Scotland is famous for culture and history in the cities, weird yet traditional food, world class whiskies and wild and craggy mountain scenery. Edinburgh and Glasgow are two cities packed with things to see and do and outdoors types will be thrilled with the sheer range of outdoor pursuits on offer; try whale watching, bird spotting, fishing, canoeing, quad biking and of course world famous golf! Explore Bravehearts’ land with ancient castles, enjoy a pint at a local pub, visit the resident pandas and sample the local speciality the ‘deep fried mars bar’.
Disney have just released the movie “Brave” which is set in a mythical Scotland with the lead character Merida, a princess who’d rather spend her days horse riding and practicing archery rather than marry and settle down. Her mother is intent on seeing her daughter married and Merida meets with a witch to cast a spell on her mother to reverse the decision!
Scotland is so much more than just the stereotypical bagpipes and tartan kilts; its electric cities boast some of the best highlights there is to see. From the modern and national art galleries in Edinburgh to the famous concert halls of Glasgow, Scotland is a country packed full of events that will keep you busy and pleasantly surprised on your trip!
Edinburgh: It’s For the Art Lover in You
If you are a modern or contemporary art buff, you’ll love the work on display at the Modern Art Galleries of Edinburgh. The Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery are great places to go to appreciate the work of various modern artists. Located just a short distance away from the area of the West End of Princes Street, these galleries are sure to impress any modern art lover.
Observe the works of turn of the century artists: George Jameson and John Slezer. George Jameson was among the first portrait painters of Scotland. Born in Aberdeen Jameson was commissioned to paint portraits of Edinburgh’s social aristocrats, merchants and lawyers. His work made him very wealthy. Among other great painters of the period was German artist John Slezer. He came to Edinburgh as an employee of the Scottish army as a surveyor. His artwork depicted variations of his views while traveling around Scotland. He painted Scotland’s cities and towns, its palaces and castles, the quaint country homes he saw and Edinburgh’s massive churches and cathedrals.
Time your visit for August and you’ll be overwhelmed culturally by both the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; both incredibly popular and traditional festivals (although in different ways!) A note of caution though; hotels book out months in advance and as the weather is best around this time (summertime, such as it is) it can be nigh on impossible to secure decent digs; planning is paramount!
Go to Scotland with an empty stomach as the food and drink are pretty unique; it used to be a joke that Scottish food was deep-fried everything. The truth is that the country is home to the finest beef, salmon and whiskey you’ll ever taste. The Aberdeen Angus beef is tender and delicious, the Galloway smoked salmon is a delight and the malt whiskies of Oban and the Isle of Islay are highly prized. Try the local all-butter shortbread, the traditional dishes of Cullen Skink (a soup), Scotch broth (traditional thin soup) and Arbroath smokies (smoked haddock). Stay away from the haggis though unless you have a strong ‘stomach’!
Glasgow: The Former Fishing Village is Happening Right Now
This former little salmon fishing village has gone from small time to a big time, internationally renowned city full of concert halls, museums, conference centers and a huge sports arena that has hosted major events such as the Olympic Games in 2012. Count on an abundance of entertainment in Glasgow; from concert halls to fascinating museums, you’ll be sure to be pleasantly entertained. Take in Glasgow’s glorious concert halls. Well known concert halls in Glasgow include three major music venues that host symphony orchestras, winter music festivals and various concerts of virtually all genres of music. The Royal Concert Hall and City Halls are among the venues to drift to if you want to enjoy a great show.
You’ll love the museums of Glasgow. The Burrell Collection is one of those places you won’t want to miss. It’s fantastic collection of medieval art, stained glass and European paintings by famous artists. The Burrell Collection even boasts modern sculptures by Epstein and Rodin. Or maybe the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum is more your style? Kelingrove boasts over 200,000 objects collected by well-known explorers on their expeditions all over the world. Included are pieces found by Charles Darwin and Captain Cook.
Visit Coastal Scotland and Its Islands
Fascinating Coastal Scotland and its islands of the Outer Hebrides, Mull and Arran provide the traveller of Scotland with miles of coastline to enjoy golden, sandy beaches, clear waters and lots of places to fish! In fact there are nearly 800 islands within Scotland within four main island groups of Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There is an island for every taste, budget and adventure!
Honeymoon on the Isle of Lewis
The Isle of Lewis is located in the Outer Hebrides in the remote Hebrides island chain on Scotland’s western coast. It is associated with a long mythological history. This island paradise is perfect for a couple on their honeymoon or romantic getaway. You and your other half can satisfy your taste buds with meals like fresh seafood platters and shellfish, or for the more exotic palate; the fantastic restaurants in Stornoway supply the more culturally influenced Thai or Indian foods. Catch the annual Hebridean Celtic Festival, browse the Stornoway Museum and visit the Viking chess set scene at Uig Chessmen. There are boat trips available to view seals, porpoises, dolphins and the odd whale in their natural habitat. There are also pristine beaches at Bostadh Beach, Traigh Chuil and Tolsta Beach although swimming is recommended for only the hardiest of swimmers.
Indulge Yourself on The Isle of Mull
Majestic Mull is the second largest of the Hebrides Inner islands. This island is the perfect vacation for any kid, or the kid at heart. Mull offers up ornate castles, glorious mountains and plenty of wildlife; not to mention tales of lost treasures. Take the time to engage in a little dolphin watching, enjoy great food and even indulge in a little champagne! The magic of the Isle of Mull will be with long after you leave your island vacation.
Take a ferry ride to The Isle of Arran
Referred to as “Scotland in Miniature”, the Isle of Arran is quite comparable to its mainland. Arran is close to Glasgow and very easily accessible. Visit the “Holy Island” and its age old monastery then hop a ferry over to the largest village on the island, the village of Blackwaterfoot. Here you can kick back at a local pub and enjoy an excellent local ale.
With so much to do and see in Scotland, the avid golfer must allocate some time to play a round in the birthplace of golf! The game of golf is as much a favourite pastime in Scotland as it is in America. Because golf is a sport that can be played year round in Scotland, a huge abundance of dedicated golfers flock to its astonishingly accessible courses. Of course, there are the busiest times of year, like the months of April through September, that at times produce a problem landing on the green; but generally speaking the spectacular golf courses of Scotland are ready and waiting to accommodate any golfer. Get a round in at the Old Course at St Andrews, Muirfield which has hosted 15 previous British Open Championships, Turnberry, Old Royal Troon or Royal Dornach. You’ll have a tough time deciding though as there are tens of world class golf courses here!