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Islay is known as the Queen of the Hebrides. Its sheer beauty is at times overwhelming and certainly has royal qualities bestowed upon it. Like whisky? Aye. This wee isle has eight whisky distilleries waiting to be explored until your legs can’t handle it. If names like Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, and Ardbeg don’t sound too foreign, then expect to be as happy as a sporran on a kilt. Gin lovers will know that The Botanist gin (famous for its 22 botanicals) is Islay born and bred. Rare birds have made this beauty a popular getaway spot. So should you.
‘Edina! Scotia’s darling seat! All hail thy palaces and tow’rs. I shelter in thy honour’d shade’. Gaze across Edinburgh from the top of Arthur’s Seat or the castle and see what Scotland’s beloved poet Robert Burns was talking about. While strolling through the winding alleyways and cobbled streets, the old buildings whisper about the secrets of this cultural utopia. Stop in around August and immerse yourself into the famous Fringe Festival. Take your pick from multiple Michelin star worthy restaurants and countless trendy bars. Words simply cannot do this city justice.
National Geographic voted Skye the fourth best island in the world. That’s a big deal. Explore the rich 500 million year history and enjoy the breathtaking views. Some go just to gaze upwards at the night’s sky and see the twinkling incandescent stars. They are particularly beautiful due to the lack of pollution on the island. Adventurers can establish a connection with the environment and grace the Fairy Pools with their presence. From dinosaur footprints in the Staffin Bay rocks (yes, dinosaurs) to the inlets, castles, and old timey pubs, Skye is a historical goldmine begging to be explored.
‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’. Make it your mission to experience the Highlands. Author Ian Fleming was rightfully enamored with Scotland, hence why he gave Bond Scottish roots. Skyfall (2012) is the fourth film to feature this beautiful land. Unsurprisingly, the glorious Glencoe was a chosen location. Check into the Ballachulish Hotel, taste the food from Scotland’s natural larder, have a brew or two, and then witness the dignified Glen Coe for yourself. The majestic glen’s raw beauty eradicates any stresses.
Despite choppy seas and whirlpools, sometimes you just need to ride the giant wave called life. Scotland isn’t all bagpipes and kilts. Surfers gather to experience the seas of Scotland in Machrihanish. Grab that surfboard and make sure to catch some sweet Scottish waves. Naturally, they are as powerful as they are beautiful. It is obvious then, why these beaches were a source of inspiration for Scottish landscape painter William McTaggart. Wigwams, static caravans, and camping spots can be rented and make for the coolest stay for surfers and beach bums.
Just a train journey away from Edinburgh, there is a land like no other called East Lothian. This gem is the definition of beautiful, with every place feeling like a scene straight out of Game of Thrones. Days can be spent touring the picturesque sandy beaches with gargantuan dunes, glorious stately homes, and shops filled with handcrafted goods from local artists. Don’t underestimate the pubs, these wee drinking dens have more kick than a straight shot of Scotch. East Lothian is a prime spot for agriculture. Expect fantastic food and salivate over La Potiniere and Greywalls in Gullane.
Like everywhere in Scotland, Lewis is so beautiful that it’s hard to process. Set eyes on the many stones situated around the area, inspect the copious stone circle constructions. Discover why the Callanish Standing Stones is one of the most symbolic megalithic complexes in Europe. These stones and archaeological sites show the first signs of settlement on the isle from years back. Cross the bridge to visit Great Bernera and tour the rebuilt Iron Age village, museum, and spectacular beach. Before arrival, brush up on crannogs and attempt to spot them.
Britannia Panopticon is the oldest surviving music hall in the world and some say there is more marble in Glasgow’s City Chambers than in the Vatican. Glasgow isn’t just a pretty city. With a plethora of brilliant hotels and restaurants, good old Glasgow is a must for any weekend getaway. With so much to do and see, this place ticks every box. It is only fitting that this cultural sanctuary is home to the likes of the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre Of Scotland. Dinnae worry about encountering a ‘Glasgow Kiss’, the people are so friendly and express nothing but love!
‘Titles of nobility will shine like stars on all of you who deserve them. Now, let’s go to your castle in Inverness’. Shakespeare’s Macbeth was set partly in Inverness. If the Bard’s play isn’t a deal maker, then consider the thought of spotting the Loch Ness Monster instead. Cryptozoology aside, Inverness is a musical hub too. Visit during the summer to catch Rock Ness and the Tartan Heart Festival. From the ghosts of Macbeth’s past to notorious battle sites, castles, Nessie cruises, whisky shops, bagpipes, and woolen mills, this place is a desirable getaway spot.
Take a time capsule to the Neolithic era and venture to Orkney, an archipelago just off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Delve into a bygone past before Stonehenge or the Egyptian Pyramids, and check out the preserved village of Skara Brae. Today, colonies of seals call Orkney home. The local dining is so fresh that each bite is worth savoring. Expect hand-dived scallops, lobster, shellfish, lamb, and beef that must be washed down with beverages from the award winning distilleries and breweries. Embrace the light nights. During the summer, the sun doesn’t set until late so neither should you.