A major component of the United Kingdom, Scotland is known for its singular cultural identity, rich history and astounding natural beauty. It is filled to the brim with an embarrassment of riches. There are no shortage of unique activities and sights to encounter while visiting.
The eponymous castle is Edinburgh’s most iconic landmark and one of the most recognisable buildings in the United Kingdom. Located atop the historical Castle Rock, the foundation of the castle has been occupied since at least the 2nd Century AD. Edinburgh Castle functioned as the residence of the Scottish monarchy from the 12th Century until 1633. The castle is deeply rooted in the country’s history, serving as an important fortress during the key conflicts of the Wars of Scottish Indpendence. It has been described by historians as ‘the most besieged place in Great Britain’. In modern times, the castle is Scotlands’s most popular tourism attraction, with around 2 million visitors per year.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
If you are to visit Edinburgh, there is no better time to do so than during the city’s iconic Fringe festival. Taking place during the month of August, the festival is the most well-known of its kind. There are over 50,000 performances across the festival spanning a plethora of different mediums, including comedy, theatre and dance. An open access festival, any member of the public is allowed to perform. There are few cultural experiences quite like this and its transformative effect on the city is a real sight to behold.
One of the most iconic sites in the country, Loch Ness is best known for its eponymous mythical monster. Located on the outskirts of the city of Inverness, the Loch is the second-largest in Scotland but the most famous. One of the most beautiful places in the country, the Loch is worth visiting for its breathtaking views-as well as for the chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive Nessie.
Scotland’s largest loch, Loch Lomond is one of the country’s most spectacular natural wonders. One of the country’s most popular tourism destinations, the Loch caters to a variety of different interests, offering the best quality camping, fishing and boating activities in the country.
A destination far off the beaten track, Fingal’s Cave is located on Staffa, an uninhabited island in the remote Inner Herbides region of the country. Named after the titular protagonist of James Macpherson’s epic poem, the sea cave is known for its striking geometric rock structures and impressive natural acoustics.
Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Located on the outskirts of Dumfries at the estate of famous artist Charles Jencks, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation is one of the most impressive sculpture gardens in the world. With a collection drawing entirely from the artist’s own oeuvre, the garden is a truly spectacular sight. It is only open to the public one day a year, but for those who make the effort, it is one of the most rewarding cultural experiences in the entire country.
Isle of Skye
The most notable island of the the Inner Herbides, the Isle of Skye is a popular tourism destination in Scotland. Known for its breathtaking scenery, particularly its distinct rock formations and waterfalls, the Isle of Skye also boasts a diverse range of wildlife, such as wild deer and Atlantic salmon. One of the most beautiful destinations in the country and well worth the extra-long journey.
The Highlands are a truly spectacular sight to behold and there is no place better to visit than Glen Coe. Named for the eponymous river, Glen Coe is one of Scotland’s most beautiful locales. Known for its picturesque mountains, Glen Coe is highly popular amongst hikers. No place better epitomises the grandiosity of the Highlands better than Glen Coe.
As the birthplace of the sport, Scotland is one of the world’s premier golfing destinations. Deeply ingrained in the fabric of the country’s culture and history, golf is a leisurely and social activity and there are a wealth of courses across the country catering to a variety of different skillsets and expense brackets. Amongst the most prestigious courses are Muirfield, St. Andrews and Glen Eagles.
Another iconic Scottish invention is the spirit of whisky. There are hundreds of premier distilleries scattered across the country. Whisky tours have become an increasingly popular tourism activity in Scotland in recent years. Major distilleries include Glenfidditch, Edradour and Strathisla, the latter being the oldest in the country. Often set against the backdrop of stunning Highlands scenery, this is one of the most unique and luxurious activities one can undertake in Scotland.
main image: courtesy of Martin de Lusenet, Flickr Creative Commons