Tucked away on the pristine coastline of Loch Carron in the Wester Ross area of North West Scotland, Plockton is undoubtedly one of the stunningly attractive villages in Scotland.
Referred to as The Jewel of the Highlands, Plockton is perhaps best-known for its breathtaking scenery, laidback Scottish life, milder climate and appearance in many TV shows, like the BBC’s Scottish drama series – Hamish Macbeth. You can easily add this former fishing village to your Scotland road trip itinerary to the Isle of Skye.
If you are into sailing, you might be interested in visiting Plockton during its annual regatta. Usually held at the end of July for a fortnight, it ends with concerts and ceilidh – traditional Scottish dance.
If you are wondering how to spend a day in Plockton, we have got you covered. In this travel guide, you will find everything you need to plan a perfect day trip to Plockton, including all the best things to do, castles to explore, nearby hikes, where to stay and eat and what to see in the nearby area.
📍 Where is Plockton
Plockton is a charming highland village in the Wester Ross and Lochalsh area on the North West coast of Scotland. With a population of fewer than five hundred people, Plockton sits by the shore of Loch Carron.
It is just around 8 miles away from the famous Isle of Skye – the largest island on the Inner Hebrides, which makes this wee village a perfect place to visit on your way to Skye.
Also, it is around 204 miles from Edinburgh and takes about 5-6 hours to drive here. It takes more or less the same time to reach here from Glasgow. Plockton is under two hours drive from Inverness and Fort William.
Is Plockton Worth Visiting
Plockton is definitely worth a visit! If you are searching for someplace off the beaten track, not high on the tourist radar yet, this sleepy coastal village is the perfect place for you. Along with Braemar in the Cairngorms and Cullen on Moray Coast, Plockton is one of our favourite villages in Scotland. With picture-perfect vistas, this is quite a unique place to visit.
The exceptional beauty of this place has attracted visitors. It has an abundance of wildlife, a hidden coral beach, a castle walk, excellent panoramic viewpoints, and not to mention some delicious seafood restaurants. Also last but not least, Plockton is just five miles away from the Kyle of Lochalsh, beyond which is the famous Isle of Skye.
If you are travelling around this part of Scotland, definitely add this scenic village to your travel itinerary. It is small enough to visit all attractions in a day. But you might be tempted to spend longer. It’s a good choice for a staycation.
A Little Bit about Plockton’s Past
This coastal village was originally built as a planned village in the early 19th century by landowner Sir Hugh Innes. In its heydays, in the era of ‘The Herring Boom’, Plockton was a major haven for sourcing herring, which made it rise to its prosperity.
Over the course of time, especially after the World Wars, the fishing fortune took a downturn. Once a thriving fishing and crofting village declined when the fish changed their migration patterns. While fishing today remains (you would see creels lying around the pier) a small scale business, the economy now mainly thrives upon tourism.
Plockton appeared as the backdrop of the Scottish TV series Hamish Macbeth. Also, some scenes from the movie The Wicker Man got filmed here.
Best Time to Visit Plockton
Plockton has a maritime climate. The summer here is pleasantly warm, and the winter is relatively mild and rainy. Due to the Gulf Stream, the weather here is mostly warmer than in the rest of Scotland.
☀️Summer: The best time to visit Plockton is during the summer months – from June to August. The weather here stays dry and warm. With longer days, it is the best time to enjoy the outdoors. Also, it’s the peak tourist season. The hottest month in Plockton is July. The average highest temperature is around 17 degrees Celsius in summer.
🍂 Spring & Autumn: Late spring and mid-autumn would be a great time to visit this lochside village if you want to avoid the crowds. Though the temperature might stay mild, expect some frequent downpours.
We visited Plockton during the mid-autumn. The place looked astoundingly beautiful with all the autumn foliage, although it was cold and rainy.
🏔️ Winter: The daylight hours are fewer, and it gets cold and rainy from November to February. January is the rainiest month here in Plockton. The average highest temperature is around 7-8 degrees Celsius during the winter months.
🏴 Best Things to Do in Plockton
1. Walk the Breadth of Plockton’s Promenade
Start exploring this beautiful village from the visitor centre near the car park, and walk through Harbour Street, which runs along the coast of Loch Carron.
The road is lined up with traditional whitewashed houses and the prettiest gardens against the breathtaking backdrop of the loch and the mountains from the Applecross peninsula.
What’s surprising is the palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. They definitely add the Mediterranean vibe, like Malta perhaps! We never knew before that they could grow on Scottish soil. We googled it and found out that it’s the Gulf Stream that keeps the weather milder on the northwest shore of Scotland, making the palm trees survive here in Plockton.
Some of the houses here are dated back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, many of them are available for holiday rentals. Also, you will come across a few village shops and restaurants. There are picnic benches along the street, where you can sit back and admire the stunning view.
It’s so captivating that we literally stopped every minute and savoured the view – every corner of it is so pretty! No wonder photographers and painters find Plockton so fascinating. With clouds gradually clearing off, the day started getting brighter, and the Applecross mountains in the distance showed up.
2. Cross the Causeway to Explore Aird a' Mhorair Peninsula
Meandering around the village to discover unknown hidden sights is one of the best things to do in Plockton. After reaching a red cute telephone box on Harbour Street, you would find the causeway to the right leading onto the small Aird a’ Mhorair peninsula.
In full tide, the causeway might not be accessible. So you will have to take a detour via Cooper Street by the side of the Village Hall.
This part of Plockton is equally picturesque. Here you will find quaint wee houses with hanging flowers, a thatched cottage, a small post office and a playground for the kids. Plus, there is a beautiful view of the whitewashed houses of Harbour Street overlooking the loch. We simply loved the walk! You will also get a closer view of the Duncraig Castle on the opposite side of the loch.
Before retracing your way back, take a look inside the Plockton Village Hall. They sometimes host events, exhibitions and craft fairs selling local produce.
Later, head towards the main pier – where you can moor your yacht if you are sailing into Plockton. Also, it is the only one that can be used at low tide. Sometimes Seal boat trips leave from here.
3. Enjoy Endless Views from Carn an Frith-aird Viewpoint
The Carn an Frith-aird Viewpoint walk is one of the easiest scenic walks in Plockton. At the end of Harbour Street, take a sharp left turn leading up to Frithard Road. Keep walking straight for a few minutes until you find a signpost for Carn an Frith-aird Viewpoint on the right.
Follow that direction and take the path that branches off to the right and then climb up through a rocky path for about 5 minutes to reach the viewpoint. It’s quite an easy hike.
Keep in mind that Google Maps doesn’t show the correct location of this place.
During our visit, there was not a single soul present here other than us at this viewpoint. The wide-open panoramic view of the Cuillin ranges of Skye and Applecross mountains and the vast stretch of several sea lochs were absolutely magnificent. It was like a slice of heaven!
We sat on a bench and kept gazing at the horizon to soak up the scenery. With the autumn rolling in, the landscape started to spruce up with colours; a trawler was sliding away through the waters; a couple of yachts were sailing in the distance.
Also, while getting down, you will be treated to a superb aerial view over Plockton. The walk from the village car park to this viewpoint will take around 15-20 minutes one way.
4. Take a Leisurely and Scenic Boat Trip
The boat trips are operated by a local tour company – Calum’s Seal Trips. They run several trips daily from early April to October, depending on the weather situations. Boats leave from either the car park pontoon near the Visitor Centre or from the main pier, depending on the tidal conditions.
The tour lasts for about an hour, and it is free if you don’t find any seals during your trip. Other than spotting the seals, you might also see some otters, dolphins, porpoises and numerous sea birds. You will be treated to a cracking view of the mountain ranges of the Isle of Skye and Torridon and not to mention the opportunity to admire Plockton from the sea.
Price: Adult £15 and children £6.
5. Discover the Coral Beach
If you are in Plockton, the walk to the coral beach is a must. This secluded and peaceful beach lies on the opposite side of the village, beyond the train station. It is almost 1.5 miles from the village centre.
Dried calcified seaweed made the sand of this beach a bit blackish – the same you would find on the Coral beach on the Isle of Skye. This hidden coral beach is a perfect place to relax and unwind with the sound of waves gently lapping against the sand. Also, the hazed up view of the mountain ranges of Applecross and Skye on the horizon looks blissfully stunning. Plockton Coral Beach is really an unspoilt gem.
If you are driving, there is a small car park near the airfield. From there, the beach is only 10-15 minutes walk. We came here walking, and it took us about half an hour from the Plockton harbour. Start walking towards the train station, and at the fork, just before the station, take the path that goes by the High School. The walk is waymarked at places and is mostly flat with a few turns.
On your way, you will spot a small farm, Rowan Barn and a mobile takeaway shop, Off the Croft. You can grab some delicious sausage and burgers from the shop before heading to the beach. The last part of the walk that finally descends into the beach is a bit rough and rocky. Also, the route can be slightly boggy and muddy in places after rain.
6. Tuck into Fresh Seafood in Plockton
If you are a seafood lover, then you will love exploring Plockton’s brilliant seafood scene. For such a tiny village, it has quite a few restaurants serving delicious freshly caught seafood – mainly langoustines, lobster, scallops and mussels. A top tip is to make sure you make your table reservation well in advance, especially during the summer months.
If you fancy a takeaway, there is a really nice chip shop, named Harbour Fish Bar, right beside the car park. Enjoy a fish supper with a stunning view.
There are mainly three popular restaurants, all very close to the harbour. Plockton Inn serves a delightful selection of tasty seafood. Expect to find dishes such as Moules Mariniere or King Scallops. Try their tasting seafood platter of home-smoked salmon and fresh shellfish.
Pop into Plockton Shores for lunch or dinner with some top-notch seafood selections. Indulge in some beautifully presented fish dishes here. Also, enjoy a generous portion of home-cooked menus at The Plockton Hotel.
7. Cross onto the Tidal Island
Just off the car park, you will find a small island on Loch Carron. It is known as Eilean nan Gamhainn, which means ‘cattle island’ in Gaelic. This island is accessible only during low tide.
Take a short walk across seaweed and firm mud to visit this wee island at low tide. It is full of thorny wild plants with different faint paths across this small island. However, it’s worth a visit, as you would get a charming view of Plockton and Duncraig Castle from a different perspective. There are a couple of picnic benches on the island. So, you can sit back and admire the view.
It is a bit boggy. So, you will have to watch your steps carefully. We will definitely recommend a good waterproof walking shoe; a wellie is even better. So, if you are near the Ploakcton harbour during low tide, head towards this small tidal island.
8. See the Finest View of Plockton
After visiting Carn an Frith-aird viewpoint, walk back to the Frithard Road. From there, take a right turn and follow the Brae Track. This narrow lane goes above and behind the houses of the village promenade.
As you walk along, you will get an incredibly beautiful view of Plockton Bay from above before getting down through the steps leading to Harbour Street. Look out for the small, white Plockton Church building on your way. It was built in 1827 by the reputed Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.
This slightly elevated view is one of our favourites. If you are a keen photographer, then you must not miss a quick stroll on this road. It is super easy to find and well worth the effort.
The entire circular walk around Plockton, including the Carn an Frith-aird Viewpoint, will take more or less an hour to complete.
9. Embark on a Nature Walk to Duncraig Castle
Located at the east of Plockton, Duncraig Castle is a 19th-century castle on the shore of Loch Carron. The hike starts from the village centre and takes around 2-3 hours to complete. Taking a scenic coastal woodland walk to this castle is one of the most wonderful outdoor activities in Plockton. It is great for walking your dog too.
Watch out for the waymarked footpath for this walk on the opposite side of Open Air Church. The trail goes along the shore of Loch Carron with excellent panoramic views over the village and the surrounding landscapes.
Duncraig Castle was built by Scottish architect Sir Alexander Matheson and served as a country home. After his demise, the castle was sold, and it changed a few hands. The castle building was used as a naval hospital during the Second World War and later as a home economics college for women. Today it is open as a hotel.
If you are looking for a longer walk, you can easily combine this one with the Plockton Crags hike.
10. Uncover History and Heritage at Open Air Church
Plockton Open Air Church is a fascinating and unusual place to visit. We stumbled upon it while coming from the train station. It is located near the war memorial and is a scheduled monument.
After the Disruption of 1843, The Church of Scotland broke away, and the Free Church was formed. The worshippers chose this area that looks like a natural amphitheatre to build their church. It was used as an open-air preaching place for the members of the Free Church and was in continuous use until 1936.
If you examine closely, you can find some of the stone pews used for the services. Also, you will see the remaining stone build arched entrance of the church. People from far away places in the Scottish Highlands used to come here to attend the congregations. It is important in Plockton’s local history. Although there is not much to see nowadays, this open-air church is a peaceful place to contemplate. It is one of the few sites of such kind in Scotland that is still standing.
🏴 Best Places to Visit Around Plockton
After visiting Plockton, you can explore the surrounding areas of Lochalsh, Applecross, Kintail and Skye. Here are some popular and iconic Scottish attractions not too far from the village.
11. Discover the Magical Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is an incredibly beautiful island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, famous for its rugged coastline, windswept landscapes, castles, rich wildlife and fascinating history. Taking a trip to visit the Isle of Skye is one of the best things to do around Plockton.
Portree is the largest town on the island. It has a picturesque harbour with an array of colourful houses. One of the most visited attractions on the Isle of Skye is the magical Fairy Pool. It is a series of small waterfalls in the backdrop of the magnificent Cuillin Mountain Ranges, famous for its clear turquoise water. You can take a dip into the water in summer.
Whiskey lovers will enjoy a guided tour and tasting at the Talisker Distillery – the oldest working distillery in Skye. You will learn a lot about the history of the distillery and the process of making their whiskies.
Another must-visit attraction of Skye is the iconic Old Man of Storr. The pinnacles of Storr are one of the best-known rock formations in Britain. Go on a hike to get close to the mighty Storr – it’s not a very tough walk.
Not too far from here is the Quiraing – one of the most dramatic landscapes in Skye. It consists of a large grassy surface (table), a sharp pointy pinnacle (needle) and a unique rock formation that looks like a medieval keep. Enjoy the spectacular panoramic views from here. Later, in this article, we have mentioned in detail how to reach Skye from Plockton.
12. Admire the Majestic Setting of Eilean Donan Castle
Located on the northwest coast of Scotland, this castle is only 11-miles away from the village of Plockton. It ranks high on our guide to the best castles to visit in Scotland. Sitting proudly on a small islet, where three sea lochs meet each other, Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most visited attractions in Scotland.
The castle is connected to the mainland by an arched stone bridge. The origins of the first castle here can be traced back to the 13th century. Throughout history, Eilean Donan Castle faced many turmoils. It has seen many wars, rebellions and destruction. During the Jacobite uprising, the castle was completely destroyed. The present-day castle was reconstructed in the 20th-century.
With such a scenic setting, no wonder why Eilean Donan Castle is a popular spot among tourists and wedding photographers. This castle was featured as the MI6 headquarter in the 1999 Bond film, ‘The World is Not Enough.
After exploring the castle, take a stroll around the neighbouring Dornie, a former fishing village along with the Loch Long. The colourful houses and the surrounding mountains there are very picturesque. You will get a wonderful panoramic view from the Dornie Community Hall, on the other side of the castle.
How to Reach: 🚗 It takes just 20 minutes to drive here from Plockton.
🚌 Catch Citylink bus services 915, 916, and 917 from Kyle. It takes just 15 minutes to reach the castle. The bus stop is called Bridge Road End.
Opening hours: Varies depending on the season. Generally, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm during the summer months.
Entrance fees: Adult £10, Child £6 and Family £29.
13. Explore the Lochalsh
Hugging the coastline of Loch Alsh, Kyle of Lochalsh was always an important settlement in this part of Scotland. Long before the Skye Bridge, there were ferry services departing here for Kyleakin, a village in Skye. Today the elegant Skye Bridge connects Skye with the mainland of Scotland. Opened in 1995, this bridge is 500 metres long and is also one of the busiest road bridges in the UK. If you are travelling to Plockton, you will have to pass this area.
We love two viewpoints around Kyle. You will get an excellent view over Loch Alsh and Inner Sound from there. You have to walk about 18 minutes to reach the Kyle of Lochalsh Viewpoint. The stunning view over the Skye Bridge and Loch Alsh is worth the walk. It’s a great spot for watching the sunset. Another one is the Loch Alsh Viewpoint. You have to walk around 12 minutes from the Kyle train station to reach here. A great place to stop along the A87 and take photos. You will get a gorgeous view of the bridge and Kyleakin village.
While driving to Plockton, you will see numerous scattered islands and rocks on the coast. This area is quite popular for kayaking and hiking and has rich wildlife. Also, there are many small hidden coral beaches. Take a stroll to the wee village of Duirinish.
How to Reach: Train to Kyle.
14. Visit Applecross
The remote Applecross peninsula lies only about 18 miles drive from Plockton. To reach the main village of the same name, you will have to drive through the winding road of Bealach na Ba – one of the highest and most picturesque mountain passes in Scotland. Certainly not for the faint-hearted. But you will get a spectacular view of the Inner Sound, Rona, Skye, Scalpay, Raasay, and Crowlin. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of the Outer Hebrides on the horizon.
Applecross is a beautiful small village and a must-visit place on the North Coast 500 route that starts from Inverness. It takes around an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Applecross village from Plockton by car. While here, step inside the heritage centre and discover the local history. If lucky, you might catch the herd of red deer roaming in the Applecross Bay.
Applecross Inn on the seafront is an excellent place to tuck into locally sourced delicious seafood. They have a takeaway truck as well, just opposite the Inn if you are in a hurry. Also, the Applecross Walled Garden restaurant is a great place to have lunch in a beautiful setting.
15. Enjoy a Magical Train Ride to Plockton
The Kyle Line connects the east and west coast of Scotland. It runs from Inverness – the capital of the Highlands to Kyle of Lochalsh – the gateway to the Isle of Skye. It is one of the most scenic rail journeys in Scotland, perhaps only comparable to the famous West Highland Line that goes through Fort William. The construction work of this line began in 1870 and
completed in 1897. Originally this line used to operate between Kyle to Dingwall, but later, it was extended to Inverness.
Today it’s a popular route for tourists visiting the Scottish Highlands. It takes around two and a half hours from either end.
Plockton sits between Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness train stations and is a must-visit stop on this train route. You will be amazed by the breathtaking views of the unspoilt rugged mountains, wild moors, enchanting lochs and beautiful wee villages. Watch out for red deers. We spotted quite a few of them during our train journey to Plockton. You can see the remote mountain ranges of Torridon Peaks, Ben Wyvis and many others from the train window. Also, you can pay a visit to the beautiful Attadale Gardens – not too far from Plockton.
16. Experience the Wilderness of Kintail
If you are an avid hiker, then you must visit Kintail. This beautiful and remote area of Scottish Highland is a hiker’s paradise. Morvich is the main settlement of Kintail. You have to drive around 30 minutes from Plockton and just 10 minutes from Eilean Donan Castle to reach Morvich.
Much of the areas around Kintail are maintained and owned by the National Trust of Scotland. Kintail is famous with Munro-baggers for its mountain ridge walks. The Five Sisters of Kintail is a well-known landmark and popular for hillwalking expeditions. At the heart of Kintail is the Glen Shiel, surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. There are many walking trails for different abilities. Hike around 12 miles to visit the Falls of Glomach, one of the remotest and highest waterfalls in the UK. You might spot some otters, red deer, golden eagles and several other wildlife in this area.
🗺️ Map of the Attractions in and around Plockton
Here is a map of all the best attractions to visit and the best things to do in and around Plockton. Click on the link to save the Google map on your phone. You can use the map offline. You can find all the viewpoints mentioned in this article on the map. We have also marked the best places to eat around the village.
🚗 How to Reach Plockton by Car
Plockton is just 15 minutes drive from Kyle of Lochalsh – the gateway of the Isle of Skye. So, this village is a perfect detour when you are getting in or out of Skye. Also, if you are on the NC 500 road trip, you could easily take a detour from Strathcarron via A890.
If you are coming from Oban and Fort William, you can take CalMac ferries from Mallaig to Armadale and then drive from there. From Edinburgh and Glasgow, follow the A9 and head towards Kyle of Lochalsh. Before passing Kyle, just after Reraig, turn right to reach the village.
Also, the driving route is very scenic. You will pass through picturesque valleys, lochs, mountains and the countryside.
The car park is located on Harbour Street, close to the Plockton Visitor Centre.
Here is a rough estimate of the time and driving distance from the main cities of Scotland.
- From Inverness 2 hours / 75 miles
- From Edinburgh 5-6 hours / 232 miles
- From Glasgow 5 hours / 241 miles
- From Perth 4 hours / 185 miles
- From Dundee 4 hour 35 minutes / 209 miles
- From Aberdeen 4 hour 10 minutes / 176 miles
🚌 How to Reach Plockton by Public Transport
Plockton is very easily accessible by train. It sits on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh train line, one of the most scenic train journeys in Scotland. The train takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Plockton from Inverness – the gateway to the famous Loch Ness. Also, it takes just 13 minutes to reach here from Kyle.
The village centre is about 15 minutes walk from Plockton train station. The station is unstaffed, and there is no ticket machine here. So, buy your tickets online in advance. The price of a single ticket from Inverness starts from £14.10 and costs £37.10 for off-peak returns, whereas a single ticket from Kyle is £3.10 only.
To reach Plockton by public transport, you need to reach either Inverness or Kyle of Lochalsh.
Inverness is very well-connected with other cities in Scotland and England. There are regular flights from London to Inverness Airport. Scottish Citylink and Megabus operate direct bus services from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Also, there are frequent ScotRail train services from Scottish cities and towns. You can catch the Caledonian Sleeper overnight train from London to get to Inverness.
Kyle of Lochalsh is served by train and bus services. Scottish Citylink runs direct bus services from Glasgow Buchanan and Inverness Bus Station. It takes around 5 hours 50 minutes from Glasgow and about 2 hours 7 minutes from Inverness to reach Kyle by bus. The bus station is located very close to the train station. Kyle is also served with local buses from the Isle of Skye.
🚂 How to Reach the Isle of Skye from Plockton
A visit to the gorgeous Isle of Skye is a must, while you are in this area. You can reach Skye by driving and by public transport.
Skye is only 20 minutes driving distance from Plockton. From the village, follow Ines Street, passing behind the train station, towards Duirinish. The road through Badicaul provides an amazing view of the coast and the mountains.
Here’s an approximate driving time and distance to the main settlements of Skye from Plockton.
- Kyleakin 20 minutes / 8 miles
- Broadford 27 minutes / 15 miles
- Portree 1 hour / 40 miles
- Uig 1 hour 20 minutes / 54 miles
Now, for the public transport, catch a train from Plockton train station to Kyle of Lochalsh. Before boarding your bus to Skye, admire the beautiful surroundings of the station. From the Harbour Slipway bus stop, hop on board a Citylink or Stagecoach bus. The Citylink bus services 915, 916 and 917 stop at Broadford, Portree and Uig. Stagecoach runs infrequent services 55 and 150 to Elgol and Broadford on the Isle of Skye.
How to Get Around Plockton
This coastal village is pretty small and is a perfect place to stroll lazily, map-less, and discover unexpected sights. It doesn’t take long to walk around the entire village. So, the best way to explore Plockton is by foot. All the attractions are very close to each other. Also, we would suggest wearing a good pair of comfortable walking shoes, better if it’s waterproof.
To explore the surrounding areas around Plockton, it’s definitely more useful to have a self-drive car as public transport here is very limited. Although other than Applecross, you can visit all the places mentioned in this article using a combination of train and bus.
Plockton is truly a beautiful Scottish Highland village. We hope this travel guide to the best things to do in Plockton in a day has been helpful.
We spent two days here and absolutely loved it. So, if you’re planning a visit to the Isle of Skye, we will highly suggest spending a day here.
Love, Moumita and Sankha.