Scotland, with its abundance of historic castles, whisky distilleries and tartan mills is the kind of place that gives a glint in your eye. And yet, there is so much more waiting to be discovered. From fairy kingdoms and pineapple houses, to otherworldly Ecopods and questionable puppet collections, there are countless surprises in store. For days that demand adventure, explore our alternative guide to Scotland with the most unusual things to do.
Search For Fairies At The Fairy Pools Of Skye
Skye, with its cinematic landscape, famous mountains and immense beauty is one of the most beloved islands of Scotland. What’s more, fairies are said to inhabit it. Ambiguous and elusive, these wee fairy folk frequent the Fairy Pools on the River Brittle at the base of the Black Cuillin. Frightfully cold and clear as can be, these natural pools are captivating and almost medicinal in nature, and walking to find them is almost as fun as frolicking in the magical water.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Decipher The Depths Of The Iconic Fingal’s Cave
The kind of place akin to the wildest of drifting dreams, Fingal’s Cave, with its resonating harmonious tones and hexagonally jointed basalt columns, exceeds all expectations. Undeniably stunning, this sea cave awaits on the uninhabited island of Staffa. Its mysterious sounds and natural acoustics inspired romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Op. 26 or Fingal’s Cave Overture, which in turn made the cave a magnet for tourists in the 19th century. Subsequently, author Jules Verne, poets William Wordsworth and John Keats, prolific Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner, Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Pink Floyd all shared a mutual adoration for this wonder.
Solve The Mystery Of The Dog Suicide Bridge
Although not a pleasant thought in the slightest, the fact remains that Overtoun Bridge, located near Dumbarton, has witnessed many a dog death. The question is – why? The three-arch bridge, which was completed in 1895 by civil engineer H.E. Milner, has sparked perpetual speculation since the 1950s due to the number of canines falling to their death. At a rate of approximately one dog per year, investigations suggest that it may be due to alluring smells. Then again, no definitive answer has ever appeared. Animal lovers with a nose for puzzles may take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.
Put Your Feet Up And Move Into Bobby’s Bus Shelter
Leave it up to the Scots to transform a bus shelter into a sitting room! Situated close to the village of Baltasound on Unst, Shetland, the Unst Bus Shelter is a waiting place akin to a Dr. Seuss book. Maintained by the Shetland Islands Council, this famous shelter is nicknamed ‘Bobby’s Bus Shelter’ in honour of Bobby Macaulay, a wee boy who once cycled to the shelter each morning before catching the bus. Bobby wrote a letter to the council explaining that he kept his bike there after hearing the shelter might be demolished. In good spirits, the council kept the shelter and decked it out with a sofa and TV, amongst other creature comforts. It is frequently redecorated!
Marvel At Meikleour Beech Hedge, The World’s Largest Hedge
Straight out of the Queen of Heart’s garden, the Meikleour Beech Hedge isn’t just any old hedge. It is, according to the Guinness World Records, the tallest and longest hedge in the world. This giant is 30 metres high and 530 metres or 1/3 mile long. Trimmed and manicured to perfection every ten years, visitors can come and marvel as they wish. Planted on Meikleour Estate, Perth and Kinross, in 1745 by Jean Mercer and her husband, the hedge is described as growing towards the heavens in honour of the men that planted it, following their death at the Battle of Culloden.
Pontificate Over The Garden Of Cosmic Speculation
If the name isn’t enough of a lure, then surely the sheer otherworldliness of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation will suffice. The masterpiece of landscape architect and theorist Charles Jencks, this 30-acre sculpture garden resembles a map of the imagination. Located at his home, Portrack House near Dumfries, this utopia displays thought-provoking aesthetics like artificial symmetry and curves, while setting mathematical formulae and scientific phenomena. With mathematics, science and contemporary cosmology serving as major inspirations, it’s no surprise that themes of Black Holes and Fractals reign free.
Stay In A Pineapple House
Fantastically fruity and eccentric to the core, the Dunmore Pineapple is one of Scotland’s more unusual properties. Situated in Dunmore Park in Stirlingshire, this pineapple pad was built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore, John Murray, in 1761. He made living in a pineapple cool way before SpongeBob. A symbol of hospitality, wealth and power back in the day, the pineapple became a reccurring motif used by craftsmen and artisans alike. The most impressive architectural rendering of this fruit, the Dunmore Pineapple is available to rent as a holiday home.
See The World Through Wooden Eyes
Hidden within the confines of the Mitchell Library in Glasgow sits a curious collection of puppets. The World Through Wooden Eyes boasts a fascinating array of puppets, masks, toys, prints and books accumulated by John M. Blundall, one of the most renowned puppet masters in the world. Questionable to some and ingenious to others, this guru’s collection offers valuable insight into the close link between puppets and the accompanying performance aspects. After all, puppets have long served as a crafty cultural tool divulging clues and questioning prevalent societal issues.
Shed Those Unwanted Bad Vibes Via A Tangled Cloth At A Clootie Well
A scene straight from a thriller or horror film, unexpectedly stumbling across a clootie well can be a tad disconcerting to say the least. Witnessing a myriad of cloths tangled over branches creating menacing shadows is a remarkable sight. Clootie wells (clootie being the Scots word for cloth) is an old pagan tradition linked with water spirits and the belief that knotted rags tied to trees will whisk away pain and sickness with each rotting fibre. This practice is still celebrated at Munlochy Clootie Well today, with the Forestry Commission of Scotland placing emphasis on participants using biodegradable cloth.
Be One With Nature And Enter Into Your Own Bond Movie With An Ecopod
A true utopian environment and perfect fusion of outdoors and comfort, the pioneering Ecopod design puts the ‘glamping trend’ to shame. Blending in with the cinematic Highland scenery, Ecopod is a geodesic dome of a structure that champions luxury low-carbon living and an open design plan. Embellished with minimalist designer furniture, organic toiletries, local pottery, and state-of-the art everything, Ecopod sports unfathomable views of Loch Linnhe and Monty Python’s Castle. Conceptually flawless and perfectly positioned, Ecopod is a cosy couples’ love shack like no other.
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