Campsites and Glampsites in Scotland that Are Better than a Hotel

Rothiemurchus, Aviemore, UK
Rothiemurchus, Aviemore, UK | Photo by Salóme Kok on Unsplash

Scotland is full of stunning views, beautiful wild places and ancient historical locations. Although there is a host of luxurious hotels to choose from, one of the best ways to experience the country is to embrace nature and sleep outdoors. For those who opt for camping, here are nine of the best sites to stay at.

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Glampotel Dundas Castle

Beside a loch on the 400-acre (162ha) estate of Dundas Castle is the first glampotel location in Scotland – a truly luxurious five-star outdoor experience. Each tent is more like a canvas cottage than any traditional tarpaulin image of outdoor living you may have, featuring proper beds, a wood burning stove, en-suite bathrooms and cooking facilities. Plus, it is also only a short drive to Edinburgh and all the delights on offer there.

Sango Sands

Enjoying camping

On the far north coast of Scotland, Sango Sands is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches, empty hills and wild seas. The Scottish equivalent of Route 66, The North Coast 500, runs past here, making it a great stop-off spot for road-trippers. People have been coming here to escape for many years, including John Lennon, who used to stay with relatives in the area. Sango Sands campsite offers plenty of space for tents and electric hook-up points for caravans and RVs. There is a shower block, toilets, cooking facilities, a restaurant and bar. Keep your eyes peeled during your stay as orcas and dolphins are often seen offshore.

Rothiemurchus

Set among Caledonian Forests in the Cairngorms, Rothiemurchus is a large and ancient estate at the forefront of efforts to create a sustainable and ecologically friendly leisure industry, which would explain why it is a favourite location for both Ray Mears and David Attenborough. Here, you can camp beneath giant Scots pine, with red squirrels leaping above you. The woods add a sense of calm and peace but there are still modern facilities to be enjoyed, including state-of-the-art midge-capturing devices. The area surrounding the campsite features some of the best walks and mountain biking trails in Scotland.

Applecross Camp Site

The peninsula of Applecross draws in visitors for a number of reasons. The pass over the mountains is legendary, the scenery breathtaking and the area blessed with wonderful places to eat and drink. Applecross is a family-run campsite with spaces for tents and caravans. It also has camping huts available in two different styles. Booking is essential and can be done online. Facilities include showers, washing machines, dryers and wifi near the main reception building.

Marthrown of Mabie

This is a campsite surrounded by forest but not too far from Dumfries, you can choose to stay in your own tent, a yurt, bunkhouse, tipi or even a reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse. Not only are there may accommodation choices, but there is also a hot tub and sauna on site, as well as an all-weather barbecue area and even a challenge course to try and complete without touching the ground.

Ecocamp Glenshee

As the name suggests, this is an ecologically balanced site, with care taken to minimise the impact on the land in this beautiful part of Scotland. The skies here are some of the darkest to be found in the UK, and on clear nights the stars are breathtaking. The site offers different accommodation options, several of which are rather romantic, making a great couples’ getaway, including camping pods, shepherd’s huts and bell tents for two. For families or larger groups there is also a restored railway wagon, larger shepherd’s huts and pods and a large modern cabin with a stove that sleeps up to 10.

Black Isle Yurts

Just north of Inverness lies the Black Isle, renowned for its coastline, woodlands and warmer micro-climate. This campsite offers the chance to stay in one of several yurts, cosy and warm no matter the weather, with a wood-burning stove, comfortable beds, cooking facilities and seating. There is a central hub with showers, toilets and wifi, and each yurt is set apart from the others in its own peaceful woodland glade.

Rackwick Bay

Camping with a view

This wee campsite is located on the island of Hoy, one of the 20 inhabited islands of Orkney (there are more than 70 in total). Hoy is the tallest island, with stunning red sandstone cliffs dropping away to the Atlantic Ocean. Rackwick is on the west side of Hoy, not too far from the famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy, and the campsite truly feels as though it is on the edge of the world. There is a heather-thatched bothy (hut), with a fireplace for cooking and stone benches to sleep on, a toilet nearby, running water but little else. However, with tent pitches giving views like this, you will soon forget about modern conveniences.

Gardiesfauld

Even further north than the islands of Orkney is Shetland, and the furthest north inhabited island of Shetland is Unst. This is the most northern campsite in the UK. There is a hostel here, caravan hookups and camping pitches, as well as a kitchen, shower and laundry facilities. There is also wifi in the hostel and easy access to the beach at the bottom of the landscaped gardens. You have a good chance of seeing otters here and orcas are increasingly common offshore.

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