When thinking of a romantic getaway, many people will be quick to imagine a Grecian Island or a weekend under the cascading lights of the Eiffel Tower but searches in the UK for ‘romantic breaks Scotland’ have increased by 218 per cent in the past month, showing Scotland to be firmly on the mind of lovebirds looking to get away this Valentine’s Day.
Similarly, research from VisitScotland surveyed 2,000 UK holidaymakers from across the UK to uncover where in Scotland they had a special connection to and why.
The study found that the most common reason people say they have a special connection to Scotland is that they visited with a romantic partner, with almost a fifth (19 per cent) of holiday-goers saying this.
Although, it’s no surprise – Scotland is inherently romantic: The rich history, the love songs, the poetry, the picturesque towns and the beautifully sublime landscapes are fit for fiction.
And to help couples decide where to live out their romantic Scottish story ahead of 14th February, VisitScotland has pulled together a guide of the five most romantic places to visit, according to their survey, to inspire a break fit for a fairytale.
Looking at the Scottish places that ranked highest in VisitScotland’s study for people visiting with romantic partners, here are the top romantic destinations in Scotland:
Highlands, Skye and Moray Speyside
Coming in joint first in the VisitScotland study are the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.
Scotland’s Highlands are synonymous with romance, with welcoming people, unique culture, dramatic landscapes, romantic castles and a fascinating history offering lovebirds the perfect backdrop for a Valentine’s adventure.
Need help picking where to go? Nearby, Moray Speyside is well-known for its gentle climate and lush farmland and for being home to more than half of Scotland’s whisky distilleries.
A romantic Valentine’s trip to Moray could be topped off with a visit to Lossiemouth beach, which is known as the ‘Riviera of the North’.
Then there’s the Isle of Skye – an island off Scotland’s rugged north west coast that exudes peace, beauty and reinvigoration, making it the perfect escape for lovers looking to reset from the noise of everyday life.
The island has countless ways to enchant visitors with its mountains, miles of dramatic coastlines and captivating history.
For those looking for a different way to spend Valentine’s, why not leave the crowds behind and escape to the Isle of Raasay for the day?
On a clear day, Dun Caan offers clear views over to the Cuillin of Skye and the Outer Hebrides from the summit.
Coming in second place was Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has the perfect balance of history, nightlife, attractions and architecture, making it a city that lovebirds won’t forget in a hurry after a romantic stay.
DATE IDEA: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is just a mile from the city centre. Why not spend an hour or two exploring the gardens before heading back into the city centre for a romantic meal for two? Or, if couples would prefer immersing themselves in some of Edinburgh’s more paranormal culture, why not take a late night date to the Edinburgh Vaults? The tour guide will show visitors around the vaults, which date back to the early 18th century beneath the Old Town, sharing tales of the murders, persecutions of witches, and what the vaults have been used for over the years.
Next on VisitScotland’s romantic break list after Edinburgh is the surrounding Lothians regions.
East Lothian, Midlothian, and West Lothian are perfect for those looking for quieter towns near the city with a wealth of great attractions and enchanting scenery to explore. Winter doesn’t mean the seaside is off-limits.
Date idea: Why not take a day out to explore pretty North Berwick? Situated in East Lothian, North Berwick boasts excellent beaches and coastal scenery, making it the perfect seaside date destination. It’s home to an eclectic mix of shops, cafes and bars, and the town offers striking views out to the Bass Rock, which is home to the world’s largest northern gannet colony.
If couples don’t fancy braving the cold Scottish sea wind while bird watching, they can head over to North Berwick’s 5-star Scottish Seabird Centre, where they can view interactive live cameras on the local islands and zoom in on the amazing wildlife in their natural habitats.
Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
Stretching across central Scotland from east to west, the landscapes of Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are so diverse, with the historic city of Stirling, stunning countryside and countless mountains and glens to enjoy. These areas are the perfect escape for those looking for a mix of city and natural Scotland.
Date idea: For venturesome couples, why not plan a day to scale the formidable Ben Lomond (if weather conditions allow) and finish the hike with some well-earned R&R in one of Loch Lomond’s many luxury hotels and lodges?
These enchanting islands off Scotland’s north coast await lovers looking for a romantic escape to untouched Scotland. With hundreds of miles of coastline, beautiful beaches and views as far as the eyes can see, couples will have no trouble finding their own space in Orkney. Interestingly, almost a fifth (19%) of Orkney visitors said visiting the islands left them feeling ‘inspired’.
Travel tip: Orkney is an excellent choice for history buff couples with the 5,000-year-old sites in the UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney – stone monuments the prehistoric people of the island built.
While further afield than the other most romantic regions, the Shetland islands are not to be skipped.
Located between mainland Scotland and Norway, the archipelago of Shetland is made up of more than 100 islands.
Awarded as one of Europe’s Top 10 best destinations in 2019 by Lonely Planet, Shetland has some of the most incredible landscapes in the UK and has a Viking heritage second to none.
Couples can stay in Shetland’s quirky capital, Lerwick, and spend evenings in the vibrant restaurants and bars scene – or enjoy traditional Shetland music.
During the day, explore the picturesque seaside and enjoy miles and miles of untouched coastlines fringed by towering cliff tops and crystal-clear waters.
Bonus Location: Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
Looking to propose this Valentine’s but not quite sure where to do it and panicking at the eleventh hour? Try Scotland’s north east.
VisitScotland’s survey found that the people who said they had a special connection with Scotland because they got engaged here were most likely to do so in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire – with almost half (48 per cent) of these romantic life moments taking place in the region.
The region is home to Scotland’s Castle Trail – including the beautifully gothic Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven – making it perfect for some long, romantic walks.