If the very mention of Scotland conjures up images of the Loch Ness monster, Scrooge McDuck or Mel Gibson shouting, “Freedom!”, then let me say, dear reader, you need to book the next flight to the country and discover the delights that await you. Whether you’re looking for a culturally invigorating journey exploring historical sites or an adrenaline packed adventure, you’re sure to find exactly the right ingredients to make your holiday a truly memorable one. Here’s a little glimpse of what to expect…
Edinburgh – The capital city, Edinburgh is a tourist’s delight. The first and most obvious place to visit would be the Edinburgh Castle which rests on a high volcanic rock and overlooks the city. The castle houses Scotland’s crown jewels, the Scottish National War Memorial, the Prisons of War exhibition and more. If you’re a history buff, opt for an audio tour and explore the castle at your own pace.
Another famous landmark is the Scott Museum, a 200-foot spire dedicated to Sir Walter Scott. Brace yourself for a long climb to the top, but once you’re up there, the beautiful panoramic views make it all worthwhile. Portobello beach, Arthur’s seat, the National Museum, and the Royal Botanical Gardens are also must-visits. If you’re short on time, stick to the Royal Mile which covers all the not-to-be-missed attractions.
Glasgow – For those who enjoy music, art and culture, Glasgow is the city to be. Begin your day at the Kelvingrove Museum followed by Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour. George Square, the University of Glasgow (including the Hunterian Museum) as well as Pollock Park which houses the Burrell House, are other wonderful sights to explore. How can any trip be complete without any shopping? Sauchiehall Street along with the adjoining Buchanan Street is the place to be if you’re an ardent shopaholic. While hot-spots like Merchant City or Byres Road are perfect for a fun night-out. Funky cafes to uber-chic restaurants, the evening breathes in new-life to the streets. (Insider tip: Don’t forget to catch a live musical performance at King-Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.)
The Highlands – The Scottish highlands offer some astonishing heritage sites, outdoor activities and much more. If you enjoy modern outdoor activities then there are virtually an endless variety of things to do: quad biking, white water rafting, exploring gorges, archery, mountain biking, and the likes. Popular places for these activities are Fort William, Inverness and Oban. The Highlands also offer a brilliant choice for golfers with 44 courses and more than 600 holes, including Nairn. Riding, cycling and trekking are also popular choices for tourists and a great way of enjoying the local terrain.
If adventure isn’t your thing, then explore the dozens of castles and ancient monuments; Eilean Donan Castle and Urquhart Castle are top choices for most tourists. The highest falls in Britain, Eas a Chual Aluinn near Kylesku (over 200m) are a sight for the eyes. Steall Falls in Glen Nevis and the Falls of Glomach in Kintail are also must-sees.
Don’t forget to pick up some works of art. Inverness and other larger towns in the Highlands are famous for their ceramics, jewellery, glassware, and pottery. And as well as shopping you can often view the producers at work.
Outer and Inner Hebrides – The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. The main regions of the Outer Hebrides are Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Taransay, Benbecula and St Kilda while the Inner Hebrides comprise Isle of Skye, Mull, Islay and Jura. Golf, sea angling, wildlife spotting and fishing are some of the popular activities.
The Island of Harris, often described as the ‘high heart of the Hebrides’, has a diverse landscape. From rocky landscapes and miles of golden sandy beaches to lochs, meadows and cliffs – a trip to the island is an experience like no other. Try your hand at sea kayaking at Shetland and explore the diverse coastlines, or clear water paddling at the Isle of Barra. Scapa Flow at Orkney is home to numerous German shipwrecks left over from World War One; many just a few metres from the surface. So whether you’re a beginner or an expert, make sure you try the finest wreck diving locations in the United Kingdom.