Scotland is full of natural breathtaking beauty and man-made wonders which would take a lifetime to explore.
For those short on time these are some of the best gems around the country that should be on every traveller’s must visit list.
Historic and atmospheric, the site of Scotland’s most infamous massacre is now a Hollywood scene stealer. Dramatic mountains, rushing waterfalls and whitewashed cottages create the idyllic Highland backdrop.
2. Loch Ness
Stretching for 23 miles and surrounded by picturesque villages, mountains and the ruins of Urquhart Castle, no wonder the elusive Nessie decided to take up residence here!
3. Forth bridge
Spanning the Firth of Forth, this rail bridge links Edinburgh and the Lothians with Fife. Due to its distinctive red colour and huge proportions, this engineering marvel is one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks.
4. Mull of Galloway
Make your way to Scotland’s most southerly point and you will be rewarded with dramatic cliff top walks among an RSPB Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Climb the 115 steps to the top of the pretty whitewashed Robert Stevenson designed lighthouse to enjoy the breath taking views.
5. The Kelpies
These two mystical horse heads tower over the Forth and Clyde canal near Falkirk and are the largest equine sculptures in the world. With shimmering steel features they are quickly becoming one of Scotland’s most photographed attractions.
6. Fairy Pools, Skye
Their name alone conjures up some enchanting imagery and they don’t disappoint in real life. Cascading waterfalls through carved rock which empty into vivid turquoise pools makes this a magical place to visit.
7. Corryvreckan whirlpool
The third largest whirlpool in the world is a spectacular natural phenomenon which lies between the Isles of Jura and Scarba. Specialised boat tours are the best way to get up close to this bubbling cauldron of water.
8. Edinburgh castle
Perched high on an ancient craggy stronghold overlooking the capital city, Edinburgh Castle is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the country and home to some impressive exhibits including the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.
9. Cairngorms National Park
The largest national park in the UK is famed for its unspoilt beauty and native Scottish wildlife. This area of natural wilderness is also home to five of the six highest mountains in Scotland.
10. Culloden Moor
This now conserved piece of land was the site of the last battle fought on British soil. With the area now restored to resemble the landscape at the time it is hard not to feel eerie shivers as you walk past the marked front lines and headstones.
11. Rosslyn chapel
Practically every surface of this 15th century chapel is covered in ornate and mysterious stone carvings and symbols. Surrounded in myth and legend it is said to be one of the most mysterious places in Scotland which led to its inclusion in Dan Brown’s hugely popular novel, The Da Vinci Code.
12. Finnich Glen
A strange yet stunning natural gorge said to be used for Druid rituals and secret meetings by Covenanters. The bright green moss covering the walls provides an otherworldly backdrop and the water flowing through the red sandstone can resemble a river of blood.
13. Holy Isle
Located in the Firth of Clyde you will find a little bit of Tibet in Scotland complete with prayer flags and stupas. With an ancient spiritual heritage dating back to the 6th century it is currently home to a Buddhist community and retreat.
14. Grey Mare’s Tail
The fifth highest waterfall in the UK rushes spectacularly down through a hanging valley from Loch Skeen above to the Moffat Water below. The waterfall is the jewel in the surrounding scenic nature reserve.
15. The Ring of Brodgar
The third largest and one of the finest stone circles in the UK can be found on Orkney and dates back to around 2500 – 2000 BC. An iconic feature of the island, the reason for its existence still remains a mystery.
Giant hexagonal pillars of basalt rock and dark sea caves welcome you on the approach to this little uninhabited isle off the west coast. Here you will find Fingal’s Cave, a geological marvel with its unique cathedral like structure, it is one of the main attractions on this dramatic volcanic island.
This area of outstanding natural beauty was once roamed by the legendary outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor. Since the 19th century visitors have been drawn here by tales and poems inspired by local legends and the romantic landscape.
18. St Kilda
Sometimes described as ‘the islands on the edge of the world’, the archipelago of St Kilda is the remotest part of the British Isles with the last of the native population evacuated in 1930. Now a preserved wilderness it is home to a magnificent variety of animal, bird and plant species.
19. Scott’s view
Said to be one of Sir Walter Scott’s favourite views of his much loved Borders homeland. The tranquil sweeping outlook across the River Tweed towards the Eildon Hills on the horizon is certainly an inspiring one.