When I was a young girl I found myself absolutely enamored by history. To know that something incredible happened on the sites where I stood. I remember when we would make stops on family vacations I would always have to visit this president’s house or that battlefield. I simply couldn’t get enough. Perhaps that’s why Scotland holds so near and dear a place in my heart. It’s like a fairytale land full of secrets just waiting to be found. You’ll understand then, why when I married a “McClintock” and they knew their family lineage…I got to work tracing that line. I didn’t trace it back a few years, oh no….we went all the way back to the family McLintock of Clan Colquhoun in the Loch Lomond region of Scotland. But I digress… truly I could go on for hours about this stuff.
What I’m really here to tell you about is this fascinating, beautiful, and underrated area of the world. A place where you can take in the history of such a beautiful land, the stunning scenery unlike anywhere else, and local food and fare that will make you feel pride even if you’re not Scottish! So here is my list of the top 5 MUST DO’s in Scotland.
1) Visit Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has been noticed as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century, it was the home of monarchs and holds a true treasure… Edinburgh Castle. But don’t let the past get to you, it’s also full of young and vibrant Scotlander’s who have made it modern, while still holding its history dear. The art scene is booming in Scotland as is evident by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which is the world’s largest art festival and there are endless museums and galleries. One, in particular, paying homage to some of their great fellow Scots like Robert Louis Stevenson and Sr. Arthur Conan Doyle. The food, the Scotch, the beautiful city as a backdrop… what’s not to love?
2) Explore the Highlands.
Have you even been to Scotland if you aren’t taking in the breathtaking views of Lochs, mountains, and endless moors? It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and makes you realize just how small a part of the world we truly occupy. You can search for Nessie in Loch Ness, tour abandoned castles, and take in incredible hikes. My personal favorite way to explore the highlands is a stay in small, intimate lodgings, and just wander. Rent a car and explore. The landscapes are vast and beautiful, maybe even get lost!
3) Take a Train
The Royal Scotsman. If you’ve ever seen incredible Pinterest worth photos of beautiful trains puffing along beautiful landscapes chances are you’ve already seen this epic beauty. In fact, if you’ve ever seen the Hogwart Express traverse that beautiful bridge in Harry Potter movies you have seen the very rails this beautiful train travels. I’ve always been fond of train travel but this train, in particular, makes you want to plan travel around just this experience. With amazing trips starting in Edinburgh and heading into the Highlands, or Whiskey Tours…these trips are bucket list-worthy for sure. With accommodations and amenities fit for royalty you won’t regret a single moment of climbing on board.
4) Sip a Wee Dram of Scotch
There are 120 Whiskey distilleries spread across Scotland and I plan to try a dram from each by the time I’m dead. I think it a worthy pursuit, no? Each areas distilleries have a different flavor and taste, much like different regions for wineries. There are so many tours (and trains! See below) that can take you on fabulous whisky tasting tours, be sure to choose the ones that are just right for you. Classics like Glenfiddich and Macallan are incredible, but be sure to take in some of the newer and smaller distilleries making their own history.
Dine at one of Edinburgh’s FOUR Michelin starred restaurants, grab dinner on the Isle of Skye, or indulge in seafood and wild game. There really is something for everyone in Scotland and I have just a few thoughts.
– TRY the Haggis….maybe it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea but perhaps you might learn something about the people and their culture. If you take away your heavy American shades, and look at it with an er of curiosity maybe you’ll find a new favorite food!
– One thing I’ve noticed is that even the Michelin starred restaurants aren’t stuffy and pretentious, Scotland is a land of welcoming and wonderful people who want you to have fun…take advantage. This might be the perfect place to sit down for a multi-course meal.
– The people of Scotland really live off their land and sea. It’s beautiful to watch people create works of art in the kitchen. Enjoy the local fare and take in the sites and smells.
I hope this gave you a taste for a trip to Scotland. Scotland is a place that is proud of her beauty, welcoming to everyone, and authentically vibrant. I can’t wait to plan my trip to Scotland and take it all in. Remember, life is too short to not experience the world NOW. Where are you headed next my friend?