Welcome to Scotland. Whatever’s drawn you here – be it heritage, whisky or the Harry Potter fandom – you’ll have an unforgettable trip.
The beauty of Scotland’s scenery and richness of its culture is matched only by the friendliness of the people. With so much on offer, it’s hard to narrow it down – but whatever you do, try not to squeeze in too much. Scotland is bigger than it looks, and you’ll enjoy it more if you travel deeper, not farther. Here’s how to get the most out of your trip.
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.
Discover Scottish literary heroes in Edinburgh
Here’s a local tip: the best view in Edinburgh isn’t from the castle, nor is it from Calton Hill. It’s actually from the Scott Monument, the spectacular gothic spike that greets visitors as they step out of Waverley Station. Having a 200ft (60m) tall monument to poet Sir Walter may seem like a quirk of town planning, but Edinburgh takes its literary greats very seriously. Bookworms will revel in the collection of curios at The Writers’ Museum, which celebrates Scott alongside The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde author Robert Louis Stevenson and national bard Robert Burns, whose birthday is marked with haggis dinners up and down the country.
However, one name stands above all in international renown: JK Rowling. The Harry Potter author wrote in the Elephant House Cafe – now tragically closed due to a fire – and in a suite of the Balmoral hotel on Princes Street, now called the JK Rowling suite. Wander down to Greyfriars Kirkyard, one of the oldest cemeteries in Edinburgh. Rowling used names from the gravestones here for her characters – including one Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort. Round off your tour with a Wizard Afternoon Tea or potion-making session at The Cauldron.
Walk, cycle and eat your way along the Fife Coastal Path
The Fife Coastal Path links two bridges – the Tay Bridge and the Kincardine Bridge. Between them is 116mi (187km) of cragged coastline, spectacular seafood and opportunities for bird-spotting. You’ll also pass through the postcard-perfect university town of St Andrews: this is where golf was born, and where Prince William met a certain Catherine Middleton. Further down the road is the Kingsbarns Distillery, one of a raft of new Lowland whisky distilleries.
One of the most picturesque sections of the path starts in Elie and ends in Crail, taking in pastel fishing villages, ruined castles and pebble beaches. Don’t miss boat-fresh lobster from the Ship Inn in Elie, or smoked salmon from the East Pier Smokehouse in Anstruther. Catch a boat from Anstruther to the Isle of May to see hundreds of nesting seabirds, including puffins and guillemots. If you’re really lucky, you may spot a dolphin or whale.
Sip smoke-laced whisky on Islay
Scotland has no shortage of distillery-hopping destinations – but for sheer atmosphere, Islay is hard to beat. This tiny Hebridean island is home to nine distilleries – roughly one for every 350 inhabitants. The single malts produced here are heavily peated, which means the barley is dried over burning peat. Drinking an Islay scotch is like drinking a fireplace – you’re bound to impress your friends if you bring a couple of bottles home.
You’ll need a few days to try everything, but if you’re short on time, park the car in Port Ellen – there are three distilleries within walking distance. Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg all have visitor centres that let you tour the distillery, read up on Islay history and taste a few drams. Some tastings even come with chocolate pairings.
Re-enact your favourite film and TV scenes
Scotland is the darling of Hollywood directors – but there’s nothing like seeing it in real life. Eilean Donan Castle, just east of Skye, is perhaps the best-known Scottish film location – jutting out into Loch Duich, it’s been the setting for The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Highlander (1986). Skye itself has seen its share of film crews – for Prometheus (2012), The Wicker Man (1973) and Macbeth (2015).
Central Scotland is another popular destination for film lovers: Doune Castle, near Stirling, appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), where John Cleese mocked the “English pig-dogs” who trespassed upon his land. Appropriately, the audio tour of the castle is narrated by former Python Terry Jones. The TV series Outlander (2014-) also features Doune Castle, along with Loch Katrine and Deanston Distillery.
If you like your movies (and your travel) on the grittier side, head to Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, which often doubles as post-apocalyptic New York. Scenes for The Batman (2022) were filmed at the Glasgow Necropolis; the city also features heavily in 1917 (2019), World War Z (2013), and TV series Succession (2018).
Start planning your own trip to Scotland at visitscotland.com
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.