🏴 As you might know, Scotland is a beautiful country. Did you know that there are only 8 cities in this beautiful country? Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two that are the most known, yet there are 6 more that are worth exploring, each with its own distinct personality and rich history, offering a fascinating mix of culture and heritage. Let me tell you more about the 8 cities to visit in Scotland, so you’ll know what to expect and which to choose for your next visit. This will allow you to enjoy more of what Scotland has to offer.
If you are already familiar with Edinburgh and Glasgow, you may skip the first 2. However, it might be fun to “revisit” them 😉
History: Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, exudes history from every cobblestone. Its crowning jewel, Edinburgh Castle, perched high on Castle Rock (an extinct ancient volcano), dates back to the 12th century. It has witnessed everything from royal births to military sieges.
Interesting Facts: Beyond its historic grandeur, Edinburgh hosts the world's largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The city also has its share of mysteries in the form of underground streets, like Mary King's Close and Underground Vaults.
Must-See Places: The Royal Mile is a must-visit, leading you from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle. I’d highly recommend visiting the interactive Scotch Whisky Experience 🥃 if you enjoy a ‘wee dram’. For an absolutely gorgeous view of the city, hike up the extinct volcano, Arthur's Seat at Holyrood Park.
History: Glasgow, once at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, was a bustling center of shipbuilding and trade. And the River Clyde was its lifeblood.
Interesting Facts: The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum stands as a testament to its rich heritage. Glasgow is also renowned for its vibrant music scene, with King Tut's Wah Wah Hut hosting legendary performances.
Must-See Places: Explore the picturesque Kelvingrove Park, visit the impressive Glasgow Cathedral. Delve into the city's maritime history at the Riverside Museum. Of course, you have to see the City Center Mural Trail and visit Ashton Lane.
History: Inverness, known as the "Capital of the Highlands," is steeped in history and folklore. Its history dates back to the Picts and is mostly famously known for the Battle of Culloden, which had a significant impact on Scottish history. Inverness is the gateway to the mesmerizing Highlands.
Interesting Facts: Inverness is often considered the starting point for the Caledonian Canal, an impressive 60-mile waterway that connects the east and west coasts of Scotland. The canal, designed by engineer Thomas Telford, allows boats to travel the Great Glen and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
Must-See Places: Cruise on Loch Ness in search of Nessie and for a visit to the Urquhart Castle. Visit the Culloden Battlefield for a deeper dive into history, and take relaxing strolls along the tranquil River Ness. I’d also highly recommend going outside of Inverness to Chanonry Point on the Black Isle to catch a glimpse of bottleneck dolphins.
History: Known as the "Fair City," Perth boasts a history that stretches back over 800 years. It was once the capital of Scotland (from 1214 to 1452).
Interesting Facts: The city's medieval architecture, such as St. John's Kirk and Scone Palace, whispers tales of kings and queens. Scone Palace, in particular, was the crowning place of Scottish monarchs for a long time and well worth a visit. River Tay, on which Perth stands, is the longest river in Scotland, running 119 miles.
Must-See Places: Wander through Scone Palace and its beautiful gardens. Explore the intimate charm of Branklyn Garden. Dive into history at the Black Watch Museum at the Balhousie Castle, where you can learn a thing or two about the oldest Highland Regiment.
History: Aberdeen, also known as the "Granite City," is defined by its gray stone buildings, remnants of its maritime and trade past as it was the major center for textile and shipbuilding between the 18th and 19th centuries. It even played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution.
Interesting Facts: Scotland's oldest newspaper, The Press and Journal, calls Aberdeen home, dating back to 1495. It's also a hub for the oil industry, adding a modern twist to its rich history.
Must-See Places: Marischal College's stunning architecture and hauntingly gorgeous King’s College Capel. Make sure to walk amongst Duthie Park's serene landscapes. And get mesmerized by the Footdee's picturesque fishing village.
History: Stirling played a major role in Scottish history, most notably as the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace won an important victory. It was also a major royal stronghold and the location of Stirling Castle, a historic fortress that played a crucial role in the Wars of Scottish Independence. It also served as the site of several important battles, including the Battle of Bannockburn, where famous king Robert the Bruce led the Scots to victory over the English.
Interesting Facts: As mentioned above, the city's historic focal point is Stirling Castle, a grand testament to its role in Scottish history. Another city highlight is the National Wallace Monument, a towering tribute to William Wallace. It is hard to miss. Walking up all 246 steps will reward you with one of the most iconic and breathtaking views.
Must-See Places: Discover the well-preserved Stirling Castle, wander through the charming Old Town, and don't miss the breathtaking views from the National Wallace Monument.
History: The 4th largest city, Dundee, is a city with an industrial past, thrived with the "jute, jam, and journalism" industries. It had a long history of whaling and shipbuilding.
Interesting Facts: Dundee was the first city in the whole UK to have a publicly owned electric tram system. Dundee was known as the "City of Discovery" because the famous research vessel RRS Discovery (which you can now visit) was built here and launched in 1901 to become famous when Captain Robert Scott took it on an expedition to Antarctica.
Must-See Places: Explore the futuristic V&A Dundee museum. Admire the art at the gorgeous victorian McManus Galleries. Unwind with a tranquil stroll along the Riverside Walkway and visit Discovery Point (RRS Discovery).
History: Dunfermline, one of Scotland's ancient royal burghs, holds a special place in the nation's history as the former capital of Scotland (from 1128 to 1811). It was the residence of many Scottish monarchs, including King Robert the Bruce.
Interesting Facts: The city's historical significance is highlighted by Dunfermline Abbey, founded in the 11th century, which became a royal mausoleum where several Scottish monarchs are buried. It is here that the first meeting of the Scottish Parliament was held in 1328. Dunfermline is also renowned as the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Must-See Places: Explore the timeless Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, a monumental testament to Scotland's royal history. Pay homage to Andrew Carnegie's legacy at the Carnegie Birthplace Museum. Visit the oldest Carnegie Library. And take a leisurely walk through the serene Pittencrieff Park, a green oasis in the city's heart.
🏴🏰🌳Now you know Scotland’s cities offer a diverse range of experiences, from historic landmarks to stunning natural landscapes and vibrant cultural scenes. Regardless of your interests, whether it be in history, the arts, or the great outdoors, these cities have something for everyone. Pack your bags and allow yourself enough time to explore the captivating cities of Scotland, each with its unique story to tell.