Scotland is one of those unique places that offers a great place to get drunk, and an even better place to go on a walk. This beautiful countryside is home to beautiful, crumbling ruins, amazing geological phenomena, and some of the best micro-brews money can buy. Spend a week here, and you’re likely to go home with some larger than life stories, and maybe some extra hair on your chest from that last pilsner.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. You’re broke.
Scotland is a treasure trove of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and favorite shopping areas. For everything from eccentric knickknacks to world-class fashion, stroll around Edinburgh or the Lothians. Hoof it down the world famous and historic Royal Mile, where shops line the streets and beautiful architecture towers over the hustle and bustle below. Sip wine in one of the fine restaurants in the area while you watch the sunset behind the spires lining the horizon.
2. You’ve worn holes in your shoes.
This beautiful country is home to some stunning national parks. If you’re feeling a little stir crazy, take a drive out to CairnGorm National Park. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, there are a whole mess of things you can do out here. In the winter, CairnGorm Mountain is home to some of the finest powder in the country, attracting snowboarders and skiers alike to its smooth white slopes.
In the warmer months, do some hiking, or try your hand at the nearby archery range. Not too keen on traversing the countryside yourself? Nearby Alvie Stables offers guided trail rides and lessons to travelers.
3. You’ve got a wicked tan.
There’s a lot of what’s called “wild swimming” in Scotland, which is swimming in natural bodies of water. This country’s unique water features make it an amazing place to go for a dip. Check out the Fairy Pools, just west of Skye. These unique pools are full of crystal clear, blue water enclosed with rock walls. Though the water is cool, the waterfalls and general magic of the experience draw thousands of swimmers every year.
4. You’ve got one hell of a hangover.
It’s estimated that Scotland is now home to over 70 independently owned microbreweries, so there’s never been a better time to sample some of the local refreshments. Not only do these breweries offer something for everybody with their small batch brews, but many offer tours of their breweries with complimentary tastings. For the marathon beer lovers, consider checking to see if anyone is hosting a pub crawl in the area. These events usually provide you with transportation as they cart people all over town to different bars and breweries. No driving for you, and tons of fun meeting new people while sampling some hoppy varieties.
5. You’ve become a history buff.
Scotland has more historical landmarks than you can shake your kilt at. With beautiful castles dotting open countryside and old architecture lining their city streets, you can hardly walk a mile without running into something beautiful and historically significant. Be sure to check out Stirling Castle. This amazing piece of history was constructed in the 12th century, and has seen countless bloody sieges and power struggles. The architecture and gardens are awe-inspiring, and the detail within the castle walls themselves is breathtaking. Look into one of their free tours, or one of Rick Steve’s downloadable audio tours on your phone, but be sure to use a VPN when using your phone abroad.
6. You’re spiritual.
Okay, maybe not, but standing inside a medieval cathedral like Glasgow will certainly make you look up in awe. From the spires that seem to graze the heavens, to the ornate stained glass and infinite details of the architecture inside the building, it’s truly a riveting experience. Their beauty coupled with the fact that most of these structures have been standing for hundreds of years is enough to make anyone take pause in amazement.
So shake off your jet lag, change into some comfortable shoes, and pat yourself on the back; you just survived a trip to Scotland. There aren’t enough hours in the day to see all that this beautiful, historically rich country has to offer, but just roll with the punches, and learn to enjoy the spontaneity of a place with so many options for fascination.
About the Contributor:
Jess Signut: My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older! Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)
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