PHOTO: Holyroodhouse Palace. (courtesy of Thinkstock)
Besides being rich with history and rife with tradition, Scotland has some amazing natural wonders, landmarks and luxurious things to explore. Following are a few of our top picks. These will have you enjoying Scotland with flair, panache and class.
The Old Forge
What is this you ask? Well, to put it simply, it is the most remote pub in all of Scotland. It is actually the heartbeat of Knoydart, a bustling community found on the Scottish west coast. Here, you can drink some of the finest microbrewery ales and relish some local creel-caught langoustines.
There is also some of the finest live music to be found in this storied land. Be forewarned, you might want to bring your own fiddle if you want to join in.
The atmosphere is lively, the food is amazing and your time spent in this far-flung pub will be one you will remember for years to come. There are several accommodations nearby ranging from bunkhouses to bed and breakfasts - perfect places to rest your head after a night of carousing with the locals.
This cave's prodigious formations seem formed by some mythical God of yore. Actually, this is all the work of Mother Nature. The volcanic basalt columns were created millions of years ago when a fissure opened up due to shifting tectonic plates when the area was at the bottom of an ocean. The sounds inside the cave are hauntingly serene.
To get there, go to the Treshnish Isles nearby. They run excursions daily for adults and children alike. You might come away as inspired as Felix Mendelssohn. The famed romantic composer wrote one of his works in 1829 after he visited the cave.
The National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum in all its glory is located in Edinburgh. Divided into a few sections, where one can gaze in wonder at a T. Rex skeleton, a one-ton geode or hulking stuffed giant panda, the story of Scotland itself is a major theme throughout these halls. Those seeking insight into this will see actual objects found, made and used across all period of Scottish history.
The Blackbird Bar
While you are in Edinburgh be sure to visit this bar and restaurant. It's easy to find - simply look for an orange bicycle hanging above the entryway. The bar is somewhat newer, but the food and cocktails are amazing. Try the drink with elderflower liqueur in it and see how that improves your day! It may be crowded when you show up, but it's worth the wait.
If you like to get up close and personal with history, then a trip here is definitely in order. You will walk away with more pictures of paintings, tapestries and plaster sculptures than you can shake a stick at. Yet it is well worth your time to see where the famed Mary Queen of Scots lived. The high point of the tour? Seeing where her lover was stabbed to death, 56 times to be exact, and thrown haphazardly down a flight of stairs.
The summer tour offers a view of the Abbey ruins, and for a bit more you can visit the Queens Gallery where some of the most prolific Scottish artists will have their work on display through 2016.
Of course, no trip to Scotland would be complete unless you visited the most iconic landmark in the country. Rising up over the volcanic rock, it looks as if the castle was meant to crown the area as a jewel. You can also set your watch to it - Edinburgh Castle's one o'clock gun has been a tradition since 1861. It's a vast area, but there are guided and audio tours available. Go early to avoid the crowds.
Isle of Mull
If you truly want to live like a king or queen, then head to the island and stay at Glengorm Castle. That's right, you can actually stay in a castle owned by a local family. In between your greeting and departure you will be served a few great meals. As for the rest of the time … simply spend it as you wish, lording over the landscape like a true noble. A trip to the Isle of Mull is luxurious indeed.
Beyond these items, there are no shortages of distilleries to explore as well. From the Orkney Islands to the wetland areas, simply choose a distillery and take the tour. Some of the finest scotch on the planet comes from Scotland. There are too many distilleries to list, but I'm sure you will find a favorite during your visit. Dovetail the distillery tour with one of the other items above, and you are well on your way to creating a luxury Scotland holiday. With so much to see and explore, this storied country has a lot to offer for luxury travel.
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