Scotland, the northernmost country in the United Kingdom, features an amazing landscape that is perfect for photography. The mainland and many surrounding islands offer rugged coastline, mountains, lakes/lochs, waterfalls, and plenty of stunning views. On this page, you’ll find information about many of the best places to photograph throughout Scotland.
Use the interactive map below to see the locations that are mentioned.
We will be updating this page in the future, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have suggestions of other places that should be mentioned here as well.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Sky (An t-Eilean Sgiathanach in Gaelic) is one of the islands that form the Inner Hebrides (the largest of these islands). It is an iconic destination with many noteworthy locations for photographing. It is accessible from mainland Scotland by the bridge (A87). The island is about 50 miles (80 km) long and features the Cuillins (rocky mountains), cliffs, moors, and lochs.
We could easily dedicate an article just to the Isle of Sky (and hopefully we will in the future), but as a summary, here are some of the main points of interest:
- Old Man of Storr is a large, prominent rock pinnacle that can be seen for miles.
- Quiraing, north of Storr, is a landslip with cliffs and a very dramatic landscape. The Quiraing walk is a loop of about 4 miles (7 km).
- Glen Brittle, on the southern side of the island, features the River Brittle and several tributaries that form waterfalls and the Fairy Pools.
- Elgol is a small village on the southern side of the island that is known for its scenic beauty. It sits along Loch Scavaig with views of the Cuillins. You’ll love the landscape on the drive to Elgol.
- Neist Point, on the west side of Skye, is home to a lighthouse. The view of the cliffs and lighthouse is incredibly beautiful.
- Sligachan is a village near the center of Skye, along A87. It provides a nice view of the Black Cuillin mountains.
- Portree is the largest town on Skye and sits in the northeast part of the island. This is one of the most popular spots with visitors and provides nice views of the harbor and the surrounding landscape.
- Coral Beach is on the northwest part of the island in Claigan. You’ll walk for about 20 minutes through a farm to get to the beach.
- Dunvegan Castle is south of Coral Beach.
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan is a small tidal island near the Isle of Skye. The castle makes the island a popular spot for photography.
You might recognize the castle itself, as it has appeared in films and television series – as well as being one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland. There’s a footbridge between the island and the mainland, so you can get right up close to the castle – or shoot it from across the water, which affords a fantastic opportunity to utilize reflections of the sky in your composition.
The area lends itself well to panoramas, particularly used to highlight the castle along with the footbridge and the surrounding countryside. The way that the lochs all meet together is particularly stunning, turning the whole area into a glass mirror with the castle suspended in the middle.
It makes for some gorgeous shots, and even if yours might be similar to those taken by other photographers, it’s worth going just to have that shot in your gallery.
Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands is a favorite area for many photographers. The glen provides amazing views of the surrounding mountains, including Buachaille Etive Beag and the Three Sisters. The River Coe runs through the glen.
This area is very popular for its natural beauty, and it is also easy to access on A82. There are many options for hiking and climbing in the area.
Part of the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, this is a fantastic spot that can’t be missed. It is known for dramatic rises and falls, with a high mountain pass transitioning into a lightly wooded path through the lower part of the glen. It’s very popular with mountaineers, climbers, and hillwalkers, and is also the historic site of the Massacre of Glencoe back in 1692.
A river runs through the glen, with several lochs and a narrow pass to explore as well. This pass is one of the most popular areas with photographers thanks to its high drama, but there are plenty of peaks behind it that you might also want to check out.
The Meeting of Three Waters
The Meeting of Three Waters is a photogenic waterfall at the base of the Three Sisters in Glen Coe. Three sources of water meet at the waterfall, before combining and emptying into the Loch Achtriochtan.
Buachaille Etive Mòr
Buachaille Etive Mòr is a striking mountain at the head of Glen Etive. It can be seen from A82 near Glen Coe, and the River Etive flows around the mountain. This is one of the most popular subjects for photographs in the Scottish Highlands.
Around it, mossy and heather-filled plains allow the road to meander in curves that cut across the landscape to create fantastic leading lines.
If you want to climb it yourself, you’ll find steep and rough terrain, with a boulder-filled ridge in your path. The descent is similar, so it’s not for the faint-hearted – though you will enjoy the view from the top. Having said that, this peak is the most stunning when viewed from below. You’ll see this angle on postcards and calendars in just about every gift shop in Scotland.
Most recently, it featured in James Bond’s outing Skyfall.
Rannoch Moor is a boggy moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch. This is a wild, rugged landscape that is difficult to explore. Probably the best way to see it is to take the West Highland Railway that crosses the area. If you are up for exploring this remote location there are several hiking trails that you can take.
An Teallach is a rugged mountain that overlooks Little Loch Broom. Lord Berkeley’s Seat is an overhanging pinnacle that is quite impressive. You can hike to the summit, or simply enjoy the view and photograph it from the base.
Loch Ness is a long (23 miles, 37 km), deep lake near Inverness. Of course, it is well known as the home of the mythical Loch Ness Monster.
While you aren’t likely to get a snap of Nessie, you will still be able to admire the beautiful countryside here around the most famous loch in the world. This large and deep freshwater loch has very murky water, which means it can create some interesting images as the appearance of the water may be different than in other locations.
It’s the second-largest loch by area, but the largest by volume, which means it also takes up a lot of the frame. There are some interesting monuments which you can choose to include in the frame or not, such as Urquhart Castle and a couple of lighthouses. Near Fort Augustus, you will find Cherry Island – a crannog which was built by humans. You can also visit a Loch Ness Centre for a bit of history on the area, as a bonus for your trip.
The Urquhart Castle sits on the west side of Loch Ness and provides some nice views of the surrounding landscape. The castle is just off of A82.
Dunnottar Castle is located on a rocky area of the east coast of Scotland. There is a narrow strip of land that leads out to the castle, with steep cliffs at the edge. The views of the castle, cliffs, and the North Sea are great for photographs.
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in the United Kingdom, includes the Cairngorms mountain range. It covers 1,700 square miles (4,500 square km). The mountains and upland plateau landscape are very beautiful.
A9 is the main road within the park, although A95, A86, and A889 all enter the park as well. The many walking trails also allow you to explore the area. The beach of Loch Morlich is a popular spot. Highland Wildlife Park is also located within the national park.
Old Packhorse Bridge
The Old Packhorse Bridge is a well-know, and often-photographed, bridge in the town of Carrbridge, right at the edge of Cairngorms National Park. The bridge was built in 1717 and is the oldest bridge in the Scottish Highlands. The bridge is now unstable and cannot be crossed, but it is still a landmark of the area.
The Queen’s View
The Queen’s View in Highland Perthshire provides a spectacular view of Loch Tummel. It is south of Cairngorms National Park and just off B8019. The views are easy to access at the visitor’s center.
When the weather is clear, you can also see the mountains around Glencoe, but even on cloudier days, it’s still a view to behold. There’s a tea room and a visitor center on-site, which makes it a perfect stop for a few hours on a lazy afternoon.
There are also plenty of forest walks nearby which might provide further opportunities for shots – if you haven’t spent hours filling your memory cards up at the vantage point already.
Near to Glen Coe is Fort William, a conveniently located town that normally serves as a base for many tourists who want to explore the Munro mountains, including Ben Nevis. From afar, the town has an incredibly scenic look, especially with the mountains behind.
One viewpoint you can take is to get onto a boat on Loch Linnhe to set up your frame.
Within the town itself, there are lots of scenic areas to admire, including historic buildings and structures which have stood for hundreds of years. You can also go further out to Corpach to take a shot that frames the whole town and its environs. Nearby is a bridge that was used in the Harry Potter film series.
Ardlui, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Though Ardlui is only small enough to qualify as a hamlet, rather than a town, it still qualifies as one of the most scenic areas in Scotland. It is situated right at the head of Loch Lomond and is positioned on the same A82 road that will bring you to some of our other top spots.
The hamlet is not frequented much, though tourists do come to stay here. There are two main shots you might find yourself wanting to take: one is to get up high above the hamlet and shoot right across the loch, framing the buildings in the foreground with sweeping hills around them. The second is to shoot across the water towards the hamlet itself, with the quaint appearance of many of the buildings giving it almost an old-world appearance.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is located north of Glasgow and southwest of Cairngorms National Park. The park features Loch Lomond, surrounding mountains, and the Trossachs (a woodland glen).
The park includes more than 20 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet or 914 meters). Hiking the Munros is a popular activity, and you’ll certainly get some great views if you are up for the challenge.
A82 runs along the west side of Loch Lomond, providing great access. There are also many waterfalls scattered throughout the park that are worth photographing.
St Andrews, Fife
Another beautiful town that lends itself well to the landscape around it, St Andrews is also home to the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. It’s also considered to be one of the top universities in the UK to this day.
It’s also known as the home of golf thanks to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which is often used for The Open Championship and has a huge significance in the history of the sport.
Sandy beaches also bring tourists, but you’ll be coming for the views. Again, you can choose to shoot towards the town from the water, capturing the dramatic medieval buildings and monuments. The ruins of St Andrews Castle will be a particular highlight, as they are nestled in gorgeous scenery and provide an interesting juxtaposition of man’s failure against nature’s flourishing.
The ruins of Kilchurn Castle sit along Loch Awe, northwest of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. Although the castle is in ruins, surrounded by a lovely landscape it makes a nice photograph. It is not far from A85.
Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides islands. It is a large island of more than 230 square miles (over 600 square km). Islay is known for its beautiful landscape and as being a great place for bird watching.
Parts of the island feature rugged mountains and cliffs, and there are many lochs. A846 and A847 are the main roads for getting around on the island. The summer months can be busy with tourists. You reach the island by ferry or by air (flights from Glasgow).
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull is another island of the Inner Hebrides. It is north of Islay. Tobermory, at the north end of the island, is the largest village. Summer months can be quite busy on the Isle of Mull because of its popularity with tourists. You can reach the island by a ferry from one of several different locations. The ferry ride is short because the island is close to the mainland.
There’s a rumor that a Spanish galleon loaded with gold lies wrecked at the bottom of Tobermory Bay – but much more likely to be valuable to you are the brightly-painted houses along the shorefront. Decked out in shades of blue, red, yellow, and white, they stand out against the trees directly behind them and afford a quaint view of the fishing port.
Notable shots close by include Calve Island, which shelters the harbor, the Sound of Mull, and a lighthouse to the north.
Home to a scenic landscape and many types of wildlife, the Isle of Mull is a great place for photographers. The natural arches of Carsaig are a popular spot, as is picturesque Calgary Bay.
Once you have explored these sites, you’ll have a portfolio of Scottish wonders that can’t be matched. Although they may sound similar, each mountain range or loch village offers a unique and stunning aspect that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Isle of Lewis
The most popular locations in the Outer Hebrides are the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris. Lewis and Harris are separate parts of the same island (Lewis on the north and Harris on the south). This island, north of the Isle of Skye, is known for its natural beauty.
Lewis is home to beautiful beaches and coves and some rocky cliffs. The Callanish Stones are one of the main points of interest. This is a circle of standing stones that dates back about 5,000 years.
Lews Castle, near the town of Stornoway, is also a popular location. The Butt of Lewis at the northern end of the island provides a nice place to photograph the rugged coast, as well as a lighthouse.
Isle of Harris
The Isle of Harris is the southern end of Lewis and Harris. Compared to Lewis, Harris is more mountainous. Like Lewis, Harris is known for its natural beauty. South Harris features many sandy beaches and is generally less rugged than North Harris.
The Rodel Saltmarsh is a beautiful place to photograph. Seilebost Beach, on the west side of the island, is another excellent location, and a nice view is possible from A859.
St. Kilda is a group of Islands in the Outer Hebrides (further away from the mainland than the other Outer Hebrides). Hirta, the largest island, features the highest sea cliffs in the UK. All of the islands of St. Kilda are now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and there are no current year-round residents, aside from the military.
Getting to St. Kilda is not easy, but it is possible. You can take a charter boat, and there are a few cruises that also go to St. Kilda. Those who make it will love the remote, rugged landscape. There is also a lot of wildlife, mainly seabirds.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and all of the United Kingdom. It is near the town of Fort William, north of Kilchurn Castle. Many people hike or climb to the summit, with the Pony Track from nearby Glen Nevis being the most popular path.
Steall Falls is in Glen Nevis and is Scotland’s 2nd-tallest waterfall at just under 400 feet (120 meters). A path runs through the gorge and provides a nice view of the falls.
Loch Shiel is 17 miles (27 km) long and west of Fort William. The northern part of the loch is beautifully surrounded by mountains and ideal for photography. The town of Glenfinnan is easy to access (along A830 at the north of the loch) and provides an excellent view, as shown in the photo below.
The Shetland Islands (or just Shetland) are a group of islands about 110 miles (170 km) off the coast of mainland Scotland. The main island is called Mainland, although there are several other inhabited islands and many more that are uninhabited.
Flights are available from a few cities, including Glasgow and Edinburgh. Or you can take a very long ferry ride. Ferries are the main transportation between the islands. The culture here is a bit of a blend between Scotland and Scandinavia.
The landscape features amazing, rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, lochs, and moors.
The Orkney Islands (or just Orkney) are also off the north coast of Scotland, but much closer to the mainland as compared to the Shetland Islands. There are about 70 islands, with about 20 of them being inhabited.
Like the Shetland Islands, the main island here is also known as Mainland. The landscape here is mostly low-lying, but there are some hills and cliffs. You can reach the islands by ferry or plane. The beaches and wildlife (especially migrating birds) are favorites for photographers.
The Scottish Borders
The Scottish Borders is a region south of Edinburgh. This rural area is home to a beautiful landscape of hills, lochs, and the River Tweed, as well as castles and abbeys. Some of the main points of interest include:
- The Berwickshire Coastal Path
- Mire Loch
- St. Mary’s Loch
- Coldingham Bay
- Abbotsford House
- Mellerstain House
- Floors Castle
- Duns Castle
- Thirlestane Castle
- Melrose Abbey
- Dryburgh Abbey
- Jedburgh Abbey
Ullapool, in the Scottish Highlands, is a small port village and a tourist destination. Its picturesque setting on Loch Broom and the surrounding mountains make it a great place for photography.
The North Atlantic Drift passes by to cool the temperature, and Loch Broom is there for your water views. Rugged mountains are all around, with Beinn Dearg, Bheinn Ghobblach, Ben Mhor na Coigich, and An Teallach to choose from. Of these, An Teallach offers the most dramatic profile, but it requires quite a long trek to reach the foot of the mountain before you can even begin to climb if you want the view from the top.
Nearby hills such as Maol Calaisceig also offer opportunities for views across the town and then down over the water. The sheer scale of the mountains and the loch as contrasted with the small town make for interesting shots. Ullapool is located at the north end of A835.
Arthur’s Seat is the highest peak among several hills in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. It is a popular spot for hikers and provides a great view of Edinburgh and the surrounding area.
Calton Hill is also in Edinburgh, a very short distance from Holyrood Park. It provides a nice view and is a popular spot for photography.
Bow Fiddle Rock
Bow Fiddle Rock is a well-known rock formation near Portknockie on the northeast coast of Scotland.
Finnich Glen is a beautiful and very deep gorge near A809 in Craighat, north of Glasgow. This area is sometimes called the Devil’s Pulpit, but the Devil’s Pulpit is a specific rock in the glen. There are some old stone steps known as Jacob’s Ladder that lead you safely down to the bottom.