SightSeeing in Scotland
One of the greatest joys of visiting Scotland is the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the country.
1. Cairngorms National ParkCairngorms National Park is the largest in the UK, covering 3,800 kilometres of beautiful unspoilt countryside, and about 10 per cent of Scotland. It is home to a quarter of Scotland's native woodland and is a refuge for a host of rare plants and animals, including 25% of the UK's threatened species.
The Cairngorms themselves are a mountain range, comprising 52 Munros (hills over 3000 feet) and four of the highest mountains in Britain. The river water is so pure that it is one of the few places in the world to find freshwater mussels. The Park is a prime destination for birdwatchers, with Golden Eagles and Ospreys to be seen in their natural habitat.
2. Loch NessNo holiday in Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, welcoming places to stay, and quality Scottish restaurants offering classic dishes from Scotland’s larder. And, of course, the Loch may just contain a monster...
3. BalmoralBalmoral Castle is set in the shadows of the fabled mountain Lochnagar, on the Balmoral Estate. The estate was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, and has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since.
Balmoral extends to just over 50,000 acres of heather clad hills and ancient Caledonian woodland, with the beautiful River Dee running through it.
4. Stirling CastleStirling Castle, like Edinburgh Castle, is built on an extinct volcano, and is one of the most elaborate and impressive castles in Scotland. Its central location in Stirling, ‘the heart of Scotland’, made it of vital strategic interest to anyone wanting to control the country. This led Stirling Castle to be the focal point for some of the most momentous events in Scottish history.
5. RRS DiscoveryThe RRS Discovery is the legendary ship that took Captain Scott to the Antarctic. Originally built in Dundee, she now rests in the harbour, and is the centre of Discovery Point. The Discovery tour will help you explore the ship, find out about life on board and the essential design features that endured and conquered the extreme polar conditions.
6. Edinburgh City GuideEdinburgh is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe, with a rich heritage reflected in its stunning architecture. For this reason the city has been referred to as the Athens of the North. Edinburgh sprawls around the Castle, built on top of an extinct volcano. Other hills, such as Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill, afford spectacular city views. The New Town features splendid Georgian terraces, the Old Town is a maze of medieval buildings, all with a rich history and legacy. Both are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. There are many tours available to help you navigate your way through Edinburgh’s (often charmingly cobbled) streets. There are a wealth of museums and galleries to visit, many with internationally important collections. Edinburgh is regularly voted the best place to live in Britain; it is undoubtedly the second most popular tourist destination, after London. Visit yourself and find out why.
7. Glasgow City GuideGlasgow is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in Britain. Once the Second City of the British Empire, it suffered post-industrial decline in the 1980s. The city reinvented itself at the end of the twentieth century, and in the last decade, as one of Britain’s most stylish cities, Scotland’s top city for shopping, and its second most visited tourist destination. Partly through being chosen as a European City of Culture, it was able to recreate itself, and is now considered one of the coolest cities in Europe.
The city has a thriving music scene, ranging from pop to folk, for which it has been named a UNESCO City of Music. The music scene goes hand in hand with a flourishing contemporary arts scene. For those with more traditional tastes, the Kelvingrove Museum and Burrell Collections are very popular galleries with large collections of art and antiquities. And Glasgow was home of celebrated Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, builder of the iconic Glasgow School of Art, a cultural hothouse for generations of Scottish artists and musicians from Alasdair Gray to Franz Ferdinand.
8. Edinburgh FestivalThe Edinburgh Festival is the world’s largest Arts Festival, held every August in the city. For a month every year the capital is thronged with tourists, street entertainers and drama students trying to entice you to their shows. Technically the Edinburgh Festival is actually several festivals; the Edinburgh International Festival was set up after the Second World War to showcase the very finest in international theatre, classical music, opera and dance. The Fringe has come to eclipse it, with a more informal program of theatre and comedy, and itself can claim to be the world’s largest Arts Festival, with 2453 shows last year alone. It has become one of the top locations on the international comedy circuit. The Edinburgh International Film Festival has moved from August to June to stand out from the rest; and is well worth a visit to Edinburgh in its own right.
9. Activities in ScotlandScotland can claim to be the adventure playground of Europe. Certainly, the country’s range of terrains offers opportunities for all sorts of sports, from skiing to white water rafting, from mountaineering to snowboarding. Scotland’s landscape is also home to a rich range of wildlife, offering many opportunities for hunting and angling. The best way to see the country’s scenic splendour is through such activities as hillwalking or cycling. Scotland has a long sporting heritage, most famously as the home of golf. Scotland still has many of the finest, most celebrated golf courses in the world.