Why We Love Scotland

Feisty, spirited and independent–it was the homeland of noted rebel William Wallace–Scotland’s people are still inordinately proud of their vast and scenic land. Though most of the population lives in or between the twin metropolises of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Scottish countryside never fails to amaze and inspire visitors, from the gently rolling farmland of the Borders to the wild weatherbeaten expanses of the Highlands to the rocky Hebrideans clinging for survival in the windblown sea. There really is no place else like Scotland.

Top Destinations in Scotland

Edinburgh

“Old Reekie,” as they used to call it, has been the center of Scotland’s political and financial life for centuries. From the Castle dominating the skyline, down the Royal Mile to Holyrood, Edinburgh is filled with historic and architecturally important buildings. Summer brings the Royal Tattoo, with the sound of pipe and drum, as well as the artistic madness of the Fringe Festival.

Glasgow

Once one of the great shipbuilding cities in the world, Glasgow today has more of an artistic muse. The Art Deco-ish design of Charles Rennie MacIntosh is seen everywhere, and both literature and music are part of the city’s bones. Still a hard working place, Glasgow is a feast for all the senses.

Inverness

Located at the eastern end of the Great Gulf, Inverness is the jumping off place for those exploring the massive mountains and moors of the wild Highlands. Like the rest of Scotland, there is history to be found on almost every corner, along with Scotland’s traditionally hearty food and drink.

Hebrides

Scotland’s Hebridean chain of islands--there are “Inner” and “Outer” versions--are individual jewels of rock, marram, sea and wind. Some are barely inhabited, except by sheep, while others cater to visitors. There is the holy island of Iona, where monks once chanted away the centuries; Islay, home to a half-dozen delicious single malts; and Skye, the only island accessible by bridge.

Highlands

After seeing one spectacular scenic vista after another: narrow green glens giving way to towering granite monoliths; empty swampy moors interrupted by rushing burns; the surf crashing on empty beaches...it’s easy to understand why the clans who once lived here were so warlike: mere survival was a daily battle.

Shetland Islands

Located to the north of the Scottish mainland, the Shetland and Orkney Islands appear to be outposts of civilization. Yet archaeologists continue to uncover evidence of ancient peoples who managed to live here millenia ago, leaving behind standing stones and burial mounds that are still telling their secrets.

Great Glen

The geological rift across the middle of Scotland, finally linked in a series of canals built by Sir Thomas Telford, is a centerpiece of the Highlands. At the western end is the towering peak of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain and the magnificent sights of Glencoe; to the east is the mystical Loch Ness and the city of Inverness.

Aberdeen

The ancient town of Aberdeen, located on the North Sea in Scotland’s east, has long been a university town and in the last half century became an oil town, serving the offshore rigs that dot the North Sea. But Aberdeen is also a jumping off spot to visit the many wonderful whiskey distilleries in the River Spey Valley, as well as the amazing portfolio of castles that dot the glens and straths of the inland mountains.

Articles

Under a Scottish Skye

Culture
As a schoolgirl playing in the orchestra, I always remembered the soaring melodies of Mendelssohn’s famous Hebrides Overture (or “Fingal’s Cave”) and after an exhausting month working and sampling... Read More

Under a Scottish Skye

Culture
As a schoolgirl playing in the orchestra, I always remembered the soaring melodies of Mendelssohn’s famous Hebrides Overture (or “Fingal’s Cave”) and after an exhausting month working and sampling... Read More

Overview

The northernmost country in Great Britain, Scotland has long appealed to the romantic imagination as a land of rugged individuals, warlike clans, towering mountains and isolated islands that have endured through the centuries. Of course, Scotland is also the land of colorful plaids, superb golf courses, the Highland Games and some of the finest whiskey in the world.

History can be found lurking everywhere in Scotland, from the rocky keeps and castles found in the large cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow to the ancient standing stones and cairns to be found throughout the countryside. Kings, Queens, Protectors and Pretenders … Scotland has seen them all come and go through the millennia, each adding another thread to the tapestry that is Scotland’s proud past.

But modern Scotland is also front and center for today’s visitor. Fine hotels and resorts dot the landscape, and some of the most brilliant chefs in Europe ply their trade in both city and country locales. In addition to its fine woolen weaves and yarn, Scotland’s artisans are known for their fine leatherwork, Celtic jewelry and handmade ceramics. From the rolling hills of the Borders to the towering peaks of the Highlands, and across the rocky shores of the Hebridean islands, today’s tourists will find warm welcomes and outstanding experiences.

The Scottish people, while still proud and protective of their heritage, are among the most welcoming people on the globe. And with the help of a wee dram or two, the sound of the skirling pipes and the beating drums, the colorful flash of a clannish kilt or skirt, the reading of a Burns verse or an ancient battle cry etched in stone … it is still possible to be swept back in time to those fabled days of yore that are never far away.

Scotland is a grand place to explore, and with its people, places and scenic beauties, it never disappoints.

Quick Facts

English is the official language of Great Britain, but Scottish Gaelic is still spoken in some of the rural areas.

The official currency is the British pound sterling (£), which is divided into 100 cents. The U.S. dollar buys approximately £ 0.70 pounds.

The electrical current in England is 240V and the cycle is 50Hz and you will need a converter if you have appliances that don't accept this voltage. Square three-pin plugs are standard.

Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.

Visitors from the United States (and most other Western nations) are not required to have a visa to enter the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). A valid passport is required for entry.

Tap water throughout the U.K. is treated and purified and is safe to drink.

The United Kingdom is in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone. The U.K. observes daylight savings time from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March. When it is noon in New York, it is 5 p.m. in London.

Although visitors arrive year-round, Scotland’s peak tourist season is in the summer months: May through October.

Average High and Low Temperatures

Things To Do in Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Looming over the greystone city once known as “Old Reekie,” with the Royal Mile gradually descending the hill down to Holyrood, the royal seat in the city, the castle looks down on city of finance, higher education and the political seat of the country. Edinburgh is also a cultural center in Scotland and annually hosts the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

St. Andrews

This small medieval town on the sandy shores of the North Sea in the Kingdom of Fife, is known today as the Home of Golf. Its famous Old Course, on which golf has been played for more than 400 years, is just one of dozens of world-renowned golf courses in Scotland.

Loch Lomond

Just a few miles north of Glasgow, this is Scotland’s largest lake, and a playground for golfers, boaters, hikers and fishermen.

Stirling

This ancient city roughly midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh is also known as the gateway to the Highlands. Stirling Castle, which sits atop a dramatic rock outcropping, has seen centuries of historic events unfold below. Just outside the town is the monument to William Wallace, made famous in the recent Hollywood film “Braveheart.”

Loch Ness

One of a series of narrow but incredibly deep lakes that fill the bottom of the Great Glen, a deep geologic fault that runs nearly the entire width of Scotland. Legend has it that a prehistoric creature, known familiarly as “Nessie” still inhabits the depths of the loch, but to date, no one has definitively proved that Nessie exists.

Isle of Skye

The largest of the Inner Hebridean islands off Scotland’s west coast, about 50 miles long by 15 miles wide. The ancestral home of both the McDonalds and the McLeods, Skye features a lovely mixture of pretty little townships and wild, rugged mountains.

Northern Highlands

North of the gateway city of Inverness and across the firth of Dornoch, the land is mostly empty of people and full of vast, boggy plains, sharp rocky peaks and wild, surf-crashing shorelines.

The Burns Heritage Trail

Located in Ayrshire, on Scotland’s southwest coast, south of Glasgow. Robert Burns’ homeplace is located in a restored cottage in Alloway near Ayr and runs south along the coast down to Dumfries.

Hotels and Resorts