Scotland travel guide
Crammed with sky-high mountains, rugged coastlines, romantic lochs, cultured cities and a fiercely proud people, bonnie Scotland is an incredible destination.
One day you could be quaffing smoked salmon and single malt in the glens and the next you could be tracking the Jacobite forces at Culloden Battlefield or following in the footsteps of royalty at Stirling Castle.
That's assuming you aren't busy swigging local craft ales at music festivals, trailing Harry Potter on the real Hogwarts Express or guffawing along to stand-up comedy at the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Although compact, Scotland is studded with an astonishing number of ancient monuments and buildings, which span many millennia.
Travel back in time 5,000 years at the UNESCO-listed Heart of Neolithic Orkney and wonder at its prehistoric settlements and burial tombs; delve into Scotland’s turbulent past at citadels and forts like Eilean Donan Castle and Finlarig; or just gaze in awe at the Calanais Stones in Lewis.
Scotland’s largest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, provide exceptional galleries and museums, stylish boutiques, innovative restaurants, traditional pubs, chic cocktail bars and hip hotels.
Beyond the cities, Scotland's charming abbey towns, coastal villages and remote, Gaelic-speaking Highland communities entice visitors with their picturesque buildings, scenic walks and warm welcomes.
Many also host eccentric festivals; from porridge-making championships to the traditional Highland Games (complete with caber tossing and hammer throwing).
Scotland is also a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Adrenaline-junkies can hurtle down the rapids in Perthshire, test their nerves climbing ice falls in Glencoe and trek through dramatic glens along the spectacular West Highland Way.
Those seeking more genteel diversions can track the elusive wildcat in Cairngorms National Park, go whale watching in the Orkneys, salmon fishing on the River Tweed and, of course, tee off at St. Andrews.
A land of mountains and music, glaciers and golf, castles and cabers, wildcats and whales – Scotland has it all, bar the weather.
78,772 sq km (30,414 sq miles).
5.3 million (2014).
67.9 per sq km.
Constitutional monarchy, with some powers devolved from the UK government to the Scottish government.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952.
Prime Minister Theresa May since July 2016 (UK Government). First Minister Nicola Sturgeon since 2014 (Scottish government).