England, Scotland and
Wales are often referred to as Great Britain.
If you are planning a trip to
Scotland, you might want to consider purchasing the Great British Heritage Pass to
save money on admission fees to many of the UK's best attractions.
If you or
someone you are traveling with is interested in visiting the
historic sites associated with Mary Queen of Scots, you may want to
know that she was imprisoned for 11 months on an island in the Loch Leven east of
Kinross, not the Loch Leven next to Loch Linne on the west coast.
||If you are already sure you want to visit Scotland,
simply choose one of the links in the box to the right to begin exploring
If you have not yet decided to visit Scotland, take a look at our brief
overview of the best places to visit in the country, followed by a short
section on Why Visit Scotland.
Overview of Scotland's best Places to Visit
Edinburgh is Scotland's leading city for tourism. It features the
dramatic Edinburgh Castle on a mount overlooking the city and the elegant Palace of Holyroodhouse that is the official residence of the British Monarch in
Edinburgh. The city's "old" and "new" towns offer great sightseeing
venues, incredible museums, as well as a lively performing arts scene.
Near Edinburgh you will find many interesting attractions, such as Linlithgow
Palace (the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, Rosslyn Chapel, known to some
from its role in the DaVinci Code novel, and a number of surrounding
castles that are both scenic and fun to tour. See this page of our website of Scotland
for details on the
best places to visit in Edinburgh.
Highlands and the Isle of Skye attract many travelers to Scotland.
The Highlands, which are described as separated into the Western and Eastern
are one of the most scenic and evocative of Scotland's
regions. In the west you can tour the beautiful Glencoe area, which
combines important stories from the history of the Scots with awe inspiring scenery.
Further west you will encounter the picturesque Eilean Donan
Castle, the remote, craggy, beautiful and interesting Isle of Skye, as well
as a journey to Mallaig from Fort William on the train featured in several of
the Harry Potter movies.
Eilean Donan Castle - in the Highlands on the road to the Isle of Skye,
near Dornie. Parts of the movie "The Highlander" were filmed here.
Eastern Highlands you can see the water filled Great Glen that nearly
cuts Scotland in half, along with Loch Ness and "Nessie", tits
resident but shy monster. Nearby are the
historically important Culloden Battlefield, the Clava Cairns (important to
readers of Diana Gabaldon's novels of "Jaime" and the Outlander
series), Cawdor Castle and its
impressive gardens, as well as the Glenfiddich Distillery near Dufftown.
Click for our guide to the best places to visit in
Scotland's Highlands for photos and details on visiting these and other attractions in the Highlands.
Borders area of Scotland,
located along the border with England,
is a scenic area, comprised of rolling hills
and agricultural plains dotted with towns whose histories involve Scotland's battle for independence from the British.
The towns are lovely and most have an historic ruin or two to add flavor to
your visit. Melrose and its famous abbey deserve a visit, as does Jedburgh, its famous abbey and
the Mary, Queen of Scots Visitor Center. Those
looking for literary history will want to visit Abbotsford, the mansion of
Sir Walter Scott near Melrose, or Dryburgh Abbey that is his final resting
place. In addition, see Kelso, as it is a lovely village with an
interesting nearby castle. Finally, Selkirk is noted for its artisans
who are masters of decorative glass,
particularly paperweights. See our guide to the best places to visit
Borders for more details on these and other attractions.
The Grampian Mountains and the Northeast of Scotland is
an area that is
rugged, mostly mountainous, and always stunning. Filled with
small towns and quiet villages nestled in their glens, this is a region of
Scotland that offers a wide variety of attractions, although most involve
the outdoors or simple rest and relaxation.
The Cairngorms National Park is a beauty and hosts the resort
towns of Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey, as well as the Strathspey Steam
Railway. The Royal Deeside (River Dee) is spectacular and its main
town Ballater has several shops that supply nearby Balmoral Castle, summer home
of the Royal family. To the east you will find Crathes Castle with amazing
gardens, but the most interesting of the castles in this area is Dunnottar Castle that
sits on cliffs overlooking the North Sea. For photos and information
on these and other attractions in this area, see our guide to the best places to visit in
Grampians and the Northeast of Scotland
South of the Grampians is St. Andrews, a magnet for golfers, as well as
Dewar's World of Whiskey. Both are covered in our section on
Fife, which is described at the end of
our section on the Grampians and the Northeast.
Lomond and the Trossachs wrap-up our circuit of Scotland. Glasgow, is not a prime destination for tourists, although the nearby Burrell Museum has an impressive
collection of medieval treasures, including clothing. In the city Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art should be visited for many reasons, especially its masterpiece by Dali.
Further afield you may be interested in exploring the scenic Loch Lomond
and the Trossachs, home of the legendary Rob Roy and clan McGregor
territory. Loch Katrine and its steamship the SS Sir Walter Scott are
an excellent way to spend an afternoon enjoying the Scottish countryside.
For photographs, a map and more information on visiting
Glasgow and the Trossachs, click for our detailed travel guide covering
By the way, we cover our recommendations on the
best castles in Scotland in our guide to the best castles in
England, Scotland and Wales.
We think there are several good
reasons. First, Scotland and its inhabitants have made a mark on the
world far exceeding the size or status of their country and you can
appreciate why when you visit their homeland. We think that
Scots have created a unique culture that is worth knowing
and understanding. Second, the country's history is interesting, provocative
and to some degree familiar to all travelers. Mary, Queen of Scots, Bonnie
Prince Charlie, William Wallace, the Clan McDonald and the Stuarts are names familiar to all and
their stories are on display across the Scottish countryside.
Perhaps the most compelling
reason to visit Scotland is that it offers some of the
most beautiful vistas in the United Kingdom.
The Scottish countryside consists of mountains, moors, lochs and coastal
plains with numerous attractive islands thrown in for good measure.
The landscape is rugged in both the Highlands and the northeast and more gently
rolling along the border with England. The coastal areas are cool and
damp most of the year and uncomfortably so in winter. The
highlands can be windy and rainy even during the summer, while they are snow-filled in
During spring and early summer, the countryside is alive with impressive
flora and the rhododendrons will
startle you with their size and dramatic color, particularly in the
Highlands. For many tourists, the west of the country, including its
islands, is a great place to walk, hike, and climb. The east and south
of Scotland lend themselves to touring, stopping, shopping, eating and
relaxing. Scotland is a country with a million things see.
Most of them are interesting and uniquely represent Scotland, but the
leading attraction of Scotland is its extraordinary landscape.
Scotland is a place to pace yourself. Often, it is hard to stop the
day's touring because there is always an historic abbey, a castle
visited by Mary, Queen of Scots or something that you would like to see,
just over the next hill.
Much of the country is sparsely populated and village life is a dominant
feature in the rich quilt of Scottish heritage. Scotland's
culture is unique and its people are hardy and, often, serious.
There are a number
of regions in the country and each is uniquely different,
though all are enjoyable. We think that the "Highlands" will leave its mark
on you if you choose to visit, but Edinburgh, the Borders, and the Grampians
are equally attractive.
Tourists thinking about visiting Scotland need to be mentally prepared for a
trip to a country whose natural beauty and interesting people outweigh the
quality of its formal cultural attractions.
Touring Scotland will familiarize you with Robert the Bruce (14th
century), Mary Queen of Scots (16th century), Bonnie Prince Charlie - The
Young Pretender (18th century) and the country's recurrent attempts to
throw-off the rule of the Britons. Although Scotland won many battles in the
fight for independence, the effort sapped the
country's strength while forming its history and influencing the nature of
A number of tours of Scotland start in Edinburgh or Glasgow (the country's major
airports) and proceed northwest to the Highlands, eventually looping east
and down the east coast before returning to Edinburgh or Glasgow. We have
followed the circle route model in creating our Scotland Guide and start you
in Edinburgh and the Borders, proceed to the Highlands and, then, pass into
the Grampians and the northeast.
We have created several sectional road maps of Scotland based on Google maps to
show the location of the Best Places to Visit in Scotland.
In each of our five section on Scotland, we present a map showing only the
that region of Scotland. If you prefer examine all of Best Places to
Visit on one map, we provide them
Click one of the links below to start your tour of Scotland.
Loch Lomond and its mountain Ben Lomond
common form of lodging in rural Scotland is the Bed and Breakfast, although you
will find hotels in the larger cities. To learn more about
B&Bs, read this ThereArePlaces
Castle Kilchurn's view of the scenic Loch Awe, the deepest
Loch in Scotland
If you tour Scotland in June, be prepared for late
sunsets and early sunrises.
Close the curtains in your room or it will be
too bright to sleep when you turn-in and the sunrise will beam into
your room too
early too early in the morning.
Depending on your location, sunsets may be after 22:00 and
sunrises around 4:00.
In 2009 a group of researchers in South
Lanarkshire discovered evidence of the earliest human activity in Scotland.
The researchers found sharpened (pointed) flints that may indicate
hunting activity in Scotland dating back to 12,000 BC.
Previous to this find, waste pits had been dated to around