Scotland makes up the northern portion of the island of Great Britain and is known for its dramatic rocky coast dotted with islands and castles, rolling hills, and charming towns. Golf and whisky lovers rejoice – as the birthplace of Golf is home to hundreds of courses, as well as world renowned distilleries.
For visitors from the United States, your trip will most likely either begin or end in the city of Edinburgh or its neighbor Glasgow, both of which are served by international airports with direct flights from the U.S. The capital of Edinburgh is small and charming, easily explorable on foot and full of historical sites. You can’t miss the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace with a maze of cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, a cosmopolitan hub and known for its many museums and galleries as well as nightlife.
For those wishing to explore the Central Highlands, Inverness makes the perfect base. A northern coastal city perhaps best known for its proximity to the infamous Loch Ness, Inverness is the cultural hub of this region and is served by an airport as well as reachable by Scotland’s excellent and scenic rail system, though driving by car is undoubtedly the best way to get to know this beautiful country. Adventure seekers (and castle lovers) will enjoy exploring Cairngorms National Park, history buffs should check out Culloden Battlefield, and even if you aren’t interested in keeping an eye out for Nessie, Loch Ness is still worth a visit for the ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Some of the most dramatic scenery in Scotland can be found in the Northwest Highlands, particularly the Isle of Skye. This region is known for its sweeping vistas and is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with unlimited opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and climbing – but if you are looking for a more relaxing experience, perhaps you may prefer exploring picturesque coastal towns such as Portree, fishing, or taking a whisky tour.
Meanwhile, the West Highlands are a must see for history lovers and those wishing to visit some of Scotland’s famed islands – the best access is from the coastal town of Oban which also boasts its own distillery and incredible seafood. A visit to Glencoe is not to be missed as it is home to much cultural importance, from battles between Scottish clans to the origin of local legends.
Whether you want to stroll the streets of Edinburgh for a few days and hit the links at a world class golf course among stunning scenery, or have an adrenaline packed road trip around the entire country, Scotland is a destination that truly has something for everyone.