Go north on your next visit to Scotland and discover Ullapool. If you are travelling through Scotland’s NC500 route, make sure you leave some time for this charming town. This is one of the main stops on the route and a great base for those that want to travel further north during their visit to Scotland. Our guide looks at the top things to do in Ullapool complete with accommodation.
Get to know Ullapool. We list our top things to do and places to stay in Ullapool below.
Where is Ullapool?
The picturesque fishing town of Ullapool is nestled on the shores of Lochbroom; the gateway to the Northern Highlands.
If you choose here for your next holiday destination you will have a great base for exploring Scotland. There is also an abundance of things to do in Ullapool itself. Visitors to Ullapool can checkout Wester Ross and the Highlands and Inverness is only an hour’s drive away. Ferries are also available if you want to cross over to Stornoway and Lewis.
If you are looking embrace the outdoors and discover some of the natural settings that Scotland has to offer during your trip Ullapool has lots to offer.
Things to in Ullapool
Tourists visiting are spoilt for choice as there is a wealth of things to do in Ullapool.
Take an adventure while you’re here and climb some of the local mountains, go wild swimming along the town’s coast or experience something completely new!
We list our top things to do in Ullapool below.
One of my personal favourite things to do in Ullapool is Ullapool Hill.
You will find fresh air and wonderful views of Loch Broom during a hike up the Ullapool hill. This climb is suitable for beginners, as it takes roughly two hours to get to the top of the hill and back down again.
If you would like to extend the climb with a circular walk, turn right after leaving the top of the hill to enjoy views around Loch Achall.
Isle of Lewis Day Trip
On a Saturday the first Lewis ferry leaves Ullapool at 10:30 and arrives at Lewis for 13:00. The last ferry leaves Stornaway at 15:30 arriving back in Ullapool for 18:00. This gives you 2h 30m to explore Lewis. Granted, this isn’t much time and I would recommend doing an overnighter and exploring further afield into Harris, but a very short day trip is possible.
During the week this is not possible.
The Seafood Shack
The Seafood Shack is an absolute must. When we stay in Ullapool we are lucky enough to stay literally across the road from this hugely popular local seafood ‘takeaway’*.
My personal favourite has to be the fresh tempura haddock wraps or the ‘spineys’ but everything on the ever-changing menu sounds delish.
Don’t just take my word for it. This local seafood takeaway has won tons of awards:
- Winners of BBC Radio4 Food and Farming Award “Best street food or takeaway” 2017
- Winners of the Scottish Food Awards “Speciality Outlet of the year” 2017
- Winners of the Scottish Food Awards “Highly Recommended Seafood Bar” 2017
- Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards “Best Eating Experience 2018”
*I hate describing the Seafood Shack as a takeaway as nothing about The Seafood Shack is greasy or basic.
Handa Island features Toridonian sandstone cliffs and tens of thousands of seabirds. A day trip here can include spotting otters, Arctic tern, snipe, Arctic skua, oystercatchers and, of course, puffins. Lots and lots of puffins.
The only downside is that the island gets very busy in the summer and when we went there was a large queue to get off the island.
Keep in mind that puffins only nest on Handa May to July.
The bone caves are a geological site. Polar bear, reindeer and lynx bones were found here, hence the name. Another find was a 2000-year-old ivory pin. Bones and pins aside, this is a fantastic walk through a stunning valley. View the route on Walkhighlands.
Another one of my personal favourite things to do in Ullapool is visit Achmelvich Beach. Achmelvich Beach is an hour drive away from Ullapool but is totally worth it. This stunning beach is perfect in Summer and one of my personal favourite. A perfect trip here involves a picnic and a swim in the clear turquoise water.
Corrieshalloch (translated as ugly hollow) is a fantastic example of a deep gorge created by glacial meltwater.
The Carrieshalloch Gorge is just outside Ullapool. If you are driving to Ullapool from the South then you will pass right by the gorge. Make this the last stop on your journey to Ullapool, you will not be disappointed!
One of the interesting things to do in Ullapool is the town’s museum.
The town’s museum is just as interesting outside as it is inside, as Ullapool’s history is kept in a Category A listed building, so get your camera ready.
Interested in Scottish history? Visitors to the museum can learn about the social history of Lochbroom, crofting, fishing and lots more!
This is a great hang out for all the family as there is an exciting children’s activity area inside the museum.
Ullapool Golf Course
If you are visiting Scotland on a golf trip, make a stop at one of the countries most scenic spots.
You can book in advance if you want to play here or simply ‘walk-on’ and play the course without booking a tee time in advance. On the club’s official website it states that its “clubhouse has an honesty box and club hire for visitors.”
While visiting this part of Scotland, take advantage of some of the wonderful boat cruises that are available.
If you are staying in the centre of the town you can take a boat trip from Ullapool Pier. Whether you are looking for something under an hour to a half-a-day ride, providers around Ullapool will find something that will fit your needs.
During your trip, you will take in the sites of some of Scotland’s most natural coastlines and wildlife as seals and dolphins frequent the seas around Ullapool.
On our last visit here, one of the top things to do on our agenda was a boat trip around the summer isles.
We booked a day trip on the Summer Queen around the summer isles. It was a cracking day and we both got sunburnt (yes in Scotland). What made the trip was the knowledge the sailors had. They communicate with local conservation groups and coast guards. This means that if there are sightings of wildlife they know.
On our trip we saw:
- White-tailed eagles
- Loads and loads of rare seabirds that I cannot remember the name of anymore 🙁
No seals, unfortunately, but maybe next time!
When it rains, one of the best things to do in Ullapool is to visit the local pubs. Indeed, one of our favourite pastimes in Ullapool is visiting all of the Scottish pubs. You are spoiled for choice with live music and vibrant atmospheres in the summer months.
The locals are super friendly and nothing beats a pint in the Ferry Boat Inn looking over Loch Broom.
Another favourite of ours is a road-tripping through Sutherland.
This is in my humble opinion some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery. Sutherland is made up of vast plains, towering mountains (most surprisingly under the 3000 ft Munro mark) and stunning beaches. A drive to Durness, Achiltibuie (said Ack Ill Ta Boo Ay) or Lochinver is an absolute must!
Wester Ross Coastal Trail
Whilst there are plenty of things to do in Ullapool itself, venturing further afield is always a good day!
Ullapool is perfectly positioned for visiting Sutherland. However, the Wester Ross Coastal Trail is equally well suited for exploring whilst in Ullapool.
This trail takes you around Wester Ross through beautiful scenery and small villages.
A top tip would be to detour into Torridon where bold Liathach and Beinn Eighe stand tall – simply breathtaking. The exposed sandstone in the Torridon hills is some of the oldest on the planet. Beinn Eighe often features in lists of the best hikes in Scotland.
Accommodation in Ullapool
Ullapool is packed with small independent B&Bs and holiday homes as well as larger hotels. There are a few big hotels; The Royal and The Caledonian are some of the best hotels in Scotland. However, your best bet when visiting Ullapool is to stick to smaller accommodation. We’ve found B&B hosts to be really helpful and knowledgable and it has really made our trips in the past!