Think summer in Europe. Think sunbathing in Santorini, sangria in Spain. Think Scotland?
While it may not be the first destination that springs to mind, there’s a lot to be said for an escape to the bonny home of Braveheart. Whether it’s a week or two exploring Edinburgh and Glasgow or a fully fledged tour of the highlands and northern islands, the tiny country has plenty to offer for travellers of all ages.
July and August see Scotland in her prime with warm weather, sunlight until 11pm and plenty of exciting festivals and celebrations on offer. In particular, the internationally renowned Edinburgh Festival delivers top quality comedians, bands, plays, musicals and even the Lady Boys of Bangkok, for the whole month of August. North of Edinburgh, T in the Park, a three day music festival, plays host to the likes of Mumford & Sons, Rihanna and The Killers – just make sure you bring your gumboots!
With a population almost ten times smaller than Sydney’s, Edinburgh feels more like a town to us Aussies, and you’ll find the local bartender serving you the “usual” before you know it.
AM: Start early and begin your day exploring Edinburgh Castle before heading down the famous Royal Mile. Perhaps indulge in one of the many whisky tastings, after all it’s always 6 o ‘clock somewhere. Prefer a coffee? Head to the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’, The Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling is said to have created our favourite boy wizard.
PM: Head to the New Town and check out Princes St. On one side you’ll find the beautiful gardens and the National Gallery and Museum of Scotland, and on the other, Topshop, H&M, Zara and Mark’s and Spencer… Take your pick! By this time you’ll no doubt find yourself in one of the hundreds of pubs, enjoying a pint and a hearty Scottish meal. If you’re on a budget, try The Standing Order, if not, head to The Rutland, for a splurge try The Witchery.
Got more time? Climb Arthur’s Seat, have a picnic in The Meadows, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Botanic Garden or Carlton Hill.
Hire a car in Edinburgh and make a day trip up to St Andrew’s. The drive will only take an hour and a half and gives you a chance to see some of the beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer.
AM: St. Andrew’s Links is regarded as the ‘home of golf”, where the game began in the 15thcentury. If you want to play the Old Course you’ll have to apply a year in advance or enter a random ballot. Alternatively, have a quick game of putt-putt golf for only £2. Grab a souvenir at the Oldest Golf Shop in the world, or grab a drink and a bite to eat at one of the three Clubhouses.
PM: Next stop is St. Andrew’s University, the third oldest University in the English speaking world, founded in approximately 1410. The school is magnificent to explore and, more recently, has become famous for being the meeting place of Prince William and Kate Middleton who both studied there. Finish the day with a delicious meal and a wee dram at The Grange Inn.
Got more time? Visit St. Andrew’s Castle, or climb to the top of St. Andrew’s Cathedral and experience the breathtaking views.
Whether you drive or take the train it won’t take you more than an hour from Edinburgh. In the past Glasgow has held a reputation as being Edinburgh’s ugly younger sibling. Don’t let this fool you, Glasgow is an up and coming cultural hub and well worth the trip.
AM: Start your day with a visit to the House for an Art Lover. The interior of the house has been designed in meticulous detail by internationally acclaimed Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Next, head to Pollok Country Park, here you’ll find The Burrell Collection, which boasts more than 9,000 works of art including pieces by Degas and Cezanne.
PM: Check out the bohemian West End. Enjoy a scone and a cuppa at Cup Tea Room or wee tipple at Two Figs before exploring the boutique and vintage stores on Byres Road. Next, take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens, or visit the University of Glasgow and the Hunterian Museum. Finish the day with a ‘Burger and a Drink’ for less than £7 at the Horse Shoe Bar.
Got more time? Take a Seaplane to Loch Lomond.