Scotland isn’t usually at the top of everyone’s list for a vacation, and with the way it’s often described that might not come as a surprise. Most people envision Scotland as rain, shortbread and the occasional highland cow, but it has so much more to offer if you know where to look.
Reasons Why You Should Visit Scotland.
1. The Isle of Tiree
The Isle of Tiree, also known as ‘the Hawaii of the North’ is an island that forms part of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. Despite everyone being set on the idea of Scotland being cold, Tiree is the place with the most sunshine per year in the U.K.
This, combined with naturally occurring high winds has made Tiree an incredibly popular destination for windsurfing and surfing in general. If you time it right, you might be able to enjoy the Tiree Wave Classic which is the world’s longest running windsurfing event and along with the Tiree Music Festival is one of the islands main attractions.
Perhaps the main advantage that the island has however, is that the rest of the year, it attracts significantly less tourists than other islands like Mull or Iona. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy everything that Tiree has to offer, all with a little more privacy than you would elsewhere.
Also Read: Best Places To Visit For Christmas
2. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Edinburgh’s fringe festival is well know as a showcase for some of the best and brightest in comedy. Whether they’re a rising star looking for the show that solidifies their reputation, or an established comedian testing out the show they’re going to be touring for the next year, it’s the place to go if you’re looking for laughs.
What a lot of people don’t realise however, is that the fringe festival covers a lot more than just humour. It has events relating to dance, music, opera, theatre shows and a wide range of exhibits to explore.
While the events are usually ticketed and therefore have an attached cost, there’s also a range of fringe related street performances. From busking to street theatre, these performers are at the fringe to attract an audience and while any money you can give is welcome, there’s no obligation to pay. This makes the fringe much more accessible to those on a budget.
3. Up Helly Aa
Up Helly Aa isn’t one event, but rather multiple festivals held across Shetland to mark the end of the Yule period, and takes some inspiration from the Viking settlers which make up part of the islands history.
The main festival takes place in Shetland’s capital, Lerwick and culminates with a parade lit by torches carried by ‘Guizers’, led by a ‘Jarl’ who then use the torches to burn a replica Viking Galley. It’s origins however mean that although the festival has a long history, it has evolved over time. The Total Abstinence Society introduced the festival to Shetland in the 1870’s in order to provide an alternative entertainment for young men who would usually pass the holiday by drinking. Originally simply a torch bearing procession, the burning of a galley was introduced in 1889 and not long after the ’Jarl’ which is a term for a Viking chieftain was introduced.
4. Cawdor Castle
If the name ‘Cawdor’ sound familiar to you, then you might be remembering Macbeth. One of Shakespeare’s best known plays, Macbeth was the Thane Of Cawdor and while some of the details contained within Macbeth aren’t 100% accurate, the castle which Macbeth called home certainly is.
What’s more, you’re actually able to visit the castle and for the price of admission, can tour the home and grounds. Scotland is of course, well known for it’s castles with between 1500 and 3000 to see in various states of ruin, so what makes Cawdor stand out?
Well, it’s said that Cawdor castle was never attacked, and as such the family who still own the castle and occupy it during the winter, have been able to maintain it to a high standard. This makes it a particularly good example to view if you want to get a better idea of how the figures you hear about in history live.
5. Chanonry Point
When people talk about seeing dolphins, they might talk about the Florida Keys or some other more exotic destination. One of the best places to see them however lies along the northeast coast of Scotland.
Chanonry Point on Scotland’s Moray Firth peninsula provides an excellent opportunity to see Dolphins in their natural environment, as the tides mean that dolphins often come within a few meters of the shoreline to feed. This means that unlike a lot of other ways of watching dolphins, you wont need to step foot on a boat or even have access to binoculars which makes it a much more convenient way to see dolphins up close. This also makes it a much more cost effective way to have this experience as you save the usual fee that tour operators would charge.
All the places we’ve mentioned here are in Scotland and can either be accessed by ferry like Tiree or Shetland, or form part of the Scottish mainland. While Scotland isn’t the biggest country, some of these places can be a little difficult to get to so you may want to hire transport if you’re able to drive. If you’re within the U.K. you can travel to all of these places without the need for a passport or visa, but if you’re travelling from outside the U.K., then you may need to arrange for a UK Tourist Visa in order to travel.
Jake Carver is a writer for the Immigration Advice Service.