Famous for its whisky, tartan and haggis – not to mention its stunning landscapes and incredible cultural heritage – Scotland is a must-see on any Eurotrip.
Everyone knows about Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival – see my 5 favourite events around the world – but Scotland is pretty huge and, while you’re there, you may as well take advantage of all it’s got to offer.
These are the 5 Scottish destinations that I think should definitely be at the top of any traveller’s bucket list.
August is a happening month in the capital of Scotland. Kicking off on the 2nd, the Fringe Festival alone draws thousands of people from all over the world. And with the International Festival for Performing Arts and the International Book Festival taking place in the same month, the end of summer is undoubtedly the perfect time to visit.
But beyond all the festivities, Edinburgh is loaded with UNESCO World Heritage sites that make it worth exploring year-round. Take a walk through the Old Town’s gorgeous ‘Royal Mile’ to the Holyrood Palace, through the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey and to the beautiful castle that dominates Edinburgh’s skyline.
Poised atop a dormant volcano overlooking the city, the Edinburgh Castle dates all the way back to the 12th century, and anyone brave enough to trek to the top will be rewarded with an incredible view.
Recently dubbed a “European City for Culture”, Glasgow’s stunning architecture, internationally renowned museums and vibrant nightlife give even Edinburgh a run for its money.
On top of that, the city reputedly boasts the UK’s best shopping outside of London. The Style Mile is sure to leave even the most experienced shoppers exhausted and jonesing for a whisky in a cosy little pub – fortunately there are plenty of them around. You’ll probably need a hire a car in Glasgow to see everything you want to in the day.
Aptly known in Gaelic as “dear green spot”, the summer is a great time for a visit as the city’s numerous parks are in full bloom. The beautiful Botanic Gardens make for a particularly ideal picnicking spot when you need a break from sightseeing.
Scottish Highlands and Inverness
Capital of the Highlands and relatively small in size, Inverness makes for a perfect break from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s busy urban centres. Relatively easy to explore on foot, it’s an easy gateway to the rugged and beautiful terrain that dominates the Highlands.
Loch Ness may be a bit out of the way but a train ride from just about anywhere in Scotland to Beauly Rail Station, just West of Inverness, will get you pretty close.
And let’s be honest, no trip to Scotland is truly complete without at least trying to catch a “glimpse” of the Loch Ness Monster from the corner of your eye! Be sure to snap a perfectly blurry photo to brag to your friends about.
John Muir Way
Even from a cramped seat in the back of a tour bus, the heartland of Scotland is beautiful – but the John Muir Way is one of the best places for visitors to step out and really experience this amazing wilderness.
A 10-day, 215km journey on foot and half by bike from Helensburgh to Dunbar may be exhausting, but is sure to reward visitors with its incredible landscapes. John Muir is renowned for his environmental work as well as his design work on national parks like Yosemite National Park in the United States.
Speyside and the Glenlivet Distillerie
The reputation of Scotland’s national drink precedes it, and so it comes as no surprise that whisky tourism attracts a pretty high volume of visitors. The Glenlivet Distillerie in the Speyside region is one of the country’s most well-respected breweries and, lucky for you, they offer free admission, guided tours and a dram of 18-year-old scotch with every visit.
Founded in 1824, it’s a hidden wonder for history buffs and Scotch aficionados alike. But if a stiff drink isn’t exactly what you’re after, don’t cross the beautiful Speyside region off your list just yet. They’ve got their fair share of long distance walking routes as well.