Edinburgh and Glasgow make for great city breaks but there is so much more to visit throughout Scotland. Here are a few more reasons to visit...

Edinburgh and Glasgow make for great city breaks but there is so much more to visit throughout Scotland. Here are a few more reasons to visit...

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s most celebrated lakes and lies only half an hour to the north of Glasgow, and little over an hour from Edinburgh. The National Park, embracing the loch and the neighbouring Trossachs region, is a haven for outdoor activity enthusiasts and nature lovers, while nearby Stirling, Scotland’s newest city, is recognised as one of Scotland’s heritage centres. Outstanding views, walking tours, boat trips, ancient ruins, tales of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, not to mention, the obligatory game of golf, Loch Lomond has it all.

The city of Aberdeen is an excellent location whether you are enjoying the long bright days – and nights – of Scotland’s northern city or indulging in the city’s winter festive season in the run up to Christmas. With its sparkling granite buildings, Aberdeen has one of Scotland's most enchanting skylines, while the city's Old Town has a magical air of time gone by. Scotland’s third largest city boasts a fantastic range of first-class restaurants and a vibrant nightlife combined with a thriving cultural calendar and shops galore. The majestic Grampian Mountains dominate the skyline to the west whilst miles of unspoiled and often dramatic coastline frame the area in the east. Outside the city, vast empty beaches, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages and dramatic cliff top scenery are waiting to be explored.

Angus & Dundee
For a perfect mix of coast, countryside and city life, the Angus and Dundee region will keep you occupied and entertained for a nice week’s holiday’s or a long weekend. The cosmopolitan city of Dundee is known as the ‘City of Discovery’ with history, theatre, art, science and shopping all available. One of Dundee’s big attractions is Discovery Point, which is an exhibition outlining the challenges that faced Captain Scott on his trip to the Antarctic over a hundred years ago. And the magical Angus Glens are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, with some amazing wildlife on offer, combined with great fishing spots, cycling and trekking. Angus is home to the magical Glamis Castle, while Arbroath Abbey dates back to the 12th century and was the place where the Scottish Kings issued their Declaration of Independence to confirm Scotland as an independent sovereign nation in 1320. The famous Carnoustie golf course is also close by so don’t forget your clubs.

The Kingdom of Fife
Starting out from the amazing old university town of St Andrews, the Fife region is waiting to be discovered with beautiful east coast landscapes and charming fishing towns throughout. Fife was home to Scotland's capital for six centuries and the historical wealth of the area is in abundance with castles, cathedrals, and many places of interest. The Kingdom of Fife is known throughout the world as ‘The Home of Golf’ and boasts more than forty courses, none more famous than the Old Course at St Andrews. Strolling the Fife Coastal Path is another highlight of the area which has distinctive rock formations, delicate flora and a varied wildlife and you may spot grey seals, basking sharks and dolphins, while cyclists will be spoiled for choice with over 300 miles of cycleways.

It won’t take you too long to discover why the Perthshire is known as ‘Big Tree Country’ with unrivalled natural beauty throughout the region. The Enchanted Forest exhibition takes place in Perthshire every October and has become one of Scotland’s best outdoor attractions where you experience an amazing lighting show that uses the woodland garden as a natural backdrop. Incredible wildlife includes the elusive red squirrel and the magnificent stag, while you can experience the salmon leap from the water’s edge. And if you’re travelling during the winter months, you can always take to the slopes at the Glenshee Ski Centre. Perthshire is also one big adventure playground, where amongst the many activities on offer you could spin in a sphere, test your nerve with a spot of cliff jumping and canyoning or enjoy an eagle's eye view with a microlight flight.

Island Trails
Scotland is home to over 700 islands with four great island trails to choose from. The Outer Hebrides & Skye trail includes the startling cone-shaped hills of Faerie Glen on Skye, the world’s only airport where planes land on the beach on Barra and surfing on Harris and Lewis. The Orkney & Shetland trail includes whale watching on Shetland, accommodation in the most northerly inhabited castle in Scotland (Orkney) and mysterious carved footprints at Shetland’s Clickimin Broch. The Inner Hebrides and Islands in the South includes the world’s third largest whirlpool near Jura, eagles and otters on Mull, and Europe’s smallest cathedral on Cumbrae. And the there is also an Archaeological trail which includes prehistoric mummies in South Uist, the Tomb of the Eagles with its tales of sky burials and sea eagles in Orkney and Skara Brae, which is a neolithic village predating the Egyptian pyramids.

Sailing the West Coast
Take a sailing tour around the west coast of Scotland, described by many as the best cruising waters in the world. Scotland's cruising grounds are unspoiled conveying the unique combination of land and seascape virtually untouched by man. Even the sheltered lochs of the Firth of Clyde are relatively untouched offering the cruising sailor the ultimate in scenery and wildlife. The trips can incorporate a few stops ashore to sample local cuisine including the abundance of fresh seafood and visit a local distillery all with a warm welcome from the locals guaranteed.

The Scottish Borders
The Scottish Borders region is bursting with inspirational scenery and enthralling history. This region is a cyclist's and walker's dream and the perfect way to explore the fascinating history of the castles and abbeys, and the picturesque towns and villages such as Peebles, Melrose and Hawick. Local produce is another of the area’s main attractions with ale brewed at the stunning Traquair House, delectable smoked salmon and little, local treats such as Border and Eyemouth Tarts. The Scottish Borders is also a great region for fishing with the River Tweed ideal for salmon fishing. The region has something for everyone as one moment you’ll find yourself in a tranquil haven and the next, you could be mountain biking downhill at lightning speed. And, of course, there is plenty of excellent golfing opportunities with 21 courses to choose from.

Dumfries & Galloway
Located in the south-west of Scotland, the magical countryside of Dumfries & Galloway is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. The ferry will drop you off at Stranraer, which is the gateway to the region, where wildlife lovers are spoilt for choice at the Galloway Forest Park with red squirrels, rutting stags, butterflies, wild geese, nesting ospreys and natterjack toads all in abundance. Kirkcudbright is known as the Artists’ Town since it housed an established artists’ colony in the 19th and 20th centuries and the beautiful town remains the home of many artists and writers who are inspired by the stunning light of the Solway Coast. The Tolbooth Art Centre houses some fine works by Jessie M King, SJ Peploe and David Gauld - one of the Glasgow Boys. Drumlanrig Castle & Country Estate houses one of the country’s finest private art collections and boasts works by Rembrandt and Van der Neer.

Isle of Skye
This misty gem in the Hebrides sits just off the coast of west Scotland, about 100 kilometres north of Glasgow. The island is an adventure playground for climbers, walkers and cyclists with high peaks and deep sounds throughout. The centre of the island is dominated by the Cuillin mountains, while several peninsulas jut out in every direction. Visit the Quiraing on the Trotternish peninsula for stunning scenery, while Dunvegan Castle is steeped in history and legend and is home to the McLeod clan. Castle Moil, Dunscaith Castle and Duntulm Castle are also places to check out on your visit, while the coast of Dunvegan is home to 'MacLeod's Maidens', which are giant sea stacks off the coast of Maiden's Point, amongst the highest cliffs in Britain. The sea plays a big part in Skye's attraction, as sea fishing is widely available, along with a wide range of other water sports. And wildlife lovers will be spoilt for choice as red deer, seals, otters, golden eagles and rare sea eagles can often be spotted.

For more information about planning a trip to Scotland, visit www.VisitScotland.com.

Ed Leahy