From majestic glens, historic castles and ruins and tranquil lochs to exciting concerts and thriving city nightlife, Scotland offers a wide range of things to see and do. Golf, of course, was created in Scotland, so you'll never be far from some of the world's greatest golf courses. Other activities for the athletic visitor include mountain climbing, sailing, skiing, snowboarding and canoeing. Scotland has a number of regions, each with its own distinctive geography and breathtaking scenery. These regions stretch from the Western Isles off the northwest coast of Scotland, across to the Orkneys and Shetland Isles off the north coast, continuing down through the Highlands, and then pass through the Lowlands regions, reaching Dumfries and Galloway and the borders in the south of the country. Only in Scotland will you find a friendly, passionate and innovative country filled with unique experiences. From the beat of a music festival to the adrenaline of an outdoor adventure, or the breathtaking drive through our landscapes to the magic of exploring a new attractions like the V&A, Scotland is waiting to welcome you now.
Scotland, the U.K.’s northernmost country, is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Northwest Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Its major cities are Edinburgh, the capital, with its iconic hilltop castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene. Scotland is also famous for golf, the game first played at the Old Course at St Andrews in the 1400s.
This is a city right on the north east coast. It's a place where the harbor meets the city center, where you may just see the harbor's resident pod of dolphins playing in the waters or enjoy a beach stroll alongside some serious shopping. It's a city where you can easily surf or take in a theater performance in the same day. Aberdeen is famous for its stunning, sparkling, granite buildings and monuments which shimmer in the sunlight and the warming tones of 'Doric', the local Scots dialect you'll hear in the streets.
Edinburgh's Georgian architecture has earned it a World Heritage site designation. The Edinburgh Castle, royal residence since the 11th century, dominates the medieval skyline of Scotland's capital. Literary giants Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson are as important to this great city as her majestic Crown Jewels, which are older than England's. History abounds as you stroll down the Royal Mile, where quiet courtyards beckon via narrow passageways, finally arriving at the Holyrood Palace. Evenings provide lots of lively pub entertainment, complete with traditional folk music, bagpipes, kilts and haggis.
William "Braveheart" Wallace struck a blow for freedom here in 1297. Known for its Victorian elegance and as a great shipbuilding center, Scotland's largest city has taken the splendor of the past and given it renewed luster. Its name means "dear green place," and has more city parks than anywhere else in Britain. It's also an excellent home base for exploring the gardens, pastures, farmlands and forests of the countryside.
Inverness really has got all the elements for a memorable city break. Discover its flourishing culinary scene, explore the Victorian Market or Eastgate Shopping Center for a bit of retail therapy, catch one of the many events at Eden Court and other venues, or take your time to admire art exhibitions in the city's gallery spaces.
Just taking a wander through the handsome city center is pretty enjoyable too; appreciate Inverness Castle and St Andrew's Cathedral, then stroll along the banks of the River Ness, crossing the suspension bridge for some peace and relaxation on the Ness Islands. Ah, bliss.
Loch Ness, Scotland
Where is Loch Ness? This beautiful loch located near Inverness is shrouded in mystery. Tales of a large monster living deep beneath the dark expanses of Loch Ness have circulated the world since the first photograph emerged in 1933. With over 1,000 eye-witness accounts, sightings and unexplained evidence, scientists continue to be baffled by the existence of Nessie. See for yourself on a boat trip and Nessie cruise from Inverness, Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit.
Did you know that Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined, making it the most voluminous lake in the UK? This corner of the Highlands is world-famous for its dramatic scenery, great adventure sports and nearby castles and solitary lighthouses dotting the landscape. So take a Loch Ness break and enjoy a monster holiday!
Best Time to Visit
Scotland is best visited during the spring (late March to May) and autumn (September to November) months. By spring, the temperatures are warmer, although there will still be snow in the mountains of the Highlands and the Cairngorms. The summer months of June through to August are the warmest of the year.
Scotland offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers of all interests, given its rich history, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant culture. Here are some travel experiences that Scotland is particularly well-suited for:
- Historical and Cultural Exploration: From castles and ancient ruins to historical landmarks, Scotland is a treasure trove of history. Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and the ancient Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney are must-sees. In addition, the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are known for their vibrant arts scenes, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters.
- Natural Beauty and Outdoor Activities: Scotland's natural landscapes are nothing short of breathtaking. The Scottish Highlands offer ample opportunities for hiking, with Ben Nevis being a notable destination for mountaineers. The Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Glencoe are other must-visit sites for nature enthusiasts. Scotland also has beautiful beaches, particularly in the Hebrides.
- Road Trips: Scotland is fantastic for road trips. Routes such as the North Coast 500 allow you to explore the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
- Golfing: Known as the "home of golf," Scotland has numerous world-class golf courses, including the Old Course at St. Andrews and Muirfield, making it a prime destination for golf enthusiasts.
- Whisky Tours: For lovers of Scotch whisky, a visit to Scotland would be incomplete without touring at least a few of the many whisky distilleries in regions such as Speyside, Islay, and the Highlands.
- Wildlife Watching: Scotland offers many opportunities for wildlife watching, with the chance to see animals such as puffins, red deer, seals, and even dolphins. Boat trips to the islands around Scotland are a great way to see a diverse array of wildlife.
- Adventure Sports: From mountain biking and rock climbing in the Highlands to sea kayaking in the Hebrides, Scotland is a great destination for those seeking an adrenaline rush.
- Festivals: Scotland hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world's largest arts festival, is an absolute must for any arts and culture enthusiast.
- Culinary Experiences: Scotland's culinary scene is vibrant, with a focus on local produce such as seafood, game, and of course, haggis. Don't forget to try traditional dishes and sweets like shortbread and tablet.
- Heritage and Genealogy: Much like Ireland, Scotland is a popular destination for people looking to trace their family roots.
Important Things to Know:
Passport Requirement: Yes
Visa Requirement: No. Visa not required with stays up to 90 days
Best Time To Travel to This Destination: Between May and September.
This Destination is Best For: See Above.
Is This a Family-Friendly Destination: Yes
Recommended Vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Rabies, Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu (influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio and Shingles