Scotland is not your typical seaside vacation, despite being surrounded by the North Sea. It's not usually warm and you certainly can't count on sunny days, even in summer. Still, this untamed, rugged landscape has plenty to offer. If you enjoy views of beautiful cliffs, hikes, and great beer and food, then this is the destination for you. Where are the best places to go and what should you eat? We interviewed our colleague Martina, who visited Scotland in early June.
My husband and I love active vacations. Mountains, hiking, and road trips are our thing. We have been to Iceland and Colorado in the past and they were truly amazing experiences. This year was the first time we had the opportunity to go somewhere on our own since our daughter was born. Scotland was a bit of an impulsive idea, but it fit the bill perfectly.
How all the locals kept convincing us that the weather is not always this bad (laughs), but we were prepared and it didn't bother us at all. The extremely narrow roads were interesting, but the biggest surprise was the great food and how incredibly nice everyone was.
We were in Scotland for 10 days and I think we could have easily done 14. We rented a car and drove through most of Scotland, except for the east coast, which we didn't have enough time for. Of course, we didn't leave out Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.
The most interesting places we visited were definitely the northern part of the island, Cairngorms National Park and Beinn Eighe National Park.
I imagine we would have spent more time in Beinn Eighe National Park, where we only spent one day. The northern areas of Scotland were really amazing and there were very few tourists. A really great experience was birdwatching on the protected pristine Handa Island. However, we ran out of time and energy for the remote Oldshoremore Beach and Cape Wrath.
Of course, we also visited several castles. There are so many in Scotland, it almost doesn't matter which one you visit, you can always find an interesting one. Ironically, the biggest disappointment was the well-known Isle of Skye. It was full of tourists. It was one of our last stops and after all the beauty we’d seen, we weren’t very impressed. We felt like we didn’t need any more than a day and a half to visit. Its main advantage is that it is not too far from Edinburgh. If you go there, don't miss Neist Point Lighthouse or The Oyster Shed. On the other hand, you won't miss anything if you don't see the famous Fairy Pools. The cities of Dundee and Inverness were also nice.
The Hidden Scotland website was a great help, as it has both interesting places in the countryside and verified restaurants or cultural sites. Then the All Trails app for hikes and of course Google Maps for everything else.