29 Things That Make Scotland a Charming Travel Destination

With a fascinating history, lush landscapes, magical castles and spectacular architecture, Scotland is a charming travel destination you shouldn't miss.

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Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Experience Scotland

The United Kingdom's northernmost country, Scotland is a land with a fascinating history. Its lush landscapes, magical castles and spectacular architecture will take you back in time and ensure a truly unique travel experience. Arthur’s Seat, pictured here, is the tallest peak within Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. It’s a short hike, but the breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside are totally worth it.

Behind the Wheel

Driving is a great way to explore Scotland if you’re prepared to drive on the left side of the road. If the right side is what you're used to, it may take a day or two to get used to the rules, so ease into it. And if you rent a car, be sure to check what kind of gas it uses before you fill up — many cars in the U.K. run on diesel as opposed to unleaded.

Vintage Cool

There’s no shortage of cool classic cars and old-school taxis in Scotland. If you love to drive, rent a vintage roadster for a few days and tour the Scottish countryside.

Edinburgh After Dark

Whether your idea of a fun night out is clubbing into the wee hours or relaxing in a pub listening to folk music, there’s plenty to see and do when the sun goes down in Edinburgh. In summer, the city is host to a variety of festivals but be sure to make your reservations well in advance.

Kilt Culture

Once a part of everyday life for Scottish Highlanders, the iconic tartan plaid kilt has had a rich history and helped clans to identify one another. Scots still proudly don them for special events and always look dapper. Keep in mind, an authentic kilt may run you a few hundred dollars, but it’ll be an heirloom to pass down in your family.

Stunning Sandstone

Thanks to hundreds of quarries located throughout the United Kingdom, sandstone was a popular building material in Scotland, especially during the 19th century. Beautiful architecture and lovely cobbled streets only add to the historic mystique of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.

Timeless Appeal

Thousands of the country’s unique, historic buildings and cobbled streets were built using sandstone. One look at its timeless beauty and you’ll understand the wide appeal.

Window Taxation

In 1748 Scotland began imposing a property tax based on the number of windows a home had in order to gauge the homeowner’s prosperity. Needless to say, the window tax was very controversial and eventually abolished in 1851. Many citizens saw it as a tax on fresh air and some temporarily bricked up their windows to avoid paying.

Retail Destinations

There’s plenty of fantastic shopping in Edinburgh — from small family-owned boutiques located in Grassmarket (pictured here) to luxury department stores like Harvey Nichols and Jenners.

Marvelous Markets

If you’re in Edinburgh over the weekend, spend an hour or so strolling one of the city's bustling open-air markets for locally crafted goods, fresh produce and gorgeous flowers. And go hungry — there are tasting samples everywhere! Two top picks are the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market located near the base of the castle and the Stockbridge Market.

Love of Flowers

Scots love colorful blooms, like these tulips and the beautiful (and not to be messed with) prickly thistle. Legend has it that the tall spiny blooms foiled a Norse army ambush and the Scots were so grateful they named the thistle the national flower of Scotland.

Private Gardens

While there are plenty of public parks to enjoy in Edinburgh, you’ll also notice quite a few private gardens, especially in the New Town area. However, these botanical gems are a "members only" affair. Most gated gardens require a key to enter and members pay an annual fee for access.

Pretty Patinas

While many sandstone buildings have a lovely patina, some are beginning to deteriorate due to the increased rainfall the country has experience in the last decade. Sandstone can be quite porous, so conservationists are working on repairing some of the country’s most historic buildings.

Cobblestone Charm

A large part of Edinburgh’s medieval mystique is due to the centuries-old architecture as well as the many cobblestone streets and pathways located in the Old Town part of Edinburgh.

Old Meets New

Edinburgh is primarily divided into two sections based on when and how it was constructed. Old Town is a maze of cobbled streets and winding alleyways, where medieval architecture has been surprisingly well-preserved. New Town, built during the 18th and 19th centuries, has a more orderly vibe with wide streets and neoclassical architecture. The contrast is part of what makes Edinburgh such a fascinating destination.

Fettes College

While it looks like a magnificent palace, Fettes College is actually an impressive boarding school that sits on the edge of Edinburgh. Like something out of a Harry Potter novel, the dramatic architectural details and lush landscapes certainly stoke the imagination.

Head for the Hills

If you want to work in an outdoorsy day trip while in Edinburgh, check out Pentland Hills Park. Located a short drive southwest of the capital city, the park features rolling hills perfect for picnics and a variety of hiking routes suitable for all ages and fitness levels. If you appreciate a colorful vista, visit during spring or fall.

Edinburgh Castle

One the city's major tourist attractions, Edinburgh Castle was built in the 11th century and overlooks the city of Edinburgh. Many events take place here and the castle houses the crown jewels known as "The Honours of Scotland."

Ross Fountain

In the shadow of the great castle, the Ross Fountain stands proudly within Princess Street Gardens. It’s made of cast iron and was gifted to the city in 1872. The fountain is particularly lovely at night, especially when cloaked in snow.

Castle Rock

Archaeological excavations in the 1980s uncovered evidence that settlers actually inhabited castle rock as early as 900 BC, during the Bronze Age.

Scotland's Stronghold

There are quite a few things to see within Edinburgh Castle, including the National War Museum. With a vantage point overlooking the city and surrounding waterways, castle rock held boundless military potential. It also happens to be one of the most attacked fortresses in the world.

Pastoral Lauriston Castle

A renovated 16th century tower home located on the edge of Edinburgh is a snapshot in time, showing how a wealthy Edwardian middle-class family lived in Edinburgh. The idyllic Lauriston Castle Gardens is now a lush park that boasts a variety of flora, castle tours and croquet lawns. The grounds behind the castle, pictured here, have a lovely view of the Firth of Forth, an estuary of the River Forth.

Mutable Weather

October to March can bring great deals on Scottish travel whether you’re hitting the slopes up north or taking in the sites around Edinburgh. Just keep in mind Scots love to say "If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!" If you prefer to travel during the summer, you’re not alone — tourism in Scotland peaks from June to August.

Glasgow: A Port With Personality

Located on the River Clyde in the western Lowlands, Glasgow is not only a thriving port city, it’s a cultural hub. It’s home to the Scottish Ballet as well as world-class art collections and museums. If live music is your thing, Glasgow is a must-visit with its vibrant music scene. And if you’re a foodie, head to the Finnieston neighborhood for a variety of top-tier eats and loads of vegan options.

Glasgow Architecture

Glasgow has its own bragging rights when it comes to jaw-dropping architecture with awe-inspiring modern structures like the Riverside Museum designed by the late Zaha Hadid, to medieval monuments like the Glasgow Cathedral, pictured here.

Medieval Gem

Widely regarded as one of the most magnificent cathedrals built in Europe during the middle ages, Glasgow Cathedral is just a 10-minute stroll from the city center.

Getting Around Glasgow

Built on a grid system, Glasgow is an easy city to navigate with four distinctive neighborhoods (north, south, east and west). Get a bit of exercise while you see the sites and check out the 24/7 bike rentals available at over 40 locations throughout the city.

Engineering Marvels

Built around 1900, the Caledonian Railway Bridge in Glasgow was once celebrated as the widest bridge in Scotland, carrying 10 separate tracks across the River Clyde and into Glasgow Central Station.

Citizen Firefighter

Perched outside the iconic Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow sits the Citizen Firefighter statue. Created by Kenny Hunter, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, the piece pays tribute to firefighters, past and present.

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