A small country bursting with treasures, Scotland is a land of surprising contrasts. Whether you want to trace your family history, head for the hills, or experience the buzz of one of Scotland’s many exciting festivals, there is something for everyone.
Scotland is situated in north-west Europe and forms the northern part of the United Kingdom. Geographically, Scotland can be divided into three distinct areas, the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the northern Highlands and Islands.
A beautiful country, which offers breath-taking scenery with stunning lochs, mountains and islands. There are over 100 rivers and around 500 fresh and saltwater lochs, the most famous of which is Loch Ness with its world-famous resident “Nessie”, the extremely friendly but elusive Loch Ness monster.Scotland is the home of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The mountain is located in the Lochaber area of Scotland, attracting around 125,000 ascents each year – but at 1,344 metres the summit is no leisurely walk. The Munros are the highest of Scotland’s mountains, 283 mountain tops named after the man who first catalogued them, Sir Hugh Munro.Scotland has over 790 offshore islands, most of which are to be found in four main groups – Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides, which are subdivided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Ninety nine of these Islands are populated.
Scotland’s rich cultural heritage is evident across its varied landscape. From Edinburgh’s ancient castle and ultra-modern parliament building; to the ancient wonders of Maeshowe on Orkney, the country is awash with historically fascinating sites. And you can experience history first hand by staying in an SYHA Youth Hostel, either grand style in your very own castle or by getting back to nature in a genuine croft.
Edinburgh is the home to many festivals but none so popular or well known as the annual Edinburgh Festival, a group of exciting festivals, ranging from comedy to classical music, held in early August each year.
New Year’s Eve is celebrated around the world, but no country embraces this event quite like Scotland. We even have our own name for it, Hogmanay. Over 100,000 people visit Edinburgh to take part in the famous Hogmanay Street Party. The event combines five live music stages, ceilidh dancing and one of the world’s greatest fireworks displays.
Scotland is home to a wonderfully diverse range of species, from the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth to the capercaillie of the Central Highlands. Each Scottish season offers up new possibilities for enjoying the country’s wildlife. The sheer spectacle of wintering wildfowl is second to none while, in spring and summer our cliff-breeding seabirds and offshore whales and dolphins command attention. Autumn is the time for seal pups and stag ruts.
Food and Drink
Scotland is truly a gastronome’s delight. You will find some of the world’s finest seafood, superb game including venison and pheasant, as well as a host of locally produced cheeses. Haggis is the national dish of Scotland, not for the foodie faint of heart, however – it’s made of sheep’s offal. The Scots’ love of haggis is said to be testimony to their unwillingness to waste any part of a slaughtered animal.
Shortbread is a classic Scottish dessert and whisky has been produced in Scotland for longer than anyone can remember. Something that began centuries ago as a way of using up rain-soaked barley after a wet harvest has resulted in Scotland now having 53 whisky distilleries throughout the country.
Scotland has a modern and efficient road, rail and ferry network which allows good access to almost all parts of the country and you’ll have no trouble getting to the main tourist destinations. Thanks to its scenic wonders, travelling in Scotland can be a real pleasure.
Scotland has four distinct seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. We can have spells of warm weather anytime from the end of March through to the end of October. From October to the end of March it is always advisable to wrap up with warm coats, hats and gloves and in the months from December to February you may see a bit of snow. Rain and showers can be expected in Scotland no matter what the season so always come prepared!
Youth Hostels in Scotland
With over 65 Youth Hostels to choose from within the SYHA Hostelling Scotland network, you will find a Youth Hostel to suit your travel plans. Our friendly staff will offer you lots of information about their local area. For a full list of hostels in Scotland check out our Scotland country page.