In light of Scotland recently being voted the most beautiful country in the world by a Rough Guides survey, we select some of the most scenic and interesting locations of the North.
Wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles – whatever view you’re seeking on your next group trip, it’s likely you’ll find it in the beautiful panoramas of Scotland’s cities and landscapes.
1. St Andrews Castle ruins – (Lead image - Photo credit: St Andrews ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
St Andrews Castle is the ruins of the castle of the Archbishops of St Andrews, believed to date back to the 13th Century. The scenic location is a great spot for history lovers to delve into the past of this castle which would have been the focal point of the church in Medieval Scotland.
Groups visiting can explore the underground 16th century siege mine and counter-mine as well as the dungeon which was known as one of the most infamous castle prisons in Medieval Britain. There's also a visitor centre on site with a gift shop. The surrounding area of St Andrews offers plenty for groups too, from the famous St Andrews Golf Course, to St Andrews Aquarium and Laing Museum.
2. Jedburgh – (Photo credit: Jedburgh ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Jedburgh Abbey, in Jedburgh, is one of the four border abbeys and was founded in 1138 by David I for Augustinian canons. There is a visitor centre and groups can enjoy exploring the abbey which was built in Romanesque and early Gothic Style. It is located close to the English border which meant it was frequently under threat of invasion.
The area of Jedburgh has much for groups to do on a visit such as Jedburgh Castle Jail & Museum, the Scottish Borders Donkey Sanctuary, and Monteviot House Gardens.
3. Edinburgh – (Photo credit: Edinburgh ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Edinburgh may be an obvious choice but there is no doubting its beauty. The iconic look of Edinburgh Castle watching over the city is what many will think of when someone mentions the famous Scottish city. There is also plenty else for groups to do there.
Just one mile from the city centre is the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a great choice for horticultural fans among the group. The garden offers views of the city skyline and you can discover the history of the attraction which spans back around 300 years. Groups can also learn about the planting at the gardens and enjoy a walk around the 70- acres of landscape.
4. The Highlands – (Photo credit: Ullapool ©VisitBritain/Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland)
If rambling and hiking is what you’re interested in, then look no further than the Scottish Highlands and the Cairngorm mountains. With dustings of snow atop the peaks all year round, the mountain range offers spectacular beauty and views from all angles. There are also plenty of lochs to visit such as Loch Morlich and the fishing town of Ullapool.
5. Sandwick – (Photo credit: Sandwick, Orkney ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Sandwick is a large parish on the west side of Mainland Orkney. It offers great landscapes to explore including some key archaeological sites including Neolithic villages or Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar and Maeshoew. The coastline feature giant cliffs and a natural arch called the Hole of Rowe as well as pillar rocks. For those who fancy visiting a nearby attraction too, there's Skaill House, which is said to be one of the finest mansions on Orkney and dates back to the 17th century.
6. Glenfinnan – (Photo credit: Glenfinnan ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Glenfinnan is famous for its iconic viaduct which Jacobite steam trains cross from Glenfinnan Station to Fort William and Mallaig. It was the viaduct used in the Harry Potter films, among many others and features a panoramic curve through the valleys. The viaduct is around 1,000-feet long and 100-feet high. Nearby there's Ardgour and Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan Monument & Visitor Centre, and Loch Shiel Cruises which groups who want to see the surrounding beauty can book.
7. Oban – (Photo credit: Oban ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Oban, translates as ‘Little Bay’ in the Gaelic language, however it has a large offering when it comes to visitors. From setting sail to go and see the resident seals, to visiting Dunollie Castle and the sandy beaches. For seafood lovers, Oban is a great spot. The town has a long fishing heritage and serves a lot of local fish and shellfish.
Oban is part of Argyll & The Isles and with seven nature reserves, the area offers one of the best places to spot wildlife, from the aforementioned seals, to red squirrels, golden eagles, otters, red deer, and the rare white tailed sea eagles.
8. People’s Palace and Winter Gardens – (Photo credit: Glasgow ©VisitBritain/VisitScotland)
Glasgow may sometimes have a bad rep, however there is still a lot for visitors to do and some beautiful locations to discover. The People's Palace and Winter Gardens tells the story of the people of the city and its gardens are filled with exotics palms and plants. The palace dates back to the 1750s and visitors can explore the history through a range of artefacts, paintings, prints and displays.
The Winter Gardens allow you to walk among the plants and enjoy a light lunch and hot beverage at the cafe. The Doulton Fountain outside the Palace is said to be the oldest public space in Glasgow.
Group organisers who want to find out more about group rates, tour packages and more locations and attractions for their group to go to, should visit www.visitscotland.com.