At the northern third of the island of Great Britain lies Scotland, a country of strong history, strong culture and strong whiskey. A constituent country of the United Kingdom, Scotland is an independent sovereign state with a lot to offer. Bursting with exciting cities, charming villages and incredible national parks, Scotland is a country that has it all. With an abundance of castles, wealth of lochs and wild landscapes, Scotland is packed with beautiful scenery. Whether you’re looking for a city break, an exciting road trip or an escape to the countryside, Scotland holidays are truly a unique experience.
Scotland is home to some of the UK’s most incredible cities with Edinburgh and Glasgow the most visited in the country. The two cities attract millions of visitors every year and are often the primary destinations travellers visit. Both cities offer exquisite architecture, incredible heritage and rich culture that is just waiting to be discovered. Regardless of these similarities, they couldn’t be more different.
The Scottish capital of Edinburgh is one of the most intoxicating cities in Europe, one that oozes charm, history and culture. With Scotland’s strong culture and heritage laced through every street of the city, Edinburgh is a physical ode to the magnificent country. Beautiful architecture can be found a plenty throughout the city with the historic Edinburgh castle overlooking it all from its prominent position high above the city centre.
Meanwhile, the city offers incredible shopping, delicious food and exciting attractions whilst the bagpipes playing on every corner add to the Scottish experience.
Edinburgh attracts visitors from all walks of life with its variety of events and claims to fame. The city hosts the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every summer, an exciting month-long event showcasing theatre, comedy and entertainment that is one of the world’s largest art festivals. In the winter, the city is home to one of Europe’s most incredible Christmas markets complete with quaint stalls, thrilling rides and an ice skating rink. In addition, Edinburgh is famed for legends and ghost stories, offering an endless number of ghost tours that are incredibly popular. However, one of Edinburgh’s biggest claims to fame is that it is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. Author J. K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh during her time writing the novels, starting out in small Edinburgh cafes and finishing in an executive suite at Edinburgh’s famous The Balmoral Hotel. With Harry Potter’s deep connection to Edinburgh, die-hard fans flock to the city to experience a flicker of magic.
To the west of Edinburgh, the city of Glasgow is Scotland’s most populous city. As one of the country’s most exciting cities, Glasgow offers fantastic nightlife with a vibrant music scene and a wide variety of buzzing venues. Whether you are looking for a wild night out or a sophisticated evening, Glasgow can offer you it with its eclectic mixture of evening settings. The city is also a phenomenal place for shopping, named as one of the best shopping destinations in the UK.
The city is deeply connected to the arts, playing host to some of the world’s biggest events and incredible concerts. In addition, Glasgow offers a wide variety of performance and the city is also home to Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, the country’s national operatic and ballet companies. Glasgow also has a lot to offer in the visual arts sector too with a seemingly endless list of exceptional museums and art galleries scattered across the city.
If you’re looking to venture further into Scotland or cities are not your vibe, the country is packed with stunning places to explore. The Scottish Highlands offer a wealth of scenery with rugged landscapes and moody backdrops. There you can find everything from diverse mountain ranges to picturesque lochs. You really haven’t experienced Scotland until you have taken a trip to the Scottish Highlands. Scotland is also home to Ben Nevis, an extinct volcano that is the highest mountain in the country. Ben Nevis is an iconic landmark of Scotland and thousands each year take on one of the two main hiking routes to the summit.
Whilst Scotland has an extensive list of beautiful lochs throughout the country, the most famous is undoubtedly Loch Ness. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster is known across the world with tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie during their visit. Whilst Loch Ness is an incredibly popular destination, Scotland’s other lochs do not disappoint and are definitely worth a visit.
One of the best ways to explore what Scotland has to offer is by taking a road trip. The NC500 is Scotland’s famous driving route and is known as Scotland’s Route 66. The NC500 offers the ultimate road trip stretching 516 miles around the north of Scotland, taking in Black Isle, Inverness, Easter Ross and many more incredible Scottish destinations. You can also head to John O Groats whilst tackling the NC500, a famous point in Scotland that marks one point of the longest distance between inhabited places across the UK. The opposite point lies at Land’s End in Cornwall and many take on the challenge to travel from John O Groats to Land’s End. John O Groats is also the best location in the UK for viewing the Northern Lights.
If you’re planning on embarking on a Scottish holiday, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to where to stay. Not only does the country offer incredible hotels from budget-friendly to luxurious, you will also find a wealth of unique accommodation options. With such a strong history and heritage, Scotland is home to an abundance of grand castles throughout the country and whilst you could pop by and pay a visit, there are also options to enjoy an overnight stay in one of the country’s elegant fortresses. With so many charming villages, Scotland also offers quaint cottages for a rustic home away from home experience that simply oozes comfort and relaxation. However, if you enjoy getting in touch with nature, the country also has an endless selection of camping and glamping sites, treehouses and off-the-grid cabins that are perfect for outdoorsy travellers.
With so much to offer, it is no surprise that Scotland attracts over 150 million visitors every year. Offering world class tourist attractions, exciting cities and unrivalled landscapes, Scotland has it all and is a beautiful, eclectic destination that every tourist will enjoy.
Must See and Do Tourist Attractions in Scotland
Scotland offers plenty of historical sites maintained by the National Trust of Scotland or Historic Scotland. Stunning Scottish castles include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Caerlaverock Castle, Glamis Castle, Duart Castle, Cawdor Castle and Fyvie Castle. Other places of interest in Scotland are Arbroath Abbey, St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, Repentance Tower in Lockerbie, Melrose Abbey, Skara Brae Prehistoric Village in Sandwick, The Black Watch Castle & Museum in Perth and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, among others.
Family Days out in Scotland
Scotland is great for families and your children will love the Edinburgh Zoo, The Harry Potter Steam Train, Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary, Highland Wildlife Park and the Glasgow Science Centre.
Sport in Scotland
Scotland is the ideal location for your golf holidays. There are beautiful golf courses in every region of Scotland.
Canoeing, white water rafting, mountain biking, archery, canyoning and horse riding are well-liked sports. However, spectator sports are also very popular in Scotland. Soccer is the national sport, but cricket, rugby, American football, shinty, baseball, croquet, ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, snooker, tennis, curling and badminton are also played, among many others.
Shopping in Scotland
Scotland offers a variety of shops, markets, malls and outlets. The best shopping destinations might be Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, but depending on what you are looking for, you might find it in one of the smaller shops and boutiques located in the smaller towns and villages in Scotland. Glasgow has Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre, Braehead Shopping Centre, Savoy Shopping Centre, St. Enoch Shopping Centre, Prince’s Square, Decourcy’s Shopping Arcade, Forge Shopping Centre, Sauchiehall Street Shopping Centre, to name only a few. In Edinburgh you will find Cameron Toll Shopping Centre, Princes Mall, Royal Mile Factory Outlet and many more.
Nightlife in Scotland
Bankoo Nightclub and Rags in Inverness, The Tunnel and The Cathouse in Glasgow, The Bongo Club and Medina in Edinburgh are ideal locations for a night out in Scotland. You will find pubs and clubs throughout Scotland.
Transport in Scotland
Scotland has five airports and numerous train stations which have frequent trains into and out of Scotland. Aberdeen Airport (ABZ), Edinburgh Airport (EDI), Glasgow International Airport (GLA), Glasgow Prestwick International Airport (PIK) and Inverness Airport (INV) have flights from almost every destination in Europe and the rest of the world.
Ferry operators offer a ferry service from Belgium, Northern Ireland, Norway, Iceland and the FaroeIslands to some destinations on Scotland’s coastline.
Official Tourism Office for Scotland – www.visitscotland.com