Scotland. It’s not really the ‘obvious’ backpacker and traveller destination. But it is well worth a decent amount of time there. Alright, so it doesn’t have the weather (unless you like all four seasons in one day) and doesn’t have the amount of crazy activities and well developed backpacking scene as other countries. But the country does have a lot to offer! From rich heritage, history, myths and legends and not to mention the beautiful scenery!
Here’s my list of why everyone should visit Scotland (and I guess the reason I love the country so much).
Scotland has an amazing array of castles that are well worth a visit. From castles that are in good condition, reconditioned castles and ruins. From inner city to castles on lochs or on the sea shore. The scenery around the castles tends to be amazing too (most are built on great vantage points).
The castles, no matter how small, tend to have a vast amount of history too. Changing hands throughout history and some great stories about the past occupants.
Some great castles include:
No list of reasons to visit Scotland would be complete without uisge beatha (or ‘the water of life’). Even if you’re not a big whisky drinker, there’s such a wide array you’re sure to find one you like! You may find you like a single malt or a blend, even if it’s one of the whiskies infused with honey, it still counts!
Most distilleries are open for tours too. The distilling process is actually quite interesting and tours generally include a ‘wee dram’. Learn about tasting notes, how to drink whisky and more!
Great distilleries and tours include:
- Harris (although at time of writing the first batch of whisky is still in the making)
- Talisker (or you could steal some for Mr Berling – Cabin Pressure)
3. The Great Outdoors
Scotland has the most amazing scenery and every type of beautiful scenery you can imagine! From beautiful coastlines, jagged mountain peaks, romantic lochs and even eerie bogs, you can understand why the country has so many faerie myths.
There are so many beautiful sights in Scotland that you’ll find it hard to believe you’ve not somehow travelled to another country (except for the weather maybe). I’ve had my breath taken away by so many places.
There’s also plenty of beautiful walks which allow you to really appreciate the countryside. Why not ‘bag’ a Munro or two? Or try a long distance footpath? Immerse yourself in the scenery (and learn to enjoy the weather).
Some great places include:
- Sandwood Bay;
- Loch Lomond;
- Skye (yes, the ENTIRE island)
The history of Scotland is nothing if not colourful! From clan wars to the Jacobite rebellion the country is rich in history.
Many Scots still have fierce clan loyalty (although the wars finished long ago). They are proud of their history and will be happy to tell you tales of their clan.
The Jacobite Rebellion is a more solemn part of the history, but an important part. There are plenty of stories of defeats and victories, heroes and villains. Enough to satisfy all imaginations.
Some must see historical sights to see are:
- Culloden Fields
- Soldier’s Leap (Killiecrankie)
- The Hidden Valley (Glen Coe)
There’s much more to Scotland’s food scene nowadays than Haggis (although Haggis is awesome). The pies are some of the best and fresh seafood is always a winner. The Scots are diversifying Haggis too, with highland chicken and I’ve even had it in a panini!
Game is also popular and worth a try. And let’s not forget Aberdeen Angus! Cullen Skink is also a dish that must be tried (haddock and potato soup). And my favourite dessert, Clootie Dumpling for those with a sweet tooth!
Alright, so maybe not so great for veggies, but if you’re a carnivore like me, you’ll love Scotland’s food scene.
Some great places to eat I have come across include:
One word Ceilidh. I love a good Ceilidh (and I think that’s an understatement). I can happily dance the night away at a Ceilidh club and I don’t even get slightly drunk as I’m too busy dancing! Put simply, it’s folk dancing, but there is a ‘caller’ that tells you what to do. It’s a great laugh (especially when you have a load of tourist that don’t have a clue)! And I must admit, I think I’m getting the hang of the ‘Gay Gordons’ now!
Another great part to the music of Scotland is finding a band or singer in a pub. There are some great ones on the circuit. Folk singers and rock bands, there’s a style for everyone!
Scottish music I recommend are:
7. Myths And Legends
I love myths and legends, and Scotland is full to the brim with faerie stories. With an array of different faeries, bad and good, if you’re a big kid like me, Scotland is the place to go! Kelpies, elves, brownies and of course, Nessie, you can decide if you believe or not.
Some magical places to visit include:
- Sligachan Bridge (Skye)
- Loch Ness
- Fingal’s Cave (Staffa)
With old abbeys and beautiful kirk’s (churches), the religious buildings of Scotland can easily distract you. There are some that have something extra special too, such as a statue of pig playing the bagpipes!
Some a ruins, some are still in use. But there are plenty to see and explore. The building also generally have a wealth of history and stories to go with them.
Some buildings that you can’t miss include:
- Rosslyn Chapel
- Melrose Abbey
- High Kirk of St. Gile
The Scots seriously know how to party. From massive festivals to smaller town events, you must see at least one. You’ll have a night (or several) that you’ll never forget! You may even be able to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ – getting a Ceilidh thrown into the bargain!
You must go to:
- Hogmanay (New Year)
- Edinburgh Fringe
- Burns Night
Have I convinced you to visit Scotland? I hope so, it really is worth the visit! There’s so much to do and see, you’ll be surprised how much this small country has to offer!