For many people especially foreign visitors Scotland is most associated with whisky, haggis and the movie Braveheart. However, it is an area that contains castles, stunning lochs and mountains, beautiful parks and a warm and friendly local population.
Scotland is an amazing place and while many people often focus on the cities for their breaks, to see the real Scotland you need to venture further afield, not only to the highlands but also to islands such as Islay and Mull.
So why not get the best of both worlds by starting off your trip with a couple of nights in Edinburgh, then using Edinburgh car hire to provide you with the transport for your journey around Scotland. Once that is sorted here are some of the places you should visit and things to do to make the most of your Scottish experience.
Go Looking for Nessie
Loch Ness as well as being one of the most notable tourist attractions in Scotland is supposedly home to the legendary creature that is the Loch Ness Monster. With sightings dating back to the 1870’s the myth has been perpetuated by grainy photographs and an army of Nessie hunters. So, why not try and catch a glimpse of Nessie and if you don’t there are lots of other attractions around the loch such as cruises, a hike into the adjacent hills or a visit to the nearby ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Check Out the Cathedrals
If you are a fan of gothic architecture visiting the cathedrals of Scotland should be right at the top of your list of things to do. Some of the top cathedrals to visit are Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, St Magnus Cathedral in the Orkneys and the oldest building in Glasgow the Cathedral which dates back to 1136. You should also visit Melrose Abbey in the borders where legend has it that the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried. It was repeatedly destroyed by the English in the 14th Century, in fact you can still see marks on the surviving walls from the Cannonballs.
Visit The Mystical Smoo Cave
The sleepy town of Durness can be found located around 120 miles north of Inverness. Durness is the access point for Smoo Cave, which is a coastline cave complex that can be explored alone or as part of an organised tour. There is evidence from charcoal samples taken in there that it may have been inhabited over 4000 years ago. There is no charge to enter the caves but if you want to venture deeper into the complex you would need to take a guided tour at a cost of £5. By taking this tour you’ll get to see a lot more than you would on your own.
Explore The Cairngorms
The Cairngorms is Britain’s largest National Park spanning some 1800 square miles. Only two hours away from Edinburgh by car it is a great starting point for anyone looking to explore the highlands. The Park has a number of beautiful B&B’S along with several camp sites. The Park has many hiking trails and if you visit during the winter you will be able to ski on Cairngorm Mountain. The lucky ones among you may even get to spot some of the Reindeer that inhabit the Cairngorms, the only herd to be found in the British Isles.
Visit the Isle of Arran
Arran is located about two and a half hours west of Glasgow and is a popular destination for tourists. This is because of its charming scenery and abundance of walking trails and historic villages. We’d advise you to visit Brodrick Castle or go on a hike or trail ride and keep your eyes open for seals and golden eagles that can be found among the remote scenery. Also, make sure you visit the Machrie Moor Stone Circles that are similar to Stonehenge and date back over 5000 years.
While writing this guide, we have focused on attractions available to you away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. These are just five of the things you can do but there are so many more as Scotland is without doubt a great country to visit.