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Why Scotland is the ideal destination for solo travel  holiday cottages

Why Scotland is the ideal destination for solo travel

Lauren 28 February 2023

Nothing says ‘peaceful break’ quite like a holiday where you can tailor each little detail to your own taste! A solo travel holiday can be the perfect way to unwind and get back in touch with what truly matters to you, without the distractions of everyday life. 

Whether you’re hoping for a quiet few days exploring the countryside, or soaking up the culture and mingling with the locals, we’ve compiled our favourite spots around Scotland for a solo trip. 

Scotland has so much to offer all visitors with a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, national parks and an array of beautiful historic and natural locations, but what makes it ideal for a solo traveller is that many of these places are really accessible. As well as a great road network and a number of public transport options, there are also several group tour operators you can join up with for activities and day trips to make the most of your visit to Scotland.

So, whether you are looking to explore just one spot on your solo holiday, or keen for an expedition that takes in a number of locations, read on to discover some of our favourite ‘just-you’ holiday destinations.

Scotland cottages


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Glasgow

a view across the rooftops of Glasgow

Glasgow is perhaps one of the best examples of the friendly culture we’ve mentioned; in fact, in 2022 Glasgow was named the UK’s second friendliest city (after Cambridge). You’re more than likely to have a stranger strike up a conversation with you at the bus stop here which is a great way to meet new people and avoid feeling lonely on a solo trip. A great example of their welcoming and community spirit is exemplified by the Duke of Wellington statue with an orange traffic cone on it outside the Gallery of Modern Art. In 2012, the cone was swapped for a gold one in celebration of Team GB’s successes at the Olympics and, more recently, it has been painted in the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Statue of the Duke fo Wellington on horse back outside the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. The Duke has an orange traffic cone on his head

With its many attractions and things to do, Glasgow is the perfect place for any solo traveller interested in arts and culture as there are over 20 galleries and museums in the city. Kelvingrove Museum will surely delight any architecture fans, as will the Glasgow School of Art, designed by the famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. To see more of Mackintosh’s work, head to The Lighthouse, with its majestic 134-step spiral staircase and spectacular views across the city.

It's well worth a trip to the Finnieston area of Glasgow too. Firstly, see the famous disused Finnieston Crane which has become a symbol of Glasgow’s heritage and growth, then onto ‘Hidden Lane’, a colourful and relatively secret spot home to a number of independent shops and creatives.

a view of the Finneston crane at sunset

After all that culture, you might be keen for a quieter way to explore, and there’s no better place than Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, which is under an hour away from Glasgow and offers spectacular views, fresh air and plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs.

Transport to and around Glasgow:

  • Glasgow is a compact and easy-to-navigate city, with a strong public transport system including a subway which operates in the city centre, west end and southside . It’s a great choice for speedy travel, as you can complete the circuit of 15 stations in under 30 minutes.

Rail travel is also a good option, with trains operated by ScotRail running from Glasgow Central Station and Queen Street Station regularly, with many key routes including those to Edinburgh and further into the North of Scotland.

  • First is the main bus operator in Glasgow with a number of ticket options or, to explore at a more leisurely pace, why not make use of Glasgow’s sightseeing bus which takes in a number of the city’s major attractions?
  • There are several car hire possibilities in Glasgow offering a range of vehicle options, including Co-wheels which offer hybrid and electric vehicles across a number of locations in Glasgow if you are keen to be a more eco-friendly, responsible traveller. You can easily find electric vehicle charging points in Glasgow here.
  • Glasgow has a great cycle hire scheme run by OVO Bikes which offers visitors the choice of regular or e-bikes, and a number of locations across Glasgow to pick your bike up from.
  • Be sure to check out Glasgow Gander which offers free walking tours around the city if you plan to explore more on foot.

If you're keen to stay in the Glasgow area, our cottage pick is The Snug and River Hideaway

A view of the log burner in the garden at The Snug and River Hideaway cottage; an orange sofa in the living room of The Snug and River Hideaway cottage

Or, explore more of our cottages within easy reach of Glasgow

Cottages in Glasgow


Oban

A view of the coastline at Oban, with the distinct fishing boats of the area

Are you a foodie traveller? If so, Oban could be the spot for you, as it’s often referred to as the seafood capital of Scotland, and is home to the Oban Chocolate Company and the world-famous Oban Whisky Distillery! 

If you have started your journey in Glasgow, Oban is very accessible using the West Highland Line, a scenic journey that will take you through moorland, pine forests, and alongside the loch and mountains that make up the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. 

an aerial view of McCaig's tower, a circular structure on Battery Hill

It's a great place for sightseeing without the big crowds of some of Scotland’s larger cities. We recommend a visit to McCaig’s Tower on Battery Hill, also known as Scotland’s ‘Colosseum’. It was built as a memorial to McCaig’s family, but was tragically never completed due to this death. Today, the tower is home to a walled garden and offers unique views of the Sound of Kerrera and out to the Oban Bay islands. 

a sea kayaker in a yellow kayak on the open water

It's a great place for sightseeing without the big crowds of some of Scotland’s larger cities. We recommend a visit to McCaig’s Tower on Battery Hill, also known as Scotland’s ‘Colosseum’. It was built as a memorial to McCaig’s family, but was tragically never completed due to this death. Today, the tower is home to a walled garden and offers unique views of the Sound of Kerrera and out to the Oban Bay islands. 

Transport to and around Oban:

  • Rail is a good way to get into Oban, with regular services run by ScotRail operating between Oban and Glasgow especially – this is probably the most scenic way to travel.
  • Bus services are also an option, with West Coast Motors running services to a number of locations from Oban, including Fort William and Appin, as well as services running through Oban itself.  For bus services to Glasgow, consult Citylink timetables here.
  • A good option for car hire in and around Oban is Flit, which provides a range of different vehicles. Alternatively, there is Morvern Eco Wheels, a community electric car hire group located in Lochaline, not far from Oban. There are a number of electric vehicle charging points in Oban and the surrounding areas, including on the nearby Isle of Mull.
  • Oban Cycles are a hire provider of regular and e-bikes in Oban and are flexible on the length of your hire period. They also offer several cycle tours, including to the Outer Hebrides or along the Great Glen Way (also known as the Caledonian Way) – ideal for continuing your trip or making plans for next time! Another good option is the Rusty Cycle Shed, also located in Oban, so there are lots of ways to ensure you are a more eco-friendly and responsible traveller.

Explore our cottages within easy reach of Oban

Oban cottages


Perth

a view of the river in Perth and the distinctive architecture of the buildings on its banks

Perth is the ideal destination if you count photography on your list of hobbies, alongside solo travel!

There are a number of dramatic landscape shots to be had, including the beautiful sunsets that can be enjoyed on Kinnoull Hill, the fine architecture of Perth Bridge (also known as Smeaton’s Bridge) over the River Tay, and the stunning botanical paradise of Branklyn Garden which dates back to the 1920s.

a view of Kinnoull Hill towering above a vast forest in the background

Perth’s artistic flair doesn’t stop there, however. There’s a stunning wall mural to be found on Mill Street which was commissioned in 2019 as part of the City of Light campaign which aimed to bring light and vibrancy to the city and its visitors.

Visitors can also explore the River Tay Public Art Trail, which is a 2.5-mile long wheelchair-accessible route showcasing a number of sculptures along the way. You’ll encounter sculptures inspired by the river itself, the local wildlife and the rich history of the area.

a metal sculpture of three fish, part of the River Tay Public Art trail

Transport to and around Perth:

  • ScotRail runs a number of services from Perth Railway Station including to Stirling, Dundee and Pitlochry, as well as between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Bus services are operated by Stagecoach, with routes around Perth’s city centre and further afield.
  • A good option for car hire in Perth is Practical, which offers multiple vehicle options and flexible hire periods. For electric vehicle options, Co-wheels offer a range of electric vehicles available to hire from locations across Perth. Details of electric vehicle car charging points can be found here.
  • For those keen to explore Perth and the surrounding areas on two wheels, Progression Bikes, based in nearby Dunkeld, offer a good hire service, with the option to hire regular bikes or e-bikes.

If you’re keen to stay in the Perth area, our cottage pick is Honeysuckle

the wood fire hot tub in the garden of Honeysuckle cottage; the cosy living room of Honeysuckle cottage

Or explore more of our cottages within easy reach of Perth 

Perth cottages


Aberdeen

a town centre view of Aberdeen, highlighting its historic buildings

Aberdeen is another of Scotland’s cities to have appeared on the ‘friendliest’ lists, coming in at number 6 in 2021. It has also been awarded the accolade of safest Scottish city for a number of years. But those aren’t the only reasons why Aberdeen should be on the list of destinations for a solo trip, it’s also well worth a visit for its rich and mysterious history.

Aberdeen has a fantastic Old Town (known as Old Aberdeen), which dates back to the Early Middle Ages when the Picts were living in Northern and Eastern Scotland. There are a several architecturally interesting university buildings and cathedrals, as well as the famous ‘Brig o’ Balgownie’, a 13th-century bridge crossing the River Don which has ‘Scheduled Ancient Monument’ status. The bridge might sound familiar to any poetry fans as it gets a mention in Lord Byron’s Don Juan.

The bridge was once an important point of communication between the communities in Aberdeen and those on the coast, where the next historic attraction on our list is located.

a view of the Brig O' Balgownie bridge across the river

Dunnottar Castle, set on the easternmost tip of the coastline at Stonehaven, is a truly remarkable site. Located on a 160ft rock outcrop like a pedestal into the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle is a ruin like no other with a dramatic history of Viking invasion, the Wars of Scottish Independence, and a visit from Mary Queen of Scots. In reference to the Pictish history here, ‘Dun’ in the name of the castle is thought to mean ‘place of strength’ which is very fitting for a castle that was a defensive stronghold for many centuries.

Dunnotar Castle set on its rocky outcrop against its North Sea backdrop

There’s no doubt that Dunnottar Castle will ignite your sense of adventure as it has done for many over the years. To continue your adventure, why not follow in the footsteps of Aberdeenshire’s famous daughter, Nan Shepherd, who ventured west into the Cairngorms National Park? The majesty of the landscape inspired her to write the now canonical memoir, The Living Mountain. While you might not have plans to pen a classic, you’re sure to be impressed by the hills, moorland and forest. It’s not all about exploring however; we recommend you head to Abernathy Forest, one of the best spots in the area for forest bathing.

Thick forest with a view towards the hills of the Cairngorms national park

Transport to and around Aberdeen:

  • Rail services run regularly from Aberdeen to Huntly, Inverurie, Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and a number of other locations, as well as stations with connections further afield.
  • Local buses are operated by First and Stagecoach with several options for getting around Aberdeen itself, as well as to surrounding towns and villages. Aberdeen also has a ‘GrassHOPPER ticket’ scheme which enables users to access multiple buses and bus operators using a single multi-operator ticket.
  • There are lots of car hire options in the city, including Co-Wheels which is a good service for electric vehicle hire in Aberdeen. Details of Aberdeen’s numerous electric vehicle charging points can be found here.
  • Regular bikes and hybrid bikes are available to hire from Barclay Bike Bothy, and e-bikes can be hired from BigIssue eBike in Aberdeen using their app.

Explore our cottages within easy reach of Aberdeen

Holiday cottages in Aberdeen


Inverness

a view down the river in Inverness

Inverness is another city on our list which is ideal for solo travellers looking for a taste of Scottish arts and culture, and particularly good for anyone keen to learn more about Highland life. Our first stop would be the Highland Archive Centre, which houses an array of records and artefacts from history and is free to browse whether you are keen to do some specific research or just get to know the area a little better.

Inverness is also home to Leakey’s Bookshop, Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop, which offers wall to wall shelves to browse, a spiral staircase, stunning stained-glass windows to make the experience even better, and an open log fire ideal for curling up when you’ve found the perfect read.

a person reading a book in front of a warming fire

Particularly if you’re visiting in winter, keeping warm might be an important part of your solo travel itinerary and if so, a trip to the Tropical House at Inverness Botanic Gardens is a great idea. You may be familiar with the Glasgow and Edinburgh botanic gardens, but Inverness has a fantastic botanic garden too, with a cactus house home to a number of desert-loving species, including the Agave scabra which flowers once in its lifetime, and was captured here on film! Given that the botanic gardens are the most northerly in the country, it’s a rare treat to experience the warm and humid atmosphere of the Tropical House, home to coffee, banana, ginger and even pineapple plants from all over the world.

a pineapple plant, as can be found at Inverness Botanic Gardens

If the botanic gardens have inspired you to continue exploring, bike tours are a great way to do it. One local operator offers a tour that takes in Inverness’ waterway paths, showcasing the River Ness and its islands, the Caledonian Canal and on to Merkinch Local Nature Reserve and the Moray Firth where, if you are lucky, dolphins can be spotted! Follow the River Ness to its source and you will reach Loch Ness, the most famous loch in all of Scotland. It’s well worth a visit to learn about the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster, but also ideal for hikers and keen photographers who will enjoy the scenic spots and Jacobite ruins on its banks.

the views which can often be spotted in the Moray Firth

If your solo travel trip is being done by car, Inverness is a great place to pick up the North Coast 500 route. Taking this route will showcase the stunning coastal scenery of Scotland’s far north, as you journey up through Tain, Brora and Helmsdale, all the way up to the northernmost Highlands and to spots such as Caithness, Thurso and, of course, John O’Groats. From here, you can access the final stop on our list of solo travel destinations – the spectacular Orkney Islands.

a section fo the North Coast 500 route which showcases the stunning coastal regions of SCotland's highlands

Transport to and around Inverness:

  • ScotRail operates from Inverness Station, offering a number of services to and from Aviemore in the Cairngorms, further north on the Far North Line to Wick, east to Aberdeen and west to the coast. You can also access Edinburgh and Glasgow to the south via Perth, with connections to Stirling too. Regular buses to get around the city operate from Inverness Bus Station.
  • Car hire options are available from Celtic Legend, and if you are travelling to Inverness from Aberdeen or Elgin, Co-Wheels offer electric vehicle hire options at both of these locations which can be used for your onward journey to Inverness. Inverness and the surrounding areas have a number of electric car charging points too.
  • As well as hiring a bike as part of a tour, Ticket to Ride offer a number of bicycle hire types and are flexible on the length of the hire period.

If you’re keen to stay in the Inverness area, our cottage pick is The Bunker

the exterior of The Bunker; the warming log burner and blue sofa in the living room of The Bunker

Or explore more of our cottages within easy reach of Inverness 

Holiday cottages in Inverness


Orkney

a view of the buildings on the shores of Stromness, a major town on Orkney

Orkney is a truly unique place that is much easier to reach than you might think, thanks to ferry services from the Highlands departing up to three times a day. Orkney is an ideal spot for a solo traveller and is on a number of ‘best destination’ lists thanks to it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s well worth a visit to see the various Neolithic monuments as they offer a rare glimpse into what life must have been like in this archipelago some 5,000 years ago.

There are two stone circles or ‘henges’, known as the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, which mark this location as an important ceremonial site thousands of years ago. While many of the stones that originally formed the circles have been lost, enough remain to evoke a sense of the special atmosphere that would have existed here.

A view of the Ring of Brodgar standing stones

There is also Maes Howe, is a chambered tomb which, for around six weeks of the year, aligns with the setting sun. A visit between the end of November and middle of January will increase your likelihood of catching this phenomenon for yourself! 

Possibly our favourite part of the UNESCO site on Orkney is Skara Brae, a well-preserved village with fascinating details such as stone ‘dressers’ and box-beds, which pre-date Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids!

a view of Skara Bara, a well preserved town from the Neolithic era

Whilst on Orkney, be sure to visit the Old Man of Hoy, a distinctive red sandstone sea stack. The best way to catch a glimpse is to take a boat trip, with many operating from Stromness. These excursions showcase the abundant wildlife that call this archipelago home, including seals, kittiwakes and guillemots. You may also catch sight of the whales and dolphins that swim the waters around Orkney.

a view of the Old Man of Hoy sea stack against the cliffs of Orkney

Transport to and around Orkney: 

  • Bus services are best on the Orkney mainland and make accessing iconic locations such as the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, very easy. There are bus services on all part of Orkney, but you may find that services are more regular on the mainland areas around Stromness and Kirkwall.
  • There are several options for car hire on Orkney, and the roads are mostly quiet and easy to navigate. Electric vehicle charging points on Orkney are abundant, and you can make use of the Orkney 'Co-wheels’ EV car club if you’re keen to hire an EV car for use during your trip in an effort to be a more eco-friendly and responsible traveller.
  • Inter-island hopping is also made possible by Orkney Ferries, and for travelling shorter distances, why not consider bicycle hire? Cycle Orkney and Orkney Cycle Hire offer hire services in Kirkwall and Stromness respectively.

Explore our cottages on Orkney, or those within easy reach - ideal for a day trip

Orkney Holiday Cottages


Feeling inspired?

We hope that this list of our favourite solo trip destinations in Scotland has inspired you to set sail and explore the wilds of Scotland, but make sure to read our top tips for staying safe before you do:

Scotland is internationally known for being home to friendly folk, and there’s a real culture of talking to anyone and everyone you meet here. Not only that but Scotland is a self-described ‘accepting and inclusive nation’. This commitment to being an enjoyable and safe place to visit for all, is particularly key in alleviating concerns that solo travellers may have if they are women, from the LGBTQ+ community, or part of other marginalised groups and communities.

- Only explore difficult terrain and remote locations if you are experienced

- Make sure that you have emergency contact numbers to hand, including Scotland’s mountain rescue teams

- Let a trusted person know your approximate locations and/or expected time of return

- Wear appropriate clothing in exposed locations and carry food and water supplies 

You’re sure to find everything you need for an entertaining and awe-inspiring trip in any of these friendly spots, and we have plenty of cottages suitable for short breaks if you plan to cover a number of locations. There's no need to sacrifice on style and comfort either, with our range of hot tub cottages which are perfect for unwinding in after a day of exploring. Or, why not consider our lodges and log cabins in the great outdoors, ideal for those solo travellers who just can’t stop exploring? Whatever takes your fancy, we’re sure to find an ideal base for a just-you holiday, or one with a canine friend in tow! 

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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