Scotland, steeped in mystery, legend and rich history, is known as much for its sometimes-enigmatic cuisine and broad mountain ranges as it is for its national cloth of tartan and the splendid squawk of bagpipes that stirred hearts into battle in times-gone-by. It is an ancient nation and is today the most northerly member of the United Kingdom. Recently Scotland voted to return its parliament and the country has enjoyed some measure of devolution from the rest of Britain. Scotland’s economy is driven strongly by the large oil reserves that give Aberdeen, its northernmost city, the nickname 'Oil Capital of Europe'. The actual capital, Edinburgh, is delightful with its huge array of historical monuments and architecture, some of which dates back to the Middle Ages. Tours and accommodation in the cities provide any visitor with a first-hand immersion into Scottish life and traditions, including the infamous haggis! A trip north will take the traveler to ancient mountainsides, woodlands and to a breathtaking array of national wildlife. Even further north and westward lay hundreds of scattered islands whose inhabitants still speak an ancient language that keeps the unique Celtic Scottish culture alive. The country changes with the seasons, from a moderate summer through to a beautifully cold winter. With its sophisticated charm and ancient history, Scotland continues to offer up endless delight to visitors from the world over. ~ Stephen Mowat
Edinburgh, the vibrant, modern, chic capital of Scotland, is home to some of Northern Europe’s oldest buildings, most pompous castles, ancient alleyways, grand parks and stylish boutiques. The city is not only the one that offered up inspiration for JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels; it's also a great place to begin a tour of the country. It is well served by an international airport, with rail and air links to the larger cities of Glasgow and London. Accommodation in the capital varies from grand luxurious hotels to convenient castle cavern youth hostels, which cater for all tastes and budgets. Fine dining, evening entertainment and cultural delights are abundant in both the modern financial hub and in the antiquated hillside quarter of the town. The city is home to a number of highlight must sees, as well, not to mention the lengthy list of must do's.