Nature and Outdoors

Magnificent mountains, atmospheric glens, dramatic coastlines, picturesque lochs and rivers and fabulous forestry: no wonder Scotland’s scenery has a reputation for being among the most spectacular in the world.

Set amid this fabulously diverse landscape is a wealth of historic and natural treasures. The story of our ancient country is mapped out across Scotland via castles, hilltop forts, standing stones and monuments. Even the locations of bloody battles, such as Bannockburn in Stirlingshire, have been preserved for visitors to view.

Hundreds of signposted viewpoints and beauty spots reveal the best places for you to take in an area of particular scenic splendour or show you where superb beaches, inspiring national parks and mountaintop vistas are to be found.

Even at night our landscapes are spectacular. Scotland is home to Galloway Forest Park,The UK’s first Dark Sky Park, as well as many Dark Sky Discover Sites, where stargazers will be amazed by the twinkling skies above them. For some lucky locals and visitors, the skies will also put on a spectacular show of Northern Lights, especially in autumn and winter.

You can find out more about Scotland's landscapes and nature on Visitscotland.com.

Scottish wildlife is abundant, from native species such as the elusive Scottish wildcat and capercaillie to beavers, which have been successfully reintroduced to Scotland at Knapdale Forest, Argyll. Other Scottish wildlife gems include red deer, pine marten, otters, and a host of birds of prey, as well as sea mammals, such as dolphins, porpoises and whales. You will be amazed, too, by the stunning sight of leaping salmon on Scotland’s many fish-rich rivers.

Find out all you need to know about wildlife in Scotland on Visitscotland.com.

Scotland’s great outdoor playground

Scotland is also an enviable haven for walkers of all aspirations, offering from family friendly river and lochside strolls to long-distance waymarked routes, such as the West Highland Way and the Southern Upland Way, as well as high-level mountain hikes for the more adventurous.

Indeed, Scotland is renowned for offering a wealth of outdoors adventure pursuits, all organised by a geographically spread network of enthusiastic providers and instructors. How about white-water rafting on fast-flowing rivers, gorge walking, surfing, coasteering, zorbing, canoeing or sea kayaking? In winter, you can ski or snowboard at any one of our five beautiful ski centres.

One of the most acclaimed adventure activities in Scotland is mountain biking, thanks to dozens of purpose-built, forest-based mountain bikes centres. Scotland boasts one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious mountain bike centres, Glentress near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

Scotland is also recognised worldwide as the home of golf. From the finest international courses at the Old Course in St Andrews, Gleneagles and Royal Troon to small but picturesque links on far-flung islands, the choice for golfers is truly remarkable.

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