Scotland Escorted Tours
Over the centuries, Scotland has been besieged by conflict. Roman and Irish-Celtic invasions were followed by a protracted series of wars with neighbouring England. From this turbulent history emerged many prominent local heroes and fighters. Protagonists like William Wallace and Rob Roy MacGregor are still celebrated by the Scots today, as are the literary luminaries of Sir Walter Scott and Rabbie Burns. Nowadays, you are invited to enjoy all these cultural and historical aspects, set against a backdrop of lush green landscapes, spectacular mountain scenery, mysterious lochs and colourful festivals.
The Scottish capital of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations and offers a wealth of sights to digest. Stroll down the Royal Mile past St Giles Cathedral, explore the 18th century 'New Town' with its classical Adam facades, shop on Princes Street or marvel at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where Mary Queen of Scots lived - it is still the official Scottish residence of the Queen. In summer, join the celebratory crowds at the Edinburgh Festival, and witness the unforgettable spectacle that is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Heading north, the Scottish Highlands offers up more dramatic scenery and a plethora of baronial castles, a testament to the country’s gripping history. Interestingly, one of Scotland’s biggest tourist drawcards is never seen – the elusive Loch Ness Monster!
Scotland makes some of the world’s best clothing and you’ll find a very good selection of tartans, woollens and tweeds. Rummage for Celtic jewellery in the numerous galleries and studios. Edinburgh crystal, shortbread, bagpipes, sheepskin clothing, china, crystal and, of course, whisky are also good buys.
Edinburgh comes alive during August when it hosts the biggest arts festival in the world. Not to be outdone, Glasgow is now emerging as a hotbed of innovative art, design, music and film, with first-rate museums to boot. In addition, all Insight tours travelling to the Highlands participate in the fun of a traditional ceilidh.
Haggis is considered the national dish. As the Scottish-savvy know, it’s rich in flavour and made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, with onion and a few spices thrown in for good measure (but don’t let that stop you from ordering it, complete with lashings of "neeps and tatties”!) Other local delicacies include oatcakes and shortbread. Fresh salmon, trout, herring, game are also commonly featured on menus. Scottish Whisky or Scotch is world famous and is sold around the globe. It has been distilled in Scotland for centuries and was originally referred to as the water of life - uisge beatha.
Top 5 Things To Do In Scotland
1. Head for Sean Connery’s favourite hotel, the luxurious Balmoral in the heart of Edinburgh. Many rooms feature iconic 007 prints and there are Bond-inspired cocktails at the bar. All shaken, not stirred.
2. Make the pilgrimage to the fabled Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews where golf was first played 600 years ago. Hey, if you’re going to quintuple bogey, it might as well be here!
3. Casting into a mirror-like loch with the surrounding hills shrouded in a blanket of mist - there's more to fishing in Scotland than catching fish!
4. From royal honey-moons to the handover of Hong Kong, the Royal Yacht Britannia has seen it all. For an insider's look into the lifestyle of the British Royal Family, get down to the port of Leith where she’s moored in retirement.
5. Go Potter in Scotland! From Fort William ride the Hogwart’s Express over the Glenfinnan Viaduct or seek out the gourmet cafe where JK Rowling penned her first Harry Potter book.
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