Amateur Traveler recently did an episode on travel to Scotland, but I thought I would add some other great sites to visit.
Going clockwise around the country: between Loch Lomond and the Isle of Skye is another very popular spot called Oban. This seaside vacation town is picturesque and is also a great base from which to visit the Inner Hebrides.
You can take a (very large) ferry to the Isle of Mull and visit Duarte Castle. Most people ride across Mull, though, to see two popular attractions.
The first is Staffa, an uninhabited island accessed by boat. Visitors can climb around the Giant’s Causeway, look in at Fingal’s Cave and see the Puffins.
Isle of Iona
The second ‘must-see’ is the Isle of Iona. Take a small ferry to this windswept island to see a restored Benedictine Abbey. The ride across Mull is scenic, with shaggy highland cattle, craggy mountains, and gorgeous views.
Up north in the highlands, on the shore of Loch Ness, at the Urquhart Castle be sure to see the brief introductory program in the theater before you tour the site. A surprise is in store!
Next, visit the new Culloden Museum not far from Inverness. A running theme throughout Scotland is their relative independence or not to England and has been for hundreds of years. This very well presented museum tells the story of a famous highland battle between the Jacobites and the British. The self-guided tour is both indoors and outdoors and a highlight are the shadow figures which reenact key figures at the time. It’s an interesting and effective history lesson even if you aren’t Scottish.
Going almost to the Eastern side of Scotland is the great estate Balmoral, a summer home for the Royal family. There are only a couple rooms the public can see, so it’s not really a top site, but the route into and out of this remote area is very scenic.
In late May or early June, the rolling farmland is filled with adorable newborn lambs and their mother’s frolicking around. Do decide, however, what the trade-off will be between driving on the left side of the narrow roads versus taking a bus tour.
Just north of Edinburgh is the town of Pitlochry. Take the one-mile hiking trail (the most beautiful trail I have ever been on) from town to the Edradour Distillery, which is iconic and historic.
Stone of Scone
At the Edinburgh, Castle visitors can see the Scottish Stone of Scone, which is really just a rock. Movies have been made about this symbol of British dominance over the Scottish. When a new King or Queen of England is coroneted, they sit on a throne and under their chair they place this rock which signifies that Scotland is under British rule.
Between Edinburgh and Glasgow, accessed via an easy train ride, is a ‘must-see’ called the Falkirk Wheel. This engineering marvel solves the problem of different elevations in the canal system. The wheel literally lifts boats 79 feet from one canal to another. Visitors can tour the site and ride the wheel, but reservations are recommended.
Scotland is filled with castles, scenery, whiskey, and architecture to delight visitors, too numerous to see in one trip. Visit twice!
If you want to learn more about Scotland, listen to Travel to Scotland – Amateur Traveler Episode 549.