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Scotland: Small in Size, Large in Attractions

Scotland is a land with a unique culture that charms visitors with its splendid scenic beauty, rich history and fascinating attractions. Divided into six distinct regions, each offers an unparalleled view into an ancient past. There’s something for everyone in Scotland.

Where to Go

Scotland is a relatively small country with high-quality roads in most areas. Public transportation is available in many areas, but if you want to explore the remote rural mountainous regions in the north, rent a car or take a tour with a company. Basing your trip in one of the larger cities is a great way to experience different activities.

Aberdeen is located on the northeast coast and is filled with stunning examples of traditional architecture and historical attractions. Museums include the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, with offers exhibitions about the North Sea and the oil and gas industry, the Aberdeen Art Gallery, with art collections dating back to the 15th century and the eerie, but informative Tollbooth Museum, located in what used to be prison cells. Aberdeen is a green city, filled with parks and gardens. Seafood is available in abundance and the local restaurants offer hungry patrons sumptuous delights. Nightlife is vibrant, with shows at His Majesty’s Theatre and numerous pubs and bars to satisfy any taste.

Dundee has everything from significant historical attractions to contemporary art. The RRS Discovery is Dundee’s most famous monument to history. The beginning of the 20th century marked a time of intense exploration. Arctic regions and Antarctica were uncharted territory, but interest in exploring and charting both regions was high. Sir Clements Markham, President of the Royal Geographical Society, began planning an expedition to Antarctica in the late 1800s. By 1900, he had the necessary funds and the search for the ship and expedition captain was on.

The Dundee Shipbuilding Company had already produced ships that cut through the treacherous Arctic ice pack. Markham utilized the talents of Dundee’s finest to build the RRS Discovery. The ship’s design was based on the great whalers, but modifications were made for the Antarctica expedition. It was the first ship ever built solely for scientific purposes and the last wooden three-masted ship built in Britain. Markham chose 33-year-old Robert Falcon Scott as captain. Scott chose each of the 49 crew members himself, a mix of naval and merchant seamen.  The ship left the Firths of Tay March 21, 1901, and five months later, found the Antarctic coastline. An historic scientific investigation and tale of survival ensued. RRS Discovery was locked in ice for two years before being freed by controlled explosions. She arrived back home Sept. 10, 1904. Tours of the fully restored ship show what it was like for the crew and provide details about their daily lives. On board events include dinner with the captain and special holiday celebrations.

If style is what you are looking for, Glasgow is the place. Scotland’s largest city is not only one of the most exciting Scotland destinations; it’s also one of the best in all of Europe. The Style Mile is the place to go to find the trendiest shops. Buchanan Street, in the center of the city, is a bustling pedestrian shopping district where you can find the most well-known fashion brands and enjoy afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms. It’s not all shopping in Glasgow, though. The Riverside Museum was created by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid and is a monument to transport and travel. Over 3,000 transportation-related objects are on display, including vintage bicycles, trams and a South African locomotive. You can take a boat ride on the Tall Ship and enjoy extraordinary views of the River Clyde. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is in the west end of the city and houses interactive art and natural history displays. The museum sits within the confines of lovely Kelvingrove Park. For an unforgettable night, head to Glasgow’s West End district, where cutting-edge bars, intimate music venues and delectable restaurant cuisine await you.

Visitors to Scotland’s capital find everything and more in Edinburgh. A visit to Edinburgh Castle is mandatory. Go first thing in the morning because large crowds are typical during the day. Built on top of volcanic Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle boasts spectacular city views and has wheelchair facilities, so everyone can get to the top and enjoy the landscape. The Scottish Parliament, in the center of the Old Town World Heritage Site is open to the public on a limited basis, but well worth the visit. A café, shopping and guided tours are available. Other attractions include the National Museum of Scotland, Royal Yacht Britannia and the world famous Edinburgh Zoo. The Edinburgh Farmers Market is the largest in Scotland. And, don’t forget the Scotch Whisky Experience. Guided tours explore how whiskey is made and include a delectable three-course dinner.

Did You Know?

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, but it’s unlike anyplace else. Here are some fun facts about Scotland:

17th century Edinburgh residents thought that burning dove droppings and rubbing the ashes on their heads would cure baldness.

The first reported appearance of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, occurred in A.D. 565.

Scotland’s Charles Macintosh invented the raincoat.

Scotland has roughly 790 islands, but only 130 are inhabited.

The official animal of Scotland is the unicorn.

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