1. Stay in a castle
There are believed to have been more than 3,000 castles in Scotland at one point and many still remain throughout the country. Many simply disappeared over time, others have become crumbling ruins, and many have been maintained and turned into glamorous hotels! Pretend you’re a princess for the night and book into one that you love!
2. Go stargazing
Did you know that Dumfries and Galloway in the south west of Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe that make it absolutely perfect for stargazing? Galloway Forest Park is the UK’s first Dark Sky Park and it really is an incredible place to look up at the stars above us and get lost in thoughts of what’s out there beyond our planet Earth.
3. Visit Stirling Castle
Most visitors to Scotland head to Edinburgh and it’s world-famous castle, but Stirling Castle actually offers a much better experience for visitors.
4. Attend Up Helly Aa
In the Shetland Islands they celebrate Up Helly Aa, a fire festival that involves hundreds of people gathering in Lerwick and getting involved in a march with flaming torches. I’ve seen so many photographs from Up Helly Aa and it looks so incredible!
5. Search for the Loch Ness Monster
Head up to The Highlands and the banks of Loch Ness where you can try and catch a glimpse of the world renowned Loch Ness Monster. Don’t forget your camera!
6. Visit Glasgow’s Museums
Glasgow is such an exciting city and it’s positively filled with amazing museums where you can learn about Scottish history, culture, art and more. Best of all, most Glasgow museums are absolutely free, so you can expand your mind without shrinking your bank balance.
7. Stay at The Witchery by the Castle
Edinburgh’s boutique hotel The Witchery by the Castle is pretty much my absolute favourite hotel in the whole world. It’s located just a few steps from Edinburgh Castle and is the quirkiest and most opulent hotel I’ve ever come across. Staying here is like being transported back in time, in true luxury style, of course!
8. Explore The Highlands
The Highlands are pretty much how people expect Scotland to look. The area is sparsely populated, dominated by several mountain ranges and has some of the most spectacular, rugged, natural landscapes in the world. No trip to Scotland would be complete without spending some time exploring this magnificent area.
9. Walk up Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. Arthurs Seat looks down over the whole of Edinburgh and beyond and a walk to the top takes only a couple of hours to walk up and back down. The panoramic views from the top are definitely worth it!
10. Visit some of the islands
Scotland has more than 700 islands, many of which are easily accessible from the mainland. Take the ferry to Arran, drive across to Skye, take the short flight to Shetland or pick any of the other beautiful islands to visit.
11. Explore our National Parks
Scotland has two stunning National Parks – Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and The Cairngorms National Park.
You’ll find five of the UK’s six highest mountains within The Cairngorms National Park and many people come from all over the world to go skiing here in winter.
Loch Lomond is the largest loch or lake in the UK and the National Park that surrounds it is simply gorgeous, serene and peaceful.
12. Discover Glasgow’s West End
The West End of Glasgow is my favourite part of the city by far. I love wandering in and out of the shops on Byres Road, strolling through Kelvingrove Park, going for dinner and drinks on Ashton Lane and enjoying the atmosphere that this part of the city enjoys. It’s far more laid back than the city centre and that’s one of the many reasons I love it.
13. Take a seaplane ride
I’m including this one because I’ve wanted to take a seaplane ride over Loch Lomond and the surrounding area for pretty much as long as I can remember. What could be more amazing than seeing Scotland’s jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes from a cute little seaplane miles high in the sky?
14. Spend a day in St Andrews
St Andrews is my favourite seaside town in Scotland and it’s definitely worth a visit. I love wandering along the sandy beach, nipping into the adorable boutique style shops that are pretty much impossible to find anywhere these days and eating in some of the delicious restaurants around the town. My favourite places to eat are The Vine Leaf and The Dolls House (the latter was a favourite haunt of Prince William and Kate during their university days, so clearly they’ve got good taste too!).
15. Go on a road trip
There are so many incredible routes to drive around Scotland that hiring a car and getting out there is just so worth it. Scotland is just one of those countries where every corner you turn will afford you another amazing view, and you’ll spend the majority of your trip admiring the scenery outside your car window.
For some great road trip ideas take a look here.
16. Visit the most northerly part of the mainland
Head to Dunnet Head (also known as Easter Head), the most northern part of mainland Scotland and gaze out at the vast expanse of waters that make up the Pentland Firth and then the Atlantic Ocean.
On a clear day you can enjoy amazing views of the islands of Stroma, Hoy and the Orkney mainland, which is 9 miles north of Dunnet Head.
17. Hop on the West Highland Train Line
The West Highland Line train passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct is also known as the Hogwarts Express, as it was used in the Harry Potter movies and is instantly recognisable to fans around the world.
Leaving Scotland’s largest city, you’ll be amazed by how quickly the urban landscape is replaced by lush glens, soaring hills and peaceful lochs. The views are so enchanting you’ll be glued to the trains windows so that you don’t miss a moment of it.
18. Go to Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival
The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival and takes place in August for 3-4 weeks each year. It attracts performers and visitors from all over the world and there is everything from live music to comedy shows, cabaret, dance performances and theatre shows. It’s such an exciting time to visit Edinburgh as the city really comes alive and has an incredibly creative and fun atmosphere.
Many of the events at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival are also completely free, so you don’t need a huge amount of cash to get involved in the festivities.
19. Visit North Berwick
North Berwick is one of my favourite Scottish seaside towns and has a gorgeous long stretch of sandy beach that I love walking along, no matter what the season. There are also a great range of places to eat, small independent shops to browse in and little cafes to grab coffee and a cake.
It’s the type of place you visit and immediately feel relaxed and welcome, partly thanks to the incredibly friendly locals.
20. Try haggis
Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian then you simply must try haggis on a visit to Scotland. It’s one of Scotland’s most famous dishes and I think it’s delicious. It’s probably best not to Google what it’s actually made of before you try it though.
21. Take part in Edinburgh’s Torchlight Procession
This event marks the opening of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (Scottish word for new year) programme and is held on the 30th December each year. Around 30,000 people watch and take part in carrying flaming torches through the city centre to an amazing fireworks finale. It’s absolutely magical!
Read about my experience of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay torchlight procession.
22. Walk the West Highland Way
The West Highland Way is Scotland’s most famous walking route and stretches for 96 miles between Milngavie and Fort William.
People generally undertake the whole route over the course of a few days and stay in hotels and B&B’s in towns along the way. It’s one of the best ways of getting in touch with nature and immersing yourself in the gorgeous scenery of Scotland.
23. Find some of the best beaches
You’d probably be surprised to learn that Scotland has some beaches that look like they’d be more at home somewhere in the Mediterranean than this far north. You’ll find gorgeous, unspoilt, sandy beaches dotted throughout the 6,160 miles of coastline.
Head to the Isle of Harris to see several beaches that look as though they’re straight out of the depths of your imagination they’re that breathtaking!
24. Go to The Highlands in autumn
In autumn the red, orange and yellow shades that the leaves turn makes The Highlands a gorgeously colourful place to visit. It gives the area such a different feel than at any other time of year and it’s truly something to remember.
25. Visit Arran
The Isle of Arran is the seventh largest Scottish island and is said to be like ‘Scotland in miniature’, as it has all the main elements of the mainland within it’s 432 square kilometres.
The island sits in the Firth of Clyde and has beautiful views, golf courses, outdoor activities, walking, gorgeous landscapes, lovely hotels, plenty of places to eat and everything else you could need from an island escape.