Scotland is a picturesque country with its own traditions dating back centuries. JK Rowling could not help but be inspired by these places when writing a series of books about Harry Potter. Believe me, there are many interesting things waiting for you here too.
Who should visit Scotland and why?
First of all, tourists go to the capital Edinburgh, which is essentially a cluster of ancient buildings full of mysteries and ghosts. Fans of architectural masterpieces, art and sepulchral humor will find quests in the capital and will be able to go on thematic tours of the ancient districts of the city, as well as visit museums, exhibitions and feel the spirit of the Middle Ages.
Outside the big cities of Scotland people go for adventure. Climbing impregnable hills that seem quite harmless, rafting on mountain rivers with seething waters, Loch Ness and the monster living in the lake will tickle the nerves of even fearless tourists.
Family holidays with children in Scotland promises to get acquainted with wildlife in nature reserves and petting zoos. And gourmets and lovers of gastronomic delights will appreciate the local pubs and coastal fishing restaurants with fresh seafood and local whiskey.
Royal Mile in Edinburgh
The mile consists of several streets in the center of the capital. It is worth starting a journey through them from Edinburgh Castle, under the walls of which merchants and artisans once stood. Now shops and shops with souvenirs are located on Laun Market Street.
Fans of Gothic architecture should make their way to Parliament Square, where the gloomy but impressive Cathedral of St. Giles stands. Walking along the Royal Mile, tourists also see the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Elizabeth II.
On a hillside near the Clyde in the 16th century, a tower with residential complexes grew. Two centuries later, a family living in the tower found the house cramped and sold it. The new owner, wanting to expand the area, turned to the outrageous architect Robert Adam.
It took more than a dozen years to rebuild, and the result of the work impresses tourists even in the 21st century. The tower has become part of an architectural ensemble and a park complex with palm trees, a brewery, a deer sanctuary and a naturalist club. Only in Kalzin is the House of Camellias, Dolphins and the Gate of Cats of the 18th century equipped. There is a museum in the residential buildings, the exposition of which presents old clothes, an oval staircase, a collection of weapons and several interesting models of ships.
The ancient fortress is located at the top of the Royal Mile, in the western part of the Old City. The castle was built in the 9th century BC. At one time it was used as a place for the royal royalties, a military base, and now — as a tourist attraction in Scotland, bringing the crown an annual income. A collection of weapons is exhibited here, and attributes of power are stored in the royal hall: a crown, a scepter and a state sword. It was in this castle, in a tiny room adjacent to the queen’s private quarters, that King James VI was born.
Edinburgh Castle is the home of the famous “One Hour Pistol”. From Monday to Saturday, this pistol fires at exactly one in the afternoon. Inside the citadel, a well of witches was dug — a place where women accused of witchcraft were lowered. The castle is visited by 1.5 million people annually — slightly less than the Tower of London. You can get around the castle and see the exhibition halls in a day (the dimensions of the fortress are unusually large). And from the walls of the fortress offers a panoramic view of the city.
Dunvegan Castle towers over the eponymous village on the Isle of Skye. It is known not so much for its ancient walls as for its inhabitants. Today, Hugh MacLeod, the thirtieth head of the ancient clan, lives in the fortress. The coat of arms of the MacLeod family flaunts a bull’s head and the motto “Be persistent”. The coat of arms appeared in memory of the battle of the ancestor of the clan, Malcolm Macleod, with a rabid bull at the beginning of the 13th century.
Broch of Mouse
A round stone tower 13 meters high has been standing on Mousa Island since 300 BC. Archaeologists suggest that such buildings were built simultaneously for housing and defense. Today there are hundreds of such Iron Age monuments in the Scottish Isles, but Broch of Mousa is above them all. This World Heritage Site is mentioned in the Scandinavian sagas.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Since Scotland is part of the UK, the British Crown has its own summer residence here. The Palace of Holyroodhouse bears the title of the Queen’s favorite residence. Elizabeth II visits it annually during the summer months. The rest of the time the castle is shown to tourists.
The name of Holyrood in translation sounds like “Holy Cross” — the Augustinian Order used to be located here. By the XIII century, the palace gradually collapsed: its roof collapsed, and the water slowly wore away the masonry, until the building was restored.
Eilean Donan Castle
The stone building on Donan Island was built in the 13th century with the permission of King Alexander II. The castle was guarded by the Loch Duich fjord until the beginning of the 18th century, when it itself collapsed. The owner of the fortress in the XIII century was Colin Fitzgerald, who received it as a gift from the king in gratitude for his vassal loyalty. In 1911, the castle was purchased and restored by John McRae-Gilstrap. His descendants still live in the six rooms of the fortress and treat guests with heather honey.
Built in the Middle Ages, the Scottish fort stands on top of Castle Hill, towering over the town of the same name. The fortress is surrounded by cliffs on three sides. The castle was besieged eight times, but never conquered. And in the 17th century, its walls were additionally strengthened from the outside.
The fortress was built between the 13th and 16th centuries on the site of an old fort near Loch Ness. She played a decisive role in the struggle for Scottish independence in the 14th century. In 1692, a Jacobite troop caused severe damage to the ancient walls when they tried to blow up the masonry. For two centuries, the castle stood in ruins, until in our time it fell under the jurisdiction of the state. Today Urquhart is a very popular attraction in Scotland.
National Gallery of Scotland
The oldest art gallery in the country with the richest collection of European paintings and sculptures. The expositions presented consist of the creations of the greatest artists, portraits of Scottish commanders and other works that immortalize the history of this country.
Ruins of Melrose Abbey
The old ruins were left from a place very iconic for the Scots. The Catholic saint Drithelm lived in this monastery in the 7th century. The heart of the King of Scotland, Robert I the Bruce, is also buried there. In addition to the abbey in Melrose, tourists will be introduced to the Abbotsford estate, where the Walter Scott house-museum was recreated.
Mary King area
The Mary King district of Edinburgh is a cluster of narrow streets located in a lowland. It is covered with many legends about ghosts — mostly about the spirits of people who fell ill with the plague and died 400 years ago. Walking through the mystical streets is exciting, but tourists should not go to the Mary King Dead End without a guide, as it is easy to get lost there.
Isle of Skye
Skye is an island in the Inner Hebrides, located in northern Scotland. Another name for this charming, stunning and even bizarre area is the island of Heaven. Being on it, you should definitely go to Fairy Glen. According to legend, fairy creatures secretly meet each other in this place. In general, they protect the island itself and Dunvegan Castle.
Tourists will be shown the Armadale Castle Gardens and the Museum of the Islands. And of course, no visit to the Isle of Heaven is complete without a visit to the magical castle of Eileen Donan. The Isle of Skye offers boat trips, horseback riding through picturesque pastures and warm conversations in local pubs.
The mountain reservoir stretches over an area of 71 kilometers — this is the only lake in Scotland of this size. In depth, Loch Lomond is only slightly inferior to Loch Ness. There are 60 islands on the water surface, some of them are of artificial origin. On the islands are the ruins of an ancient monastery, medieval castles and fortresses.
The amazing nature of these places attracts poets, artists and other creative people. There are legends about the lake, songs and pictures written. With the development of photography and cinema, its picturesque surroundings were often used as scenery.
The Isle of Harris seems to be located in the Caribbean Sea, and not in Scotland. Kilometers of white sand and crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean are not typical for the northern latitude that the island occupies. However, on this strange beach, you will not find snack and corn vendors roaming among the densely lying vacationers. Coming here, it is better for tourists to stock up on food and drinking water, since there is not a single stall here.
Loch Ness lake
The picturesque lake in Scotland, 37 kilometers wide and 230 meters deep, is known to everyone. According to legend, the ancient monster Nessie lives in Loch Ness. an animal 50 meters long, similar to a snake, is mentioned in the annals dated 565 AD.
For some time, nothing more was heard about Nessie, and in the 18th century the monster again caught the eye of vacationers. While lovers of the unknown are proving the existence of the beast, and scientists strongly doubt this fact, local residents are promoting the “monstrous” brand to the masses and making money on tourism.
Isle of Arran
In honor of this island, one of the chaos (specific landscapes) of Europe, the satellite of Jupiter, was named. Arran and the Firth of Clyde together resemble a smaller copy of Scotland on the ocean — the relief seems so similar. In the Middle Ages, the Dukes of Hamilton lived here, today the residence is shown to tourists. Small picturesque islands are located around the island.
Cairngorms National Park
On 4.5 thousand square kilometers, 18 thousand people permanently live and work, who own 75% of the reserve’s land. The mountainous plateau with four of the largest peaks in the UK is punctuated by vast forests. Birch, mountain ash, alder and willow grow here, three rivers flow. Tourists actively visit the Aviemore resort area in the center of the park, admire the beauties of nature and visit the Highland Zoo, where animals of the tundra and mountains are kept.
The peak in the Grampian Mountains in the Highlands is the highest point in the British Isles. When the weather conditions are favorable and the skies are clear, the top of Ben Nevis offers a panoramic view of the mountains, as well as the villages and city lying at the foot. Alas, there is 7 times more rainfall here than in London, and clear skies in these parts are rare.
The archipelago in the north of Scotland consists of 70 islands. Of these, only 16 are inhabited. The Orkney Islands are conditionally divided into three regions: Northern, Southern and mainland. Here tourists get acquainted with the ruins of Viking houses, tombstones and cemeteries, whose age reaches 2000 years, medieval churches and Renaissance castles.
The heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to exploring the ancient architecture, travelers can relax here, go fishing, go in for photography or water sports. However, when visiting these places, it is important to know the local laws — tourists are not allowed to enter some islands.