Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and this alone is enough reason for any avid traveller to make their way to this rugged, ancient country. However, if you want to be sold on Scotland’s beauty alone, simply type “beautiful Scotland” into a Google image search and scroll to your heart’s content…
Today, we would like to give you even more reasons to visit Scotland — five reasons, in fact. In reality, there are hundreds upon hundreds of reasons to visit Scotland and it’s proven very difficult to narrow this list down to just five things that stand out. Here at Bye by Car, we adore Scotland, and we hope to impart at least some of this love to you.
If we inspire you to travel to Scotland with us, take a look at our exceptional range of self-drive Scotland trips!
Edinburgh – The Athens of the North
There is no city in all of Britain quite like Edinburgh. This ancient city has the history and the architecture to satisfy even the most hard-to-please historians. It’s difficult to say enough about Edinburgh, and we’re sure we’ll write a travel guide soon just for Scotland’s capital city. But, for now, we’d like to draw your attention to a few fascinating features.
The main reason Edinburgh is often referred to as the Athens of the North is because of its huge castle built upon a volcanic crag right in the centre of the city. This stark feature, high above the city, is reminiscent of the Acropolis in Athens, so it is clear how and why the nickname stuck.
Various different peoples have lived on and near this volcanic crag in Edinburgh for over 3,000 years, and the distinctive architecture of Edinburgh’s Old Town was built on and around it over the last 1,000 years. Explore the cobbled lanes and alleyways of the city, discovering little statues, squares, and buildings of significance around every corner. The density of joyful discoveries in Edinburgh is second to none!
If you’re interested in visiting Edinburgh, take a look at our Edinburgh, Outer Hebrides, and Loch Ness Scotland Driving Tour.
Explore the World of Harry Potter in Scotland
While you don’t need to dip into fiction to find great stories in Scotland, many of the best novels and films were either written/made in or inspired by Scotland. Harry Potter has perhaps the most avid fanbase of any book and film series, and thousands of fans visit Scotland every year.
Visit the Elephant House in Edinburgh, the café where JK Rowling wrote the legendary book series. And visit the nearby graveyard, Greyfriars Kirkyard, where you’ll see the grave of Thomas Riddell Esquire — whom Rowling openly cites as the inspiration for the books’ great villain. Also close to the Elephant House Café, you’ll see George Heriot’s School, which was the inspiration for Hogwarts.
Beyond Edinburgh, you can also take a steam train over the Glenfinnan Viaduct if you’d like to experience the Hogwarts Express journey in the movies. And, given that Hogwarts is supposed to be set in the Scottish Highlands, we highly recommend taking a jaunt up there, we will. If you’d like to see all-things Harry Potter in Scotland, check out our Harry Potter & Alnwick Castle Tour of Scotland!
Explore the Land of Outlander
Just as Harry Potter fans have a rich array of places to see and things to do in Scotland, Outlander lovers will be in heaven in Scotland as they follow in the footsteps of Claire Beauchamp through her 1743 Scottish odyssey.
You can look forward to visiting Doune Castle, which is the filming location for the fictional Castle Leoch in Outlander, home to Colum Mackenzie and his clan. Step where the characters stepped and let your imagination run away with you. You can also visit Dunalasdair Estate and Kinloch Rannoch — this is the beautiful highland setting where Claire travels back to the eighteenth century.
We have a pre-designed Scottish Outlander Tour but we can also create something fully customised to your desires, so please feel free to get in touch if you have tour elements you’d like us to add. Tell us what parts of Outlander impressed you most and we’ll take care of all the details.
Visit the Scottish Highlands
Just as with Edinburgh, there is far too much to cover about the Highlands here. Instead, we hope to simply whet your appetite for what you can expect. Then, later, we will write several guides to the Scottish Highlands. There really is just so much to talk about.
There’s very little writing can do on the topic of beauty that a photograph can’t do better (and easier), but it’s worth saying that while photography of the Highlands is incredibly impressive, nothing compares to being here and seeing it with your own eyes. Most agree that the natural beauty of the Highlands’ landscapes and mountainscapes is the best in all of the UK, and many go a step further, claiming that this is the most beautiful part of the world.
The Highlands are created because of the Highland Boundary Fault, which is a major fault zone that separates two entirely different geological areas: the Lowlands and the Highlands. With different rocks, soil, flora, and fauna, stepping into the Scottish Highlands is like stepping out onto a completely different land!
Regularly beating out Canada, Iceland, and New Zealand in surveys and opinion polls, the Highlands is a treasure trove for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Get out on rambles, hikes, rock climbs, and white-water rafting — embrace your inner adventurer in one of the wildest and most magical locations on Earth. For the ultimate Scottish Highland experience, we can create a fully customised tour of the Scottish Highlands.
The Scottish Islands
Most of Scotland’s islands sit above the Highland Boundary Fault, and this means that the majority of them have similar geographical features. There is a wild and untamed beauty to the islands that perhaps even beats out the mainland highland areas… but you can be the judge of that.
Many guests like to choose one, two, or even several Scottish islands to visit on one trip. One especially popular island is Skye (pictured above), which is cherished for its wild rock formations and epic vistas. If you’re a photographer — amateur or professional — then the Isle of Skye will always deliver.
Another great collection of islands worth visiting is the Outer Hebrides. But more on that in a future guide…
We hope we’ve given you at least one or two reasons to visit Scotland. If we have and you would like to learn more, please feel free to get in touch. Your epic self-drive trip to Scotland could be only a few clicks away!