The 20 best places to visit in Scotland

 

Built in 2013 in the town of Falkirk, between Glasgow and Edinburgh are two 30 metre (98 ft) tall horse head sculptures known as the Kelpies. Built as a monument to the horse powered heritage of Scotland they make for a very striking art piece.

20. The Kelpies

 

Built in 1136 AD in the city of Glasgow is the Cathedral of Saint Mungo, more commonly known as Glasgow Cathedral. As the only Scottish Cathedral on the mainland to survive the reformation, this huge building is a rare and wonderful example of Scottish Gothic architecture.

19. Glasgow Cathedral

 

North of Dundee in the east of the country is the Grade A listed building of Glamis Castle, the huge stately home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The current building dates largely from the 17th century and boasts such former residents as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Surrounding this wonderful castle are a set of gardens that have been included on the inventory of gardens and designed landscapes of Scotland.

18. Glamis Castle

 

Built in 1856 AD, located to the west of Aberdeen in Cairngorms National Park is the Scottish Baronial styled Balmoral Castle. This historic category A listed building is privately owned by the Royal Family of Great Britain and is famed for being a favourite of Queen Elizabeth.

17. Balmoral Castle

 

Between Glasgow and Edinburgh in the town of Stirling is the enormous Stirling Castle, one of the largest, most historically and architecturally important castles in Scotland. Though a castle has stood on the site since the 12th century, most of the buildings within the walls were constructed later in the 15th and 16th centuries, designed in a Renaissance style influenced by English, German and French castles of the period.

16. Stirling Castle

 

On the island of Hoy in the Orkney Islands is a 137 metre (449 ft) red sandstone sea stack known as the Old Man Of Hoy. One of the tallest stacks in the British Isles, there won't be a great deal of time to visit this site as it is soon expected to collapse into the sea.

15. Old Man Of Hoy

 

Built in 1136 AD in the south east of the country not far from the border with England is the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary's, Melrose, more commonly known as Melrose Abbey. Known for its many carved and decorative detailing, even in part ruin it makes for a fantastic sight.

14. Melrose Abbey

 

North west of the mainland in the north Atlantic Ocean are a group of volcanic islands called St. Kilda. On the largest island of Hirta the cliffs are the highest in the United Kingdom, and among the highest in Europe. With unusual architectural features dating back to pre-historic times the islands house a unique form of stone structure known as cleitean, a sort of stone storage hut. The entire archipelago of St. Kilda has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only a handful to hold joint status for both its natural and cultural qualities.

Pictured is Village Bay, Hirta.

13. St. Kilda

 

On the north eastern coast just south of Aberdeen are the ruins of Dunnotar Castle, once a great medieval fortress. Built on a rocky headland hanging out into the north sea, what remains of the 15th and 16th century buildings today make for some of the most visually striking ruins in the country.

12. Dunnottar Castle

 

East of the mainland on the uninhabited island of Staffa is Fingal's Cave, a large sea cave formed entirely of hexagonal basalt columns created by an ancient lava flow, similar to the famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. From April to September it is possible in calm conditions to take boat trips to the island where visitors can explore above and inside the cave.

11. Fingal's Cave

 

In the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness is the second largest loch in Scotland and undoubtedly the most famous in the world. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, though it certainly doesn't contain any more dinosaurs than any other loch. Whether visitors spot the infamous Loch Ness Monster or not, they can still be delighted with the beautiful natural scenery on offer.

Pictured is Urquhart Castle in front of Loch Ness.

10. Loch Ness

 

On a small tidal island where three Lochs meet in the northwest Highlands of Scotland is one of the finest castles in one of the most picturesque locations, that of Eilean Donan Castle. Originally built in the thirteenth century as a medieval fortress for the Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the castle was later destroyed in 1718 AD. What stands there today was reconstructed after 1912, and despite its modern update it remains one of the most beautiful castles in the United Kingdom.

9. Eilean Donan Castle

 

In the eastern centre of the country lies the capital and second largest city of Scotland, Edinburgh, with its wealth of cultural and historical attractions it has made it the second most popular tourist spot in the United Kingdom, just behind London. Often cited as one of the best cities to visit in Europe, this compact hill capital is overlooked by the picturesque Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland's crown jewels and the amazingly named Stone of Destiny. Both the medieval old town and the Georgian new town have been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured from Calton Hill.

8. Edinburgh

 

In the Highlands of western Scotland, standing at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft) above sea level is the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. At the top of this collapsed ancient volcano sits a ruined observatory, a good location to head for when climbing the mountain, it offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.

7. Ben Nevis

 

In the northern centre of the country covering an area of some 4,528 square kilometres (1,748 square miles) is the Cairngorns National Park, the largest area of protected land within the United Kingdom. Encompassing the Cairngorns Mountain Range this spectacularly rugged landscape of steep cliffs, high plateaus and deep lochs is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the country.

Pictured is Loch Avon.

6. Cairngorns National Park

 

In the north west Highlands of the country, within an area known as the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve is the striking Mount Suilven. Within a remote landscape of bogs and moorland it rises an almost vertical 731 metres (2,398 ft) above sea level making for one of the most distinctive mountains in all of Scotland.

5. Suilven

 

Within the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve, a short distance south of Mount Suilven is another prominent mountain, Stac Pollaidh. Rising 612 metres (2,008 ft) above sea level this relatively easy to climb peak has become the most popular trek within the reserve. It can be climbed in less than three hours and offers visitors incredible views out to the Atlantic Ocean, the nearby Mount Suilven and the large Inverpolly forest.

4. Stac Pollaidh

 

Just north of Glasgow in the western centre of the country is a 1,865 square kilometre (720 square mile) area of protected land known as Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Centred around the beautiful Loch Lomond and the small woodland glen known as the Trossachs, the park also has a number of other lochs as well as many mountains that reach beyond 900 metres (3,000 ft) above sea level. With such incredible natural landscapes it's considered one of the finest national parks within the United Kingdom.

3. Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park

 

Completed in 1901 AD in the western Highlands at the northern tip of Loch Shiel is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Even before having jumped to fame by appearing in the Harry Potter films, this wonderful Highland location with the sweeping viaduct was among the most iconic sights in the country.

2. Glenfinnan Viaduct

 

In the west of the country, connected to the mainland by one man made bridge is the largest and most northern of the major islands within the Inner Hebrides, the Isle Of Skye. Its mountainous centre with rocky slopes and steep cliff faces is among the most naturally dramatic and rugged landscapes anywhere within the United Kingdom.

1. Isle Of Skye

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