Things To Do In Scotland – With over 20 million visitors per year, Scotland is a popular destination with visitors from all around the world, and with so many things to do in Scotland it comes as no surprise.
The capital city of Edinburgh is the most visited city in the UK outside of London.
With such a small country having such a vast number of visitors each year, it can be hard to escape the tourist trail and experience Scotland off the beaten track.
As both a local girl, and a travel writer, I thought it would be useful to combine my knowledge of my home country and experiences as a traveler, and give you my top 6 things to do in Scotland.
Things To Do In Scotland
Visit Stirling Castle
Every year, thousands of tourists visit Edinburgh Castle, and from the outside it is really a stunning sight, but trust me when I say the 14 GBP entry fee is really not worth it!
The inside of Edinburgh Castle is mediocre at best, and the fact that you can gain free and/or cheap entry to most of Scotland’s other more beautiful castles is as good a reason as any to venture elsewhere.
Stirling Castle is only 31 miles from Edinburgh city centre, and is simply stunning! Remains were also found in Stirling Castle recently of an old Scottish Knight, and the Castle continues to provide much of an insight in the history of Scotland.
Go Skiing in the Cairngorms
In most cases this would be a huge downside, but what it does provide is some great opportunities during winter to do some skiing in the Cairngorm Mountains, and National Park.
Aside from just being a beautiful place to visit in the Scottish Highlands, and situated near to the picturesque town of Aviemore, the Cairngorm mountains also offer some black slopes for some of the most experienced skiers.
Eat some mince ‘n’ tatties!
One of the popular things to do in Scotland is to try out some local Haggis. Internationally it is the one dish signified with Scottish culture, but in reality, most local people only eat Haggis on Burns Night (Robert Burns Night) or on a special occasion.
If you want to try a dish that Scottish people eat regularly then try some traditional mince ‘n’ tatties! Mince ‘n’ tatties is a dish that families in Scotland have eaten for hundreds of years.
It’s basically just mince, potatoes (tatties), and gravy all mashed up. It may be basic, but I literally don’t know any Scottish people (apart from vegetarians) who don’t have this in their top 3 meals of all time! It’s the kind of thing your granny or mum would serve you!
Visit the Tunnocks chocolate factory
Tunnocks is a company that has been around in Scotland since before war time, and I can honestly say they produce the best biscuits/cakes in the world!
Tunnocks tea cakes in particular are simply yum, and the wafer biscuits are also good too!
They are unique to Scotland, with one large chocolate factory based near Glasgow.
Waiting lists to get a tour of the chocolate factory are over a year long, so its unlikely you will get to do the tour if you are only here for a little while, but most shops in Scotland sell the biscuits so be sure to give them a try!
Drink some Irn Bru!
Like Tunnocks, Barr’s Irn Bru has been around in Scotland for over 50 years!
For those who don’t know, Irn Bru is the only soft drink (except from a beverage in Mexico) which outsells both Coke and Pepsi in its homeland.
It’s something which is very unique to Scotland, and is regarded as Scotland’s national (non-alcoholic) drink. Most locals love it, and most tourists hate it, but it’s something I definitely recommend you try, and that is unique to Scotland.
Visit the Isle of Skye
One of the things to do in Scotland that just can’t be missed are the Scottish Highlands.
You can’t come to Scotland and not take in the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands. In particular, my favourite area of Scotland and offering some of the most beautiful scenery is the Isle of Skye.
To describe Skye would be an injustice to its beauty. The best thing I could say is just to see it for yourself.
Places to Visit in Scotland
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Bristol, after a night at one of the many Bristol Airport hotels and you will find yourself in Edinburgh to start your journey through some of the best places to visit in Scotland. Here is a list of 10 awesome places to visit in Scotland:
One of the many cathedrals and chapels of Edinburgh, particularly Rosslyn Chapel, made famous, perhaps mostly by The Da Vinci Code novel.
The Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, a royal residence that is host to the Queen’s Gallery which contains art from the Royal collection.
One of the top places to visit in Scotland for nature lovers is to walk up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that offers a incredible panorama of the city from the summit.
When it comes to festivals, one of the very best places to visit in Scotland is Edinburgh, especially in the summer.
Home to over ten festivals during the summer, including the Fringe Festival, the International Festival, the Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival to name just a few, Edinburgh is often called the city of festivals.
The Tall Ship, or the Glenlee, which was built in 1896 and is one of the only five Clydebuilt sailing ships left in the world that are afloat and restored.
It is now berthed at the Riverside museum which is part of Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel.
You can explore the Tall Ship and of course the museum as well.
If you love animals and zoos, you’ll love visiting places like the Edinburgh Zoo, particularly to watch the Penguin parade.
Take a walk along the Glasgow Green which was founded in 1450 by a royal grant and is home to Nelson’s Memorial, The Peoples Palace and The Doulton Fountain which is the largest terracotta fountain in the world.
If you want several places to visit in Scotland in a short period of time, take a ride on the West Highland Railway, where you can go from Glasgow to Crianlarch and back.
One of the most beautiful train rides in the world, you’ll see castles and meadows and the River Cylde, you’ll pass under Erskine Bridge. The train ride also takes you past Loch Lomond and Locklong.
A short day-trip from Glasgow, the Isle of Arran is often considered to be Scotland in Miniature and allows you to enjoy gardens, Brodick Bay, a castle and a variety of archaeological artifacts that are around the island.
This is one of the best places to visit in Scotland if you want to experience the essence of the country.
Visit the city of Stirling which is considered the spiritual home of Braveheart, you’ll also want to check out the castle while you are there.
To make your return trip easier and less stressful, stay at one of the Edinburgh Airport hotels and get a good rest the last night before an early morning flight, but if you’re sleeping at one of the Glasgow Airport hotels be sure to call ahead to ensure your reservation is completed correctly.
Quick Guide To Inverness, Uk
Known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a lively city which has much to offer visitors and makes the perfect destination for a short break. The city has a real ‘buzz’ about it with fabulous places to eat and drink, excellent shopping opportunities and a real sense of history.
Attractions in Inverness
Inverness Castle is a stunning building, which today functions as the Sheriff Court. The sandstone structure was built in 1847, replacing an earlier building which was destroyed by the Jacobites in 1746.
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery has a wide range of exhibits including wildlife, Pictish stones and a display of weaponry.
Places to Visit
Inverness makes an excellent base for those who want to explore the Highlands as some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscape is within easy reach.
Don’t forget that no visit to the Scottish Highlands would be complete without an excursion to Loch Ness to search for ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness Monster!
Restaurants and Night Life
Kitchen provides good quality, locally sourced food in stunning surroundings: the glass-fronted building has spectacular views over the river. The Castle Tavern has a good selection of real ales and an outdoor terrace. G’s is a popular nightclub with a 3am licence, playing commercial tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.
There is no sign of the twee tartan décor once synonymous with Highland hotels in the Rocpool Reserve Hotel, where rooms are named Hip, Chic, Decadent or Extra Decadent and come with their own coffee machines and hot tubs. A previous winner of the title of Top Boutique Hotel at Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards, the Rocpool doesn’t come cheap, but is well worth splashing out on for a real treat. Those on a budget may want to investigate the Premier Inn, which is central and provides excellent value for money.
Inverness airport is 8 miles east of Inverness, with excellent transport links into the city centre. The airport serves the main UK airports and an expanding number of international airports. Flights from Inverness to Gatwick leave regularly making Inverness a convenient destination for those travelling from the South of England.
There is also a train station in the city center, with direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and London from the south and Aberdeen from the east. It’s also worth checking out the bus operators CityLink, Megabus, National Express and Stagecoach Bluebird that also do routes in and around Inverness.
(photo credit: 1)