This summer make a trip to Scotland, the land of lakes, bagpiper and Scotch Whiskey. This country makes up the northern part of the United Kingdom and is known not only for its natural beauty but also for tales of courage and valor and the vibrant people. Until recently, getting into Scotland meant landing in London or Manchester and then taking an inland flight to Glasgow, Aberdeen or Edinburgh.
Photo Credit: Smittenbybritain.com
But now, one can get in directly at Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland or Edinburgh, the capital and the second largest city. However, if anyone is interested in getting into the country like Harry Potter then one can choose any of the trains from London across a picturesque landscape of the highlands and the lakes. Bus and car are the other options and interestingly, one can get to Scotland by boat also. But then one will have to cross in from Belgium, Northern Ireland or Norway. Now it’s the time to have a look at some of the places of interest that one must fit into the itinerary of a tour of Scotland.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com
This is the northernmost part of Scotland and is one of the most visited regions of the country. Saying that one will get breathtaking views again and again is mere wastage of words and Shetland is no exception.
There are great coastlines to simply walk or cycle along, great white beaches and plenty of wildlife. It is also the place where one still gets glimpses of old Nordic culture. So one can have a glimpse of 4000 years of history and travel to Fair Isles, the remotest islands in United Kingdom.
Photo Credit: Citypictures.org
The most attractive part of Scotland is the Highlands. Everyone has something for oneself here. So there is heritage, natural beauty and wildlife all packed in this beautiful location. The castles scattered across the Highlands always attract the visitors and there are quite a handful to visit. For the fashion conscious, Highlands is the land of Tartans. It is said that each of the Highland clans had their own distinguishing Tartan and one could recognize the clan by following the tartan. Natural beauty is spread all over from the gorges and beaches to the waterfalls. The lucky ones can also witness the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. The wildlife lovers can be treated to the great sightings of whales and dolphins and also the highland wildlife.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com
Often called the ‘Granite City’ for its buildings made of granite, Aberdeen is the third largest city of Scotland and is one of the gateways to the country. It has all the amenities and luxuries of a modern city while still retaining its cultural past. For a first hand experience one should have a tour of the Old Aberdeen. The three attractions of the city of Aberdeen are the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Provost Skene’s House. One looking for some memorabilia may walk along the ‘granite mile’ for some great traditional artifacts. The largest national park, Cairngorms National Park is situated in Aberdeen and there are also many thrilling hiking trails in Aberdeen. This national park is home to wild animals like red deer and golden eagle.
Angus & Dundee
Photo Credit: Visitscotland.com
While the Angus Glens are great for hiking in the hills, the coastline of the Angus region is some place to explore. Angus is often considered the heartland of the historical Scotland. There are examples of almost all the periods of Scottish history. The city of Dundee is a great place to enjoy urban Scotland.
The Scottish Heartlands
Photo Credit: Scotlandforvisitors.co.uk
The most exciting part of Scotland is its heartland which houses the great lakes and the beautifully undulating hill-scapes. There is the city of Stirling which overlooks the land where the great William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace designed the great victory. It is also where Robert Bruce got independence for Scotland. Then there is Falkirk, the place which formed the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Oban is the main city of the Western Highland and one can catch a ferry to the largest island in Scotland, the Isle of Mull. The Scottish Heartlands is also where one will come across the two most famous Lochs or Lakes of Scotland, the Loch Lomond and the Loch Ness, the latter more popular for the mythical Loch Ness Monster rather than for its depth or length.
Loch Lomond is the largest. This is also the place where one can visit the many highland distilleries for a taste of the famous Scotch Whiskey right from the oak barrels.
Photo Credit: Edinburghhotelsweb.com
The capital city of Scotland is one of the most visited cities of Europe. The main attractions of the city are the Edinburgh Castle with its collection of the Scottish crown jewels, St. Margaret’s Chapel as well as the Stone of Destiny, the coronation venue of the Scottish Monarchs. The castle marks one end of the Royal Mile, a route lined with places associated with the British and Scottish monarchy. On the other end is Palace of Holyroodhoouse. Leith is the port where the Royal Yacht Britannia is permanently berthed and one can have a glimpse of its five decks. The Royal Botanic Garden, the Camera Obscura, the Royal Museum, Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery are the other attractions.
Photo Credit: Go2scotland.info
If Edinburgh has the Royal Mile, then Glasgow has its Style Mile, the walk lined with numerous shops from the niche to the popular. Glasgow is new Europe and is fast becoming the destination to visit. Glasgow is becoming a seat of culture and is the hotbed of modern music, art and architecture. Interestingly, Glasgow has 19 museums, all world class and free. The city was selected as one of the UNESCO Creative Cities and has been classified as one of UNESCO’s City of Music along with Bologna and Seville. This once most important industrial city of Britain has become a city of tourism, culture and commerce.
The other areas that one can visit in Scotland are Orkney, the Kingdom of Fife, Arran, Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the rolling moorlands of the Scottish borders to the South. Every month has something to offer in the form of festivals or events. So, when one visits Scotland one can easily plan a trip to match it with these festivals.