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Tourist sites in Scotland
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a thematic guide to Britain

Discover the attractions and sights of Scotland, its cities, its life, its traditons, its highlands and islands
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Scotland's major tourist attractions

Eilean Donan
Eilean Donan castle

Scotland's historic and natural heritage

Scotland can be visited at any time of the year; but to make the most of a trip to Scotland, it's recommended to travel between the months of April and September, when the days are long.
   Scotland is well up in the northern hemisphere, and after the Autumn equinox, the days get noticeably shorter. In the middle of December - a city in  the south of the country, the sun rises around 9 a.m, and sets again around 4 p.m. – which doesn't leave a lot of time for sightseeing.
   By contrast, in June in the north of Scotland, it never really gets dark. The sun sets after 10 p.m. and rises again around 4 a.m, but between the two there remains a glow in the sky towards the north.
   In Scotland, people make the most of a long evening, following an early dinner, often around 6 p.m. There's enough time for a round of golf, or a trip to see friends, or to spend several hours in the garden. And even if the shops, museums and monuments do not remain open in the evenings, the pubs are open.

Historic monuments Outdoors & countryside
Places Attractions

Name Location Highlights
Finest historic monuments in Scotland
Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh The finest castle in Scotland - perched on a rock in the centre of Edinburgh. contains the Scottish crown jewels. Still a military site; famed for the Edinburgh Tattoo, late summer
Stirling Castle Stirling Another fine castle, with similar to Edinburgh castle. The recently renovated great hall is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Britain.
Glamis castle Angus Pronounced Glarmes.  Magnificent Scottish stately home, the seat of the Earls of Strathmore. Still a private residence, but open to the public. Website
Caerlaverock Castle  Dumfries, Unique triangular shaped mediaeval castle, surrounded by a moat. The castle is a ruin, but large parts of it remain intact
Eilean Donan Castle Highlands Among the world's most dramatically sited castles, at the juncture of three sea lochs. The current castle is actually an early 20th century rebuilding of an old castle that had been abandoned and largely demolished in earlier times.
Roslyn chapel Near Edinburgh Ornately carved early Renaissance chapel, once a Catholic collegial church. It featured in the film version of the Da Vinci Code
Skara Brae Sandwick, Orkney One of the best preserved prehistoric villages in Europe. See Prehistoric monuments
Standing stones Callanish, Isle of Lewis Another of Scotland's great prehistoric monuments, dating from the 3rd century BC.  See Prehistoric monuments
The Forth Bridges near Edinburgh The Forth rail bridge, built 1882,  is probably the most distinctive and iconic rail bridge in the world. Next to it, the Forth road bridge is one of Britain's great 1960s suspension bridges.
St. Athernase church Leuchars, Fife The finest 12th century  Romanesque church in Scotland
Scotland's natural heritage - the great outdoors
The Scottish Highlands North of the central Lowlands Covering about half of Scotland, the Highlands begin to the north of the Highland Fault, crossing Scotland from just north of Glasgow, to near Aberdeen. Sparsely populated, they include the Cairngorms, the Grampians, and the Northwest Highlands
Loch Ness Part of the Great Glen, southwest of Inverness The home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Though no-one has ever produced plausible proof that the monster exists, it's a great story, and a beautiful place to visit.
The Trossachs Northeast of Glasgow On account of its proximity to Glasgow, Loch Lomond, part of the Trossachs, is probably the most famous loch in Scotland. Boat trips
Aviemore and the Cairngorms South of Inverness Aviemore is Scotland's premier ski resort, and a centre for exploring the Cairngorm mountains
Skye and the inner Hebrides The western isles While Skye can be reached by a bridge, for the rest of the Western Isles, it's a matter of taking the ferry. Discover these beautiful islands, almost traffic free, with their magnificent natural heritage, their whisky distilleries, their craft centres and their spectacular scenery.
John o'Groats Caithness Known as the most northerly point of Scotland, which it is not, John o'Groats is actually at the northeast tip of Scotland, and one end of the longest diagonal crossing Great Britain, to the southwest tip at Land's End in Cornwall.
Orkney & Shetland North of Scotland Islands to the north of the Scottish mainland, accessible by ferry or by plane. Sparsely populated, famous for their birdlife, their marine life, their prehistoric monuments, and their ponies.
the Outer Hebrides Northwest of Scotland As far as you can go, in a northwesterly direction: the outer Hebrides are sparsely populated islands, famed for their natural environment, their peace and quiet, and their Atlantic storms. The home ot tweed.
Cities towns and villages
Edinburgh Midlothian Scotland's capital, and one of the finest cities in Britain. Edinburgh has a rich cultural life, not only during the Festival period. The historic Royal Mile, St. Giles's Cathedral, the Castle, four major museums and art galleries, Princes' street, Calton Hill, the New Town, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh zoo – there is masses to see and so in the Scottish capital
Glasgow Glasgow Vibrant city, with several top-quality art galleries and museums, including Kelvingrove and the Hunterian, the Macintosh house, plus botanic gardens and Buchanan street, Glasgow's top shopping area.
St. Andrews Fife, north of Edinburgh The home of golf, and of one of Scotland's top universities. An attractive small town on the northern coast of Fife.
Oban Argyll, western Highlands Attractive small coastal resort, between the mountains, the sea, and the western isles. Known as the gateway to the isles, on account of the many ferry services operating from here to islands, including Mull, Islay, South Uist, and several more.
Pitlochry Perthshire The gateway to the Highlands. Famous salmon run, with observation windows. Pitlochry festival theatre.
Tomintoul Banffshire The highest village in Britain
Attractions - things to visit and discover
The Blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green Dumfriesshire Historic destination of eloping couples, running away to Scotland to get married at the first available place north of the border. Still a popular place for getting married.
The West Highland line (Glasgow to) Fort William to Mallaig While the whole trip from Glasgow is one of the world's great train journeys, the section from Fort William to Mallaig runs steam trains in the tourist season.
National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh A major museum of antiquities from Scotland and around the world; includes natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology
National Gallery of Scotland Edinburgh Small but world-class art gallery, with a fine and very representative collection of old masters and modern masters. See best art galleries
Scottish museum of modern art Edinburgh Paintings  by Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Matisse, Warhol, and Francis Bacon among others. Sculpture including  Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth
Edinburgh zoo Edinburgh One of Britain's best zoos
The Edinburgh Festival Edinburgh The world's premier music and theatre festival, held each year in August.
Kelvingrove art gallery Glasgow Top quality collection of painting, particularly on the from Dutch Renaissance to the French impressionists and Salvador Dali.
Hunterian museum and art gallery Glasgow A huge collection of artefacts from around the world, from fossils, the remains of dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies to great master paintings, and 20th century art and design, including Glasgow's own Charles Rennie Macintosh.
The Falkirk wheel Falkirk The world's only rotating boat lift; opened in 2002.

Going further : Official Scottish tourism website

Copyright  : Texts and photos © 2015  except where otherwise indicated.
Raphael Madonna - work in the public domain
Deer in the Highlands © Richard Gray
West Coast of the Highlands © Harriet Yeomans
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Above - the Wallace Monument, near Sterling,

Bridgewater madonna

The Bridgewater Madonna, a masterpiece by Raphaël in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Stirling castle

Stirling castle

forth bridges
The Forth bridges

Deer in the Highlands

West coast
On the west coast of Scotland

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