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Whistle-stop Tour of Scotland
Although summer holidays abroad might finally be on the horizon, the uncertainty surrounding overseas travel means staycations are still firmly on the agenda. Sit back, forget the PCR test-related stress, and read on for our top picks and itineraries for a Scottish summer getaway. From Edinburgh to the Highlands, we’ve got you covered for your Scotland holiday.
Famed for its ‘Festival Fringe’, stunning architecture, and unique landscapes, Edinburgh is an unmissable staycation destination. Whilst you’re there, rather than eating their typical haggis, why not try some French cuisine at Chez Jules? You could even have Thai at Chaophraya, where you can enjoy your dinner on a rooftop with unbeatable views of the castle.
As for drinks, head to Panda and Sons, the bar disguised as a barber shop. For darts and a jukebox, try Star Bar. To clear your head the next morning, amble along Portobello Beach, where you’ll find seaside cafés, restaurants and arcades. If you’re in the city on a Sunday, wander around New Town and visit the farmer’s market. From there, you can wander through Stockbridge to Inverleith Park, coming back to Rose Street for even more fabulous restaurants.
Glasgow is widely renowned for its culture, music venues and great shopping. Pay a visit to the Cathedral with its dramatic gothic-inspired architecture or take a trip to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Explore the stunning Botanical Gardens before heading out for cocktails at Swing, a beautiful 1920s-themed bar.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Aptly named the “Queen of Scottish Lakes” by author Walter Scott, this beautiful loch is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for hiking, nature and outdoor sports available. Take a boat to explore the lake and choose a hiking trail to lead you off into the surrounding hills afterwards. The Millennium Forest Trail is an easy walk, taking you through the woodland and past the shores, but that’s just one of many. If you’re looking to spend longer than a day exploring here, camping would be a great experience. What better way to be surrounded by nature in one of the most beautiful National Parks? Find out more information here.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one of the most magical places that Scotland has to offer. You may recognise it from the countless films the landscape has been used in, or perhaps you’re familiar with the stunning “fairy pools” that seem to have gained their own unique following. Either way, you can’t visit Scotland without spending time here. The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, characterised by clifftops overlooking the Atlantic sea channel, beautiful waterfalls, hilly terrain to climb and an abundance of history.
You must check out The Old Man of Storr, named after the huge piece of jutting rock that can be seen from practically everywhere. It’s a 3.8km walk, but it’s worth noting that it can get quite steep. We suggest having a cheeky dip in the crystal clear waters at Glen Brittle Crystal Pools, or if you like history, visit the Skye Museum of Island Life, where you can learn how the islanders lived here during the 19th century.
Aberdeen is one of Scotland’s hidden gems and it definitely deserves a place on your itinerary. Aside from the city itself, you can enjoy the freezing cold weather at Balmedie Beach or pay a visit to Tollohill Woods where you’ll find walking trails, complete with stunning views across the city. You won’t be short on history in Aberdeen; the local area is home to a vast amount of castles. The most notable of these are Craigievar Castle, rumoured to have inspired the Disney logo, and Slains Castle, which is said to have been the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.
Looking for a unique place to eat breakfast? Head to Books and Beans where you can read one of their many second-hand books, after choosing from the extensive food menu. If you’re looking for a cosy, quaint restaurant, Café Bohème has an authentic French menu and is highly recommended with deals on both lunch and dinner.
For the adventure seeker in you, why don’t you pay a visit to the highest mountain in the UK? Located in the North of the West Highlands and situated 1,345m above sea level, it takes an average of 9 hours to complete and is not for the faint-hearted. The trek is challenging, but the views at the summit are worth every minute. You’ve got the option of two walking routes: the Mountain Track or the Carn Mor Dearg Arête, aimed at the more experienced hiker. Find out more information here.
You’re going to need energy for that climb, so make sure you book a table at the Ben Nevis Inn which is located at the bottom of the mountain trail. They serve classic Scottish culinary dishes, so if you’ve never tried proper haggis before, this is the place for you! Once you have completed the hike, or if the climb is simply not your cup of tea, there are plenty more fun activities to explore in the area. Fort William is great for mountain bikers of all abilities, whether you want a relaxed cycle on the Great Glen Way or an adrenaline-packed ride down the Downhill World Cup trails. If staying inside is more your thing, you could also pay a visit to the Ben Nevis Distillery – one of the oldest in Scotland.