Scotland may be a small country, but you’ll find a whole range of unique experiences that you won’t get anywhere else. Only in Scotland can you ride on the steam train used as the Hogwarts Express, hunt for the Loch Ness Monster and land on a beach by plane! Check out our top 10 experiences that are unique to Scotland.
Travel on a real steam train
The Jacobite Steam Train has been described as the greatest train journey in the world. The 84-mile journey begins near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis and passes through Arisaig, Loch Morar and the River Morar, before arriving at its final stop, Loch Nevis. Harry Potter fans, this is certainly an experience you won’t want to miss out on. The steam engine and carriages were used for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series, namely ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’.
Catch the Northern Lights
When people think of the Northern Lights, they automatically think of Scandinavian countries. But you have just as good a chance at spotting the Northern Lights here in Scotland as you do elsewhere, as Scotland lies at the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska. Northern Scotland offers the best chances of spotting the lights, especially in areas like the Isle of Skye and Shetland, particularly during the autumn and winter months.
Climb as many munros as you can
In Scotland, we are proud of our outstanding munros. There is a total of 282 munros, including Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond and Ben More. For a lot of Scottish residents, climbing munros and reaching the peak is a passion and popular pastime known as ‘munro-bagging’ – a lot of people are actively working their way through the list. So, if you’re looking to see Scotland from a different point of view, climbing to the peak of a munro could be your answer.
Hunt for the Loch Ness Monster
There’s nowhere else better to experience the mystery of Scotland than Loch Ness, home to Scotland’s most famous monster, Nessie. Aside from tales of the Loch Ness Monster, so many other Scottish myths, legends and historical tales surround the freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands. Guided ‘Nessie Hunting’ cruises and excursions take place on the loch throughout the year for visitors to find out all about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
Experience a real Scottish ceilidh
No true Scottish experience would be complete without taking part in a ceilidh. Ceilidhs are embedded in Scottish culture and are traditions on special occasions like Christmas, New Year and Burns Night. Ceilidhs typically consist of lots of country dancing along to traditional Scottish music, so be prepared to learn some of our iconic routines: The Flying Scotsman, St Bernard’s Waltz, Gay Gordons, Strip the Willow and Dashing White Sergeant.
Tour the whisky distilleries
It would be a shame to miss out on sampling some Scotch whisky straight from its birthplace. With over 120 active whisky distilleries scattered across Scotland, most open their doors to the public for tours and sampling sessions. Covering 7 world-famous distilleries, the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail is the perfect way to learn about the national drink of Scotland and sample the finest Scotch.
Spot the wildlife
From Highland cows and red deers, to mighty eagles and puffins, Scotland is home to a diverse variety of species. The best and safest way to see Scotland’s wildlife in their natural habitat is by taking part in a guided tour. Boat trips from the islands will allow you to spot some sea creatures, like dolphins or even basking sharks, while a 4×4 jeep in the highlands offers a better chance for getting close to red deer. Find out more about amazing species you can find in Scotland here.
Visit the Orkney Standing Stones
Forming part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, the Stones of Stenness consist of 4 large upright stones that are all that remains of a great stone circle on an ancient ceremonial site. It’s thought that the Standing Stones of Stenness is one of the earliest stone circles in Britain, built 5,000 years ago. Their purpose remains a mystery, although it is commonly believed by historians that the site may have been used for religious or ceremonial purposes.
Land on a beach
There is nowhere else in the world quite like Barra airport, literally! Barra airport is the only one in the world to use the beach as a runway, but that all depends on the tide. Take a flight to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides and land on the beautiful Traigh Mhor beach. Unlike other airport runways, this one is open to the public when there are no scheduled flights!
Celebrate the new year in Edinburgh
Finally, celebrating the new year in Edinburgh has got to be the most unique Scottish experience and definitely one for the bucket list. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is one of the biggest new year’s celebrations in the world. Visitors from all across the world travel to Edinburgh just for new year to join in with 4 days of celebrations which includes a concert featuring some big-name artists, street parties, ceilidhs, and not to mention the amazing fireworks display.
There are so many options, but Best of Scotland Holidays can put together your Essential Scotland package, covering scenic splendour, castles, whisky, golf, ceilidhs and lots more. Get in touch with us today to find out more or to begin arranging your trip of a lifetime.