Scotland is famous primarily for its spectacular scenery, but it also offers a rich historical and cultural heritage, together with a wide range of activities. The populous central belt is the focus of most economic activity, centered primarily on the major cities, Glasgow and the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
Scotland’s landscape is as varied as it is beautiful. Rugged peaks sweep down to breathtaking lochs, glistening in remote glens like Glen Affric near Inverness and Loch Trool in Galloway. A straggling coastline, with white sandy beaches, sheltered baysand rocky cliffs, looks out to the remote islands in the Atlantic. To the south, the rolling hills of the Borders, lush lowland pastures and extensive woodlands present a softer beauty.
Edinburgh is among the outstanding cities of the world, where the medieval Old Town contrasts with the elegant Georgian New Town. Other towns, notably Glasgow, display a wealth of Victorian architecture. Everywhere you can find ancient castles and houses. Prehistoric forts, stone circles and burial mounds can be explored, particularly at the Neolithic Heart of Orkney, Scotland’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to know: Licensing hours vary; basic hours are 1100-2300, but many pubs have extended hours, particularly in cities. A complete smoking ban in bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs and offices came into force in 2006. Designated hotel bedrooms are exempt.
Scotland Food & Dining
• Porridge (a traditional Scottish breakfast made from locally grown oats and either milk or water).
• Haggis (chopped oatmeal and offal cooked in the stomach of a sheep), neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).
• Cullen skink (fish soup).
• Smoked salmon.
• Partan bree (crab with riceand cream).
• Irn Bru (carbonated soft drink said to be made from girders).