As one of the quietest destinations in Europe, Scotland is the perfect place to enjoy some peace and calm. In fact, the recent Scotland Visitor Survey, commissioned by VisitScotland, revealed that almost a quarter of visitors’ holiday in Scotland to ‘get away from it all.’
A growing interest in our physical and mental health has led to increased interest in wellbeing tourism as holidaymakers embrace the chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So, whether it’s a desire to de-stress or a craving for calm, Scotland’s stunning vistas, wild open mountains and hushed hideaways make it the ideal location to unwind in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Here are just a few suggestions:
Galloway Forest Park
Britain’s largest forest park might regularly attract lots of visitors during the day but it is well worth a visiting at night too, as Gallloway Forest Park is the UK’s first Dark Sky Park and one of the best places to stargaze in Europe. With over 7000 stars and planets visible each night, every visit is a different experience.
Nestled in the shadow of Schiehallion, on the banks of the River Tummel, lies the pretty village of Kinloch Rannoch. This idyllic getaway may be just a few hours away from the central belt but it’s a world away from the hurly burly of Scotland’s cities.As well as a great base for exploring the Perthshire countryside, the area is fantastic for walks and even has its own Clan Trail.A short distance from the village, you’ll find the lovely Rannoch Station Tearoom situated on the platform of one of Britain’s most remote train stations.
The deep valley and towering mountains of Glen Coe were carved out centuries ago by icy glaciers and volcanic explosions. Glencoe village is picturesquely located between the banks of Loch Leven and the mouth of the famous glen. The Lost Valley Glen Coe is one of the most beautiful and other-worldly places in Scotland. It’s even featured in films such as James Bond’s Skyfall and several Harry Potter movies.
Dubbed one of the most unspoilt beaches in Great Britain, the pink sands of Sandwood Bay in Kinlochbervie are a secluded paradise. Facing straight into the teeth of the North Atlantic, the beach is flanked by cliffs and to the south stands the impressive sea stack of Am Buachaille. The peaceful bay can only be accessed by a 4 mile path but the journey is more than worth it.
The beauty of the Scottish Borders has long cast a spell on not just visitors but also those who live there. As one of Scotland’s most celebrated writers, Sir Walter Scott often enjoyed escaping into the Borders countryside to reflect. You can follow in his footsteps to his reputed favourite place, known now as Scott’s View, the stunning vantage point near Melrose overlooks the River Tweed and Eildon Hills.
Small Isles (Eigg, Rum, Muck, Canna)
Full of wonderful wildlife and stunning scenery, Scotland’s Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides provide a peaceful escape from the mainland. With little to no traffic and few people it’s a unique chance to get back to nature. The largest island, Rum is home to formidable volcanic peaks, the incredible Kinloch Castle, the Kilmory Bay Red Deer and the UK’s biggest bird of prey, sea eagles, while the nearby Isle of Eigg is this year celebrating 20 years of being fully sustainable. The smaller isles of Muck and Canna each possess their own special treasures. Whether it’s the sandy beaches, rocky shores and breathtaking panoramic views on Muck or the high basalt cliffs of Canna, this tiny corner of the country is ideal for walks, watching birds and simply basking in the beauty of your surroundings.
Just off the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde lies Holy Isle, an ancient spiritual heritage dating back to the 6th century. This sacred site is dedicated to peace and wellbeing, its unspoiled beauty is also a haven for wildlife. On the north of the island visitors are welcome to stay at the Centre of World Peace and Health which regularly hosts courses and retreat programmes, while the south is a closed Buddhist retreat.
With its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, heather-clad moorlands and fascinating rock formations, the Shetland isles are unlike anywhere else in the world. Made up of more than 100 islands, 15 of which are inhabited, the archipelago has its own unique culture, rich history and breath-taking beauty. From Iron Age brochs and Pictish wheelhouses to the spectacular Up Helly Aa Festival, which takes place each January, and distinct culinary delights, the Shetland Isles offers a winning blend of Scottish and Scandinavian delights.
Scotland’s smallest county has a big offering to make to those looking to get away from it all. What it lacks in size it makes up for in stunning landscapes, medieval castles, historic tower houses and a growing art scene. Found between the majestic Ochil Hills and the banks of the River Forth, and just a short journey from the central belt, Clackmannanshire is perfectly located for those looking to unwind for the day. Enjoy a scenic walk or cycle in the striking Ochil Hills and discover Clackmannanshire’s exciting tourism treasures
Hidden hideaways to help you get away from it all
You’ll find these unique eco-art cottages on the shores of Loch Eriboll.With wood stoves, feather topped beds and outside solar tubs, it is the perfect romantic Highlands hideaway. These stunning low impact buildings benefit from the very best in traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge contemporary design. Croft 103 is the ultimate escape for couples who want to be a world away from it all – together
These unique little hideaways are a great reason to escape to the country. Hidden inside their unusual exterior you’ll find all your usual home comforts from comfy beds to cooking equipment. Set in their own field on a small family run farm on the North East Coast of Aberdeenshire, the Hobbits, which sleep up to 4 people, combine the fun of glamping, the peace of the countryside and the adventure of farm life to create an unforgettable family experience.
Ancient Scots pine trees provide a magical backdrop for your stay at The Old Pine Yurt. Located on the secluded foothills of the spectacular Cairngorms Mountains, with just surrounding nature for company, this is a camping experience like no other.The handcrafted yurt is equipped with all the usual home comforts including a cosy double bed, solar lighting, a wood burning stove and a dram to welcome you.Nearby you’ll find the ‘Hut’ with kitchen and toilet facilities as well as an eco-shower.
If you prefer a touch of luxury when it comes to secluded hideaways, the five-star Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island, near Oban, is situated on a private island and can only be accessed from the mainland by a small bridge. Covering 300 acres, the 25- bedroom hotel boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, its own golf course, nature reserve and spa.
Food for the soul
The peace and natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands is a huge part of the appeal of The Body Toolkit, an award winning, first-of-its-kind health retreat based in the West Coast Highlands. The all-inclusive, 7-day programmes teach a variety of simple techniques that empower people to experience a new level of wellbeing and improved quality of life.
Swap your mat for a stand up paddle board and try your hand at one of the country’s hottest yoga trends. Paddle Board Yoga blends traditional stretches with stunningly tranquil Scottish locations. So take your sun salutations out of the studio and head to the water as SUP Yoga sweeps the nation.
Situated in the quiet Dumfries & Galloway countryside, this Tibetan Buddhist temple and monastic community offers a programme of weekend courses and teachings in Buddhist philosophy and meditation with accommodation available in a peaceful and tranquil setting.
From massage training to meditation classes, the Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, ecovillage and international centre for holistic education. Based mainly at The Park in Findhorn and at Cluny Hill in Forres, the non-profit Foundation provides a broad range of holistic workshops and events, giving visitors practical experience of how to apply spiritual values in their daily lives.
Known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Lochaber may be a magnet for adrenaline junkies but it also caters for those who prefer their outdoor experiences to be more immersive and meaningful. So instead of just taking a scenic cruise, try the same journey by canoe with a spot of line-fishing or looking for extraordinary marine life. Or try wild yoga, sea kayaking, foraging and bushcraft in some of Europe’s most beautiful and serene scenery.
For more inspiration on how to get away from it all