Ahh, Scotland! Land of the thick brogue, whiskey, and the most infuriating sport ever to be invented: golf. (If you don’t believe me, take Robin Williams’ word for it! language warning) Scotland is high on the list for most travelers and I don’t blame them. There is SO much to do! From industrial Glasgow with its AMAZING murals to the Isle of Orkney at the tip top of the country, Scotland is full of fun. Here are my 5 musts for your first trip to this incredible destination. Let’s travel to Scotland!
There’s more about Scotland on our podcast as we meet with Jennifer Narkevicius, Scottish Harper and enthusiast of all the things you need to know when you travel Scotland! Click here to listen!
The glorious and storied Highlands of Scotland will never disappoint. Whether you are interested in in driving through the history in Glencoe, playing a round of gold at St. Andrews, or searching for that elusive Nessie, the majesty of the Highlands surrounds your every move.
Among the very unique experiences to be found all over this northern part of the island, one of the best is rafting on the loch system. Rapids range from grades 1-5 depending on your comfort level. However, the most Scottish of these experiences has to be the weekly rapids raft. As the loch dams are released weekly in the Summer, they create a series of rapids that can only be found here. Check out Active Highs for more information.
Inverness and the mysterious, yet kitchy, Loch Ness await you for some Highland fun toward the East. After searching for the elusive Nessie, there are plenty of other options to keep you busy. Search out a local Highland games to truly enjoy your stay. If you can’t seem to work in a true competition, the Braemar Center has all kinds of events to get you in the spirit and try your own caber toss.
Edinburgh is an amazing city to explore. With great neighborhoods, mysterious closes, fabulous festivals, castles and palaces, this cultural capital packs it all in with an easy to walk city.
Central to that easy walk is the classic European Royal Mile. The Mile is a bit longer than it’s name and it is full of pubs, shops, mini museums, historical sites and more book ended by the big castle at the top and Holyrood Palace at the bottom. The famous closes, small alleyways, along the Mile reach out past the big main artery and are full of various hidden treasures that are just waiting to be explored. Some are simply entrances to apartments and hotels others are historical museums like The Real King Mary’s Close.
Part of the spirit of Edinburgh is in its festivals from alt culture like the Fringe to all the pomp and circumstance of the Royal Military Tattoo. Edinburgh does a great job hosting all kinds of events throughout the year and kicks it off each time with Hogmany at the New Year. Literature festivals and music competitions invade the Royal Mile throughout the year and only add to the fun of visiting. In short, this town can really throw a party!
Outside The Royal Mile
Beyond the Royal Mile, Edinburgh has a ton to offer. Between visiting Roselyn Chapel, The HMS Brittania, and the newer area of town delineated by the lovely Princes Street Gardens, you can’t go wrong! Looking for an our of the box activity? Try sea kayaking right under the famous Firth of Forth Bridge.
Stirling splits the difference.
This college town right in the center of the lowlands, is a great jumping off point for several Scottish icons. In town, check out stunning Stirling Castle in all its glory. Keep count of the national animal: the unicorn. While you are there get a peak of the William Wallace Monument in the distance which is well worth the drive out. In the opposite direction look for Falkirk. There, you’ll find the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies. Both worth the stop on the way to either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Connect By Ferry
If you are looking to extend your Gaelic journey, there is a great way to hop over to Ireland! Check out the Stena Ferry Line that sails from Cairnryan in the south to Belfast daily. Simply turn in your car rental and hop on board. We REALLY enjoyed this two hours of down time and totally felt that the first class upgrade was well worth it. It was so simple to get our Irish rental and we were off!