With a population of 5.4 million, Scotland is a small but mighty country. Edinburgh may be the famous capital city, with its historical castle and picturesque cobbled streets, but Glasgow is the fiesta little sister – sassy and creative. Beyond the central belt and largest cities, lies vast mountain ranges, deep lochs, and dense forests.
Scotland is wild, both in culture and in nature. The Scot’s are fiercely proud of their heritage and country and for good reason. Many world-famous inventors, producers, artists, musicians, writers, and poets have come from Scotland. Here, I’m going to share with you what is Scotland famous for?!
Things Scotland is famous for
With a history dating back as early as the 15th Century, Scottish whisky (not to be confused with whiskey) is one of Scotland’s largest exports – 1.28 billion bottles were exported this year alone. It’s also probably the most famous thing about Scotland and the most traditional Scottish drink!
The requirements around producing whisky in Scotland are governed by law – we Scot’s take our whisky seriously! Originally made only from malted barley, many distilleries now use wheat or rye to produce whisky. Single malts are highly regarded in Scotland, however many blended varieties are also popular. Order a ‘wee dram’ of Glenfiddich if you’d like to try one of Scotland’s most famous products.
Scotland has been voted time and time again as one of the friendliest countries in Europe. A poll by famous travel publication Rough Guides even showed Glasgow as the world’s number 1 friendliest city! As a friendly Scottish girl myself, I can personally attest to the people of Scotland as being funny, friendly, easy-going, kind, and down to earth.
You may hear the word ‘banter’ being thrown around a lot in Scotland – it’s our unique way of making light-hearted jokes, poking fun at ourselves, and laughing at our silly mistakes. Scottish people don’t take themselves too seriously and are always up for a laugh.
We love sharing our beautiful country and culture with visitors from near and far. Come and share a bit of banter with us!
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to the famous Scottish Highlands. Officially encompassing around 26 thousand square km, this vast area is sparsely populated but spectacularly beautiful. It’s just like you see in the movies (Harry Potter or James Bond Skyfall, anyone?).
From craggy, snow-covered mountains to lush green vistas and dark sea lochs, the Scottish Highlands are a feast for the eyes not to be missed. The best way to access is simply to head north from Glasgow, where you’ll quickly reach Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – the gateway to the Highlands. Keep on heading north and you’ll know when you get there… the views change from green and rolling to steep and mountainous.
Keep your camera at the ready for world-class photo opportunities!
With over 790 offshore islands in Scotland, you can rest assured that any island hopping trip will be up there with the best in the world. Despite the large number of islands dotted around the Scottish coastline and beyond, only around 95 of them are actually inhabited.
Many of these islands are truly wild and completely uninhabitable, which is part of the reason they have retained their natural, wild beauty. From the wind-swept Outer Hebrides on the West coast to the distant Shetland Islands in the North, Scotland has really got it all.
To discover Scotland’s famous Viking heritage, head the Shetland Islands. The Shetland’s are a group of islands closer in distance to Norway than Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. If you get the chance to visit in January, make sure to go to the famous Up Helly Aa (Viking Fire Festival).
Since Scotland is home to more sheep than people (6.5 million vs 5.5 million to be exact), it’s no surprise that the wool industry is one of the best in the world. For hundreds of years, wool has been used as a trading commodity in Scotland.
Nowadays, the quality of products made with wool is world-class and has taken on a modern twist – being used as a luxury fabric in many cases. Harris Tweed, for example, made in the traditional way on the tiny Scottish island of Harris, has been featured in high fashion brands such as Topman, Hugo Boss, Paul Smith, Nordstorm, Nike and Dr Martens.
It is possible to visit this famous mill on the Island of Harris and see first hand the traditional techniques used to weave and dye the wool, before turning it into beautiful garments to be sold the world over.
Ah, what would a trip to Scotland be without a taste of delicious haggis? Haggis has many nay-sayers, owing to it’s somewhat ‘exotic’ ingredients, however, I can assure you the taste is worth pushing aside any doubts you have about the contents. If you think you’re ready to know what’s in the famous Scottish haggis – prepare yourself.
Haggis is made primarily with sheep offal (heart, lungs, and liver). It is then mixed with oats, spices, onion, suet, and salt, and encased in the sheep stomach and boiled. Appetizing – right?
Served with ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnips and potatoes), it’s simply one of the best ways to refuel after a day out in the wild Scottish winter. Just trust me, if you like spiced meat products like pies and minced meat, it’s delicious. You can even go ahead and jazz it up a little with a whisky peppercorn sauce if you’re feeling fancy.
The Scottish bagpipes are synonymous with the country. You’ll find them at many events in Scotland including weddings, christenings, funerals, parties… any excuse really. Although their sound can be a bit hit and miss with people, there is something built into Scot’s when they are born to appreciate the chilling sound of the bagpipes.
If you are one of those people born with the bagpipe appreciation gene, you are in luck as there are many world-class pipe bands in Scotland. The best place to see them is at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This event takes place every August in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. With the spectacular backdrop of the historical castle lit up at night, the world’s best pipe bands gather and perform every evening for the entire month, finished with a huge fireworks performance. It is truly a once in a lifetime ‘must-do’.
Loch Ness Monster
Oh Nessie, where are you? Old Scottish folklore (and many Nessie enthusiasts today!) will tell you that deep beneath the glassy, black waters of Loch Ness lies an ancient sea creature. Her long neck and humps on her back indicate she may be of a prehistoric nature.
Legend has it her first appearance was as far back as 545 AD, and strange sightings have been seen on the waters ever since. Thousands have been spent trying to discover her, and over 1000 reports have been made of suspicious goings-on at the loch over the years, however, sonar equipment, deep dives, and satellite imaging have yet to come up with definitive proof.
Do you want to be the one to find the infamous sea creature of Loch Ness for yourself? Make a visit to Scotland and take a small boat out over the black waters of Loch Ness… I dare you!
Popular in both Scotland and Ireland, a Ceilidh, in its most simple form, is a social gathering with traditional dancing. Schools in Scotland often include social dancing on the curriculum (much to the dismay of 14-year-old kids). It is important to know the most common dances as inevitably you’ll be dragged up to dance ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’ or ‘The Gay Gordon’s’ with your Uncle John at a family wedding every few years.
There are also many fabulous Ceilidh events run throughout Scotland which you can attend as a visitor, or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to stumble across one in a pub somewhere. Sit out the first one and watch the steps then throw yourself into it. Although, knowing the Scot’s, someone will pull you onto the dance floor to join in and teach you the ropes as you go. Have a whisky and enjoy!
The Glasgow Barrowlands has to be one of the most famous live music venues in the world. Opened in 1938, it has hosted numerous famous touring bands including The Smiths, Simple Minds, The Clash, The Strangles, U2, Oasis, Muse and Foo Fighters.
The famous sprung dance floor and neon signs outside (the largest in the UK) cements its place in live music lovers minds. Glasgow is also home to King Tuts – a tiny underground live music club known the world over. Oasis were famously signed here, and artists such as Radiohead, The Killers, Biffy Clyro, Paolo Nutini, Manic Street Preachers, Florence, and the Machine and Snow Patrol have all been supported here at the start of their careers.
It’s true to say, Glasgow is famous for its live music scene, but all over Scotland you can find top-class venues and live music.
Heather Frew is a professional private chef come digital marketer who travels the world cooking and creating food & travel content for a living. Find out more about her at www.mykitchentravels.co.uk
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