Discover the magic of Scotland
The land of tartan, whisky, and bagpipes will enchant you.
There’s a reason the unicorn is the symbol of Scotland – it’s a land of pure magic. Travel to discover every delightful vista, from the heather-covered Highlands to the depths of Loch Ness. Let us introduce you to the richness of Scottish culture and the charms of Scotland. Here are just a few of our favorite Scottish delights:
A love of myth and folklore
Such is the Scottish love of myth and folklore that the unicorn is the Scottish national animal - but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are also selkies, creatures who live in the sea as seals but as green-haired humans on land. Water spirits called kelpies inhabit the lochs, sometimes appearing as horses and sometimes as humans, with tell-tale water weeds in their hair. Countless ghost stories include the famed ghosts who haunt Edinburgh. And of course, Nessie, one of the world’s most famous monsters, lurks in Loch Ness. For lovers of the fantastic, Scotland is hard to beat.
Scotland’s capital city is simply splendid. It has a spectacularly rich architectural heritage, from the medieval buildings along the Royal Mile to the Georgian richness of New Town, all topped by the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, perched on a plateau above the city. This architectural wealth is wonderfully matched by a thriving cultural scene. With plenty of independent bookshops, fantastic restaurants, and the world’s largest literary and arts festivals, this beautiful city will energize and inspire you.
The telephone, penicillin, bicycles, radar, steam engines, the Kaleidoscope… The list of what the Scottish have given the world is endless. The Scots are justifiably proud of their history of ingenuity and discovery, driven by a national spirit of imagination and creativity – and aided by Scotland’s universities, which have been training scholars and scientists since the 15th century.
The home of golf
Golfers have been playing rounds in Scotland since the 15th century. It wasn’t universally appreciated in its early days, however – it was banned by King James II in 1457 as a distraction from young men’s military training in archery, and the ban wasn’t lifted for nearly 50 years. Today Scotland boasts over 550 golf courses, including many of the finest in the world. And for golfers around the globe, there is probably no greater place of pilgrimage than St Andrews. The Old Course is the oldest in the world, and golfers have been on the links since the early 15th century.
There are more than 50 million descendants of Scotland around the world. While most are in the English-speaking countries of the US, Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand, and Ireland, the Scots have also settled in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, across Europe – and probably every country in the world. These sons and daughters of Scotland have made their mark. 44 US presidents have been Scottish, including Washington, Roosevelt, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Joan Baez all had Scottish heritage. Astronaut Neil Armstrong took his pride in his Scottish heritage out of this world: he brought two pieces of tartan along on his 1969 moon landing.
The Gaelic language
There are around 60,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, mostly in the northwest in The Highlands and the islands, particularly the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye. Though it was heavily suppressed in the late 18th century, and the number of speakers dwindled with emigration, this beautiful language is enjoying a revival these days. With a spectacularly rich heritage of music and folklore, Gaelic is very present in modern Scotland. You might hear it spoken, and you’ll see it in the place names, on the road signs, in song, and in theatrical and television productions.
The ‘hairy coos’ of the Highlands
Scotland’s Highland Cows are unusually photogenic – and these shaggy-coated beasts are made to conquer the tough Scottish winters. The unique long length of their outer coat’s hair, combined with a woolly undercoat, protects the cows from cold, rain and winds. While their fearsome horns may look alarming, they have a reputation as being gentle, friendly creatures, as evidenced by their willingness to pose for photographs.
There’s so much more to Scotland. For more to whet your appetite, why not dip into Scottish culture in books and movies? Check out our recommendations:
Movies to watch before visiting Scotland
Books to read before visiting Scotland