Are you planning a relaxing trip to Scotland sometime in the near future? Rather than following the crowd and visiting all the tourist traps, why not take the opportunity to see the real Scotland and experience its natural beauty? Here are our tips for an itinerary perfect for a bit of Scottish R&R.
1. Cairngorms National Park
If you are looking for a natural outdoors destination big enough to keep the entire family occupied for a day or more, then Cairngorms National Park fits the bill. The Park stretches across more than 4,500 kilometres, encompassing part of the Strathdon/Glen Buchat and Glevlivet estates and bordered by Grantown-on-Spey, Angus Glens, Ballter and Dalwhinnie. It’s twice as big as the famous Loch Lomond.
What you’ll find within Cairngorms National Park is a rich multitude of native wildlife, arctic mountains, pine forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes. In addition to ample opportunities for cycling, hiking, four-wheeling and picnicking, visitors can also tour castles and whisky distilleries.
2. New Lanark
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located south of Glasgow in the Lanarkshire countryside. Best known for its cotton mills and the influence of famous social reformer Robert Owen, New Lanark is quite picturesque. The remains of the eighteenth century village, which depopulated following the closing of the last cotton mill in 1968, follow the banks of the River Clyde. There is a wildlife reserve, the Falls of Clyde, within walking distance.
3. The Coastal Kingdom of Fife
Along the south-eastern coast of Scotland, between Forth and Tay Firths, you will find Fife, easily accessible from Dundee to the north or Edinburgh to the south. Although you may not recognize this region, you will surely know the name St. Andrews, the “Home of Golf”. Fife is also home to the country’s oldest university. But more than these historic landmarks, you will find beautiful beaches and bucolic villages. North Queensferry is an exciting destination where you can take an underwater safari at Deep Sea World.
4. The Scottish Highlands
When it comes to truly experiencing the geography of Scotland, the Scottish Highlands are a must. This large, historic area extends across the north-western part of the country, with Inverness considered the capital of the region. The Highlands provide plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure year round with snow skiing, snowboarding, hiking, island hopping, fishing, bird watching and boating just some of the more popular activities. There are also plenty of castles and whisky distilleries to explore.
5. Fort William
In the north-eastern section of the Highlands you will find Fort William. It’s best to reach this destination via car or bicycle; these forms of transportation allow you to best see the beauty of your surroundings on your own schedule. There are plenty of scenic mountains and lochs along the way, with Ben Nevis peak and Loch Leven some of the better known points of interest. Once there, the West Highland Museum in the town’s centre is a good place to find out about the area and its surroundings and history. Afterward, you may want to take a ride on the local steam train or enjoy a gondola ride up to Aonach Mòr, in the Nevis range. Simply hiking through the forest is also an option perfect for families or couples.
When you want to really experience the natural beauty and splendour of Scotland, plan a vacation in self catered accommodations and use this suggested itinerary as a guide for a memorable trip.