I will admit that there may or may not have been a guy involved when I started to plan a mini road trip in Scotland in the midst of November. Men in kilts with sexy accents – surely that’s a good enough reason?! But even if you can’t find yourself your very own Highlander there are lots of great reasons to go to Scotland right now.
1. Outlander. I will very frankly admit that this was my other number one reason for going. How can you not love these books and the series? I wanted to be a tourist for a change and see all the locations with or without the time travel.
2. Driving is so much fun here. The roads are empty, the few other drivers incredibly polite and the scenery is always stunning. You will want to take detours.
3. On that note – if you come from Stirling going to Aberdeenshire, take the longer drive via the Pass of Ballater. The views are what you came for!
4. Don’t know much about history? This is about to change! Next year will be Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology but honestly, each year should be the year of history here. There is so much to learn, see and discover in even the smallest villages everywhere. If you don’t have your personal guide with you, just ask anybody. I found that the Scottish love to talk about their country and its history.
5. A perfect place to start is the Castle Trail. Stirling Castle, Dunnottar Castle and countless more invite you in. Some are in ruins while others are perfectly kept, but all play an important part in Scotland’s fascinating history.
6. Needless to say that most come with their own ghost. Perfect for a bit of post-Halloween scariness.
7. Want to sleep like a princess? Then head to the Atholl Palace Hotel. While the inside is a bit dated, the outside and surrounding gardens will make you feel like royalty.
8. They also host a great number of weddings which in Scotland means one thing: men in kilts everywhere. Just in case you didn’t bring your own.
9. I will admit that one of my reasons was also to wear my favorite cashmere jersey at least once this year. However, even if you are not a fan of the cold in general, Scotland is wonderfully devoid of tourists during the colder months – which makes it the perfect time to visit.
10. The misty weather makes for amazing pictures.
11. Scotland is a great place if you can’t wait to see the first snow. Just make sure to check the road & weather report before you head out!
12. The Highlands was THE reason for me to come to Scotland. While I was quite disappointed by Inverness (the capital of the Highlands), the surrounding landscape has quickly become my favorite in lieu of a white sanded beach.
13. From Inverness, it’s also only a short drive to Culloden Battlefield. The museum and audio tour over the battlefield are incredible and really bring this important part of Scotish history to life. An absolute must for all history and general Scotland fans.
14. And of course, there is Loch Ness. While I wasn’t keen to take a boat to find Nessie and was thoroughly disappointed that none of the giftshops had Nessie-shaped gummies, this view alone is worth going for:
Urquhart Castle and the Loch
15. Highland Cows. While there is lots of great wildlife to see in Scotland, they are a reason on their own. Highland Cows are awesome. Especially once you manage to actually get a selfie with some babies who just had a drink of milk.
16. Eating Haggis was my other challenge for this trip. Thanks to an amazing breakfast at the best guesthouse, Lys-Na-Greyne – close to the baby Highland Cows and all the castles – I can now proudly say, I like it.
17. And then there is all the other great food. Scotland seems to be a real foodie destination. While there may not be many options in the smaller towns, I ate some amazing beef dishes, fish, and mushy peas on my trip. There was definitely no need for salt & vinegar chips (my pet hate that always reminds me of a very frustrating trip to England when I was 15)!
18. Shortbread deserves its own mention. While I was skeptical to begin with – it looks like a dry cookie after all – I was quickly convinced. This is butter at its finest!
19. Thirsty? Then you have come to the right place too. Who doesn’t like to learn all about whisky at one of the many distilleries and taste a glass or two?!
20. …. It turns out, that person is me. I don’t like whisky. Sorry, Scotland! Lucky for me Scotland is now also a major player when it comes to gin and small independent labels have popped up everywhere. A trend very much to my liking, especially after a day of driving.
21. Cloud porn. Honestly, Scotland is great for some stormy skies that make for the most stunning pictures.
22. The pass of Killiecrankie which comes with its own interesting history. After visiting it in 1844, Queen Victoria wrote in her journal: “I cannot describe how beautiful it is. Albert was in perfect ecstasies.” If it was good enough for a queen, it was good enough to warrant a detour for me and I did not regret it.
23. And then there was Edinburgh. Honestly, this city is reason enough to visit Scotland and I don’t understand how someone could not immediately fall in love with it.
24. Have I mentioned that a great reason to go to Scotland is to meet a Scot to keep you warm?!
25. If you don’t meet one, you could always go and meet Travelette Kathi in Glasgow instead. Not only can she show you all of her favorite places in town but she has even more great tips to share for the perfect girl’s road trip in Scotland!
Scotland road trip tips
* Make sure you are allowed to hire a car. Depending on the car rental company you will need to be a minimum age (set by them, not legal driving age) or have had your license for a certain amount of yours.
* You drive on the left side of the road and speed is measured in miles per hour.
* While getting around in Scottland is fairly easy, I still recommend hiring a GPS.
* Make a playlist with lots of Highlander music and some other road trip classics.
* Check the weather! The poles on the sides of the highway are actually markers so you don’t get lost when it starts to snow. Know your driving skills and limits. Also, a lot of attractions close when the weather is really bad.
* Pack sturdy boots and lots of woolly things. Just because the Highlanders can make do with just a kilt, doesn’t mean you can.
* And last but not least – take someone to feed you with shortbread and to point out Highland Cows on the roadside.