Refined and untamed in equal measure, Scotland is an inspiration to poets and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Getaways here come with a hearty dose of Scottish hospitality, particularly in the country’s characterful boutique hotels. A sandstone sprawl of museums, designer shops and centuries-spanning streets, Edinburgh is an enticing stepping stone to adventures in the Highlands and Islands. Romantic retreats await: explore a cinematic landscape of glassy lochs, heather-covered hills and Caribbean-rivalling beaches.

When to go

The weather is at its best between May and September, with glorious sunny spells keeping the midges at bay in the Highlands. Winters are wet but cosy – the perfect excuse to tour distilleries and whisky bars.

Food & Drink

Haggis and fried mars bars may hog the limelight, but Scotland’s modern cuisine has experienced a renaissance of late. Inventive chefs rustle up seasonal fare from the country’s rich larder. Try Ox & Finch in Glasgow for small plates, or Edinburgh’s Café Royal for fresh-from-the-loch oysters and langoustines. Juniper is now giving barley a run for its money in artisan distilleries: track down Inshriach Gin for a sweet, floral spirit made in a shed in the Cairngorms.

Not to miss

Don a kilt and learn to ‘strip the willow’ at a ceilidh, a traditional and very sociable Scottish country dance.

Nightlife

Scotland’s nightlife runs the gamut from loud and brash to laid-back and homely. Glasgow’s legendary music venues have launched more than one stellar career. Edinburgh has posh pubs, raucous student hangouts and vibrant dancing dens, whether you’re in a ceilidh or clubbing mood; try Sandy Bell’s for a night of live folk music, fiddle and all.

Where to stay in Scotland

Edinburgh’s elegant New Town is within easy reach of well-heeled Stockbridge, as well as city-centre shops and restaurants. Just outside of town, Musselburgh has stately mansions and a windswept coast. Argyll and Skye have dramatic scenery, sweeping sea views and hot tubs to soak in after bracing walks.

How to get there

Scotland is well served by the East and West Coast mainlines from London, which stop in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have good connections to Europe and beyond, as well as to the Islands.

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