Scotland is a richly historical and unique destination, often overlooked by culture-seeking tourists who flock to Rome and Paris. Whether you’re after adventure, or city-living, Scotland has both. It’s capital, Edinburgh is an artistic hub and historical site, and is among the most uniquely beautiful cities in the world. But if it is the outdoors you crave, your wanderlust will be satisfied by a trip to the mystical Scottish highlands. If you’re unconvinced, consider my top reasons for visiting Scotland.
Who doesn’t love an opportunity to be transported into the lives of royalty? Scotland is full of such opportunities, with castles littering the country side and cityscapes. The nation’s most famous castle sits atop the city of Edinburgh and is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Perhaps the second most popular – and perhaps the most picturesque – is Eilean Donan,which is poised in the middle of a loch (lake), only connected to the mainland by footbridge. It was recently restored and frequently appears in films and television shows. Fun fact: much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed in Scotland, with castles Stalker and Doune featured in the film.
You’ve all seen Braveheart, right? (Mind you, any Scot will tell you this tale of William Wallace is far from accurate) This film is just a glimpse at the complicated relationship between Scotland and England, and the nation’s great history of invasion, battle and conquest. Long before England took over, the Scots fought off the mighty Roman and Viking armies, the invaders unable to conquer the rugged and uninhabitable highland territory. However, if you’re short on time, you don’t even need to leave the nation’s capital for a dose of the past – Edinburgh’s old and new towns are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Ever wondered if there really is a Loch Ness monster? Well, there is only one way to find out…
The Scottish highlands – referring to the nation’s mountainous north-western region – are a dark, sometimes miserable, but strangely alluring place. Much of the nation’s traditional customs come from the distinctive highland culture, native to the clans that remain strong in the region. Which brings me to…
Scotland isn’t really a place one would consider rich in culture. Yet, Scots are highly protective and proud of their local treasures and traditions. Think: Scotch (better known to us as Whisky), bagpipes, kilts, haggis, Gaelic – all of these contribute to Scotland’s great sense of nationalism.
Speaking of culture, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter from a little cafe in Edinburgh. Do a free walking tour in one of the most beautiful, medieval cities in the world and see where Rowling wrote the book, the cemetery and school from which she drew inspiration, and even some of the film’s shooting locations.
Scotland is considered the home of golf as the modern game was developed in the country. The Royal and Ancient Club of St Andrews is the first golf club and is seen as a ruling body of the sport. Unlike others who perceive golf as elitist, St Andrews is actually a public golf course, run by the council and available to all.