Updated: Aug 6
When the skies are clear and the sun is shining, it’s an absolute must to make the most of it - especially in Scotland. We’ve collected some of the best spots in Scotland you can head to with friends and family, to lay down a blanket and enjoy an alfresco feast this summer.
Royal Botanic Gardens – Edinburgh
Edinburgh can be a pretty busy city, and the Royal Botanic Garden provides a peaceful haven where you can step away from the urban hustle and bustle and lay among the grass, trees and plants. Dine alfresco with views of the iconic Palm House, or watch nature go by from the Chinese Hillside.
Otters Pool - Galloway Forest Park
Halfway along the Raiders’ Road Forest Drive you’ll find this beautifully secluded spot by babbling waters - absolutely idyllic for a picnic in the summer months. Watch out for red and roe deer grazing amongst the trees, and keep an eye on the skies for buzzards, sparrowhawks, and red kites.
Loch Morlich – Glenmore
Popular during the summer months with sunbathers, windsurfers, kayakers, and walkers, Loch Morlich's sandy beach is famous for being the most elevated beach in Britain. It's also the winner of a Rural Beach Award, ensuring it is one of Scotland's cleanest and most beautiful beaches. The winding trails leave from Glenmore car park, with plenty of quiet picnic spots along the way. What could be more appealing than a beautiful beach and meandering trails, alive with the sounds of wildlife?
Glenfinnan Viaduct – Glenfinnan
The iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct is recognisable the world over thanks to its appearance in the Harry Potter series where the Hogwarts Express can be seen passing over its majestic arches. It makes a beautiful spot for a picnic, with several different viewpoints that can be accessed from the visitor centre. ScotRail trains pass reasonably frequently on the route to Fort William, but if you want to see the iconic Jacobite steam train then you will have to time your picnic carefully as it only passes twice a day.
Fairy Pools – Skye
Not only was it named as Scotland’s best picnic spot in 2017, but Skye’s Fairy Pools even made it on to the prestigious Lonely Planet list of the Top 50 Natural Wonders of the World. If you want to see them for yourself, drive to the Forestry Commission car park of Glumagan Na Sithichean and then hike along the path for about 20 minutes until you reach the first of the waterfalls. There are plenty of different pools to explore and have a picnic at – but if you are really brave you could even try swimming in them. Just don’t expect the water to be warm…
St Cyrus Beach - Nr Montrose
A wildlife-watching haven, St Cyrus beach offers the chance to spot seabirds, dolphins, seals and even whales. This three-mile-long beach, which is part of the St Cyrus Nature Reserve, has plenty of lovely spots for relaxing on a sunny day, which can be accessed either from the cliff path or the designated visitor centre. Just make sure to guard your picnic from any mischievous dogs sniffing around for a post-swim snack.
Balloch Castle Country Park – West Dunbartonshire
Since the construction of Loch Lomond Shores, many visitors to Balloch make a beeline for the waterfront attractions on offer there. But if you go slightly further through the village you will reach Balloch Castle Country Park, a wonderfully underrated park that combines wide open spaces with excellent views of Loch Lomond. There are several benches that look down on to the water or towards the charming Balloch Castle, but if you aim for the banks of the loch you will find dozens of designated picnic tables perfect for outdoor dining.
Pine Cone Point – Dunkeld
One for the walkers amongst us, Inver Walk leading through the forest up to Pine Cone Point in Dunkeld is a must for a picnic with a view. Enjoy an outlook across the Tay to Dunkeld and the mountains in the north. A newly hand-built wooden sculpture in the shape of a pinecone also offers a great photo opportunity.
Penicuik House - Penicuik
Standing in the heart of one of Scotland’s most important 18th-century designed landscapes, Penicuik House offers peace and tranquillity for a romantic picnic for two. The house and 1,000 acre grounds are steeped in history of one of the most important families in Scotland’s intellectual, cultural and scientific past.
St Abbs Head/Harbour- Eyemouth
St Abbs Head in Berwickshire is the perfect summer picnic spot to give you the feeling of being somewhere wild and remote. The nature reserve offers a wealth of wildlife, but the keen eyed amongst us might also recognise the harbour in the fishing village of St Abbs as New Asgard from Marvel’s Avengers Endgame, or the setting for Harry Styles’ music video Adore You. St Abbs Lighthouse is a stunning landmark too surrounded by great scenic views and wildlife – it’s certainly worth the walk.
Culzean Castle - Maybole
With gardens, beaches, woods, a Swan Pond and much more filling this beautiful 640 acre estate, there’s no doubt you’ll find the perfect spot for your picnic at Culzean. Relax and take in the magnificent views of the cliff-top castle and across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran.
Eilean Donan Castle – Nr Dornie
Add a historical backdrop to your picnic and opt to dine at a spot overlooking a castle, or perhaps even in the castle grounds. One of Scotland’s most dramatically located castles in Scotland is Eilean Donan, at Kyle of Lochalsh near the Isle of Skye. With its arch bridge and loch-side position, it’s a breath-taking sight.