The far north east region of Caithness in Scotland is one of the most beautiful areas of the UK Mainland, filled with rich history, stunning views, rolling farmland, and the untamed wilderness of the Highlands. Caithness is the northernmost point of Mainland Scotland, and many trips like the North Coast 500 end in this picturesque historic county. You’ll be amazed at the number of things to do in Caithness!
Facing the cold Atlantic, the Pentland Firth that separates it from Orkney, and the North Sea, Caithness is home to stunning sea life and extraordinary boat tours. And in fantastic cities like Thurso, Wick, and Dunnet, you’ll always have warm accommodation awaiting you as you tackle the mesmerising attractions of Caithness.
Things to Do in Caithness
Caithness is full of beautiful sights, activities, and curious things! Whatever you may be interested in, Caithness undoubtedly has something to suit your tastes and interests.
The area is rich with Neolithic sites, making it easy to relive what the region was like 5000 years ago. Ocean wildlife is a boat trip away; you’re just as likely to see the region’s stunning attractions from the water as you are on land. Mighty castles, standing stones, and lighthouses dot the landscape when you visit Caithness, harkening to Scotland’s rich past.
There’s so much to do that it’s often difficult to decide what should be on your to-do list when you visit. See our guide for the top things to do in Caithness.
A prominent attraction along your journey is Smoo Cave, an expansive underground with waterfalls, pools, and a ton to learn!
The Cave is well marked, so you’re sure to find your way there – just follow the signs! Smoo Cave allows visitors to come and explore a stunning underground world on foot or on a boat trip, and guides make the trip a real treat with their superior insight into the geology and history of Smoo.
The northwest tip of Scotland is breathtaking, making this one attraction you can’t miss out on while in Caithness and Sutherland.
You can walk the Cape Wrath trail or grab a bus tour, but either way, you’ll be treated to the beauty that is untamed Scotland. Cape Wrath is possibly one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see, with heathlands, bogs, sheer cliffside, and an expansive view of the Atlantic.
The Castle & Gardens of Mey
Owned by the Queen Mother, the Castle & Gardens of Mey are yours to explore from Wednesdays to Sundays! Come see an exemplary caslte in Caithness and Sutherland!
The Castle of Mey is like something out of a fairytale, and those who visit Caithness have a chance to see its royal interiors. That’s not all, though; the Gardens of Mey are just as stunning, with a romantic walled garden that makes a trip here perfect for couples.
Duncansby Head Lighthouse
Please stop by the most northeasterly point of Scotland and marvel at the beautiful Duncansby Lighthouse, which overlooks spectacular ocean views.
With the trendy gold-and-white colours of Scottish lighthouses, the Duncansby Lighthouse is no doubt the best example of its kind. Better yet, walk along the coastline, and you’ll be treated to towering sea stacks, sheer cliffs, and an otherworldly view of Scotland.
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
Near the town of Wick, Caithness sits the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe – one of the fascinating historic sites in Scotland.
The Castle sits eerily close to the cliffside, with a suspension bridge that runs over the crashing waves below. Visiting Castle Sinclair is not for the faint of heart, so steel yourself when you see this unique attraction!
Grey Cairns of Camster
A trip to the Grey Cairns of Camster allows you to see two of the oldest monuments in Scotland!
This monument sports two Neolithic tombs that date back to over 5,000 years ago! The Camster Cairns take you back in time to an ancient land, where you can relive the burial rites and funeral practices of the Neolithic. The Camster Cairns are a once-in-a-lifetime attraction, so make sure to visit them!
Journey down south to the 365 Whaligoe Steps, and you’ll find yourself in an entirely new world, surrounded by tall cliffs, stiff ocean breeze, and salt spray.
The steps take you down to Whaligoe Haven, which grants unparalleled views into the ocean and makes you feel so close to the sea! We recommend taking care, as the steps can be pretty slippery during rainy conditions.
Voyage out on Sea Tours
You only see half of the wilds when you tour Caithness on land, and there are attractions you can only see aboard a boat.
Hiring a tour boat like Caithness Seacoast is sure to put a smile on your face and instil a strong appreciation of the stunning landscapes around the coast of Caithness and Sutherland.
Sail along the east coast, through coves, lochs, and out into the open ocean as you spot dolphins, leaping whales, and adorable seabirds!
The North of Scotland is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and you’re free to visit Dunnet Head if you don’t believe us!
This gorgeous lighthouse overlooks Dunnet Bay, with Orkney islands visible in the distance. Located in Thurso, this gold-and-white gem of a building is well worth the diversion, so why not enjoy a few moments of your vacation surveying this fascinating attraction.
The folks at Dunnet Head and Dunnet Bay are also a bank of knowledge and will be happy to tell you about walking trails, history, or tips for things to do in Caithness!
Stacks of Duncansby
Like claws emerging from the water, the Stacks of Duncansby are simultaneously one of Caithness’s most intriguing and ominous attractions.
Just east of John O’Groats, these mighty sea stacks are a natural phenomenon that has undoubtedly inspired stories and tales. They’re so eye-catching that you’ll likely not even notice Orkney in the distance!
Visit John O’Groats
The famous John O’Groats sign is likely on top of everybody’s list regarding things to do in Caithness, and for a good reason!
John O’Groats marks the most northerly point in Mainland Scotland and is home to the country’s northernmost town centre. The village is small, but the population is friendly and eager to help!
You should always make sure to take photos of this iconic landmark of Scotland while you’re in Caithness.
Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve
Spanning over 21,000 hectares of land, you can find Scotland’s most important natural treasures when visiting the west of Caithness!
The Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve boasts a complicated and beautiful collection of boglands, heath moors, straths, and mountains that make for a gorgeous landscape to explore.
The Nature Reserve is home to a comprehensive collection of bird species in one of the rarest ecological spaces in the world, perfect for hikers and budding bird-watchers!
Castle of Old Wick
If you want fascinating attractions, look no further than a trip to see the Castle of Old Wick.
Balancing in a piece of rock that juts out into the North Sea, the Castle is entirely separated from the main landscape of Scotland and flanked by cliffs on either side! A drawbridge extends to accommodate anyone who wants to look at the ruins of this mighty Castle up close!
Seeing the towering spire of the Old Man of Wick is awe-inspiring, so while you’re in Caithness make sure to add it to your list!
See the Puffin Cove
Who wouldn’t want to see adorable puffins? Just west of Thurso, you can see these cute seabirds scampering from rock to rock!
Visitors can get up close and personal with these fantastic seabirds with a brief hike. They’re most commonly spotted between May and August, perfect for a summer vacation in Caithness and Sutherland!
If you’re ever near Thurso, you can’t miss out on this wholesome attraction – it’s one of few places in Britain to see puffins!
Laidhay Croft Museum
The Laidhay Croft Museum gives you a look into what the lives of croft people were like 250 years ago!
The Museum is within an authentic long house that was lived and worked in for generations. You can discover how olden-day technology was used by excellent guides who immerse you into the experience, all while a peat fire crackles in the background!
You’ll come to experience the foods and drinks, with great care being taken to ensure it was made in the way they would’ve 250 years ago!
Visit almost 5000 years of history contained in the fantastic Cairn o’Get.
This great location evokes rich historical research for all who explore this funeral structure. They say that when it was first built, this cairn rose to almost 3-metres tall, although today age has reduced this height, it still leaves an impression for something that has been around for 5000 years!
Hill O’Many Stones
It’s not often you see 200 distinct stones lined up in 22 neat rows amongst the heath landscape of Scotland, but at the Hill O’Many Stones, that’s the whole attraction!
This isn’t a modern work of art or a display created recently, but a proper place of worship erected 4000 years ago by prehistoric humans – wow! The Hill O’Many Stones is one of the most unique attractions in the world, with only a few others like it.
If you’re near Lybster, Caithness, make sure to visit this attraction.
Caithness Broch Centre
Just next to the famous John O’Groats sign is the small town of Auckengill, and within it, the Caithness Broch Centre.
There are said to be over 500 brochs all over Scotland, and at the Caithness Broch Centre, you can learn about how exactly they think they were built, the artefacts that were recovered from them, and see excellent displays that provide in-depth information on their prehistory.
Nybster Broch is considered one of the most well-preserved brochs in the world, and in truth, that may even be underselling it!
This spectacular broch is easily accessible and allows you to see the remnants of an Iron Age community! Here, on the Scottish highlands of Caithness, with dramatic coastal scenery in the background, sits an extraordinary relic of what society was over 5000 years ago.
Nybster Broch brings to life what one of the Prehistoric smaller settlements would’ve been like to live in. If you’re in Caithness, add this broch to your list of things to do.
Castlehill Heritage Centre
If you have heritage or family in Caithness, visiting the Castlehill Heritage Centre is your best bet to unearthing your ancestry.
This centre, located in Castletown, is dedicated to maintaining the region’s records and preserving Caithness’s tradition and character. And if you’re visiting, you can learn about the impact of Viking settlements, the history of quarrying in Castletown, and an enriched understanding of Scottish Highlands heritage.
The spectacular Dunbeath Castle and Estate sit overlooking the North Sea on the East Coast of Scotland.
The Castle has stood here since the 15 century, although the current architecture was built in the 17th century. The Castle stands near the boglands of ‘Flow Country’, making even the journey to reach it an attraction. It is a remarkable backdrop to a walk along the cliffside and is well worth the visit!
North Coast 500
The most fun way of reaching Caithness is by taking the North Coast 500, a 500-mile journey that takes you past the most beautiful parts of this county in Scotland.
If you’re spending considerable time in Scotland and want to see the best parts of the country, then this spectacular road trip is all you need! It’s more than just a road trip; it’s a collection of beaches, mountains, towns, hidden gems, and memorable experiences that you will never forget!
Mary Ann’s Cottage
Mary Ann’s Cottage is a simple, traditional croft cottage with a rich history and story to share.
Named after Mary Ann Calder, the cottage was home to three generations of families since the 1850s, all of which embodied their traditional lifestyle of the Highlands. Today, you can come and see their work and lives for yourself, with every tool being authentic and used by the residents of the cottage.
There’s no more personable and intimate way to experience traditional living than a visit to Mary Ann’s Cottage.
Achavanich Standing Stones
The beautiful Achavanich Standing Stones are one of the most curious relics in Caithness.
These peculiar rocks are arranged in a horseshoe pattern, which is a shape that no other standing stone in Caithness imitates! While you’re in the North of Scotland, come see this strange arrangement with views overlooking Loch Stemster.
The Highlands hold many secrets, and this historic site is no different!
Other Things To Do in Highlands
- Things to do in Arisaig
- Things to do in Aviemore
- Things to do in Beauly
- Things to do in Carrbridge
- Things to do in Drumnadrochit
- Things to do in Fort Augustus
- Things to do in Fort William
- Things to do in Gairloch
- Things to do in Invergordon
- Things to do in Inverness
- Things to do in Kingussie
- Things to do in Kyle of Lochalsh
- Things to do in Lochinver
- Things to do in Loch Ness
- Things to do in Nairn
- Things to do in Newtonmore
- Things to do in Strathpeffer
- Things to do in Thurso
- Things to do in Ullapool
- Things to do in Wick