There’s a reason that Scotland is a favorite with photographers. We keep on returning to shoot its lochs, castles and iconic landscape. It may not have the gigantic mountains of North America, or the volcanic landscape of Iceland, but there is something magical about waiting for the ever-changing weather to relent and give you that shot that you have been waiting for.
Here are 7 of the most beautiful (in my opinion) places to visit and take photos in Scotland. There are so many other places that can be added to this list. But that’s part of the lure of Scotland. Everyone will end up with their own “best” list.
1. Isle of Skye
It’s no exaggeration to say that this list could comprise entirely of locations from the Isle of Skye. For an area that is only 1,656 km², it sure does pack in the iconic photo spots. Everyone has their favourite. Is it the out-of-this-world landscape of the Quiraing? Or the lung-busting views from the lookout of the Old Man of Storr? Or maybe it’s the Fairy Pools with one of its many waterfalls sitting at the foot of the Black Cuillins mountains? There are so many photo spots on this island that you always wish you had more time.
2. Eilean Donan Castle
There are plenty of castles in Scotland vying for the title of the “most beautiful castle”. Eilean Donan Castle may just be the most stunning of them all. Sitting majestically on an island where Lochs Long, Duich and Alsh meet, backed by stunning mountains behind and the deep blue water in the foreground, it’s almost as if it was placed there with photographers in mind. And the best thing about the location is that it can be photographed (from different sides) throughout the day.
3. The Stacks of Duncansby
Most visitors who venture this far north in Scotland make the obligatory stop at the overcrowded John o’Groats. This is great because it leaves the real prize for us photographers, relatively quiet. First is the customary lighthouse perched on the cliffs with views towards Orkney. Then comes the Geo of Sclaites, a huge split in the cliff which is a haven for birds. But all that pales into insignificance when you first glimpse the striking points of the sea stacks poking out in the distance. Take your time and savour what’s in front of you, Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby.
4. Sandwood Bay
Imagine a place so beautiful, so pristine, and so quiet that you never want to leave. To call Sandwood Bay a “beautiful beach” is not only an injustice but blasphemy. You can’t describe it, but you just feel that you are somewhere special. Somewhere more than a “beach”. The 4-mile hike through the bleak Scottish moorland to arrive at this unspoilt corner of Scotland certainly does its bit to build up your anticipation for the magnificent vista that awaits you when you arrive.
5. Dunnottar Castle
Its slogan is “once seen, never forgotten…”. This once-mighty castle may now just be ruins, but it is no less impressive or photogenic. Sitting on a rocky headland jutting out into the North Sea, it is believed that Picts lived in this area as far back as 5000 BC. But the current surviving structures are mostly from the 15th and 16th centuries. Sitting on the east coast of Scotland makes this an ideal sunrise photography spot.
One of the most iconic photography spots in all of Scotland, Glencoe Valley is one of the best places in the UK for photography. The sheer volume of different locations that you can shoot from in such a small area is almost unmatched in Scotland. Depending on the time you have, the weather conditions and your fitness, you can find a whole variety of locations offering different compositions.
7. Stac Pollaidh
Whether you choose to photograph it, or from it, Stac Pollaidh deserves a visit. From the top, it offers dizzying 360-degree views of the Scottish Highlands. The true summit sits on the west side of the mountain and ranks as the most difficult to climb in the mainland UK (alongside the Cobbler). So, needless to say, that it should only be attempted by experienced climbers. But don’t worry because the views from the unofficial summit are just as impressive.