8 Incredible Restaurants In Scotland Perfect For Alfresco Dining

Although the weather in Scotland can sometimes make it difficult, the country’s incredible scenery means it’s always the perfect place to dine al fresco. You are almost guaranteed to have a pretty view wherever you are in Scotland, and it will always be interesting to say the least. Whether you’re visiting the highlands, towns or islands, there are some amazing restaurants in Scotland that offer unusual and beautiful al fresco dining. With unique and varied menus, offering traditional Scottish dishes and dishes from around the world, you can enjoy a hearty, healthy or decadent meal in beautiful surroundings and with exceptional views. Here are eight restaurants in Scotland where you can dine out in unique style.

Ivy

1. The Ivy, Edinburgh

Located in the heart of the city but away from the main streets, The ivy in the square overlooks St Andrew’s Square, one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious locations. The Ivy is synonymous with excellence, and the restaurant’s position in Edinburgh makes it even more special. Diners can enjoy exceptional cuisine while taking in the sights, including Melville’s monument, and the general bustle of Scotland’s capital. The Ivy transforms its outdoor spaces in various campaigns throughout the year, providing a unique experience for guests. This summer, dine al fresco at The Ivy in Edinburgh and enjoy their ‘Summer of Love’ vibe, celebrating everyone’s favorite season through a floral paradise with a two-seater love swing. The Ivy also has a restaurant in Glasgow, so you can eat out and feel the love in both cities.

Pro tip

I love the brunch menu at The Ivy. It has so many quirky dishes, which for brunch in particular, are quite unique. Rabbit and langoustine pie is something you don’t often see on a brunch menu and must try while you’re at it.

Beach huts at Banchory Lodge.
Banchory Lodge

2. Banchory Lodge, Aberdeenshire

The beautiful Banchory Lodge in Aberdeenshire features a quirky outdoor dining area. Their “Sitooterie”, which for those unfamiliar with Scottish pronunciations means “sit-out-ery”, is a lovely, cozy outdoor space with tables and chairs and cabanas in beach huts. Brightly painted cabanas have been transformed into cozy private dining spaces, bringing a taste of the beach to this grand lodge. Opened last year, the sitooterie offers diners the chance to enjoy delicious drinks and share platters at a number of these colorful huts, all named after fish found in the nearby River Dee. This is a truly unusual addition to Banchory Lodge that brings a whole new character to the outdoor dining area.

Pro tip

If you like a steak, the Himalayan salted beef rib is not to be missed. For dessert, the orange and chocolate mousse paired with one of the “pudding and port wines” is just wonderful.

Al fresco dining at Nick's.
Nick is at the Port of Monteith

3. Nick is at Menteith Harbour, Stirling

Owned by celebrity chef, Nick Nairn, Nick is at the port of Menteith has a wonderful outdoor space. The restaurant’s glass-enclosed dining room overlooks the picturesque landscaped garden with raised beds of fruit, vegetables and herbs which are all used in the kitchen. It has a garden party atmosphere, and each individual table and chairs has its own little patio and pergola, bringing you a feeling of private dining in the garden. The space is also fitted with fairy lights, making it the perfect sunny spot for al fresco dining in the countryside.

Pro tip

Try Paul’s Pizza while you’re at Nick’s for crispier, thinner pizza made the traditional Italian way. Chef Paul has developed the crispiest pizza base you are likely to find anywhere in Scotland, and it makes for a flavorful, textured pizza experience.

The terrace of the Ship Inn.
The ship’s inn

4. The Ship’s Inn, Fife

With stunning views over Elie Bay to Fife, The ship’s inn is one of Scotland’s finest settings for a holiday weekend, a casual drink with friends, a barbecue on the beachside terrace or a delicious sit-down meal. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in its restaurant, pub and beer garden, using seasonal Scottish dishes created by head chef Mateusz Majeur. The view of the beach is one of the best in Scotland, and in the summer you can expect to see a cricket match on the beach – the only place in the UK to do so – organized by The Ship Inn. The outdoor dining area is right by the sea and is covered by an awning lined with lanterns.

Pro tip

Try the beer battered haddock and fries. There’s no better place to eat fish and chips than by the sea, and at the Ship Inn you have the beach right next to you while you enjoy this traditional fish dish.

5. Bridge Inn, Ratho

This award-winning gastro pub is located on the banks of the Union Canal in Ratho, just 11 kilometers west of Edinburgh. The bridge inn is a community pub with rooms in the heart of the village. Head chef Tyler King prides himself on producing delicious local dishes using vegetables grown in the pub’s walled garden by house gardener David, as well as home-raised pork, perfect for crackling pork. The outdoor terrace is a great place to watch the world go by. The terrace overlooks the river, where the river boats pass, and offers a view of “the bridge”. In summer, you can expect selected seasonal menus and fresh cocktails.

Pro tip

In addition to the usual bar menu, The Bridge Inn recently opened an evening-only restaurant in the hostel, called Bridge Fifteen. The duck breast with marinated pear is particularly good.

View of the river from the terrace at Atholl Arms.
Atholl Weapons

6. Atholl Arms, Dunkeld

Atholl Weapons has a nice spot just across the bridge towards Dunkeld. It is a traditional inn converted into a boutique hotel, and the view of the bridge from the hotel is very atmospheric. They have an intimate restaurant inside the hotel, but sneak up the road to their outdoor terrace and you can have lunch or dinner right next to the river. It feels like an authentic alfresco dining, with wooden picnic benches on a deck alongside stunning views of the flowing water. It’s a beautiful location and the terrace has a fully stocked bar so you can stay and take your time over a drink. This is also a dog-friendly hotel, so after dining out, you can also bring your dog inside with you.

Pro tip

The seafood basket is amazing, big and full of seafood bites. If you’re vegetarian and vegan, Atholl Arms has a really impressive selection of vegan dishes, some of the most varied options I’ve seen.

Outdoor dining at Glenapp Castle.
Glenapp Castle

7. The Azalea Restaurant, Glasshouse And Bothy, Glenapp Castle

Glenapp Castle is a grand Victorian castle that once belonged to the Earl of Orkney. It is now a superb country hotel, retaining many of its original features. The castle restaurant is perfect for outdoor dining. Guests can sit outside The two, which overlooks the azalea pond, or enjoy the view of the walled garden from outside the greenhouse. The Victorian greenhouse sits inside the walled garden, separate from the rest of the castle, and feels intimate and private. The restaurant opens onto the outdoor terrace seamlessly, bringing out the inside and the outside.

Pro tip

You can even dine al fresco on the Hebridean Sea Safari at Glenapp Castle. The Hebridean Sea Safari includes two nights exploring the Scottish coast and two nights at the famous Scottish castle. Customers can also choose to have a more personalized trip by including more nights along the coast. With all the comforts of Glenapp Castle, guests travel with a professional crew who not only look after them, but also take them on an adventure to remote islands, coastal castles and remote inns. Plus, a private chef joins the crew on board to prepare sumptuous feasts along the way, with treats such as lobster, oysters, delicious racks of lamb and mackerel. These ambrosial delights are fresh and delicious and are just what guests need on this boat adventure.

8. Chez Roux Restaurant, Cromlix Hotel, Dunblane

Chez Roux at Cromlix Hotel offers you beautiful outdoor dining with an original element. The wrought-iron tables and chairs on the terrace of this historic hotel are delicate and pretty, and the lawn that stretches out in front of them is lush and speaks of summer. But when you sit down to enjoy your meal, you might notice something intriguing on the lawn. There, ready to play if you can, is a giant chessboard with giant pieces. Chez Roux, run by Michel Roux Jnr, offers the kind of fine dining you’d expect from this dynasty of chefs, and set in such a unique setting, it’s an al fresco dining experience. The country house setting seems to give everyone a taste of summer, whatever the weather.

Pro tip

Butter-roasted Perthshire venison is locally sourced and served with an unusual peanut crumble. Finish with the hot dark chocolate fondant with clotted cream ice cream and be sure to have a Bellini on the bar.

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