Scotland’s beautiful landscapes are usually enjoyed from land. Whether that’s the peak of Ben Nevis or the vast expanse of the Highlands, some of the best attractions in Scotland are only available to those travelling by rail, car, or on foot.
There are exceptions, of course, with huge bodies of water such as Loch Ness attracting plenty of people throughout the year. Such is the draw to these hotspots that the Scottish Tourism Alliance reports 46% of all Scots will remain in the country for their holidays.
There is also coastal tourism in Scotland, and some of the towns and cities are visited by cruise ships. When you think of going on a cruise, often you’ll imagine a sun-drenched deck and clear blue skies, rather than Scotland, but cruises visiting our cities are becoming more popular. Indeed, there are some lovely spots that cruises pick up that are well worth visiting.
If you want to see Scotland from a different angle and intend on taking a cruise to maximise the locations you can visit, these are some of the key locations you can hope to see.
Lerwick, on Shetland, is one of the most northern points of Scotland and isn’t easy to visit under usual circumstances. However, it is a popular cruise destination, with Viking Cruises landing the first ship of 2023 in its harbour. Lerwick is a busy fishing port but also serves the oil industry, which is a key part of Shetland’s economy. There are some lovely buildings to visit in Lerwick, such as the Böd of Gremista, which point to the town’s heritage. Fans of the television series Shetland will also find plenty to see from the show, which is partially filmed in Lerwick. Don’t expect to see Douglas Henshall, who played DCi Jimmy Perez though – he left the show last year.
Another town that is enjoyed by visiting cruise ships is the Viking settlement of Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides. It is one of the destinations taken in by Hurtigruten Expeditions, and has plenty to keep a visitor occupied for a day. An Lanntair is a multi-purpose arts centre on the seafront, whilst those visiting in July, the middle of the cruise season, can enjoy the annual Hebridean Celtic Festival. Whilst there, be sure to try Stornoway Black Pudding, which was granted PGI status in 2013 by the European Commission.
When one thinks of Scotland, as well as the locations we mentioned in the intro, Edinburgh immediately springs to mind. It’s a mix of the classic old town and new, cosmopolitan Scotland, and attracts millions of visitors by road, rail and air every year. Thanks to the Port of Leith, it is also a cruise ship destination. It is one of the stops on the Explora Cruises Wild Caledonia and Arctic Circle cruise, which incidentally also takes in Shetland. It’s a quintessential taste of Scotland, and perhaps a day won’t be long enough to visit the castle, climb Arthur’s Seat and meander around the old town. Some Explora cruises stay for two nights, so you can get the most out of the city but also enjoy the luxury cabins and onboard facilities of the ship.
The village of Portree, on the Isle of Skye, is surrounded by hills and is both picturesque and charming in equal measure. Ben Tianavaig to the south and Suidh Fhinn to the west are both around 1000ft and offer a lovely climb on a good day, whilst, in the village, there are cafes and restaurants to enjoy. Portree is a beautiful village that might not be on your typical Scottish itinerary but is certainly one of the best places to stop when on a cruise around the Scottish coast.
If travelling on land is more your style, then here at Best Scottish Holiday Cottages, we’ve got just the thing for you – a wonderful selection of places to stay and guides to help you get the most out of this wonderful country.