Dramatic mountains, glistening Lochs and dazzling cities. Scotland is one of the most unique, and often underrated, travel destinations in the world. Within this compact territory are a myriad of natural treasures and historical sites, as well as postcard-perfect backdrops that have provided iconic movie locations over the years.
When it comes to luxury travel, Scotland has it all. With a reputation for creating outstanding dishes with seasonal and regional ingredients, and serving up haute cuisine with inspiration from land and sea, there’s a real sense of ‘field to fork’ in Scotland’s top restaurants. Luxury accommodation comes in every form, from mainstream hotels with all the amenities and prestigious golf resorts to magnificent castle stays. And as for sightseeing and tours, we can help you create bespoke packages that combine all of your interests. Whether you love gastronomy, golfing, hiking or whisky, we will make your holiday truly unforgettable.
A trip to Scotland isn’t complete without a visit to the majestic Highlands, a vast area defined by its mountain ranges, deep lochs and friendly towns. Tradition remains important here, and just as you see with wine-producing regions, the cultural significance that comes with whisky making is what makes this destination so interesting.
Challenge yourself with Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis in Fort William, and take a drive on the scenic Glencoe Pass (A82) all the way down to Loch Lomond. Or visit the nation’s most legendary body of water, Loch Ness, where the mysterious Loch Ness Monster dwells. The nearby city of Inverness makes a great base and acts as the perfect gateway to Scotland’s whisky trail.
Not to be missed is the capital, Edinburgh, home to some of the most coveted restaurants and bars in Britain, and also the starting location for the whisky train tours. Edinburgh is also famous for the Royal Mile, a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the city’s charming Old Town.
Other exciting towns and cities to include in your Scottish tour are St. Andrews and Glasgow, both worth visiting for their sights and attractions, and excellent gastropubs. Then there are the islands, a whole other world where unique history comes to life. Discover the whisky distilleries and romantic scenery of Islay or Jura, or go hiking on the popular Isle of Skye.
Scotland’s climate is cool and wet, with the dry summer months being the most popular time to travel. The peak of summer (July and August) sees tourists flocking from all corners of the globe, so if you want to beat the crowds it’s recommended that you come before or after. The shoulder season of spring experiences mild weather that is wonderfully pleasant, and comfortable enough for outdoor activities such as hiking.
Influenced by the North Atlantic Drift, Scotland is safe from extremities even in the depths of winter. This means that you can also travel in the off-season (November to February) when the average temperature is cold yet manageable at 2°C. However, day to day can be unpredictable so packing for all weather is important for travellers in any season. For visiting distilleries, remember that most of them have a silent season.
This usually takes place for a few weeks in the summer, during the driest month, and everything is shut down so that water sources in Scotland can replenish. During the silent season, many of the distilleries will conduct routine repairs, but tours and short visits are still possible in some.
The Scottish whisky regions include Speyside, Highlands & Islands, Lowlands, Islay, and Campbeltown. The Islands are often considered to be a region of its own, but they form part of the Highlands region geographically.
Some of the best-selling varieties are Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan, Singleton, Glenmorangie, Balvenie, Monkey Shoulder, Laphroaig, Aberlour, and Glen Grant. Within this list alone, there’s a great deal of diversity, ranging from rich and complex to the light, fresh and fruity. In general, Scotch whisky has a maltiness to its backbone, and depending on the location of production can also be smoky or have a rubbery taste. For example, Jura whisky has gentle notes of honey, soft liquorice and roasted coffee beans. Speyside is known for its malty caramel flavours. While the ever-popular Glenfiddich has a distinctive hint of pear and is fresh and well-balanced on the palate. Compared to Irish varieties, Scotch whisky is usually less sweet – but again, this depends on where it has been made.
As well as the booming whisky industry, other distilleries that are growing in Scotland are gin and vodka. The country also continues to build on its wineries. Despite being too cold for wine grapes, there are some wineries such as Chateau Largo in Fife and Château Hebrides in the Outer Hebrides that specialize in blending everything from Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot to rosé wines.
Scotland is the land of castles, distilleries and Highland manors. If you’re looking for luxury accommodation, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this part of the world. While cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow boast 5-star hotels and chic boutique stays, the countryside and coastline are home to glamorous golf resorts, award-winning spas, and mansions surrounded by acres of land.
Turin Castle in the county of Angus is one of our featured places to stay, and is a favourite destination for golf or whisky lovers. Alternatively, let us whisk you off to Glenmorangie's luxury whisky retreat in the Highlands, the 17th Century estate that is connected to Glenmorangie Distillery.
Food in Scotland stretches far beyond the predictable haggis and tatties. Scottish cuisine is very much a celebration of land and sea, with fresh and seasonal ingredients at the heart of it. Local kitchens focus on regional availability, making each area unique when it comes to their menus. From famous Aberdeen Angus beef and Shetland salmon to the local specialities of Stornoway Black Pudding and Arbroath Smokies, dining out in Scotland is every bit the luxury experience.
Home to eight Michelin starred restaurants and a thriving food scene across the Highlands, you will have plenty of options for eating out. Dine at Glenmorangie House for the perfect food and whisky pairing, or board the Belmond Royal Scotsman train and enjoy a table d'hôte menu with clans, castles and isles on your route.
Wine Paths is a leader in creating luxury holidays in Scotland for travellers who want the best food and wine experiences. We combine high-end accommodation with tours that have the power to inspire everyone’s recipe books. To find out about gastronomy travel, get more information from our local travel expert Ross.