Where to go
There are thousands of incredible places to visit in the UK and Ireland
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Dundee & St Andrews
Dundee, founded in the 12th century, grew due to a combination of weaving, whaling and ship building. The city already had many skilled in weaving, so when whale oils could be used to soften the jute, brought from India in the large fast ships constructed here, Dundee became the jute capital of the world. After the decline of these industries, Dundee diversified into confectionary and jam production and Scotland's 4th largest city continues to adapt well to economic ups and downs. The city also brought us the comics: Beano and Desperate Dan. Indeed a statue of Desperate Dan stands proud in the city square. Dundee has a number of great attractions, including the fascinating Verdant works which tells the story of the city's jute industry and the RRS Discovery – Captain Scott's Antarctic ship which was built here in 1901. The city has a lively arts scene and a blossoming cultural quarter where thought-provoking art and literature sit alongside cosmopolitan cinema and theatre.
St Andrew's (which after 600 years without an apostraphe gained it's ' making St Andrews St Andrew's in April 2013) is an ancient university city with a rich history and famous throughout the world for its golf course.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and combines everything you would want in a historic city from its famous castle, royal palace, narrow medieval streets and Georgian squares to a dynamic modern dimension that includes international festivals, cutting edge arts, trendy bars and enticing restaurants all amidst a cosmopolitan environment but with a noticeably Scottish flavour. The city centre has two distinct parts. The New Town to the north has Princes Street the main shopping street, while the Old Town south and east of castle ridge is brimming with history as you explore the atmospheric cobbled streets and alleys.
Please note, unless you plan to visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or Military Tattoo, we highly recommend avoiding Edinburgh in August if possible
Fort William (Scottish Highlands)
Lying in the shadow of Ben Nevis - the UK's highest mountain, Fort William is the self proclaimed outdoor capital of Scotland. It is a great base from which to explore some of the most stunning landscapes Britain has to offer on foot, by boat, by gondola or mountain bike. The town offers a wide range of shops, restaurants and essential services as well as all kinds of recreational facilities.
Glasgow is Scotland's largest city. What it lacks in historical interest compared to its city rival Edinburgh, it makes up for in style and culture. This vibrant and energetic city has undergone somewhat of a rejuvenation over the past few decades, and the result is a fantastic blend of internationally acclaimed museums and galleries, some stunning architecture, a vibrant nightlife which includes a huge diversity of pubs, clubs and a great live music scene as well as plenty of theatre options as well as fine dining. Glasgow also boasts Scotland's best shopping.
Glasgow is also home to Scotland's two most dominant football clubs and great rivals - Celtic and Rangers.
Inverness, the attractive capital of the Highlands and Scotland's millennium city, makes an ideal base for exploring the area. The city is thought to date back to the 6th century as the Pictish capital and a trading centre for fish, wool and furs. Today it is dominated by the pink sandstone castle which has been built and restored over the centuries due to various battles over the years which left the castle in need of repair. The city is largely modern looking with plenty of shops, places to eat and drink, and plenty of peaceful areas close to the centre for relaxing.
Inverness also hosts the largest Highland Games. Surrounding the city is some awesome countryside with hillsides and lochs in plentiful supply and dolphins cruises available in the nearby Moray Firth. Just south of Inverness is the world famous Loch Ness and of course the Loch Ness monster lurking somewhere within!
Isle of Mull
A short ferry journey from the mainland, The Isle of Mull is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you're a nature lover. Not only is it one of the best places to see birds of prey in the UK, but there are ample opportunities to view marine life all around the island including whales, seals, dolphins and more amidst some gorgeous hillscapes which walkers will enjoy.
Tobermory, capital of Mull, is one of the prettiest ports in Scotland, thanks to the colourful houses and a sheltered bay. It is also the setting for the UK kids show Balamory. Mull is also a great base for taking a boat trip over to explore the islands of Iona, Coll and Tiree.
Isle of Skye
Skye is Scotland's largest island, full of beauty and a variety of scenery. Though often cloudy (Skye is the Norse word for cloud!) this actually can bring a sense of mystery to the island, and any rain showers are more than made up for by the spectacular mountain scenery which include the unmissable Cuillin Ridge; extensive wildlife and a range of activities including walking, cycling, pony trekking and a host of boat trips to choose from. It also has a milder climate than you might imagine for somewhere as far north, making it much more hospitable than some of the Scottish Highlands.
Portree is the island's main town. Its picturesque natural harbour has beautifully coloured houses surrounded by high cliffs, and many of the town's main activities take place here. The town is the main cultural centre for the island with concerts, exhibitions and theatre performances.
Just half an hour north of Glasgow is Loch Lomond, the largest expanse of inland water in Great Britain, and part of a National Park that includes both the loch and the inspirational scenery of the Trossachs. Loch Lomond has some wonderful contrasts. At the north end, the loch is much narrower and deeper, surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery, with Queen Elizabeth Forest Park on the east shoreline and Loch Katrine and the Trossachs beyond. Further down towards the south-eastern end of the Loch, deciduous woodlands hug the shoreline along with the sheltered harbour at Balmaha, an ideal place for water sports and the calm waters make for great canoeing. Balloch Castle Country Park at the southern end provides gentler walking.
Ferries and pleasure cruises operate on the loch from the lochside communities of Tarbet, Balloch, Balmaha and Luss and are a perfect way to explore the area.
In the heart of Scotland and known as the gateway to the Highlands, the little town of Pitlochry is the perfect stopping-off point for visitors crossing the country. Set in a lovely scenery with the river Tummel flowing nearby, the town is a popular destination offering a range of independent shops, restaurant, cafes and traditional and friendly pubs. The surrounding area around Pitlochry is very beautiful, you can stroll along the river, through the woodsand open moorland, and of course, you can walk up to the dramatic Ben Vrackie situated about 6 to 8 miles from Pitlochry. From the summit, you can even see Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh on a clear day!
Stirling has always been at the heart of history in Scotland. It was the site of some of the most famous battles for independence against the English. It is also the place where Scottish monarchs ruled for three centuries. William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson in the Oscar-winning movie Braveheart, is commemorated in the 220ft high tower of the National Wallace Monument.
Stirling's famous castle provides stunning views of the historic battle fields. Below the castle winding cobbled streets in the Old Town play host to the finest concentration of historic buildings in Scotland, including many beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance churches. The 'Back Walk' is a scenic pathway around the Castle and Old Town to rival the city walls of York or Chester.