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Stunning Scotland 10 Reasons to Visit This Enchanting Country

With inspiring scenery, rich history, and a colorful, welcoming culture, what’s not to like about Scotland? If you’re not already smitten with this land, here are a few of our favorite reasons to visit along with highlights from our itinerary:

10. GLASGOW

Historic, yet modern, Scotland’s largest city is world-renowned for its architecture, shopping, and incredible art scene. It’s home to over 20 museums and art galleries, including Kelvingrove. Orbridge guests enjoy exploring Kelvingrove’s collections of 8,000 objects while delighting in a private, after-hours tour and welcome dinner.

St. Mungo's Cathedral (top left), People's Palace (top right), Glasgow (bottom left), Glasgow Green (bottom right)

9. SCENERY & LANDSCAPES

Towering mountains, shimmering lochs, and green forests help form this picturesque country. Mainland Scotland is divided into three separate areas—the Highlands, the Central Lowlands, and the Southern Uplands. Scotland also includes over 700 islands! Visit the Isle of Skye, the largest of Scotland’s islands and one of its most spectacular. Scotland is a photographer’s dream.

Isle of Skye (top left and middle left), Isle of Arran (bottom left), coastal waterfall (top right), Cairngorms (bottom right)

8. CASTLES & CLANS

Scotland’s castles rank among the most iconic in the world. No matter where you are in Scotland, a castle is never far away. It has been estimated there are around 2,000 structures meeting the “castle” requirements of having been a domestic residence and a defensive structure. Step back in time with a visit to Glamis Castle, ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The clan, or kinship group concept dates back to the 12th century. Each clan has its own unique history with battles, alliances, and ancestral lands. Orbridge guests experience private, early access to solemn Culloden Battlefield—site of the final Jacobite Rising. In addition, Orbridge offers an optional heritage excursion for those wishing to delve into their own Scottish ancestry. Fun fact: There are as many people with Scottish heritage living in the U.S. as in Scotland!

Stirling Castle (top left), Eilean Donan Castle (top right), Urquhart Castle (middle left), Glamis Castle (middle right), Edinburgh Castle (bottom left), Culloden Battlefield (bottom right)

7. HISTORY & INNOVATION

The history of Scotland is equally fascinating and complex with Roman soldiers, Vikings, clansmen, and monarchs. Did you know that Braveheart was actually the nickname of Robert the Bruce and not William Wallace, despite how it was portrayed in the Hollywood blockbuster? The world has been revolutionized by Scotland, with televisions, telephones, penicillin, refrigerators, and daily disposable contact lenses owing their origins to the Scots. Fans of golf will relish touring St. Andrews, Scotland’s world-famous home of the sport.

Golfing at St. Andrews

6. IT'S SO UNIQUE!

Orbridge travel programs are meticulously researched and capture the fascinating nuances of the destinations themselves. A motto of Scotland is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” or, “No one provokes me with impunity.” Feisty! The country is approximately the same size as the state of South Carolina, has the highest proportion of redheads in the world, is home to one of Europe’s oldest trees, Fortingall Yew, (thought to be between 3,000 and 9,000 years old), and the world’s tallest hedge at 100 feet high. Its capital city of Edinburgh is the first in the world to have its own fire brigade. Important celebrations on the calendar are Hogmanay, occurring on New Year’s Eve, Burns Night, in honor of bard Robert Burns, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performances.

5. NATURE & WILDLIFE

While Scotland’s national animal is the mythical unicorn, its land, seas, and skies support a real and diverse range of native wildlife. Mammals such as grey seals, minke whales, Highland cows, mountain hares, and stoats along with birds including puffins, golden eagles, red kites, and ospreys combine with six amphibians, four reptiles, and over 50,000 different invertebrates. Majestic and mighty, red deer are the largest of the UK’s land animals. Guests extending their Scotland adventure with Orbridge’s post-tour see red deer up close and personal at the Red Deer Centre experience.

Highland cow (top left), red squirrel (top middle), red deer (top right), golden eagle (bottom left), puffins (bottom right)

4. WHISKY

It’s thought that whisky making may have begun in Scotland as winemaking methods spread from European monasteries. Without access to grapes, monks used grain mash instead to produce an early variation. Now there are over 100 active distilleries in Scotland, with new ones emerging. The five whisky-producing regions each have influence on the flavor of the spirit, from the source of the water used to the presence of peat in the area. To be officially classed as Scottish whisky, it must be produced in Scotland and matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years. Learn about processes and taste concoctions with an informative and mouth-watering distillery stop.

3. EDINBURGH

Known as the “Athens of the North,” the capital of Scotland blends history and contemporary urban life. In fact, Edinburgh has been voted the favorite UK city multiple years in a row by The Guardian for its “internationally renowned festivals, fine dining, history, culture and precipitous location…” Make the most of your time in Edinburgh enjoying the old and new by visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse, residence of monarchs of Scotland since the 16th century and by exploring the walkable, present-day city.

Edinburgh Castle (top left), Edinburgh street (top right), Palace of Holyroodhouse (bottom left), National Monument of Scotland (bottom right)

2. CULTURE

What makes the Scots Scottish? Is it the tartan, bagpipes, heather, kilts, haggis, thistle, and an unmistakable accent? Yes, but it’s also so much more! With thousands of years of history and Celtic influences, Scotland is a country with a strong national identity and unique traditions. The Scottish Highlands and West have retained references to the Celtic heritage they share, while the South of Scotland reflects roots in ancient Scots, Nordic and Anglo-Saxon influences. Each generation then adds its own contribution to this rich cultural tapestry of pageantry, legends and folklore. Super chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Nick Nairn, and Andrew Fairlie are challenging culinary stereotypes by elevating the country’s incredible natural produce to Michelin starred levels. Scotland is home to outstanding festivals, breathtaking art and architecture, a broad spectrum of music and theatre, plus bold and engaging attractions.

1. PEOPLE

It’s been said that it’s the people that make a place, and the Scots are no exception. On the whole, Scots are warm, friendly, down-to-earth, and welcoming. They are tough and very proud of their heritage and what they have achieved as a small country. Scots are expressive, natural storytellers. Share a drink or two with locals and you may hear their dry sense of humor or examples of sentimental and superstitious leanings. Tales of ghosts, water nymphs, the Kelpies, stone circles, the legend of Nessie—the Loch Ness Monster, and other fantasy make for entertaining conversation. Did you know local tradition dictates that rubbing the toe of philosopher David Hume’s statue in front of St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile brings good luck? This popular Edinburgh landmark actually has the outside blue color worn off a foot from all the contact. Celebrate your time in Scotland and lang may yer lum reek—“may you live long and keep well.”

Scottish Flag

To learn more about Orbridge's exciting Stunning Scotland travel program, please click here.