Scotland, the home of sprawling hills, lush green pastures, pristine lakes and rugged coastlines. A place you can come and be immersed in history that is so well preserved, you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
The beauty of the highlands and the old worldliness of Edinborough will draw you in and inspire you to explore every last inch. From 12th century castles to coastal wonders, Scotland offers something for every traveller.
Here is our top 10.
#1 Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle sits atop the iconic Castle Rock dominating the skyline with its oppressive fortress walls and tall towers.
Built back in the 12th century, the castle is one of the most popular attractions to visit in Scotland. Inside you can explore the Great Hall, the Royal Palace, museums, and even cast your eyes upon the actual crown worn by James V’s wife.
Discover Edinburgh’s oldest building, St Margarets Chapel or go underground to see the famous dungeons.
The castle is open from 9.30am until 6 pm every day and will set you back about $30 upon entry. We also suggest getting there early to avoid the crowds.
#2 Isle of Staffa
The small 33-hectare island is a hidden treasure in Scotland. It sits halfway between the Ross of Mull and the Treshnish Isles and is well worth a stop in if you’re touring in the area.
Carved into the high rocky cliff face of the island you will find the famous Fingal’s Caves. Distinctive to the island are the unique basalt columns that surround the cave entrance. A geological wonder the caves are one of only two places in the world where the columns exist.
The best time to visit the Island is between May and September as this is when you will find seabirds, like the beautiful Puffins, nesting along the banks.
#3 Loch Ness
We have all heard the rumours of the Loch Ness Monster and the myriad of possible sightings. Well, this is where it all happens.
Loch Ness, meaning Lake Ness in English, is a vast lake located in the Scottish Highlands and is the second largest, and deepest, in all of Scotland. Head out on a dinner cruise or book a day tour, to see the most the region has to offer.
As well as the picturesque surrounds, there is an exhibition centre that takes you through 500 million years of history, mystery, and legend that is The Loch Ness.
#4 Calanais Standing Stones
One of Scotlands best preserved Neolithic monuments is the Standing Stones of Calanais. Located on a ridge above the banks of Loch Roag, the stones have been standing for over 5000 years and has captivated millions.
They are set up in a circular pattern with one central stone and still to this day no one knows their significance.
Some theories say that they were used to track the moon, others think they were a place for worship. Folklaw says that the stones represent petrified giants who would not convert to Christianity.
Either way, the site is fascinating and has even featured in movies, novels, and TV shows.
#5 Scotland Castle Trail
If you love your history and find castles enchanting, dungeons intriguing and secret passages irresistible, then you must visit Aberdeenshire. Nicknamed ‘Scotlands Castle Country’, Aberdeen is home to a whopping 300 castles and has more castles per acre than all of the UK.
The trail takes you past 14 castles and is an excellent way to see the country. You can download the full itinerary for all the details including a road map and information on each castle.
We suggest hiring a car and taking on the trail at your own pace. Or, if you are short on time and don’t want to brave the roads, you can book a bus day tour.
#6 Blair Drummond Safari Park
The Blair Drummond Safari Park is a fantastic safari, zoo and amusement park in all in one. The 120-acre park is located just ten minutes from Stirling and offers a unique safari experience that will make you feel like you’re in Africa.
If you have a car, you can drive inside the park along the mapped out roads and into the paddocks with the free roaming animals. Alternatively, you can jump on a safari bus to see the park if you don’t have a car.
Also in the Park is a small amusement park as well as a lake where you can take a boat ride to Chimpanzee Island. Take in a Sea Lion show, walk amongst the Lemurs or ride the carousel, a day out to the Safari Park is a must!
#7 Holyrood Palace
Like something out of a movie, Holyrood Palace is a stunning example of Baroque architecture. Standing proudly opposite Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace is still very much in use today.
The official residence to Brittish Monarchs since the 16th century, it is still the place for royal ceremonies and formal engagements. Queen Elizabeth frequents the palace every summer during Holyrood week where there are celebrations and parades in her honour.
When the Palace isn’t entertaining royal guests, it is open to the public and is worth a visit just to see how the other half live. Tickets will set you back around $16, and the self-guided tour will take you about an hour to complete.
#8 The Northern Highlands
The beating soul of Scotland is undoubtedly the Highlands. Its rich tapestry of history is seen through the remains of long lost buildings, the stark grey walls of castles that dot the countryside and the enchanting landscape that brings it all together.
The best way to see the Highlands is to jump right in. Hire a car, a bike or a horse, walk through the woods or kayak through the seas, whatever your passion, you will find it here.
There are plenty of guided tours that you can take that leave from either Glasgow or Edinburgh and will get you to all the popular landmarks and everything in between for under $100.
#9 Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
If shopping is your passion in life, then the Royal Mile should be on your go-to list.
Situated in the heart of Old Town, the mile runs uphill with Edinburgh Castle up one end and Holyrood Palace at the other.
Quaint side streets called wynds and closes veer off the main thoroughfare. These side streets often hold hidden gems like Dunbar’s Close where you will discover a secret garden.
Stirling, known as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands,’ is a city in Scotland that lies on the border of the Highlands and the Lowlands.
Here you will find the old town with its well-preserved historical buildings and cobblestone paths it is as if you’re stepping back in time.
The massive fortress that once protected the city dominates the skyline atop an extinct volcano and offers breathtaking views of the city.
The National Wallace Monument, made famous by the movie Braveheart, sits on the outskirts of the city. There is an old town jail as well as Stirling Castle that you can explore or head into the city for great restaurants and shopping.
The best way to see the city is with a Stirling City Pass which offers an all in one discounted ticket to all the main attractions.