Gems of Scotland – a guide for visiting some of the best villages, towns, and other locations in Scotland

Scotland is full of amazing places to visit - we've written about many of them, from Stirling to the Banffshire Coast, and from Crail to St Andrews. But despite being a country with more than 5 million residents, there are only 8 cities in Scotland. To put that into perspective, Luxembourg has a population of less than 1 million and currently has 12 cities. This is why people travelling around Scotland will so often find themselves in towns and villages, particularly in the North of the country.

We thought it would be useful to include some of our favourite Scottish towns, villages, and other locations in a big guide. Let's get into it:


A very pretty little place, despite being a small town there is plenty to see and do during your time in Killin. We've highlighted a few of our favourites below:

Finlarig Castle

Just half a mile North of Killin you'll find Finlarig Castle, which was built in the 1600s and which stands between the River Lochay and Loch Tay. It's ruinous but still remarkably intact given its age, and one of the best things about this castle is that it can be explored. It's free to visit and the surrounding area is also a pleasure to explore.



Roybridge is a tiny little village, but there are a few things to do here which are well worth your time both in the village and in the amazing surrounding area. Let's get into it:

Glen Roy National Nature Reserve

A 20 minute drive from the main road you'll find Glen Roy National Nature Reserve, an amazing area which is well worth a stop if you're looking for stunning views. Geology nerds will immediately be able to identify the signs of glaciation and erosion in the area, but even if you're not a geology nerd you'll still appreciate the beauty of the area, plus there is an information board which explains what you're looking at. Learn more here -

Glen Roy National Nature Reserve

Cille Choirill Church

As you can see from the image, you'd want to visit Cille Choirill Church as much for the surrounding views as for the building itself. This is a 15th century church which is very small but very interesting to visit - you can enter the building, and inside you'll find a bit more information about the story of the church and what it was used for.



Tain is small but a great town to visit - it's Scotland’s oldest royal burgh, and has some fascinating history attached to it. If you're passing by you can very easily enjoy a day in Tain, but we'd recommend a stay for a few days if you really want to properly enjoy your time. Here are some of the highlights:

Balblair Distillery

There's another distillery in Tain which you might be a bit more familiar with, but Balblair Distillery is probably the better of the 2. Open since the 18th century, this amazing building is fascinating to explore, and it's also interesting to meet all the people who make the great whisky here. Many whisky enthusiasts agree that this is one of the best distillery tours you can go on in terms of the skills of the tour guides and the quality of the tasting sessions. Even if you're driving, you'll get some mini bottles to take away with you!  Learn more here -

Balblair Distillery

Tain Museum

Spread across 3 buildings within the grounds of the medieval church of St Duthac, there is plenty to see at Tain Museum and it's an excellent place to visit if you're looking for a great insight into the history of Tain. You'll learn all about how Tain was where King James came on his final pilgrimage, and you'll see the impressive collection of Tain silver. Despite how small it is, this museum is well worth a visit. Learn more here -

The Glenmorangie Distillery Co

For whisky enthusiasts, Glenmorangie will be a brand that will need no introduction. But what you might not realise is that the Glenmorangie Distillery is in Tain. This distillery is really special - it has that untouched feeling, and the smell of whisky lingers in the air. The tours here are very popular, and aren't just about whisky - you'll get an overview of the wildlife in the surrounding area, and even information about what food to pair with your whisky! Even if you don't fancy heading on a tour, the visitor centre is free to visit and is also very interesting. Learn more here -

The Glenmorangie Distillery Co

Browns Gallery

There are 2 Browns Galleries in the Highlands, with the gallery in Inverness often being the most popular of the 2 as you'd imagine.

But we much prefer the smaller size and tranquility of the Browns Gallery in Tain. Established in 1993, the gallery features work from an interesting mix of local and overseas artists and includes everything from landscapes to sculptures. But we'd say even just walking around the building itself is very interesting, as it was once a 19th century bakehouse which has been converted. Learn more here -


Tain Golf Course

Golf lovers will know that this part of Scotland is excellent for golf, and that the Tain Golf Course is especially brilliant. Designed by Old Tom Morris, perhaps the most famous Scottish golfer to have ever lived, this course dates from the 19th century and still retains many of the original holes designed by Morris. These include the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 9th, and on the way back to the club, the 10th, 14th, and 15th. Expect to pay no more than £80 for a round even at peak times, which is very reasonable. Learn more here -


Tain Highland Gathering

Many of the towns in this part of Scotland will have an annual gathering of some sort, and we think the Tain Highland Gathering is up there as one of the best you can attend. The event attracts visitors from all over the world and features everything youd' expect from such a gathering, including activities such as highland dancing, pipe bands, and lots for kids. It's loads of fun but there are also trophies and prizes to be won for the more serious events. It's usually held in August at the Glenmorangie Distillery, learn more here -


Explore the Maitland Buildings

Many of the buildings in Tain were built by the Maitland family of architects in the 1800s, and they all have quite a distinctive look. Once you're familiar with the look, it's quite fun to walk around the town and to try and spot other Maitland buildings. Some of the better known examples in Tain include the Parish Church (pictured) and the Town Hall.


Grab some food & book a place to stay

For a small town, Tain is actually home to a number of interesting and excellent places to eat and grab a drink (aside from the distilleries, of course). If you're looking for fresh bread and cakes then William Grant Bakery on the high street is a great option. The Harry Gow Bakery a little further up the high street is also excellent. For a sit down meal, Crannag Bistro in Bonar Bridge is an award-winning restaurant serving up delicious contemporary dishes made from local ingredients. The pizzas from here are excellent! And lastly, if you're craving something a little more exotic then there is both an Indian (the Fish And Chicken Bar And Curry Club, that's a mouthful) and a Chinese (3388). They're both good! As far as places to stay go, you'll find lots of options on TripAdvisor,, and


Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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