It’s easy to see why people fall in love with Scotland. Its dramatic movie set landscapes, roaring food and drink scene and welcoming, friendly people are just a few reasons to visit…
After two years of travel restrictions, a trip to Scotland is an ideal way to ease back into travelling.
Particularly as its two major hubs, Edinburgh and Glasgow, are a direct train journey from most big cities throughout the UK.
It is also a great option for anyone planning to travel in a greener, more sustainable way. And with many community-led businesses at the forefront of tourism, there are plenty of ways to give back as you go.
However, the most wonderful thing about holidaying in Scotland is that it has something to offer every type of traveller.
Whether you dream of restaurant-hopping through Edinburgh or hiking the tallest peaks such as Ben Nevis – you’ll easily find a holiday that’s perfect for you.
Here’s where to head to, depending on your personality…
1. The explorer
Go to: The Highlands
When everyone’s recovering in bed from one too many G&Ts, you’ll be found poring over the guide book and planning your next adventure.
Your dream spot? The Highlands.
Covering the north of Scotland, from Fort William to John O’Groats, the glorious Highlands is where snow-covered peaks tower into the sky and glassy lochs span for miles.
Here, single-lane roads weave through tiny, picturesque towns and quaint pubs welcome the weary traveller with a selection of locally-brewed delights. This is the Scotland you see in movies and books – and it’s every bit as beautiful as you would imagine.
Must-do stopovers include the waterfall-laden Glencoe Valley, where waterfalls tumble from the mountains. Further north, don’t miss the famous Jacobite Steam Train – perhaps better known as the Hogwarts Express – passing over the stunning 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct at 10.45am and 3pm each day.
Not far from the legendary Loch Ness, settle into an idyllic Eagle Bray log cabin to really absorb your remote surroundings. A 75-minute wildlife cruise along the Inner Moray Firth often sees otters, seals and dolphins. Daily trips leave from Inverness.
2. The foodie
Go to: Edinburgh & The Lothians
If for you, the best bit of going away is eating your way around the local restaurants and delicacies, you need to get yourself to Edinburgh.
Get the full foodie introduction by joining one of Eat Walk Edinburgh’s tours.
The three-hour circuit is led by knowledgeable local guides and offers tastings – from haggis, black pudding and Cullen skink to a selection of the finest whiskies.
Elsewhere, don’t miss Greenwood’s, just off George Street, which does insanely good locally sourced all-day breakfasts with vegetarian and vegan alternatives.
LeftField is a much-loved neighbourhood bistro, best- known for its seafood platters, featuring everything from oysters to lobster.
Or if you’re feeling extra fancy, Michelin Star-rated 21212 by Paul Kitching is the place for special celebrations.
Situated on Royal Terrace, this is one of the city’s pricier options – but the gourmet three-choice menu is worth every penny.
3. The isolation seeker
Go to: Unst, The Shetland Islands
Prefer your holidays without hordes of tourists? The Isle of Unst is the place for you.
It takes a short flight or a comfortable overnight ferry crossing to reach Shetland, followed by two short ferry rides to reach Unst, the UK’s most northerly inhabited island. Still, this small 632-strong community has a lot to showcase.
For a spectacular view, take a short hike to the Hermaness National Nature Reserve where you can claim to be “Britain’s most northerly person”.
There, you can find breathtaking cliff-top views towards the brilliantly named Muckle Flugga Lighthouse.
You’re also likely to see thousands of seabirds – including 9,500 pairs of gannets dipping and diving and plenty of puffins going about their daily business.
Incredibly Unst produces its own whisky and gin too. Don’t miss a tasting at the Saxa Vord Distillery – or pick up a souvenir bottle of much-loved Shetland Reel to support the local economy.
B&B and guesthouse stays are another great way to ensure your spending goes directly back into the community.
4. The literary fiend
Go to: Dumfries & Galloway
Prefer getting stuck into a good read over hitting up the karaoke booth? You’ll be right at home in Dumfries and Galloway.
The unassuming regions have long served as inspiration for famous authors and playwrights.
In particular, Wigtown near Galloway is proudly labelled as Scotland’s National Book Town – and plays host to the annual Wigtown Book Festival in September.
In Dumfries, you’ll find Moat Brae – the grand Georgian home of Peter Pan author, JM Barrie. It was here that Barrie was inspired to create the fictitious Neverland.
Today, Moat Brae houses the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, where tours take families on their very own adventure to an ‘enchanted land’.
If you’re visiting in spring, make sure you book a tour and head to the Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm, which is the home built by Burns, and displays hundreds of old manuscripts, poetry and personal objects belonging to Burns.
There is also the Robert Burns House in Dumfries where you can book a tour and get your creative juices flowing and take in the desk where he wrote his most famous works.
It’s a bookworm’s dream.
5. The active adventurer
Go to: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and Stirling
If you’re already lacing up your hiking boots at the thought of arriving in Scotland, make sure you head to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley.
Stretching for an impressive 96 miles – from Milngavie to Fort William – the West Highland Way is a superb hiking trail taking in the best of Scotland’s dramatic landscape.
With some steep hills and ridges – and a cumulative elevation of 3,154 metres – the trail isn’t for the faint-hearted.
However, if you’re fit, enjoy wild camping and walking long distances and carry the right equipment – this extraordinary experience is a must.
Just make sure you check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code about camping responsibly.
For those after something a little less strenuous, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park offers a variety of short trails for all abilities, leading to views of lochs, the coast, hills, rivers, forests, glens and more.
The best time to visit is from late spring to early autumn, when kayaking, paddle-boarding, peddle-boats and other family-friendly water activities can be safely enjoyed on Loch Lomond.
Meanwhile the likes of Loch Lubnaig is a great place to cut your water sports teeth thanks to its sheltered position. No need to worry about having all the right kit either, as visitors can rent equipment by the hour or day to explore the loch’s 30 islands.
Base yourself at the fabulous Stirling Highland Hotel and spa, which is just a 25-minute drive away in the historic old town of the city, to ease tired muscles with a back, neck and shoulder massage.
A well-deserved treat.
Whatever your holiday personality, VisitScotland has a trip for you. From scenic escapes and rural retreats to unique city breaks, start planning your Scottish getaway now.