Scotland has a lot more to offer than just the Loch Ness Monster and Edinburgh Castle – travellers can combine a few of its more famous attractions with some lesser known destinations. Here are three top tips for an unforgettable trip:
Perched on a rocky peninsula on the North Sea coast, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle are truly spectacular.
Visitors must walk down almost to sea level before climbing back up an almost vertical path to reach the cliff-top ruins of the fortress that was once home to the Earl Marischal.
William Wallace, whose story was told in the film Braveheart, captured the castle and destroyed it in the 13th century, and Mary, Queen of Scots visited in the 16th century.
Almost all of the buildings are missing their roofs, but since a restoration project began in 1925, the castle’s deterioration has been halted. In summer, visiting hours are between 9am and 5.30pm, though the carpark fills up quickly.
It’s worth going at the end of the day to catch the fantastic light.
The land around the River Dee – rolling green hills and forests – transforms abruptly right before you reach Loch Muick. Around an hour’s drive west of Aberdeen, travellers are already in the Scottish Highlands.
Loch Muick, which is in Cairngorms National Park, is actually part of Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish estate – Balmoral, where the monarch traditionally spends her summer holiday, is only 15km away.
There is a 12.5km walking trail around the lake that leads directly past Glas-allt-Shiel, a rather sombre greystone hunting lodge that was built for Queen Victoria in 1868.
Crimson, orange, blue, yellow: Countless colours meet the eye as you stroll along the flowerbeds of Inverewe Gardens in summer.
The variety surprises many visitors because the gardens are located in north-west Scotland, a landscape better known for its sparseness.
But species that are usually more at home in tropical climates thrive here, thanks to the Gulf Stream and the gardens’ sheltered location on the south end of Loch Ewe.
Lily ponds, a rock garden, eucalyptus trees from Tasmania and huge rhododendrons: There’s lots to see.
The gardens, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, were built by Osgood Hanbury Mackenzie. From 1862 he ordered trees from all over the world – from Japan, the Himalayas, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.
The house he built has been open to the public since 2016 and the inside still looks as it did when his daughter, who also helped create the gardens, died there in 1953. – dpa