Lots of people have asked me “What do you recommend doing when in Scotland?” Oh, that list is endless, but I’ve narrowed it down to my personal top 21 favorite things.
Suzan Tisdale’s “Must Do When In Scotland” List:
- Edinburgh. Every inch of the Royal Mile. We were there for several days and still didn’t see it all.
- You must have lunch at Edinburgh Castle and try their tortellini! Out of this world delicious.
- Have dinner at the Witchery by the Castle Restaurant, in Old Town Edinburgh. Have the Cranachan for dessert and you’ll get to experience a wee bit of heaven on earth.
- Old town Edinburgh and New town Edinburgh… both have lots to offer. Visit the museums, the shops, and restaurants. You just can’t go wrong.
- Blackwell’s Bookstore. That’s all you need to know.
- Have dinner at the Scotsman Hotel in Oldtown, Edinburgh. The food is amazing.
- Dunnotar Castle. I recommend standing on the cliffs and looking out at the sea while the wind whips all around you. Yes, I cried.
- Culloden Battlefield. Take Kleenex because you’ll need them.
- Eilean Donan Castle, for all the obvious reasons!
- Applecross is lovely.
- Stay at the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1800’s. Try the venison.
- Take a long walk around Mallaig. Visit the shore. I think this was my most favorite village out of all the small villages we visited and I wish we could have stayed longer.
- Go to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore. Plan on spending a few hours there.
- Aberdeen was wonderful! We highly recommend the Carmelite Hotel. The food is out of this world.
- We loved Inverness. When we go back, I plan on spending a few days there.
- St. Andrews: Amazing little town! We loved the castle ruins, loved walking around the town. Yes, it’s a bit ‘touristy’ but the history there is amazing.
- Inchmahome Priory… OMG. I’ve never felt so connected to any ‘place’ in my life as I did this island. The book ideas… the history … If I could have camped there with my laptop, I would have stayed for weeks.
- Inverary Castle was BEAUTIFUL!
- The Clachan in Drymen. Lovely little pub with great food.
- Foods you MUST try: Cullen Skink, meat pies, Scotch pies, Cranachan, Fish and chips, tablet, Irn Bru, salmon – I’m not a salmon eater. HOWEVER, the salmon you get in Scotland is unlike any salmon you will have anywhere else. Try any of the seafood; seriously delicious. The potato scones are soooo good. Splurge and have a real ‘tea’. You won’t regret it.
- Loch Lomond. Plan on spending a few hours in this sweet little village.
Things to keep in mind: There are LOTS of hills in Scotland. We did find a bit of flat land: it was a 4 foot by 4 foot square out in the middle of nowhere. (LOL) Whilst in Edinburgh, we took an Uber UP the Royal Mile and walked down. I cannot begin to tell you how important comfortable shoes are. Forget style. You’re going to do a lot of walking.
Hire a Private Driver
You must hire a private driver to take you into the Highlands. Why not drive it? The roads are one lane in the Highlands and if you have zero experience driving on ‘the wrong side of the road’ you can cause traffic jams or worse yet, accidents. It is worth the money because you won’t be worried about driving and you’ll get to SEE everything. It is worth the money because the driver is used to those one lane roads and they know what in the hell they’re doing. 😉 You just have to trust me on this. Use Ross Shand with Your Scotland Tour. Seriously, he takes care of everything from booking hotels or B&B’s to putting together a unique tour just for you. Just tell him where you want to go, your budget, and he’ll take care of the rest. Worth every penny. This is not one of those ‘big bus tours’ type things. This is a private driver in a car who has personalized everything to fit your needs. Bonus: He wears a kilt every day. 😀
Don’t be afraid to rent an apartment. Unless it is during the summer months, then I recommend a hotel. They don’t have AC in 99.9999% of the apartments. Most buildings do NOT have elevators. Be prepared to do a lot of stairs. We ended up having to check into the Hilton Hotel (VERY NICE hotel) because the apartment was a kiln.
Scotland’s ‘first floor’ is our ‘second floor.
Apartment vs. Hotel
If you do rent an apartment, keep in mind the electricity and how you use it is totally different. In the first apartment, we had to flip a switch OUTSIDE the bathroom, near the floor, in order to get the shower to come on. They don’t do ‘water heaters’ like we do; it’s all tankless water heaters.
Wait until you get to Scotland to do your money exchange, or at the very least, only exchange $50 here until you get there. Scotland’s money is beautiful, it really is! Be prepared to keep some back for souvenirs.
Do not, under any circumstance go into any of the red telephone booths in Edinburgh. These are often used for public toilets by the drunks and STINK.
Take your time. Enjoy every moment. Don’t be afraid to visit the smaller diners and restaurants. We didn’t have one bad meal the entire time we were there.
Pack lightly! Most of the hotels have laundry service. Or, if you rent and apartment you can do laundry there. When we go back, I’ll do one small carryon and one very small suitcase.
Please, be respectful and don’t litter.
A Thousand Shades of Green
There is nothing more beautiful than Scotland’s Highlands. A thousand shades of green that will at times, leave you breathless. I cannot wait to go back.
Be kind and gracious because you will not find anyone nicer than the people of Scotland, no matter where you go.