Guide to Scotland
   Gateway to the British Isles since 1996
Must See Attractions To Visit in Scotland

by Barbara Ballard

Barbara Ballard guides you through her list of attractions to see while visiting Scotland. Click the map icon to view the different regions of Scotland. Once you have decided on a region, use the pulldown menus below to visit the area.



Abbeys, Monasteries & Priories
Scotland's best known abbeys are on the Borders. I especially like the extensive ruins of Dryburgh for its evocative setting among the trees near the River Tweed. Sir Walter Scott used to visit and stop along the way to view the Eildon Hills. Another interesting site is Inchcolm Abbey on Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth. If you're visiting Edinburgh, be sure to take it in.


Cathedrals & Churches
Churches are listed for architectural/historical interest. Scotland doesn't possess the many large and impressive cathedrals of England, but be sure to visit the mass of beautifully sited ruins that was once St. Andrew's Cathedral. Any trip to Scotland should include the elaborately carved Rosslyn Chapel. Your eyes won't believe all you see. And the small parish churches have a charm all their own.


The Scottish Countryside
I could include the whole of Scotland, with the exception of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and a few towns, in this section. So much of Scotland is wild and beautiful, seemingly untouched by human hands. The farther north, the more into the backcountry and remote islands you go, the more untamed the land. This selection of countryside spots is just a sampling of the wondrous landscape that awaits the traveller.


Country Houses, Stately Homes & Palaces
Many Scottish homes are named castles. The term castle may refer to a defensive structure that was adapted for domestic purposes by later generations. The historic houses in this section are a mixture of those that started as castles and those built only for domestic purposes. They are, on the whole, occupied today or habitable. If you can't find a favorite place here, try looking under Ruined Castles. It is best to check opening times with the local TIC or the establishment itself before visiting, as visiting times can change without notice.


Gardens & Follies
Many of the castles and stately homes have gardens worth visiting. Details on these are listed in the Country Houses, Stately Homes and Palaces section of the Gazetteer, with one exception, Crathes Castle. I fell in love with Crathes Castle gardens, even if it was raining when I visited, so they are featured here. The follies listed are only a few examples of the many not found at the listed stately homes. For a detailed listing, I recommend the book, Follies, Grottoes & Garden Buildings.


Ruined Castles, Tower Houses & Palaces
Border feuds, not just with England, but also with their neighbors, spurred much of the architecture of Scottish castles. The tower house, built for two purposes-to serve as both a home and a defense against attack-was often the basis for further expansion into a full-blown castle. Some tower houses remained just that and mirror a harsh and dangerous way of life.


Museums, Monuments & Galleries
This listing includes homes of historic figures and buildings that portray a particular historical lifestyle. Both public and commercial museums are included in this list.


Prehistoric Sites
There are, literally, hundreds of ancient sites and stones in Scotland-too many to list in full detail. I have chosen a number of examples only. For those with a passion about ancient stones who want lots of pictures, information and much detail, I highly recommend the web site, Stones of Wonder.