11 Scottish gems among world’s ‘top 500 places’

EDINBURGH Castle, the Isle of Skye and Skara Brae in Orkney are the top three Scottish entrants in a list of the all-time best places in the world in the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist.

Skye is among the top three sites in Scotland, with Skara Brae and Edinburgh Castle taking the other top places. Picture: Getty
Skye is among the top three sites in Scotland, with Skara Brae and Edinburgh Castle taking the other top places. Picture: Getty

In the this first-of-its-kind list from the world’s leading travel authority, Lonely Planet’s staff and writers ranked the 500 best places to see on the planet. The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia took the Crown as the undisputed champion, topping the list at number one.

Described as the “Hindu heaven on earth”, the sight is a complex of more than 1,000 temples, shrines and tombs that form a “city” of spires in the jungles of northern Cambodia.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In second place was Australia’s Great Barrier Reef followed by Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Callanish Stones join Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond on the list. Picture: Ian Rutherford

To create Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, a team of travel experts and authors rated the world’s best mega-sights and hidden gems, before whittling down a list of every sight featured in their guidebook to narrow down the very best spots.

The other Scottish places in the list are the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Kelvingrove art gallery and museum in Glasgow, Loch Lomond, the Standing Stones of Callanish, Iona, Stirling Castle and Fingal’s Cave off Mull.

England has 12 places listed - only one more than Scotland - seven are in Wales, four in Ireland and two in Northern Ireland.

The top-rated UK destination was the British Museum which came in 15th place.

The list says of Edinburgh Castle “Squint up at Edinburgh Castle and you’d swear it wasn’t built, but grew.

“Lording over the Scottish capital, this stronghold seems to segue organically out of the volcanic plug below; it’s hard to tell where nature ends and masonry begins.”

Skye is lauded for its “castles and crofts, granite-grey seals and crystalline fairy pools, heather moors and emerald glens”.

Tom Hall, editorial director of the guide, said: “We are so excited about Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist.

“This book has been years in the making and brings together the most compelling places in the world according to our team of globetrotting travel experts.

“Every traveller has got a list of places they simply have to see - places heard about, read about or dreamed about.

“Of course, what makes somewhere special is different for everyone and we would love to hear about other people’s top spots.

“But this is our definitive list. And one we hope will inspire many other travel wishlists.”

To celebrate the list’s release, five of the world’s leading sand sculptors will recreate five large-scale models of the sights on Peter’s Hill in central London with the first one being unveiled today.

A new landmark will be revealed each day until Saturday.

David Brown, owner of Bella Jane Boat Trips on Skye who runs trips to Loch Coruisk and the Small Isles, said: “To my mind this recommendation is well deserved.

“Skye is a stunning island with very varied scenery. Just to name a few, we’ve got the Cuillin Mountains, wonderful coastal scenery at Neist Point, secluded beaches, Dunvegan Castle which is the ancestral home of the MacLeods and the Old Man of Storr.

“Skye is also know as a romantic destination and we’ve seen more and more people coming here from around the world for weddings.”

“It’s also easy to get to once you make the journey up north. There’s the Skye Bridge, the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale and the community-run turntable Glenelg Ferry which goes to Kylerhea on Skye.”