Uncover the Best City in Scotland for an Unforgettable Visit

Best City in Scotland

Updated On: December 31, 2023 by   Maha YassinMaha Yassin

Making your way to Scotland and a bit bamboozled about which city promises the most memorable jaunt? Not to worry, mate, you’re not alone in this. With an absolute smorgasbord of captivating cities scattered across this culturally blessed land, choosing can become quite a pickle.

Having sifted through heaps of information and first-hand experiences meandering through top-notch destinations like Edinburgh and the often-overlooked Inverness, we reckon we’re well poised to tell you about the best city in Scotland.

This article will whisk you away on a virtual traipse around Scotland’s majestic cities while pointing out key attractions that give each its distinct character – all in an effort to help you cherry-pick one that truly has ‘visit me’ written all over it.

Fancy embarking on an adventuring spree?

All The Best Cities of Scotland for Tourists

Choosing the “best” cities in Scotland for tourists depends on what you’re looking for! Each city offers something unique, so here’s a rundown of some top contenders based on different interests:


With its crown jewels glinting atop a dramatic volcanic crag, Edinburgh isn’t just Scotland’s capital; it’s arguably the best city in all the land. Cobbled streets whisper tales of medieval intrigue, while elegant Georgian squares boast refined tea rooms and hidden gardens. Climb Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views that stretch to the Firth of Forth, or delve into the castle’s dungeons and ghost stories.

From vibrant festival days to cosy pub nights, Edinburgh’s Soul is a captivating blend of history, laughter, and a touch of magic. Whether you’re seeking ancient secrets or modern delights, Edinburgh will enchant you with its timeless charm and leave you yearning for more.


best city in Scotland

Glasgow might not be the first Scottish city that comes to mind for tourists, but it’s quickly becoming a must-visit destination. Ditch the stereotypes of gritty industrial towns – Glasgow has transformed into a vibrant cultural hub, bursting with art, music, and a warmth that’ll rival its famous Irn-Bru.

Forget gritty stereotypes; Glasgow’s a vibrant heart now! Marvel at Art Nouveau gems like the Kelvingrove Museum, or let loose at legendary music venues like the Barrowland. Mingle in bustling markets and cosy pubs, savouring local warmth and a pint of Irn-Bru. Watch the sunset paint the River Clyde and be seduced by Glasgow’s unexpected charm. This friendly, independent city might just become your new favourite! 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿


the Best City in Scotland

Aberdeen, the “Granite City,” shimmers under Scotland’s northern sun, its streets paved with the same golden stone that builds its elegant Victorian and Art Deco landmarks. Breathe in the fresh sea air along its golden beaches, like the expansive Aberdeen Beach or the charming, harbour-backed Footdee, where colourful cottages huddle together like gossiping seabirds.

History buffs will be enthralled by the Marischal College, one of the largest granite buildings in the world, now an art gallery, and the Tolbooth Museum, housed in a 17th-century merchant’s house. For culture vultures, the Aberdeen Art Gallery boasts a rich collection, while His Majesty’s Theatre stages everything from musicals to dramatic classics. This unique city, where granite meets sea and history whispers in the salty breeze, is waiting to surprise you.


Best City in Scotland

Nestled at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Inverness enchants with its rugged charm and whispers of ancient legends. Cruise the mystical waters of Loch Ness, seeking the elusive monster, or climb the ramparts of Inverness Castle, where history echoes in every stone. Wander the charming, flower-lined streets, browsing independent shops and cafes serving up hearty Scotch pies.

For a taste of wild beauty, venture into the surrounding mountains. Hike dramatic Glencoe, where emerald valleys plunge into misty peaks, or sail Loch Ness under the shadow of Urquhart Castle, its ruins guarding secrets from centuries past. In the evening, cosy up in a traditional pub, regaled by tales of Highland folklore over a dram of peaty whisky. Inverness – where adventure and history collide, mesmerising you with the magic of the north.


Best City in Scotland

Nestled where the River Tay glistens beneath a Scottish sky, Perth beckons with a blend of historical intrigue and contemporary charm. Climb the ancient steps of Kinnoull Hill for panoramic views of the city’s red-tiled rooftops and verdant surrounding countryside. Delve into the dramatic past at Scone Palace, once the crowning seat of Scottish kings, or explore the fascinating medieval streets, where stone buildings whisper tales of battles and bustling markets.

Perth’s energy shifts at night. Live music spills from pubs while friendly laughter fills the air. Unwind with a pint of craft beer in a traditional pub, or catch a performance at Perth Concert Hall, where world-class music and theatrical productions take the stage. Perth, a city where history and modernity intertwine, offers a taste of the authentic Scottish spirit.


Best City in Scotland

Stirling, crowned by its majestic castle, sits astride the River Forth, a sentinel guarding the Highlands. Immerse yourself in history, exploring the castle’s ramparts, where Scottish monarchs plotted and battles raged. Climb the Wallace Monument, its towering needle piercing the sky, a tribute to Scotland’s freedom fighter. Delve into the secrets of the Holyrood Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots once held court.

Beyond the fortress walls, Stirling unfolds a tapestry of cobbled streets lined with elegant buildings, whispering tales of merchants and guilds. Discover ancient treasures at the Stirling Arcade, or sip a dram in a cosy pub, soaking up the warmth of local hospitality. To taste nature’s grandeur, climb the slopes of the Ochil Hills or cruise the tranquil waters of Loch Lomond, its emerald expanse dotted with islands.

Revealing the Best City in Scotland for an Unforgettable Visit

After considering various factors, including must-see attractions and unique culture, Edinburgh is the top recommended city for an unforgettable visit to Scotland.

Factors to Consider

When choosing the best city in Scotland for an unforgettable visit, there are several factors to consider. Solo travellers may prioritise safety and ease of navigation, while backpackers might look for affordable accommodations and vibrant nightlife options.

Luxury travellers may seek out high-end hotels and fine dining experiences, while foodies will be interested in cities with exceptional culinary scenes. History buffs may prefer cities with rich cultural heritage and well-preserved historic sites, while nature lovers will want to explore destinations surrounded by stunning landscapes.

Considering these factors can help you find the perfect city in Scotland that caters to your specific interests and preferences.

Edinburgh: Our Top Recommended City

Best City in Scotland

While each Scottish city boasts unique charms, Edinburgh often claims the top spot for a reason. Imagine yourself exploring a landscape straight out of history books, where cobbled streets whisper tales of medieval intrigue and majestic Edinburgh Castle, perched atop a volcanic crag, guards the horizon.

Everything You Must Do While in Edinburgh

Delve into Edinburgh’s heart along the Royal Mile, a bustling artery teeming with independent shops, atmospheric pubs, and quirky museums like the Mary King’s Close, revealing the city’s hidden underground past. Climb Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano overlooking the city, for panoramic views that stretch to the Firth of Forth, or lose yourself in the vibrant energy of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, transforming the city into a stage for laughter, music, and theatrical wonders every August.

Beyond the historical grandeur, Edinburgh’s contemporary side shines in the elegant Georgian squares where teahouses and art galleries beckon, and trendy districts like Leith offer culinary delights and lively pubs. Whether you’re seeking to unravel ancient mysteries, indulge in cultural feasts, or embrace the city’s infectious jovial spirit, Edinburgh weaves a captivating spell that leaves you yearning for more.

So, if you’re searching for a city that seamlessly blends historic grandeur with modern vibrancy, artistic flair with warm Scottish charm, Edinburgh beckons with open arms, ready to paint your memories with the captivating magic of the north.

Tips for Edingbrugh First-Time Visitors

Best City in Scotland

Edinburgh is a great city, whether you’re visiting it for the first time or the millionth time. That is why it is our top recommended city in Scotland! If it is your first time visiting this historical city, you need some top tips to make your trip the best!

  • Seasonality: Consider the weather! Summer offers warmth and festivals, but crowds can be large. Spring and autumn provide milder temperatures and fewer crowds. Winter brings a charming atmosphere, but days are shorter, and some attractions may have limited hours.
  • Accommodation: Book your stay well in advance, especially during peak season. Aim for central locations like Old Town or New Town for easy access to sights.
  • Royal Edinburgh Ticket: Consider this multi-attraction pass if you plan to visit several museums and castles. It can save you money and skip the line queues.
  • Walking tours: Take a free walking tour for a fun and informative introduction to the city. They often cover historical sites, hidden gems, and local legends.
  • Must-see landmarks: Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, and Holyrood Palace.
  • Explore beyond the sights: Venture into quirky neighbourhoods like Leith for vibrant pubs and excellent seafood or Dean Village for charming waterside walks.
  • Festivals: If your visit coincides with a festival like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (the largest arts festival in the world) or Christmas markets, embrace the festive atmosphere!
Food and Drinks
  • Try traditional Scottish fare: Sample haggis, neeps and tatties, or a hearty Scottish breakfast.
  • Pub culture: Experience the warmth of a local pub. Enjoy a pint of craft beer or cider, and don’t miss the chance to try Scotch whisky!
  • Afternoon tea: Indulge in the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea at a fancy hotel or a charming tearoom.
Getting around
  • Walking: Edinburgh is a walkable city, so explore on foot whenever possible.
  • Public transport: Buses and trams are efficient and affordable options. Consider purchasing a day ticket for unlimited travel.
  • Taxis: Taxis are available for shorter journeys or late-night adventures but can be expensive.
General tips
  • Pack for all weather: Layers are key, especially if visiting during spring or autumn. Rainproof gear is always recommended.
  • Bring comfortable shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so choose footwear that suits cobbled streets and hills.
  • Learn some basic Scottish phrases: A few simple words like “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you” go a long way!
  • Relax and enjoy: Don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary. Take your time to soak up the atmosphere and discover the city’s hidden corners.

Other Popular Cities for Visitors

Let’s explore some other popular cities in Scotland that are worth visiting. One such city is Glasgow, known for its vibrant arts and music scene, as well as stunning architecture like the Riverside Museum and the Glasgow Cathedral.

For history buffs, Stirling is a must-visit city with its iconic Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument commemorating William Wallace. Aberdeen is another great choice, offering beautiful beaches, castles like Dunnottar Castle, and the famous granite architecture of Union Street.

Nature lovers will enjoy Dundee, which is situated on the banks of River Tay and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. And if you’re looking for a charming coastal town to visit, consider Falkirk or Fort William.

Discovering the best city in Scotland for an unforgettable visit is an exciting journey. From the vibrant streets of Edinburgh to the cultural hub of Glasgow, each Scottish city has its own charm and attractions. Exploring these cities immerses you in Scotland’s rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and unique culture. So pack your bags and get ready to uncover the best city that will leave you with memories to cherish forever.

Best City in Scotland


What’s the best time to visit Scotland?

Scotland’s weather is unpredictable, but each season offers its charm. Summer has the warmest weather and vibrant festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. However, expect larger crowds and higher prices. Spring has fewer crowds and stunning wildflowers in bloom. Autumn has breathtaking foliage and often good deals on travel and accommodation. Finally, winter boosts its magical Christmas markets and charming winter landscapes.

How do I get around Scotland?

There are many efficient ways to get around Scotland. Trains are the most efficient between major cities. Buses are more budget-friendly and will reach smaller towns. Cars are obviously more flexible and independent but don’t forget about left-hand driving. Flights are the most pricey but the fastest way to connect major cities.

What are the must-see attractions in Scotland?

Beyond the cities, Scotland boasts a wealth of breathtaking landscapes and iconic landmarks such as The Highlands, The Isle of Skye, St Andrews, and Loch Lomond.

Which is better, Dublin or Edinburgh?

Dublin: Bustling, friendly, modern vibe with lively pubs, rich history, and diverse cultural scene. Think Guinness, Trinity College, and Temple Bar.
Edinburgh: Majestic, atmospheric, steeped in history with iconic castles, museums, and festivals. Think cobbled streets, Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Mile.
Both offer charm but different flavours. Choose Dublin for modern dynamism and Edinburgh for historic grandeur. Whichever you pick, it’ll be a craic!

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