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Why everyone needs to visit these places in Scotland

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Susan Devaney
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Scotland has just secured fifth place as one of the best countries in the world for experiences, and it couldn’t be more accurate. 

As a Scot who now lives away from my beloved home country, I can’t help but talk about Scotland – to anyone, and everyone, who’ll listen. I’ll tell you about the pure white sandy beaches found up north on the wee Isle of Harris, or how upon reaching John O’Groats you’ll feel like you’ve reached the end of the earth. And I’ll even describe Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands to you, one of the most dramatic landscapes you’ll ever set eyes on.

But it’s only now that I’ve left it behind, travelled the world, and settled in London that I’ve truly realised just how much Scotland has to offer.

From the Harry Potter Express that leaves from Fort William to the Cairngorms National Park, the experiences to be found in Scotland are not only unique, but memorable. Which is why when Trip Advisor announced that the Home of the Brave had found its way into the top five best countries in the world for experiences (as voted by travellers), I thought: why wasn’t it first instead of fifth? Costa Rica and its never-ending list of exotic birds secured the top spot. Personally, I’d rather see a Highland cow.

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Now, Snaptrip has revealed that people in the UK have only seen 30% of the UK – with Scotland being their must-see destination. 

But in case you needed any further convincing that, not only should it have been first on the list, but as to why you should take a trip there immediately then take a look at some of the best experiences below. 

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park

Leaving from Balloch, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park tour aims to let you see Scotland’s splendid scenery. You’ll spend the day in a tour group, combing a visit to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Venturing to Loch Lomond first, you’ll see a stunning loch and trees for miles. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some Scottish wildlife such as otters, capercaillie birds, peregrine falcons, ospreys, wild goats and roe deer.

Next stop: Trossachs National Park, where you’ll see a rugged landscape and the Arrochar Alps.

Added bonus: Refreshments and snacks are provided but make sure to pack yourself some lunch. 

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Tour, £49

West Highlands and Isle of Skye 

As part of a small group, the four-day tour of the West Highlands and Isle of Skye from Edinburgh tour involves a lot of castles, lochs and famous monuments.

Leaving from Edinburgh, you’ll see historic landmarks such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct (and the Harry Potter Express). You’ll meander through Glen Coe and you’ll see Dunvegan Castle up close, too.

Once you’ve reached the Isle of Skye, you’ll get to witness Old Man of Storr and the incredible sea cliff of Kilt Rock. If you’re lucky, you might even see the enchanting fairy pools.

Don’t worry, three-star lodgings with breakfast is included, too. 

Four-day tour of the West Highlands and Isle of Skye from Edinburgh, £389

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Edinburgh

The Scottish capital is steeped in history which is why a guided tour is so worthwhile. Perfect for first-time visitors, this two-hour guided tour includes tales of famous figures such as Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert Burns.

From the iconic castle to the cobbled streets, the city is a wee beauty.

Old Town Edinburgh two-hour guided tour, £10

Isle of Harris

Believe it or not, but the Isle of Harris is home to some of the whitest beaches and turquoise seas out there. Take a short boat trip to the Uist islands to see Berneray, where you can stroll along three miles of pure white heaven. If you’re looking for some quiet time then this is the place to be. 

Added bonus: you’ll definitely spot a golden eagle or two.

You can find out more information here

Harry Potter Express

As many a Harry Potter fan knows, the Jacobite Express that steams across the Glenfinnan Viaduct is now a great tourist attraction due to its appearance in the films.

Leaving from Fort William and heading up to Mallaig, it’s an experience worth its weight in gold. Why not try a two-day tour that also includes seeing the incredible mountain range of Glen Coe?

You can find out more information here

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Isle of Lewis and the Outer Hebrides 

Thought you could only see the Northern Lights in Iceland or Antarctica? Think again. If you’re touring around Scotland then make sure to include the Outer Hebrides to see the sky light up. But if you can’t make a stopover there then there are a few other locations where you’ll see them, too. From Caithness to Shetland and Orkney, you’re sure to spot auroras borealis.

And why not see The Standing Stones of Callanish while you’re there, too? Or visit a whisky distillery, and eat some incredibly fresh seafood.

You can find out more information here

Go on, book a trip there. You might even cross paths with a Scotsman in a kilt…

Images: Unsplash / Getty

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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