For anyone who has ever considered going to the Scottish Highlands I’d say this: go now. Pack immediately. (And bring a raincoat and waterproof shoes.)

Our three days in the Highlands has so far been the highlight of my trip – this area of the world, located in the most northwestern part of Scotland and the United Kingdom, boasts absurdly beautiful scenery in all directions, plenty of hiking, yummy food, sweet locals and a completely laid back way of life.

After renting a car in Edinburgh, Julia (a friend from the States who’s joined me for the UK and Ireland part of my trip) and I made our way north. Driving on the left side of the road was initially super intimidating – fortunately Budget was able to deliver on my ‘automatic’ car request (there was no way I was going to use the streets of Edinburgh to test how much of my college knowledge of stick-shift driving remained) and within a day or two, driving on the left and through the constant ’round-abouts’ no longer felt foreign. Here’s Julia with our awesome Passat.

We headed towards the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly island in the Highlands, passing through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park on the way. The weather wasn’t great, with rain almost the entire drive, but the scenery more than made up for it.

As we drove further and further north, the more green things grew, the less people we saw and the harder they were to understand! I had short passing conversations with people in which I legitimatily did not understand a single word they said, their Scottish accent was so thick. Road signs also became bilingual, to include both English and the native Scottish Gaelic dialect.

The Isle of Skye takes its name from the old Norse sky-a, meaning ‘cloud island’ and it’s easy to see why.

The below picture pretty much sums up the scenery in Skye: in any direction you look, you’re likely to see water in some form, be it ocean, lake or rain, vibrant green hills, and a sassy sheep giving you the side-eye.

My favorite Skye adventure was hiking out to Neist Point, the most westerly point of the island.

Besides getting to scope out an 105-year-old lighthouse (which is no longer in operation), on all sides of the peninsula are the most amazing cliff views.

The capital township of Skye is a cute little fishing town called Portree. The downtown is only a few square blocks centered around the little fishing harbor.

(Rain in the eyes = no bueno.)

After our few days in Skye, we left and headed east to spend our remaining time in Scotland at the most well known Scottish landmark… Loch Ness! This is the famous lake (or loch, as they’re called in Gaelic) where Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, was spotted in 1933.

The lake is huge at over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest point. Unfortunately Nessie was on holiday when we stopped by and we weren’t able to get a glimpse!

So there you have a few of my Scottish Highlands highlights – this is a place I could’ve easily spent more time, the island is a decent size and we only explored a fraction of it. As I’ve alluded to above, the area does receive a fair amount of rain, but it’s usually only for a few hours and not very heavy (from the POV of a native Seattleite anyway). The combination of raw beauty and peacefulness found in Skye aren’t available everywhere so keep it in mind when you start considering your next vacation abroad!

Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie