Famously friendly, often wet and always lively, Scotland has given the world many things: single malt whisky, Sherlock Holmes and the game of golf to name but a few. Here you'll find impressive fortifications like Stirling Castle and Eilean Donan, awe-inspiring landscapes like Loch Lomond and Glen Coe, stunning religious buildings like Glasgow Cathedral and Melrose Abbey and ancient archaeological sites like Skara Brae. Add to that beautiful, cosmopolitan cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, throw in a pinch of Europe's most spirited nightlife, and you start to see what makes Scotland travel such a compelling experience for so many people.
From ancient architecture to jagged mountains and mythical monsters, Scotland has a host of attractions to offer visitors. Here's our run down of the top 5 attractions in Scotland.
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Edinburgh Festival – TThe world famous Edinburgh Festival is actually a collection of individual events taking place for the whole month of August - during which the city's population doubles! The Festival sees the Scottish capital into a world hub for performers of dance, music, comedy and street theatre. A unique atmosphere, and a real must-do.
For more information on the Edinburgh Festival, click here.
2. Tartan Heart Festival, Belladrum – Held in the stunning Belladrum estate in the Scottish Highlands near Inverness, this annual festival is host to an excellent blend of Scottish and international artists, with the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, The Proclaimers and King Creosote treading the boards.
For more information on the Tartan Heart Festival, click here.
3. T in the Park, Strathallan – T in the Park is Scotland's major music festival, a hedonistic hoedown held annually at Strathallan Castle in the beautiful Perthshire countryside each July. It attracts some proper pop and rock heavyweights, so join the gleeful Caledonian throng and getting ready to singalong to Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Mumford and Sons and the like. Och aye!
For more information on the T in the Park, click here.
4. Kelburn Garden Party, Fairlie – The stunning grounds of colourfully painted 13th century Kelburn Castle are the setting for this delightfully eccentric festival, held annually in June. Expect an excellent lineup of music, theatre, art installations and more, and all without a corporate sponsor in sight.
For more information on the Kelburn Garden Party, click here.
5. Celtic Connections, Glasgow – Held annually in January, this celebration of Celtic music is one of the biggest Glasgow festivals. It takes place over a 2-week period at a number of venues around the city, featuring hundreds of traditional Scottish and international folk music performances, workshops, talks and ceilidhs.
For more information on Celtic Connections, click here.
1. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh – Part of the Tate group that includes Britain, Liverpool and St Ives, this iconic former London power station houses some of the world’s best examples of modern and contemporary art. Noted for its colossal scale, the old Turbine Room has hosted some memorable installations and has become one of the top London attractions.
For more information on the Tate Modern, click here.
2. Museum of Edinburgh – Located in the London Royal Borough of Kensington, the Museum of Natural History is home to a significant collection that is renowned the world over. From plants to mammals, this colossal institution makes for a fascinating day out. Admission is free so make sure this top London attraction is top of the list when visiting the capital.
For more information on the Natural History Museum, click here.
3. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh – Situated in the beautiful city of Norwich, the striking looking SCVA houses a varied and important collection of historic and contemporary visual arts. Built by Lord Foster the site is also a centre for education and research and one of the must see places in England.
For more information on the Sainsbury centre for the visual arts, click here.
4. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow – With a colossal collection of artefacts spanning the full range of human history, the iconic British Museum is one of the must see places in London. A whopping 8 million exhibits mean you can’t hope to cover it all, but a visit here is never less than fascinating. 7 million visitors a year can’t be wrong, right
For more information on the British Museum, click here.
5. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow – Situated beside Glasgow's beautiful Kelvingrove Park, this museum and art gallery is home to one of the finest art collections in Europe. Among its treasures you'll find everything from ancient armour and weapons to French Impressionist masterpieces. Even better, entry is free!
For more information on the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, click here.
Ok, so it's true: Scotland has been known to batter the occasional Mars Bar, and the odd slice of pizza may have found its way into the deep fryer. But despite these culinary aberrations, Scottish cuisine increasingly fails to live up to its artery-clogging stereotypes. Just look at the country's larder: wonderful free-range meats, incredible seafood and the choicest of freshwater fish, as well as traditional cheeses like Caboc and Crowdie, the perfect accompaniment to Scottish oatcakes and counterpoint to a powerful single malt whisky. Add to that a thriving modern dining scene with a glut of young Michelin starred chefs and you can see that Scottish food is a worthy part of any good Scotland travel 2015 adventure.
Haggis – Scotland's famed national dish is traditionally made from sheep's stomach stuffed with onions, oatmeal and various unmentionable meat products, but don't let that put you off. Served with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes), it's truly delicious and a Scotland food must-try.
Best eaten at - Arcade Bar, Haggis & Whisky House, 48 Cockburn St, Old Town, Edinburgh
Cullen Skink – This hearty, creamy soup of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions is the country's favourite, and a common staple of restaurants in Scotland. Grab some crusty bread and get stuck in!
Best eaten at – Babbity Bowster, 16-18 Blackfriars St, Glasgow
Arbroath Smokie – Hailing from the town of Arbroath, this delicious preserved fish is a towering figure in the world of Scottish food. A salted, dried and smoked haddock, it's a Scotland travel 2016 must-try.
Best eaten at – Iain Spink’s Original Smokies, Forehills Farmhouse, Carmyllie, By Arbroath
Cranachan – This indulgent traditional dessert contains raspberries, whipped cream, oatmeal, honey and - naturally - whisky. A further glass of the Scottish national spirit will help wash it down a treat.
Best eaten at – The Old School Restaurant, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
Fish Supper – Such is the name given to fish & chips in Scotland, and it's extremely popular here. Order it in Edinburgh and they'll offer you 'salt & sauce', not salt & vinegar - the sauce is a delicious blend of brown sauce and vinegar that everyone should try!
Best eaten at – Marchmont Takeaway, 98 Marchmont Rd, Edinburgh
Mosquito repellent - The Scottish midge is the stuff of legend. It's particularly prevalent in northwestern parts of the country, so don't be caught out without bug spray!
A raincoat and umbrella - The weather in Scotland is notoriously changeable and often dreich (cold and damp) so be prepared for wind, cold and rain no matter what time of year you visit!
An adapter plug and transformer - You'll need an adapter for Scotland's UK-style 3-pin plug sockets. The power here is 240V, so appliances running on 110V will require a step-down transformer if they're to keep from going 'BANG!'
Comfortable walking shoes - Whether you're pounding the streets of Edinburgh, climbing Arthur's Seat or exploring the Cairngorms National Park, sensible footwear is a must here.
Alka Seltzer - From the Glasgow club scene to the Edinburgh bars, opportunities for drinking the local firewater are never far away in Scotland. It's a killer combination, so prepare for a hangover or two.