Scotland is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture, stunning landscapes, and plenty of things to see and do for families. From ancient castles to scenic drives, from cultural landmarks to outdoor adventures, Scotland has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best places to visit on Scotland, as well as where to eat and stay along the way.
Best things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a must-see destination for any first-time visitor to the country. With its medieval architecture, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene, there’s always something to see and do in Edinburgh.
- Edinburgh Castle: Perched atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit attraction. The castle has played a significant role in Scottish history and offers stunning views of the city. Highlights include the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Great Hall, and the Stone of Destiny.
- The Royal Mile: This famous street stretches from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace and is lined with historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. Don’t miss St Giles’ Cathedral, the Museum of Edinburgh, and the Real Mary King’s Close.
- Holyrood Palace: The official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Holyrood Palace is a stunning building with a rich history. Visitors can tour the state apartments, see the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, and explore the palace gardens.
- Arthur’s Seat: This extinct volcano is the highest point in Edinburgh and offers stunning panoramic views of the city. It’s a popular spot for hiking and picnics.
- The National Museum of Scotland: Located in the heart of Edinburgh, this museum is a great place to learn about Scottish history, culture, and natural heritage. Highlights include the Dolly the Sheep exhibit, the Scottish galleries, and the interactive science and technology galleries.
- The Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Held every August, the Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and attracts performers and visitors from all over the globe. With thousands of shows and events taking place throughout the city, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
- Princes Street Gardens: Located in the heart of the city, these gardens offer a tranquil oasis in the midst of the bustling city. Visitors can enjoy a picnic, take a stroll, or simply admire the views of Edinburgh Castle.
- The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: This beautiful garden is home to over 13,000 plant species from around the world. Highlights include the Victorian Palm House, the Chinese Hillside, and the Queen Mother Memorial Garden.
- Edinburgh Dungeon: For a spooky and entertaining experience, head to the Edinburgh Dungeon. This interactive attraction takes visitors on a journey through Scotland’s dark and gruesome history.
- The Scotch Whisky Experience: Scotland is known for its whisky, and the Scotch Whisky Experience is a great place to learn about the history and production of this beloved drink. Visitors can take a tour of the whisky-making process, sample different whiskies, and even blend their own whisky to take home.
Glasgow best attractions
Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is known for its industrial heritage, vibrant arts scene, and friendly locals. Here are some of the top things to do and see in Glasgow:
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: This stunning museum is home to over 8,000 exhibits, including works by Salvador Dali, Vincent van Gogh, and the Scottish Colourists. Highlights include the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style gallery, the natural history exhibits, and the interactive Science and Technology galleries.
- The Riverside Museum: Located on the banks of the River Clyde, the Riverside Museum is home to over 3,000 objects that showcase Glasgow’s transport and industrial heritage. Highlights include the Tall Ship Glenlee, the Glasgow street scenes exhibit, and the vintage cars and motorcycles.
- The Glasgow School of Art: This iconic building was designed by famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building and learn about Mackintosh’s influence on Scottish architecture and design.
- The Glasgow Necropolis: This Victorian-era cemetery is home to over 50,000 graves, including those of famous Scots such as John Knox and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the history and symbolism of the cemetery.
- The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens: Located in Glasgow Green, the People’s Palace is a social history museum that tells the story of Glasgow and its people. The Winter Gardens are home to a stunning collection of exotic plants.
- The Glasgow Science Centre: This interactive science museum is a great place to learn about science and technology. Highlights include the planetarium, the IMAX cinema, and the interactive exhibits.
- The Barras Market: This famous market is a great place to find bargains and unique souvenirs. The market has been operating since the early 20th century and is a must-visit for anyone interested in Scottish culture.
- The SSE Hydro: This state-of-the-art arena is one of the busiest entertainment venues in the world. Visitors can catch a concert, sporting event, or comedy show at the Hydro.
- The Glasgow Cathedral: This stunning medieval cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Glasgow. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the history and architecture of the cathedral.
- The West End: This bohemian neighborhood is home to some of Glasgow’s best restaurants, bars, and shops. Highlights include the Ashton Lane, a picturesque alleyway lined with bars and restaurants, and the Botanic Gardens, a beautiful park with exotic plants and stunning glasshouses.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do in Glasgow. With its vibrant music and cultural scene, stunning architecture, and friendly locals, Glasgow is a city that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
Things to do in Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is a picturesque island off the west coast of Scotland that’s known for its rugged landscapes, ancient castles, and charming villages. Here are some of the top things to do and see on the Isle of Skye:
- The Old Man of Storr: This iconic rock formation is a must-see attraction on the Isle of Skye. It is located on the Trotternish Peninsula and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- The Fairy Pools: These crystal-clear pools are located at the foot of the Black Cuillin Mountains and are a popular spot for swimming, hiking, and photography.
- Dunvegan Castle: This historic castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been home to the MacLeod clan for over 800 years. Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle and its gardens.
- Talisker Distillery: This famous distillery is located on the shores of Loch Harport and offers tours and tastings of its world-famous whisky.
- Neist Point Lighthouse: This picturesque lighthouse is located on the westernmost point of the Isle of Skye and offers stunning views of the sea and surrounding landscape.
- The Quiraing: This otherworldly landscape is located on the Trotternish Peninsula and offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and sea.
- The Cuillin Mountains: These rugged mountains are a popular spot for hiking and climbing, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- The Coral Beach: This hidden gem is located on the west coast of the Isle of Skye and offers stunning views of the sea and the nearby islands.
- Portree: This picturesque fishing village is the largest town on the Isle of Skye and offers a range of shops, restaurants, and accommodations.
- Skye Museum of Island Life: This fascinating museum is located in the north of the island and tells the story of life on the Isle of Skye in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do on the Isle of Skye. With its stunning natural beauty and rich history, the Isle of Skye is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Scotland.
Outdoor Activities in Scotland
Scotland is known for its stunning natural beauty, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors while you’re here. Hiking is a popular activity, with plenty of trails available for all skill levels. The West Highland Way is a famous long-distance trail that takes you through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, while the Isle of Skye has several hikes that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
For families with younger children, wildlife spotting is a great way to experience Scotland’s natural beauty. Head to the Scottish Highlands to see red deer, golden eagles, and even wildcats. The Moray Firth is also a popular spot for dolphin watching, with several boat tours available throughout the year.
If you’re looking for more adrenaline-fueled activities, Scotland has plenty of options. White-water rafting, kayaking, and canyoning are all available in the Scottish Highlands, while mountain biking trails are available throughout the country. Skiing and snowboarding are also popular activities during the winter months, with several ski resorts located throughout Scotland.
Cultural Activities in Scotland
Scotland has a rich history and culture, and there are plenty of ways to experience it firsthand. Visit the many castles and historic sites scattered throughout the country, such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and Eilean Donan Castle. Take a tour of a whisky distillery to learn about Scotland’s national drink, or visit a traditional wool mill to see how Scottish tartans are made.
For music lovers, Scotland is home to a thriving folk music scene. Check out a traditional ceilidh (a Scottish social gathering with music and dancing), or attend one of the many music festivals held throughout the year, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Celtic Connections, or the Tiree Music Festival.
Family-Friendly Activities in Scotland
Scotland is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities and attractions that will keep everyone entertained. The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh has plenty of interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids, while the Glasgow Science Centre has hands-on exhibits that explore science and technology.
For animal lovers, the Highland Wildlife Park is a must-visit attraction. Located in the Cairngorms National Park, the park is home to a variety of animals, including red pandas, snow leopards, and polar bears. The Edinburgh Zoo is also a popular destination, with a wide variety of animals to see, including giant pandas, penguins, and tigers.
If you’re looking for something more active, head to one of Scotland’s many adventure parks, such as Landmark Forest Adventure Park or the Scottish Deer Centre. These parks have a variety of activities, including zip-lining, treetop walks, and wildlife encounters.
Where to eat in Scotland
Scotland is known for its hearty cuisine, and there are plenty of delicious dishes to try while you’re here. Traditional Scottish dishes include haggis (a savory pudding made from sheep’s offal), Cullen skink (a creamy fish soup), and cullenbie (smoked haddock with poached eggs). For dessert, try a slice of cranachan (a Scottish dessert made with whipped cream, raspberries, and oatmeal).
Scotland is also famous for its whisky, and there are several distilleries throughout the country that offer tours and tastings. Some of the most famous whisky regions in Scotland include Islay, Speyside, and the Highlands.
In terms of dining options, Scotland has a range of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. In Edinburgh, try The Witchery by the Castle for a fine dining experience, or Oink for a delicious pulled pork sandwich. In Glasgow, the Ubiquitous Chip is a popular destination for Scottish cuisine, while Bread Meats Bread offers gourmet burgers and sandwiches. Here are a few more dining recommendations to consider:
- The Seafood Restaurant in St. Andrews: Known for its fresh seafood and picturesque views of the North Sea.
- The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye: A Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on locally-sourced ingredients.
- The Gannet in Glasgow: A contemporary Scottish restaurant that offers a tasting menu featuring seasonal ingredients.
Finally, Scotland is a wonderful destination for families, with plenty of activities, attractions, and dining options to suit all interests and budgets. From hiking and wildlife spotting to exploring ancient castles and trying traditional Scottish cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a longer vacation, Scotland is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.