Looming from its craggy perch atop an ancient volcano, this iconic castle dates back to the 11th century and defines the city's skyline even today. Take in a royal view of Edinburgh and the countryside from its battlements, and see treasures such as the Honours of Scotland—the crown, scepter, and sword that once graced the Scottish monarch.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Scotland has some of Britain's most spectacular museums, including Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland (splendidly renovated and packed with displays on everything from natural history to world cultures to Scottish history). Glasgow's Kelvingrove, a city favorite, fills a vast, castlelike building with international and Scottish art, local- and natural-history displays, and much more—in engaging displays.
In the late 19th century, architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh turned pompous Victorian style on its head with sleekly distinctive designs influenced by the art nouveau style. His hometown of Glasgow is the best place to see his influential designs, particularly at the Glasgow School of Art and the House of an Art Lover.
In this dramatic region of countryside between rugged mountains and rolling valleys, the Campbell clan massacred the MacDonald clan under English orders in 1692. Besides rich local history and chilling wild beauty, Glencoe has superb hiking and climbing.
Isle of Skye
With the misty Cuillin Mountains and aged stone crofts, Skye is a place to linger over sunsets, explore meadows of heather, and savor fresh seafood. The island's romantic past is linked to the saga of Bonnie Prince Charlie. On your way here, visit the most famous of Scottish castles, Eilean Donan.
Sweeping turrets and fanciful towers distinguish palatial Floors, built in 1721 for the duke of Roxburghe and now Scotland's largest inhabited castle. Sprawling along the banks of the River Tweed, the castle has magnificent interiors and grounds to explore.
Scotland's ruined abbeys recall the country's brilliant but turbulent monastic past. Melrose, an elegant but commanding red-sandstone structure, was begun in the 12th century. The abbey's ruins retain their power in well-preserved carvings.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
Sparkling clear water, lush woodlands, jagged mountains, and open skies make Loch Lomond a coveted—and easily accessible from Glasgow and Edinburgh—weekend retreat for visitors and locals alike. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Scotland's first national park, is ideal for hiking, biking, and more.
Malt Whisky Trail and More
Aficionados of malt whisky can explore distilleries around Scotland, from the islands to the Highlands. The Malt Whisky Trail in the scenic River Spey valley is renowned for its single-malt distilleries. The nine sights include distilleries large and small and a historic cooperage.
Famous first for its golf course and second for its university, the town of St. Andrews is also historic, prosperous, and charming. The ruined castle and cathedral are atmospheric, and this is a perfect destination for an idyllic stroll by the shore or in town.
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