, wild camping on remote beaches, wildlife spotting.

Wear + Bring: Wild camping equipment for the full experience.

Hiking Guide: Use my detailed West Island Way hiking guide to plan your trip.

The viewpoint near the WWII bunker on the Isle of Bute.

Loch Lomond & Cowal Way in Argyll

The Loch Lomond and Cowal Way is one of the most scenic long-distance hikes in Scotland. It leads from Portvadie on the remote Cowal peninsula to Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest freshwater loch (by surface area).

The route crosses exposed Highland passes, runs along beautiful sea-lochs, leads through forests and past waterfalls. It has so much to offer in terms of scenery!

If 6 days is not enough, the trail can easily be linked up with various other trails, including the West Highland Way, the Kintyre Way or the Three Lochs Way.

Start Point: Portvadie, Cowal, End Point: Inveruglas, Loch Lomond

How long? 56 miles, 6 days.

When to go? Spring, summer, autumn.

Why go? Stunning scenery, remote trekking route, diverse landscapes, well-connected.

Travel guide to the area: Combine your hikes on the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way with some other outdoor activities in Argyll.

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP WILD ADVENTURES SCOTLAND TO CHAT ALL THINGS OUTDOORS IN SCOTLAND!

 

There are or course many more great walks in Scotland. 

It took me a long time to decide on my top 21 hikes, but I could easily fill another blog post with 5 more options in each category. And then another.

I hope you’re inspired by this list of scenic hikes in Scotland and will come back often, to choose your next wild adventure in Scotland!

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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

One thought on “Best Hikes in Scotland: 21 Beautiful Hiking Trails in the Highlands, Islands & Lowlands

  1. Mo says:

    Thank you, Kathi, for sharing the best hikes in Scotland. It is so difficult to find relevant information but you combined and answered all questions. Schiehallion in Perthshire is my favorite, I will definitely go there first.

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