While I wouldn't recommend visiting Scotland in January, if anyone is planning a trip for the summer months, here are a few things that we would recommend seeing and doing while you're here:
1. Hike, walk or bike - Scotland has great trails all over the country, but especially in the Highlands and up by Ben Nevis, its largest mountain. Wherever you go, there are trails for all levels and the views tend to be pretty incredible.
2. Take a distillery tour - There are distilleries all over Scotland, although the most concentrated region is the Highlands. Usually you can take a tour of the distillery and taste some of their whiskey. Even if you don't like whiskey, the process of making it is fascinating and it's a huge part of Scotland's culture.
3. Try haggis - We get asked constantly if we've tried haggis yet, and yes, we've tried it a few times, at a few different places and while we don't love it, we'd definitely recommend trying the food that Scotland seems to be most famous for. (And if you don't know what it is, maybe look it up after you've tried it....)
4. Visit Edinburgh - Scotland's capital is an amazing city with tons to see and do, and it's also filled with great restaurants and bars. Our top recommendations include Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, strolling up and down the Royal Mile and eating authentic Scottish food in a cozy pub in the Grassmarket area (I love The Last Drop, but there are tons!).
5. Search for the Loch Ness Monster - One of the famous myths (or not?!) of Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster, remains a mystery to this day but Loch Ness is definitely worth a visit. You can do boat tours of the lake, or, if you prefer to stay on land, we visited the Loch Ness Exhibition Center a few months ago, which laid out the fact and fiction about Nessie.
6. Eat fish and chips - This is best done in Anstruther, a coastal fishing village in Fife, at either Anstruther Fish Bar or The Wee Chippy. And as a bonus, Anstruther is a really cute town to walk around and is easy to take a boat trip from.
7. See a few castles - It seems like every town in Scotland has its own castle, in various states of ruin, but touring a few of the major ones are a great way to get a feel for the country's history. Our favorites were Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle.
8. Play golf - Or, if you're not a golfer, at least visit St. Andrew's Old Course for the beautiful views. The course is closed to golfers on Sundays and is open to the public for walking on and picnics. The view of the sea is incredible and it's such a historic place that even a non-golfer has to appreciate it.