The hubs and I had the chance to visit this incredible and often overlooked country in August 2013. This trip was a half honeymoon and half 30th birthday celebration for my sidekick!
I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland. Something about its tumultuous history, people, unique terrain, those awesome accents and of course, the belly warming scotch has always intrigued me. Luckily I married a guy who loves a good glass a scotch, adores meat and has always wanted to go to Scotland too! So we planned our trip, packed our bags and set off to the land of scotch!
The trip was split up into city and the Highlands (the countryside in northern Scotland). Seeing both city and Highlands really made this trip unforgettable.
We kicked off the trip in Edinburgh. A smallish but diverse and happening city that has all of the Scottish charmed we expected. People were warm and friendly and there was a slow stress free vibe about this place which made our time there even more enjoyable.
The time in the city was spent eating, tasting beer/cider/whiskey, visiting Edinburgh castle, hiking Arthur’s Seat and simply being a dorky tourist. We explored gardens, did an underground city tour, sampled farmers market goodies and even witnessed incredible fireworks over Edinburgh Castle.
From there we headed up north to the Highlands via train where we putzed around sleepy fishing/mountain towns, hiked picturesque Scottish mountains and sipped on lots of whiskey from the region.
Here are some of our favorite places and activities from the trip:
- Peter’s Yard – An amazing Swedish bakery in the heart of the University of Edinburgh. I know its not a Scottish bakery, but the to die for pastries and seed/nut breads are worth the visit! Plus you will get to walk thru the very cool university campus.
- Oink Oink! – Delectable whole hog roasts with pork sourced from Scottish farms. Sloppy juicy sandwiches made this budget eats our very first stop in Edinburgh.
- Castle Terrace – For a fancy date night, I’d recommend this Michelin Star awarded restaurant. Incredible tasting menu focused around modern British dishes made with locally sourced Scottish ingredients. I should also mention the restaurant is warm romantic and the staff is top notch.
- The Dogs – Funky dog themed restaurant (already up my alley) that is perfect for lunch. The hubs and I shared some bangers and mash, and let me tell you they were BANGING!
- Edinburgh Farmer’s Market – Cute little market in front of Edinburgh castle with lovely Scottish delicacies and perfect to check out over breakfast.
- Arthur’s seat – Breathtaking day high in Edinburgh. About a 30min walk from Edinburgh castle, this hill overlooking the city is a family friendly hike that is easy, fun and has incredible views. Bring your camera for this one!
- Edinburgh International Festival (in August) – Although we missed the festival, we were able to catch the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle and let me tell you it was one of the most romantic things I’ve ever done. With some Scottish ciders in hand, we watched fireworks over the castle from the comfort of our hotel balcony.
- Oban distillery – Deliciously charming whiskey distillery in the west coast port town of Oban. Yep the town actually grew around the distillery in 1800’s. Small personal tours, interesting history, lovable staff and of course deliciously complex Oban whiskey that included a whiff of the seashore. Added benefit- the town of Oban is ADORABLE! And there are seafood food stands right off the port.
- Isle of Skye– Foggy moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs. The terrain here is out of a movie and impossible to give it justice in words. Although its a ways from the city, this was an incredible hike! And don’t forget to stop by the quaint towns along the way for a beer or cider at a cozy pub.
- Highland B&Bs – This was a surprise for us. We stayed at 2 B&Bs, one in Glencoe and one on the Isle of Skye that really elevated our highland trip. Hosts were warm, helpful and so attentive. Both served a delicious hardy traditional Scottish breakfast, and one was even on a Scottish farm!
Scotchy scotch scotch, mmm mmm mmm down into my belly – Ron Burgandy