Scotland is a tiny nation that has had an enormous cultural impact on the world. When you think of Scotland, you think of many things: kilted bagpipers, Scotch whiskey, haggis, lamb's wool clothing, and so on. And although Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, its culture is markedly different from its neighbor, England, to the south.
Glasgow and Edinburgh are Scotland's two biggest cities, and any Scotland travel plans should make ample time to explore the craggy alleyways, historic castles, and centuries-old pubs both offer.
Things Not to Miss in Scotland
• The Royal Botanic Garden, located in Edinburg, was founded in 1670, and has assumed a hugely important role in biodiversity research worldwide.
• The Scottish Seabird Centre is much newer—it was opened by Prince Charles in 2000—and houses an abundance of local birds, including puffins and gannets. Sir David Attenborough has called it one of the “Twelve Wildlife Wonders of the World.”
• No Scotland visit is complete without taking a tour of some of the numerous castles left behind by historic royalty. Two of the most stunning are Edinburgh Castle and Eilean Donan Castle.
• The Orkney Islands are a stunning archipelago off the northern coast with Neolithic ruins from the Bronze and Iron Ages.
• Take a Scotch tour to find out what all the fuss for the smoky, peaty whisky is all about.
When to Go to Scotland
Scotland's landscape and climate? They are unmistakably British, but don't be fooled. If you travel to Scotland, you should certainly visit the North Sea gently lapping the beautiful coastline, shack up in the mountains buried in snow, or venture into the forests to see the wildlife.
When you go to Scotland should depend on what you want to do. Edinburgh tends to become crowded during the tourist season, which starts in April and is over by September. You might expect Scottish weather to be quite cold due to its northern location, but that is not the case—winters are milder due to the warming effect of the Mid-Atlantic Drift.
The weather is best from May through September, although the rainiest days of the year take place in July and August. The eastern coast of Scotland tends to be drier than the west and is also the warmer place to visit, should you desire to lodge near the coastline.