Scotland is an ocean of stories — some historical, others constantly evolving, many underrepresented — each revealing little snippets of themselves through the people, the architecture, the rituals, art and landscape alike. In order to grasp the entire tale, you have to read past the first chapter. For, then you will truly appreciate Scotland’s story.
As Scotia’s darling seat, Edinburgh is a city of literature, festivals, startups and innovation, graced with striking old buildings and fresh new approaches. There’s no denying its appeal as a life-affirming city to visit, and yet it only scrapes Scotland’s surface. Think of Edinburgh, if you will, a gourmet appetizer to the full-works Michelin-starred meal to come.
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.
The Highlands is one of earth’s many places enslaved to stereotypes that barely do them justice. Initial thoughts jump from rolling hills to moody lochs and lonely alluring pockets of land. Although such stereotypes are not necessarily negative, the truth remains that these entrenched images equate to notions of ‘rural fantasies’, preconceived notions that pigeon hole a place forever. The truth remains that the further you go into the Highlands, the more alive it becomes, with its breathtaking mountain vistas, enigmatic landscapes and harsh histories, all of which amalgamate to authentic representations of Scotland.
The Highlands are a treasure chest of pure untainted land, close-knit communities and undisturbed wildlife: Dolphins dotting about the Moray Coast, a strong focus on traditional craftsmanship, The Nevis Reserve with its many winter sports activities, Fort William — with its title as the UK’s Outdoor Capital and host of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup — and breathtaking displays of man’s ingenuity, like the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
And don’t forget the tribe of mighty Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet). To outdoor enthusiasts, the Highlands are home, and these Munros, along with the surrounding ridges, peaks, hills and lochs, an adventure of unrivalled appeal.
As it does in the Highlands, this reciprocal relationship with the land reigns supreme across the whole of Scotland, and it’s not limited to outdoor enthusiasts and their Munro counterparts. This bond extends to the rural hill farmers, the fishermen, the butchers, the gamekeepers, the weavers and anyone else in between. The further you trek from Edinburgh, the more this fact reveals itself. Take Scotland’s offering of world class restaurants for instance. Whether fine French cuisine or modern British, almost every one of them sources local ingredients, from hand-dived scallops from Orkney to razor clams from the Isle of Barra. That quality comes from the Scots relationship and understanding with the land, including the Islands, the Highlands, the Borders and central Scotland.
Aside from sensational seafood, the Isles of Scotland are pockets of unaltered beauty in the purest sense, from the Fairy Pools, dinosaur footprints, brooding Cuillin Mountains and transformative views of Skye to the Norse heritage, fine display of pure craftsmanship and folk music culture of Shetland. Again, these authentic components of real Scottish culture are alluded to in the likes of Edinburgh but never fully portrayed.
The Scottish Isles are also home to the world’s finest beaches and surfing spots, some so spellbinding that their Caribbean-like, crystal clear waters with cerulean hues shock the unsuspecting visitor. You just have to know where to go — and travel off the beaten path to find them.
Then there’s the whisky and the gin and lots of it! Small batch and bursting with locally foraged ingredients, there’s nothing like tasting an artisanal brew in the place where it all started.
Edinburgh may be one of the more famous Scottish cities (quite rightly so) but Glasgow is a jewel in its own right. For starters, it’s Scotland’s largest city. Add its breathtaking architecture, artistic prowess, rich shipbuilding heritage and status as second city of the empire, and there’s a whole lot of wanderlust appeal there. Wherever you go in Glasgow, it’s alive. The people, the businesses, the buzz — they all possess this inimitable quality that keeps you wanting more. From the street art scene and maze of museums to live music venues and reputation as Scotland’s best shopping spot, Glasgow deserves more credit. Not to mention the fact that you can eat your way around the world at the menu of memorable eateries. Once more, head a smidgen out of the city and you’re in the magic of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park or on the ferry to the Isle of Bute to see one of the world’s most stunning neo-Gothic mansions, complete with celestial murals and swathes of Carrera marble.
The Borders and More
One of the beautiful things about Scotland is its eclectic array of places, with no two spots ever being the same. An often-overlooked pocket of Scotland is the Borders — a place of Common Riding, fishing, historical sites and stately homes. Between Melrose with its mysterious ancient Abbey ruins dating from 1136, Peebles and its status as one of Scotland’s most creative places, and Kelso, with its charming Abbey, Floors Castle and Britain’s Friendliest Racetrack, the Borders is a bubble of cultural worth.
Then there’s Scotland’s network of coastal towns and fishing villages. Anstruther has arguably one of the world’s greatest fish and chip shops while St Abbs boasts a secret underwater paradise and the UK’s first Voluntary Marine Reserve. Elie, with its charming houses and strong community spirit is always a joy.
Explore St Andrews with its ancient university, independent shops and mindboggling history, or head back up north and see Aberdeen, the Granite City, with its army of granite architecture. At the end of the day, Edinburgh as the original seat of enlightenment will always hold Scotland’s heart, but don’t forget to venture further, for then you’ll find her soul.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.