Scotland has many treasures crammed into its compact territory – big skies, ancient architecture, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood and hospitable, down-to-earth people.
Scotland harbours some of the largest wilderness areas left in Western Europe. In this wildlife haven you can see golden eagles soar above the lochs and mountains of the northern Highlands, spot otters tumbling in the kelp along the shores of the Outer Hebrides, and watch minke whales breach off the coast of Mull. Scotland's also an adventure playground: you can tramp the tundra plateaus of the Cairngorms, balance along tightrope ridges strung between the peaks of the Cuillin, sea kayak among the seal-haunted isles of the Outer Hebrides, and take a speedboat ride into the white water of the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
Scotland is a land with a rich, multilayered history, a place where every corner of the landscape is steeped in the past – a deserted croft on an island shore, a moor that was once a battlefield, a cave that sheltered Bonnie Prince Charlie. Hundreds of castles, from the plain but forbidding tower houses of Hermitage and Smailholm to the elaborate machicolated fortresses of Caerlaverock and Craigmillar, testify to the country's often turbulent past. And battles that played a pivotal part in the building of a nation are remembered and brought to life at sites such as Bannockburn and Culloden.
A Taste of Scotland
Visitors have discovered that Scotland's restaurants have shaken off their old reputation for deep-fried food and unsmiling service and can now compete with the best in Europe. A new-found respect for top-quality local produce means that you can feast on fresh seafood mere hours after it was caught, beef and venison that was raised just a few miles away from your table, and vegetables that were grown in your hotel's own organic garden. Top it all off with a dram of single-malt whisky – rich, complex and evocative, it's the true flavour of Scotland.
Be it the poetry of Robert Burns, the crime fiction of Ian Rankin or the songs of Emeli Sandé, Scotland's cultural exports are appreciated around the world every bit as much as whisky, tweed and tartan. But you can't beat reading Burns' poems in the village where he was born, enjoying an Inspector Rebus novel in Rankin's own Edinburgh, or catching the latest Scottish bands at a music festival. And museums such as Glasgow's Kelvingrove, Dundee's Discovery Point and Aberdeen's Maritime Museum celebrate the influence of Scottish artists, engineers, explorers, writers and inventors in shaping the modern world.
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Edinburgh Castle has played a pivotal role in Scottish history, both as a royal residence – King Malcolm Canmore (r 1058–93) and Queen Margaret first made…
Archaeological SiteSkara Brae
Predating Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, extraordinary Skara Brae is one of the world's most evocative prehistoric sites, and northern Europe’s best…
PalaceCulzean Castle & Country Park
The Scottish National Trust's flagship property, magnificent Culzean (kull-ane) is one of the most impressive of Scotland's stately homes. On approach the…
Constructed about 5000 years ago, Maeshowe is an extraordinary place, a Stone Age tomb built from enormous sandstone blocks, some of which weighed many…
Hold Stirling and you control Scotland. This maxim has ensured that a fortress of some kind has existed here since prehistoric times. You cannot help…
Notable BuildingScottish Parliament Building
The Scottish Parliament Building, on the site of a former brewery and designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles (1955–2000), was opened by the Queen in…
'So thanks to all at once and to each one, whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone.' This line from Macbeth indicates the importance of Scone …
ShipRoyal Yacht Britannia
Built on Clydeside, the former Royal Yacht Britannia was the British Royal Family's floating holiday home during their foreign travels from the time of…
Historic BuildingTraquair House
One of Scotland's great country houses, Traquair House has a powerful, ethereal beauty, and exploring it is like time travel. Odd, sloping floors and a…
Glasgow Cathedral has a rare timelessness. The dark, imposing interior conjures up medieval might and can send a shiver down the spine. It's a shining…
PalacePalace of Holyroodhouse
This palace is the royal family's official residence in Scotland but is more famous as the 16th-century home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. The…
GalleryScottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Edinburgh's gallery of modern art is split between two impressive neoclassical buildings surrounded by landscaped grounds some 500m west of Dean Village…
Many years may have passed since Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent film came out, but floods of visitors still descend on Scotland's…
Historic BuildingReal Mary King's Close
Edinburgh's 18th-century City Chambers were built over the sealed-off remains of Mary King's Close, and the lower levels of this medieval Old Town alley…
Three miles from Port Askaig, tumbledown ruins of houses and a chapel on an islet in a shallow loch mark what remains of the stronghold of the Lords of…
Just outside Melrose, this is where to discover the life and works of Sir Walter Scott, to whom we arguably owe both the modern novel and our mind's-eye…
The three masts of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's famous polar expedition vessel the RRS Discovery provide a historic counterpoint to the modern…
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland, magnificent Blair Castle – and its surrounding estates – is the seat of the Duke of Atholl, head…
Magnificent Dunrobin Castle, a mile past Golspie, is the Highlands' largest house. Although it dates to 1275, most of what you see was built in French…
MuseumMuseum of Lead Mining
‘Lead mining’: even the phrase has a sort of dulling effect on the brain, and you’d think it’d be a tough ask to make the subject interesting. But this…
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Scotland.
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