I’ve lived in Scotland for nearly three years now and there are always new things to discover. You may tell from my Ultimate Scottish Bucket List, which has nearly 100 items. But after three years, I’m starting to feel like I know this place. Locals sometimes tell me I’ve visited more of Scotland then them and the Brit is always up to humour me with my adventures around his home country – especially to places he’s never been or went to as a child.
This month I’m sponsoring the lovely Kaelene and since she’s heading to Scotland later in the year, I thought today I would put together my top 10 must-dos when you visit Scotland!
1. Visit one of the many isles of the country
Whether it’s the gorgeous Isle of Skye, the Isle of Orkney, the Isle of Mull, the Isle of Arran or even the tiny Isle of May, make sure not to miss it. The island life and the island landscapes are so different from the mainland and the people even nicer. Everywhere is on my list (as they say) and to share with you, I enjoyed the Isle of Iona the most.
2. Visit the New and Old Town of Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a beauty. And it definitely grows on you as well. It is moody and dark in the rain and it is splendid in the sun. You can walk the wider streets of New Town, where you will find many many cafes, shops and restaurants, or head over the hill to the Old Town, with the wynds, alleyways, tiny shops and all the history.
3. Taste the drink and food of the nation
As everyone knows, Scotland rhymes with haggis and whisky. Visit a distillery, or head over to a pub for a tasting of the water of life. My favourite is the creamy whisky liqueur – a Scottish Bailey’s if you wish – Arran Gold. As for food, there are many things that say Scotland, like Cranachan (traditional dessert), haggis (you can have vege haggis too don’t worry!), oats (whether in cakes, desserts, or porridge), or even fish and chips!
4. Dance the night away at a ceilidh
Ceilidhs are my favourite kind of nights out in Scotland! It’s a folk dancing with a live band that usually calls the dances so that you know what you’re doing! Grab a partner, listen attentively, and have fun spinning around the dance floor to some traditional Scottish music.
5. Visit the West End of Glasgow
The city centre of Glasgow is lovely, especially if you walk toward the water or go see the Necropolis or the museums, but truly the West End of Glasgow is where you want to go. It has the gorgeous buildings of the ancient University of Glasgow and the Kelvingrove gallery. It has windy streets lined by trees with bookshops, tiny shops and fresh food stalls.
6. Go admire or hike up a munro
I’m saying either one because I’ve still not hiked a munro and perhaps you won’t have time during your visit, but admiring them is definitely easy – from the train, the car, or even from the boat you may take on the loch. They are gorgeous and truly shape the Scottish landscape.
7. Ride a steam train and pretend you’re heading to Hogwarts
Okay this one is super specific, mainly because I think it was one of the coolest things I’ve done in Scotland. The steam train is such a lovely mode of transport – it takes you back to the olden days, but also drives you through gorgeous country sides and by the seaside.
8. Do a day trip to a small coastal town
I am highly biased, but I think that small towns get you an amazing experience of the Scottish culture. I would obviously recommend St Andrews – it’s an easy day trip from Edinburgh – but there are so many all around the country. You can head to one of the many gorgeous and award-winning beaches, catch a glimpse of the sealife and you can eat the lovely freshly caught seafood.
9. Visit a castle or a palace or a ruin
This goes almost without saying – there is so much history in Scotland! From the battlefield of Culloden, to the palace where ancient kings used to be crowned on the stone of destiny, to the famous castle of Edinburgh, to the many ruins hidden at the far corners of the country, there is so much to discover.
10. Go admire one of the lochs
Did you know that there are over 30,000 lochs in Scotland?? That is a lot to choose from and a lot of beauty to behold. Though Loch Ness can be cliche (you can after all also go to Loch Tay, Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, among others), one of my favourite moments in Scotland to date is walking the castle ruins of Urquhart and admiring the gorgeous Loch Ness.
Which one would be at the top of your list? Ever visited Scotland? What would be your best tip?xx