‘Most beautiful country’ accolade highlights Scotland’s many stunning sights

‘Most beautiful country’ accolade highlights Scotland’s many stunning sights

Scotland is officially the most beautiful country in the world, according to Rough Guides*.  With many spots of natural beauty, from beaches to lochs to stunning isles and coastline, visitors are clearly spoilt for choice when it comes to memorable views and experiences.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland:

“We are delighted that Scotland has received this wonderful accolade from Rough Guide readers, but of course it will not have been a surprise to anyone who has encountered our wonderful country. From our awe-inspiring landscapes to our remarkable historic attractions, to our bustling but beautiful urban centres, Scotland takes people’s breaths away.  Our latest campaign, the Spirit of Scotland was based on feedback from visitors that they get a special feeling while in the country  – whether it’s in the wilds of Glen Coe on a stormy day or taking part in a ceilidh on Burns’ Night – there is something different about Scotland that they can’t experience anywhere else in the world. We look forward to welcoming more people who want to encounter this beauty and spirit in the flesh for many years to come.”

If any other reason was needed to book a trip, check out a selection below of just some of the top places of beauty to behold in Scotland. Scotland beat Canada, New Zealand and England in a poll of readers of Rough Guide, based on their favourite places that spark the imagination. A writer for Rough Guides commented, “Who can deny that these wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles are some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?”*

Best beaches … Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris regularly makes the lists of top beaches in the world, and is often mistaken (at first glance at a photograph) for the Caribbean; but not forgetting the beach at Barra, often referred to as having the most scenic plane landing; Tombolo on St Ninian’s Isle and Banna Min beach, both in Shetland; as well as Dornoch beach in Sutherland; Calgary beach on the Isle of Mull; Balmedie beach in Aberdeenshire; and Yellowcraig beach in East Lothian, with views to the 1885 lighthouse on Fidra Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous tale Treasure Island.

Dark Skies and Northern Lights… Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe, making it a perfect place to view the night skies; Galloway Forest Park is one of the darkest places in Scotland, which is why it’s the UK’s first Dark Sky Park.  Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway was also given the title of Europe’s very first Dark Sky Town, having adopted special street lighting to keep light pollution to a minimum.  In addition, places in Scotland, including Shetland, Orkney and Aberdeenshire and the Moray coast are great spots from which to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Historic views… from Old Man of Hoy on Orkney; to Dunnotar Castle in Aberdeenshire; to Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye; to the drive up to Glamis Castle in Angus; or Culzean Castle in Ayrshire and Dryburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders, visitors to Scotland can spot historic and magical gems around every corner, many of them linked to Scotland’s myths and legends and mysterious stories.

Cinema Paradiso… Scotland has been voted the world’s Best Cinematic Destination** and it’s not difficult to see why: with the striking views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct associated with the Harry Potter films; West Sands Beach in St Andrew’s famous for the beach run and the music of Vangelis in Chariots of Fire; and Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian famous for its usage in the film version of The Da Vinci Code.

Wonderful walks … the rugged coastline from Portpatrick to Killantringan in Dumfries and Galloway is a popular one for dog walkers and ramblers alike; not forgetting the West Highland Way, which starts at Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow and stretches to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis.  A less strenuous walk be a stroll around the Kelpies in the Helix parkland in Falkirk or along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, to include a glimpse of the Dean Village.  Or what about a walk to the top of the city’s Arthur’s Seat, with panoramic views out to the Firth of Forth, including the new Queensferry Crossing bridge?

Scotland’s ‘Route 66’…. Scotland’s North Coast 500 route boasts epic scenery, stunning coastal views and beautiful beaches, including Achmelvich in Sutherland.  It regularly makes the list of the world’s best driving routes and should be on everyone’s list of must-dos.

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