• National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh): This museum boasts a small but choice collection whose presence in Edinburgh is firmly entwined with the city's self-image as the cultural capital of Scotland. (Glaswegians, however, will happily dispute that idea.) Gallery highlights include works by Velázquez, Zurbarán, Verrocchio, del Sarto, and Cézanne.

 

  • National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh): In 1998, the collections of the Royal Museum of Scotland and the National Museum of Antiquities were united into a coherent whole. Here you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about Scotland, from prehistory to the Industrial Age. Among its myriad items, the museum has a milk bottle once carried by Sean Connery and a 2.9-billion-year-old rock from the Isle of South Uist.
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  • The Burrell Collection (Glasgow): Sir William Burrell (1861-1958), a wealthy industrialist who devoted much of his life to accumulating art, is responsible for this collection. Set in a postmodern building in a suburb of Glasgow, it's one of Scotland's most admired museums, with a strong focus on medieval art, 19th-century French paintings, and Chinese ceramics.

 

  • Hunterian Art Gallery (Glasgow): This museum owns much of the artistic estate of James McNeill Whistler, as well as a re-creation of the home of Scotland's most famous designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. On display are grand oils by Whistler, Rubens, and Rembrandt, not to mention one of the country's best collections of 19th-century Scottish paintings.
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  •  Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, Fife: Fishing, of course, has long been a mainstay of life in Scotland, with an estimated 6,000 miles of coastline and 790 islands. A cluster of old harborside houses pays homage to this heritage with nets, models of sailing clippers, a recreated fisherman’s cottage, tableaux of herring gutters, and in the waters just outside the door, a fleet of historic vessels.

  • Fort George, Highlands:  Talk about a living museum! You’ll walk past soldiers stationed on active duty at one of the most massive and sturdiest fortifications ever built in Britain as you step into the 18th century barracks, chapel, and Grand Magazine. The grass-topped, cannon-lined battlements provide a great view of dolphins leaping in the waves of the Moray Firth far below. 
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  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow: Where else but in this wonderfully eclectic treasure trove would you find an RAF spitfire suspended above an Asian elephant named Sir William? As you wander past working hives of bees and a leather pouch worn by medieval monks, you’ll also come upon works by Rembrandt and local, 19th-century artists known as the Glasgow Boys. Your viewing will be all the more enjoyable if the Kelvingrove organ is pumping out some tunes. 

 

  • Aberdeen Art Gallery (Aberdeen): A treasure-trove of art from all over the world, this prestigious gallery has exhibits ranging from the 1700s to the present, from Hogarth to Reynolds to Picasso. The museum is also home to the most important temporary exhibits in northeast Scotland.
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  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: No old stiffs in wigs in these groundbreaking collections. The old masters here are the likes of pop artists David Hockney and Andy Warhol, while life-size figures by British art-star Antony Gormley rise out of the pavement in front, and a sculpture park is littered with abstract works by Henry Moore and Dame Barbara Hepworth.

  • Scalloway Museum, Shetland:  The Shetland Bus, a clandestine World War II maritime operation, takes center stage here in the headquarters village. Maps, artifacts, and portraits chronicle 215 missions that carried 192 agents and 389 tons of weapons into Nazi-occupied Norway and brought 73 agents and 373 refugees out.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.