This story originally appeared on pintspoundsandpate.com
Scotland tops many people’s “bucket lists,” and for a good reason. It’s an incredible country full of beautiful people, fantastic scenery, and incredible cultural sights.
There are so many reasons why you should visit the wilds of Scotland! From the Highlands to Edinburgh, whiskey to pints, and kilts to high-fashion, Scotland has something to offer any traveler.
In all seriousness, if you are even remotely considering planning a trip to Scotland, I would highly recommend that you go for it. Scotland has the right mix of excitement and fun while being an effortless place to travel. Incidentally, if you are an American first-time or nervous over-seas traveler, I would strongly recommend Scotland as a first Europe excursion. Its major cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh) are far more manageable than London, there’s no language barrier, there’s plenty to do and see without being overwhelming, the trains are easy to use, and the people are welcoming and friendly.
So here we go, lads and lassies! The top reasons you will love Scotland.
Reasons to Love Scotland: Crisp Autumn Air
Our trip to Scotland was my first European trip in Autumn, and did I ever fall in love! Scotland could not be more perfect in Fall – with the gorgeous sun, minimal rain, and zero humidity, what’s not to love? Oh, and did I mention the lack of crowds? Amazing.
September/October is the perfect time to explore Scotland. It’s “shoulder season,” meaning there are fewer crowds, and that spooky Scottish ambiance abounds as people start to hunker down for the cozy winter. If you are lucky enough to ride a train, pretend it’s the Hogwarts Express taking you up to the Highlands to start the school year on September 1!
Reasons to Love Scotland: The Romantic History
One of the many things that have continued to draw people to Scotland is its Romantic history. Yes, there’s “romance” a la Outlander, but that’s not precisely what we’re talking about. (Though incidentally, it is a fantastic show and I would highly recommend it if you are planning a trip to Scotland.)
Scotland is also a land of legend and myth – the most famous and enduring of which being Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, which is consistently presented in a fun, playful way, while always giving the impression that there are people out there who are genuinely hoping to find her on their walk back from the pub. With a seemingly permanent mist lurking around almost every corner, it’s easy to understand why it’s a place where the imagination goes wild.
There something of the romance and allure of the place that’s difficult to fathom, even when you’re in it. It’s as though the craggy hills can breathe their history, as though around any corner, a new legend could be arising. It’s enticing and mischievous- the perfect combination.
I’ve always found that castles that have been destroyed or abandoned allow us to have different access to the buildings and their former inhabitants, both intellectually and physically. Their lack of a defined story told by their structure allows us to cast the castle in our own image – imagining what befell it, who lived there, what they did, who they loved, in a way that we cannot when we are being shown a perfectly cleaned castled and informed all about the lives of the inhabitants.
If you love abandoned castled, Scotland is the place for them. We have had the pleasure of exploring the 3 below, in addition to several in-tact castles. Historic UK has a good list of Scotland’s to explore, as well.
- Urquhart Castle, Inverness
- Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh
- St Andrews Castle
It’s impossible to deny that Scotland’s geography is stunningly beautiful. From craggy cliffs to snow-capped mountains, to fields and gorgeous coastline, the geographical formations are almost overwhelming.
That said, enjoying that rugged landscape doesn’t also mean necessarily lousy weather. Thanks to that handy jet stream, the weather is relatively consistent – never super warm, never terribly frigid (they average only 15-20 days of snow per winter).
The Scots love a good drink – and they love inviting you to share in the fun. If you like Scotch, obviously, there’s no better place to sample it, straight from the source. From the most touristy Scotch Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh (touristy, but very fun), to touring individual distilleries across the country, Scotch is the drink of choice for connoisseurs.
Of course, the Scots love a good pint, just like the rest of the U.K. and your first stop in any Scottish town should be for a cheeky pint at the local pub (ours certainly is).
From the minute you step off the plane in Edinburgh, travel in Scotland is just easy. A heck of a lot easier than a lot of other places I’ve visited. Incidentally, Edinburgh has one of my favorite airports – small and manageable, it’s a quick drive into the center of the city, without having to deal with navigating a massive hub and complex transit after an icky overnight flight.
Trains in Scotland are plentiful, easy, clean, and safe. And, they can get you anywhere you want to go.
Reasons to Love Scotland: Harry Potter Tourism
A more recent and specific addition to the reasons to love Scotland is, of course, that Scotland is the birthplace of our beloved Harry Potter series! J.K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh in the ’90s when she penned the books in a couple of cafes, one of which, The Elephant House, should definitely be on your list of places to visit during a stay in Edinburgh! My personal favorite Harry Potter site, however, is Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Rowling, strolling around, came upon the names that she worked into the series. I’m not sure how I’d feel about my name inspiring Lord Voldemort, but there you are!
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