Scotland Travel Guide
Glencoe Lochan © Jonathan Combe
Scotland Travel Guide
Scotland's rambunctious and proud culture has captured the imagination of people the world over. Many dream of exploring the ruggedly beautiful landscapes, romantic medieval castles and atmospheric cities, not to mention spending some time on the famous golf courses and in the renowned whisky distilleries.
To foreigners Scotland means tartan, William Wallace, bagpipes, Robert Burns, whisky, golf, sweeping mountainous landscapes, haggis, rugby and wild ancient clans. It is a country rich in natural beauty: the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish Highlands top many a nature lover's bucket list, and islands like Iona, Islay and Arran are as alluring as their lovely names suggest. Outdoor adventurers will find ample opportunities to walk, hike, fish, cycle, climb, golf and sail, and Scotland boasts some of the world's most scenic rail routes and roads.
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is a fascinating modern city still steeped in Gothic atmosphere, which delights visitors with its spooky charm and wealth of history. Glasgow is beginning to establish itself as a fun and artsy city for tourists, and Aberdeen also has many attractions; however, the smaller cities and towns, like St Andrews and Dumfries, are often favourites with travellers.
Best time to visit Scotland
The best and most popular time to visit Scotland is in late spring and summer, between May and August, when the weather is comparatively warm and sunny; nevertheless, travellers should bear in mind that rain is possible in Scotland at any time of year and the weather is notoriously erratic. Read more on Scotland's Climate and Weather.
What to see in Scotland
-Trawl Edinburgh's Royal Mile, with its many museums and shops, not forgetting to visit Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House at each end.
-Hike up Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Britain, which rewards those who reach its summit with tremendous views.
-Seek out the famous monster lurking in the mysterious depths of Loch Ness.
-Visit Stirling Castle, one of the most atmospheric and historically significant of Scotland's many castles. Read more on Scotland Attractions.
What to do in Scotland
-Go golfing on some of the most celebrated and scenic golf courses in the world.
-Explore the dramatic landscapes of Scotland via one of the beautiful walking trails that traverse the country.
-Drink your way through Scotland's many prestigious whisky distilleries.
-Tour the many historic battlefields around Fort William and Inverness. Read more on Scotland Activities.
Getting to Scotland
It is easy and often cheap to fly between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and many major cities in Europe are linked to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen by direct flight routes. There are also a few direct flights to Scotland from the US.
Rob Roy by Walter Scott, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, and 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith.
Annie Lennox, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian, Simple Minds, and Amy Macdonald.
Braveheart (1995), Trainspotting (1996), One Day (2011) and Brave (2012).
Aberdeen Angus steak, salmon, and the national dish, haggis.
What to buy
Tartan, whisky, cashmere knitwear and shortbread.
What to pack
Warm clothes and a foul-weather jacket, because rain and cold is always a possibility in Scotland.
What's on in Scotland
Scotland has a busy and rewarding cultural calendar, with the Edinburgh Festival in August considered one of the most important celebrations of the arts in the world, Hogmanay New Year's festivities that attract thousands, and traditional Highland Games that allow travellers to experience the unique Scottish sports and entertainment.
Did you know?
-Scotland has about 790 islands, only 130 of which are inhabited.
-The motto of Scotland is 'Nemo me impune lacessit', meaning 'No one provokes me with impunity'.
-Fittingly, the raincoat was invented in Scotland.
A final word
Rugged natural beauty, a fascinating ancient culture and the quirky character of the Scottish people ensure that Scotland is a much loved and popular travel destination.
Become our Scotland Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our Scotland travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Scotland or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.