Top 5 walking vacations in Scotland

The best walks in Scotland don’t zip around the whole country, but zoom in on one region. You might concentrate on an island archipelago – such as wild Orkney or the Inner Hebrides – or explore a long-distance path like the West Highland Way. Choose to march with fellow hikers on a guided small group vacation or go solo and steep yourself in peace and the friendliness of your welcoming guest house owners. Along the way, you’ll walk through ambitious biodiversity projects such as Cairngorms Connect, which is working hard to rebuild depleted moorland, forest and rivers.

Keep reading to discover our top five walking vacations in Scotland.

1. See Neolithic sites & birdlife in Orkney

Orkney’s 70 islands are great for exploring on foot. You’ll stay in Stromness, a port town perfectly poised for coastal walks, and wander Neolithic sites like the Ring of Brodgar’s 27 standing stones and Skara Brae, an excavated village by the sea. The birdlife is some of Scotland’s most characterful, so watch the skies and sheer cliffs for skuas, puffins and white-tailed eagles.

Our top trip: Orkney Islands walking vacation
See all our trips: Orkney vacations
Read more: Orkney travel guide

2. Take on the West Highland Way

The West Highland Way wends from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William, on the shores of Loch Linnhe. At over 150km long, it’s a challenge but a scenic challenge. You’ll visit Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Rannoch Moor, however many hikers find that the highlights end up being on the less obviously spectacular end of the scale: the friendly B&Bs or an unexpected glimpse of a ptarmigan.

Our top trip: West Highland Way walking vacation
See all our trips: Scottish Highlands vacations
Read more: Scottish Highlands travel guide

3. Trek Scotland in winter

The Cairngorms is home to the biggest ski resort in Britain – and the best winter walking vacations skip that completely. Instead, follow a trained winter mountain guide into the snowy Scottish hills. They’ll handle all the map reading, weather assessments and safety briefings, so you can get on with admiring the mountains and valleys around you. A good level of fitness is recommended.

Our top trip: Scotland winter walking vacation
See all our trips: Scotland walking vacations
Read more: Scotland travel guide

4. Explore the Cairngorms

Explore the lesser-known trails of the biggest national park in the UK: the Cairngorms. Many come here to bag some Munros (the 3,000m-plus mountains) or take on a whisky trail, but there’s also mossy Caledonian pine forest, heather moors, staggered waterfalls and welcoming Highlands villages. Come in autumn for coppery forests and the spectacle of rutting stags bellowing across the valleys.

Our top trip: Walking vacation in the Cairngorms
See all our trips: Scottish Highlands vacations
Read more: Scottish Highlands travel guide

5. Get on the Great Glen Way

Spend a week hiking the Great Glen Way, a 118km trail leading from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east. Highlights include the towpath along the Caledonian Canal, where Neptune’s Staircase, a staircase of eight locks, draws canalboats uphill. Then there are the other type of lochs – Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness.

Our top trip: Great Glen Way walking vacation
See all our trips: Scotland walking vacations
Read more: Scotland travel guide
Photo credits: [Page banner: Strevo] [1. See Neolithic sites & birdlife in Orkney : Shadowgate] [4. Explore the Cairngorms : Andrew Tryon ]