100 things

I came across a list of the 100 Things to do in Scotland before you die, originally published in the Sunday Herald but available in full on the University of St Andrews website.  There’s also a pictorial version on Pinterest.  This list seems to be a mix of suggestions by famous Scottish celebrities as well as journalists.

I think it’s really a pretty good list.  I guess the point of this is to provide inspiration rather than a definitive ‘tick list’.  No doubt everyone will mentally ‘add up’ their experiences; I’m at 38, has anyone got more than 50 ?

It’s pretty easy to take issue with it – everyone will be able to add their own ideas and discount those they have no intention of ever doing !  But what about going guising, walking the Lairig Ghru or eating seafood at The Old Forge, Britain’s remotest pub ?  I used to live up the road from one of the Proclaimers twins when I was a student in Edinburgh so I’ve seen them live … does this count ?

So, each to their own I reckon.  What else would you have put on this list ?

1. See a band in the Barrowlands

2. Visit the Standing Stones at Callanish

3. Take the West Highland line to Mallaig

4. Go to a shinty match

5. Drive over the Bealach na Ba to Applecross

6. Visit the Turner Watercolours at the National Gallery of Scotland

7. Eat a real Arbroath Smokie

8. Enjoy a Dorothy’s-eye view of Edinburgh Castle

9. Eat a Fisher and Donaldson custard slice in St Andrews

10. Play the world’s oldest golf course at St Andrews

11. Spit on the Heart of Midlothian (near St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh)

12. Go to a Highland Games

13. See the dolphins at Moray Firth

14. Surf in Thurso

15. Go to a traditional music festival on an island

16. Go to the races

17. Follow in the footsteps of St Columba at Iona Abbey

18. Walk the West Highland Way

19. Go curling on a frozen pond

20. Ride the Falkirk Wheel

21. Go to a ceilidh at the Riverside Club in Glasgow

22. Buy Ian Rankin a pint in Edinburgh’s Oxford Bar

23. Make the shortest scheduled flight in the world (from Westray to Papa Westray, two of Orkney’s smaller islands)

24. Go to King Tut’s (Glasgow) and listen to a band before they make the big time

25. Windsurf on Tiree

26. Feed a Highland cow

27. Visit the Necropolis in Glasgow before you have no option

28. Experience a really good traditional music session (such as Sandy Bell’s and the Central Bar in Edinburgh, or Glasgow’s Ben Nevis and the Lismore)

29. Visit Maeshowe (Orkney) during the winter solstice

30. Go ‘doon the watter’ on the Waverley, Scotland’s iconic paddle steamer

31. Marvel at the northern lights

32. See killer whales

33. Bag all the munros

34. Dive at St Abbs Head, Berwickshire

35. Buy a kite in Largs and fly it on Millport

36. Visit The Barras market in Glasgow

37. Dive the wrecks in Scapa Flow, Orkney

38. Sugar-rushing at The Brookyln Cafe, Glasgow

39. Climb the Whaligoe steps, Wick

40. Spend the night in a haunted room (such as Carbisdale Castle, a youth hostel)

41. Practise paganism

42. Eat at The Three Chimneys, Skye

43. Visit the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

44. Climb Ben Nevis

45. Go Loch Ness Monster hunting

46. Visit Glasgow School of Art and the Willow Tea Rooms, both designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

47. Throw a stone from the North Sea into the Atlantic (at Mavis Grind, a narrow neck on the Shetland mainland)

48. Ski/snowboard the ‘Flypaper’ at Glencoe, the steepest run in Scotland

49. Sail to St Kilda

50. Have a night out in Glasgow

51. Visit a malt whisky distillery

52. Eat an Ashvale Whale (a 1lb cod fillet from the famous Ashvale chip shops in Aberdeen, Brechin, Dundee, Elgin, Ellon and Inverurie)

53. Do the ‘Loony Dook’, the traditional New Year’s Day swim at South Queensferry beside the Forth Bridges

54. Play The Ba’ Game on New Year’s Day in Kirwall, Orkney

55. Attend a Burns Supper in Alloway (the Ayrshire village in which Robert Burns was born in 1759)

56. Spot a mermaid at Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

57. Stay in the Eisenhower Apartment at Culzean Castle

58. Climb the Forth Rail Bridge

59. Catch a salmon in the Tweed

60. See Skara Brae, Orkney’s perfectly preserved Neolithic village

61. Have an ice-cream at Luca’s in Musselburgh

62. Make a call from the ‘Local Hero’ phone box (in the village of Pennan near Fraserburgh)

63. Have a curry from the Wee Curry Shop in Glasgow

64. Buy coffee and olive oil at Valvona and Crolla, Edinburgh

65. Climb Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

66. See The Proclaimers live

67. Cocktails at Rogano, Glasgow’s oldest restaurant

68. Find inspiration at Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa

69. Spend midsummer at the northern tip of Unst, Shetland

70. Sing Flower Of Scotland at the top of your lungs at the Calcutta Cup

71. Read Kidnapped in South Queensferry

72. Read Lanark anywhere (Alasdair Gray’s 1981 debut novel)

73. Loop the loop on the ‘Clockwork Orange’ (ie Glasgow’s underground railway)

74. Have a large Laphroaig

75. Boo and hiss at a Pavilion panto in Glasgow

76. See the Really Terrible Orchestra perform

77. Pop into Plockton

78. Tour the Highlands

79. Read the Oor Wullie or The Broons annuals

80. Float in the Hebridean Sea at Ardnamurchan

81. Swing a fireball at Stonehaven’s Hogmanay festival

82. Read The Thirty-Nine Steps and try and recreate Richard Hannay’s journey

83. Try stand-up comedy

84. Make and eat tablet

85. Experience the exhilaration of isolation (eg spending a week alone in a hut/tent/house by the edge of the sea)

86. See the Gulf of Corryvreckan, the second largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere in the narrow channel between Jura and Scarba

87. Burn a Viking longboat at Shetland’s Up Helly Aa fire festival in late January

88. See Whisky Galore! on Barra

89. Eat haggis and clapshot

90. Walk from Torridon to Inveralligin

91. Rock out at the T in the Park music festival

92. Visit The Hill House, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece in Helensburgh

93. See Billy Connolly in concert in his home city

94. Land on Barra beach in a plan (Traigh Mhor, Barra,’s runway)

95. Visit Hopetoun House, South Queenferry

96. Dance the Strip the Willow

97. Eat a deep-fried Mars Bar

98. Travel on The Royal Scotsman

99. Visit Joseph Beuys’ Scotland, who painted famous scenes of Scotland in the 20th Century

100. Discover the Holy Grail at Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh.

93 Comments on “100 Things to Do in Scotland Before You Die

      • Hi Graeme,

        Yes, that’s a good one.

        Others suggested …. go guising … make a cloutie dumpling … Come on folks, what else ??

      • Climb Scott’s Monument in Edinburgh – Do a Hogmanay in Stonehaven with the Balls of Fire

    • Climb up to Arthurs seat above Edinburgh Castle – I havent done this personally but its on my hit list. Also do the famous train journey from Fort William to Mallaig in the summer. Now that is a spectacular trainride!

  1. Interesting list. Maybe completed around half. Where’s no.58? There’s so many amazing things to do that you couldn’t get them all into 100 anyway. SO many amazing areas, sights and food to be discovered in Scotland.

  2. Visit Dalbeattie and use as a base to do the coastal walk from Kippford a quaint yachting village, to the beautiful golden sandy beach Sandyhills on the Solway Coast. Only one of the fantastic walks in Dumfries and Galloway, go on a lovely sunny day and swim in the sea.

  3. Great country, great list. I’ve done 25 which is not bad after living here for ten years. For me I would have to include visiting the site of the first international football match – okay a bit dull but a slice of yet more Scottish sporting history, something experimental at the Arches – Aliens perhaps, East Neuk fishing villages, visit St Peter’s Seminary modernist ruins now covered in graffiti, the UK’s smallest cathedral at Millport and try some Buckie – just once!

    So much more to do – can’t wait.

    • Hi Alex,

      You’ve given some good suggestions here and some I’m not aware of. Where is the site of the first international football match, and St Peter’s Seminary ?

  4. Glasgow cricket and the launchpad to international football

    The ruins that mock God and architecture

    Sorry! These are links to my blog but hopefully you will find both interesting and certainly they answer your questions. For St Peters Seminary there are some links at the end of the article to excellent photography (not mine) of the seminary.

    For the football skate through the cricket bit and you will get to the bit explaining the first international football.

    I think Scotland also hosted the first ever international rugby match as well. Edinburgh possibly? And I think against England as well.

    • Thanks very much, Alex. I hadn’t heard about either of these – interesting, particularly St Peter’s. They’re great examples of ‘quirky’ places but I’m not sure they’d be in my list of top 100 things to do in Scotland before I die, I’m afraid … As a plug for my own blog, the Hidden Scotland page features places such as these, although with a stronger focus on outdoors-y places and activities (in keeping with the ‘Wild’ theme).

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  8. What about visiting the crowning place of the scottish kings! Scone palace!

  9. Sail or cycle the Caledonian Canal. Walk the Southern Upland Way. See Scottish Opera. Attend a Premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Climb the Cuillins Ridge, and ice-climb at Craig Meagaidh or the North Face of Ben Nevis. Spot an osprey.

    • Thanks, these are some great additions which I would happily add to my own list.

      I think the point is that there isn’t and can never be a definitive list. Everyone has their own list given their interests and capabilities.

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  11. ’19. Go curling on a frozen pond’

    this will generally get you killed

    • Yes ! There are quite a few in this list which shouldn’t or can’t be taken literally. As far as I know, there aren’t any mermaids inhabiting Sandwood Bay !

      • But I’ve heard them singing further up the coast towards Cape Wrath, they come onto the rocks at high tide, hundreds of feet below you beneath the cliffs

    • Whoops … thanks for pointing this out ! In my defence i didnt come up with the original list but have simply reproduced it for others to comment and add to.

  12. Great list….would love to add a couple more
    Run amok on the vast beaches of Harris
    Wild camp on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the most westerly point of mainland Britain
    Eat puff candy
    Walk the battlefield at Culloden
    Spot kites (birds) on The Kite Trail in Galloway

    • I agree that this is a good addition to the list. There are several good options but the 55 mile Arran circuit ny bike is probably the best.

  13. Go up the Mull of Galloway lighthouse and see If you can see from the top , Ireland, the Isle of Man and Cumbria ( maybe even Wales ) and also take a wee trip to Moffat and eat Moffat toffee. Visit the Globe in Dumfries and see Burns writing etched into the window. Lots to do in D and G !

  14. Great list. I have managed around 20 of them, and many more I would like to do (all the Munros a little unrealistic for most though!).

    Other thoughts would be to visit the native pine forests of Glen Affric, Drive the Dalveen pass in D&G, marvel at the views over Assynt from Stac Polliadh, hike and camp on the beach at Sandwood bay (which I have not done), stay in a remote bothy, walk amongst the puffins on the Isle of May, take the ferry from Elgol to Loch Curuisk in Skye. Walking the Trotternish peninsula in Skye, and sampling Jedhart snails in Jedburgh (Similarly brilliant as Moffat toffee but harder to get hold of)

    • Thanks Kenny. You’ve given some great additional suggestions; all distinctively Scottish and – most importantly – achievable for most people.

  15. What about the gannets at bass rock or puffins on sumburgh head, shetland/Isle May?

  16. Visit the tiny Isle of Erraid, near Iona, where RL Stevenson wrote Treasure Island and where one of the chapters of Kidnapped is set. You can walk across at low tide, swim in the turquoise waters of Balfour Bay or sunbathe on the white beach and ask one of the islanders to show you Hanging Rock, a boulder wedged between two cliffs with a cave beneath it.

  17. I’d add stand on the singing sands of Eigg, see the view from Morar/Arisaig out to the islands on a clear day. take a Cal Mac ferry anywhere ! (chips !!) but particularly to Mull on a clear day or to Stornoway. (havent tried one to the other outer hebrides but sure that would be fab too !) and I have to say go for a Fudge Doughnut too at Fisher and Donaldson. And have a cake made at Goodfellow And Steven in Perth ! And another historic place is St Johns Kirk in Perth where reformation started….

  18. Oh yes and go to David marshall Lodge at Aberfoyle on a clear day – what a view ! Even though they have ruined the visitor centre – used to be so much better and you could sit out on the balcony ….. but you can still see the view…. just not so good and no playpark…… dont like Forestry COmmission for doing this 😦

  19. Great list, on my list I would include:
    – watch the 20,000 + Geese fly in at Aberlady (end sept/oct)
    – see the fabulous view of the summer islands from above althandhu
    – walk Uig bay in Lewis – beautiful turquoise sea and white sands
    – spend an afternoon lying above the cliffs at Marwick Head, Orkney watching the thousands of seabirds
    – watch the puffins up close on the Treshnish Isles
    – cycle or walk the Crinan Canal and enjoy fish and chips in the Crinan hotel
    – visit Achamore Gardens on Gigha – in may
    – camp at Muasdale Campsite and enjoy some prosecco whilst watching the spectacular sunset over Gigha and the Paps of Jura
    – stay at Neist Point Lighthouse, Skye
    – walk the cliffs of Hoy above the Old Man of Hoy – get dive bombed by great Skuas
    And the list goes on….. Scotland is amazing in all it’s diversity and weather!

    • Fantastic ! Thanks so much for sharing your list. I can see we’ll soon be up to 200 things to do before you die !

  20. To name but a few…

    Go watch The Edinburgh Royal Millitary Tatoo! It would be rude not to!
    Or even watch the Pipe Band World Championship Finals, held at Glasgow Green!
    Try playing the bagpipes once!
    Go to an ‘Old Firm’ match (very rare at the moment, unless both teams meet in the cups).
    Have a roll n square sausage washed doon wae some Irn Bru.
    Go watch a Scotland Rugby or Football match at Murrayfield or Hampden respectively.
    Buy your very own Kilt and wear it to special occasions.
    Go on a Highland tour.
    Do the Whisky Trail 🙂
    Buy a tartan scarf.
    Visit New Lanark
    Go Salmon fishing
    Go to a Scottish restaurant for Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, drizzled with Whisky Sauce.
    Visit Edinburgh Castle
    Visit Edinburgh’s Dungeons
    Visit Stirling Castle (or any other)
    Visit Wallace Monument
    Visit Bannockburn
    Go to Lanimer’s Day in Lanark
    Visit Glenfinnan Viaduct

    You could go on and on, there’s loads of good points/places of interest, but you won’t find them sitting on yer arse!

  21. no. 46 – unfortunately the School of Art designed by CRM was completely destroyed in a fire last year. The building still stands as an empty shell, but the plans to rebuild it don’t include Charles Rennie Macintosh’s design.

    • Yes, this was a huge loss to Glasgow and Scotland. But there’s a CRM themed trail if other buildings in Glasgow so I think Mackintosh should definitely still stay on the list.

  22. I looked again and saw St Andrews…… I’d put a fish supper at the famous Anstruther Fish and Chip shop in Anstruther just along from St Andrews 🙂

    • Typical Dumfries and Galloway is always left out of things real shame but then again people cannot see past Glasgow and Edinburgh

      • And so where in D&G would you suggest needs to be added to the list ? The point if the post was to highlight a list that jounalists had thought up – and then to see whether everyone else could come up wirh a better list.

    • No 82 – the route in the book is between Dumfries & Newton Stewart

  23. Walk the Culloden Battlefield in the dead of night on 16 April.
    Leave a cloot at the Clootie Well.
    Go to the Wickerman Festival.
    Have dinner at The Witchery in Edinburgh.
    Visit the Neil Gunn Memorial.
    Read Neil Gunn’s Highland River in Dunbeath.
    Spend a night in the centre of the Clava Cairns.
    Have Dinner and stay overnight at the Boath House in Nairn.
    Shop at House of Bruar.
    Visit Santa at Edinburgh’s Christmas Village.
    Tour Glasgow City Chambers.
    Spend a day at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
    Watch the Salmon leap at Rogie Falls.
    Have Ice Cream at the Allanwater Cafe in Bridge of Allan.
    Take the Glenelg Ferry to Skye.

  24. Kinloch Castle on Rum, Gatliffe Trust Berneray and Howmore Hostels, Tweed Cycle Way, Kelpies and Falkirk Wheel, Skipness and Oban Seafood shacks…..so many outstanding things to do in Scotland, maybe my choice isn’t amazing but they are all very enjoyable 😃

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