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1 S CO T L A N D
Scotland is not a place to visit for a sunshine beach holiday where you intend to pick up a tan; nor is Scotland all about Edinburgh, Bagpipes and Haggis. At the very north of the UK, Scotland is a naturally beautiful country; full of culture; soaked in history. It has become somewhat of a tourist mecca in recent years, especially since the introduction of low-cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair, as well as Norwegian. Moreover, accommodation has become easier to book, with greater choice, thanks to the many online-booking platforms where some even include the use of car.
Scotland is a country that people want to visit and explore. It has something for everyone, from couples of all ages, to families, and even groups of young adults. So, what is there to see and do in Scotland besides Edinburgh, bagpipes and haggis?
Starting with the obvious, Loch Ness is a tourist hotspot that draws people into a stunning and naturally beautiful part of the world. Whether you want to go and find Nessie, or just wish to explore the natural beauty of the lochs, hills and mountains, is up to the individual. Loch Ness is a true bucket-list item, but when you open your eyes, you will see that there is so much more to explore. While anyone could get lost staring into the deep dark waters of the loch, hoping to catch sight of a monster, it is the surrounding history that will trap you more. With its moss-covered stones Urquhart Castle is a place where a few hours can easily be lost exploring the ruins and imagining what things were like hundreds of years ago.
In the West of Scotland, Glencoe is a superb place to visit. The perfect base for a hiking holiday. Glencoe was the site of many battles between clans, with perhaps the most well-known being between the Campbells and the MacDonalds, where Campbell soldiers completely massacred the MacDonalds’. The rugged coastline tucked alongside the mountains makes this a spectacular place to explore and enjoy the absolute beauty of nature interspersed with legend and history.
MUSEUM OF SCOTTISH RAILWAYS
A well-hidden gem, especially if you have a small family, or if you are a railway buff, is the Museum of Scottish Railways in Falkirk. Scotland has plenty of museums to explore, and with the often-unpredictable weather these indoor attractions are a Godsend. The Museum of Scottish Railways makes a fun day out.
The Riveride Museum in Glasgow, has won many awards for its displays of maritime transport; the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery in Glasgow, and the Peoples Palace in Glasgow, are places any visitor to Scotland should consider checking out.
Travelling around Scotland is not difficult. Hiring a car makes a lot of sense if you really wish to explore with independence, however Scotland has a good rail network, ferries to the islands, and bus services that make getting around easy and enjoyable. Scotland has quite a few airports and there are some domestic flights within Scotland including the shortest commercial flight in the world between Westray and Papa Westray, near the mainland of Orkney - a flight which lasts just 57 seconds.
In summary, Scotland is a delight to visit, and once there, you will find there is so much to see and do that you will be sure to book a return trip.
2. I C E L A N D
Iceland is a growing tourist destination. As people look for more interesting and different places to explore Iceland has surfaced as one of the top places to visit. With a steadily increasing number of flights to the capital Reykjavik, the country has never been more accessible and open for the world to discover. But why should someone visit Iceland?
First of all, Iceland is not really a place to go to if you are looking for sunshine, warm oceans and beaches. People don’t visit Iceland for pleasant and warm weather, but the prevailing climate is the reason for many of the amazing natural attractions.
Furthermore, from the middle of May until the end of July, Iceland offers a unique experience that many tourists flock to witness. Because of its proximity to the arctic circle, there is almost 24-hour sunlight at the very peak of summer. This midnight sun is one of the top tourist attractions in the world and is one of the most awe-inspiring events anyone could wish to experience. Moreover, hiking, and even camping, under the midnight sun is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for those who love the great outdoors it is a must.
Another kind of weather-related Icelandic tourist attraction is the Northern Lights or aurora borealis. While the midnight sun is a reason to visit Iceland in Summer the Northern Lights are a good reason to visit between September and April.
Iceland is an actively volcanic country, and the fire beneath the ground is very much a top reason why Iceland is a popular tourist destination. With an abundance of water, and the hot volcanic activity, geothermal pools are spread across much of Iceland. The very best way to appreciate these is to bathe in them and you will experience the many health benefits derived from this activity.
Another spectacular Icelandic attraction are the whales that thrive off the coast of Iceland. With over 20 species of whales in the waters all year-round, whale-watching trips are guaranteed to enthral visitors of all ages with an almost 100% certainty of seeing these majestic mammoths of the ocean at first hand.
One of the most well-known natural attractions of Iceland are the glaciers. Glaciers have formed some of the most amazing natural landscapes on the planet, such as Jökulsárlón, one of the largest glacial lakes filled with spectacular icebergs. The glacial lakes and glaciers themselves have spawned a myriad of unique wildlife, flora and fauna, and this makes Iceland one of the top destinations for a nature-lover.
MOUNTAINS and VOLCANOES
Iceland is actively volcanic, and it will come as no surprise that the volcanoes and surrounding mountains are perhaps the ultimate reason why anyone should visit the country. While exploring the country it is almost certain that you will encounter glowing hot lava as well as warm, lightweight, pumice stone. A day or two spent travelling around the volcanoes and mountains will create memories that you will never forget.
TRAVELLING to and around
As Iceland has adapted to the demands of tourism, getting to the country has never been easier. There are at least 20 airlines that offer direct flights to Iceland, from budget airlines and charters, to full-service airlines. Once in the country car hire is easy, and there is a fairly good public transport system in Reykjavik. There are many tours that can be booked to explore the country with a guide, and so you won’t be stuck for choice.