Things To Do In Scotland (United Kingdom)
The northernmost part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain is Scotland, one of the oldest part of the kingdom that has seen viking invasions and saxon rule, clans clashing at every small skirmish as well as the British soldiers trampling down the scots and Gaelic culture. Today Scotland is renowned for its natural beauty, rugged Highlands, lush forests and lakes that reek of fabled monsters. When you decide to visit Scotland, there are so many things that you can do here. Potterheads, you have a great vacation awaiting you while Outlander fans can spend all their days touring the many castles and prisons where the hit Netflix series was shot. Others are welcome to enjoy the other castles, peaks, lakes and ancient streets in old towns.
Meet the Loch Ness Monster
The tale of Loch Ness Monster is one of the most legendary myths in Scottish history. The water wraith monster named Nessie is said to lurk underneath the waters of Lake Ness. You must visit the lake or loch for a real-time experience of this fable. There are quite a few things to do around the lake, like the Nessieland theme-based Park nearby, the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition inside the Drumnadrochit Hotel, Dolores Inn, Loch Inn and the wilderness of Glen Affric. The locals are the best storytellers and will keep you entertained with tales of the sightings of Nessie.
Go for an Outlander Tour
Fans of this best-seller book series and Netflix show will find they are in their own personal haven when visiting Scotland. The books are based in the highlands here and the show is being shot here, so you will get to visit the locations and if you are lucky, then the live ones too! Visit the Midhope Castle near Edinburgh that doubles up as Jamie Fraser’s family home Lallybroch, while Doune Castle is the Mackenzie clan’s home Castle Leoch. You will also be guided to Culross, where Claire and Geillis Duncan were tried for witchcraft in the series; and Falkland is the place where the show starts, with Claire and Frank walking hand in hand towards Mrs. Baird’s B&B. For those who are not fans of the books or show, this tour will interest you for its sheer historical richness, routed as the books are in the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.
Visit Culloden Moor
It would be a shame if you went all the way to Scotland and didn’t pay your respects at the Culloden Moor. It is the battlefield near Inverness where the last bloody battle of 1746 was fought between the British Redcoats and Jacobite highlanders. Not only were the highlanders slaughtered in this battle but the ones left were brutally executed, and later, everything they held dear was stripped from them - including their traditional clan clothes and tartans, the right of carrying arms, the right of wearing kilts and practising highland culture. Again, Outlander fans will love a hair-raising walk across the moor, and the grave stone for Clan Fraser. Because the battle is at the centre of the story and Claire and Jamie Fraser spend the first two books trying to change the course of history; but eventually, Jamie ends up fighting on Culloden Moor and sends Claire back to the future. You will also find that the Culloden Museum is a great historical treat and houses artefacts from that time.
Swim in fairy pools in the Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye is a heavenly Scottish abode of natural bounty, from waterfalls to forests to hidden lakes and streams. The series of pools near Glenbrittle make for a beautiful picnic spot and there, in the emerald water you will find the best relaxation. The pools are supposedly said to be the abode of faeries that dwell in the thickets and swimming in clear emerald waters will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you. Also, the place is perfect for some enviable Instagram photos. If you fancy a walk, then Coire na Creiche is a 5 mile trail that will take you to Cuillin Mountains.
Stroll down Edinburgh Streets
Edinburgh streets are as old and as anciently cobbled as they are urban in their contemporary shops. You must head to Princes Street for its beautiful boutique and antique shops, whiskey sellers, food stalls and much more. Christmas market is the best at Princes Street and ginger bread is abound with tall glasses of spiced ale. You can also enjoy the Hogmanay celebrates and fireworks at the nearby Princess Street Gardens. Another busy street to traverse in Edinburgh is the Old Town’s Royal Mile, branching off to some great castles like Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The streets are lined with libraries, book shops, museums, cafes and pubs.
Hog the Scottish Way
When in Scotland, eat like the Scots do. This is one of the best things to do here and involves just picking up the best of Scottish delicacies and binging. Some of the hot favourite dishes in Scotland are Haggis, Scones and clotted cream (yes, they aren’t Brit but Scots), parritch (oatmeal), Scottish Salmon, black pudding, stovies, sausage, lamb and beef. For dessert, queue up on the roadside stalls selling fried mars bars (and sometimes any chocolate bar of your choice), shortbread, dundee cakes, tablet and cranachan. For drinks, stick to whiskey (if you can handle it) or go for black tea or Irn Bru (orange soda drink).
Rediscover Harry Potter in Edinburgh
Yes, please. Potterheads, do not be surprised. It is not London but Edinburgh where J. K. Rowling wrote the first book of Harry Potter. The author frequented two cafes to write the series here, namely The Elephant House and Nicolson’s Cafe at the corner of Drummond Street. As a single mother with no good financial backing, she lived in Scotland through that rough patch in her life when Harry Potter came to life. If you are still more curious about Harry Potter writing locations then you can also check out Room no. 552 of Balmoral Hotel where Rowling penned the last book - The Deathly Hallows. Some real locations in Scotland that became inspirations for Rowling are - the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, whose graves inspired many names like Tom Riddel, George Heriot’s School which inspired the creation of Hogwarts and the famous Victoria Street which served as a blue print for Diagon Alley. There are guided tours available.
Ride in the Jacobite Steam Train
No, this train has nothing to do with the 1746 Jacobite uprising. Trains weren’t invented then, to say the least. But this epic 6-hour train journey from Ben Nevis in Fort William to Mallaig is a beautful discovery of the highlands of Scotland. The steam train is old fashioned and gives you an ancient feeling. You will also cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the way, which is the bridge where Harry Potter’s legendary Hogwart’s Express passes in the movies. It is a return journey ride that you must avail.