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10 must do things in Scotland!

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10 Things|Scotland|YMCA Global Study

Check out a castle


This should be the first thing on your list. Why? Because ITS A CASTLE! How many of these will you see back home?! (Unless you’re actually from Wales…) Nevertheless! we recommend visiting Edinburgh castle – aka the ‘defender of the nation’. Not only is it one of the most famous castles in Scotland, it also has a rich history and is breathtaking to look at. If you plan your trip in advance, you may be able to catch one of the historical events that they put on every month or even a castle concert. Be sure to check ticketmaster to see if there are any gigs on!

Visit Lake Loch Ness

You know it, you’ve heard about it, so why not try to get a glimpse of the mysterious creature? That’s right! We’re talking about the Loch Ness Monster. No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Based in the Inverness area it is one of Scotland’s largest lakes, so it’s pretty easy to see how the monster managed to hide away from us all these years. Try taking a cruise around the lake to hear the mysterious tales of the monster and other historical facts about Loch Ness. If you prefer doing things solo or you like to be a bit more adventurous, why not hire a kayak and explore the lake by yourself or with a few friends? Loch Ness is scattered with historical attractions and natural wonders, so give yourself plenty of time to explore!

Try Haggis


Don’t be fooled by what you see on the internet! A simple “haggis” search will show you a round questionable meat pudding that may not look very appealing, but haggis has evolved over time and often nowadays Scottish restaurants will serve it with a modern twist. If you do your research right I can assure you that you’ll find some pretty appealing options. We recommend the Whiski Bar that serves their haggis in a tower form of ‘neeps and tatties’ (veggies and mashed potatoes), topped with a delicious whiskey cream sauce!

If you don’t believe us, check out Whiski Bar’s Instagram to see pictures.

p.s. don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!


Go on a ghost tour


Due to the fact that Scotland’s history is as dark as it is vibrant, it is known to have many famous haunts. While you’ll never be too far from a superstitious tale or some kind of ghost story, it’s never the same as doing a proper ghost tour. Your guides will take you to the spookiest locations while telling you about the dark and gruesome events that took place there. There are a many types of ghost tours to choose from depending on your location, but we recommend the Free Ghost Tours by City Explorers or The Ghost Bus Tours, both based in Edinburgh, or City of the Dead tours. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, you can always do your own research and go exploring alone.


Try some good whiskey


Scotland’s pretty big on whiskey, so much so that it’s their national drink. The country has five different whiskey regions; The Lowlands, Speyside, Campbeltown, Highlands, and Islay, and each has a unique take on their taste and creation. It doesn’t matter where in Scotland you are, a good whiskey distillery is never too far away!

Fun fact: Whiskey cannot be called a Scotch Whiskey until it has aged in Scotland for 3 years.


Visit the Highlands


This is pretty much what everyone imagines when they think of Scotland (right after tartan, whiskey, bagpipes, and FREEDOM!). The Highlands are definitely one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Scotland and the world! Besides their rich history and amazing scenery, the Highlands are also the greenest part of Scotland. With its many tall mountains, rolling hills, and lush forests and plains, Scotland has made great efforts to  preserve the beauty of the Highlands. Its pristine wilderness will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. It is best to give yourself plenty of time while you are there and research your trip thoroughly, as this is no small area and there is so much to do and see!


Witness a Highlands Game


It doesn’t get much more Scottish than this. If you want to experience true Celtic culture, make sure you get yourself down to a match of the Highland Games. A combination of sport, fun and culture, the Highland Games run from May to September every year in different locations of Scotland. You will get to see a bit of everything, from competitive Highland dancing to the popular Caber throw (you’ll even learn what a Caber is!). The games are mainly held in Dunoon (about 2 hours from Edinburgh), but smaller events are held at other locations so have a look around and see what suits your trip.


Bag a munro

The textbook definition of a ‘munro’ is a mountain taller than 3000 feet, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find, especially in Scotland where there are over 282 of them! What makes munro unique is that they are not regarded as separate mountains, but are an unusual type of mountain range. Most committed hiking enthusiasts attempt to bag them all (which we imagine would take a loooong time), but if you’re there for a short period of time it’s definitely worth trying to conquer at least one! And don’t worry, even if you are a novice you have a good chance to reach the peak as munro hikes range from beginner to more experienced levels.

Besides getting endless nods of respect, high fives, and fist bumps from locals as you travel around Scotland after bagging your munro, you’ll also get to experience some spectacular views and an altogether awesome experience.


Try playing bagpipes


If you don’t attempt to play the bagpipes at least once while you’re here, did you even go to Scotland?

Do yourself a favour and head over to the Edinburgh Piping and Drumming School and book in for a lesson – or if you happen to be going to Glasgow then take a trip to the National Piping Museum to see a show and maybe have a go at the pipes yourself! Keep in mind that there are pretty much options to play the pipes everywhere if you do your research right.

Drive down North Coast 500

Known as the “Route 66” of Scotland, the North Coast 500 is probably one of the most incredible road trips you’ll ever take, ask anyone who’s done it! Besides the jaw dropping scenery, you will see some of the best things the country has to offer as you drive down the windy roads along the coast. Some of the main things to look out for Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, Ben Hope, Suilven, and Stac Pollaidh – a beautiful mountainous terrain where you can finally bag that munro and visit the mysterious Smoo Caves. There are also endless opportunities to stop in some quaint towns, checkout a local whiskey distillery, or try a traditional Scottish meal at the local pub. Being in a car also gives you the opportunity to go off-track and see some of the more obscure ruins or sights you may only hear about from the locals. We advise at least 5 days for this trip, and bring some camping gear and fishing gear if you’re an outdoorsy person because they’ll be plenty of opportunities to do both. Plus you get to save cash!


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