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 An illuminated Edinburgh Castle during the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo event.

Kenny Lam / VisitScotland

An illuminated Edinburgh Castle during the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo event.

6 must-see highlights In Scotland

Glens, glades, castles, festivals & colorful performances

There’s more to Scotland than what you might gather from popular culture or from the movies (“Braveheart,” “Trainspotting,” “Rob Roy”). While filmgoers may already be familiar with some of Scotland’s iconic sites and attractions, thanks to the many films that have been shot here, nothing quite beats seeing it for yourself.

 
  DAY TRIPPING
 
What to do during your visit
 
 

Once in the land of tartan, visitors will discover a region rich in culture and history and long on breathtaking scenery. With so much from which to choose, it can be hard to winnow down the must-sees on your next cruise or on a longer stay. 

Here’s our list of the top six things to see and do in Scotland:

 

Bagpipers perform at the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Kenny Lam / VisitScotlandBagpipers perform at the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

1

Spend the day at Edinburgh’s iconic castle and then return that evening for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, one of Scotland’s greatest staged events. Thrill as the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and military bands from around the world perform military tattoos with precision against a backdrop of lights and fireworks. The Tattoo performance takes place every weekday evening and twice on Saturdays throughout August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival and has never been canceled due to inclement weather.

 

Urquhart Castle commands great views of Loch Ness and can be found beside the village of Drumnadrochit.
Kenny Lam / VisitScotlandUrquhart Castle commands great views of Loch Ness and can be found beside the village of Drumnadrochit.

Loch Ness cruise

2

Will you be the one lucky enough to spot this shy monster of the deep? Some cruise lines offer live sonar to improve the odds of spotting shy Nessie so choose wisely. Depending on your time frame, opt for a longer cruise that will include a stop at the 13th-century Urquhart Castle and a journey down the Caledonian Canal, a striking feat of early 19th-century engineering.

 

 A red deer stage spotted in the hills of Glencoe, Scotland.
Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland A red deer stage spotted in the hills of Glencoe, Scotland.

Glencoe

3

Stunning. Striking. Unforgettable. One visit to Scotland’s most picturesque glen and you will know why people have described it and the surrounding mountains in such grand terms. Depending on the season, Glencoe is a perfect place for long hikes (bring a jacket even in summer as it gets chilly) or a popular ski area.

 

A performer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world
Paul Tomkins / VisitScotlandA performer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.

Edinburgh Fringe

4

An arts festival like no other, the Edinburgh Fringe transforms the city for three weeks every August with hundreds of performers showcasing their theater, dance and musical talents. In 2016, the Fringe offered up 50,266 performances ranging from comedy and cabaret to children’s shows and spoken word and everything in between. Visitors to Edinburgh Fringe can expect to see performances from unknown artists as well as award-winning thespians and musicians.

 

Dunvegan Castle, which dates from the 1200s, on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
Paul Tomkins / VisitScotlandDunvegan Castle, which dates from the 1200s, on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Isle of Skye

5

Like much of Scotland’s countryside, the Isle of Skye can aptly be described as rugged, but this island epitomizes the Highlands and its majesty. This small island is home to rugged mountains, soft beaches, bright green hillsides and Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. While here take a tour of the Talisker Whiskey Distillery and then head off to Fairy Glen to catch a glimpse of these magical creatures. Depending on how long you spent at the distillery, we bet you’ll see one! 

 

 The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, boasts an impressive collection of art, historical artifacts and natural history.
Kenny Lam / VisitScotland The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, boasts an impressive collection of art, historical artifacts and natural history.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

6

One of Scotland’s most popular (and free) attractions, this Glasgow museum boasts an impressive collection of art, historical artifacts and natural history. Thanks to a recent refurbishment that has allowed it to house approximately 8,000 works of international significance, it is worthy of a full day’s exploration. It’s truly fun for all ages.

— Cruiseable news services

Day Tripping: Other articles in our series

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