With tall granite peaks, rocky coastlines, canals, lochs and cliff-top castles, Scotland is filled with stunning scenery. Spend time in the major cities to see another side to the country, which has world-class galleries and museums, fascinating historic monuments and a range of cultural events.
Many visitors make the capital city Edinburgh their first stop. Stroll along the Old Town’s Royal Mile up to Edinburgh Castle. Here you can see the Crown Jewels that were used in the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543, when she was just 9 months old. See Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, at the National Museum of Scotland. Browse the shops along Princes Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. Come in August for the Edinburgh Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.
An hour’s drive to the west of Edinburgh is Glasgow. Once an industrial heartland, the city has been transformed into a leading cultural center. Explore its many museums and galleries including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Police Museum. Visit George Square in the heart of the city to see its statues and monuments.
Beyond the cities, the countryside entices with scenic walks and adventure. Climb up the 4,409-feet (1,344-meter) Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. Walk along the trails of Cairngorms National Park and spot wildlife such as red squirrels and wildcats. Learn more about the legend of Nessie when you visit Loch Ness. Try to catch a glimpse of the fabled monster.
To get better acquainted with one of Scotland’s most famous exports, whisky, follow the Malt Whisky Trail between Inverness and Aberdeen. Visit working distilleries and sample distinctive malts.
Scotland is also known for its many ancient castles that dot the landscape. Go to Aberdeen City and Shire for the Castle Trail. The route takes in 17 castles including Dunnottar Castle and Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of Queen Elizabeth II.
If you have the opportunity, visit Scottish islands such as Skye, Bute and Mull. Enjoy their wildlife, beaches and villages.