Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – largely due to its stunning castle smack-dab in the middle of town. Glasgow is another treasure for those who look beyond its gritty exterior, while Perth city sits pretty on the Tay River. Adventurers, there’s no better place than the verdant rolling hills of the Highlands, and the coast of Mull offers limitless ocean views and opportunities for whale watching. There’s the Cairngorms tundra plateau, and the Cuillin peaks. For the culture vultures, Scotland has a long history of churning out world-renowned artists, poets, writers, and musicians. It’s impossible to be bored in Scotland!
Places to Visit in Scotland
- Loch Ness
- Isle of Skye
Unique Things to See and Do in Scotland
- See the pink sands of the Angus Coast
- Visit the 5,000-year-old village at Orkney
- Take the Jacobite Steam Train
- Visit Edinburgh Castle
- See the House for an Art Lover in Glasgow
- Stay in a castle on the Isle of Mull
- Cruise Loch Ness looking for the Loch Ness monster
Despite being a part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has its own distinct culture that sets it apart from everywhere else in Europe. Bagpipes, haggis, and kilts might immediately come to mind, but have you ever heard hundreds of bagpipers playing in unison? Probably not, but you can at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo every August, and on Glasgow Green, it is goose-bump producing.
When it comes to food, much of Scotland’s fare tends to lean on the heavier side. Haggis, of course, is the big one: a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with oatmeal and seasoning, boiled in a bag made from the animal’s stomach. Are you brave enough to try it? Scotland also has excellent Scotch whiskey; the entire country is actually divided into whiskey regions. Be sure to schedule a trip to a distillery – Glenfiddich and Dewar’s Aberfeldy are two must-visits. But other than that, Scotland also does excellent seafood, beef, and venison.
Depending on when you visit, you may be lucky enough to be in Scotland for the traditional Burns Supper, Hogmanay, or St Andrews Day celebrations. Burns Supper is held on January 25 to celebrate Robert Burns, the Scottish poet. This involves eating haggis, drinking whiskey, and reciting Burns’ poetry. Who wouldn’t love a celebration like that? Hogmanay is the New Year celebration, and Edinburgh is the place to be when it happens – it’s basically one big street party! Finally, St Andrews Day is a little milder. It’s a celebration of St Andrew, with Scottish food, dance, and music.
If you’re overwhelmed by the options, hiring a local guide in Scotland is a great idea. Ready to explore Scotland? You might never come home.
Getting Around Scotland
There are many options for getting around Scotland, and the public transportation system is quite efficient and easy to use. Trains and bus services are the easiest way to get between Scotland’s towns and cities, as well as the villages in between. If you want to access some of the more remote Scottish islands (there are over one thousand of them), you’ll find plenty of ferry options.
Getting a rental car is a great way to access the more remote areas of the country as well. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow have international airports, and city travel is a breeze with all the bus and tram services.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Scotland
Scotland has four distinct seasons, and depending on your interests, there’s never a bad time to visit. Winters can get extremely cold, especially in the Highlands. Spring is pleasant with warm temperatures, and is a great time to visit in the tourism off-season (or shoulder season). Summers can get very hot, with much more travellers coming through, but is also the best time of year to see the Highlands.
Fall is pleasant too, however, and the autumn colours in some parts of the country are spectacular. Prepare for all types of weather: rain, temperature drops, intense sunshine, etc.
Ready to plan your visit to Scotland? Check out these popular guides and trips.