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A month in Scotland

Scotland is a beautiful place

Now is the perfect time to start planning next summer’s travel! Scotland is a beautiful place to visit from June to August, with average temperatures around 18 degrees Celsius. While Edinburgh and Glasgow are Scotland’s most traveled destinations, you must venture further north, through the highlands, to experience authentic Scottish culture and hospitality. I spent five weeks in Scotland and wish I could have stayed longer. Scotland is a uniquely stunning country with a fascinating history! Its cold and wet climate is completely redeemed by its warm people and cozy pubs. Spend the day admiring the rolling landscape or castle-hopping, and then warm your chilled bones with beer and whiskey (Scotch, of course) at a local bar for the evening! Here is a one-month itinerary of some of Scotland’s must-sees, beginning in Glasgow and doing a clockwise loop back down to Edinburgh, via breathtaking bus or train routes.

Glasgow:
In 1990, Glasgow was named Europe’s Capital of Culture, and Glaswegian’s still hold on to that notion, trying to win a popularity contest with Edinburgh. Glasgow’s nightlife is unique, trendy, and more affordable. Check out the Priory Bar, a grungy basement blues bar on Sauchiehall Street for excellent live music. Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street are best for a more affordable night out, compared to the more touristy George Street. Check for happy hours and weekly meal and drink deals. Bar Bloc on Bath Street has amazing food, with very cheap weekly deals ($2 burgers on Tuesdays!), and then the restaurant turns into a not-too- clubby club after 11 pm!
Glasgow is great for a weekend. During the day, go into the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Theatre Royal, and plenty other well-known cultural sites. Stop in cute cafes along the way for tea and a warmed-up scone. Two to three days is plenty, but if you stay longer and find yourself bored in Glasgow take a one-hour train to the small town of Ayr on the west coast for one day. A beautiful ocean town with friendly people and delicious homemade Scottish food!

Downtown Ayr

Stirling:
Travel one hour north to the historical town of Stirling, home to all things William Wallace! Stirling is believed to have been where Wallace and his men defeated the British army for Scottish independence.
Explore the Stirling Castle, the medieval churches, and graveyards, and climb the hill to the William Wallace Monument. One full day and one night here are sufficient.

Stirling cemetery

Oban:
Travel two hours northwest to Oban, a charming town by the water. There is so much to see here – plan for about four days. Spend one day either on the Isle of Mull, or purchase the Three Isles Tour to the beautiful islands of Mull, Iona, and Staffa. Climbing up onto the Isle of Staffa is one of the most remarkable travel experiences I’ve had to date.
Oban pubs here are cozy and fun! Markie Dan’s is the place to be most nights for beer, pool, and meeting new people. Check out their pub quiz night on Mondays – just ask to join a team and make instant friends with locals and travelers from the nearby hostels.

Isle of Staffa

Isle of Skye:
The massive island of Skye is a must-see in the U.K.! But don’t expect fancy hotels, buses, trains, or Wi-Fi. Put your phone down, put your thumb out, and hitchhike to learn the way most young travelers get around Skye! Spend a sunny day at the Fairy Pools in the rural non-town on Glen Brittle and then go camping at the seaside campsite. Skye is not a place to go out for drinks, but it is perfect for meeting fellow nature-loving travelers and getting lost with them on dirt roads while looking for a ride from friendly Scottish island dwellers!

Skye “Fairy Pools”

 
Inverness & Loch Ness:
Inverness is the farthest town north that is easy to get to by bus or train. Go on a weekend, and experience traditional live Scottish music in its busy pubs! It can get quite cold way up here, so the many Inverness bars are fully equipped to warm up travelers. On a nice day, take a bike ride to Loch Ness to try to catch a glimpse of Nessie!

Inverness city center

 
Aberdeen:
Head to the east coast to the busy town of Aberdeen. Aberdeen is known as a party town for young travelers and college students. But it also has some of the best coastal views in Scotland! If you enjoy walking, get up early, walk a couple hours south along the coast, then back up through the residential area of Cove Bay, and end your day in downtown Aberdeen with a haggis dinner and then drinks at a student pub.

Aberdeen coast

 
St Andrews:
Travel almost two hours south to the unique little city where Prince William met Kate! St Andrews is world-famous now for this reason and has become a posh, but friendly, university town. It does not seem quite as traditionally “Scottish” as the other highland small towns, but it is full of medieval architecture and history. Walk along the pier to see the ruins of both St Andrews Castle and St Andrews Cathedral. On a sunny afternoon, sit on an outdoor patio on a cobbled street in the middle of town, and just people-watch. You will find some interesting characters!

St Andrews Cathedral

 Edinburgh:
Plan your trip to Scotland to show up in Edinburgh in August, as the Edinburgh Festival takes place the
whole month of August throughout the city! This world-renowned festival showcases artists, comedians,
musicians, and all kinds of performers from all over the world! Every day there are hundreds of cheap
shows to attend in various venues and some on the street. Make time to visit the Edinburgh Castle and to climb St Arthurs Seat, a mountain overlooking the entire city. If crowds and shows aren’t your things, visit Edinburgh in September when the weather is still comfortable, the city is still full of things to do, but the streets aren’t so full of tourists and performers. Edinburgh is a great place to visit all year round and is the perfect place to end a trip of a lifetime on through one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating countries in the world!



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