1. Edinburgh Castle – Set high atop one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Scotland’s most-visited tourist attraction also plays host to a number of events, from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Eve. Make sure you’re not too close to the cannon for the 1 o’clock gun!
2. Loch Ness – Whether you see Nessie or not, Loch Ness’ gorgeous setting will not disappoint. 45 minutes southwest of the town of Nairn, the loch is 755 feet deep, deeper than the height of Heron Tower, London’s tallest building. If you can’t spot the real thing, check out The Original Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre in Drumnadrochit, near Inverness.
3. Arthur’s Seat – Despite the man-made triumphs which surround it, there is no greater thrill in all of Edinburgh than a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat, the highest point of wondrous Holyrood Park. The easiest ascent is from the east, and the panoramic views of the city are best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset. The hill derives its name from the belief that it was once the location of King Arthur’s Camelot.
4. Stirling Castle – 25 minutes south of Gleneagles, this formidable castle dates all the way back to the early 12th century. Pay your respects to Scottish hero William Wallace (and Mel Gibson’s acting career) at the nearby monument bearing his name.
5. Eilean Donan – 2 hours southwest of Nairn, this island has been the setting for countless movies, including The World is Not Enough. The island’s picturesque castle was built as a defense against the invading Vikings, and is connected to the mainland by an arched bridge.
6. Burns Cottage – Robert Burns, “Scotland’s Favorite Son”, was born in this simple thatch cottage, now a museum, some 20 minutes south of the town of Troon.
7. Culzean Castle – 40 minutes south of Troon, this imposing castle on the Ayrshire coast was the setting for the 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man (but not the laughable 2006 Nick Cage remake) and can be found on the back of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 5-pound notes. During the summer months, be sure to take a tour of the sea caves beneath the castle.
8. A Whisky Distillery – Any of them! What trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to one of the many distilleries which dot the countryside? Scotland’s most famous export is best enjoyed neat, a soothing cure for any leftover aches and pains after a long day on the links.
9. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park – This expansive national park, roughly an hour north of Troon, is a nature lover’s dream. Full of lochs, hills and wildlife, plan to spend at least half a day here exploring the beautiful surroundings.
10. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – Glasgow often gets overlooked by tourists who come to Scotland, but this museum has one of the UK’s best collections of art and artifacts. The best part? It’s free!