Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Photo by Jörg Angeli, Unsplash

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‍Scotland is a land of incredible beauty and fascinating history, and it’s one of the top destinations in Europe. Whether you’re looking to get lost in the charm of a traditional Scottish village, or to explore the grandeur of a castle, Scotland has something to offer everyone. 

Here are five destinations that will make your trip to Scotland a memorable one.

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Shetland, United Kingdom. Photo by Maggie Lentz, Unsplash
Shetland, United Kingdom. Photo by Maggie Lentz, Unsplash

Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are a world of their own. Made up of 100 islands in an archipelago between Norway and mainland Scotland, these windswept isles are the most northern point in the UK.

The islands once belonged to Denmark, but they have a much longer history with an ancient civilization that predates the Vikings and the Picts. Some archeological sites date back to 2500 BC

Visit Shetland’s charming capital of Lerwick, and then rent a car to go exploring. You’re never far from the sea in the Shetlands Islands, and you’ll be surrounded by stunning vistas of soaring cliffs.

In the summer months, the sky never gets fully dark here, and in the winter, you’ll have sweeping views of the stars during the long dark nights. 

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The river through the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. Unsplash
Edinburgh in Scotland. Unsplash

Edinburgh

For many travelers, Edinburgh is the first stop in Scotland. The heart of this historic city is Edinburgh Castle, a place that not only embodies Scotland’s rich and tumultuous history but also its pride and hopes for the future. 

Built high above the city on top of an extinct volcano, the fortress has played a pivotal role in Scotland’s tumultuous history.

The castle is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, including the Stone of Destiny, the coronational seat of ancient kings. During the American Revolution, the castle dungeons housed American prisoners of war. 

Today, one of the most moving areas of the castle is the Scottish National War Memorial, which was built to commemorate those Scotland lost during WWI. 

Take time to walk the historic Royal Mile in the heart of the Old Town, then head to the Royal Museum or the Museum of Scotland – two museums in one location in Old Town on Chambers Street. 

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Scotland Iona Abbey. Photo by Caroline Hall, Unsplash
Scotland Iona Abbey. Photo by Caroline Hall, Unsplash

Isles of Mull and Iona

Head far off the beaten track with a visit to the Isle of Mull. Drive the one-track roads on this tiny Inner Hebridean island and you’ll come across many sheep, who may just decide to make you wait as they cross, miles of stunning coastline, tiny villages and incredible birdlife.

You might even see puffins. Don’t miss the picturesque town of Tobermory. Hop the ferry from Mull to the nearby Isle of Iona to see Fingal’s Cave and the historic Iona Abbey and Nunnery.

Loch Ness, United Kingdom. Photo by Megan Sanford, Unsplash
Loch Ness, United Kingdom. Photo by Megan Sanford, Unsplash

Loch Ness 

Loch Ness is perhaps the most famous Scottish destination and for good reason. It’s home to Scotland’s most mythical resident – the Loch Ness Monster. This elusive creature was first sighted in 1933 and has more than 1,000 eye-witness accounts.

What is it? No one knows. What we do know is that this region in the Highlands is famous for its beautiful scenery, castles, lighthouses and adventure sports. 

Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo by Bjorn Snelders, Unsplash
Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo by Bjorn Snelders, Unsplash

Isle of Skye

Scotland has delightful folklore and traditions, and nowhere is that more evident than the Isle of Skye, located on the west coast of Scotland. With its cascading waterfalls, dramatic mountains and medieval castles, the island is well-suited for legends. 

Many famous stories surround the Skye Fairies, and visitors delight in exploring scenic island locations to learn about these historic legends. Don’t miss the Fairy Pools of Glenbrittle.

The blueish-green hue of the pools’ crystal-clear water along a backdrop of misty mountains has made the Fairy Pools a top attraction on Skye.

Dunvegan Castle on the northwest coast of Skye also has many legends of fairies. You can visit the ancient castle to hear the tales and then stop to view the famous Fairy Bridge.

The Isle of Skye Fairy Glen in the north of Skye on the Trotternish Peninsula is another must-visit. 

No matter where you go on Scotland, you’re sure to be enchanted.

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