Scotland is the northernmost country on Great Britain Island, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the North Channel, and the Irish Sea. Scotland, made up of 790 named islands, is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Northwest Highlands. It is also peppered with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Its major cities are the capital, Edinburgh, with its iconic hilltop castle, and Glasgow, known for its vibrant cultural scene.
Winter temperatures average 43F or 6C. The summers in Scotland are a bit more manageable at 64F or 18C.
Around 9,500 years ago, settlers built permanent houses in Scotland, but its recorded history began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in the 1st century. In 1707, the Parliament of Scotland joined with England to become the Parliament of Great Britain. Later, in 180, with the addition of Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland were formed.
Scotland and its ports are becoming a popular destination. If you are arriving on a cruise ship, there are many lines that call in Scotland's ports including Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Fred Olsen, Celebrity, Princess, Silversea, TUI, Viking Ocean, Phoenix Reisen, AIDA, Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, P & O, Azamara, Crystal, Hapag Lloyd, Windstar, Saga, and NCL.
You may know Scotland for its bagpipes. They can be traced back to the 2nd century in Scotland, but actually, the bagpipes originated in the Middle East in ancient times. The Scottish Great Highland bagpipes gained popularity during WWI and WWII. They have also deemed a weapon of war at one time because they were used to scare away enemies during battle, and have been banned twice, in 1560 and 1746. The kilt is another well-known Scottish item. Made of woven wool or tartan and worn by Scottish men, kilts grew in popularity after being chosen by Highland regiments serving with the British Army. During your visit to Scotland, there is some tartan (the fabric used to make kilts) companies that will let you commission your own tartan, creating your own style and color combination!
And we can't forget Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, an aquatic creature said to live in Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. First photographed in 1933, it is now sought out by adventurists from all over the world.
During your visit to Scotland, you may wish to visit any of the 116 castles still standing! Or visit the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, one of Scotland's most magnificent and best-preserved Neolithic monuments. There are shore excursions in Scotland for everyone at Helix Park, an exciting new park that offers cycling, walking, watersports, and much more. The Helix, located between Falkirk and Grangemouth, is also home to The Kelpies, two 30-meter-high horse head sculptures- a true engineering feat!
The National Museum of Scotland is one of the top 10 attractions in the UK. The museum houses a spectacular array of over 20,000 fascinating artifacts. Their collections will take you on an inspirational journey through the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, culture, the arts, and science and discovery.
One exciting sightseeing excursion idea would be to visit all 12 of Scotland's iconic bridges or its 9 stunning lighthouses. You could also visit all 6 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Skara Brae, a stone-built settlement on the Bay of Skail; Antonine Wall, a turf fortification built on stone foundations; New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde built for mill workers; St. Kilda, a designated a National Nature Reserve in the remotest part of the British Isles; Edinburgh's Old and New Town; and Forth Bridge, a cantilever railway bridge over across the Firth of Forth in the east.
One trip to Scotland is not enough! So be prepared to fall in love and return to this magical place over and over on our shore excursions in Scotland!