SCOTLAND’S natural attractions and a glittering line-up of events have led a major travel guide to name it one of the best places in the world to visit in 2014.
The country’s array of festivals, sporting competitions and cultural events have led to it being ranked as the No 3 must-see destination of the year – behind only Brazil and Antarctica – by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014.
Scotland’s schedule of “world-class” events, including the Commonwealth Games, the Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Edinburgh Festival, which are all due to take place next year, make it the place to be in the coming 12 months, according to the annual travel guide, which details the world’s hottest trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead.
However, it also singles out Scotland’s large number of wind farms, setting out American tycoon Donald Trump’s opposition to offshore turbines close to his golf development in Aberdeenshire.
The guide highlights next year’s independence referendum, and describes First Minister Alex Salmond as a “modern-day William Wallace”.
It says: “Politics will take centre stage: to be or not to be independent, that is the question.
“This year, three centuries after the Act of Union which created the UK, the Scots finally decide.”
In its cost index, the book gives would-be travellers a guideline figure of £60 a night for a double room in a B&B and a budget of about £11 for a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties and £3.50 for an accompanying dram.
“Next year, Scotland will be well-deservedly taking the spotlight on the world stage,” said Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 contributor Tom Hall.
“The country’s buzzing cities and stunning scenery have plenty to offer visitors, combined with an incredible calendar of events, and Scotland looks set for a year-long celebration.”
Glasgow was singled out for its ongoing regeneration ahead of the Commonwealth Games, while the reviewers described Edinburgh as “the most gothic city outside Transylvania”.
It gave a nod to both the 3D battle re-enactment planned for the site of the Battle of Bannockburn next June and music festival Celtic Connections.
The authors also encourage travellers to explore the Scottish scenery, advising them: “Take the high road to Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Cairngorms National Park and fall in love with the landscape that inspired poet Robert Burns.”
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “It’s clear that 2014 is Scotland’s chance to shine on the world stage, and to have this commendation from Lonely Planet is a fantastic seal of approval.”
Yorkshire was the only other place in the UK to feature in the book – coming third in the list of top regions behind the Himalayan area of Sikkim in India and the Kimberley, dubbed Australia’s “last great wilderness”.
The book’s editors decide what to include through a process involving Lonely Planet’s authors and online community.
The final selection and the rankings are made by a panel of in-house experts, who give each destination on the shortlist a score in line with criteria such as topicality, excitement and “x-factor”.