The prettiest villages in Scotland holiday cottages

The prettiest villages in Scotland

Jemima Kirkwood 18 May 2022

What makes a village pretty? We think it comes down to the scenic location, the natural surroundings and the aesthetics of the buildings. We have done some searching throughout the country and pulled together ten villages which we think are the prettiest in Scotland!

Read on to discover them today, and don’t forget to check out our holiday cottages in Scotland if you are looking for accommodation. 

Shieldaig in Torridon, Highlands

Sheildaig near Torridon, Highlands

Shieldaig is a special village in the north-west Highlands and its location can only be described as superb! Set on the edge of Loch Shieldaig, it is quietly settled beside a small shingle beach and has far-reaching views over the water. Cuddled by impressive hills, the village represents how good peace and quiet can be in the Scottish Highlands.

White houses pepper the shoreline and there is one main road that links Shieldaig and Torridon, the neighbouring village, and south to Lochcarron and Kinghorn. From here you can explore the Applecross Peninsula, head north to Badachro and Gairloch and you could even take a day trip to the Isle of Skye if you feel so inclined. Originally a fishing village, it is now populated by a few locals and is an attractive holiday village in Scotland. It is a lovely base for exploring the wider area.

Anstruther, Kingdom of Fife

Anstruther in Fife

There are lots of little coastal villages to explore but Anstruther is particularly special in its appearance and culture. It is the largest of Fife’s fishing villages, and is renowned for its award-winning fish and chip shop, the Anstruther Fish Bar, which people travel for miles to enjoy. The wildlife is great along this part of the coast with regular sightings of seals and puffins entertaining the locals. And the Scottish Fisheries Museum can tell you all about the fascinating history of the town. 

The harbour is prettily dotted with sailing and fishing boats and the views across the sea are second to none. Traditional, colourful, terraced houses line the harbour making it a picturesque spot to walk along and the little shops and eateries offer lovely bites to eat. Here you are close to Crail, Pittenweem and the famous Fife town of St Andrews. 

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory is an iconic island village set on the north-east of the Isle of Mull, looking onto the Sound of Mull. Built in the late 18th century, the town was originally a fishing port but is now the main town on the island. With a good selection of shops, hotels, cottages and eateries, it is the main attraction of the island with lots of people visiting every year. The village hugs the harbour and is made up of vibrant terraced houses which have become widely recognisable by most. 

It is a wonderful wilderness and nature attraction too, being a premier destination for wildlife watching. You can see white-tailed eagles, golden eagles, otters, seals, and quite often whales if you are lucky. There are boat trips that can take you out on wildlife excursions to increase your chances! All of this adds to the beauty of Tobermory. 

Cullen, Moray

Cullen in Morayshire

If you love little seaside villages with loads of character, then this is the place for you. Where is Cullen in Scotland? Cullen is a small village on the coast of Moray, just east of Lossiemouth and Buckie. Cullen is a cute hamlet with its own beach and tiny harbour. With amazing views over to the cliffs beside neighbouring Portknockie, the village is a peaceful and tranquil location for a holiday – it is also home to one of the best ice cream shops in Scotland! 

Take a walk up to the viewpoint and enjoy vistas across brightly coloured traditional cottages, the old stone viaduct and waves crashing onto the shores. Wander through the delightful grid of houses which are a mix of local residencies and holiday cottages. Play a round of golf with a sea view, spend a lazy day on Cullen Bay or head inland to explore the countryside. Here you are well placed to explore the other coastal settlements of Findochty, Portessie and Buckie. 

Cromarty, The Black Isle

Cromarty on the Black Isle, Highlands

Cromarty is the most northerly village set on The Black Isle, which looks out over the Cromarty Firth. With strong nautical connections, it is a very pretty village with lots of traditional stone houses set out in rows, all with nice gardens and painted woodwork. There is a long stony beach on which the village is set and this makes a lovely spot for a picnic or a day in the sun. The sea caresses the triangular-shaped village, and the small network of streets makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll. 

Within the village, you will find a few quaint places to eat, and there is a tiny coffee shop on the harbour. There is even a small, intimate cinema showing a couple of blockbusters every month, perfect for those who don’t want to make the journey into Inverness. All in all, a pretty lovely place to be.

Lochcarron, Highlands

Lochcarron, Highlands

This village is made up of charming, white-washed cottages dotted along one street along the edge of Loch Carron, all of them taking advantage of the view. Loch Carron is a sea loch on the west coast of Ross and Cromarty and it separates the Applecross Peninsula from the Lochalsh Peninsula.

With ample wildlife and scenery, Lochcarron is the perfect spot for nature lovers, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts. The landscape out there is like another world; rocky and heathery mountains spread the vistas with dramatic silhouettes and beautiful colours, and the contrast with the sea is just magical. You can explore further afield for more views of the likes of Torridon, Gairloch and Skye, but an absolute must is a trip to Applecross over the Bealach Na Ba, one of Scotland’s most famous mountains

Crovie, Aberdeenshire

Crovie, Aberdeenshire

Crovie is a teeny tiny village framed by the sea on one side, and cliffs on the other. The village is accessed by foot down a steep path, and the locals actually leave their cars up the top of the hill and carry their belongings up and down the hill – it’s a certain way of life in Crovie. Fascinatingly, it has the distinction of having the narrowest space between shore and cliff of any Scottish village! It is also said to be the best-preserved fishing village in Europe!

The cottages are small and quaint, and a visit here will surely blow the cobwebs away. Even just for a look, you should plan a visit to Crovie. There is a viewpoint on the cliffs above the village which has a wooden sculpture of a woman – a spellbinding monument. 

Love castles? Read about ones in the area in our guide to the ruined castles of Aberdeenshire

Dean Village, Edinburgh

Dean Village in Edinburgh

The Dean Village in Edinburgh is an unusual yet magical historic city, set in the centre of Edinburgh. What makes it so unusual is that it is located just 5 minutes’ walk from Princes Street, the most cosmopolitan street in the city. Originally a water milling town, it is a beautiful oasis right beside the Water of Leith. You can walk through the village admiring the topsy turvy buildings, ranging from tiny stone cottages to modern, trendy apartment blocks. 

Visit Well Court in the heart of Dean Village, the most iconic building there, and admire all the mill stones and decorated plaques along the way. Then stroll along the riverside lined with trees and wildflowers, with just the sound of the water and birds in the trees – not what you would expect from a city centre spot! The Dean Bridge is also very beautiful and can be found just beside the village. 

Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway

Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway

Coastal Kippford is a small, picturesque village along the Solway Coast in the Scottish Borders, lying just 3 miles from the popular Dalbeattie. Popular with yachtsmen, its charming waterside location offers peace and tranquillity to those who visit. Traditionally Scottish, as this guide highlights, the whitewashed houses line the beach with their doors opening up onto the most amazingly breathtaking views. Sailing boats and fishing boats take up anchor here, turning the view into a nautical painting.

Walking, cycling, fishing, golfing and water sports are all popular activities in Kippford. There are some nice places to eat out here, more than you would think considering its size, and there is also a village shop where you can pick up your essentials. 

Balmaha, Loch Lomond

Balmaha, Loch Lomond

Balmaha is by far the prettiest village on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, and it is also the main hub for tourism and boat trips along the loch. The name Balmaha comes from the Gaelic for St Maha's Place which suggests the village may have ancient origins, perhaps as a hermit's residence. It has a fascinating history which can be discovered with a visit, and its tiny community is warm and welcoming to those who drop by.

There is plenty to do here from short walks and steeper climbs to boat trips and island adventures. The Millennium Forest Trail takes you on a lovely stroll around the woods surrounding the village, and calm time can be spent sitting by the shores and taking in the views. It is definitely worth your time to visit here. 

Holidays in Scotland

We hope you have been inspired to visit some of the prettiest villages in Scotland, and we hope you are happy with our choices! We also have a guide to the 10 best coastal villages in Scotland, and some of the nicest Highland towns too. We just love sharing all of these amazing places with you. 

Searching for somewhere to stay? Look no further than our Scotland cottages which offer the perfect base for all of your adventures.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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