Share your favorite place to visit in Scotland and why.
It's hard to pick just one place, and in 2 trips, I've only seen a small part of Scotland, but the Isle of Skye is probably the top pick, for its combination of sea/mountains/wonderful dining. It's not an undiscovered place however, and the presence this past August of so many cars and motorhomes from Continental Europe (with drivers on the left side of the vehicle, trying to stay on the left side of the narrow roads), along with those of us in rented British cars, made the driving a bit challenging at times.
Am I allowed to comment? I love my country for the reason I love England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain etc etc and would love if I ever visited the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Croatia.
Scotland is a diverse, beautiful, rugged, fragile, tough, country. From the heather clad hillsides of the Highlands, to the vibrant coursing cities like my own Glasgow or Edinburgh, this is a great little country. From the centre of it all in the Cairngorms to the sea ways of Eileann nan Siar or the Viking north, from the bright lights of the Greater Glasgow area to the dark skies reserve in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland has what you want. And need.
Ok, narrowing it to what tourists want (excluding a couple of people I know who have married locally and settled!):
Castles: You want Stirling, Edinburgh, Dunvegan, Doune, Urquart,
Lochs: Linnhe, Ness, Lochy,
Islands; Arran, Orkney (mainland), Orkney (the rest), Mull, Iona
Wild landscape: An Gaedhtachd, the Borders,
Religious sites: Iona, the Abbeys of the Borders
Banknotes: Clydesdale, of Scotland/England (joint), Royal Bank of Scotland
Bits that belong to other people that we have our eye on: Carlisle, Hadrian's Wall, Lindisfarne.
Take your pick, this is a wild, beautiful, cruel, kind, country. It will never leave you.
I bank with the RBS, I think the banknotes are rubbish and get mine from the Clydesdale or Bank of Scotland. I really should change..
I loved it all, every bit of it! But if pressed, I would say Skye, it took my breath away.
I'll vote for Mull, with a side trip to Iona. I was there last May and it definitely was not crowded. Amazing scenery, nice people, and wonderful little villages, especially Tobermory. On Iona there are beautiful medieval ruins and a fascinating (to me) small museum in the Abbey, with carved gravestones and "Celtic-type" crosses dating back to the 600s. An amazing combination of history, scenic towns and beautiful nature.
Second place however goes to Edinburgh, a truly civilized big city. The National Gallery had a better array of Dutch Landscapes than the Rijksmuseum, and better lit at that. And the Blackwell's there was so much better than the bookstores I have available in the US. Also, if you're into single malt, The Whisky Experience is a must-see. Not to sound like a serious drinker (I'm not) , but Caledonia's Best is a truly wonderful pint, apparently hard to find outside of Scotland; I asked for it in London, and got a dirty look from the pubkeeper.
We loved Scotland but especially Oban. That is the place we would choose to go back to. The people are friendly, the food terrific, and the views out our window at the Greystones B and B were idyllic. You can visit Mull by ferry from there, but we chose a walk around the tiny isle of Kerrara instead.
But there are so many other places we didn't go --- Skye, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, Stirling, and others--- that I cannot compare them to Oban.
As others have said, it is very hard to decide. Scotland, while small, is so diverse! And beautiful in so many ways. I guess I'd put the Aviemore area and the Cairngorms first. Mountains, restored steam train, absolutely the most wonderful Scotch Whisky and beautiful distilleries, lovely walks, Blair Athol castle ... it has all that and more.
Inverness would be a very close second. Great compact city. Good city walking (especially along the river), and shopping. Wonderful day trips to other bits of Scotland, including Isle of Skye, Orkney, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, the firth with it's dolphins, whales, puffins, etc.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are nice, too. As is just about all of the rest of Scotland! We haven't been able to go in so long now and I really, really, really miss it!!!!! Being in Edinburgh for Hogmanay is on my bucket list.
I'd have to say Orkney. It is totally different in feel than anywhere else we've been in Scotland. We loved the landscapes as well as the Neolithic sites.
This is next to impossible for me! Part of the problem is that my time in Scotland is so tied in to the people that I have met there as well as the sights that I have seen,
- The Black Isle: This is where my friend Carol lives and is home base for so many walking trips. It feels like home.
- Perthshire: I love Dunkeld and the Taybank and all the lovely walks. I love Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and the lochs and wee roads over the mountains. Then there is the music and the whiskey.
- Orkney: this is the land of my grandfather who I never knew except through my explorations of his homeland. I hope he knows how much I love it.
- The West: Torridon. Ullapool, Harris, Mull, Skye....how can I choose? They all pull at me.
- the Border: I love them. This is the crossing place between England and Scotland and there is so much history and humanity. Hermitage Castle is amazing.
- Edinburgh: I love this city, it's a wee city for a small country that encompasses so much history, culture and the present and future of Scotland.
Isle of Islay!
thank you all for your replies. And thank you MC for your expert insider opinion. I appreciate it! All of the responses gave me many ideas beyond what I am already interested in. I have a special interest in history. My next trip is to London and Paris in June (repeat trips to both cities), but the next year I am hoping to go to Scotland, Ireland, or both. I love the planning almost as much as the trip.
If you love history, Scottish history is a full on soap opera. Even compared to our neighbours to the south (England) and our special friends (France). From the death of Robert III to the accession of Charles I not a single Scottish monarch succeeded as an adult. That is James I, II, III, IV, V, Mary I and James VI.
Areas of the country were outside of the control of the central state, the Highlands and the Borders. In US terms think of the remit of the federal government running in name only in North Carolina, that was the Borders. Today the most peaceful polite parts of Scotland were the most warlike no go areas.
Scotland had very, 'proactive', politics in its history, which show in our architecture, language and customs.
Sometimes I think that Scotland was the model for the saying, only the good die young! It seemed like every time Scotland got a strong dynamic king, he went and died! But if you want some interesting historical fiction to read that follows the history fairly accurately, check out Nigel Tranter's books.