Things to see and do in Scotland
VisitScotlandAddress: Ocean Point One, 94 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH6 6JH
Telephone: 0845 859 1006.
Attractions in Scotland
Be Entertained at the Edinburgh Festival
While the Edinburgh International Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world, drawing the best classical, theatrical and comedy players, it is the Fringe Festival that grabs the headlines. Drama, comedy, improvisation, music, dance, art installations – you name it, it's here. The choice among one of Britain's most beautiful cities is truly dazzling.
Be at one with nature in Cairngorms National Park
This mass of rugged countryside features the UK's highest mountain range, rivers, lochs, forest and oodles of wildlife, including pine martens, red squirrels, badgers and wildcats. As well as hiking and mountain climbing, you can enjoy birdwatching, beautiful camping grounds, and great skiing in the winter.
Be culturally captivated in Scotland’s largest city
Stylish and continually reinventing itself, culturally rich Glasgow is Scotland's largest city. It's a hotbed of innovative art, design, music and film, with first-rate museums to boot. Discover architectural delights on the Rennie Mackintosh Trail, gaze at boats, bikes and buses in the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, or check out a band beneath the bright lights of the Barrowland Ballroom.
Enjoy a dram – or more – on the malt whisky trail
Sample some Scotland's favourite export, whisky. Between Inverness and Aberdeen thirsty tourists can follow the malt whisky trail, visiting distilleries to learn about this national icon. You'll fine the UK's only working cooperage in Dufftown, where you can still see whisky barrels being crafted – though you may need to draw straws to decide who's driving.
Escape to quiet of Outer Hebrides
On the fringes of Scotland lies a magical necklace of unspoiled islands comprising powder-sand beaches, ancient Neolithic sites and incredible wildlife. Paddle by kayak to secluded coves, gaze in wonder at the Calanais standing stones, rummage for Celtic jewellery in the numerous galleries and studios, and keep your eyes peeled for orcas, dolphins and golden eagles.
Explore Scotland’s exceptional capital, Edinburgh
A vast swathe of striking UNESCO-listed architecture, the Queen's former yacht and one heck of a castle make Scotland's elegant capital city unmissable. Explore the Old Town's Royal Mile and hidden closes, amble among graceful Georgian townhouses, inhale the scent of conifers in the Royal Botanic Garden, and pop in on Edinburgh Zoo's pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang.
Explore the poetically picturesque Burns country
Southwest Scotland was home to the nation's bard, Robert Burns. Explore his thatched birthplace cottage and adjacent state-of-the-art museum in Alloway, Ayrshire. Also open to visitors are Ellisland Farm and the Robert Burns House, his former homes in Dumfries and Galloway. In Dumfries itself, you can sit fireside in his old chair at The Globe Inn.
Fall under the spell of the Shetland Isles
This geologically diverse group of over 100 islands are closer to Norway than Edinburgh. Cast a line for sea trout, halibut or mackerel, meet the residents of an iron-age village, shop for unique knitwear on the Shetland Craft Trail, or play a round of late-night golf in the almost perpetual daylight of midsummer.
Find adventure at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Around 1,865 sq km (720 sq miles) of startling beautiful lowlands, mountains, lochs, rivers and forests make up this cracking national park. Tackle one (or more) of 21 Munros, take to two wheels on the West Lomond Cycle Path, kayak in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, or camp wild on the shores of Loch Lomond itself.
Find folk stories and fantastic views in The Highlands
Walk and wonder at the scenery of the Highlands – perhaps the most famous region in Scotland. On their southern fringes at Callander, pilgrims can visit the gravestone of Scottish folk hero, Rob Roy, while views from the road heading north are among the finest in the country.
Find your swing at the home of golf
The Old Course at St Andrews attracts (and truly tests) golfers from around the world. The prestigious university town is also home to the British Golf Museum, containing over 16,000 artefacts. Scotland has over 550 courses nationwide, including top championship courses at Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal Troon and Muirfield.
Roam the grounds of Glamis Castle
Set in the heart of the Angus Glens, Glamis Castle has been a royal residence since 1372. Grand and impressively imposing, the majestic building brims with history and lays claim (loosely) to being the setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth. Outside, its vast, well-manicured grounds include an Italian Garden, Pinetum and Nature Trail, and prove particularly popular with visitors.
Run away to Gretna Green
Situated on the old coach route that linked London and Edinburgh, Gretna Green is the first village across the border from England. Here, young English couples would flee and marry under Scotland's relaxed marriage laws. The Old Blacksmith's Shop is Gretna's most famous venue and still hand fasts couples today. It's also a quaint museum, restaurant and heritage shop.
See the sights of Scotland by bike
Scotland has an extensive 3,379km (2,100 miles) of sign-posted cycling routes to explore, including on-road, traffic-free and mountain bike trails. The fittest of two-wheelers should tackle the Glasgow to Edinburgh classic, while historic sites and canal routes are ideal for families. Bicycle hire and cycling tours are available throughout the country.
Seek out Loch Ness’s most famous resident
Whether 'Nessie' exists or not doesn't seem to deter the thousands of visitors from trying to catch a glimpse of the fabled lake monster at Loch Ness. The Loch Ness Exhibition Centre in Drumnadrochit is an amusing port of call for believers and sceptics alike, while the walking trails around the lake offer a pleasing alternative to mythical monster hunting.
Seek out the breath-taking vistas at Stirling
Historic Stirling has its fair share of turbulent tales to tell. Unlock centuries of history at magnificent Stirling Castle, before climbing the eye-catching National Wallace Monument, commemorating the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Finally, step onto the fields at Bannockburn, site of the eponymous battle of 1314, where King Robert the Bruce defeated the English.
Seek out the scenic Scottish Borders
South of Edinburgh, the Borders is a lovely landscape of gently rolling hills peppered with pretty towns and villages. Discover four ruined abbeys on the 104km (65-mile) Borders Abbeys Way walking trail, cheer on local and international rugby teams at the Melrose Sevens, hook a salmon on the River Tweed, or splash out on cashmere in Hawick.
Walk Britain’s biggest peak, Ben Nevis
Scotland's northwest is a dramatic region of glacially hewn glens and splendid mountains. At 1,344m (4,409ft), if you're daunted by Britain's highest peak, Ben Nevis, look up from Fort William where the spectacular Great Glen stretches from Neptune's Staircase (a series of canal locks) via Loch Ness to Inverness. To the north, remote Torridon is a walker's utopia.