SCOTLAND – WHY GO?
With a backdrop of lochs, mountains and wildlife, Scotland has some of the most glorious settings you could wish for. The Highlands and Islands have a haunting beauty whatever the weather, the twin cultural capitals of Edinburgh and Glasgow are unmissable, and – aside from the hooch and haggis – you're sure to sample plenty of delicious Scottish fare.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Highlands and Islands
Welcome to Britain’s last wilderness for a glimpse of eagles, ospreys, stags, seals and dolphins, and Whales too, can be spotted off the Western Isles. The Isle of Skye is hauntingly beautiful and still resonates with the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The islands of Mull, Iona, Tiree, Colonsay and Eigg provide their own brand of magic.
Serious walkers will get an adrenalin kick from climbing Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. And even armchair travellers will get a buzz from driving through the soaring beauty of Glencoe and the Cairngorms.
The Grampians and Royal Deeside
Head west from the granite city of Aberdeen into the heart of Deeside and the Grampian mountains. These pine-forested slopes give way to the rivers and woods of Royal Deeside – with Balmoral castle, the summer home of the royals, at centre stage. You can tour parts of Balmoral castle itself when the royals are not in residence.
North of Aberdeen, Speyside’s whisky country beckons. Eight major distilleries make up the world’s only malt whisky trail, and welcome visitors for tours and tastings. For a more sober adventure take the Castle trail instead and see some of Scotland's finest turrets at Ballindalloch or Cawdor.
Edinburgh and Fife
Dominated by its hilltop castle and jostling with elegant buildings, Edinburgh is a graceful mix of times and styles. Walk down the cobblestone Royal Mile to the palace of Holyroodhouse, passing the arresting steel and granite home of the Scottish parliament en route. Then wander through the squares and crescents of Edinburgh’s quirkily named New Town, whose old Georgian houses centre around Charlotte Square and Princes Street. Climb up to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park for windswept views of the city, or tour the royal yacht Britannia in the former docks at Leith.
The Scottish Borders
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in and around the Scottish Borders. Bookworms visiting southerly Dumfries and Galloway will love Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town, while creative spirits will love the artists’ town of Kirkcudbright. You can visit the birthplace of Scottish bard Robert Burns at Alloway near the city of Ayr.
Splashes of Art Nouveau architecture mix with contemporary and Victorian buildings and the achievements of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh are celebrated citywide. A vibrant arts scene, prolific nightlife, top-notch museums and shopping to compare with London and Milan ensure that Glasgow is never dull. From here you can head off to the scenic shores of Loch Lomond or set sail for the islands of Islay, Bute and Arran.
MAKE A DATE
Burn’s Night – across Scotland. Have a toast to Scottish bard Robbie Burns and tuck into the traditional feast of neeps and tatties.
Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Concerts, classes and workshop celebrate the art of the harp.
St Andrew’s Golf Week. Your chance to play over the famous links where the world’s top golfers compete.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Way-hay!
The West End Festival – Glasgow. The summer party that thinks it’s a fiesta.
Edinburgh Festival and the Military Tattoo. Scotland’s capital city comes alive with entertainment.
Braemar Gathering and Carrbridge Highland Games. Grab your kilt and sporran and join in the fun.
St Andrew’s Week. Music, drama, dance and a kite-flying competition prove there’s more to At Andrew’s than simply golf.
Hogmanay – Edinburgh and elsewhere. Join in Scotland’s big New Year party.
Share a wee dram of the local amber nectar in front of a roaring fire.