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10 Must-Visit Places in Scotland

Combining breathtaking scenery, one-of-a-kind art and science museums, and castles unlike anywhere else, Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take a second to enjoy these gorgeous photos, and discover 10 stops you have to make on your next tour or sightseeing expedition through Scotland.

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Visiting Great Glen is one of the top things to do in ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Loch Ness and the Great Glen

A geological rift split the land from coast to coast, once dividing Scotland in two. Glaciers deepened the trench and the result today is a long glen of steep-sided, wooded mountains and dark, mysterious lochs. Castles and forts abound, bearing witness to the Great Glen‘s strategic importance and enhancing its dramatic grandeur with intrigue and nostalgia. And, of course, there’s the legendary Loch Ness monster, elusive but irrepressible, and still attracting scientific interest – keep that camera to hand.

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Edinburgh Castle in ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Edinburgh Castle

Dominating the city’s skyline as it has done for over 800 years, this castle is a national icon and, deservedly, the country’s most popular visitor attraction. Din Eidyn, “the stronghold of Eidyn”, from which Edinburgh takes its name, was the vital possession in Scotland’s wars. Varying roles as royal palace, barracks, prison and parliament have all helped shape this castle, home to the Scottish crown jewels and the fabled Stone of Destiny.

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Scotland’s most visited collection is more popular than ever, since a 27.9 million pound refurbishment allowed even more of its fascinating collection of art and artifacts to be seen. Some 8,000 works of major international significance are displayed over three floors of gallery space. The diverse collection takes in worldwide cultures, gives a comprehensive view of European and Scottish art across the centuries, and provides insights into 20th-century Glasgow life. Contrasting displays in open spaces demonstrate Kelvingrove’s quirky sense of fun.

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Isle of Skye in ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Isle of Skye

The product of violent geographical upheavals, the Isle of Skye is justly famed for its towering, ragged mountains and wild coastline. Add to these a colourful patchwork of crofts (farms), waterfalls, an exceptional whisky, a castle linked to the fairy world and the historical romance of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and you find on Skye all the ingredients that best symbolize the Highlands.

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Glasgow Science Centre, ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Glasgow Science Centre

This £75-million millennium project is a pure delight. The heart of the centre is the Science Mall, a glass-sided silver crescent with three floors of hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and special-effect theatres. Adjacent to this is the world’s only revolving tower and an IMAX cinema projecting gigantic 3D films.

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glencoe-things-to-do-in-scotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Glencoe

Nowhere else is the traveller confronted so abruptly by the arresting impact of Scotland’s mountains. The road twists below the towering bulk of these characterful peaks, sometimes dark and luring, sometimes light and enticing. This ancient and celebrated pass is also imbued with history: cattle rustling, clan feuds and – most notoriously – the “Massacre of Glencoe” in 1692. In summer the area is a favourite haunt of walkers and climbers; in winter it is one of the leading ski resorts.

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National Gallery of ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: National Gallery of Scotland

A striking Neoclassical building midway along Edinburgh’s Princess Street, the National Gallery defies you to miss it. Widely regarded as one of the finest smaller galleries in the world, this collection is a manageable concentration of excellence. Housed here are works by the greatest names in Western art – Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens and Monet, to name but a few – as well as the most comprehensive array of Scottish masterpieces. While some galleries tend to intimidate, this one is refreshingly intimate.

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The Cairngorms, ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: The Cairngorms

The highest mountain massif in the British Isles comprises a magnificent range of peaks, wild lochs and ancient forests, as well as bird sanctuaries, nature reserves and sports amenities. It is a region of exceptional scenery and habitats that have not been divided by roads. Activities take place on its fringe, but the heartland remains open only to those who travel by foot or on skis. It is this relative isolation that makes it so appealing both for the wildlife that inhabits the region and for the people who thrive on the testing terrain.

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Culzean Castle in ScotlandPhoto: Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Culzean Castle

Formerly a rather dull fortified tower house, Culzean (pronounced “Cullane”) was transformed by the architect Robert Adam into a mansion of sumptuous proportions and elegance. The work began in 1777 and lasted almost 20 years, the Kennedy family sparking little expense in the decoration and craftsmanship of their clifftop home. Culzean – a masterpiece in a land full of magnificent castles – was gifted to the nation and fully restored in the 1970s. Its grounds became Scotland’s first public country park in 1969.

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Royal Museum and Museum of ScotlandPhoto: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

10 Things to Do in Scotland: Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland

The best and rarest of Scotland’s antiquities have been brought together in two treasure troves. Although they occupy adjacent buildings on Edinburgh’s Chambers Street, they maintain separate identities: the Royal Museum concentrates on international artifacts, while the modern Museum of Scotland is dedicated to the story of this land and its people.