Scotland is a fantastic country to visit abroad: it’s beautiful, rich in history, and generally safe. Plus, there’s whisky. Can you argue with that logic? The Scotts are some of the most kind and generous people I’ve come across, as well. If you’re planning a trip to Scotland – or just putting together your bucket list – you may be wondering what there is to do there. This list is just a quick reference to only some of the best things to do in Scotland.
It’s likely when you think “Scotland” that green hills and castles come to mind. I’m happy to tell you that the image in your head is a pretty good indication of the real deal. There are about 2000 castles in Scotland, so there are plenty of them to choose from.
Edinburgh Castle is the most well-known castle and it’s worth a trip by itself, but travel up in the highlands to see other spectacular castles such as: Doune Castle, Stirling Castle, Inveraray Castle, and more.
Of course, there’s always Holyrood Palace, too!
Take a Distillery Tour… or 3!
Our driving factor for visiting Scotland was Scotch Whisky. My husband and I are both huge fans, so we took a special trip to Islay, where our favorite whiskies are made.
I cannot recommend the warehouse tasting at Lagavulin more. It was our favorite part of the trip! The whiskey tour at Laphroaig was great, too.
There are tons of distilleries on mainland Scotland, though, so if you don’t want to take a special trip to a separate island, you can find plenty wherever you are.
Try the local favorites.
Just try the haggis. Go ahead. I promise it won’t kill you. I was skeptical to try it, but was pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite and LOVED it. In general, just ask the locals what they like to eat and order that. Do the same for whisky if you’re new to it and real Scottish souveniers. Asking locals is the best way to experience the real Scotland.
Explore the Royal Mile.
There are tons of things to do on the Royal Mile. On one end is Edinburgh Castle and on the other end is Holyrood Palace (the royal family’s official home in Scotland). Shops line both sides of the streets and there are frequently street performers. It’s amazing to walk on cobblestone that’s been there for centuries and to see the beautiful buildings that have hosted generations of guests.
If you can stay on the Royal Mile, you’ll be able to walk anywhere you wish in Edinburgh… but remember good shoes!
Get Off the Beaten Path.
Some of my favorite memories in Scotland were doing things a little more abstract. I loved visiting the highlands and seeing small fishing villages, mountains, waterfalls, and roaring rivers.
I also really loved visiting the places that don’t get a ton of traffic: like the Woollen Mill on Islay. We even got a short tour from the owner and operator himself! The mill has been in operation since the 1880s, but there has been a miller on site since the 1500s! Can you even imagine?
Regardless of what you decide to do in Scotland, take it all in. Be present and enjoy your time.