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9 Top Things To Do In Durness, Scotland

From pristine beaches, rugged cliffs and hidden caves, to ziplines and great food, these are the top things to do in Durness in Scotland.

best things to do in durness
Find out the very best things to do in Durness in Scotland

Are you planning to travel to Durness? Nestled in the untamed beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this beautiful village offers so much. With its wild and natural North Atlantic beaches and epic landscapes, it’s a beautiful place for a holiday in Scotland. I’d recommend including this spot on any NC500 road trip. Trust me, it’ll be one of the highlights!

While you might think somewhere this remote would have little to do, you’d be surprised. It’s an arty spot, with Balnakeil Craft Village a popular place to visit. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, you’ll enjoy exploring the caves, cliffs and choppy waters around Durness.

It’s also an incredible region for wildlife. Pack your zoom lens for this trip, as you could be lucky enough to spot friendly seals, bottlenose dolphins, a variety of seabirds and even whales along the coastline.

You’ll explore amazing beaches like this one on your trip to Durness

Plus, it’s a region with some beautiful holiday homes too. I’d recommend looking at these gorgeous holiday cottages in Scotland. There are several close to Durness, so you’ll be ideally placed to tick off all the amazing things on this list!

Durness Beach
Untouched and wild – Durness is a very special spot in Scotland

Whether you’re planning a family holiday in the Scottish Highlands, or a romantic or adventurous couples trip, you’re going to love all these things to do in Durness.

Amazing Things To Do In Durness

Explore Smoo Cave

One of the most popular things to do in Durness is to visit Britain’s largest limestone sea cave, Smoo Cave. The entrance is ginormous at a whopping 50 ft high and 130ft wide!

Smoo Cave
A trip to Smoo Cave is one of the top things to do in Durness

It’s located to the eastern end of Durness and easy to reach via a pathway. There’s also a bridge over the entrance. Once inside, take a walk towards the beautiful 25 metre waterfall.

You can actually enter the waterfall chamber free of charge, but I’d recommend booking a tour of Smoo Cave. For a small fee you’ll get to learn all about the geology of the sea cave, as well as taking a boat tour to explore it in more detail. These tours usually run from April until October.

Smoo cave waterfall
Smoo Cave even has a waterfall inside

Get arty at Balnakeil Craft Village

Whether you’re interested in paintings, sculptures, jewellery, ceramics or something crafty, you simply have to visit Balnakeil Craft Village. This vibrant hub is home to several local artists, all displaying their unique works. It’s a great opportunity to meet the makers, with painters, woodworkers, ceramicists and more in one little village. If you get peckish, there’s also a café and a chocolatier to help you refuel!

One of my favourite stores in Balnakeil Craft Village is Cast Off Crafts. Here you can shop beautiful items made from driftwood, shells, and sea-glass. A trip to the craft village is a must, and definitely one of the best things to do in Durness.

Visit the most north-westerly point in Great Britain

Ready to visit the most north-westerly point in Great Britain? Then take a trip to Cape Wrath. This region is famed for its lighthouse. It’s a pretty tricky place to reach independently, so I’d recommend booking a tour. You’ll catch the Cape Wrath Ferry across the Kyle of Durness, then hop on board a minibus which will take you along a rugged track to the north west tip of the British mainland.

Cape Wrath in Scotland
Cape Wrath lighthouse is one of our favourite Durness attractions

You’ll get to walk to the amazing Cape Wrath lighthouse, which is an iconic image from this region of Scotland. There’s even a tiny café at the bottom, which has to be one of the most remote cafes in the entire country! Plus, don’t miss the epic views of Clo Mor – the highest cliffs in mainland Britain. They’re 281 metres high, so it’s a really impressive view!

This area is also a sanctuary for wildlife. Along with wild deer, you might be lucky enough to spot one of the golden eagles that hunts along the spectacular coastline.

Go Ziplining in Durness

Just outside Durness you’ll find the most northerly zipline in the UK. The Golden Eagle zipline is in a spectacular location, 100 ft above one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. Whizz along at speeds of up to 45 mph, as you enjoy amazing ocean views!

Durness zipline
Durness zipline is one of the best things to do in Durness for families

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Durness for families. I’d recommend contacting the zipline company in advance to check it’s operating. As with so many things in this part of the country, it’s weather dependant, even during our great British summer!

Climb to the top of Ben Hope

As you’ll know if you’ve read our facts about Scotland, there are over 280 Munros in Scotland. A Munro is defined as any Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet. At 3,041 feet, Ben Hope is the most northerly Munro in the country, and is located under an hour from Durness. If you’re feeling adventurous, how about hiking to the top? It’ll take you around 4-6 hours of walking in total.

Ben Hope
Ben Hope is the nearest Munro to Durness, and you can climb it!

On your way up you’ll  see a series of spectacular waterfalls, tundra-like terrain, then a broad stony plateau at the top. From there you’ll have incredible views over the Atlantic Ocean, and on a clear day, you’ll even be able to see the Orkney Islands.

Spot some amazing wildlife in Durness

This coast of Scotland has an untouched feel. As you wander the cliffs or explore the beaches, you might find you don’t pass another soul for hours. It’s remote, and hasn’t been bombarded by tourists. Obviously the North Coast 500 Route has marked it on the map, but many drive through appreciating the views without stopping.

Deer in Scottish Highlands
You’ll see plenty of deer in the Scottish Highlands

They’re missing out on the wildlife though. With so little intervention from humans, you really feel this is a paradise for wildlife and sea creatures. Creatures you might spot on dry land include deer, stoats, badgers, otters and even rare mountain hares. Meanwhile, look out to the Atlantic and you might spot the spray of a distant humpback whale, a friendly dolphin, some playful seals or porpoises. In the skies, there’s plenty going on too, including visits from puffins, eagles and a variety of rare sea birds.

Drive some of the North Coast 500 route

How much do you know about the NC500? Well, let me fill you in! This is one of the world’s most beautiful road trips. Spanning a route of just over 500 miles, it passes through a variety of amazing scenery in the north of Scotland. Some of the highlights include the country’s white sandy beaches, epic mountains and charming villages.

The NC500 driving route offers amazing views like this one

A big chunk of the route lies in the region of Sutherland, where Durness is located. If you have a day with no plans, how about hopping in the car and driving a section of it? The road trip route is breath-taking! Load up on snacks, crank up your favourite tunes and enjoy some of the best window views you’ll ever see!

Visit some of Scotland’s prettiest beaches  

There are some spectacular beaches in Durness and the surrounding areas. With pristine white sand and turquoise waters, you could almost fool yourself that you’re somewhere a lot more exotic (if only the temperatures were a little warmer!)

Balnakeil Beach
Balnakeil Beach is one of the best beaches in Scotland

Some of the best beaches to visit include Balnakeil Beach, Durness Beach, Ceannabeinne Beach, Rispond Bay and Sangomore Beach. A trip to the Sango Sands viewpoint is a must-do too! The best bit? You might have them all to yourself as this isn’t a region overrun with tourists.

Sango Bay viewpoint
Definitely visit the Sango Bay viewpoint on your trip to Durness

Book a gorgeous holiday cottage in Durness

To really make the most of this pretty corner of Scotland, I’d recommend booking some charming holiday accommodation. Classic Cottages has a variety of cosy and practical options dotted around the Scottish Highlands.

Shore Cottage
Shore Cottage is an idyllic place to stay in Durness

There’s Shore Cottage, a gorgeous little cottage, sleeping up to four guests. It’s in the most incredible location, right on the shore of the Kyle of Durnes. From the living room you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and sea.

Or, if you’re planning a big gathering with friends or family, check out Cape Wrath Lodge. This former hunting lodge is vast, sleeping up to 16 guests across 8 smart bedrooms. The views are equally as spectacular, with cliffs just moments away and refreshing water within touching distance.

Cape Wrath Lodge
Cape Wrath Lodge is ideal for a big family holiday in the Scottish Highlands
Cape Wrath lodge interior
There’s lots of communal space inside Cape Wrath

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about the best things to do in Durness. If you’re looking for any more tips for your trip to Scotland, don’t miss our other guides:

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