Scotland is one of the most popular tourist destinations within the United Kingdom, mainly for its beautiful landscapes and rich history. The country offers a look at several prehistoric ruins, ancient castles, and museums. This article takes a closer look at the most visited tourist destinations in Scotland.
Ayrshire County is located in the southwestern region of Scotland and is home to the Firth of Clyde, the deepest waters found off the coast of the British Isles. Tourists can visit historic, natural and architectural attractions in Ayrshire County. The Auchenharvie Castle ruins which date back to before the 1600s. Tourists looking for an experience in nature can visit the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, the first UNESCO Biosphere in Scotland. The Trump Turnberry golf course is also located here, which is home to a 5-star hotel and cottage accommodations.
Inverness is located in the Highland region in the north of Scotland and is a popular central location for tourists. Inverness is close to the famous Loch Ness, a deep body of freshwater that the Loch Ness monster is rumored to inhabit, and the site of the 18th-century Battle of Culloden. King Macbeth, written about in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, once lived in a castle within the city as well. Visitors can check out many museums and galleries in the city, including the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery for a look at Jacobite artifacts, bagpipes, and weapons. Another attraction nearby are the Inverness islands to the south of the city, where tourists can walk through the wooded areas.
The city of Perth is another popular tourist destination in Scotland, located along the Tay River on the east coast. The area around this city has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is close to the ancient capital of the country, Scone. Tourists can visit several castles here including: the Huntingtower, the Balhousie, and the Elcho. Exhibits on the history of Perth can be found in The Fair Maid’s House, which is the oldest non-religious building in the city. Additionally, the largest collection of Medieval-era church bells can be found at the oldest church, St. John’s Kirk.
Dundee is the 4th largest city in Scotland and is a popular tourist destination. It is located in the eastern central Lowlands region of the country. Because of its long history of scientific endeavors, Dundee is also referred to as “One City, Many Discoveries”. The most famous of these is perhaps the RRS Discovery which was used by Robert Falcon Scott in his famous 1901 Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic. It is now docked at the Discover Point. There are many other attractions in this city, including: The Balmerino Abbey, the Mills observatory, various museums, and number of golf courses.
5. St Andrews
St. Andrews is located 10 miles southeast of Dundee on the eastern coast in the council area of Fife. This city is very popular with golf-playing tourists and its entire economy relies on the golf industry. St. Andrews is also home to the oldest university in Scotland, the University of St. Andrews. Aside from the golf courses, one of the most popular attractions here is Kellie Castle, which dates back to at least the 14th century. Visitors to this castle can tour the gardens outside, enjoy tea time in the tearoom, appreciate art and ornate furniture, and visit the souvenir shop. Other tourist attractions in St. Andrews include: the Hill of Tarvit Mansion, the Eden Mill Distillery and Brewery, and the St. Andrews Aquarium.
Aberdeen is located in the northeastern region of Scotland and has a population of around 210,000. It is sometimes referred to as the "Granite City" or the "Grey City" because of the large amount of local granite used in construction of its buildings between the mid-1700s and mid-1900s. This city is well-known for its wide array of gothic architecture, the most famous of which is the Town House. Today, it is the biggest fishing port in Scotland. Several ferries leave Aberdeen for Shetland and Orkney islands every day. Other popular tourist attractions here include: Brig O’Balgownie which is the oldest bridge in Scotland, the remains of the old medieval town called Castlegate, Marischal College which is the second largest granite building in the world, and the Aberdeen Art Gallery.
The city of Stirling is located in central Scotland between the Highlands and the Lowlands. Overlooking this city is the Stirling Castle, one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. Several monarchies received their crowns at this castle, which dates back to at least 1110 AD. Another recognizable attraction here is the Wallace National Monument, a Victorian Gothic-style sandstone tower that sits on top of the nearby Abbey Craig. This monument was built in honor of Sir William Wallace, who was a Scottish knight during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Many tourists and locals alike visit the Thistles Centre shopping center, which offers over 500,000 square feet of retail shopping.
Glasgow is both the largest city in Scotland and the second most popular tourist destination. For tourists who are interested in architecture, this city has a wide range of Victorian and Gothic-style buildings. It is considered one of the most important cultural centers of Scotland and is home to a number of art galleries, cultural festivals, and museums. George Square, in the historic center of the city, is a popular tourist attraction. It has 12 statues of important figures, the Town Hall (with its 230-foot tower), and the Merchant’s House (the oldest Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain). A visit to the University of Glasgow, the second oldest university in Scotland, offers tourists a look into the important scientific discoveries made here throughout history. The National Piping Center and Bagpipe Museum is an excellent stop for anyone curious about the history and use of bagpipes.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the most popular tourist destination in the country. This city is home to a number of important historical sites as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, made up of both Old Town and New Town. Old town offers visitors a look at a Medieval urban plan and Reformation-era architecture, while New Town is the perfect place to get a closer look at Georgian-era and neo-classical architecture. The most popular attraction in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city from its location on top of Castle Rock. Castle Rock has had human settlements since as far back as the 2nd century AD. Other popular sites in Edinburgh include: Holyrood Palace, the British monarch’s official residence; the Scottish Parliament building, and the Edinburgh Zoo. The city also offers activities outdoors such as a visit to Princes Street Gardens or the Royal Botanic Gardens.