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Things to do in Scotland

Things to do in  Scotland

Welcome to Scotland

Scotland boasts centuries of colorful history, UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures, and a rich culture. With lively cities sprinkled among unspoiled landscapes of beaches, lochs, peaks, and valleys, Scotland has plenty to offer visitors of all ages and interests. The capital city, Edinburgh, is an ancient settlement where efficient hop-on hop-off bus tours shuttle travelers to landmarks like mighty Edinburgh Castle, the creepy Edinburgh Dungeon, and the famous Royal Mile; travelers can also witness the pomp and ceremony of the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Other cities such as Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness, and Stirling all offer experiences filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. Travel by road or rail into the Scottish Highlands to experience the magic of Loch Ness or Loch Lomond, or follow hiking trails through the wilderness of Glencoe. History lovers can explore Alnwick Castle and Stirling Castle—constructed to protect Scotland against attack—and Hadrian's Wall, where the country's Roman past comes to life. To experience the best of coastal Scotland, take a multi-day tour out to the Isle of Skye or the remote Orkney Islands, where dramatic skyscapes and wild pastures await. And if you're thirsting to sample some of the world's finest Scotch whiskies, make sure to visit a traditional distillery such as Bowmore or Laphroaig on an Isle of Islay tour.

Top 10 attractions in Scotland

#1
Glenlivet Distillery

Glenlivet Distillery

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Amid the rolling glens of Scotland’s premier whisky region, Speyside in the Cairngorms National Park, The Glenlivet Distillery opened in 1824 and is considered as the granddaddy of all single malts. Distilled in unique lantern-shaped copper stills and matured in the obligatory oak casks for at least 12 years, The Glenlivet has a fruity, smooth flavor thanks to using Scottish barley and spring water from the local Josie's Well. Now owned by French company Pernod Ricard, it is one of the largest distilleries on Speyside and the biggest selling whisky in the USA, producing nearly six million liters of single malt each year while still maintaining many traditional production methods, all be it on an industrial scale. Unlike most of the smaller Speyside distilleries, bottling does not take place onsite but it has an award-winning visitor center with an exhibition showcasing the development of the brand as well as a café selling whisky-drenched cakes.One of the major highlights of the self-driven Malt Whisky Trail through Speyside, The Glenlivet Distillery is open for guided tours and tutored tastings of various drams; visitors can also bottle their own single malt to take home.More
#2
Orkney Islands

Orkney Islands

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Separated from the northern tip of mainland Scotland by the choppy waters of the Pentland Firth strait, the Orkney Islands are an archaeological wonderland. Comprised of about 20 inhabited islands and many more uninhabited ones, Orkney is littered with prehistoric ruins and Viking remnants. The islands’ interiors, a patchwork of heather-clad moors and fertile grasslands, are encircled by superb sandy beaches and sheer coastal cliffs.More
#3
Scott's View

Scott's View

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Named for Scotland's greatest Romantic novelist of the late 18th century, Sir Walter Scott, Scott's View affords travelers an epic panorama that spans southern Scotland's green landscape. The writer lived nearby while completing his greatest works, includingRob Roy andIvanhoe, and his favorite spot in nature (of many) was at the top of Bemersyde Hill above a meander in the river.From here, travelers can see the three peaks of the Eildon Hills, the sparkling water of the River Tweed and the heather-clad hills, as well as the rolling Tweed Valley laid out below. In spring, the foreground is covered in jasmine-colored gorse, while in fall the view glows russet and brown. Sir Walter Scott so loved this view that his hearse pulled up here one final time on the way to his funeral.These days a simple stone plinth and plaque marks the spot, which is included on a range of cycling and walking routes, plus many day trips from Edinburgh into the Borders area. Scott's View is a favorite local spot for newly married couples to be photographed.More
#4
National Wallace Monument

National Wallace Monument

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Built in the mid-19th century, this Gothic-style tower commemorates William Wallace, the medieval Scottish freedom fighter whose story was fictionalized in the 1995 blockbuster, Braveheart. Exhibits chronicle key episodes from Scottish history, while the top offers views of Stirling Castle and the surrounding countryside.More
#5
Loch Ness

Loch Ness

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While visitors flock to Loch Ness hoping to catch a glimpse of its elusive and eponymous monster, Loch Ness—a lake in the Scottish Highlands—is worth the trip even if you don’t believe the rumors. Vast and surrounded by magnificent Scottish scenery, Loch Ness is a popular boating and sightseeing spot.More
#6
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

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One of the most photographed sites in Scotland, the Eilean Donan Castle dates back to the 13th century. Built as a defense against the Vikings and used during the Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century, this loch-side castle was restored in the 20th century and is now a popular destination for weddings and tours.More
#7
Glencoe (Glen Coe)

Glencoe (Glen Coe)

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Bordered by steep, waterfall-threaded mountains, dramatic Glencoe (Glen Coe) is the stuff of Scottish postcards. Though it has historical significance—it was the site of the 1692 Glencoe Massacre of the MacDonald Clan—and its very own ski resort, Glencoe Mountain Resort, the valley’s main draw is its spectacular scenery.More
#8
George Square

George Square

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Dwarfed by haughty buildings on all sides and surrounded by statues of great Scots, George Square makes sense of poet John Betjeman’s claim that Glasgow is “the greatest Victorian city in the world.”Named after King George III and built in 1781, George Square began life as little more than a muddy hollow used for slaughtering horses. Today, it’s surrounded by some of grandest buildings in the city, not least the imposing Glasgow City Chambers on the east side.To Glaswegians, George Square is the city’s cultural center. Hosting concerts and events throughout the year, it comes alive during winter, when children skate around the ice rink and parents enjoy mulled wine at the Christmas market. In summer, George Square is a good place to find a bench and watch the world go by.George Square leads to Glasgow’s famous shopping streets in the Style Mile, as well as the ritzy Merchant City district. Glasgow’s main tourist information office sits on the south side, and sightseeing buses begin their journeys here, making this a handy place to get oriented with the city.More
#9
St. Andrews

St. Andrews

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The seaside town of St. Andrews is known for its magnificent 12th-century cathedral ruins and elite university, which was founded in the 15th century. Both Prince William and Kate Middleton attended the school. St. Andrews is also a pilgrimage site for golfers, who come to try out the famous Old Course, which dates back some 600 years.More
#10
Royal Mile

Royal Mile

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The atmospheric Royal Mile thoroughfare cuts through the historic core of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, extending for slightly more than a mile from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Both sides of the partly pedestrianized street are bordered by historic granite buildings bearing shop display windows piled high with symbols of Scotland, from tartan to whisky to shortbread. In between the former tenements and taverns are darkened arm-width-wide alleyways, known locally as closes.More

Trip ideas

Royal Collection Trust Palace of Edinburgh's Holyrood House

Royal Collection Trust Palace of Edinburgh's Holyrood House

How to Spend 3 Days in Glasgow

How to Spend 3 Days in Glasgow

Scottish Island Tours from Inverness

Scottish Island Tours from Inverness

How to Spend 3 Days in Inverness

How to Spend 3 Days in Inverness

Top activities in Scotland

Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
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Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

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Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh

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Loch Ness and the Highlands Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
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Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience

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Wildlife Cruise from John O'Groats

Wildlife Cruise from John O'Groats

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Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
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Loch Ness, Highlands and Whisky Distillery Day Tour from Edinburgh
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3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh
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Frequently Asked Questions