Today’s post is part two in a series about planning a trip to Scotland. If you haven’t read Planning a Trip to Scotland, Part 1, you might want to read that first. If you’d like personalized help planning your trip, please take a look at my Scotland trip-planning service.
Welcome back! Last week we looked at the best time to visit Scotland, taking into account weather, cultural events, and tourism’s high and low seasons. Now it’s time to consider where, in this incredibly varied country, you should spend your hard-earned vacation.
I won’t sugarcoat it; you won’t be able to see it all. Not in one trip at least. Planning your destinations in Scotland is at once a horrible war of attrition and some of the most fun I’ve ever had trip planning. Difficult decisions are ahead. Prepare yourself.
The amount of time you have for the trip dictates how much you can see, and I’ll cover these trade-offs in more depth next Monday. For now, let’s turn our eyes to the map of Scotland to understand the lay of the land.
The lowlands represent the land south of Glasgow and Edinburgh to the border with England. This region differs from the highlands both culturally and geographically: this area was not home to clans and much of the landscape is pastoral, rolling hills. The lowlands have been the stage for many battles between the Scottish and the English, home to ruined castles and abbeys guard the coasts and valleys, and home to some of Scotland’s greatest authors, men like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.
If you’re looking at the map of Scotland, you’ll notice it’s a rather large part of the country. And yet I’ve only been to this region for a handful of days on one previous trip. For non-UK residents, the lowlands often are a casualty of logistics. Most of the country stands to the north of the major cities. To visit the lowlands requires a strong desire or a longer trip as visiting it means going in the opposite direction from the rest of your destinations. If you’re driving into Scotland from England, the lowlands make a sensible, if short, addition to the itinerary.
To the north, the lowlands give way to Scotland’s fascinating cities…