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Scotland is the northernmost country of U.K. It is a very beautiful country with mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Western Highlands, which are interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). So there are many things to see in Scotland. It is a land of legend with a complex history and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. So, what to do in Scotland?
You can experience the place that inspired the epic movie “Braveheart”. There are many places to visit in Scotland. Loomed over by its iconic castle, Edinburgh is the capital city. And then there is Glasgow famous for its vibrant cultural scene. Typified by the 16th-century Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland is also renowned as the ‘home of golf’.
Best Places to Visit in Scotland:
There are many things to do in Scotland. Even though it is a small country, it has something for everyone. As there are many excellent places to visit in Scotland, we are providing a list of the top tourist attractions in Scotland that should not be missed to help you organize your Scottish getaway.
10. Broch of Mousa
One of the most extraordinary places to visit in Scotland is the Broch of Mousa. Located on the uninhibited island of Mousa near mainland Shetland, Broch of Mousa is one of the most impressive and well-preserved Iron Age tower in existence. Standing above a rocky shoreline, it was one of a pair of Brochs built to stand guard over Mousa Sound. Located at Burraland on the Mainland, the other one is far less well preserved. The Mousa Broch was built around 100 BC. This remarkable structure is a round tower lined with stone both on the inside and the outside to provide the optimal strength as a defensive structure. It is the only Broch which is whole right to the top including the original intramural stair.
Among the many things to do in Scotland, a tour to Mousa Broch is the most extraordinary. The Broch is truly legendary featuring in a couple of the Old Norse Sagas as a place of captivity and hiding and in relatively more recent times as the secret store for smugglers. There is an astonishing feeling as you step ashore on Mousa that you have come to a special place. This is a place where you can see and feel the ages of time with its archaeological sites. You can climb the most exceptional Broch to wonder at the imposing view and workmanship of this 2000-year-old building.
Mousa today is one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland and also an RSPB Nature Reserve. There are many significant breeding colonies of seals and seabirds including the tiny storm petrel, hundreds of which have made their home within the mighty Broch walls. So it is a heaven for the bird lovers. Including some quite rare species, visitors may be fortunate enough to see a variety of plant and wildlife. If you are lucky, you may even catch sight of an elusive otter or passing whale!
As one of the best places to visit in Scotland, there are many stories that Mousa has to tell in its long history. Some of them might only be myths, but a visit to this awesome place will certainly be imprinted in your memory forever.
9. Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey should definitely be on the list of places to visit in Scotland. It is one of the most popular things to see in Scotland. It is a magnificent ruin on a grand scale with lavishly decorated masonry. On the request of King David I of Scotland, the Cistercian monks constructed the Melrose Abbey in 1136. Melrose Abbey is one of the most historically significant architectural structures and tourist attractions in Scotland. Melrose has a stranger more demonic connection according to the legend. It is said that the 13th-century wizard Michael Scott is buried there with his books of magic.
After the death of Robert the Bruce, his heart was sent on the crusade to the Holyland accompanied by ‘Good Sir James Douglas’. Sir James was attacked by a vast army of Moors whilst traveling through Spain with his crusaders. He nobly charged into battle and threw Bruce’s heart before him shouting: ‘Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee.’ A Scottish Knight discovered the heart the next day amongst the slain bodies and brought it back to Abbey Melrose, where it was buried.
One of the things to do in Scotland is to take a trip to the Melrose Abbey. It is probably the most famous ruins in Scotland. Including hobgoblins, cooks with ladles and a bagpipe playing pig, the exterior of this superb ruin are decorated with unusual sculptures. You will get the best view of Melrose Abbey’s exterior from the southeast side. With a significant part of its prime tower now in ruins, the Gothic abbey is built in the form of St. John’s cross. There are many very superb windows that you will enjoy. The main one at the east end (the top nave of the cross) appears to have been more recently built than the others. The abbey is generously decorated with carved work, which is seldom equaled. The beauty of the carved work has been deservedly celebrated by poets over the years.
Apart from the heart of Robert the Bruce and the dead body of Michael Scott, Alexander II and many of the Scottish kings and nobles are also buried at Melrose. Other attractions include the remains of several Roman camps nearby. There is also a hill that bears the marks of having been a volcano. You can also visit Sir Walter Scott’s residence at Abbotsford, which is within a few miles. The Melrose Abbey is truly a legend. It deserved to be on the list of places to visit in Scotland.
8. Cuillin Hills
Scotland is a very beautiful country. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland is the Cuillin Hills. Considered as the most dramatic mountain range in Britain, the Cuillin Hills located on the most northern island of Skye. Rising from the plains of the surrounding terrain, the sharp peaks are the dominating feature of the island and can be seen from every other peninsula on Skye. There are two Cuillin ranges. Each one has its own characteristics and of course beauty. The Red Cuiillins is a red granite formation, which is softer and more alluring in appearance. On the other hand, The Black Cuillins are jagged, dark peaks that are composed of Tertiary volcanic rock.
One of the popular things to do in Scotland is to take a hike or a boat trip to the Cuillin Hills. The best places to access the Red Cuillin is from the Broadford and Sligachan. The Black Cuillins can be accessed from Sligachan and Glen Brittle. There are you can approach the mountains from Elgol by foot or by boat. You will have superb views of the Black Cuillins from Elgol, where you can take a boat trip into Loch Coruisk in the heart of the mountains. Whether you came here to climb the mountain or enjoy it from a distance, you can’t really escape the presence of the Cuillins. The scenery is outstanding. These are peaks of which dreams are made – and nightmares! It is really safe to say that the Cuillin Hills is one of the best places to visit in Scotland.
7. Skara Brae
One of the most interesting things to see in Scotland is the Skara Brae. It is one of the best preserved Neolithic villages in Europe and one of the best places to visit in Scotland. Skara Brae is located on the southern shore of Sandwick, Orkney. This prehistoric village was covered for hundreds of years by a sand dune until a great storm exposed the site in 1850. It offers us an exclusive window into the lives of the farmers who lived there between 3,200 and 2,500 BC. The dwellings were filled by sand almost immediately after the site was abandoned. As a result, the stone walls are relatively well preserved. Eight prehistoric houses connected by low covered passageways have survived. The Skara Brae is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids. Known as the “Scottish Pompeii”, because of its excellent preservation, the Skara Brae is one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.
You should keep Skara Brae in your mind while deciding what to do in Scotland? It is one of the most interesting places to visit in Scotland. Here, you can experience a vivid impression of the realities of a prehistoric village. You can also see ancient homes fitted with stone bed enclosures, dressers, and seats. There’s also a replica construction that allows visitors to fully comprehend the interior of a prehistoric house.
There are also touch-screen presentations and fact-finding quizzes for children and adults. You can have the opportunity to see artifacts discovered during archaeological excavations in the 1970s. You will not get tired of Skara Brae. You can enjoy yourself in a cafe or buy a gift from a well-stocked gift shop selling locally-made souvenirs and crafts. Visiting Skara Brae should be in everybody’s list of things to do in Scotland.
6. Stirling Castle
There are many places to visit in Scotland that you should not miss. Stirling Castle is one of them. Stirling Castle is one of the most spectacular castles in all of Scotland and visiting it should be on your list of things to do in Scotland. It is located in central Scotland between Edinburgh and Glasgow. During that time the castle was seen to be of great strategic importance due to its position near the border of Highland and Lowland Scotland. The volcanic crag that dominates Stirling was probably fortified from ancient times, but in the 16th century, the importance of Stirling Castle as a royal residence peaked. James IV added new buildings including the vast Great Hall around 1500.
Including the violent murder of the eighth Earl of Douglas by James II in 1452, many important events from Scotland’s past took place at Stirling Castle. Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its majesty with its fabulous sculptures and gorgeous gardens. Many grand celebrations from christenings to coronations had been held here. It was a favored residence of the Stewart kings and queens. History lovers will not want to miss one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland.
By visiting the historical and one of the best places to visit in Scotland, you can experience the art, culture, and status that encompassed the 16th century in this country. You can meet the costumed characters in the roles of bodyguards, maids of honor, court officials and servants who will welcome you into 16th-century life. In the palace vaults, children can try out activities such as dressing in period costume and playing medieval instruments. Other highlights include the Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Great Kitchens, Castle Exhibition, Tapestry Studio, Regimental Museum, and the nearby Argyll’s Lodging, a 17th-century townhouse. There are also a restaurant and three gift shops. So take your time and enjoy yourself.
5. Luskentyre Beach
Scotland is truly a land of beauty. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Scotland that the tourists have a hard time deciding. Luskentyre Beach is one of the most beautiful things to see in Scotland. Luskentyre beach is situated on the fabulous west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides. It is famous for the beautiful white sandy beach that stretches for miles. The stunning green-blue waters lapping up onto its shore will simply take your breath away. One of the most beautiful color-washed coastal areas of Scotland, Luskentyre’s blue-green seas shimmers against creamy sands and the vivacious green hillside. Luskentyre Bay is a tranquil shell bay that has not been spoiled yet. Peaceful and timeless, Luskentyre Beach has been voted one of the best beaches of UK.
Visiting Luskentyre is one of the must do things to do in Scotland. After all, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland. You will have a memorable time here. Simply the scenery will be enough to make you relax. Scenery includes fantastic sand dunes and the island of Taransay, which is famous for being the setting of the BBC’s Castaway. You can also go hill walking, cycling and much more.
4. Loch Ness
When people think of Scotland they always think about the Loch Ness monster. The notorious Loch Ness is one of the most dramatic places to visit in Scotland. It is one of the most famous lakes in the world. Loch Ness is over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest. By volume, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland and the second largest loch in Scotland after Loch Lomond by surface area. The most infamous mythical creature of modern time, Nessie, is said to dwell in the lake, which makes it one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.
No holiday in Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. It is one of the most famous and most beautiful places to visit in Scotland. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, cozy places to stay, and superb eateries. Loch Ness is full of surprises! It is bordered by charming villages such as Foyers and Dores. Overlooking the water from the western shore is Urquhart Castle. This former royal castle has witnessed some of the most dramatic periods in Scottish history. Discover more about the mystery at the two interactive exhibition centers, Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition Experience and Nessieland. Or you can sit back and enjoy the landscape.
You can also visit the charming towns and villages like Fort Augustus, Cannich and Drumnadrochit. You can take a leisurely walk along the shore. You can even go on a hiking trip on the South Loch Ness Trail or the 70 miles long Great Glen Way, which traverses some of Scotland’s finest scenery. One of the things to do in Scotland is taking a boat trip on the Loch Ness. It allows you to relax and take in the magnificent landscapes from the comfort of the viewing deck.
3. Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is among the most exciting places to visit in Scotland. Ben Nevis is the highest summit in Britain. It is situated deep into the highlands of Scotland. Sitting regally at the head of Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis is one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland. The challenge of reaching the summit of Ben Nevis is what draws many people to Lochaber. Around 400,000 people visit Glen Nevis every year and around 110,000 people walk to the summit of the Ben.
Climbing up to the summit is one of the most popular things to do in Scotland. The normal route to the summit follows the Pony Track up the northwestern side of the mountain. Every year, thousands of visitors reach the summit, but it remains a hard mountain to navigate, especially in bad visibility. You should plan carefully before attempting to climb it. Conditions can change dramatically and quickly here. It is 9° colder than it is at sea level and bad weather can blow in with startling rapidity. Ben Nevis offers stunningly magnificent views and historical malice. Viewers, hikers, and climbers, all the visitors come here to celebrate the tranquility of the surrounding nature. It is one of the best places to visit in Scotland without a doubt.
2. Eilean Donan
Among the many places to visit in Scotland, Eilean Donan is a very gorgeous one. Perched at the center of where three Scottish Lochs meet, the Eilean Donan is one of the most romantic things to see in Scotland. It is a small island in Loch Duich in the western Highlands of Scotland. The island is accessible from the mainland by a footbridge. The island is famous for a picturesque medieval castle known as the Eilean Donan Castle. In the early 13th century, the original castle was constructed as a defense against the Vikings. The castle that visitors enjoy so much today was reconstructed as a family home between 1912 and 1932 by Lt Col John MacRae-Gilstrap.
Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognized castles in Scotland. It probably appears on more shortbread tins and calendars than any other. Among the things to do in Scotland, visiting this Scottish icon is a must. The castle is a popular venue for weddings and film locations. You may recognize it from the films as Highlander and The World Is Not Enough. Visitors now have the opportunity to wander around most of the fabulous internal rooms of the castle. You can see the period furniture, displays of weapons, Jacobean artifacts, and fine art.
There is an abundance of historical interest and heritage. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland with families. A visit to Eilean Donan promises lots of fun for the kids whether it be swinging a Claymore, gazing at the fearsome portcullis, lifting the cannon balls, spying through the spy holes or exploring the ancient battlements. You can also enjoy a very rich wildlife with regular viewings of porpoise, otters, dolphins, and birdlife.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Number one in our list of best places to visit in Scotland is the famous Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle is situated on Castle Rock in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. The first castle that existed on the rock was known as “The Castle of the Maidens”. The castle had been a shrine to the “Nine Maidens” according to legend, one of whom was Morgan le Fay. However, the structure that is known as Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged castle in the UK and over many centuries has witnessed royal ceremonies, lavish feasts, medieval parliaments, grand parades, jousting tournaments, ruthless politics, savage battles, and raids by stealth. It has also witnessed the birth of a king and the deaths of queens, troubled marriages, devout prayers, and intensive military activity. Today it is one of the most atmospheric and most popular tourist attractions in Scotland.
There are many places to visit in Scotland. But your holiday in Scotland will not be complete without visiting the Edinburgh Castle. Taking a trip to the castle is one of the most enlightening things to do in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle is a magnificent example of Scotland’s architecture, philosophy, political tact, and military importance. The visitor to the Castle is awarded magnificent panoramas in every direction when they visit the Castle. On a clear day when you look to the north, you can see the mountains of The Kingdom of Fife in the distance and immediately below are the world famous Princes Street Gardens. The shops in Princes Street are only on the north side of the street.
There are many attractions in the castle apart from the beautiful scenery of the surroundings. You can see the Honors of Scotland (the Scottish crown jewels), the oldest surviving crown jewels in Europe. Also on display here is the Stone of Destiny. You can also see the bedchamber where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to her son James VI, who was to unite the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603.