places to visit in West Scotland, arrochar, west highlands, loch lomond-4395564.jpg

9 Fascinating Places To Visit In West Scotland

The West Coast of Scotland is part of the Inner Hebrides archipelago of islands. With towering mountains, rugged coastlines, and mystical lochs, there are plenty of places to visit in West Scotland.

Before we begin touring West Coast of Scotland, let’s explore the hidden gems West Coast of Scotland with our highlights in our places to visit in West Scotland are:

  • Glasgow
  • Loch Lomond
  • Oban
  • Loch Ness
  • Eilean Donan Castle

And many more! 

You have landed on the right page if you are looking for answers to the questions below:-

  1. Where should I go on the West Coast of Scotland?
  2. What is the West Coast of Scotland like?
  3. What is the oldest village in Scotland?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Scotland

Follow us on an adventure in West Scotland! Let’s dive in!

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Where should I go on the West Coast of Scotland?

The West Coast of Scotland is somewhat the road less traveled. With scenic countryside, the traditional Scottish culture, and the majestic mountains, a trip here is worth your time.

We begin our journey from Glasgow, the most populous city on the Scottish coast, and end our journey at Iona Abbey. The places to visit in West Scotland described in this post is shown on the map below.


Glasgow city
Photo by Adam Marikar on Unsplash

The first in our places to visit in West Scotland is Glasgow. This city is the fourth-most populous city in the United Kingdom and the 27th in Europe. Glasgow is at the banks of River Clyde in the West Central Lowlands.

Daniel Defoe opined that Glasgow was “the cleanest and the most beautiful, and best-built city in Britain, London excepted” when he visited the city in the early 18th century.

For tourists on a budget, the city has endless free things to do such as ascending the Carrara marble staircase at the City Chambers. Or, you can wander around Kelvingrove Art Museum, and travel back in time to Glasgow’s past at the Riverside Museum. Finally, you can walk among the beautiful flowers at the Botanic Gardens.

What is Glasgow famous for?

Glasgow is famous for being one of the 31 UNESCO Cities of Music as the music continues to be part of Glasgow’s vibrant city life. Glasgow is also home to Scotland’s women-only library that provides resources, services, and information, by women, for women.

The Glasgow Subway system is the fourth oldest in the world, and second oldest in the United Kingdom. Read the 13 Surprising Things Glasgow Is Famous For and the Eight Things Glasgow Does Better Than Edinburgh to know more. 

How do Scots say Glasgow?

The Scots pronounce Glasgow as “Glas-go”. Read the 18 Glaswegian Sayings You Should Know and the 100 Glaswegian Words To Prove That You Are From Glasgow to know more. 

What do you call a Glasgow accent?

A Glasgow dialect is Glaswegian. Glaswegian is unique due to its Irish and English Gaelic influences. And, this is evident in the fun words they have in their vocabulary. 

For example, “peely wally” refers to someone who looks sick, “gallus” means someone who is cocky, flashy, and overconfident while “fae” means from, as in “where are you fae?” is simply where are you from?

Read the 20 Phrases You’ll Only Hear In Glasgow to know more.

Loch Lomond

places to visit in West Scotland, Loch Lomond, Lake of the Elms, red canoe
Photo by Craig Bradford on Unsplash

The second of our places to visit in West Scotland is Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond or Loch Laomainn (‘Lake of the Elms’) is about 27 miles or a 45-minute drive from Glasgow. This loch is a freshwater lake that sits at the boundaries of the Central Lowlands and the Highlands. 

The largest island within the loch is Inchmurrin which is recognized as the largest island within a freshwater lake on the British Isles. 

The earliest known human settlements are from the Neolithic period, about 5,000 years ago. The Romans came next while the Vikings came during the Early Medieval period.

Why is Loch Lomond famous?

Loch Lomond is famous for its stunning scenery where the highlands meet the lowlands in contrast to rugged mountains and calm lochs. The lake is part of the Trossachs National Park which is Scotland’s first national park.

Read Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the 5 Reasons You Need To Visit Loch Lomond to know more.

Is Loch Lomond the deepest loch?

No, Lake Lomond is the third-deepest loch with a depth of 620 feet. The deepest loch on the British Isles is Loch Morar which has a maximum depth of 1,020 feet. 


places to visit in West Scotland, Oban, Gateway to the Hebridean Islands, Seafood Capital of Scotland, McCaig's Tower
Photo by Abhishek Banik on Unsplash

The third of our places to visit in West Scotland is Oban. This resort town is 66 miles or a 2-hour drive from Loch Lomond. Oban is known as the Gateway to the Hebridean Isles and is the Seafood Capital of Scotland

Oban has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The town’s most iconic tourist attraction is McCaig’s Tower which can be viewed from any part of town. The tower was built by John Stuart McCaig in 1897 to provide work for local stonemasons and as a lasting monument to his family. 

How do you get to McCaig’s Tower?

There are two ways to get to the tower. The first way to drive to Argyll Street and walk up the 144 steps of the Jacob’s Ladder. The walk can take between 10 minutes or more, depending upon your fitness level.

The second way to get there is by driving to the base of the tower by following the Fort William Road, then take Deanery Brae and follow the signs to McCaig’s Tower. You will come to a small car park with a flight of stairs to the top of the tower.

There is no entrance fee to enter McCaig’s Tower

What is Oban famous for?

Oban is famous for its distillery and its seafood. The modern town of Oban grew out of this distillery that looks out to the sea. The process of making whisky at Oban distillery has not changed for 200 years. The prized Oban 14-Year-Old Single Malt is its best-seller.

With the town being near the sea, fresh seafood is abundant here. From the traditional fish and chips to lobsters, scallops, and oysters, you would be spoilt for choice and have beautiful views of the sea at the same time. Read the 12 Things To Do In Oban to know more. 

What does Oban mean in Gaelic?

An t-Òban in Gaelic means The Little Bay. The bay has a perfect horseshoe shape and is protected by Kerrera and the Isle of Mull. On its north, it is protected by the mountains of Morvern and Ardgour and the low island of Lismore.

Ben Nevis

places to visit in West Scotland, Ben Nevis, Fort William, highest mountain in Scotland and British Isles
Photo by Jack Skinner on Unsplash

The fourth of our places to visit in West Scotland is Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is close to the town of Fort William in the Highland region of Lochaber. It is about 46 miles or an hour’s journey from Oban.

At 4,413 feet above sea level, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the British Isles. James Robertson was the first to ascend the mountain on 19th August 1771 as he was in the region collecting botanical specimens.

Ben Nevis is also the location of the Ben Nevis Race, a mountain race that takes place annually from the foot of Ben Nevis to the summit and returns to the starting point at the base of the mountain.

The trail is 14 kilometers (9 miles) and was first held in 1895 when William Swan ran from the old post office at Fort William to the summit and was back within 2 hours and 41 minutes. The race is the ultimate test in athletic fitness.

Can you walk from Fort William to Ben Nevis?

Yes, you can walk from Fort William to Ben Nevis. The walk is less than 2 miles and takes about 35 minutes to reach the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. 

What month is best to climb Ben Nevis?

The best months to climb Ben Nevis is during the summer months of May to September when visibility is clear and the weather drier. These are ideal months for those with not much hiking experience and first-time climbers.

Can a beginner climb Ben Nevis?

Yes, beginners can climb the Ben Nevis Mountain Path or the Mountain Track. This 9.8 miles out and back trail features beautiful landscapes. It is classified as hard and can be physically demanding.

Be sure to stock up on a waterproof jacket, walking boots, water bottles, thermal base layers, and fleece as the weather may change while you hike up Ben Nevis. 

Glenfinnan Viaduct

places to visit in West Scotland, Glenfinnan Viaduct, a longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland, Harry Potter filming location
Photo by Roland Lösslein on Unsplash

The fifth of our places to visit in West Scotland is Glenfinnan Viaduct. This viaduct is 18 miles or approximately 30-minutes from Fort William. The viaduct is above River Finnan and has stunning views of the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel.

Glenfinnan Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland at 380 meters in length. The single-track railway of the West Highland Line connects Fort William and Mallaig. If the bridge looks familiar, it’s because it was used in four Harry Potter films.

Can you see Glenfinnan Viaduct from the road?

Yes, you can see Glenfinnan Viaduct from the road at the Visitor Center. However, for a full view of the viaduct, climb a small hill at the back of the Visitor Center, on the north side of the road.

How do you get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

From Fort William, take the North Road A82 until you reach a roundabout. Continue straight until you reach the roundabout with the Ben Nevis Distillery on your right. At this roundabout, turn left onto A830 until you reach the Glenfinnan Visitor Center.

Is Glenfinnan Viaduct worth visiting?

Yes, definitely, and absolutely! And, you don’t have to be a Harry Potter to visit this Scottish icon. This architectural marvel built entirely from mass concrete semicircular 21 arched viaduct built on a curve is a photographer’s delight.

Plan your time so that when you visit, you can get magnificent views of the steam train as it passes through the viaduct. The Jacobite train schedule has two services, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Read Exploring the ‘Harry Potter’ Bridge and There is more to Scotland than the Harry Potter Bridge to know more.

Isle of Skye

places to visit in West Scotland, Isle of Skye, Old Man of Storr
Photo by Massimiliano Morosinotto on Unsplash

The sixth of our places to visit in West Scotland is the Isle of Skye. This isle is about 65 miles or a 2.5-hour drive from the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Isle of Skye is the largest northernmost island of the Inner Hebrides.

Isle of Skye or “Cloud Island” is one of Scotland’s most beautiful islands. With otherworldly scenery, myths, and legends, Isle of Skye is a must-visit in West Scotland. From the Old Man of Storr to Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point, there is much to see and do here.

How many days do you need in the Isle of Skye?

Although the Isle of Skye is small and you can drive around the island within a few hours, that would be a rushed trip and you may not see anything at all. Ideally, you would need 2 full days to cover the main tourist sites and some off-beat destinations.

How long does it take to drive around the Isle of Skye?

As the Isle of Skye is only about 50 miles in length, you can drive around the island within half a day, that is, if you do not stop anywhere. However, with mystical scenery, you might find yourself stopping at every landmark on Skye.

What is the best time to visit the Isle of Skye?

The best time to visit is during the summer months of May to September. The peak summer season falls during July and August which also coincides with the hottest months on the island.

Eilean Donan

places to visit in West Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle
Photo by Nicholas Beel on Unsplash

The seventh of our places to visit in West Scotland is Eilean Donan Castle. This castle is 48 miles from Skye and sits on a tidal rock at the confluence of three lochs. The lochs are Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. 

The castle is probably the most photographed in Scotland and has been featured in James Bond: The World Is Not Enough, Highlander, and as a backdrop for a dance scene for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a Bollywood movie shot here in 1998. 

This castle was once the stronghold for the MacKenzie and MacCrae clans and was the site for a Jacobite uprising that resulted in the castle being demolished using 27 barrels of gunpowder. Eilean Donan was in ruins for almost 200 years until it was restored and eventually rebuilt.

Eilean Donan means “island of Donnán” as a Celtic saint, Donnán of Eigg was believed to have established a church on this island in 617 AD. By the 1200s, the castle was used to defend the lands from Viking invaders.

Why is Eilean Donan Castle famous?

Eilean Donan Castle is another one of Scotland’s iconic landmarks. To get to the castle, you would need to walk on a stone bridge. The castle which you visit is a reconstruction of the family home of Lt John McRae-Gilstrap.

How much is the entrance fee to Eilean Donan Castle?

The entrance fee is £10.00 ($14) for adults, £9.00 ($12) for seniors aged 60 years and above, £29.00 ($40) for a family of 2 adults and 3 children aged between 5 and 15 years, and £6.00 ($8) for children above 5 years old. Children below 5 years have free entry.

Read the Five UK Castles Steeped In Folklore, Why The Iconic Scottish Landmark Is AcOnly 100 Years Old, and The Incredible Story of Eilean Donan Castle to know more.

Loch Ness

places to visit in West Scotland, Loch Ness, Nessie, Loch Ness Monster
Photo by Emilie CRƧƧRD on Unsplash

The eighth of our places to visit in West Scotland is Loch Ness. Loch Ness is about 65 miles or a 2-hour drive from Eilean Donan Castle. Interestingly, this loch is the second-largest by surface area after Loch Lomond and second-deepest after Loch Morar.

There is one island at the southwestern end of the loch which is Cherry’s Island or Murdoch’s Island. This man-made island was built during the Iron Age and is now almost submerged when the Caledonian Canal was built.

However, this lake is known the world over for “Nessie”, a creature in Scottish folklore that lives in this lake. While scientists believe that Nessie could be a giant eel, the mystery as to what lies beneath this lake remains.

The Legend of the Loch Ness Monster: Real or Hoax

While the earliest reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in the 6th century by St. Columba, modern sightings of the creature have been proved to be a hoax. 

Read Loch Ness Contains No ‘Monster’ DNA, the Loch Ness ‘Monster’ Sighted For the First Time, Igniting The Modern Legend, and How Scientists Debunked The Loch Ness Monster to know more. 

How long does it take to drive around Loch Ness?

It takes around 2.5 hours to drive around the loch. Plan your journey with a self-drive from Inverness to Loch Ness in 3 days and see the 9 Hidden Gems You Mustn’t Miss Around Loch Ness to know more. 

Where is the best place to view Loch Ness?

The best place to view Loch Ness is at Urquhart Castle which sits on the banks of Loch Ness. Climb Grant Tower for panoramic views of the loch and mountains. 

Another best place is Suidhe Viewpoint which is on the south side of Loch Ness. You have a hard climb that promises stunning views. At the top, you can try to spot Loch Nan Lann, Loch Tarff, Loch Knockie, Loch Kemp, and Loch Ness.

To see the length of Loch Ness, head to Dores Beach which gives you an idea of how large Loch Ness is. The road right after Fort Augustus also has beautiful views of the loch. 


places to visit in West Scotland, Stirling,
Photo by Lynda Hinton on Unsplash

The ninth of our places to visit in West Scotland is Stirling. Stirling is about 156 miles or a 3-hour from Loch Ness. This market town connected the royal citadel and medieval old town with merchants, from the Old Bridge to the port, thus becoming a market town.

Among the town’s landmarks are Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument, the Holy Rude, the Cambuskenneth Abbey, Mar’s Wark, and the Pyramid of Stirling to name a few. 

Among the free things to do in Stirling are visiting the Parish Church, Stirling Smith Museum Art and Gallery, and end your day at the Allanwater Brewhouse where entry and tastings are free. 

What is Stirling Scotland famous for?

There are several things Stirling Scotland is famous for. The first is that it was once the capital of Scotland. Secondly, it is considered the Gateway to the Highlands as it lies strategically between the Highlands and Lowlands. There is a saying that “he who holds Stirling, holds Scotland”. 

Is Stirling closer to Glasgow or Edinburgh?

Stirling is about 28 miles from Glasgow via the M80 motorway and about 35 miles from Edinburgh via the M9 motorway. Hence, it is closer to Glasgow than Edinburgh. 

BONUS: Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

places to visit in West Scotland, Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The tenth and last of our places to visit in West Scotland is Iona Abbey. This abbey is located just off the Isle of Mull. Iona Abbey is famous as it is the oldest Christian religious center and is the focal point for the spread of Christianity in Scotland.

The modern abbey lies near the ruins of the first monastery that was built by St. Columba in 563 AD. The earliest books produced by the monks at Iona were the Chronicles of Ireland and the Book of Kells which contain the four Gospels of the New Testament.

Where is Macbeth buried?

While most of us know that Macbeth was a character in Shakespeare’s play, the real Macbeth was Mac Bethad mac Findlaích and nicknamed the “Red King”. He was the King of Scotland from 1040 until his demise in 1057 near Mounth.

There are 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian, and 4 Irish Kings buried at St Oran’s Chapel Cemetery near Iona Abbey. This chapel monastery was the resting place of monarchs from Scotland, Norway, and some Vikings.

How much does it cost to visit Iona Abbey?

The entrance fee for Iona Abbey is £9.00 ($13) for adults, £7.20 ($9.75) for those 65 years and above who are unemployed, and £5.40 ($7.30) for children. 

The family rates are £18.00 ($24) for 1 adult and 2 children, £26.00 ($35) for 2 adults and 2 children, and £31.00 ($42) for 2 adults and 3 children.  

Do you need a car at Iona?

To preserve Iona’s unique environment, there is a “Prohibition of Vehicles” Order in places. This means that you are not allowed to bring your car into Iona. 

However, if you are a blue badge holder with mobility issues, you can apply for a permit from the Argyll and Bute Council. You can check if you are eligible for the Iona Vehicle Permit and apply accordingly. 

How do I get to the Isle of Iona?

The journey to the Isle of Iona may be tedious as it involves two ferries. The first ferry would be to get to the Isle of Mull. From there, the most direct route is via Oban to Craignure Ferry. It is an hour’s drive from Craignure to Fionnphort.

From Fionnphort, take the CalMac Ferry to Iona. The timetable and fares for the Fionnphort to Iona is currently available.

What is the West Coast of Scotland like?

With bustling cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, the West Coast of Scotland is home to the traditional Scottish culture, rugged and majestic mountains, and small towns that are both vibrant, yet calm and peaceful. 

What is the oldest village in Scotland?

While Dundee is officially the oldest city in Scotland, Skara Brae is the oldest village in Scotland. 

Skara Brae

places to visit in Scotland, oldest village in Scotland, Skara Brae, Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Photo by Archaeology Scotland on Wikipedia Commons

Although this isn’t in our places to visit in West Scotland, Skara Brae is worth visiting if you are at Orkney. This stone-built Neolithic settlement consists of 10 clustered houses, made from flagstones, and included stone hearths, beds, and cupboards.

These homes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are one of the four Heart of the Neolithic Orkney that pre-dates the Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. 

This site was discovered in 1850 when a severe storm hit Scotland and ripped a small hill known as “Skara Brae”. The local villagers found this settlement once the storm had cleared. 

These homes used the “earth sheltering” method and were built underground on pre-existing mounds known as “middens”. This structure provided the homes with insulation against Orkey’s harsh winters.

The inhabitants of these homes were the Grooved Ware People, who were farmers who raised cattle and sheep. 

Is Skara Brae older than Stonehenge?

According to radiocarbon dating, people were living in Skara Brae for about 650 years, between 3,180 BC till 2,500 BC. Because it is so well preserved, it is often called the “Scottish Pompeii”. 

How many houses were in Skara Brae?

There are ten houses in Skara Brae with seven houses having similar features such as beds, hearth, and a dresser against the wall. The eighth house only has a single entry and exit which means that it could have been used as a store.

As stone balls were discovered on-site, there was speculation that the people who lived here were engaged in astronomical and magical activities at the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness.

Why is Skara Brae so well preserved?

As the homes were built on pre-existing household refuse and drifting sand walls, these houses remained intact for almost 5,000 years. However, climate change and rising sea levels are a cause for concern at Skara Brae.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Scotland

From what is Scotland famous for to the cheapest time of the year to visit Scotland, we answer any other questions on Scotland. Read on!

What is Scotland famous for?

There are several things Scotland is famous for. They are:

  1. Beautiful scenery. This underrated tourist spot is known for its mystical scenery, endless mountains, and about 30,000 lochs. 
  2. Loch Ness monster. Speaking of lochs, how could we miss out on the most famous loch in Scotland? For centuries, people believed that a part eel, part fish monster lived in Loch Ness. Whether it exists or not, Loch Ness puts Scotland on the world map.
  3. Tartan Kilts & Bagpipes. Each Scottish clan has its unique kilts. And, different colored kilts symbolize war, crops, lakes, and forests of Scotland. And, bagpipes is as Scottish as you can be.
  4. Scottish whisky. An authentic Scottish whiskey is aged for a minimum of 3 years in an aged oak barrel and is made from wheat, rye, or malted barley. Take an Edinburgh: Scotch Whisky Experience Tour and Tasting for the ultimate experience.
  5. Famous people. Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, Adam Smith, William Wallace, and Mary Queen of Scots are all Scottish. From actors, economists to queens, the Great Scots have changed the course of history, whether in the past or present.

Read the 25 Awesome Things Scotland Gave The World and Discover What Makes Scotland So Unique know more.

How do Scots say hello?

Hullo is how the Scots say hello. Other useful phrases are guid mornin for good morning, guid efternuin for a good afternoon, gled to meet ye is pleased to meet you, and a dinnae unnerstaun for I don’t understand

Read Useful Scots Phrases to learn about the language and more useful words for your next trip to Scotland. 

What is the best time to go visit West Coast of Scotland?

The summer months of June to August are the best time to visit the West Coast of Scotland. However, these months coincide with the local summer holidays, so you can expect crowded tourist sites and full accommodation everywhere.

Another alternative best time to visit is during the spring months of March to May. As most places began opening up, you can expect fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation. 

How long can an American visit Scotland?

An American does not need a visa and can stay and visit Scotland for up to 6 months, so long as you meet the Standard Visitor eligibility requirements.  

Scotland’s most popular drink, other than whisky is irn-bru or “iron brew” which is a carbonated soft drink known for its bright orange and unique flavor. This drink is so popular that it outsold Coca-Cola in Scotland for over a century. Read What The Heck is Irn-Bru? To know more.

What is the cheapest time of the year to visit Scotland?

The cheapest time of the year to visit Scotland is between November to mid-December and from January to mid-March. These times are considered low and off-peak seasons as the temperature drops, along with the crowd. 

You can expect to get good deals on your accommodation and find some cheap flights as well. Always remember to layer up and bring your rain jacket and an umbrella for any sudden change in weather. Read the 6 Reasons To Explore West Coast Scotland to know more.