Every year, England attracts thousands of travelers to the bustling streets of London or the beautiful, rocky beaches of Brighton. Ireland pulls in its fair share of tourists eager to visit the colorful city of Dublin, or the country’s renowned distilleries. Scotland, however, doesn’t get the same level of acclaim as its fellow members of the United Kingdom. The verdant country is not only home to some of the world’s most jaw-droppingly gorgeous countryside, it’s also got some of the most fascinating culture and architecture an adventurer can run across. If your anglophilia isn’t sated by a trip to Dublin or London, or you’re simply looking for some amazing new territory, Scotland just may be your perfect travel destination. Just take a gander at these amazing locations while learning a little about the history and beauty of this bountiful nation.
1. The Nation of Scotland Consists of 790 Islands, 660 of Which are Currently Uninhabited
Trips to the uninhabited islands are common, and they can make for some incredible adventures, whether you’re their for a day trip or you’re spending the night in a tent.
2. For an Textured, Mossy Liquor that Will Haunt Your Dreams, Scotch Whisky Simply Cannot Be Beat
Blend history and taste with a nice tour of old school Scotch whisky distilleries. Scotland is home to the world’s largest concentration of distilleries, so there’s certainly something for a lover of all things fermented.
3. Scotland Is Home to Skara, Brae, the Oldest Previously Inhabited Structure in the United Kingdom
Which proves that even Neolithic man could see the inherent beauty of Scorland. Built in 3180 BC, the stone-built settlement was occupied for more than 600 years. Skara Brae is also Europe’s most complete Neolithic structure, which allows is to serve as a glimpse into the life of ancient man.
4. World Famous Loch Ness Is Just One Bit of Scotland’s 600 Square Miles of Scotland’s Freshwater Lakes
The people of Scotland have long reported sightings of a massive beast living in Loch Ness. The stories go back more than 1,500 years when tribes carved pictures of a strange aquatic beast on the stones near the shores. Of course, the modern generation didn’t stumble upon Nessie until 1933, when the Inverness Courier related the first hand tale of a local couple who reportedly saw “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface”.
5. Scotland Is Home to the World’s Shortest Scheduled Commercial Flight
Scotland is home to the world’s shortest scheduled flight. It runs between two of the country’s Orkney Islands, Westray and Papa Westray. The flight takes exactly 1 minute and 14 seconds of air time.
6. Scotland’s Capital, Edinburgh, Has More Listed Buildings In Its Borders Than Anywhere Else in the World
Edinburgh is actually Scotland’s second largest city (after Glasgow). It was built on seven closely set hills (like ancient Rome), and it’s been inhabited since the six hundreds. The nearby Edinburgh castle was built on an extinct volcano nicknamed “Arthur’s Throne”. The capital city was the first in the world to employ a fire brigade, it’s the greenest city in the UK (in terms of parks), and its vibrant art scene is one of the most active in Europe.
7. Scotland Is the Birthplace of Golf
Golf as we know it began in Scotland in the 15th century when Scottish guys would hit a pebble around a made-up course. The game was so popular that it had to be outlawed because people were neglecting the country’s military readiness in favor of playing a few holes. Today, the country’s legacy is carried on in St. Andrews, a world famous golf course that’s home to some vast fairways and brutal winds. The course is considered “the home of golf”.
8. Scotland Is Home to a Tree That Some Believe is the Oldest Living Thing on Earth
In ancient times, when people were a little bit more beholden to nature, religious sites and then churches sprung up around magnificent trees that were already in place. As a result, one man called Allen Meredith began to suspect that old churches were actually home to ancient living specimens. And he was right. In Scotland, an old parish was built around an incredible yew tree in Fortingall. The tree is believed to be as old as 5,000 years, making it easily the oldest living thing on planet Earth.
9. The Famous Hamilton Mausoleum’s Stone Walls Arch So Perfectly That an Echo Takes a Full 15 Seconds to Peter Out
The mausoleum was built in the mid 19th century for the 10th Duke of Hamilton. It was once just a single ornate structure on the grounds of Hamilton Palace, an opulent structure that was demolished in 1927.
10. In Their Hey Day, as Many as 3,000 Castles Were Built in the Country; Several of Them are Still Well-Preserved and Open to Explorers of Every Age
The coolest thing about Scotland’s castles is that they’re literally everywhere. Though a sightseeing tour is highly recommended if you’re intent on seeing each and every one, historic castles are actually so plentiful in the country that you’ll likely be able to find one no matter where you’re staying.
11. The Sad Tale of Greyfriar’s Bobby, the Most Loyal Skye Terrier Ever
One of Scotland’s more popular (and rare) breeds of dog is the adorable Skye Terrier, a scrappy breed that’s gained acclaim in the country thanks to one standout member: Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby belonged to an Edinburgh nightwatchman named John Gray, who passed away while Bobby was still a youngster. So heartbroken was the pup that he stayed by his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard (the local cemetary) for 14 years until he died himself. The dog’s loyalty was so popular that the town essentially adopted him, making sure he was fed and loved (and properly licensed). When he died, he was buried just inside the graveyard, not far from his owner.
12. If You’re Looking For Tranquil Rolling Hills and Unbeatable Coastline, Scotland Is the Place to Find Them
Here’s a fun fact: though Scotland is the second biggest country in the United Kingdom — measuring more than 30,000 square miles (or about the same area as Maine) — it’s home to just 8.5 percent of the UK’s population. For those travelers seeking some serenity, Scotland is an oasis straight out of a Tolkien novel.
13. Scotland’s Official Animal Is the Unicorn
In addition to having a reputation for nobility and purity, the unicorn is also historically the mortal enemy of the lion. Surely it’s just a coincidence that the lion is the figurehead of the English monarchy.
14. Scotland Is Home to More Gingers Than Anywhere Else in the World
About 13 percent of the population have red hair, and about 40 percent of the population carries the recessive trait.