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Scotland Attractions

United Kingdom

International Travel / Overseas Tourism Destination

Welcome to our holiday travel guide, attractions tours and charters information for Scotland, United Kingdom.

Over time we will be expanding our listing of wonderful attractions, places to visit and memorable experiences in Scotland, in the meantime you can check out our current listing.

If you want to include other great Scottish attraction, just send us an email with the details, including website (if applicable) and any images that you can provide permission for us to use here.

Scotland • Attractions

Cairngorms National Park
When you want to visit Britain’s largest National Park, with Britain’s highest and most massive mountain range; its biggest native forests; rivers and lochs; moorland and farmland, and wildlife, then you have found it here in Aberdeenshire, west of Aberdeen.

The Park stretches from Grantown-on-Spey to the heads of the Angus Glens, from Ballater to Dalwhinnie and Drumochter including much of the Laggan area in the southwest and a large area of the Glenlivet estate and the Strathdon/Glen Buchat area. It is an area of rugged coastlines, tranquil lochs, inspiring glens and the unique mountain landscape of the Cairngorms National Park.

Different to national parks in Australia, the Cairngorms National Park encompasses towns, villages and hamlets, with the major centres of Aviemore, Ballater, Blair Atholl, Braemar, Grantown-on-Spey, Kingussie, Newtonmore, and Tomintoul.

The National Park is home to 25 per cent of the UK’s threatened bird, animal and plant species. Birds species in the park include the Scottish Crossbill (the only bird unique to Britain), Golden Eagle, Osprey, Dotterell, Capercaillie, and Crested Tit. Some of the animals found here are the pine martens, red squirrels, badgers, wildcats, water vole, and otters, whilst the rivers are home to the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussel, as well as salmon, trout, and the rare lampreys.

To help you plan your visit, there are nine visitor information centres, ten ranger bases, with lots more centres to help you find what’s right for you. There are literally hundreds of miles of paths and trails, maps and leaflets, hire shops, expert guides, cafes and car parks...pretty much everything you need. See the website for more information.
Discover Scotland's Great Trails
National Trails in Britain are long distance routes for walking, cycling and horse riding through the finest landscapes in England and Wales. In Scotland the equivalent trails are called long distance routes.

Scotland's Great Trails (SGTs) are nationally promoted trails for people-powered journeys. Each is distinctively waymarked, largely off-road and has a range of visitor services. At least 25 miles in length, they are suitable for multi-day outings as well as day trips. Collectively the 20 different routes provide over 1300 miles of well managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands, offering great opportunities to explore the best of Scotland's nature and landscapes and to experience the amazing history and culture.
The Falkirk Wheel
• Situated approximately 23 miles from both Glasgow and Edinburgh. See website for directions.
The Millennium Link was an ambitious project with the objective of restoring navigability across Scotland on the historic Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. A major challenge faced, was to link the Forth and Clyde Canal, which lay 35m (115 ft) below the level of the Union Canal. Historically, the two canals had been joined at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km, but these has been dismantled in 1933, breaking the link. What was required was a method of connecting these two canals by way of a boat lift.

The result was a perfectly balanced structure that is The Falkirk Wheel - the world's first and only rotating boat lift. Today, the Falkirk Wheel is one of Scotland's top tourist destinations and attracts visitors from all across the World. The best way to experience The Falkirk Wheel is by taking a trip on their breath-taking boat journey. There is also a visitor centre with interactive displays, cafe and gift shop.
The Helix
The Helix is happening - It’s one of the most ambitious community projects the UK has ever seen – and it’s happening right in the heart of Scotland.

Something fantastic is happening in the heart of Scotland. The Helix is transforming land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into an exciting new parkland and visitor attraction set to open in 2013.
The National Trust for Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland is a conservation charity established in 1931 in order to protect and promote Scotland's natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations to enjoy. As the guardian of Scotland’s magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures.

With 1 world heritage site, 16 islands, 76,000 hectares of countryside, 7 national nature reserves, 26 castles, palaces and country houses, 4 battle sites, 23 wedding venues, 35 gardens, 72 holiday properties, over 50,000 artefacts and 4 birthplaces of famous Scots, there truly is a place for everyone at the National Trust for Scotland.

The website has a quick search as well as a route planner to assist visitors when planning to visit a destination.
Scotland's Most Famous Castles
One of the major drawcards for visitors to Scotland, are the many castles, said to be more than 2,000. Of course these castles come in a variety of sizes and stature, from the private fortified abode of long gone ruling elite to the residences of the living descendents of royalty. Whilst some are still used as private homes, others are available for wedding, even providing accommodation. There are of course a number of ruins, but all tell a story, steeped in the Scottish culture and heritage.

Whilst we cannot show all the castles, there are numerous websites that are packed with information and images of Scottish Castles. Following are some of the more renowned castles in Scotland:
  • Culzean Castle
    Culzean Castle & Country Park, Maybole, Ayrshire.
    — One of Scotland's best loved Castles, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Situated on the South Ayrshire coast, Culzean Castle is located 12 miles south of Ayr and 4 miles west of Maybole.
  • Edinburgh Castle
    Castlehill, Edinburgh
    — Edinburgh Castle has dominated its surroundings with majesty for centuries. Today the castle continues to attract visitors to its rocky perch. Edinburgh’s Castle rock has been a stronghold for over 3000 years.
  • Eilean Donan Castle
    Dornie Kyle Of Lochalsh
    — As one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognised all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands.
  • Glamis Castle
    Glamis Castle, Angus
    — Glamis Castle is the ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years. Glamis is a living, breathing monument to Scottish hospitality; a place of enjoyment, reflection, laughter and wonder for all. The castle, which is famed as being the childhood home of the Queen Mother and the setting for Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'.
  • Stirling Castle
    Castle Esplanade, Stirling
    — Stirling Castle is a great symbol of Scottish independence and a source of national pride. Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to the Royal Court at Stirling Castle to revel in the castle's grandeur. A place of power, beauty and history, discover the favoured residence of Scotland's Kings and Queens! Step back into the 16th century and see what life was like for Mary of Guise and her daughter Mary Queen of Scots. Do the guided tour through the authentically restored six royal apartments. A marvellous world class visitor attraction.
  • Urquhart Castle
    Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness
    — The impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle lie on a rocky promontory on the northern banks of Loch Ness. An ideal site for a fortress, affording prominent views of the surrounding approaches, surrounded on three sides by the deep waters of the Loch.

Scotland's Castle Trail
• Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is known as Scotland’s Castle Country, with some 350 castles and a myriad of gardens to choose from. In fact many of Scotland’s best gardens are to be found keeping one another company in this part of the world.

Out with the boundaries of the Castle Trail you’ll find every type of castle and garden is represented. Brighten your life with stunning gardens like Ballindalloch and Leith Hall. The National Trust for Scotland’s Pitmedden Garden is a ‘must see’ with its beautifully arranged formal garden that includes around 40,000 colourful bedding plants and woodland walks, herb and wildlife gardens.

The trail consists of 14 of the world’s most unique castles, from the rugged splendour of Kildrummy Castle and the romantic ruins of Huntly Castle to restored family castles such as Crathes and Fyvie.

Castles on the trail are:
  1. Balvenie Castle
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — The formidable stronghold of the great lords who ruled over this part of north-east Scotland. Balvenie Castle is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland and has a formidable curtain wall. Originally the seat of the powerful Comyn Earls of Buchan it later became the home of John Stewart, Earl of Atholl. The Stewarts changed the formidable medieval stronghold into a pleasing Renaissance residence.
  2. Castle Fraser, Garden and Estate
    www.nts.org.uk
    — Venture through the castle with its round tower and Great Hall then enjoy the tearoom’s delights. One of the grandest Castles of Mar, this magnificent building contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and paintings. Enjoy the beautiful secluded walled garden, extensive woodland walks with fine views of the castle and children’s adventure playground.
  3. Corgarff Castle
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — In a striking moorland setting, Corgarff’s medieval tower house, built in the mid-16th century, is surrounded by a distinctive 18th-century star shaped perimeter wall. See the reconstructed barrack rooms and feel the atmosphere of barrack life at the castle in 1750, when redcoats from Pulteney’s 13th Foot were stationed here.
  4. Craigievar Castle
    www.nts.org.uk
    — This fairytale castle, a fine example of Scottish baronial architecture, seems to have grown naturally out of the rolling hills. The great tower stands just as it did when completed in 1626. Visitors can also enjoy the grounds and waymarked trails.
  5. Crathes Castle, Garden and Estate
    www.nts.org.uk
    — A favourite for families to explore with its links to Robert the Bruce and famous gardens. This 16th-century castle will provide a memorable experience with its intriguing round towers and overhanging turrets. The gardens feature great yew hedges and a colourful double herbaceous border. The wider estate offers 6 separate trails to enjoy.
  6. Delgatie Castle
    www.delgatiecastle.com
    — Best Visitor Experience award winner. Dating from 1030, the castle is steeped in Scottish history yet still has the atmosphere of a lived in home. It has some of the "nest painted ceilings in Scotland. Award winning restaurant/coffee shop.
  7. Drum Castle, Garden and Estate
    www.nts.org.uk
    — The late 13th-century tower, fine adjoining Jacobean mansion house and the additions of Victorian lairds make Drumunique. Superb furniture and paintings, Garden of Historic Roses and woodland trails.
  8. Duff House
    www.duffhouse.org.uk
    — One of Scotland’s "nest architectural masterpieces designed by William Adam and built in the 18th century as a seat for the Earls Fife. The house now contains works on loan from The National Galleries of Scotland.
  9. Fyvie Castle
    www.nts.org.uk
    — Discover the ghosts, legends and folklore from Fyvie’s 800-year history. Fyvie’s charm ranges from its 13th-century origins to its opulent Edwardian interiors. View the superb collection of arms, armour and paintings, stroll around the loch or visit the racquets court and bowling alley.
  10. Haddo House
    www.nts.org.uk
    — This elegant mansion house boasts sumptuous Victorian interiors beneath a crisp Georgian exterior. Noted for fine furniture and paintings, Haddo also has a terraced garden and country park with lakes, walks and monuments.
  11. Huntly Castle
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — Remarkable ruin with impressive architecture and an eventful history. Huntly Castle is majestically sited where the rivers Bogie and Deveron join, on the outskirts of the pretty market town of Huntly. Remarkable for its splendid architecture, Huntly Castle served as a baronial residence for five centuries. Many impressive features include fine heraldic sculpture and inscribed stone friezes. The earliest stronghold on the site sheltered Robert the Bruce in the 14th century.
  12. Kildrummy Castle
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — 13th century castle, majestically set in the wilds of Strathdon. The great castle of Kildrummy was the stronghold of the earls of Mar and it dominated the landscape around Strathdon. Although ruined, it remains a good example of a 13th-century castle with many fine features including its hall and chapel.
  13. Spynie Palace
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — Spynie Palace was the residence of the bishops of Moray for five centuries. The mighty tower house was the one of the largest in Scotland and is in beautiful surroundings.
  14. Tolquhon Castle
    www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
    — Noted for its highly ornamented gatehouse, Tolquhon is one of the most picturesque of the castles in the Grampian countryside.

Other castles in Aberdeenshire include:

  • Balmoral Castle
    www.balmoralcastle.com
    — Balmoral Castle by Ballater is well known as the Royal family’s favourite summer retreat. Balmoral Castle, Scottish home to the royal family – gardens, grounds, castle ballroom and exhibitions. Coffee and gift shop.
  • Braemar Castle
    www.braemarscotland.co.uk
    — Braemar Castle, A 17th century home of the Earl of Mar, now run by the community of Braemar, has 12 fully furnished rooms on show.
  • Dunnottar Castle
    www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk
    — One of the most magnificent and most haunting ruins in Scotland. Follow in the steps of Mary Queen of Scots, The Marquis of Montrose and William Wallace.

To follow the trail pick up the brochure from one of the VisitScotland Information Centres. Then simply follow the map trail as it leads you through the very heart of the region and take you on a journey through history where secret passages, haunted rooms and dungeons form the stuff of ghost stories.

Source: National Trust for Scotland - VisitScotland Castle Trail (PDF)


The Scottish Crannog Centre
• Kenmore, Loch Tay, Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross PH15 2HY
A crannog is a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland dating from 5,000 years ago. Many crannogs were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and wealth.

The Scottish Crannog Centre features a unique reconstruction of Scotland's only authentic recreation early Iron Age loch-dwelling. This recreation is based on the excavation evidence from the 2,600 year old site of 'Oakbank Crannog', one of the 18 crannogs preserved in Loch Tay, Scotland.

Built by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology (STUA), the STUA continues to explore other underwater sites in Loch Tay and further a field, regularly adding new discoveries to its award-winning centre at Kenmore, Perthshire.

A visit to the Centre includes: a self-guided exhibition with some of the 2,500 year old artefacts and timbers discovered underwater; a tour inside the crannog led by a suitably costumed guide; and a range of ancient technology and craft demonstrations.

Facilities include a gift shop, small refreshment area and free parking. Visitors may also hire out replica ancient logboats to paddle in the loch and there are regular themed events throughout the season.
Golf and Golf Courses
Scotland is the home of golf, it is where golf took root. The ancient sport has flourished on Scottish soil for centuries and remains one of Scotland’s greatest attractions.

Scotland is renowned for its historic links courses. Illustrious Open venues like the Old Course at St Andrews, Royal Troon, Muirfield, Carnoustie and Turnberry never fail to inspire and amaze. Of course there are countless other courses worth exploring, for the sheer quality of golf on offer. Elegant Gleneagles boasts three championship courses (the PGA Centenary Course is to host the Ryder Cup in 2014). Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands is a timeless classic. Beautiful Blairgowrie in Perthshire is where Greg Norman picked up his first European Tour title. Dalmahoy near Edinburgh has had the pleasure of staging the Solheim Cup. Today, these iconic courses continue to attract golfers from all corners of the globe. Today, there are more than 550 golf courses in Scotland.

Check out the Visit Scotland - The Home of Golf for information on all the golf courses in Scotland.
Haunted Castles and Scottish Ghosts
The bloody history surrounding Scotland's castles, it is no surprise that there of wild stories and strange tales of ghostly apparitions in and around some of Scotland's old heritage buildings. From secret rooms, dungeons, secret tunnels and passageways, it is no wonder that there could be something strange lurking. Of course one of the best ways to experience the strange and darker side of Scottish history is through one of the many ghost tours, or if you are feeling brave, doing it on your own. Some of the better known haunted places include Abergeldie Castle, Culcreuch Castle, Culzean Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Glamis Castle, Stirling Castle... check out the great Scottish Ghost website listing the many haunted castles.
Standing Stones of CallanishCalanais Visitor Centre
The magnificent Standing Stones of Callanish (or Calanais, which is the Gaelic version) are famous worldwide. Located near the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and the most northerly of the Western Isles of Scotland, these ancient stones appear to have an enigmatic, magical quality.

There are at least a dozen sites of interest around Calanais. The main stone complex contains around 50 stones in a cross-shaped setting. The impressive inner circle comprising 13 stones, the tallest of which is 4m high, and a small chambered cairn.

Whatever inspired the construction, it is agreed that visiting the Standing Stones of Calanais is an experience not to be missed.
 
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