An insider’s guide to the world’s “most beautiful country”
Are you planning a trip to Scotland? It was voted the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide readers in 2017, so the highlands should definitely be on your bucket list! Take a look at our insider’s guide to the Scottish capital by our local ambassador.
Hi, my name is Peter and I’m Not in the Guide Book’s local ambassador for Edinburgh. I’ve brought together the best things to see and do in Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole.
Scotland is a tiny country with a population of just five million people, but it welcomes over 14 million visitors each year. We may be small but we are also mighty, and the country boasts a wonderful combination of wild and rural places with thriving cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh is the second most visited city in the UK after London, thanks to events such as Hogmany – the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve party.
Scotland has a rich medieval history so there are many castles to visit and learn about the country’s fascinating past. You can even stay in a castle as some have been transformed into quirky hotels. Scotland’s most well-known castle is Edinburgh Castle, which can be seen perched on the top of a rock from across the city. Other castles worth a visit include Stirling Castle, Inverness Castle and Balmoral Castle.
Whisky is Scotland’s gift to the world, and any visitor to Scotland should take a trip to one of our 100+ distilleries. Learn about how the spirit is made and what makes malt whisky so distinctive and arguably the best whisky on the planet.
Beaches, Mountains & Forests
The Scottish countryside is what makes the country so unique. Its natural wonders include national parks and forests, snow capped mountains and stunning white sand beaches. There are also plenty of islands to explore with breathtaking views in their own right.
When is the best time to go?
Scotland is a country of extremes when it comes to climate, and the weather is always a talking point with tourists! I can assure you that in my 50+ years of living in Scotland I can confirm we do get some bad weather, but we got some beautiful days too. You can experience all four seasons in one day, so you get more weather bang for your buck! Bring suitable clothing for the season and be prepared for all weather types – sun, wind, rain and snow!
The reality is the Scottish weather has helped to shape the landscape, and if we had a Mediterranean climate there wouldn’t be as many diverse rural spots to visit. All seasons have their benefits and it depends on your reason for visiting Scotland as to the best time of year to visit. We have pleasant summers, a colourful autumn and snowy scenes in Winter can be just as picturesque.
Walkers and climbers should keep a keen eye on the weather forecast, because the weather is so changeable especially in the high areas. The Mountain Weather Information Service produces forecasts throughout the day for mountain areas: www.mwis.org.uk/scottish-forecast
Top 10 Must See Scotland Sites
- Edinburgh Castle
- Holyrood Palace
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- Princes Street Gardens
- Scottish National Gallery
- Calton Hill
- Rosslyn Chapel
- Arthur’s Seat
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
- Edinburgh’s Old Town
- Take a tour of one of Scotland’s whisky making distilleries, and try a wee dram while you’re there
- Enjoy a tour of the capital city with your camera to capture the art, history and culture
- Try outdoor adventure with white water rafting, canyoning and bungee jumping
- Explore the Scottish mountains in all their glory
- Enjoy the local wildlife with a a wildlife adventure photography
- Landyachting on the stunning St Andrew’s coast
- Take a cruise on Loch Tay and visit a secluded island
- Spot basking sharks on the West coast
- Drive the North Coast 500 circular road trip to take in the remote landscapes Scotland has to offer.