9 ideas for a romantic getaway in Scotland
With the most romantic day of the year fast approaching, many couples will be thinking about escaping on a cosy break for two. With fairy-tale scenery and atmospheric locations, a romantic break in Scotland is the perfect choice for amorous duos.
The dilemma for many is choosing which of the many stunning destinations around the country is best for a memorable getaway. I decided to turn to my travel blogging buddies that have a particular expertise in Scotland and ask for their personal recommendations on the best places for couples, I've also included a suggestion of my own.
If you're planning to whisk your other half away this Valentine's Day (or any other day of the year!) then this guide to Scotland's most romantic places by some of the top travel bloggers in the country is just what the love doctor ordered!
1. Royal Deeside - Aberdeenshire
By Victoria MacDonald - greatHerday
If it’s good enough for royalty, then it is good enough for you.
Aberdeenshire boasts the slogan ‘from mountain to sea' and up until a year ago, I had only ever seen the sea. However, should you follow the River Dee, you will be taken into the most glorious of Scottish countryside, scattered with historic villages and spectacular castles. Royal Deeside is a 40 minute drive from Aberdeen Airport and rivals the Highlands in its sensational scenery. There are a variety of little nooks and crannies in the area, all packed with history, views, activities and most importantly, romance.
Royal Deesides most famous bragging right is Balmoral Castle, where the Queen and her family spend their summer months. Balmoral Castle is a wonderful place to take a tour and a great place to play King and Queen for the day. Not too far from Balmoral lies Braemar. Braemar is a beautiful little village with incredible views and history dating back to 1059! Braemar is most famously known for the Braemar Gathering, where the Queen is often in attendance, however nearby lies Braemar Castle and amazing mountain walks including Keiloch Crag. The Braemar Lodge Hotel is a traditional, Scottish countryside hotel, boasting the perfect opportunity to get cosy under the sheets whilst enjoying the stunning views outside.
One of the most romantic little hideaways in Royal Deeside is Aboyne. Aboyne plays host to Deeside Activity Park and Glen Tanar National Nature Reserve. There is a very romantic little place to stay on the outskirts of the village named The Lodge on The Loch. The Lodge has views over the Loch of Aboyne where you can enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your own private hot-tub. Royal Deeside is also home to Alford which includes the Grampian Transport Museum and Craigievar Castle. The Burn’O’Vat, an incredible example of natures own sculptural work lies near Dinnet and is a wonderful place to walk hand in hand whilst exploring nature at its best. Should you fancy a winter warmer, Royal Lochnagar Distillery is propped up in bonnie Ballater. If you are looking for the perfect romantic getaway, it would be worth starting from Aberdeen on a romantic roadtrip through Royal Deeside which greatHerday can help you plan. Who knows, you might even meet royalty!
2. Peebles - Scottish Borders
By Patricia Cuni - Mad About Travel
One of my favourite spots in Scotland for a romantic break is the Borders, and there, Peebles. This quaint town on the shores of the river Tweed and the Eddleston Water, it does have a cute town centre with some great shops, lovely cafes and very romantic restaurants, perfect for a getaway. Last time, I stayed at The Park, a quirky and fun hotel with a winning decor and a restaurant that will have you salivating all day.
There are loads of things to do on a romantic break in Peebles. For instance, nothing better than a stroll by the shores of the river Tweed all the way to Neidpath Castle, still standing tall and strong. Or you could hike Cademuir Hill and make it all the way to the top, to admire the landscape while standing on two ruined massive Iron Age hill forts.
On the other hand, if you’re not feeling that adventurous, you can always just check out the tower of St Andrew’s Church, the ruins of the Cross Kirk or some other historic sites. But if you are looking for something different to do with your significant other, why don’t you drive to Innerleithen and have a go at printing at Robert Smail’s Printing Works? After all these activities, make sure you have some spa treatment at the Peebles Hydro. I can’t think of a better place for a relaxing yet adventurous romantic break in Scotland.
3. The Hermitage - Perthshire
By Ana Barrera - Lovely Scotland
The most romantic walk through the woods I have ever seen is, no doubt The Hermitage in Dunkeld. As if Tay Forest was not beautiful enough, the walks, falls and all sort of delicate corners in The Hermitage make the place even more scenic. The highlights are Ossian’s Hall, Black Linn Falls and the mystical Ossian’s Cave. If you want to experience the best romantic getaway ever with your partner, take him (or her) to this amazing place in autumn (mid October will be perfect).
If you have plenty of time, Dunkeld and Birnam themselves are perfect places to wander around. Do not miss the stunning Cathedral, Beatrix Potter Garden and Exhibition, the birds and landscape at Loch of the Lowes and, most of all, the Birnam Oak trail: it will lead you to an extremely ancient tree that lies in a very Shakespearean spot beside the river.
For a romantic accommodation you can choose Eastwood House, a historic place where Beatrix Potter herself spent a few months back in 1893. Definitely not an affordable option, only advisable on special occasions and generous budgets. If you have a smaller budget, the cute Jessie Mac’s is a very nice option. A dinner at The Tay Bank –such a lovely view- can totally finish up a perfect day with your significant one.
4. The North Coast 500
By Gemma Armit - Two Scots Abroad
Head to the Highlands for your next romantic break in Scotland. The newly marketed North Coast 500 route is a dream destination for couples. From Inverness to Durness up the west coast and back around the east; couples can visit distilleries, caves, hills for wandering and fine dining (or the casual pub grub). This packed road trip takes you along winding roads, white sand beaches, the cutest of fishing villages inhabited by even sweeter people. Not up for socialising? Shy away in one of the many east coast castles; you won't find ruins like Ardvreck Castle (Loch Assynt) on this NC500 accommodation list. Although this road trip can be completed in two days (whizzing around), it is recommended you set aside at least four days to stop, relax, dine, drink, discover and even hop aboard one of the many boat tours to Handa Island for the puffins, Cape Wrath to see most northern westerly lighthouse on Scotland's mainland or even Orkney. Camping is also an option and some of the campsites are the most scenic ones you'll ever see. Unzip to the turquoise seas of Achmelvich Bay but remember the midge repellent! Nothing says sexy like bites.
5. Lewis and Harris
By Sonja Thomson - Migrating Miss
The Isles of Lewis and Harris are the perfect place for a romantic break in Scotland. They have history, mystery, and stunning landscapes that you won’t believe are part of Scotland. Walking down the beach might be a romantic cliche, but you won’t care when you’re walking hand in hand when along some of the best beaches in the world that might be mistaken for those in a much warmer locale, and would be packed with people if they were anywhere else! The Isles of Harris and Lewis are quite distinct in their different landscapes, but both have beautiful golden sand beaches, with Luskentyre in the south of Harris regularly voted one of the best in the world. While you’re there, stop by the Isle of Harris Gin Distillery to try their seaweed infused gin. To the west of Lewis you’ll find Uig, with it’s miles of sand surrounded by barren landscape and turquoise sea. It’s famous for the salmon caught there and for the historic chess set found buried nearby. Visit the standing stones at Callenish and marvel over how they might have come about, or what they were for (and channel Jamie and Claire from Outlander!). Stay in a remote location and enjoy the peace and a real escape to a isolated isle with your loved one.
6. Loch Lomond
By Kirstin McEwan - The Tinberry Travels
With a mesmerising mountain backdrop, Loch Lomond offers stunning views, endless walks, and plenty of romantic atmosphere that can be matched by few other locations in Scotland. If you enjoy the great outdoors, Loch Lomond and its surrounding area can provide a wealth of enthralling activities to enjoy on the beautiful still water, including kayaking, paddle boarding and even wild swimming if you want to brave the bracing temperatures. For those who want to enjoy the loch in slightly more comfortable surroundings, there are plenty of boat trips to transport you around the incredible scenery or you could even get lost on a secluded island such as Inchcailloch. If long walks are more your thing then you and your partner can head uphill for some picturesque views over the loch from locations including Conic Hill or Ben Lomond but if you prefer to stay on easier terrain, you can try forest trail routes through Sallochy or Cashel. After a long day in the great outdoors, there’s nothing better than a romantic dinner and you’re spoiled for choice with cosy eateries and hotels along the loch side from Balloch to Ardui. If you fancy a romantic late stroll (or have opted to spend the night in one of the many camping spots) then you’ll get to enjoy an epic view of the stars, and if you’re really lucky, you might even see the Aurora Borealis!
7. East Neuk of Fife
By Nicola Holland - FunkyEllas Travel
The beautiful East Neuk of Fife, in the Kingdom of Fife, is a cluster of small fishing villages with pretty harbours and white washed cottages. From Elie and Earlsferry in the south to Kingsbarns further up the Coast the other villages include Pittenweem, St Monans, Antruther, Cellardyke and Crail. Each of the villages retain their individual charms and they share a long fishing history. It’s the perfect location for a romantic weekend. The south facing shores mean the sunsets are spectacular. Why not stay in one of the many cute and cosy cottages available? Many overlook the harbours meaning you can pour a glass of wine (or a wee dram of whisky), light the fire and the candles and cosy up on the sofa to watch the sun disappearing below the horizon. I like to stay during the winter when the tourist have left and the streets are quiet. I love nothing more than waking early and walking hand in hand through the cobbled streets and lanes, visiting the small, independent shops and stopping for a warm hot chocolate in one of the many pretty cafes. I especially love the Cocoa Tree Cafe in Pittenweem where owner Sophie also hand makes her own fairtrade chocolates which you can take back to your cottage to enjoy later. The Easy Neuk also has lots of award winning restaurants such as Craig Millar @ 16 West End which sits above the beach in St Monans and is as romantic as can be.
After your big mug of hot chocolate you can wrap up warm and take a stroll along part of the Fife Coastal Path which hugs the shoreline of Fife and through each of the villages. You’ll find miles of white sandy beaches, stunning sea cliffs, sand dunes and nature reserves, perfect if you bring a picnic basket and a blanket.
8. Oban & Loch Awe - Argyll
By Kathi Kamleitner - Watch Me See
For me a perfect romantic getaway must include picturesque scenery, romantic seclusion and lots of fun activities to bond over - which is why I love going to Argyll.
My favourite area in Argyll for a romantic break is around Oban and Loch Awe as it offers so many different activities for fun days out with your partner. Our latest trip brought us to a gorgeous waterfront cottage in Craobh Haven Marina, just south of Oban. During the day we rented a boat and glided across Loch Awe towards Kilchurn Castle; one of my favourite Scottish castles. In the evening we watched the sun set over Islay & Jura, stargazed from our front porch and cuddled up by the fire place!
A year earlier we camped at the Oban Caravan & Camping Park and pitched our tent right by the waterfront. The waters around Oban boast some of the country's best kayaking grounds and there really is nothing more exciting than spending a day exploring the shorelines. With a bit of luck you might even meet the Scottish marine wildlife, like seals and plenty of sea birds. We spent our days paddling to remote islands with the National Kayak School, who offer small group kayaking tours around Oban and the Inner Hebrides. Our evenings were spent eating delicious meals outside our tent with an unobstructed view over the island of Kerrara and - you guessed it right - more epic sunsets!
I'm already looking forward to planning this year's romantic getaway in Argyll!
9. Rhins of Galloway
By Susanne Arbuckle - Adventures Around Scotland
Last year I headed off for a cosy getaway to the Rhins of Galloway with Mr Adventures Around Scotland where we stayed in the cutest little shepherd's hut situated in the magical Glenwhan Gardens.
The Rhins of Galloway is a peninsula in the south western part of Scotland and is ideal for a romantic break thanks to numerous pretty gardens, sweeping beaches and fascinating history. As it is still off the radar to many tourists, you will easily find a quiet spot for two. I highly recommend visiting the beautiful Port Logan Beach and a trip to Scotland's most southerly point at the Mull of Galloway where you can sit outside the cafe and enjoy lunch with one of the most dramatic views in the country.
A visit to the picturesque coastal town of Portpatrick is a must. Take a seat outdoors at one of the many seafront hotels and enjoy fresh seafood while savouring the harbour views or go on a walk along the coastal path to Dunskey Castle, one of my favourite Scottish ruins.
At night there is very little light pollution, which also makes this an ideal location for star gazing which we did from the comfort of the window next to the bed whilst wrapped up in the duvet!
If you fancy venturing further afield then a day trip on the Stena Line ferry to Northern Ireland is a fun option as the crossing takes just over 2 hours. I booked one of the organised coach tours which was a great way to get a taster of some of the famous attractions along the Antrim Coast.
Staying in the Rhins of Galloway means it is super easy to combine a romantic break in Scotland with a romantic break in Northern Ireland!
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