The United Kingdom is an immensely popular place to visit for a vacation. The United Kingdom consists of four countries; England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and each are very different with distinctive cultures accents and languages. The vast majority of the citizens readily place their own country above all others within Britain stating their nationality but all can also call themselves to be British. So, a person from Scotland can be both Scottish while also being British. However, even since Scotland first joined the Union in 1707 there have been a large number of Scottish folk who wish to be independent of England.
Throughout the world the typical images of Scotland include a Scottish piper dressed in a tartan kilt and most probably situated in front of a famous castle or in a Scottish glen with a stag clearly visible in the distance. While some of this is obviously Scottish most of what we class as “typically Scottish” is but a recent creation, or recreation, by the likes of Sir Walter Scott. Scott was a famous, and incredibly popular, poet and novelist in Victorian times and he worked extremely hard to promote Scotland to the English gentry, including the Royal Family, as a recreational playground and vacation destination. In actual fact the country of Scotland has a number of different and distinctive cultures and there can be incredible differences as you move from one region to the next and from one city to another.
While Sir Walter Scott took much from the Highland way of life and repackaged it, in what he considered a more suitable form for the English aristocracy, the basic elements are distinctively Highland. The tartan kilt is the traditional dress of the region and is still seen throughout the area today, though more often at weddings and in traditional pipe bands. Besides the tartan cloth, kilts and bagpipes, there is much to interest the tourist in the Highlands not least the most incredible countryside which consists of the most spectacular mountains and misty glens. Towns such as Fort William and the city of Inverness are few and far between with little more than rough open countryside, dotted with numerous tiny villages, between them. Even more remote are the islands of the Hebrides, while the Isle of Skye (Inner Hebrides) may be the most popular the islands of the Outer Hebrides are increasingly popular with tourists keen to enjoy the distinctive Gaelic culture.
One of the most famous Scottish landmarks is Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city and the home of the Scottish Government. While Edinburgh is a thoroughly modern city it’s facade is ancient, with truly awesome architecture to be found along the Royal Mile and in the New Town. One of the reasons why the city is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe is the shear number of important multi-national festival which seem to take place continually through the year ranging from the International Book Festival to the Hogmanay celebrations
Glasgow is vastly different to Edinburgh, it is certainly larger (Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland), but the architecture is more Victorian with little any older. This is due to the fact that the city developed extremely quickly from a small village to a large town and then a city, during the industrial revolution. The Act of Union in 1707 opened up markets which had previously been closed to Scotland and the tradesmen of Glasgow took full advantage, especially the tobacco merchants who made massive fortunes in a very short space of time. Many of the merchants invested in the building of wonderful civic buildings which are still used today and can be seen throughout the city.
Besides the two cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow there are plenty of other towns and cities, such as Sterling, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen, that are worth visiting as each are very different from one another. Each has it’s own tourist attractions such as St Andrews and it’s famous golf courses. One of the most popular tourist attractions is actually a modern work of engineering, the Falkirk Wheel but, in the main, most tourist attractions in Scotland are historical buildings or sites such as Stirling Castle.
Of course Scotland has much too much to offer than can be included in this short article. Amongst the most popular attractions are specially designed tours such as whisky tours and ghost tours of Edinburgh and the likes. The truth is that there is something in Scotland to please anybody and the country’s diversity provides some of the most incredibly opportunities for a vacation of a lifetime.