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Five Of The Best Cities And Places To Visit In Scotland

Occupying the northern part of Great Britain, the country of Scotland is often overshadowed by its neighbor England but offers equally if not more, unmissable iconic places that everyone will love. Think of spots like the Trossachs National Park, which houses the biggest lake in the whole of Britain, or enchanting fortresses like Edinburgh Castle. Visitors to Scotland really are spoilt for choice.

To help you plan the right type of holiday that suits you, we’ve written up an entire list of vacation ideas and destinations for magical Scotland.

Tarskavaig and the Cuillin Hills, Skye, Scotland
There are a lof of small valleys in Scotland which would make a great getaway © Getty Images

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Scotland?

Since many of Scotland’s main activities are outdoors, you will need to have the weather on your side. Unfortunately, Scotland doesn’t have the luxury that other warm places have.

The most favorable time to visit the gem of Britain’s north is the summer season between June and August; these are the months that see a huge increase in tourists flying into the main cities to enjoy the warmest weather, with the highest temperatures averaging from 9°C and 19°C.

November to the end of February is when Scotland is at its coldest. Temperatures drop to as low as 1°C and rarely go above 10°C, so you’ll need to wrap up. Even though it’s the country’s coldest period, there are some busy spells of tourism around Christmas and in January when the skiing resorts open around the Cairngorms.

Any outdoor sports enthusiasts who want to hit the mountains and prefer milder conditions than the summer but as cold as the winter, consider traveling to Scotland between March and May or September and October. Plus, there’s half the amount tourists allowing you to have the place all to yourself.

Five Of The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Scotland

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Glasgow
  3. Aberdeen
  4. The Scottish Highlands
  5. Dundee
Scotland edinburgh royal mile 1 scaled
When walking the streets of Edinburgh you will feel transported back in time © Getty Images

Edinburgh – Scotland’s Cultural Capital

Regardless of your interests, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, has no shortage of cool places to go and see. Situated in the southeast, Edinburgh is a cultural capital that always surprises tourists, from vibrant events such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to major sights drenched in history like the St. Giles Cathedral. No matter when you go, a trip to Edinburgh always promises to be a good one.

Edinburgh – What To Do There?

Step back in time at the Edinburgh Castle – Get a feel for what life was like back in medieval times at Edinburgh Castle. Hear stories about the many sieges there, see the huge cannons used to defend the structure, and understand the critical role it played in society back then and how it has become one of Scotland’s most famous attractions.

See Edinburgh from a different perspective at Calton Hill – Escape the chaos of the city center and embark on a journey to Edinburgh’s best viewpoint, Calton Hill. The area is dotted with a number of Greek-inspired landmarks, such as the Scottish Acropolis and the City Observatory, where the vistas are incredible.

Take a tour of the Scottish National Gallery – Discover some of Scotland’s most cherished treasures at the Scottish National Gallery in the Edinburgh city center. Saunter through this impressive neoclassic building and admire a wide variety of works of art from local and international artists.

What To Eat And Drink In Edinburgh

Haggis – Haggis is the face of Scotland’s culinary scene and is a must-try when you touch down in Edinburgh. It’s a type of pudding made with sheep’s pluck, oatmeal, onions, herbs, and spices and plated up alongside some mashed potatoes and turnips. The end product doesn’t look too inviting, but it tastes delicious.

Glenmorangie – Everyone knows that scotch whiskey comes from Scotland, but which is the tastiest? Glenmorangie is a single-malt whiskey that has been distilled since 1843 and is slowly becoming one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in the country.

Tips For Visiting Edinburgh

  • The Old Mile is a hugely popular tourist district in Edinburgh, but it’s pretty overpriced, so avoid eating and drinking there when you can.
  • Edinburgh’s main airport is close enough to the city center, so just hop on a short bus ride as you arrive instead of wasting your money on a taxi.
  • The way the locals speak may confuse you at the beginning. It’s not the same accent as England, but hopefully, you’ll be able to grasp it after a while. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves if you don’t understand what they’re saying.

Glasgow – One Of The Top Places To Travel To For Honeymoons, Families, And Couples

Every Scottish adventure should have a stop included in Glasgow, a charming city on the edge of the river Clyde. Enjoy the best of Scotland’s music scene in one of the city’s many vibrant clubs, dine in traditional restaurants alongside locals who are more than happy to share their recommendations, or watch Celtic play Rangers in a grueling derby football match. It’s all to come on your upcoming holiday!

Glasgow cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow is home to many old churches like this one that make the city have an old feel © Getty Images

Which Are The Best Things To Do And Tourist Attractions To See In Glasgow?

Spend some time at the Glasgow Botanical Gardens – Immerse yourself in nature at the Glasgow Botanical Gardens, an impressive display of fauna just outside of the main center. Soak up lush green bushes, still trees, and blooming beds, all while strolling through a humongous glasshouse.

Gaze at the Glasgow Cathedral – You’ll find many forms of Gothic architecture throughout Glasgow, but everyone’s favorite is the Glasgow Cathedral. Constructed in 1197 and is still scraping the sky of the city to this day. You can enter for free, but if you’d like an audio guide, you’ll have to pay an extra small fee.

Join a tour of the Scottish Football Museum – Glasgow is a metropolis drenched in football history; after all, it’s home to two of the country’s best teams, Celtic and Rangers. The Scottish Football Museum sits in the National Stadium at Hampden, providing visitors with an interactive exhibit filled with football memorabilia and artifacts.

What Should You Eat And Drink In Glasgow?

Cock-a-leekie – Scotland is known for having funny names for some of their dishes, and this is one of them. Cock-a-leekie is a type of chicken soup made with a combination of chicken broth, barley, rice, leeks, and onions. The older generation, which is used to making Cock-a-leekie will also add prunes to their mix.

Atholl Brose – Often brought out for big occasions, Atholl Brose is a cream liqueur. Its main ingredient is brose, an oatmeal soaked in water mixed with malt whiskey, cream, and honey. Nothing beats an Atholl Brose after a big meal; it’s sometimes served as a dessert with some added whipped cream.

What To Know Before Visiting Glasgow

  • Locals from Glasgow are super lighthearted, so prepare yourself for lots of joking around and try not to get too offended.
  • It rains a lot in Glasgow. Bring your umbrella with you at all times, just in case.
  • Scotland uses the British pound exactly like Northern Ireland, England, and Wales. Don’t be worried if the pound notes you get given look a bit different from the pounds down in England. Scotland prints their own version, and they can be used across Great Britain.
Hikers Mountain Enjoying Valley
Scotland is home to some of the most amazing hikes © Getty Images

Aberdeen – The Oil Capital Of Europe

Lying on the north sea, the wonderful city of Aberdeen is a delight to visit. With two miles of picturesque beaches, historical attractions like Provost Skene’s House, and charming bridges suspended above quietly flowing rivers such as the Brig o’Balgownie, Aberdeen offers an entirely different experience than elsewhere in Scotland.

What Are Some Things You Should Do In Aberdeen?

Gawk at Balmoral Castle – An hour and a half drive from Aberdeen is Balmoral Castle, one of the estates belonging to the British Royal Family. From the spacious grounds to the lavish ballroom, you’ll really see what it’s like to get the royal treatment. It doesn’t open all the time, so be sure to research beforehand to see if you can take a tour.

Visit the Aberdeen Science Center – Opened in 1988, the Aberdeen Science Center is a brilliant display of interactive scientific artifacts and workshops. Some of the highly advanced exhibits are incredible, like the Light Up The Lighthouse, where you can use specific waves of energy to give light to a lighthouse.

Walk over the oldest bridge in Scotland – Get your trainers on and walk through Seaton Park in search of the oldest bridge in Scotland, the Brig o’Balgownie, constructed in the early 1300s. It crosses the river Don that flows on the city’s outskirts into the North Sea.

Food And Drinks Everyone Should Try In Aberdeen

Peterhead Fish and chips – A good old fish and chips is an adored street food and one combination you can’t leave Aberdeen without trying, but not just any fish; it has to be Peterhead Fish. During the winter, Peterhead Fish are caught in the North Sea and brought back to shore for consumption. When it’s time for cooking, it will be fried in a batter and served alongside thick-cut chips.

Drambuie – Although Scotland has a couple of big-name liqueurs on the worldwide market, Drambuie is undoubtedly the one everyone has tried before. The spirit is made with a mix of scotch whiskey, spices, honey, and herbs and was first produced in the 18th century.

Essential Information For Visiting Aberdeen

  • If you’re ordering a scotch whiskey, ask for a dram, not a shot.
  • Remember, in Scotland, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, so be aware when hiring a car.
  • If you’re considering taking public transport for your trip, think about purchasing the Spirit of Scotland travel pass, which gives you access to trains, buses, and ferries for a set fee. It’s well worth it if you take more than a few journeys.

The Scottish Highlands – Where All Adventurers Wander

The Scottish Highlands is the biggest region in Scotland that stretches across 10,000 square miles in the northern part of the country. It’s loved for its scenic hiking trails, rugged mountains, quiet lakes, fantastic camping opportunities, and fun water sports. You could easily spend weeks in the Scottish Highlands and never be bored.

Activities And Experiences You Shouldn’t Miss Out On In The Scottish Highlands

See if the myth is real at Loch Ness – As a child, you were probably told about the legendary Loch Ness Monster that resided in Scotland when you were in school; this is its supposed home. Walk around the freshwater lake and see if you can spot it for yourself before checking out what’s left of the weathered nearby Urquhart Castle.

Go to Cape Wrath – Cape Wrath is the most north-westerly tip in all of Great Britain. From there, you can catch breathtaking seascapes and even spot the Orkney Islands when the weather is clear. Walk along dramatic sea cliffs and spot astonishingly unique rock formations that will indeed have you scratching your head, wondering how they were made.

Climb Ben Nevis – Do you think you have what it takes to climb the highest mountain in Scotland? Ben Nevis sits at 1,345 meters above sea level and is on every avid hiker’s to-do list. There are a couple of routes you can take to the summit that caters to a selection of skill sets; the Mountain Track is perfect for beginners, whereas the Carn Mor Dearg Arete is where the experienced go to play.

The last sunbeam at Neist Point Lighthouse Isle of Skye (Glendale, Scotland)
Isle of Skye is an iconic destination in the Scottish Highlands, known for its picturesque scenery © Getty Images

What You Should Know Before Going To The Scottish Highlands

  • Always bring a change of clothes wherever you end up in the highlands. You never know what’s around the corner, especially on the hiking routes.
  • Take one thing at a time. There’s so much to see in the Scottish Highlands, but a lot of the activities are spread out, so you’ll find yourself traveling long distances a lot of the time, which will end up draining you in the long run.

Dundee – The UNESCO City Of Design

On the northern bank of the river Tay is Dundee, the only city in Great Britain that has been awarded UNESCO City Of Design status. Dundee is famed for its creative heritage, evident in all corners of the city. Learn about gripping industries such as shipbuilding and textiles and more advanced sectors like digital technology and contemporary design through excursions like Discovery Point and V&A Dundee.

Must-Have Experiences In Dundee

Get some photographs of the Tay Rail Bridge – To understand Dundee’s engineering modernization, start by heading to the Tay Rail Bridge. This crossing was built between 1872 and 1878, putting Dundee on the map regarding business opportunities and increased tourism. In the early years following its construction, it was the largest bridge in the world.

Spot some animals at the Camperdown Wildlife Center – The Camperdown Wildlife Center is the humble abode of 50 animal species, including Wolves, Ring-tailed Lemurs, European Brown Bears, Meerkats, Hyacinth Macaws, and much more. At different times of the year, the center hosts various events like Conservation Days and a Meet Santa Experience.

Hear the story of the RRS Discovery – The RRS Discovery was a specific type of bark-rigged auxiliary steamship designed and constructed in the shipyards of Dundee. Hear about its well know adventure across the Antarctic and how it still sits in the waters of Dundee today.

Tastiest Foods And Drinks You Can Try In Dundee

Bishop Kennedy Cheese – This cheese first appeared in Scotland in 1922, and the recipe has survived and is ever more popular today. It comes from cows’ milk and is soaked in malt whiskey, creating a red color and potent smell. While it’s usually served on a cheeseboard along with other types of cheese, it can sometimes be eaten with steak too.

Whipkull – Now time for something a bit different. Whipkull is an authentic Scottish alcoholic beverage with rum, sugar, egg yolks, and cream. The ingredients are mixed in a cocktail shaker and poured into a martini glass. Whipkull is sometimes drunk with a shortbread biscuit during afternoon tea.

Need To Know Tips Before Visiting Dundee

  • If you’re planning to do some exploring in rural Dundee, be mindful that there’s a considerable population of ticks. While not all ticks carry disease, some do, so try to cover your skin to protect yourself.
  • You’re better off using your bank card whenever you can in Dundee. Currency exchanges rarely offer a reasonable exchange rate, so carry a tiny bit of cash in case of emergency, but mainly stick to your card.
  • Beware of pay and display car parks. Watch for a sign before you think about parking a vehicle anywhere. If you don’t pay, you could end up with a fine.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Scotland?
For the slightest chance of rain and the highest possibility for sun, plan your visit to Scotland during the summer months, June, July, and August. Yes, it's a busy time, and the prices might be a little bit higher, but it's worth braving for the nicest weather.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Scotland?

Here at Kiwi.com, we aim to give everyone access to their dream destinations. We find our customers the cheapest fares online through our travel hacks and technology that no other flight website shows you.

To get started organizing your once-in-a-lifetime holiday, visit our Scotland destination page, select which airport you'd love to fly to, and we'll give you endless flight options that suit your travel dates.

What Is Scotland Known For?
Scotland is seen worldwide as the home of scotch whiskey, the Loch Ness Monster, bagpipe bands, ancient castles, adorable towns, Haggis, and where JK Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books.
What's The Best Food In Scotland?
The Scottish cuisine is exceptionally vast; even if you tried, you wouldn't be able to sample all the well-known dishes on your trip, but make sure you don't miss out on Haggis, Scottish Porridge, Cranachan, Cullen Skink, and Cock-a-leekie.
How Many Days Do I Need In Scotland?
How long you'll spend in Scotland depends on which kind of vacation you're after. If you're just hopping from cities, ten days are the right amount of time, but if you're going to the Scottish Highland, you should go for three weeks.