When we talk about Scotland, the sudden image that comes to mind is of lush green landscapes, castles, bagpipes, golf, and of course, whisky! This small country has been blessed by nature with picturesque beauty and the sentinel of waters around. In the past few years, the tourism in the country has seen a boost, thanks to its dramatic exquisiteness and developed infrastructure.
When visiting Scotland do not forget to add these Top 10 Best Places to your bucket list.
1. Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms National Park is UK’s largest National Park. This abode of nature lies in the heart of Scotland and has a lot to offer. When visiting here, you can choose to stay in a hotel or opt to camp out under the stars. For the adventure lovers, the options are no less, wildlife watching, low and high-level cycling, snow sports, and water sports are just a few of them. Amidst all this, there is the majestic Scottish wildlife and flora.
Highlight: Rare species like red squirrel and Twinflower plant.
Address: Ballater AB35 5YJ, UK
Duration: More than 3 hours required.
Contact: +44 1479 873535
Website: Cairngorms National Park
2. Edinburg Castle
This UNESCO world heritage site carries the history of Scotland on its walls. Even the building of this saw a royal variety. It was built in parts by different kings who ruled Scotland between the 12th to 16th centuries. One can see the old crown jewels, the stone of destiny, war memorial, clock gun and other heritage pieces kept for exhibition here. It is to be noted that this castle is Scotland’s most popular paid tourist attraction and can also be booked for weddings.
Highlight: Audio tour guide available in 8 different languages.
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK
Price: from £16.50 (20 USD)
Opening Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm
Contact: +44 131 225 9846
Website: Edinburg Castle
3. Isle of Arran
Scotland is the home of many islands, Arran is the place’s 7th largest and one of the most famous ones. Beautiful Arran is like the most charming jewel in the treasure of Scotland. A distinct variety can be witnessed in the landscape of this Arran. You can trek on the island’s mountains in the North, or choose to explore the south of the island on bicycles.
Highlight: The best of food and whiskey; Seventh largest Scottish island
Main Tourist Office: Brodick
Getting around Arran: Bicycle, Car, and Public Transport
Best Food: Glenisle Hotel
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4. Loch Ness
Loch Ness is Scotland’s most famous lake. It is stunningly beautiful and has a lot of attractive spots around it. The ruins of Castle Urquhart, Fort Augustus, Invergarry, Exhibition Center, and Spean Bridge are just a few of them. To know about the legends built around Loch Ness, talk to the locals. You can visit the village of Drumnadrochit to taste the warmth of Scottish hospitality.
Highlight: Legend is that a monster named Nessie resides beneath this Loch, so see if you can say a hello to him.
Getting Around Loch Ness: Car, Cruises, Group Tours
Best Food: The Inch Hotel
Website: Loch Ness
5. Scotland Castle Trail
Scotland is the home of more than 300 marvellous castles. But amidst all these beautiful citadels, Scotland’s Castle Trail is just one of its kinds. It is a track that has around 19 awe-inspiring castles which you can visit to get closer to Scottish history. Some of these have been restored by the families, some are known for the romantic stories related to them, while others are rocky and rugged. You can discover how majesties used to stay and how secret passages were a must have in castles of those times.
Highlight: Some castles are known to have haunted prisons and rooms in them.
Duration: Around 8 days required to explore Scotland’s Castle Trail
Itinerary: Day 1 - Arrive Edinburgh, Day 2 - Edinburgh Sightseeing, Day 3 - Edinburgh to Pitlochry, Day 4 - Pitlochry Sightseeing, Day 5 - Pitlochry to Royal Deeside, Day 6 - Royal Deeside Sightseeing, Day 7 - Royal Deeside to St Andrews, Day 8 - St Andrews to Edinburgh.
Website: Scotland Castle Trail
6. Ben Nevis
A visit to the highest mountain in Britain cannot be missed during a Scotland tour. The best part is that you do not need any climbing skills to reach the top. An amateur can complete the trek in a day if started on time. The track is not slippery and the main pathway is called “the pony track”. You might see misty clouds passing by your face here and there.
Highlight: On a clear day, you can see Northern Ireland from the top of the mountain.
Elevation: 1,345 m
Duration: around 3 to 4 hours required.
How to Reach: No 41 bus runs regularly from Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge, and Fort William to Glen Nevis through the summer. Parking is available at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre
Climate: Unpredictable weather conditions all year round
Website: Ben Nevis
7. Robbie Burns Country
When needing a break from the city life of Glasgow, drive to the countryside to explore the roots of Scottish history and heritage. Ayrshire is famous for two things, its top-notch golf courses and the pride of being the birthplace of Robert Burns, the bard of Ayrshire. A lot can be done in these small places - attending golf championships, visiting the isle of Arran, a day out in the country park, or something as simple as horse riding outdoors.
Highlight: Chance to visit the Robert Burns’s museum and cottage.
Duration: around 3 - 4 days required.
Website: Robert Burn’s Country
8. Orkney Islands
While there are some 70 British islands, there is none like Orkney. This island has a certain enchantment about its spellbinding beauty, historical tales, and contemporary craft. This could be a perfect destination for families with kids. Kids will love to indulge in water sports and outdoor activities, while parents will become kids again while gazing at the aura Borealis.
Highlight: Orkney has more ancient sites than anywhere else in Europe
Getting Around: Orkney has great transport links with the rest of the UK and can be reached by plane or ferry, with connections by bus, car or train.
Best Food: Skerries Bistro
Website: Orkney Islands
9. Isle of Skye
For the adventure enthusiast, Skye is the perfect island to be on. Explore the rich wildlife and marine life of the place exploring white-tailed sea eagles, whales, dolphins, seals, red deer, and many others. Those who are thrilled by height, climb the Cuillin Range or Trotternish Ridge for a once is a lifetime experience.
Highlight: This Jurassic Island is known for the dinosaur fossils being found here.
Best Accommodation: The Royal Hotel
Getting Around: Isle of Skye is accessible by Bus, Train, Road, Air and Ferry
Best Food: Red Skye Restaurant
Website: Isle of Skye
10. Shetland Islands
By now you already know that Scottish islands offer a ‘mini Scotland’ experience. Another gem in Scotland’s crown of islands is Shetland. This island was gifted as dowry to James III of Scotland when he married Margaret, a Danish princess. The blue ocean, green land, and lighted sky make Shetland a land of exquisiteness. Deep in its heart, the place holds the remains of Scottish, Danish, British, and Norse history.
Highlight: Playing with little Shetland Ponies
Getting Around: Shetland Islands are accessible through flights, ferry, yatch and cruise.
Best Food: Gurkha Kitchen
Website: Shetland Islands
Live the ideal Scottish dream
Now that you know that Scotland is a perfect blend of natural beauty, ancient heritage, and lively life, do not delay, pack your bag and fly off! Keep these 10 places in mind while crafting your travel plan. Save yourself some extra days, as Scotland has plenty to offer. Your wanderlust would just want more and more as you explore the country further.
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