This is not the kind of article I’m used to writing about Scotland. I mean, it’s about this lovely country but it doesn’t concern a specific city, region or whatever. As a matter of fact, it regards my new partnership with Visit Britain, more precisely with its online shop. I’m delighted about this collaboration as it’s a great opportunity to promote Scotland an its attractions.
What does that mean?
You will see some banners ads and text links about Visit Britain online shop products, mainly in the right sidebar of my website as well as in all articles related to Scotland. In this way you are able to purchase tickets, tourist cards, rail passes etc… directly from home, with the possibility to have discounts, priority access and avoid the queues.
Visit Scotland – The attractions you can’t miss (tried for you)!
Below you can read the list with castles, monuments, palaces I’ve visited together with a day tour from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. Far from being a definitive index, it will be updated after every new trip to Scotland depending of the attractions I’ll see.
The Edinburgh Castle (and tickets)
It’s the Edinburgh most visited attraction and it overlooks both sides of the city, the Old and the New Town. From here it begins the Royal Mile, one of the most historic street in United Kingdom. It connects the castle with Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland.
Visiting Edinburgh Castle requires at least a couple of hours as there are different places and exhibitions to see. Not to mention the panoramic walk along the defensive wall. My personal highlight is undoubtedly the Crown Room where The Honours of Scotland are displayed. There it’s possible to look the crown jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny, used for the incoronation of the kings.
If you buy your ticket here this allows you to get a priority access and to avoid the queue, quite long especially during summertime.
Visit Holyrood Palace, the “Home” of Her Majesty the Queen
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland. It’s located at the end of the Royal Mile, facing the Scottish Parliament and surrounded by Holyrood Park. The Palace is always open, except when Her Majesty it’s here, usually the first week of July.
There are plenty of things to see once inside and a couple of hours it should be enough for the visit. For example you can’t miss the State Apartments, still used today for ceremonies and official events, or exploring the ruins of the ancient Holyrood Abbey, founded in 1128 by King David I. Finally, take your time for a lovely stroll across the gardens and enjoy an amazing view of the Palace and Arthur’s Seat as well.
Included in the ticket price there is an audio tour whilst the souvenir guidebook is available at the shop.
The Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith (Edinburgh)
The Royal Yacht Britannia has been the “home” of Her Majesty The Queen for over 40 years. In service from 1954 until 1997, the yacht carried the Royal Family all over the world especially for official events.
After the retirement, Britannia was moored in the Port of Leith – precisely at Ocean Terminal – as a visitor attraction, immediately becoming one of the most visited in United Kingdom.
I recommend dedicating at least a couple of hours to the visit, though different itineraries are available depending on the time you want to spend there. In any case, there are plenty of things to see inside Britannia and its 5 decks. What I appreciated most was the State Apartments, including:
- the Drawing Room, used to host reception for presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens. You can even see the piano played by Diana, Princess of Wailes;
- the sumptuous State Dining Room, where world leaders, celebrities, kings and queens dined. On the walls there are different gifts received by Her Majesty The Queen during her state visits;
- the Queen’s Bedroom, the only bedroom of a living monarch that can be viewed, it particularly surprised me for the lack of any signs of pomposity.
Besides that, what you can notice is the difference – I mean the contrast – between the luxury, however never excessive, of the Royal Apartment, and the simplicity of the Crew’s Quarters.
With the ticket – you can purchase it here – an audioguide is included and it’s very useful as it allows you to discover stories and anecdotes about the Royal Yacht Britannia. In addition to that, if you are interested in visiting it together with Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace you can buy the “royal edinburgh ticket“. In that way you get one pass which permits you to enter in these three attractions plus a “Two days’ unlimited Hop-on hop-off bus tour around Edinburgh.
Bus transfer from Edinburgh Airport to city center
Airlink 100 is the bus service between Edinburgh Airport and the city center. I’d say it’s the best way to arrive in town as in just 30 minutes from the Airport (Arrivals terminal) you are in the heart of Edinburgh, in front of Waverley Station.
You will be travelling on comfortable buses, with a dedicated area for the luggage, there is free wiFi, on both floors there is a display showing you the stops and the distance to the final destination. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with departures every 10 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night .
Except for the first time I travelled to Edinburgh, then I’ve always preferred to buy the ticket in advance, as it permits to save time, besides it’s valid at any time and on any day.
Tours of Scotland: day excursion from Edinburgh to Loch Ness
Do you fancy visiting Loch Ness and to go on a cruise over the lake to find Nessie? Well, it’s easy to reach Fort Augustus from Edinburgh even if you don’t want to rent a car. As a matter of fact, along the Royal Mile you will find different companies that organize day tours (or even longer) by bus.
Speaking of Loch Ness, during the excursion you will appreciate Glencoe, one of the most iconic places in United Kingdom, and Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain of the country. Finally Fort Augustus, full of shops where to buy Nessie’s souvenirs and a lot of other gadgets.
If you are planning to visit Scotland during summertime, I suggest that you book your tour in advance in order to be sure to take part in it because it’s one of the most requested by the tourists.