From buzzing cities to Britain’s extremities, Scotland is a country that demands to be explored. Here, we roundup 10 of places any visitor should not miss.
Scotland’s capital, has a medieval Old Town and an elegant Georgian New Town, with gardens and neoclassical buildings. It’s home to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park with sweeping views from its peak. Looming over the city is hilltop Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, traditionally used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. If you can, visit during Hogmanay, or the annual summer arts festival.
It’s famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture, a rich legacy of the city’s 18th and 20th-century prosperity due to trade and shipbuilding. Today it’s a national cultural hub, home to institutions including the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland, acclaimed museums and a thriving music scene.
3 The Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, Innse Gall or the Long Isle or Long Island, is an island chain off the west coast of mainland Scotland. While Scotland isn’t the most obvious choice for a beach holiday, the 15 inhabited islands that make up the Outer Hebrides can boast some of Europe’s most beautiful stretches of sand.
4 The Inner Hebrides
This chain of 79 islands – 35 of which are inhabited – can boast some of Scotland’s most fascinating destinations. Iona is a haven of peace, while there is whisky galore on Islay, with eight distilleries, as well as tranquil beauty, sweeping vistas and more than 20 beaches.
The largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides islands is a stunning destination in itself with an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior. Start at Elgol’s boulder-strewn beach where the view has been lauded as the finest in Britain.
6 Cairngorms National Park
One of Scotland’s two national parks, the Cairngorms is a true mountain wilderness and contains five out of six of Scotland’s highest peaks, and four out of 10 of the highest in Britain. It’s a nature-lovers paradise, too, and one of the last remaining British strongholds of the red squirrel.
Glencoe is perhaps Scotland’s most famous and arguably most historic glen. While it is a haven of windswept, rocky splendour, visitors don’t all come for the hiking. A drive through the glen – a journey made famous as Bond’s home in Skyfall – is a great way to take in the majestic scenery. Don’t miss crossing of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which featured in the Harry Potter films.
Orkney, an archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland, is littered with archaeological treasures, including Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old housing complex, while there’s a lively arts and folk music scene. It is also a naturalist’s paradise, home to puffins, guillemots and some magnificent sandy beaches.
Isle of Arran is one of the most southerly Scottish islands and sits in the Firth of Clyde between Ayrshire and Kintyre. The island is cut in half by the Highland Boundary Fault, a geological division which makes the north rugged and hilly, whereas the south is more gentle and lower lying. In fact it is often called ‘Scotland in miniature’ for its range and wealth of scenery.
Inverness is a city on Scotland’s northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. Crowned by a pink crenellated castle and lavishly decorated with flowers, Inverness is a thriving city with a rich variety of places to visit and things to do both in the city and around.