Scotland is full of natural breath taking beauty and man-made wonders which would take a lifetime to explore. For those short on time these are some of the best gems around the country that should be on every traveller’s must visit list. Here you will find a range of Scottish facts, from information on its diverse and dramatic landscape and natural resources to facts about Scotland’s population, economy and industry. Scotland has more than 600 square miles of freshwater lakes, including the famous Loch Ness.
Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. The castle occupies the area of volcanic rock at a much higher ground of the city and is visible from miles in every direction. This isn't fairy tale castle, this is the real thing, an uncompromisingly defensive structure that seems to grow organically out of the living rock beneath it.
Inside its stone walls some of the attractions available for visitors to view are the Honours (or crown jewels) of Scotland, St. Margaret's Chapel (Edinburgh's oldest building), Mons Meg (considered one of the greatest guns in medieval Europe), the National War Museum, The Great Hall and the vaults that once held prisoners of war (located under the Great Hall).
Edinburgh Castle remains a military base today and having the country's most popular tourist attraction and a military base under the same roof inevitably leads to compromises, including the excavation in the 1980s of a tunnel through the castle rock to allow military traffic access to the barracks without endangering tourists.
What this means for the visitor is that parts of the castle are out of bounds. As a result you don't really get the total experience you find.
This below place is a to salute heroes and theirs tombs inside. Cameras are not allowed inside.
Melrose Abbey was once considered to be one of Scotland’s most beautiful buildings. It’s history provides the visitor with a sense of romance. The present Melrose Abbey was founded by king David of Scotland in 1136, and is supposed to have been built in ten years.
The church of the convent was dedicated to St. Mary on the 28th of July, 1146. It was the mother church of the Cistercian order in Scotland. The best view of Melrose Abbey's exterior is from the southern perimeter. The Gothic abbey is built in the form of St. John's cross, with a considerable part of its principal tower now in ruins.
Alexander II and many of the Scottish kings and nobles are also buried at Melrose, the burial spot being marked with a commemorative stone plaque. Robert the Bruce's heart is believed to be buried in the abbey. A plaque marks its location.
The name Eilean Donan, or island of Donan, is most probably called after the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan who came to Scotland around 580 AD. There are several churches dedicated to Donan in the area and it is likely that he formed a small cell or community on the island during the late 7th century. It is one of the most easily recognised castles in Scotland. With its outline reflected in the waters of Loch Duich and the moody colours of the mountains and moorlands all around.
Eilean Donan was abandoned and neglected and the island was bought by Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap in 1911. Along with his Clerk of Works, Farquar Macrae, he dedicated the next 20 years of his life to the reconstruction of Eilean Donan, restoring her to her former glory. The castle was rebuilt according to the surviving ground plan of earlier phases and was formally completed in the July of 1932.
Today's visitor begins at the bright modern visitor centre at the mainland end of the bridge to the island. This is run by the Conchra Trust, the charitable body which now operates the castle as a visitor attraction and preserves it for future generations to enjoy.
The castle you see today occupies only part of the island on which it stands, and after you emerge from your tour it is possible to circumnavigate the castle, gaining a series of unusual views of it as you do so.
This rocky mountain range is located on the Isle of Skye. Also known as the Black Cuillin,
here are three approaches to the Cuillin, from the south, by foot or by boat from Elgol, from the Sligachan Hotel to the north or from Glen Brittle to the west of the mountains.
The second route, down Glen Sligachan, divides the granite of the round-topped Red Hills (sometimes known as the Red Cuillin) to the east from the dark, coarse-grained jagged-edged gabbro of the real Cuillin (also known as the Black Cuillin) to the west.
Hike to the summit of Britain's highest mountain and look out across Scotland. It's a serious undertaking, so make sure you go prepared. If that sounds a bit too strenuous, catch the gondola up Aonach Mor, another mountain in the Nevis range.
It is however very popular with walkers and climbers alike and at the summit, there is a war memorial. Although not as high as the Alpine mountains, Ben Nevis is situated on more northerly latitude, so the climate is considered to be similar to Arctic conditions. For many people, though, perhaps because of these difficulties, this is seen as an irresistible challenge.
The Ben Nevis Distillery is placed in Fort William, where visitors are welcome to enjoy a guided tour of the 178 year old distillery, and savour the fantastic quality whisky.
With Seilebost to the south Luskentyre has been voted as one of the world’s ten best beaches. Luskentyre is famous for the beautiful white sandy beach which runs for miles and the gorgeous green-blue waters lapping up onto its shores. Luskentyre Bay on the Isle of Harris is a tranquil un spoilt shell sand bay.
Luskentyre Bay is on the west side of South Harris a few miles south of where it almost becomes an island at Tarbert. During a high tide a lot of the bay becomes underwater, becoming part of the Sound of Taransay and looking out to the island of Taransay, one of the most scenic of Scotland's islands
In Highlands if you see majestic and spectacular scenery its Loch Ness!. On this tour you will see Lochs, Mountains, Castles the deep valley of Glencoe, the famous Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland by volume.
The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, cosy places to stay, and superb eateries. The Loch Ness Monster is just one of the many myths and legends to be discovered in this particularly beautiful part of Scotland.
Loch Ness is known around the world for Nessie, the fabled Loch Ness Monster, but the area is also famous for its beauty and history as well as our legendary mystery.
In 1850 a violent storm ravaged the Bay of Skaill in the Orkney Isles to the north-east of mainland Scotland, revealing the Neolithic village of Skara Brae buried beneath the sand dunes. Eight prehistoric houses, connected by low covered passageways, have survived. Skara Brae, on the southern shore of Sandwick, Orkney, was a late Neolithic settlement that was inhabited between 3200 and 2200 BC.
Seven of the houses have stone dressers, beds and seats. The eighth building is divided into small areas and may have been used as a workshop as fragments of antler and bone were found in it. Skara Brae is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
The most complete and tallest broch in the world. Mousa Broch is considered to be the finest surviving Iron Age broch in the world. Standing 40 feet high and 50 feet in diameter at the base, with a long entrance passage and a stair leading inside the wall to a series of galleries and a walkway atop the building.
There are some 500 brochs scattered across Scotland, especially across the north and west of the country. The reason that Mousa Broch has remained so well-preserved has to do with its unusual construction. Unlike most other brochs in Scotland, it has a small diameter, and the walls are much thinner. Yet despite the the thin walls, the broch is very thick at the base, and the interior living area is quite small.
To get there you follow a track above the shore of the island for a little over half a mile. The broch comes into view fairly quickly and from there your attention is focused on a structure that just keeps on getting bigger as you approach.
Stirling Castle is the grandest of Scotland's castles and one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country. 250 feet above the plain on an extinct volcano, Stirling became the strategic military key to the kingdom during the 13th and 14th century Wars of Independence and was the favourite royal residence of many of the Stuart Monarchs.
Today the castle boasts a number of attractions including exhibitions on the Stuart dynasty and of the architecture and artwork found throughout the grounds.
Tours of the Great Hall and the Royal Palace which both date back to the 16th century are also available and for younger visitors there is the palace vaults which feature interactive games and activities.
Glencoe village is picturesquely located between the banks of Loch Leven and the mouth of the famous glen, making it the perfect base for exploring the area of Lochaber, known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
The area is a paradise for walkers and climbers in all seasons, and skiers and snowboarders in the winter. Visitors can also hire mountain bikes and hurtle downhill on the many purpose-built bike tracks, in addition there's sailing, white water or sea kayaking, fishing, canyoning, golf, archery, climbing or simply walking the miles of mountain and forestry tracks.
Glencoe is famous for two main reasons, its topography and its history. The name probably means narrow glen and for the sheer majesty of mountain scenery there is little to beat it anywhere.
Spanning the Firth of Forth, this rail bridge links Edinburgh and the Lothians with Fife. Due to its distinctive red colour and huge proportions, this engineering marvel is one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks.
When it was first constructed, the Forth Bridge was regarded as the eighth wonder of the world. Familiarity breeds contempt, and it is easy to forget that this is a structure every bit as spectacular and remarkable as the Eiffel Tower, of which it can seem oddly reminiscent.
The Forth Bridge was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by United Nations body UNESCO in July 2015 at its meeting in Bonn, Germany. It becomes Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site and now enjoys the same status as the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Come along and take a relaxing break in Dumfries and Galloway at Scotland's most southerly point, the Mull of Galloway. Relaxation here is a way of life, a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
This spectacular coastal location is ideal for couples, families or friends and perfect for long cliff top walks and for bird watching and lovers of wildlife. The Mull of Galloway has one of the last remaining sections of natural coastal habitat on the Galloway coast and as such supports a wide variety of plant and animal species.
The cliffs are several hundred feet high and provide nesting sites for many birds. In spring there are guillemots, black guillemots, razorbills, puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes, cormorants and shags all nesting on the steep cliffs.
Come and see the world's largest equine sculptures up close - and even go inside to marvel at the complexity and the engineering which created these fantastic pieces of art. It was created in 2013, the twin horse heads act as a sort of gateway to a redevelopment project that centred on local waterways.
As water spirits that can change shape from horses to women to water at will, the figures were a terrific symbol of both the area's past relationship with horses and the aquatic geography.
The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses, a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways.
The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coal ships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area.
The Isle of Skye, located on Scotland’s west coast, is an amazing landscape of grassy knolls, scenic hillsides, rock formations, and castles, where fairy folklore abounds. Almost everywhere you turn, there is a place that looks as if it were a secret gathering spot for magic creatures, and there is usually a bit of local folklore to back that up.
The Fairy pools are a series of waterfalls, popular with hikers and “wild swimmers.” The pools are crystal clear and surrounded by large rocky cliffs and walls, waterfalls, and lush foliage.
There is a fair amount of tourism around the Fairy Pools area. The closest town is Carbott, and they are located in the Glen Brittle area of Scotland. The area is perfect for hikers of all levels, due to a variety of walks that range considerably in terms of degree of difficulty. Nearby to the Fairy Pools is a variety of other beautiful scenery, such as Cuillins, which the largest mountain in the region.
What makes Rosslyn Chapel unique is that it stands in Roslin Glen, a river channel hidden by towering trees and steep with twisted rock faces. It is an environment that is managed by a number of agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, a nature reserve protected for its ancient unspoilt habitats.
The mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel were brought to the attention of a much wider audience by Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code.After The Da Vinci Code was published in 2003, the number of visitors to Rosslyn Chapel rose by 56%. In 2004, almost 70,000 visited the building, making it one of Scotland's most popular tourist attractions.
Rosslyn Chapel, originally named the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew, is a 15th-century church in the village of Roslin, seven miles from Edinburgh in Scotland. The chapel is famous both for its decorative art and its mysterious associations with the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and the Freemasons.
Finnich Glen (The Devils Pulpit) is found near the village of Killearn approximately 30mins north from Glasgow .The Devil’s Pulpit was a place I really wanted to visit this year. It’s a 100 feet deep gorge just south of Drymen on the A809, near Loch Lomond in Scotland.
The Carnock Burn has cut through the soft sandstone forming a very narrow and deep gorge about a quarter mile in length and around 80 feet deep.
Finnich Glen, on the road to Drymen, and not far from Queen's view and the nearby Whangie just creeps in on the northern edge of this map and scout groups, girl guides, outward bound, team building courses, and mountaineering clubs have traversed it for years.
The Ring of Brodgar (also spelled Ring of Brogar) is a magnificent stone circle occupying a scenic location between two lakes on the mainland of the Orkney Islands. Measuring nearly 104 m in diameter, it is the third largest stone circle in Britain.
Twenty-seven stones remain of an original sixty in the impressive stone circle, known as Ring of Brodgar or Brogar and set up on a slope facing east.The stones are part of a henge monument, and the surrounding ditch and bank can still be made out, with entrances on the NW and SE. The circle had a diameter of about 110 m (120 yards) and the tallest stone today measures 4.6 m (15 ft). A tentative dating for this site is the Early Bronze Age or about 2500 BC.
The Ring of Brodgar is a magnificent sight. This is partly due to its large dimensions, but even more so to its atmospheric location. The stones stand isolated on a slightly elevated strip of land covered with tall green grass and deep purple scrub between two lakes - the freshwater Loch Harray to the east and the partially saltwater Loch Stenness to the west.
Staffa, an entirely volcanic island, is probably best known for its unique geological features such as the many caves and the unique shape of the basalt columns which are also found in the Giant’s Causeway and Rathlin island in Northern Ireland and closer by on the island of Ulva.
Staffa is taken from the Old Norse word for stave or pillar island and is an island of the Inner Hebrides, just off the west coast of Mull. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.
The island became internationally renowned through Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave). He wrote that the inspiration for this piece of music came from a visit to the island in 1829, while he was standing in the cave listening to the roar of the waves.
Inveraray Castle is located a short walk out of the town, within large parklands. A castle has been there since the 15th century, but the present castle was built in 1745 by the Duke of Argyll and today is still the home of the Argyll family. during the renovation many changes were made and the style was adapted to a style similar to the Loire castles, with small towers and spires.
Visitors can view preserved swords from the Battle of Culloden. The fine State Dining Room and Tapestry Drawing Room contain magnificent French tapestries which were woven especially for the Castle, fabulous examples of Scottish, English and French furniture and countless other precious artworks.
Another special feature of the castle is its spectacular gardens, sixteen acres of a stunning flowerbeds, park and woodlands. Here, during the latter part of the 19th century, distinguished visitors such as Queen Victoria and David Livingstone were asked to plant trees, as was the custom of that time.
Urquhart Castle was first believed to have been inhabited by William the Lion (1165-1214) and later went on be a key fortress in conflicts between Highland clans. Castle Urquhart stands on a rocky promontory on the north shore of Loch Ness. As soon as you get here you can’t help thinking, "Well, if I were going to build a castle to survey this wide glen, and the loch itself, this is where I'd build it!" In fact people were almost certainly here at least 4000 years ago.
Take the path which leads to the tall tower which was well defended with another ditch and drawbridge. Here you can take the steps down and see what would have been the store rooms. Take the spiral staircase up (and up!) and you can go and stand at the top of this 5-storey tower! It is highly likely that the lord would have had his private chamber and meeting hall here in this building.
Today the castle lies in ruin by the shores of Loch Ness but is open to the public with a visitors centre providing exhibits about the history and stories of the noblemen who once lived there.
The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery first opened its doors in 1807. Not only was it Scotland’s first public museum, but it was also the first in Britain with a gallery of paintings.
The Hunterian is Scotland's oldest public museum and is home to one of the largest collections outside of the National Museums. There are Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall, major natural and life sciences holdings, Hunter’s own extensive anatomical teaching collection and impressive ethnographic objects from Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages, as well as a major art collection.