Did I say 10? I meant 12 (I keep coming across new finds!) For such a tiny country, Scotland really packs a whole lot of things to do and see. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get all the usual Scotland tourist attractions out of the way quickly, before hunting down the more unique and unusual experiences.
In this post I’ve tried to create an alternative guide to our little country; a list of unusual things to see in Scotland that you might not have already heard about. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, be sure to take a look at my 100 Free Things to do in Edinburgh post. It lists so many things that even the locals don’t know about! But for now, back to attractions across Scotland …
1. The Man in the bath, Loch Melfort Hotel, Argyll
As you stroll down the pebbly beaches of Loch Melfort Hotel’s little beach, the last thing you expect to see, as you admire the views across the isles of the Inner Hebrides, is a man in a bathtub staring back at you. But that’s exactly what you’ll spot if you walk out to the pier and look for a small cluster of rocks just off the coastline. Read his full story in my post, Why is nobody talking about the Highlands man in a bathtub?
2. Corrievreckan Whirlpool, Argyll
Did you know that Scotland is home to the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world? Not only that, but the Royal Navy once branded it unnavigable. These boys were clearly having an off day, as it’s now possible to take one of the daily boat tours to head out on your very own Scottish adventure. These tours are a good two-in-one for wildlife lovers, with whales, dolphins, sharks and seals all being a common sight along the way.
3. Fingal’s Cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa
This outstanding cave with its own natural acoustics is situated in the far West of Scotland, just off the Isle of Mull. Visits are limited to between April and September, with some boat tour companies allowing you to walk parts of the cave. The unusual hexagon-shaped basalt columns are similar to those at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. We visited the cave with Tiree Sea Tours: 1 hour to get there (including two bonus dolphin pod sightings), 1 hour on Staffa, and 1 hour back to Tiree.
4. Bobby’s bus shelter, Unst, Shetland Islands
You’re so far North in the Shetland Islands that it’s not uncommon to see the Northern lights. However, they’re not the only thing to be seen, as tourist buses head daily to the world’s most famous bus shelter! Sporting a yearly change of couches, side tables and other home comforts, this little Scottish bus shelter was saved from destruction after a young boy campaigned for its survival. Not only did the Scottish authorities comply with his request, they even decked the little place out for him. The Scots are a good bunch, eh? Your visit will be a short one, but it’s certainly on my list of little fun things to do in Scotland.
5. The Devils Pulpit, Finnich Glenn
Just to the North of Glasgow at Finnich Glenn, this magical place is a little tricky to find given that it has no signs to point you to the path. Unfortunately, your best bet is a good old sesh with Google Maps. Given its name due to the red running river, this 100-foot gorge comes with its very own fairy tale entrance, an ancient stone staircase called Jacobs Ladder. Although manageable for the most part, this stairway has steep points with rope navigation down. As a result, those with mobility issues may want to avoid it.
6. The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
Most probably one of my favourite places in all of Scotland, this insane rock formation looks like something out of a movie … and it is (it was featured in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus). These gravity-defying rock formations were created during an ancient Scottish landslide, creating one of the most unusual landscapes in the world.
7. Dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye
And they’re real! Head along to An Corran beach at low tide and you’ll be treated to the sight of dinosaur footprints dating back to 165 million years ago. I know I’ve already mentioned Skye in this post … but DINO FOOTPRINTS!!!
8. Edinburgh’s underground vaults
I talk to Edinburgh tourists almost every day and am always mind-blown that so few of them know about the city’s underground vaults. There are around 120 rooms (vaults) beneath the city, originally built in the 1700s for workshops and storage space. These rooms range from 2-40 metres squared and became dwell spots for the poor, homeless and many a ghost story. The underground city is so impressive that I’d go as far as to rank it as the best thing to do in Edinburgh. Check out my post on 100 Free Things to do in Edinburgh!
9. The Scotland Hobbit House, Tomich
Looks exactly like every little hobbit home in the Lord of the Rings series, but built by a man called Stuart Grant who claims his little house project wasn’t inspired by the movies in the slightest. Since the odd snap of his home made its way onto the internet, visits to his little dwelling about 30 miles West of Inverness have become increasingly popular.
10. Scotland’s Secret Buddhist temple
Even in Scotland, I’m able to find somewhere that reminds me of my beloved time in Asia. This is not an ordinary temple, it holds the title of the Biggest Buddhist Temple in the West. This grand place of worship was founded in 1967 by two Tibetan monks and is intricately decorated with carvings and paintings. Go find your zen in the small village of Eskadalemuir in the South of Scotland.
11. Dunbar’s bridge to nowhere
Visit Belhaven Bay beach in Dunbar at mid/high tide and and it will seem as though there is a little bridge sitting in the middle of the water which leads to absolutely nowhere. The little bridge was actually made for cross over the Beil Water to get to the beach and it’s functional self can be seen at low tide. This East coast beach is one of the sunniest areas in Scotland and this floating bridge point is a lesser known spot for keen sunset photographers.
12. The Hidden Scottish Pyramid, Cairngorms
Did you know that Scotland has its very own pyramid? No, I’m not joking! This magnificent structure is hidden amongst the forests of the Cairngorms National Park. Take a look at my full blog post about Scotland’s pyramid for full details on how to get to it.
Craving more Scotland inspiration? Take a look at my castle hunters guide to the West coast of Scotland. A list of the best castles to visit on the Scottish West coast.
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