Scotland is the perfect option for a short break, especially for those travelling from England, Wales and Ireland who only have a few days to spare.
It is not always possible to take longer holidays throughout the year; sometimes our time needs to be split between a lot of people, so it is understandable that shorter breaks are necessary to satisfy that need to get away from it all, even just for a short amount of time.
Read on to discover some of the top destinations for short breaks in Scotland. Being well connected with four major airports and an efficient train network, it is easy to reach some of the most spectacular parts of Scotland. And let’s not forget the age-old exciting road trip – hop in the car and simply drive!
Here are the top destinations for short breaks in Scotland…
Inverness is described as the heart of the Highlands and it is no surprise wh, with its great location and connections to the north Highlands, west coast and Cairngorms National Park, and the major attractions like Loch Ness, the Black Isle and the North Coast 500 driving route. The city has its own airport which flies direct to London and other major cities across the UK and Europe, and it has a central train station too which runs services to the north, east, south, and west regularly.
Whether you are looking to plan an adventurous trip or a more laid-back city break, there is plenty to do and see in and around the city of Inverness in Scotland. Spend time admiring the small, welcoming city centre where you can wander around the shops and admire the cathedral, city hall and old castle. The River Ness runs through the centre and makes for a nice walk, especially in the early evening when the lights come on. Lining the river, there is an eclectic mix of restaurants and pubs, and Eden Court Theatre is easily reached by foot and offers a varied array of performances throughout the year.
Top suggestions for things to do in Inverness
This takes place in Belladrum, a mere 20 minutes from the city centre, and welcomes the top stars in Scottish music to come and entertain over a weekend in June. This would be the perfect reason to come and visit this great place, tying in some cultural day trips too.
The Black Isle
Take a trip over the bridge to the Black Isle where you will find a string of idyllic Highland villages, great beaches, and lovely local communities. The Black Isle Brewery makes for a fun day out where you can take a tour of the factory and learn about the process in creating this home-brewed ale. You can easily do a tour of the Black Isle in a day, returning to a nice meal out in town.
The world-famous Loch Ness
Loch Ness is easily reached from Inverness and you can take a day trip out on the loch with a great company called Jacobite Tours. They take you on a magical trip down the canal and then across the loch to Urquhart Castle, and if you are lucky you will spot Nessie! Read all about it in our guide to Loch Ness.
Featured property in Inverness: The Ardross Residence
The Ardross Residence is a top-floor, high-quality waterside apartment overlooking the River Ness with amazing city views. Based in the city centre, it is close to all of the trendy bars and restaurants and is just a small walk away from the theatre. It is stylish and quirky with two large double bedrooms to rest in at the end of exciting days out.
Oban is a small seaside resort town located on the west coast of Scotland and is well known as the ‘seafood capital’ with foodies from all over coming to sample the freshly caught fish, crabs and prawns whilst enjoying amazing views. It is a bustling hive of tourism in the summer months, being easily accessed by a train line from Glasgow, and many come here to experience the lively atmosphere and the charming culture of the west.
The main street of Oban is caressed with beautiful old Victorian buildings which run along the seashore and create a beautiful backdrop for the shingled beach. There are lots of little individual shops, boutiques and eateries, as well as hotel restaurants and bars to enjoy. The harbour is a great place to sit next to, watching the fishing boats come and go, as well as the ferry that comes in from Mull and the islands beyond. This is the perfect location for a short break in Scotland.
Top suggestions for things to do in Oban
Try out some sea kayaking from the mainland with the chance to spot porpoises, whales, seals, dolphins, and otters. Remember to take your binoculars and camera for those close-up shots. If kayaking is not your thing, book an exciting boat tour which leave from Oban harbour daily.
Isle of Kerrera
Explore Kerrera island for a day, where you can hop on a tiny ferry which takes you over to this independent island. There is a gorgeous walk around the perimeter which leads you to Gylen Castle, a ruin which is impressive to look at, and there is also a seal colony nearby. Just remember to be back in time for the last ferry crossing back to the mainland.
Oban Winter Festival
Oban holds many annual events, the main highlight being the Oban Winter Festival. This is a great way to experience some Scottish culture and see the fishing town bedecked with lights and Christmas cheer. This would be a great reason to use Oban as your next location for a short break in Scotland.
Featured property in Oban: Dail na Mara
Enhance your Scottish mini-break by staying in a luxury apartment next to the sea. The popular apartment, Dail na Mara, is stylish and modern and can offer a wonderful base for your Oban holiday. Sleeping four in two lovely bedrooms, the accommodation boasts amazing sea views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Cupar is a town located in Fife, which is the region that lies between Perth and Edinburgh, known as ‘The Kingdom of Fife.’ The town sits near the east coast and is well located for visitors to explore all the nearby fishing towns like Anstruther, Crail and the famous St Andrews. Cupar was once was a bustling market centre and today is a picturesque town which has retained much of its medieval character. You can get to Cupar easily by train with great connections between Edinburgh and Dundee.
The town is located alongside the River Eden and is surrounded by rolling countryside and gentle hills, making this a popular destination for those looking for a slower pace of life for a few days. The town is well suited for romantic breaks with lots of fine historic buildings to admire and a picturesque village centre. It is also popular for dog walkers with easy access to countryside lanes and the coastline, so keep this spot in mind for a short break in Scotland.
Top suggestions for things to do in Cupar
Head to St Andrews
Take a day trip to St Andrews, Scotland’s world-famous home of golf. Visit the town where Prince William and Kate started their journey together at the historic university. Admire medieval streets and all of the gorgeous traditional buildings and, for some fresh air, take a stroll along the beach. Being only 20 minutes away by car, it is easy to spend a day here.
Check out the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Being under an hour away from Edinburgh, many consider Cupar as a great base for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Stay here and get the best of both worlds: a mix of city culture and rural Fife life. You can get a train direct from Edinburgh to Cupar. Check out our guide to Edinburgh.
Discover traditional fishing villages
Take a tour of the coastal fishing villages including Anstruther, Crail and Pittenweem. Here you can explore historic villages that are still full of their traditional charm and culture. The beaches around this area offer great opportunities to stretch the legs and you will be able to pick up a bite to eat at any of the local independent eateries.
Featured property in Cupar: Muirfield House
Muirfield House is a spacious and stylish larger property with a games room and an impressive garden. Boasting countryside views, it is located in the pretty village of Cupar Muir, just 2 miles from Cupar. The town has a lovely range of shops and eateries and you won’t be short of farm shops, boutiques, and local attractions to enjoy. The house is great for family get-togethers and group gatherings.
Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway is a southern region of Scotland which lies on the border between Scotland and England. Rising as one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations, this is a great place to come for a short break. If you are looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation, Dumfries and Galloway has it all. Well connected from the north and south, you can get to it easily and a stay here will help you escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Dumfries itself is a historic market town which boasts one of Scotland’s oldest bridges. It is a lovely place to come and walk around where you can admire the picturesque town that encompasses the River Nith. Castle Douglas, Dundrennan, Borgue and Wigtown are all but a drive away and offer fun days out and there are lots of golf courses, mountain bike parks and the Galloway Forest Park to have fun in. This would be a great location for a short break in Scotland.
Top suggestions for things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
Wigtown Book Festival
Wigtown Book Festival takes place every year in April and is a real celebration of British talent. Authors, illustrators, and publishers come from all over to share their stories with you, giving talks and holding exhibitions. It is a creative event to experience and one that is certainly a good excuse to visit the area.
Robert Burns House
If you are a fan of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns, you can visit a centre in Dumfries, Robert Burns House, that is dedicated to him and the history of the town. Situated in an 18th-century watermill, this is a great museum to potter around and learn about the historic culture of the area. In the evenings, the venue becomes a theatre and even shows current blockbuster films.
Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park is a great place to go for walking, climbing, and cycling and anything adventurous. Covering 300 square miles, it offers everything from seashore views to mountain tops and is one big adventure playground for all who go there.
Read all about the Scottish Borders in our helpful Scottish Borders guide.
Featured property in Dumfries and Galloway: Rhonehouse
Rhonehouse is a beautiful 18th-century family holiday home which is both traditional and spacious, offering a wonderful base to those who come and stay here. Try riding, sailing, cycling and golf all from the doorstep and enjoy everything else Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.
Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms National Park is located in the heart of the Highlands and is the perfect place to explore during a short break to Scotland. With the Highland towns of Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore and Carrbridge located closely along the same train line, it is a well-connected area making it an easy one to explore over a few days. Hills, lochs, beaches, woodlands and wildlife are abundant here, and no visit to the National Park will go forgotten.
Whatever the time of year, there is always an abundance of activities to do and sights to see. Loch Morlich offers the perfect day out in the summertime with water sports hire, a lovely beach, and amazing views. Throughout the winter, the Cairngorm ski resort offers up a great variety of ski runs ranging from easy to hard. Seasonally, there is always mountain biking, walking, horse-riding and kayaking to be done. And don’t forget the many activity companies set up here to help you make the most of the wild surroundings.
Top suggestions for things to do in the Cairngorms
Ride the Strathsteam Railway
Hop aboard the Strathsteam Railway and enjoy afternoon tea with views of Strathspey. Take the journey from Aviemore to Broomhill bridge and enjoy the comfort of an old-fashioned carriage aboard a historical steam train. This is a lovely way to spend the afternoon and being dropped back in Aviemore means you can then go on to have a tasty meal in the Cairngorm Hotel or The Winking Owl.
See wild reindeer
Take a trip up the mountain and visit the local reindeer. If you are looking for something a bit different, this is a lovely thing to do with the kids. Whilst the reindeer are not ‘pets’, and roam freely on the mountain, they are very friendly and used to tourists, so you can get up close and personal with our large locals and say hello.
Visit the Highland Wildlife Park
The Highland Wildlife Park is located 20 minutes from Aviemore and offers up a fantastic day out for you and the family. With all sorts of species on show from monkeys to bison, there is lots to see. Now famed for the UK’s first-born polar bear cub, you can spend the day here roaming the animal pens and saying hello to Hamish the bear himself!
Read all about this splendid area in our guide to the Cairngorms.
These are just a handful of areas which we consider to be top locations for a short break in Scotland. However, there are lots of other areas which would be great as well. Perthshire offers a great network of beautiful towns, whilst the east coast and Aberdeenshire have some wonderful coastal attractions too. Short breaks in Scotland can be as adventure-packed or as chilled as you like. Whatever you fancy, Scotland can accommodate any sort of itinerary!
Stay in a self-catering cottage during your short break in Scotland
With self-catering cottages dotted throughout Scotland, we can provide self-catering holiday accommodation to suit any occasion. With a collection ranging from celebration holidays homes, family cottages and trendy log cabins, to romantic cottages for two and luxury holiday homes, we have something to suit everyone. Scotland could also be described as one big adventure playground for the dog too, so make sure you check out our range of dog-friendly accommodation too which will be lovely places for them to snooze in after energetic days out.
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