Scotland can be wild and rugged, but also cultural and sophisticated. Our 4 'staycation' ideas marry these two distinct personalities together.
Scotland's capital is a truly beautiful city that's well worth exploring fully during your UK 'staycation'. Lose yourself in the historic Old Town and walk up the Royal Mile to visit the imposing castle which sits above the city. For the best view of Edinburgh, hike up Arthur's Seat. This steep trek gives you an unmissable bird's eye view of the city. Once you return to ground level, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence. It sits opposite the current Scottish Parliament building, where you can see their lawmakers at work.
Edinburgh has a range of ghost tours to send a shiver down your spine. Explore the hidden past in the company of a qualified guide who has many chilling tales to tell. You can also book walking and bus tours during the day.
What else can you do on your 'staycation' in Edinburgh?
Head north and cross the Forth Bridge. This inspiring feat of engineering connects Scotland over the Firth of Forth. Once across, continue to St Andrews, a beautiful university town and the birthplace of golf. Come for the Old Course but stay for the beautiful coastal views and rugged beaches. The Five Sisters Zoo in Livingston and Pentland Hills Regional Park are also beautiful natural escapes but are much closer to the city.
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Scotland's second city is a national culture hub. It is home to the Scottish Opera, Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland and has a thriving local music scene as well. It's also home to many of Charles Rene Mackintosh's most famous works. His buildings contribute to the beautiful Victorian and art nouveau architecture which make Glasgow so famous.
Stroll along the River Clyde and sample some gin or whiskey in one of the many distilleries for an authentic experience. If you want something a littler quieter, drive out to Pollock Country Park. This sculpted green space boasts an exceptional art gallery with one of the finest collections of Spanish paintings in the UK. Glasgow has something for everyone, no matter what you want from your UK 'staycation'.
What else can you do on your 'staycation' in Glasgow?
Head into Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Known for its lakes, heather and impressive hills, this is a stunning display of everything the Scottish Highlands have to offer.
You can also catch a ferry across to the Isle of Arran. There you'll find lots of different flavours - including cheese, oatcakes and beer - and an everchanging coastline with plenty of sheltered beaches. Arran is also home to some of the UK's rarest wildlife, including Golden Eagles and Basking Sharks. Find a little bit of magic on this stunning Scottish island.
Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is the perfect escape from normality. Base yourself here to explore the rugged wilderness, with attractions including Cawdor Castle and Culloden Battlefield. Fans of 'Harry Potter' can hop aboard the Hogwarts Express Day Tour. A replica of the infamous trains crosses the viaduct seen in the films.
Fort George, Inverness Castle and Cathedral all showcase this city's rich historical past. Plus, there are plenty of walking opportunities without having to visit the Highlands! Stroll along the River Ness to visit the beautiful Botanic Gardens or walk along the canal. You can even book a cruise to travel these waterways in style.
What else can you do on your 'staycation' in Inverness?
Search for the infamous monster in the depths of Loch Ness, only half an hour away from Inverness. The Cairngorms National Park is slightly further afield while the fishing community of Aberdeen sits on the East coast. The top highlights here include dolphin spotting and Footdee fishing village.
The North Coast 500 starts and finishes in Inverness. This is one of the most famous driving routes in the world and lets you take in the beautiful Highlands from the comfort of your car. Stop off in John O'Groats along the way, the UK's Northernmost point.
Isle of Skye (Inverness-shire)
The Isle of Skye is a true explorer's paradise. Base yourself in the town of Portree which has harbourside pubs and boutiques to enjoy after a long day in the beautiful wilderness. There are plenty of stunning geographical features on Skye, including the Old Man of Storr and Quairing. These rock formations are just 20 minutes apart, and you can round off your day at the Fairy Pools. Why not take a dip in the water if the weather is nice enough?
Skye is also home to some of the UK's rarest wildlife. Bring your binoculars and look for Sea Eagles, Seals and more. For something a bit more sophisticated, visit Talisker Distillery. Skye is known for its whiskey production and this is one of the finest on the island.
What else can you do on your 'staycation' in Skye?
Tobermory on the Isle of Mull is well worth a visit. The gorgeous painted houses on the waterfront were the focus of the children's TV series, Balamory, and look stunning whatever the weather.
The UK's highest peak, Ben Nevis, is less than 3 hours from Skye. Stay overnight in Fort William, known as the 'Outdoor Capital of the UK', if you fancy climbing this mountain. Or you can sample the Scottish tradition flowing through Fort William itself. If you still want to get the blood pumping, the mountain resort has ski runs and forest trails to tackle.
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