Top 10 reasons to visit Scotland

I must confess I fell in love with Scotland before I ever set foot on its lands. My love affair began while reading the Outlander about 8 years ago and I have wanted to visit Scotland ever since. I thought about and romanticized it so much that quite frankly I did not know if my high expectations would be met. I was afraid that all the buildup in my head would just lead to disappointment. But regardless I embarked on my journey and arrived in Scotland via train (and not the standing stones) in June 2016. To my relief, this small country with its untamed dramatic beauty, majestic castles, turbulent history, fresh food and fantastic drink, not only met my expectations but surpassed them.  So here is my list of top 10 reasons (in no particular order) why you should visit Scotland:

1.       The People

Scotland has the warmest, friendliest and most helpful people I have encountered while traveling. Oh and did I mention they are honest? Well thank goodness they are because I left my GoPro not once but twice in highly visited areas and both times they were turned in and recovered by me hours after the fact.   But my forgetfulness is a topic for another day…. One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting new people. In shops, in pubs, at cafe’s, the B&B owners or hotel staff, our bus tour guides, pretty much everyone I met in Scotland was friendly, kind, and more than willing to talk and share a bit of their country with us.  For example, we loved the time we spent with Matt from A.C.E. Target Sports not only did he provide a great archery and then an axe throwing session but it felt like we were spending time with a friend.  Meeting Scots is a great reason to visit Scotland.

Matt with A.C.E. Target Sports Scotland
Matt with A.C.E. Target Sports

2.       The Food & Drinks

Let’s just say it is not all haggis and shortbread and surprisingly not all whiskey either. Although I must confess I did try both the haggis and the whiskey and well….. you can find out more about that experience in a later post – coming soon!!!

Irn Bru Scotland
Irn Bru and Pork Sandwiches from Oink

    a.       The Food: There are more than 10 Michelin rated restaurants in Scotland. From fresh seafood to mouthwatering steak Scotland seems to have it all. I actually did not eat in any Michelin rated restaurants but that does not mean my food was bad, on the contrary, I did not have a bad meal while there. So if a Michelin rated restaurant is not your style or in your budget, don’t fear because there is plenty of great tasting, locally sourced food to be had at all price levels.

     b.      The Drinks: I tasted some great Whiskey while in Scotland but one of the most uniquely Scottish drinks I had and that everyone in Scotland seems to enjoy is Irn Bru – pronounced Iron Brew.  It is a neon orange soda the locals call “The Brew”.  If you have ever tasted Inca Cola (a Peruvian soft drink) then the taste of Irn Bru should be a bit familiar to you.

Enjoying the great food and drink is a great reason to visit Scotland.

3.       The History

Scotland is steeped in history and much of it is blood and war. I could feel it at the moors of Culloden, and learned about it in each castle I visited, and I even got to reenact it at the Battle of Bonnockburn near Stirling (we actually got to change history during our session. I will explain in a later post).  You can also see prehistoric landmarks around the country such as the Neolithic dwellings of Skara Brae which predate the Egyptian Pyramids, or ancient standing stones like the Ring of Brodgar, or prehistoric burial cairns such as Clava Cairns near Culloden battlefield.

Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones, Scotland
Ring of Brodgar – Orkney

 

Culloden Moore - Scotland
Culloden Moore

 

Skara Brae
Skara Brae
Skara Brae
Skara Brae

 

Clava Cairns
Clava Cairns

Enjoying the historic sites and learning about Scotland history is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

4.       The Castles.

Scotland is a land of castles, a land where kings and queens reigned. These castles dominate the Scottish landscape. From ruins to beautifully maintained structures it is easy to imagine the perfect setting for any romance novel or fairy-tale. Many of the castles have activities for the children to do to keep them entertained as they explore.

Want to know which castles were my kids favorite? Then read this post and find out my daughters’ top picks.

Inverary Castle - Scotland
Inverary Castle

 

Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle

Visiting the beautiful castles and ruins and feeling like you are in a fairy tale is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

5.       The Culture & Festivals.

Scotland has a very unique and distinctive culture.  The bagpipes, the kilts, the traditional dancing, and the highland games (which were all getting ready to start and unfortunately I missed them) all are notable examples of what has come to symbolize Scottish culture. Scotland also has amazing festivals. For three weeks in August Edinburgh is overtaken by one festival after another celebrating its culture, arts, music, theater and so much more.  While we were there they were already preparing the Edinburgh castle for the Edinburgh Tattoo and you could already see different street performers entertaining the already growing crowds.

Here is a link to check out the different festivals. Also check out the bag piper on the streets of Edinburgh playing the Outlander’s theme song (Skye Boat song) below – so dreamy:

Participating and enjoying some of Scotlands great cultural events and festivals is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

6.       The Views

From city to country and from lochs to mountains some of the most spectacular views and scenery can be found in Scotland. I would venture to say it is some of the best I have ever seen.  It is rugged and uncompromising, yet has a mystical aura that seems like a fairy-tale come to life. 

The Quiraing - Isle of Skye
The Quiraing – Isle of Skye

DSC_0390Views from the Isle of Lunga

Enjoying the breathtaking views of the Scottish landscape is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

7.       Wildlife and Nature.

Scotland possesses such beautiful and undisturbed wildlife from land animals such as the traditional highland coo, to deer, hares and sheep; to sea creatures like puffins, seals, wales and dolphins and even those that fly like eagles and hawks.  And for those who love nature and the color purple like me the sight of bluebells, heather or thistle is just like seeing heaven. 

Check out the best place in Scotland to see the Puffins. And you will also get to see some more pictures I was able to take of these cute birds.

Puffin - Isle of Lunga Scotland
Puffin – Isle of Lunga

 

Thistle on Neist Point
Thistle on Neist Point

Being able to see the varied flora and fauna and having great animal encounters out in the wild is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

 8.       The Hikes. 

You can join the locals and go Munro Bagging. Munro’s are mountains over 3000 feet high.  According to Visit Scotland there are 282 Munros.  If these seem like to much of a challenge there are plenty of less strenuous walking trails and hikes all throughout Scotland. A great source to help you plan is Walking Highlands. Whichever hike you do you are in for a treat. Scotland has some of the best hikes in the world.

Want to find out more about the hiking in Skye?  Check out my favorite hikes in Skye and see why I think this is a must visit destination in Scotland.

IMG_0757
The Storr

 

Hiking Trails in Skye
Hiking Trails in Skye

Hiking some of the best trails with incredible views is a great reason to visit Scotland.

 

9.       The Sports

If you are a golfer then this is heaven on earth.  Scotland is known as the birthplace of Golf and has some of the world’s best and most famous golf courses like St. Andrews, where the first known game was held. But aside from Golf there are many outdoor sports you can enjoy while here. Archery, Clay Shooting and even Axe throwing. Rafting and boating. Horseback riding or mountain biking. Scotland is one of the world’s top adventure playgrounds.

Archery - A.C.E. Target Sports in Skye
Archery – A.C.E. Target Sports in Skye

 

St. Andrews Golf CourseThe famous golf course of St. Andrews

Playing golf or enjoying some fishing, camping or archery are great reasons to visit Scotland.

10.   The Weather.

You might think I am crazy for mentioning the weather. Yes, it does rain in Scotland, but it is because of that rain that it is so beautifully green. Plus the mist and grey skies have their own beauty and give the scenery an aura of mystery. The Scots do have a saying that is incredibly true – “if you don’t like the weather then wait 10 min”. You can truly experience dramatic changes in weather multiple times during the day. My advice is to just be prepared with multiple layers and always have a rain coat with you.

I have to say I love Scotland, crazy weather and all.   

 

Fairy Glen - Skye
Fairy Glen – Skye

 

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Top 10 reasons to visit Scotland

If the 10 reasons listed above are not good enough there is always Harry Potter.  Need I say more?

Have you been to or are you planning a trip to Scotland? What is your top reason to visit? Drop me a note in the comments below or let’s get social on Instagram or Facebook.

Happy Roving!!!

 

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46 Comments

    1. The lists tend to grow quickly don’t they? You won’t be disappointed with Scotland when you go. And yes I am glad I got my GoPro back as well. I have learned my lesson though. Happy Roving!!!

  1. Gorgeous photos. I definitely did not need any more convincing to add Scotland to my bucket list. But your post has definitely moved it up. I am officially inspired.

    1. So glad my post was able to provide inspiration and I hope you love Scotland as much as I do. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need suggestion. Happy Roving!!!

    1. You will love Scotland and feel free to ask any questions and I will be happy to help answer as best as I can. Where in Scotland do you plan to visit?

  2. Wow you are very lucky with the GoPro! I love the scenery in Scotland and have yet to make it to some of the island’s probAbly because I live in Britain and have to wrestle with our British summers so like to escape to warmer climes. That said, it is on my list to visit!

    1. Lucky for you to live in the UK hope you get to visit soon since you are so close. Glad this served as inspiration. Happy Roving!!!

    1. Edinburgh is one of my favorite European cities. Hope to be back one day. Thanks for your comment and safe travels.

  3. I haven’t been to Scotland since I was still in school. I’m long overdue for a trip. I make up for it by drinking with the Scottish here, though!

  4. Are you an Outlander reader? I couldn’t help but notice the stone from Culloden. I’ve been dying to visit Scotland since starting the Outlander series, but I haven’t had the right opportunity yet. Hopefully soon! Thanks for the extra inspiration!

    1. Yes I certainly am an outlander fan. Reading the outlander about 7/8 years ago was what inspired me to start planing a trip to Scotland. I have read the entire series and since then many other great books based in Scotland. Another great series if you are interested is The Highlanf Guard by Monica McCarty. Hope you enjoy and Happy a Roving!!!

  5. I am so excited to visit Edinburgh next summer! I have never been to Scotland at all. But I’ve met plenty of Scots on my travels and I agree with you that they are lovely people. Also it’s good to know that there is good food in Scotland–but I like haggis so I’m easy to please!

    1. Lol I liked haggis when it was well prepared. But I think it is the same with everything else if the food is well prepared it is good and there is plenty of good restaurants and food to be had in Scotland. Hope you enjoy Edinburgh and if you need suggestions or help let me know. Happy Roving!!!

  6. Castles and hikes?? Say no more! I love me some castles! We dont have enough here in the US and I really would love to see a legit castle. Thanks for sharing this!!

    1. Exactly here in the USA we are still a very young country especially when compared to Europe. We have lots of beauty but to see great castled Scitland and the rest of Europe that is where you go. All the best and if you need help with anything let me know. Happy Roving!!!

  7. The castles and views alone are enough to get me looking for flights out to Scotland. I’m in love with the English countryside so I know I can’t wait to visit Scotland too.

    1. The English countryside is something I want to do as well. I prefer the countryside to large cities. Hope you love Scotland as much as I do. Happy Riving!!!

  8. Jo, I’m smitten with your blog! So glad your piece on Scotland was my first read. Stunning photography and well written. I couldn’t agree more with each point you made. My husband and I actually considered staying when our tour came to an end in 1975. So glad to have met you through our IG feeds.
    Sincerely,
    Susie ~

    1. Hi Susie – so glad you liked my Scotland post. Scotland is a special country for me and I have left a piece of my heart there. It is a place where I can see myself going back to and I would even consider living there. So many people don’t know about all it has to offer and I hope that with these posts I am able to show that it is a country worth going to and inspiring some to go visit. Glad we met and looking forward to hearing about your points of view on IG and future posts here. I am always open to feedback and love connecting with others. Happy Roving!!!

  9. The history, the castles and beautiful nature have always called out to me from Scotland. All the other reasons have now just made the urge stronger. Loved the list and the pictures you have shared.

  10. I think the history, beautiful views, and castle are more than enough reasons to get me to visit. Scotland looks amazing! Thanks for sharing this list with us 🙂

  11. You had me at the history and castles. That’s my favorite part about traveling. I’ve been to Ireland a few times, but never to Scotland. I really do want to get myself there and do some exploring!

  12. As if I needed more reasons to visit Scotland! I think I’d really dig into the food and the sports before embarking on a castle tour. Scotland isn’t always a place I’d initially consider as a romantic setting, but seeing these photos I may have to reevaluate!

    1. It can be very romantic I have a friend who spent her honeymoon here. It can be adventurous, or historic, or family. There is really something for everyone. Hope you get to visit. Happy Roving!!!

  13. Ahhh I need to put Scotland in top of the list. I think next to Iceland. Seriously, I better start saving shit loads of money to explore Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. The LANDS!

    1. Iceland is at the top of my list to visit as well. I think that may be my next big adventure once I have the funds for it. If I can help in any way with your Scotland adventure please let me know. Happy Roving!!!

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