Wild coastline, medieval castles, historic cities and wonderful whisky
The rugged beauty of the Land of the Brave has long served as inspiration for poets, artists, musicians and scholars. It’s the stuff of legends, drama, superstition and heroes, from William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Robbie Burns, to Sean Connery, Andy Murray, and TV’s ‘Outlander’.
Whether you’re a history buff, food fanatic, outdoorsy type, or enjoy a luxury spa hotel you’ll find your magic here, in Scotland, one of the last great wildernesses of Europe.
Comedian Billy Connelly once said “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter.” It seems a lot of travellers took him rather literally as summer is indeed prime time for people wanting to explore Scottish national parks, country estates, golf courses, stunning shores and remote islands. And why not? The days are long and warm weather likely. If you really prefer however to immerse yourself in a genuinely crowd-free experience, consider a low season visit from the end of the October half-term until March. Many choose to stay away at this time believing the weather to be wet, road conditions adverse and many venues closed. On the contrary, there are some great low season days featuring a changing light and dramatic skies, easily accessible routes, excellent public transportation, and year-round domestic flights and island ferry crossings. In the winter, locals have more time to chat, show you some real traditional Scottish hospitality and you’ll avoid the annoying summer midges. You’ll also more easily get that table at a favourite restaurant to enjoy delicious spiced haggis, west coast lobster or a creamy cullen skink.
City Break Weekenders
The major cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen are extremely well connected with flights throughout the year from all over Europe. They offer distinct and varied options for low season fun. Enjoy a couple of days away exploring the historic centres, traditional pubs, green parks and world class restaurants. Choose Edinburgh and its looming castle and climb to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park for outstanding city views. Or check out Glasgow’s art nouveau architecture, many breweries and stunning 12th-century cathedral, the oldest in mainland Scotland. Aberdeen is less well known, but is so worth a visit boasting a fascinating maritime museum, inspired street murals, cobbled alleys and eclectic nightlife.
Are We There Yet?
The thing about Scotland is that it’s considerably larger than many people imagine. From London, it’s a full day’s drive to the border and then a good 6 hours plus to the northernmost point of the mainland. The good news is that a road trip is still totally possible with the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ campaign showcasing the many delights of the southern regions of the nation. This area around the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire, Arran and Bute not only remains the most accessible but enjoys renowned characteristics of Scottish spirit, is historically significant and offers a wealth of exciting experiences. Beautiful Dalkeith Country Park; the 15th century Rosslyn Chapel of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ fame; Hawick Glass Art; Jedburgh Castle Jail & Museum; and stunning coastal walks are just a few examples.
Highlands & Islands
Venture further north and the sky opens to endless spectacular scenery, picturesque lochs, waterfalls, mountain terrain and pristine shoreline. You’ll need a good raincoat, decent hiking boats and thermals. That’s true at any time of year but particularly in low season! Hunt for Nessie, wander windswept beaches, or enjoy the West Highland Line train journey across the Glenfinnan Viaduct. If you’ve got a little extra time, take a ferry out to the peaceful islands of Tiree, Shetland, Mull, Orkney or Skye and discover their unique cultures, histories and adventures.