Scotland has some seriously impressive highlights such as the mountain ranges, the islands and the road trips but I do love to find little colourful and quirky towns and villages. Here is our pick of the cutest villages and towns in Scotland. They are often an excellent place to base yourself while you explore, as the accommodation is nearly always quaint and cosy. One of my favourite moments of a road trip is stumbling upon a tiny village, the little worn place name sitting squint by the side of the road welcoming passers-bys. The houses painted in an array of colours which you would usually never put together but somehow just work. The wee shops with handmade tablet and locally produced marmalade and a chatty local behind the till. Local artists displaying their work in the community centre, flower baskets hanging outside the village museum which tell stories of the homes and jobs of families long gone. I love wandering the lanes, admiring the doorways and gardens, poking about in the shops and treating myself to a second-hand book and a fridge magnet (always!). Finding a cute little cafe with a window seat so I can enjoy a cup of tea and watch the locals go about their day. Scotland has some fantastic towns and villages and I encourage you to spend time in some, it’s a lovely way to immerse yourself in the Scottish way of life.
This list is some of my favourite towns and villages I’ve discovered on my travels around Scotland but I’m nowhere near finished so I’ll be adding more as I find them.
Cutest towns and villages in Scotland
Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway
You don’t have to visit the north-west for outstanding coastal views, Portpatrick sits on the west coast of the Rhins of Galloway peninsula and the scenery rivals any that can be found up north. This town is cute as a button, the pastel-coloured houses surround a small bay with beautiful clear water and are backed by impressive cliffs.
Durness is the most north-westerly village in Scotland and is remote and sparse. What you’ll find when you arrive along the dusty single track road though is a lovely tight-knit community of artists, craftsmen and crofters. Balnakeil Craft Village is a haven for locally produced gifts and if the wild wilds of the North Sea are too much they do an amazing hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain. This gorgeous village can be found along the famous North Coast 500.
Broughty Ferry, Dundee
Broughty Ferry is a bustling suburb of the city of Dundee. The pretty waterfront and colourful high street are filled with cafes, ice cream shops, independent shops and boutiques. It is perfect for a day out, or an evening relaxing in one of the town’s many restaurants. The charming esplanade runs alongside a beautiful golden beach which is popular with families in the summer months.
Restored by the National Trust for Scotland, Culross is as close to a 17th and 18th-century village as you’ll find. The mustard yellow palace looks out over the pretty banks of the Firth of Forth and the cobbled lanes and colourful houses are wonky and picturesque. Outlander, the TV series, uses Culross to stand in as Cranesmuir, they obviously have good taste!
Gairloch, Wester Ross
This sparse village is situated amongst some of the most outstanding scenery in Scotland. Lying on the banks of Loch Gairloch, You can’t escape the views. There are two stunning beaches, Big Sand and Redpoint and you can spot the Isle of Skye and Raasay out over the turquoise water. The pretty harbour area offers boat tours and the wildlife in the area includes dolphins, otters and maybe even some whales!
In the East Neuk of Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, there is a collection of cute little fishing villages. Pittenweem is the only one with a working harbour and you can watch the fishing boats return in the morning with their catch. Pastel coloured houses and shops line the harbour front and winding lanes lead up to the market square where you’ll find quaint cafes and gift shops.
Applecross, Wester Ross
If you are brave enough to tackle the famous winding Bealach na ba then you’ll be rewarded with a village which has the most amazing views. They can be enjoyed with a pint or a dram at the delightful Applecross Inn where you’ll be able to chat to people from all over as it’s a popular stop-off on the NC500. The scenery in this area is breathtaking, the dramatic mountain ranges provide the backdrop and the crystal clear water and rocky beach makes for some pretty spectacular photos.
Falkland is a charming village in the heart of Fife and as you enter the first thing you’ll spot is a magnificent Palace. Scottish history oozes from the walls of Falkland, some of the houses have thatched roofs, some have marriage lints above the doors and some of the doors are so short you’ll wonder how anyone ever fit through them. Pretty art galleries, gift and craft shops and cafes line the main square, which, in the centre, has a beautiful ornate fountain.
Dunkeld saddles the banks of the River Tay in Highland Perthshire. It’s another village with houses restored by the National Trust for Scotland which are centred around the impressive, gothic, Dunkeld Cathedral. The cottages are beautifully coloured in a light palette with blues and yellows featuring on the doors, window frames and fences. There are lots of classy independent shops and cafes on the Main Street which is sandwiched on each end by two lovely traditional hotels.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull
This list wouldn’t be complete if I missed out the capital of the Isle of Mull, Tobermory. Famous as the town used as Balamory in the children’s TV series this brightly coloured town is as cute as they come. The bustling harbour is lined with vivid coloured buildings in blues, pinks and yellows.
Portree, Isle of Skye
Another town on another island, Portree is the capital of the Isle of Skye and is just as beautiful and cheery as Tobermory. If you visit during the offseason, when it’s not crowded and fully booked, you’ll love the small shops and cafes that surround the harbour. The Isle of Skye is unfortunately way too busy during the summer but visiting in winter gives you the opportunity to really get to know the island at your own pace and Portree is the perfect base.
Shieldiag, Wester Ross
If you brave the Bealach na ba and take the alternative route back you will spot this utterly gorgeous little village from the high winding road to Torridon. Nestled on the banks of Loch Sheildiag, a branch of Loch Torridon, this adorable village would make the best postcard. Backed by the mighty Torridon mountains the whitewashed cottages are lined neatly overlooking the loch.