Whether it is during a solitary moment of rest claimed on a heather-clad hillside or exploring the narrow medieval alleys of Edinburgh's Old Town, a visit to Scotland is permeated by romance and legend. Although it is filled with timeless landscapes and conjures images of verdant, historic golf courses, the country has not stood still. The denizens of Glasgow's cocktail bars and designer shops exude a suave sense of confidence, and mountain bikers whistle down the slopes of Perthshire, reinventing the countryside as they go.
Edinburgh is an elegant mix of sweeping Georgian crescents and steepled medieval tenements guarded by its brooding, eponymous castle, whereas dynamic Glasgow's thriving music and arts scene reflects the famously outgoing nature of its citizens. Join the multitude of outdoor pursuits available around Inverness, the gateway to Scotland's wild Highlands, or venture even further north and experience the spectacular Viking fire festival, Up Helly Aa, in Lerwick.
Dip your toe in a deep cold loch or climb the looming granite peaks standing sentinel above them in the untamed glens of the Highlands. The mighty River Tay flows out of the mountains into verdant Perthshire, where the countryside softens into farmland and salmon run upriver to breed. Look out for majestic sea eagles soaring high above the remote Hebridean Islands or dolphins and otters frolicking in the Moray Firth where small fishing villages huddle under steep cliffs.
The turquoise waters of the Hebridean Sea lap gently at the empty white beaches of Luskentyre, where the passage of time goes completely unnoticed. Neoprene wetsuits are essential for the hardy surfers who thrash the waves of the Irish Sea at Machrihanish and drysuits among the divers exploring the 51 wrecked ships at the bottom of Scapa Flow, off Burray. Golfers flock to legendary links courses at St. Andrews while naturalists spot everything from otters to orcas around Scotland's coastline.
Eating and Drinking
Freshly shucked oysters are splashed with tangy lemon and slurped down on Loch Fyne while Hebridean langoustine and razor clams crop up on the menu at the Isle of Skye's world-class Three Chimneys restaurant. Michelin-starred establishments in Edinburgh serve haggis with whisky cream sauce and Arbroath Smokies are exported worldwide. Try innovative twists on Scottish classics such as venison chorizo, or sample a craft brew from Aberdonian upstarts, Brew Dog, who are busy reinventing beer to universal acclaim.