Call us biased but why would you choose to holiday elsewhere when we live in such a fabulous country?
What’s that? The weather you cry. Ok, fair point. If we always had hot, dry summers we would be the luckiest people alive. But when the sun does shine, which it does… sometimes… we’ve got an amazing country to enjoy.
Here’s why we think holidaying in Scotland is up there with the top holiday destinations.
Remember back in 2009 when it came to light that the Thai tourist industry was using a photo of a Scottish beach to entice people to visit Thailand? That beach was nowhere near Thailand, but rather West Beach on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. While the weather in Thailand may be more aligned to a day on the beach, Scottish beaches are quite simply incredible whatever the weather. Visit on a sunny day and they’re dreamy. Visit on a gloomy day and atmospheric is the word. Think, long stretches of white sand, clear blue skies and a stunning backdrop of mountains.
Scottish islands have some of the most picturesque beaches in the world, with Luskentyre Beach on Isle of Harris being one of our favourites. A rail and sail ticket can get you there to experience it yourself.
You don’t always have to venture miles away to enjoy a gorgeous beach, there’s a lot you can reach directly by train for a great day out. Find out more about those here .
Image credit: Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins
Our brilliant place names
There’s nothing like immersing yourself in the culture of a place, and no better way to experience a lot of the Gaelic heritage in our language than eyeing up the station names as you travel around the country on the railway. Displayed in both English and Gaelic, it can be a fun game figuring out how to pronounce the English name let alone the Gaelic one.
If you want to find out more about some of the more baffling Scottish place names, have a read of this previous blog post . After travelling around for a while, you’ll be fully versed on how to pronounce your Mallaig’s (MAL-aig), Milngavie’s (Mill-guy) and Sanquhar’s (Sanker.)
A lot of tourists visit Scotland to immerse themselves in the history. For a small nation we’ve got some big stories to tell but it’s easy to overlook your own history when you’re surrounded by it every day. With great attractions like Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, the Wallace Monument, the Glenfinnan Monument and Linlithgow Palace to name just a few, there’s a lot of fascinating, easily digestible history to be discovered very close to railway stations across the country. Some attractions also offer 2FOR1 discount on entry when you show your train ticket.
Scotland is also home to engineering feats with one in particular very close to our hearts. The Forth Bridge. Built in the 1880’s with it opening on the 4th of March 1890, there’s something so thrilling about taking the train across the bridge. Plus, the views are incredible! For great views of all three of the Bridges – the Rail, the Road and the newest, the Queensferry Crossing - hop off the train at Dalmeny for amazing views, plus a rather nice pub too!
Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam
One of the best things about being a fairly small country is that it doesn’t take too long to travel between places. Taking the train between our two largest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, can now be done in just 42 minutes on some services. The other five cities - Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness can all be travelled between in under 3.5 hours.
Our cities are filled to the brim with exciting things to do, delicious places to eat, cultural hubs and live events. Live music lovers and theatre goers are really well catered for in our cities. If you’re looking for things to enjoy each month, we publish a round up of top events on the blog .
All the routes that link our cities are ever so pretty. Think rivers, long expanses of countryside, coastlines, dramatic mountains, lochs and a lot of greenery. Each city is truly unique and has something different to offer any visitor so you’ll never feel like it’s ‘just another city.’ They have their own strong identity and plenty of stories to tell. Why not discover a city you’ve never visited before?
Image credit: Marketing Edinburgh
Venturing out of our cities, our rural landscapes are stunning. It’s no wonder that every year thousands of tourists flock to experience the views. There are six official Great Scenic Railway Journeys in Scotland and a holiday exploring any of these would be an absolute joy. The West Highland Line from Glasgow to Mallaig has frequently been voted one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world - it truly gives a snapshot of all the striking views of Scotland. A combined ticket is a great way to enjoy a staycation on this route, take a look at the Scottish Grand Tour travel pass.
And finally, it’s not just those of us who live here that think Scotland has some film-worthy backdrops - a lot of the country has been used in films recently. For a staycation with a difference, why not travel in the footsteps of some of your favourite characters (minus any gritty endings – not a spoiler, I’ll confess I’ve never seen the programme!) with an Outlander tour. Check out our popular itinerary here .
Over the years, other films, shot in our beautiful country include One Fine Day, Harry Potter (who hasn’t seen the Glenfinnan Viaduct scenes?!) Sunshine on Leith, Mary Queen of Scots, Outlaw King and James Bond. VisitScotland has some great itineraries if you want to delve more into your favourite films. Hit the big screen here .
Image credit: Visit Scotland / Airborne Lens
We could spend hours writing about everything that our gorgeous country has to offer, so apologies for missing out big chunks of the country.