Scotland is high on everyone’s radar, being recently voted by you as the most beautiful country in the world. From its lowlands to its highlands, Scotland is a panorama of unparalleled sites. You move about in constant awe with no place less beautiful than the place that came before it. If you’re wanting a richer experience than just a scenic road trip, hop on a Rabbies tour (yes, we know their name sounds like rabies) for a historic small guided adventure that will take you to the unknown spots loved by the Scottish local guides and fill your thoughts with deep-rooted folklore, superstition and legend.
Before the planning and to fuel the inspo, do yourself a favour and watch Outlander. This Scottish historical drama about a time-travelling nurse is a Netflix binge-worthy favourite and with good reason. Mainly, Sam Heughan’s character, Jamie Fraser. Not only will it give you an authentic look of the Scottish Highlands before travelling, it will give you an appreciation for sexy Scottish red-headed men. You’ll pick up on all the slang and be able to comprehend the Scottish twang a little easier.
With so much to do and see it can be a little overwhelming when planning a trip, so we’ve put together a Style tried and tested guide on the best places to visit. Just prepare yourself for a LOT of rainbows and waterfalls. “Hey Google, play TLC”.
The Three Sisters of Glen Coe | Glencoe
Gearr Aonach (Short Ridge), Aonach Dubh (Black Ridge) and Beinn Fhada (Long Hill) are three mighty ladies. Together, these women form the surreal Glen Coe. This narrow valley formation is spectacular in its sheer size, boasting a dramatic splendour when overlooked. This is one of the most sought-after hiking spots for the professionals, but that’s no reason not to slowly trek your way up. You’ll be walking amongst wild Scottish Heather and gushing waterfalls which is enough to get us off the couch. Did we mention Glen Coe was worthy of Skyfall and several Harry Potter movies?
Eilean Donan Castle | Dornie
It’s not hard to imagine a handsome knight crossing this 13th-century stone bridge. With the well-deserved rep as the most iconic and beautiful castle in Scotland, it’s not one to miss. Typically medieval, this ancient castle surrounds the meeting point of three great deep-sea lochs. Come on Eileen, grab that camera and take the picturesque drive passing endless rolling hills and some controversial salmon farms and if you’ve taken our advice and watched Outlander, it will have particularly more wonder and allure seeing this majestic castle in its full form. Following on with the James Bond appreciation for unbeatable film locations, you’re looking at the Scottish headquarters of MI6 in 1999, The World Is Not Enough.
Glenfinnan Viaduct | Glenfinnan
Harry Potter World can only show you so much. Pretending to jump through a brick wall does it for some, but true fans seek something more authentic. For a truly genuine fan-girl experience, the Glenfinnan Viaduct offers you a taste of cinematic splendour as you watch the steam train make its unforgettable journey across the viaduct. With the spectacular backdrop of deep green foliage and folding hills, climbing up a muddy rock path to get the best view is commended. The anticipation builds and you check your wrist and quickly look up correlating times. You can hear it before you see it, with the steady roar of its approach just discernible over your beating heart. First, you see the thick steam emerging from the trees, followed by the thick metal travelling slower than you expect over the sturdy brick viaduct – plenty of time for pictures! Don’t be shocked at the invasive sound of drones encircling the skies ahead, but make sure they don’t get in your frame! Look up as hands start to stick out of train windows and take it all in.
The Isle of Skye
The Quiraing | Trotternish
This may just be the most memorable spot on your tour around the Highlands. Fog hugs the tilted cliff faces that seriously remind us of the Windows wallpaper that occupied our childhood. This otherworldly landslip is the starting point for grandeur and the ending point for mouth-dropping awe. There is simply nothing that has or can compare to gazing off the edge of Quiraing. Your eye will follow the winding road through green expanses and shadows exaggerating the sharp line between a flat cliff face and the abyss underneath. It will make you contemplate everything with a sudden air of a new consciousness and appreciation for the most beautiful country in the world.
The Fairy Glen | Uig
The magical fairy glen is indeed magical. This quiraing landslip has formed a mass of lush green grass flowing and ebbing with the formation of the land. What most don’t realise is that this ancient landmark has been recreated by locals. Large rocks have been placed in a seemingly perfect spiral, while the true fairy glen lies neglected off to the side, fading into the hill with missing stones but beautiful in its novelty and meaning. It’s much more picturesque than the over-filtered Fairy Pools claiming Instagram’s attention. Be sure not to take anything from the magical Fairy Glen, superstition runs strong through the hills and lochs of Scotland. Climb through the narrow rocks of Castle Ewan to reach a grass runway overlooking a stretch of geological wonder with luscious long grass and round-topped hills with ponds between them.
Arthurs Seat | Edinburgh
What better way to warm up than a short hike up a stunning mountain overlooking Edinburgh City. While the wind tends to be tedious and the bitter cold a little off-putting, you’ll warm up within minutes. Whether you choose the near vertical right-side route for a solid calf workout and striking views or the more leisurely left-side route for a more scenic stroll by a lake, ceaseless birds and the remains of yet another small castle, you will have done nothing quite as spectacular. Your reward is anything from city shopping to bar hopping because there is no more convenient location for a mountain.
The Kelpies | Edinburgh
These creatures of folklore are rumoured shape-shifting water spirits with the strength of 100 horses. Now imagine driving past two colossal horse heads on the M9 Motorway, 30 meters of steel and colourfully lit from within when night falls. These are the largest equine sculptures from across the globe which isn’t hard to believe. You’ll be immersed in their grandeur as you stand beneath them with a newfound appreciation for horses.
Deans Village | Edinburgh
Once you’ve had a gander around Edinburgh’s cobblestoned paths and longstanding buildings, you’ll undoubtedly be in awe considering Australia boasts no building over the age of 219. So how could it get better? Dean’s Village is a step and a half above the classic Edinburgh buildings. As hard as it is to believe, this village will transport you to another world in another time. Its sheer magnitude and magnificence will not be un-noted as you stroll the Leath Waterway and glance into the quaintest of brick homes with windowsills covered in pot plants, overlooking the transcendent Water of Leith.
University of Glasgow | Glasgow
If you’re not quite Harry Potter satisfied, head to Hogwarts… ah, we mean Glasgow University. Old doesn’t begin to cover this castle operating as a university since 1451. The fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world is a merited title when you first lay eyes upon the University of Glasgow. Take a stroll through high ceiling archways and feel the intelligence seep into your bones. It’s never too late to transfer!
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