Up there in the north and with no guaranteed sunshine, a holiday in Scotland might not be the obvious choice. But for many people, Alba (as it’s known in Gaelic) ticks lots and lots of boxes. Not for nothing was Scotland one of Rough Guides’ must-visit destinations in 2017. The travel guide chose it for its “wildlife, whisky and a wonderfully warm welcome”. We can only agree with these three w’s and have put together ten compelling reasons why you should choose a holiday in Scotland.
Landscapes with a capital L
Whether they’re lovely, lonely or simply luscious, Scottish landscapes take scenery into a whole new dimension. Wherever your penchant may lie – glens, mountains, lochs, valleys, forests… – Scotland does them in spades. And best of all, you can see all of them easily whenever you visit.
As well as coming in abundance, Scottish landscapes also come with some amazing contrasts. Take the white sands on the island of Tiree, for example – you could almost be on the Caribbean here. And the little isle has one of the highest levels of sunshine hours in the UK too. Or you can go for the dramatic black depths of some of Scotland’s lochs. Or admire the bright pink granite on the Angus coast.
Scotland does remote like no other place in the UK. Cape Wrath on the northwest corner lies about as far as you can get from anywhere. Except the island of St Kilda, a good boat ride away from the mainland and uninhabited since the 1930s.
Too lonely? Then head for the cities. Glasgow and Edinburgh count among the most happening and vibrant in the UK with all the urban action you could wish for.
Really wild wildlife
Forget common-all-garden rabbits, foxes and badgers. Scotland also does wildlife like nowhere else in the UK. On land, this is a country of red deer, pine martens and otters. Up in the air you can spot osprey and the ultimate twitcher’s prize, golden eagles. In the water Scotland’s a paradise for dolphins, whales, seals and those cute puffins. Holidays in Scotland are truly wild.
The UK comes jam-packed with historic sites and monuments but in the history department Scotland also moves things up a notch. From the Neolithic standing stones on Orkney, or the Abbey on Iona where St Columba brought Christianity to Scotland, to the remains of the Picts, this is a land with a truly ancient past.
Moving forward in time to the Jacobite Revolution, perhaps nowhere in the UK is more hauntingly historic than Glen Coe, a battle ground where you can almost feel the ghosts of the slain. And then there are the great historic sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow where fine urban architecture also has a long tale to tell.
King of the castles
Scotland’s landscapes come smattered with castles and at last count there are around 2,000 of them. Some in ruins, others still lived in, and many castles you can stay in. They’re all part and parcel of the landscape. While you’re on holiday in Scotland don’t miss Eilean Donan on Skye – you’ll recognise it from countless films; Dunnottar Castle perched on a dramatic headland over the North Sea; the medieval fortress of Urquhart Castle near the equally mythical Loch Ness; or Edinburgh Castle with a fine outlook at the top of Royal Mile.
A long (long) list of year-round events also make Scotland a great place for a holiday. Whether it’s cultural, sporting, gastronomic, musical or historic there’s a festival for you somewhere in Scotland. Among the most famous are the Highland Games, celebrated between May and September across the country and the place to go to see Scottish dancing, bagpipe playing and locals’ prowess throwing hammers, logs…
Edinburgh takes the spotlight on the world’s cultural stage in August with its International Festival that includes the famous Fringe Festival. The popular military tattoo also runs during the Festival when you can enjoy one of the best firework displays in the UK. And if fire’s your thing, the Up Helly Aa fire festival in Shetland should be on your must-see list. This Viking celebration of winter ranks as one of the country’s most unusual events.
Catch it on camera
With its endlessly glorious landscapes and historic settings Scotland is unsurprisingly a top location for films and television series. Several form the backdrop for the Harry Potter films and JK Rowling wrote the books in cafés in Edinburgh. The feature film King Arthur also showcases Scottish scenery as does the acclaimed TV series Outlander. And the UK’s top spy, James Bond, has also visited the country in several films.
Hole in one
Scotland is of course the historic home of golf. And in honour of these origins the country has lots of golf courses, most of which are public. Prestwick Golf Club established the Open Championship and St Andrews is home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. That’s the body that governs everything last detail of the game. Even if you’re not a golfer you can walk the courses and enjoy their usually spectacular settings.
Water of life
No list of reasons to holiday in Scotland would be complete without a large nod to the Scottish drink per se, whisky. Classed by many as the world’s finest liqueur, whisky forms an intrinsic part of the landscape and culture. Include a visit to at least one distillery while you’re in Scotland and don’t forget to enjoy a wee dram after your meal. The fiery water of life not only tastes good it does wonders for digestion!
Holiday in Scotland
In this department too, Scotland moves the bar higher. From events to enjoy to spectacular places to stay, few places in the world can rival the choice of fine places to stay. Take your pick of castles, palaces and mansions, all fit for a king and offering accommodation like no other. Book your palatial residence and prepare for a holiday of a lifetime.
We have a long list of fine castles and homes perfectly located so you can make the most of a holiday in Scotland. Take a look – you really are spoilt for choice!
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