This article originally appeared on PEDESTRIAN. TV and was scribed by travel-thirsty editor Lucinda Price.
Scotland is famous for crumbling castles, thunderous bagpipes and kilts worn commando-style. And now, the Great British land is famous for one more thing: being voted the world’s most beautiful country.
A readers’ poll by travel company Rough Guides have counted the top twenty most picturesque places in the world and Scotland has come out on top thanks to their their wild, wooly beaches and deep lochs. (I’d say Outlander probably helped, too.)
Tragically, ‘Straya didn’t make the cut – all the more reason to hot foot outta here and visit Europe, no?
Here are 5 of Scotland’s most stunning bits to get acquainted with.
1. The Whahligoe Steps
Kicking this off with a favourite for fitness freaks the world over is The Whaligoe Steps.
It’s a man-made stairway of 365 steps that descend to what was a naturally formed harbour between two sea cliffs, once a landing place for fishing boats. The steps are located just south of the town of Wick in Caithness on Scotland’s most northeasterly coast.
Expect an abundance of wild flowers, friendly seabirds and thick fog on your visit.
2. Edinburgh’s Old Town
These days (from a pop culture perspective at least), Edinburgh is probably most famous for it’s annual comedy festival. But the city is steeped in history, nowhere more so than Old Town.
The town is tiny, only around 1.6km long by 300m wide, and yet it represents the total extent of the twin burghs in Edinburgh and Canongate for the first 650 years of their existence.
As a result, the town is still magically medieval and can easily be navigated in just one day. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat are must-visits.
3. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Scotland’s known for its stunning castles and medieval architecture and Holyrood Palace is no exception.
Located in Old Town, the imposing compound has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century. The British monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II, lives there when she visits.
You can take a tour of the castle and pop into The Queen’s Gallery for an art fix while you’re there.
4. Calgary Bay
You might recognise Calgary as the name of a Bon Iver track, but it’s much, much more.
Located in the Isle of Mule, Calgary Bay is a surprisingly sandy white shell beach surrounded by rolling green hills.
Sure, there’s probably not a time during the year when it’d be warm enough to swim, but it’s worth the trek for the Insta pics. It’s as picturesque as they come.
5. Hadrian’s Wall
While some of today’s prominent world leaders talk a lot about building walls, our ancestors literally did build them… and some are still standing.
One of those is Hadrian’s Wall, also known as the Roman Wall, which was built around AD 122 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian to fortify the Roman province of Britannia.
It’s a seriously epic World Heritage Site, marching roughly 117km from sea to sea across some of the wildest and most dramatic countryside in the UK. Bloody beautiful.