Holiday Homes in Scotland

Scotland is the northernmost region of the UK, and offers up a playground to outdoorsy types, history buffs and those looking for an adventure. Venture further inland and you’ll find bustling cities brimming with culture. Medieval castles are dotted around the country, and excitingly, our destination experts regularly comb the lands of Scotland to find castles to add to our unique collection, along with stately manor homes and characterful cottages. After all, one thing all our properties need to have is the ‘wow’ factor.

Scotland is the ideal place for a short break, and our properties reflect this – with a minimum stay of just 3 nights. To add that extra bit of luxury to your stay, a good chunk of our Scotland properties offer hot tubs - so you can stay warm on those chilly nights. Not only this, but almost half of our properties are dog-friendly, meaning you don’t need to leave your furry friend at home… it’s like a wonderland for walkies!


Read the Scotland Travel Guide

Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked holiday homes and cottages in Scotland have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking holiday homes that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our cottages are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

Why visit?

  • The area’s wilderness is vast, with magnificent lochs, mountains and craggy coastlines decorating the landscape.
  • It’s the perfect place to take on challenging hikes, thrilling outdoor activities, or simply to explore historical treasures.

We have 10 more reasons for you to visit Scotland. Check them out!

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Holiday Homes in Scotland: Our Top Picks

Overview

Bonny Scotland lives up to its name and its reputation. This gorgeous part of the UK is a land of towering mountains, deep brooding lochs and fabulous towns. The welcome is warm, the castles are picture-perfect, and the best way to see the finest aspects of this small but perfectly formed country is to book one of our holiday cottages in Scotland.

Hot tub happiness

The sheer number of premium quality lodges with hot tubs in Scotland makes this destination perfect if you want a luxurious break with your partner surrounded by dramatic scenery and huge, starry skies with no light pollution to dim the view of the Milky Way.

We have castles that’ll make you feel like the local Laird for a week. Or why not bring your four-legged family members and stay in one of our dog friendly cottages? Scotland is a paradise for pups – there’s plenty of space for them to run around and dogs are welcome in nearly all cottages and holiday homes.

Food and drink in Scotland

Haggis, neeps and tatties, all washed down with a wee dram, followed by some butter shortbread, delicious! Scotland’s food culture is also embracing new and exciting flavours, so you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants and fusion food that’ll make your mouth water.

If you want more information, check the Scotland Travel Guide in our blog.

What Oliver loves

The warm welcome, the quirkiness and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes. Scotland is a friendly, inviting place where you’re treated as one of the clan from the moment you arrive.

Gylen Castle, Argyll, Scotland

Gylen Castle, Argyll

Best time to go

  • June, July and August are the high season months, when you can expect temperatures in the high teens to low 20s. It does rain (a lot), but during the summer the showers are brief.
  • Look out for the Highland Games during the summer – a series of competitions held all over the Highlands that are a big part of Scottish culture.
  • Keep an eye on the forecast during April and May, as you often get good weather during this time and the crowds are much smaller.
  • Winters are very cold, often with heavy snow. If you’re here for winter sports and skiing in the Cairngorms then the best snow is usually in January and February.

    Top tips

    • The weather can be very interchangeable, so pack wisely.
    • Make sure you pack insect repellent during the summer months. The clouds of midges, especially around the lochs, are relentless.
    • Be aware that during grouse season you will hear plenty of gunfire on the heather moorlands.

    Where to go

    Scotland, the land of natural beauty, proud Gaelic culture and damn fine whiskey. We’re in love with its beguiling rugged landscapes - from its steep mountain ranges to majestic lochs and craggy coastline. Not to mention its quaint seaside towns, rural villages and vibrant cities – which quite frankly, charmed the socks off us.

    That’s why we made sure we had a collection of places to stay in Scotland, from castles to holiday homes and cottages. Because we want everyone to experience a real Scottish adventure.

    Need help figuring out where to stay? This handy guide is here to help you make your decision. And if you’d like to learn more, feel free to get in touch with our concierge team.

    Argyll, Scotland

    Argyll is known as Scotland’s adventure coast, as it’s home to 23 inhabited islands and an impressive coastline which encompasses everything from rugged wilderness and nature reserves, to white-sand beaches, historic ruins and a huge selection of water-sports. It’s ideal for an activity-filled family holiday.

    Ayrshire, Scotland

    Ayrshire is steeped in history, from the impressive number of castles (there are 40) and intense tales of battle, to its links with famous Scots, like the poet Robert Burns. Not just for the history buffs, Ayrshire is home to four scenic islands and a lovely selection of seaside towns, with lots of cycling and hiking trails.

    Edinburgh

    The capital city of Edinburgh is a vibrant, cultural hub with beautiful buildings entwined in its landscape. The art scene is thriving (culminating in the world-famous Fringe Festival), the history is spellbinding, and the nightlife is enchanting. It’s truly a city that comes alive after dark.

    Highlands

    Discover the true beauty of Scotland with a trip to the Highlands. The rural landscapes and scenic vistas are enough to hypnotize you; peppered with crumbling forts, secluded beaches and historic ruins, it’s a total feast for the eyes. It’s the place to come if you’re an outdoor adventurer, with challenging hikes up the likes of Ben Nevis to kayaking across the lochs and mountain biking.

    Loch Lomond, Scotland

    The largest lake of mainland Britain, Loch Lomond is steeped in folklore and mythical creatures, and offers breath-taking views. It’s perfect for the whole family with attractions like fairy trails, adventure courses, water-sports and walking routes. Or if you’re looking for something more relaxing, it’s also the perfect place to kick back and enjoy the scenery.

    Scottish Borders

    The easiest place to find for those coming from England, the Scottish Borders are home to diverse landscapes and experiences, from rolling hills to rugged coastline and stunning lochs. Outdoor activities range from fishing to cycling, and the array of traditional towns and villages offer up quaint days out, with gardens and tearooms aplenty.

    St Andrews, Scotland

    St Andrews is a well-known historic golfing destination. With a golf museum and 10 excellent golf courses to choose from, including the world-famous Old Course, it’s a must-visit for any golfing aficionado. Plus, with historic wonders like the Cathedral and Secret Bunker, it’s a total gem.

    Family friendly

    Scotland has really upped its game when it comes to family-friendly holiday ideas. For adventurous kids, this place is absolute heaven, with so many things to see and do from dog sledging in the Cairngorms or hunting out pesky ghosts in Aberdeen’s castles. There’s a distinctive lack of water parks (as you would expect, given Scotland’s northerly latitude), but it more than makes up for that with more unusual and memorable family-friendly activities for all ages.

    Get back to nature

    Don’t forget your bikes, because there are cycling and hiking trails galore across the glens (which really do turn bright purple when the heather blooms in the early summer).

    Enjoy Edinburgh

    For city kids and older teens, a trip to Edinburgh during Festival season is a great way to spend some quality time together. The Fringe Festival has plenty for kids to enjoy, including circus training, juggling and storytelling for the younger kids, and family-friendly comedy for older teens.

    On the other side of the country, Glasgow is packed full of museums, interactive science centres, and attractions like the Riverside Museum’s very own Tall Ship.

    If your kids love their monsters, why not take them to Loch Ness to see if they can spot Nessie? Or take them to any one of the Go Ape! centres in Aberdeenshire, Peebleshire, or Stirling.

    Discover more information about things to do with family in Scotland.

    Family in Scotland

    Why it’s perfect for families

    • Great for babies: Our cottages in Scotland are usually well equipped if you’re travelling with very young kids, although you may need to let them know in advance if you need a high chair or crib. Check out our holiday homes for toddlers.
    • Great for kids: The different castles, attractions, and outdoor adventure opportunities are bound to keep the kids happy, and there are even some stunning beaches for a day by the seaside. These are our holiday homes ideal for kids.
    • Great for teens: Edinburgh during the August Fringe Festival is an absolute stunner for young adults, with family-friendly comedy on offer, exhibitions, shows, and some superb shopping. Discover our holiday homes for teens.

    Top tips

    • Look out for local publications like ‘The List’ Magazine in newsagents, which has a section on kid’s activities in and around Edinburgh.
    • Plan some ‘rainy day’ entertainment, as Scotland’s weather can change at any moment.
    • While many pubs welcome children, in some areas kids under 14 are not allowed. Look for family-friendly pubs that have a Children’s Certificate which allows under-14s admission (when accompanied by an adult).

    Beaches in Scotland

    Beaches? In Scotland? Absolutely! In fact, this is one of the biggest secrets we’re about to let you in on – Scotland’s beaches are genuinely incredible.

    They’re vast, they’re spectacularly beautiful, and they’re usually almost completely empty. You may need to kit the family out with wetsuits if you want to go body-boarding or swimming as the water is very cold compared to what you’d expect in the Mediterranean, for example, but it’s well worth that initial cold-water gasp as the water is clean, with great surf most of the year.

    There are plenty of cottages close to the coast, and even if you don't want to try the cold water, here you can take a stroll or walk the dog, watch the kids play, or break out the binoculars and spot seals and the occasional pod of dolphins offshore.

    The coastline is packed full of tiny coves, secret beaches, and inlets, as well as some huge sweeps of golden sand that are practically empty even in the height of summer. If you love your water-sports such as stand-up paddle boarding, or even a spot of coasteering, then the Scottish beaches are the place to go.

    Oliver's Hidden Gem

    Camusdarach Beach, Morar: Part of a succession of stunning beaches called the Silver Sands of Morar, this beach is just stunning. Head here at sunset and complete with a view of the Cuillin mountain range over on the Isle of Skye.

    Camusdarach Beach, Morar, Scotland

    Lossiemouth, Moray

    White sand, rolling sand dunes, and close to town so it’s perfect for an afternoon walk with the dog, the East Beach is a real hidden treasure of a beach. Stop off for a scoop of homemade ice cream at Miele’s.

    Aberdeen Beach

    The granite city has its very own family-friendly beach, and it’s a proper bucket-and-spade spot, complete with an Art Deco esplanade and 3km of golden sand, so there’s never any worries about finding a space. Look out for bottlenose dolphins during the summer.

    Balnakeil Beach, Highlands

    You’d expect the north coast to be all rugged cliffs and dramatic rocks, and then up pops this enormous expanse of golden sand. Just north of Durness, it’s wild, romantic, and usually completely deserted – just right for a romantic stroll.

    West Sands Beach, St Andrews

    If you’ve seen the opening shots of ‘Chariots of Fire’, you’ll recognise this huge sandy beach. You’re just a short putt from the legendary St Andrews Old Course, and the beach is so vast you’ll have no worries about crowds, even in August.

    Coldingham Bay, Eyemouth

    Just over an hour’s drive from Edinburgh is this stunning sandy beach. It’s popular with surfers and swimmers, and dogs are welcome on the beach all year round. The town was once home to a Benedictine Priory dating back to 640AD.

    Ayr Beach, Ayr

    A real family-friendly beach with lots of things for the kids to do, including putting greens and crazy golf. You’re just an hour away from Glasgow, so it’s ideal if you’ve booked one of our luxury lodges in Scotland for a family holiday.

    Things to do

    From discovering secret beaches and exploring ancient castles, watching burly men in kilts throw hammers, cabers and just about anything else they can lay their hands on at a Highlands Games, or spending a day boutique shopping in Edinburgh, there’s so much to see and do in Scotland.

    Scotland’s culture is unique, distinctive, and proud, and the Scots will embrace any opportunity to celebrate it with music, dancing and poetry. Pop into any Scottish pub in the evening and there’s a good chance you’ll be greeted with traditional Gaelic music and some of the best single-malt whisky you’ve ever tried.

    Top activities

    • Watch Scotland’s bravest and strongest sportsmen and women pit their strength against one another at the Highland Games.
    • Take a whisky tour of one of the hundreds of different distilleries across Scotland. Maps are available for those who are dedicated scotch aficionados and who want to include a tour of the best distilleries.
    • Look out for the Royal National Mod, a celebration of the Gaelic culture of Scotland and held right across the country. Here you’ll see the country’s best bagpipers, poets, singers and storytellers keeping these ancient bardic arts alive.
    • Take a trip on the West Highland Line, believed to be the most scenic railway journey in the world. Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera.
    • Take the kids for a great day out to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, followed by a trip to Edinburgh Zoo and say hello to the zoo’s most famous residents, the only pandas currently living in the UK.
    • Go underground with a tour of the Edinburgh catacombs, or take a guided ghost tour of the city in the evening – a spooky and wonderfully entertaining way to discover the hidden corners of the city.

    Gylen Castle, Argyll, Scotland

    Gylen Castle

    Oliver's Hidden Gem

    Fingal’s Cave: Island-hop over to Staffa island to see the incredible Fingal’s Cave. Lined with the same hexagonal basalt rock formation as you’d see over on the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, it’s unique, spectacular, and genuinely amazing.

    Keep a look out for the adorable puffins who nest on the top of this uninhabited island during the summer.

    Fingal’s Cave

    Towns and villages

    Scotland is full of charming villages and pretty towns, as well as cities that have incredible presence. Edinburgh, for example, is a complex mix of incredible Georgian boulevards and a huge castle sitting on top of an ancient volcanic plug, while Glasgow has reinvented itself from its industrial past and is now a city of culture packed with museums, art galleries, and exclusive shopping outlets.

    Aberdeen, the ‘Granite City’, is filled with towering houses and granite battlements, while on the Borders Berwick upon Tweed (which regularly swaps allegiances between England and Scotland) has more castles than almost anywhere else in the UK.

    However, head into the countryside and within a few miles of those imposing cities you’ll find tiny villages filled with candy-coloured cottages, flowers, and ancient Celtic crosses. With so many holiday cottages in Scotland to choose from, you’re never far from a charming village or a thriving city centre. If this is of your interest, then check out our villas close to towns.

    Oliver’s Hidden Gem

    Peebles: Sitting on the Scottish Borders, this delightful town is an artisan’s haven filled with crafts shops and quirky boutiques. They’re still hanging onto their Pagan roots here too, with a week-long Beltane festival in May, as well as jazz and arts festivals all year round.

    Peebles, Scotland

    Fort Augustus

    Sitting at the foot of Loch Ness, this pretty town is also home to the Caledonian Canal, its own heritage centre, and some of the best afternoon teas you’ll ever taste. The views down to the Loch are spectacular, and cottages in the Highlands in this area put you right in the heart of some of the finest countryside in Europe.

    Tobermory

    If you’ve got kids, then you’ll probably be familiar with the brightly-painted houses and tumbling streets of Tobermory – they form the set of Balamory as well as being the main town for the gorgeous Isle of Mull. Look out for the town museum, whisky distillery, and aquarium, as well as an arts centre that displays local artists’ work.

    Pitlochry

    Sitting on the River Tummel is this busy town that’s a real hit with tourists and locals alike. The town manages to pack plenty in, including a number of castles, golf courses, cycling paths, distilleries, and festivals. If you’re here in February, look out for the Winter Words book festival, while the Kenmore Highland games take place in early July.

    Killin

    With the huge loch at one end and the stunning Falls of Dochart the other, the village of Killin is popular with travellers looking for a little bit of peace and quiet. If you need to escape the crowds there are plenty of cottages to rent. Scotland doesn’t do much better than this, and the pubs are full of superb local whiskies.

    Durisdeer

    A little off the tourist trail, this ancient village in Dumfries and Galloway sits quietly in the shadow of the Lowther Hills, giving you a glimpse of how Scotland used to look. Expect miles and miles of hiking trails and a stunning coastline all within easy reach of the village centre. Perfect if you’re craving a little bit of solitude on your Scottish holiday.

    Torridon Mountains

    Take the B-road from Applecross and you’ll stumble across this fabulous little village sitting on the banks of Loch Sheildaig. With the Torridon Mountains forming an imposing backdrop, and the still water of the loch reflecting the fisherman’s cottages, this is the place to break out your camera and grab some epic photos of one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. 

    Getting there and around

     

    Flying

    The main airports into Scotland are at Glasgow and Edinburgh, depending on which side of the country you want to explore. You’ll find cottages to rent in Scotland close to both major cities, as well as further up into the Highlands, and you shouldn’t be on the road for more than an hour or two to reach your home-from-home.

    If you’ve booked one of our cottages in the Highlands then to keep journey times down it would be better to fly into Inverness, Dundee or Aberdeen.


    Driving

    The roads in Scotland are genuinely stunning, especially if you’re driving through the Highlands or heading to one of our lodges with hot tubs at Loch Lomond.

    The main tourist routes do tend to get very congested during the summer, so if you visit in July or August expect to get stuck in a convoy of Winnebagos and caravans.

    Visit in May or early September and not only will you have a good chance of reasonable weather, but the roads will be much quieter.

    Parking in Edinburgh can be difficult, and our top tip is to avoid driving in the capital during the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as the traffic is epic.
    All of the major towns and cities have reasonable parking, and public transport networks in Glasgow and Edinburgh are very good.

    Rural public transport can be sporadic, and as distances between destinations are quite vast in the Highlands, taxi fares are expensive.  

    If you don’t want to miss out on the best bits, you can use a route-planner to help you navigate the smaller roads. Google Maps is the go-to for most people, although others are available.

    If you’re travelling by motorcycle the route-planning app Curvyger will give you ‘wiggly’ routes to explore.


    Public transport

    If you’re travelling around by public transport then check out Traveline Scotland, which also includes route planners and accurate timetables for all types of public transport journeys.

    The trains are frequent and reliable, but they are expensive and often run only a limited service in the smaller locations out in the Highlands.


    Cycling

    The hills are BIG, the distances pretty epic, but the scenery is amazing. Bring your bikes with you when you book your holiday cottage in Scotland and get out and about on two wheels.

    Top tips

    • Petrol stations are few and far between in the rural highlands, so make sure you have a spare petrol can in the back of the car and fill up when you can.
    • Look out for city deals on public transport in Edinburgh such as daily hopper tickets.
    • Make good use of the Park and Ride schemes if you’re heading into the city centres.

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