Like other European countries, Scotland has recently witnessed a travel boom. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of overnight visits reached 572,000 from January to March 2023, representing a 29% increase. The first three months of 2023 also saw significant growth in tourist spending, increasing from £210 million in 2019 to £359 million this year. Tourism minister Richard Lochhea attributes the recovery of Scotland’s tourism sector to the country’s unique culture and history, as well as its breathtaking landscapes which are worth escaping to.
If you want to see for yourself why tourists flock to Scotland, here’s a guide to exploring both its urban and rural aspects in one holiday.
Book an all inclusive holiday to a major city
Whether you live in the UK or overseas, air travel is one of the quickest ways to get to Scotland. If you’re worried about travel costs, you can find cheap all inclusive holidays to Scotland that allow you to save by booking your flight, transfers, dining options, and accommodation ranging from standard rooms to luxury hotels like Kimpton Blythswood all in one place. Beyond being economical, an all inclusive holiday can help you maximise your time in Scotland’s wonderful and picturesque cities, each with its distinct character, like Edinburgh’s medieval winding streets, Glasgow’s vibrant nightlife and music scene, and Inverness’s shopping markets and historical spots.
Additionally, being in any of these major cities gives you easy access to the following lesser-known spots in rural Scotland.
Go on a scenic rail journey to the Scottish Borders
If you’re coming from Edinburgh, the Borders Railway line can take you on a scenic journey for less than an hour from the capital to the Borders town of Tweedbank. Along the way, you will be treated to spectacular views of former mining towns, lush valleys, and vast farmlands filled with flocks of sheep. If you manage to stop by the historic town of Kelso, you can also enjoy the recently upgraded holiday park owned and operated by Cove UK. Aside from housing a natural park and leisure facilities, the site enables you to celebrate countryside heritage through refurbished Roxburgh house stables.
Tour the historic town of Stirling
While Glasgow has its fair share of cultural spots like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, you can take a step further and tour the nearby town of Stirling to get acquainted with Scotland’s rich history. Only a 30-minute drive from Glasgow, Stirling will welcome you with its open countryside and Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most important historical and architectural feats. For your half-day tour, you can pass by the medieval masonry arch of the Stirling Bridge, climb up the Abbey Craig Hill for the William Wallace Monument, and visit the Glengoyne Distillery on your return route.
Take a road trip to the Isle of Skye
Lastly, those who’ve decided to treat themselves to the coastal attractions and ancient sites of Inverness can extend their journey and take a picturesque road trip to the Isle of Skye. Inverness is the closest major city to this island on the northwest coast of Scotland, best known for its rugged landscapes, intended coastlines, and rock pillars. Taking the 280-mile route offers the most remote scenery you can’t find anywhere else in the country, from the meandering village of Broadford to the steep slopes of Glamaig.
Whichever part of rural Scotland you end up in, you can always find a cosy, affordable place to stay by looking at the listings here at Best Scottish Cottages. If your trip is coming up soon, you can even check the late availability page to find the best accommodation that works for you.