Dundee was recently voted one of the top ten places in Europe by Lonely Planet for being an outstanding design and cultural hub with friendly inhabitants. With its V and A Museum, Museum of Transport, and Dundee Treasure Trail, this city of ‘jute, jam and journalism’ has lots to entertain visitors. There are plenty of quirky shops and markets and nearby is the scenic Broughty Ferry shoreline.
Orkney is a treat for history fans and nature lovers alike. There’s Maeshowe and Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, Stromness, the Yesnaby cliffs and wildlife such as seals and puffins. Just a wee ferry ride away from the cobbled streets of Stromness is the island of Hoy, home of the Old Man of Hoy. This is one of the most spectacular walks in Scotland.
Fort William and Glencoe
The Jacobite Steam Train takes you on one of the most picturesque rail routes in the world from Fort William to Mallaig across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films. Glencoe is a beautiful and atmospheric place when low cloud settles on the valley floor and there are some stunning waterfalls. Look out for red deer, golden eagles and the monument commemorating the 1692 massacre.
Glasgow’s West End
Glasgow’s West End is a treat for shoppers and culture vultures. Byres Road is a haven of independent shops, quirky cafes and art galleries. Take in the friendly atmosphere, the gourmet food of trendy Finnieston and the Hidden Lane, a colourful street of artists, musicians and designers. There’s the impressive Kelvingrove Museum and the Gothic sights of the University. For a picnic afterwards head to Kelvingrove Park.
Abbotsford House was the home of Sir Walter Scott, which he designed himself as well as planning the gardens surrounding the estate. The new Borders Railway will speed you to Tweedbank quickly and there are loads of great cycle routes including the four abbeys route. Nearby you can find Scott’s view which was Sir Walter Scott’s favourite view across the Borders across the River Tweed to the Eildon Hills.
The seafood capital of Scotland, Oban is a scenic coastal town on the west coast. There are are boats to many of the islands on the west coast from here so it’s a great base. Walking tours of the ‘wee bay’ will regale you with tales of giants, Victorian entrepreneurs and and Stone Age men. There are caves, lighthouses, and awe-inspiring raised beaches packed with shells.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
An area of outstanding natural beauty, people have been drawn here since the 19th century. All sorts of tales and poems have been inspired by the romantic landscape and local legends. With seven waterfalls, walking, camping and biking and Inchcailloch, one of the islands of Loch Lomond, has ancient church ruins.
Edinburgh’s Old Town
With Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other, the Royal Mile is an unmissable attraction. Filled to the brim with acts and tourists in August, there are also several museums dotting the journey down towards the iconic Scottish Parliament building. Hidden away down the steps in the butts and wynds are some great views and a quiet haven known as the Mushroom Garden.
Dunrobin Castle is the ultimate fairytale castle in Scotland. With turrets, terraces and landcaped gardens, there are 189 rooms to explore and an exquisite staircase. The Castle dates back to the 1300s and has views out towards the Dornoch Firth. There’s a terrace that looks out over the formal gardens with zig-zagging paths that lead you down to the gardens, with an orchard, a pyramid garden and a fountain that rises from a pond filled with water-lillies in summer. It also has its own Castle Tea Room, museum and falconry displays.
For a ghostly walk along cobbled streets, head to St Andrews, one of the quaintest old towns in Scotland. Famed for its golf courses, there are also beaches galore, tasty ice cream parlours, the old ruin of the cathedral and the castle which sits on a cliff overlooking the sea. For a breathtaking view of the town and the coast surrounding it on three sides, you can climb the stone spiral staircase of St Rule’s Tower.