Best Scotland Vacations
Scotland is steeped in heritage and is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Add to this some of the most friendliest people you could meet, a visit to Scotland is sure to be warm, welcoming and wonderful. From major cities such as Aberdeen and Glasgow to the famous lochs and idyllic islands, there is something for everybody in bonny Scotland. We look at some of the highlights of this wonderful country.
The country’s capital, Edinburgh is known all over the world for its famous festivals, annual hogmanay celebrations and incredible castle. The city is great for a visit all year round, with summertime filled with ‘International’ and ‘Fringe’ festivals plus the Military Tatoo and the world renowned ‘Edinburgh Book Festival’ and then moving onto the ‘Storytelling Festival’ in October and Hogmanay in December. If you are visiting outside of festival season, you will still be able to find great comedy and theater throughout the city. Aside from Edinburgh’s rich art and culture, its architecture is stunning, with Robert Adam’s masterpiece The Georgian House and Linlithgow, birth place of Mary Queen of Scots the highlights. There is also lots for children to do in Edinburgh, with the great Edinburgh Zoo the first stop for animal loving families.
There are lots of city center hotels and B&B’s to suit all budgets and public transport in the city center is very good. If you want to fit in another big Scottish city, Glasgow is only a short 1 hour drive or you can catch a train from Waverley Station that should take just under an hour.
Stirling is another city to visit if you are interested in Scottish art and culture. Located in the center of Scotland, it is a great base to explore the area and a good stop off point if you are heading for the lochs and highlands. That is not to say that there isn’t enough in Stirling to be seen as there are lots of activities for all of the family. Art lovers will revel in a visit to Bridge Allan Parish Church to see the work of one of Scotland’s most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. To get the most out of your stay in Stirling, take a walking tour of ‘ The Back Tour’, a route that will take you along the 16th century town walls with views over Kings Park and the old town gardens. With old fashioned tea shops and inns, eating out is very relaxed so you can kick of your shoes and wash down a little haggis with a wee dram or two.
Stirling is just a 45 minute drive from Glasgow airport for those flying, or a 50 minute train ride. If you are coming direct from London a drive would take around 7 hours, so it is best to take the train. City centre hotels are best for getting the most out of your stay, with The Portcullis a good choice for all round comfort and affordability.
Nicknamed the ‘ Gateway to Scotland’, St Andrews is a picturesque university town that is famous for its excellent coastline and golf. Find out more about golfing holidays here. As with any university town, there is an abundance of museums, public libraries and theaters, as well as lots of pubs of course! St Andrew’s Castle is a must see as is Blackfriars Chapel. The Chapel was one of the first buildings to be ruined during the Scottish Reformation, and just a tiny section now remains. History buffs will also want to head to West Point to see the last remaining medieval gate in Scotland. Like most parts of Scotland, St Andrew’s is good to visit all year round, with many art, music and food festivals taking place to add to your celebrations. Summertime can be a good time to go and enjoy the quieter period when students are back at home.
With university dorms available throughout the summer it is a great way to keep to a low budget but if you are wanting a little luxury then there are plenty of boutique hotels and guest houses in and around the town. St Andrews is a 1.30 hour drive from Edinburgh, with Glasgow taking slightly longer.
Loch Ness & The Highlands
The Highlands are the highlight of any visit to Scotland and seeing them for the first time will blow you away. Whether you want a stay at a quaint lodge alongside one of the lochs or plan on a spot of mountain climbing, The Highlands will please everybody. Winter time is an especially good time to visit, to experience the stunning scenery once the snow has fallen. Fort William is a popular town for tourist wanting to climb Ben Nevis and Inverness is the ‘ City of the Highlands’ for those who do not wish to be too remote. Both these areas are great base if you want to travel around the area and break up the very long drive from London or Southern parts of the UK. If getting away from it all is your thing though, you will want to book some time in one of the lochs, with Loch Ness and Loch Lomond being the most popular. You can hire a traditional log cabin in the wood, where you can light up a fire, drink a whiskey or two then walk it off the next day with a brisk walk down the loch.
The whole of The Highlands are great for climbs and walks, or skiing in winter, but there is plenty more to see. The area is rich in castles, with Dunvegan one of the most impressive. Wildlife fans also flock to the area as there is an impressive range flora and fauna to be seen, particularly seabirds that flock to the area. Wherever you choose to stay in The Highlands, of Scotland in general, you will find it hard to tear yourself away.