Scotland is known for big-city Edinburgh and lochs that seem to go on forever (not to mention, the Loch Ness Monster, known by the locals as Nessie), but the country's smaller towns and villages hold just as much magic in their Scottish history. The shopping might not be as abundant and the restaurants might be more pub-style with a friendly chat with locals, but that's all part of why they're so enchanting. It's one thing to experience Scotland from its most well-known tourist destinations, but it's another to experience it from the towns that are tucked away in rolling hills and hidden behind expansive lochs.
The populations of these towns are small, their landscapes are nothing short of a Scottish storybook illustration, and their history is some of the most abundant in the country... and those aren't the only reasons to consider these for a future trip.
Put on the map by its local Royal residence, Balmoral, where the Royal family spends vacations, Braemar is worthy of a day of exploration. Not only can visitors tour Balmoral when the Royal family isn't there, but this town is also home to an annual festival called the Braemar Gathering.
The festival is in celebration of classic Highlander life, complete with traditional games that are played in tribute to the Scottish heritage, and the Royal family is in attendance each year. The Braemar Castle also attracts visitors with history that dates back to the 17th century, and it's not the only castle within town limits - the ruins of Kindrochit Castle are not far, and this castle dates all the way back to the 14th century. For those seeking views, a hike up to Creag Chonnich allows visitors to take in the gorgeous valley below.
Similar to Braemar, Linlithgow also has a claim to fame in terms of castles: Linlithgow Palace. The palace was built in 1424 and was also the birthplace of two significant figures in Scotland's history, James V and Mary, Queen of Scots.
It's said that this is the best example of medieval architecture in the entire country, according to Touropia, and likely one of the oldest, as well. That's not the only reason to visit Linlithgow, though - the surrounding area is absolutely stunning. 'The Peel' as it's commonly called includes Linlithgow Loch, is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy all the natural landscapes of Scotland that so many set out to explore.
Speaking of lochs, Fort Augustus is located not far at all from Loch Ness, so those who have set out to find the famed Nessie will be in for a pleasant surprise if they seek out Fort Augustus when they're finished.
This colorful town in the Scottish Highlands is full of adventure and visitors can take in all the history of the area at the Clansman Centre. The town itself is charming in all its simplicity and for those interested, a 19th-century Abbey is also a great place to learn about the area's history.
Speaking of the Highlands, Killin is a wonderful place to take in the epic vistas of the historical region. Not far from Loch Tay, this town is full of gorgeous greenery, trees of all colors that change with the seasons, and the Falls of Dochart, a waterfall known for its beauty and easily accessible by the bridge that crosses it.
The town is also famous due to the clan who once ruled it, the MacNab clan, and the Kinnell House, where the clan once held their seat of power, is still there to this day. It's marked by prehistoric stones and the clan's burial ground is not far from that on the island of Inchbuie. This town is tailor-suited to those who don't mind hiking a bit out of the way as there's plenty more to explore in the surrounding area, including Finlarig Castle which dates back to the 17th century.
Easily recognizable thanks to its pastel-colored houses, Portree sits right at the edge of the waters of the Trotternish peninsula, which also happens to be a National Scenic Area. The town sits on the Inner Hebrides island and is rather small, but that doesn't make it any less charming.
Walking along the shoreline is a relaxing experience with the Trotternish foliage at one's back, and it's not far from Skye, which is absolutely stunning in its own right. A trip to the Aros Centre will teach visitors all they need to know about the Gaelic history of Skye, and the classic language is still very much alive in Portree.