Apart from being the leading producer of malt whisky, Scotland is also known for its unique scenic variety due to its rugged landscapes, magnificent castles and famous highlands.
The hills and mountains of the Southern Uplands lie adjacent to England and its greatest highlight is the four Border Abbeys, a 55 mile circuit linking the four main abbeys (Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, Dryburgh) at the Scottish Borders. The abbeys are of great historical importance as they bore witness to both the architectural creative power, and the overarching destructiveness of the English invasion.
The central Lowlands are the beating heart of the country, where the vibrant cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are located. Visitors are attracted year round to the metropolises due to their mix of culture, history and festivals.
Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, hosts the world famous Military Tattoo every August with Edinburgh Castle forming a spectacular backdrop. The city is strikingly beautiful with highlights such as the magnificent aforementioned Edinburgh Castle, the majestic Palace of Holyroodhouse, and Arthur’s Seat, which at 251m high, gives unparalleled views of the city. Scotland’s second biggest city Glasgow is a port city located along the River Clyde. The cultural hub is home to the Scottish Opera House, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland.
Further north are the famous Scottish highlands, where the fabulous Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park stretches on for miles. The second largest town in the Highlands is Fort William, which due to its close proximity to Ben Nevis has become the centre for hillwalking and climbing. Just south-west of Inverness - the biggest city in The Scottish Highlands - lie the ruins of Urquhart Castle. From there, visitors can admire the dramatic views of Loch Ness, and may even be able to spot Nessie, the Loch’s infamous resident.
Just off the coast of Scotland are three archipelagos, the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland islands. These tranquil islands contain prehistoric wonders, gorgeous scenery, interesting wildlife and deliciously fresh seafood.
Of course, no visit to Scotland would be complete without joining a whisky distillery tour to find out about the process behind making the National drink and to take part in a whisky tasting.
Scotland’s major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen offer a varied choice of hotels, from modern to traditional and from chain to independent hotels. Hotels able to accommodate larger groups in The Highlands and on the Isle of Skye are mostly traditional.
Located in Perthshire, this distillery is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. Visitors can take a tour of the distillery to see what techniques are used to produce and distil Blair Athol whisky, which is made from malted barley, yeast, and water. At the end of the guided tour, visitors can enjoy a dram in the gift shop.
Set against the beautiful Loch Ness, this atmospheric castle contains unmissable views and has a fascinating history. During its 500 years as a medieval fortress, the now ruined castle was Scotland’s largest. Visitors can explore the ruins, and gather some insight into the medieval life of the castle’s noble residents.
Edinburgh Castle is not only Edinburgh’s but also Scotland’s most visited paid-for tourist attraction. As the stirring backdrop for the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo, it has become a widely recognised Scottish symbol. Visitors can discover the castle’s many secrets on a guided tour and view the wondrous Scottish Crown Jewels.
Located in Stirling, the castle is one of the largest and most historically important in Scotland. Strategically located, the castle is surrounded by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive advantage. It was the location of the famous Battle of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce defeated the advancing English army in what would be a decisive battle in the Scottish War of Independence.
This breathtaking botanical garden in the Scottish Highlands was created in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie on his 2,100-acre estate. The garden contains over 2,500 exotic plants and flowers, which from April to August are in bloom, creating a riot of colour. The collection of trees, plants, and flowers from around the world are a truly stunning sight.
The Glen Moray distillery started producing its single malt scotch whisky in September 1897. Distilled by hand, the locally malted barley and pure water of the River Lossie combine to produce a delicate, well-balanced whisky. Visitors can discover the distilling process with a guided tour that is usually led by one of Glen Moray’s very own craftsmen.
The historic Glasgow Cathedral dates back to the period before the Scottish Reformation and was once the cathedral of the Archbishop of Glasgow. This beautiful gothic cathedral is one of the only medieval churches to have remained intact in the aftermath of the Scottish Reformation. It features stunning stain-glass windows and architectural flourishes.
Cawdor Castle was originally built around a 15th-century tower house but has since undergone many changes. Today the castle is filled with beautiful furniture and intricate portraits and tapestries. Visitors can venture into the three gardens surrounding the castle, and try their hand at nine-hole golf.
Located in the very heart of the Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, this unique experience gives visitors the chance to witness a typical working day of a Highland Shepherd and his dogs. Visitors get to not only meet the collie pups but can also bottle-feed an orphan lamb and take part in shearing a sheep.
Based in the Scottish Highlands, Tomatin distillery was founded in 1897 and combines the water of the Alt-na-Frith with barley to produce a fruity, mellow spirit. Visitors can choose from a number of different guided tours and tastings, and can even take away a special memento by filling up a bottle with some exclusive cask strength whisky.
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