“A Journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step”
Scotland is a beautiful country with its own unique identity. It offers something for every demographic From the castles, historic cities, lakes and Highlands, to bagpipes and kilts, to amazing gardens and greenery, to fun nightlife. Scotland means something different to each visitor, and travel experiences here can be as varied as the landscape. When you are in Scotland, be ready for surprised, you will be amazed to know, Scotland’s national animal is Unicorn. Hence, you can imagine, you are in Fantasy land. While there is so much to explore throughout the region, the capital city of Edinburgh, steeped in history, is a good place to start.
First, a travel plan which we followed during our visit in Scotland. I am sharing here for your for your reference.
|Day 1||Edinburgh Arrival||Enjoy a nightlife|
|Day 2||Edinburgh||Local sightseeing (travel guide)|
|Day 3||Dundee||Detour for half a day|
|Day 3||Glasgow Arrival||Check out pubs/bars on westend|
|Day 4||Glasgow||Local sightseeing (travel guide)|
|Day 5||Balloch||Explore Glasgow surroundings|
|Day 6||Inverness||Local sightseeing|
|Day 7||Cromarty||Experience Dolphin trip|
|Currency||British Pound (£)|
|Capital||City of Country: Edinburgh|
|Expected Weather||5-14’C (Easter time)|
|Transportation used||Train, Ferry, Taxi, Shuttle Bus|
|The most Enjoyed Place||Cromarty|
|Accommodation||Hostels, Bed and Breakfasts (Airbnb, Hostels.com and Booking.com)|
|Average Cost of a Night per Person||£15-20 (hostels), £30-40 (Bed &Breakfast), £100-150 (Hotels).|
|Average Cost of a Full Meal||£10-15|
In my previous post, I have extensively written about what are the fun things to do in Edinburgh. Hence, just to brief here, Edinburgh is a capital of Scotland, an elegant Georgian New Town. There are many popular spots to explore including the Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill surrounded with monuments and memorials, the Royal mile and the Grassmarket for pubs and bars activities, Holyrood palace, St. Giles cathedral, Edinburgh Zoo, princes street (for shopping), Stirling Castle, Forth Bridge, Falkland Palace, Jacobite Steam Train, Scott monument, the queen’s gallery, HMY Britannia and many more. For more information, please read top 11 things to do in Edinburgh.
Our next destination was Glasgow but first, we took a little detour in Dundee as we heard a lot about this beautiful town.
It is a beautiful coast line city on the Firth of Tay estuary in eastern Scotland. Even though it’s a small coast town, there were many things to do in Dundee including visiting the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum, The Dundee Law, Verdant Works, Broughty Castle, Camperdown Country Park, Camperdown Wildlife Centre, Discovery Point etc; There are also two maritime museums: RRS Discovery, Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition ship, and 19th-century warship, HM Frigate Unicorn.
Tip: We were coming from Edinburgh where we saw some of the best museum and art collection so we preferred to skip castles and Art Gallery and focussed on to explore Science center and maritime museums.
First we visited RRS discovery museum, which is an old ship and they lets you check out the ship and history behind it. However, the highlight of the trip was Dundee Science Centre.
Depending upon your interest, this place can be great fun. There are quite a few interactive at the same time informative activities including live science shows, talks about environment and forensics, Morphing into an ape, planetarium session etc; Personally, I like science so I explored and enjoyed few of those sessions and recommend everyone to try the Mind Power experiment in which, you have to move a ball with your brain waves. I liked this centre because it wasn’t just about seeing things but they will let you participate and interact in sessions. It could be great for kids. We spent about 1.5-2 hours.
By the time we came out from the science centre, it was around 1 pm and we were hungry. So we decided to have a quick bite. We were thinking about where to eat near the city quay and we spot a Taza Indian buffet restaurant, took a chance and went in with no expectation but were pleasantly surprised. It was quite spacious and had Indian and European dishes in a buffet. We choose the Indian buffet, which was £8.99 but totally worth every penny. One of the other things I notice throughout our Scotland visit, there were too many cemeteries, every few 100 meters, you will see it. Scotland is estimated to have 3000 cemeteries in Scotland.
this is how, the short Dundee visit was finished with the memory of Dundee Science Centre, Indian buffet, nautical museums and glimpses of cemeteries.
Again, Glasgow is a national cultural hub, home to various prestigious institutions including the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland. Also, there are many acclaimed museums including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside Museum, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland Street School Museum, Burrell Collection etc; However, it has a distinct contrast with the edinburgh, Glasgow has a look of a cosmopolitan city but also has a rich history. Away from the cities there are also plenty of remote places to explore and lose one’s self in the countryside. Again I have written an extensive travel guide on the fun 15 things to do in Glasgow.
After Glasgow, we headed towards Inverness, one of the most beautiful town in the Scottish highlands.
Scotland is on the north of UK and Inverness is even further towards the northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. It’s the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. As a visitor, If you are searching for ‘What are the things to do in Inverness’, well Inverness has plenty of offer ranging from ancient castles, highland clans, the Caledonian Canal, highland museums, 4,000 year old burial cairns, to Loch Ness and the world famous monster.
Inverness is a land of legend.
The highlight of the city is the River Ness which passes through the middle of the City.
The River Ness is beautiful and picturesque river. It is a great place to stroll along at the mouth of the river, at its source or anywhere in between. The architecture each side of the river is stunning and truly worth seeing. On one side you have the castle , the shops (like Primark and gift shops) and beautiful gardens, on the other you have the cathedral.
Tip: We took a long walk along the riverside and it was quite romantic and refreshing so if you are a couple then, walk a mile together, you will cherish this memory forever.
When you are enjoying your walk, pay your visit to the late 19th century Neo-Gothic St Andrew’s Cathedral also know as Inverness Cathedral that stands opposite Castle Hill on the banks of the River and is a worth time spend. It is a Victorian Episcopalian cathedral church built of red stone and granite and hosts regular services.
Next, you may proceed to begin exploring Inverness by visiting lovely Inverness Castle – This 18th century red sandstone castle overlooks the cliffs and offers lush grounds open to the public. Then, there is a Urquhart Castle – Large, ruined castle dating from 1509, overlooking Loch Ness, with visitor centre and cafe.
After sightseeing, if you are an art admirer and history lover then you can head to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery with its displays about the city’s rich cultural heritage as well as the history of the Highlands.
In the evening, after a long day, if you want to get relax then, go back to the river Ness to enjoy it’s night beauty, It is marvelous, shading different lights from the surrounding places can be majestic. Also, you may want to check out some food options as the riverside resturant and cafe offers some of the best options in Inverness.
Where to eat?
Tip: If you thinking about having a dinner then, there is a beautiful Italian restaurant called Riva, must try out their food, it is yummy. It could be perfect add-on to your romantic gateway. Make sure you to book it early, as mostly it gets busy in the evenings.
Invereness is a beautiful highland city however, we were very excited and looking forward to our next destination ‘Cromarty’. Just write down this name in your travel itinerary as you can’t miss this place for anything. Cromarty is a small town, further north of Inverness, in the Highland area of Scotland.
How to travel to Cromarty from Inverness?
The distance between inverness and cromarty is 23 miles. There are three ways to reach there:
- By car – takes about 30 minutes – could cost around £3-5,
- By Taxi – takes about 30 minutes – could cost around £45-55 and
- By stagecoach bus – takes about 45 minutes to reach – cost about £5.
Tip: We choose to travel via Bus as it’s flexible and reasonable. You can take 26A Bus service from Inverness bus station. Check out: Inverness – Cromarty – Bus Times.
Now, let’s talk about why I am highly recommending you to go to Cromarty? It’s because of the Ecoventures,
Ecoventures offers an exhilarating 2 hour boat trip which showcases the best of what the Moray Firth has to offer – scenery, history and, if you are lucky, the resident colony of Bottlenose Dolphins.
Note: Please make sure to make an advanced booking as these trips are very popular and offers only limited places.
In the afternoon we reached to Ecoventures centre, as we were schedule for 2 pm dolphin trip. First we were given a short talk about the tour and shown on a map where we would be going to, on the boat. Then, We were given waterproof over trousers and a top with a hood to put on over our own attire. This was completed with a life jacket. Then, the skipper Sarah, took us to their custom made large, rigid, inflatable boat. It was incredible. Remember you are out on a small fast boat on the open sea for two hours. it does get cold and can be wet, but I would say the arrangement was comfortable and made us all feel secure as we could grip the sides of the seat with our legs if we wanted to.
Once we were set, we ventured out into the Moray Firth, past the moored (non functioning) oil rigs. They were massive and Sarah gave us a commentary telling us all about them. Pointing out the seals and various sea birds like cormorants, guillemots and shags, taking advantage of their presence and sitting on the lower structures. There was even an Eider duck sitting on the lower platform.
However, the best was yet to come! After about 45 minutes of skepticism and in more open water, the Dolphins started arriving and were in groups varying from 2 up to about 10. Some were really close to the boat, you can almost feel it. It was great to see them swimming and doing acrobatic along with the boat. It was fabulous!
Note: We even got refreshments on the boat, biscuit and hot chocolate, which was great especially in that freezing cold. It was an experience of a lifetime.
In the end, we were all very fortunate to see many dolphins on our trip out on the rib boat (which is great fun in itself, so if you aren’t lucky enough to see the dolphins then you’ll still enjoy the trip).
Eco Ventures are also accredited by the ‘Dolphin Space Program’ (who safeguard the welfare of the cetaceans in the area by a code of conduct to minimise the disturbance to wildlife), so you can ensure that not only Eco Ventures make sure that your experience will be amazing, but the wildlife is their top priority as well as your enjoyment.
Our Scotland visit was about to end and felt like leaving the fantasy land. However, One of the regrets was not able to see the Isle of Skye, but then, Scotland is a frustrating place to travel because there is so much to explore and see that you end up leaving a lot of places unexplored and unseen. At times its surprises you with weird food, but then, it also overwhelms you with rich culture, warm people and marvelous nature.
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Disclaimer: Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Scotland in the comments section below. If you have been to Scotland, please share your experiences and other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and prove helpful to them. Thank you!