With staycations booming and Scottish destinations a clear favourite among holiday-makers up and down the UK, the question everyone is asking is, where should I go next?
It’s no secret that the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are tourist hotspots in their own right, but what about the smaller towns and villages? Where is the most popular destination in 2021?
Holidu, the search engine for holiday rentals, decided to carry out a study to determine which small Scottish towns and villages the British people have been searching for most in the last twelve months.
All towns and villages with less than 20,000 inhabitants were considered for this study. The ranking was drawn up using the average number of monthly searches on Google for these locations with the terms “things to do in” and “what to do in” to determine the most popular destinations with holiday-makers.
1. Fort William, Highlands – 3,490 searches per month
Fort William has been crowned the most popular small town in Scotland, and it’s not hard to understand why!
Known as the “Outdoor Capital of the UK”, this town is situated in the stunning Scottish Highlands, right on the banks of Loch Linnhe.
It is a favourite with tourists every year, boasting Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak and the Nevis Range Mountain Resort that is perfect for skiing and snowboarding in the winter or hiking trails in the summer months.
Fancy seeing the Harry Potter train in real life? Glenfinnan Viaduct is only a 30 minute drive from the town and you can watch the train crossing the bridge twice a day.
2. Oban, Argyll and Bute – 3,290 searches per month
Oban © Nancy Hann
In second place is the gorgeous Oban. For Scotch whisky enthusiasts, Oban is famous for its OBAN Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which dates back to 1794.
Dubbed as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is the perfect place to visit en route to the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
Oban is also known to be the seafood capital of Scotland, so expect to enjoy some of the best delicacies the region has to offer!
3. Aviemore, Highlands – 3,290 searches per month
Aviemore © Bayo Adegunloye
In third place is the popular holiday resort of Aviemore and is a favourite for travellers looking to explore the wilderness of the Cairngorms National Park, covering the mountains, Glenmore, Rothiemurchus Forest and much more.
Majestic mountains, gorgeous lochs and dense forests surround the town and offer a whole range of year-round activities for its visitors.
4. St Andrews, Fife – 2,220 searches per month
St Andrews © Katie Rogen
The coastal town of St Andrews is located in Fife and is known for its links to the Royals and its many magnificent golf courses.
Most notably is it famous for its world-class education, the University of St Andrews is even the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world.
Due to being a university town, there are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy when visiting. .
5. Pitlochry, Perthshire – 1,920 searches per month
Pitlochry © Herbert Frank
The cute town of Pitlochry is perfect for a getaway for families who love active holidays spent in the outdoors.
Blair Atholl Distillery, Blair Castle & Gardens and Pitlochry Golf Course are just a few of the must-visit places whilst on a trip to this gorgeous area in Perthshire.
About 8 miles outside of Pitlochry you will also find The Falls of Bruar, a brilliant scenic walk featuring series of waterfalls.
6. Ullapool, Highlands – 730 searches per month
Ullapool © S. Rae
In sixth place, we have the pretty fishing port of Ullapool. One of the main stops on the famous North Coast 500 route, this port lies on the shores of Loch Broom and is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Outside of the village itself, you can visit stunning beaches including Ardmair and Achmelvich, as well as Rhue Point Lighthouse that offers stunning views of the Summer Isles as the sun sets in the evening.
7. North Berwick, East Lothian – 700 searches per month
North Berwick © Xavier Coiffic
Next up we have North Berwick, a seaside town that has a beach and shoreline to die for! Less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, North Berwick is a fantastic place to visit this summer.
To be expected from a seaside town, you’ll be spoilt for choice with classic fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours in North Berwick, as well as trendy coffee shops and sophisticated restaurants!
8. Largs, North Ayrshire – 530 searches per month
Largs © Daniel Morrison
Largs, located on the West Coast of Scotland, is a quaint and old-fashioned seaside town. People flock to Largs for ice cream at Nardini’s Italian ice cream shop.
Described as the ‘nation’s most iconic ice cream parlour’, the famous art deco shop is a must-visit for anyone in the area.
Kelburn Castle & Estate is another popular site to visit when in Largs, its grounds are open daily to explore and a variety of events are held here throughout the year.
9. Mallaig, Highlands – 500 searches per month
Beach near Mallaig © Pieternel Baak
About an hour drive from Fort William is Mallaig, a bustling fishing port. Situated at the end of the famous West Highland Railway and the ‘Road to the Isles’, this is a great base to explore the West Coast and has great links to the islands of Skye, Rum, Eigg and Muck.
Mallaig prides itself on its fresh seafood and traditionally smoked kippers and locally caught seafood is always on the menu in a variety of pubs and restaurants in the area.
10. Nairn, Highlands – 490 searches per month
Nairn Beach © K B
Finally, in 10th place is Nairn, the fifth destination in the Scottish Highlands to be featured in this top ten. Nairn is situated on the Moray coast and one of its key attractions is its gorgeous white sandy beaches which are world-renowned and are the perfect location for dolphin spotting!
Fishing, off-road cycling, windsurfing, golfing at one of its championship golf courses or simply walking around the area, Nairn is the ideal base for a family holiday.