With its beautiful scenery and many tourist attractions, Scotland is a beautiful holiday destination. One of the best ways to get the most out of your visit is to hire a car and take a driving trip. Here are a few favourite places to visit in Scotland.
1. Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh Castle is an impressive structure, and one of the top castles to visit. There is nothing quite like looking out over the Firth of Forth with a line of canons right next to you. Edinburgh itself is also a beautiful city and well worth visiting, with its wide streets, Reformation-era architecture, and many shops and restaurants. Walk the Royal Mile through the city and up to the castle for the complete experience.
2. Stirling - If you only visit a couple of cities in Scotland, Stirling should definitely be one of them. Known as Scotland's heritage capital, Stirling has a variety of attractions, from a bustling Old Town, Stirling Castle, and views of important battlefields in Scottish history.
3. Bannockburn - This historic battlefield, where Robert the Bruce defeated the British in 1314, is one of those that can be viewed from Stirling Castle. Be sure to also visit the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, overlooking the battlefield, where you can learn more about Robert the Bruce and this important battle.
4. National Wallace Monument - Also in Stirling is the National Wallace Monument, which honors William Wallace, an important figure in Scottish history. It takes 246 steps to get to the top of the monument, but the breathtaking views are well worth the climb. Visitors can also listen to an actor tell Wallace's story from his point of view.
5. Bothwell Castle - Another important piece of Scottish history, this castle in South Lanarkshire belonged to the family of one of William Wallace's comrades. Although unfinished, Bothwell Castle changed hands back and forth between the Scottish and the British many times during the 13th and 14th centuries, and was partially destroyed a couple of times over the years.
6. National Museum of Rural Life - Want to know what it is like to live in rural Scotland? While you're in South Lanarkshire to see Bothwell Castle, be sure to visit this museum, which is actually a working 1950s-style farm. Okay, so maybe it's not one of the top places to visit -- but between the 50s furnishings, the old farm equipment, and the restaurant with its country fare, visiting this museum will give you a taste of Scotland… literally.
7. Urquhart Castle - This castle overlooks Loch Ness, and is one of Scotland's most popular castles. Although even the ruins themselves are impressive, remember that this was one of Scotland's greatest strongholds in its day. Like Bothwell Castle, Urquhart Castle frequently changed hands between the Scottish and the British. Who knows, maybe you'll even see the Loch Ness monster while you're visiting the castle -- not that it would be the reason for your visit, of course.
There are many favourite tourist destinations spread out across Scotland, so you can see how a hire car can help you to see all you want to see quickly and efficiently. These are just a few suggestions, as there is no way you can see all of Scotland in one trip -- but a hire car can definitely help you make the most of your visit!
Katharine Swan is a freelance writer who specializes in travel topics such as destination guides and discount car hire. Edinburgh is one of her favourite places to visit.