Scotland was made for a romantic vacation. There are mysterious lochs that shimmer in the sun. Edinburgh Castle, standing firm for almost 1,000 years, has seen kings, queens, heroes, villains, pirates, and parties come and go. People have inhabited this area, home of the Stone of Destiny, since the Iron Age. The Wild Highlands and Islands invite you to become legendary—here are five of our favorite places for a Scottish fling.
The Trossachs and Loch Lomond
This part of the southern Highlands is the epicenter of romance. There are glens shimmering in light. Small hills to climb that are superb for picnics and rugged mountains that stare down time. The villages east of Loch Lomond are cozy places to explore. There are local crafts to admire, and we suggest you dip into a local pub and enjoy a whisky in the afternoon. Loch Lomond is, of course, mythic. Cruise the waters with a glass of champagne and be glad for the romance that is the Highlands.
Callanish Standing Stones
This stone circle, at least 4,500 years old, defines romance. They are a mystery. They hold secrets that are out-of-time. Used during the Bronze Age for rituals, it’s impossible to visit without your imagination taking flight about those who lived here. If you watched the series Outlander, you’ll recognize them as the stones Claire touches to travel through time. This circle is on Lewis Island. Drive its Golden Road and lose yourself in the scenery. There are white sand beaches at Luskentyre, and the water is tropical turquoise. You’ll understand exactly why people chose to live on this small piece of Scottish paradise.
Originally called “stronghold of Eidyn,” this castle gave Edinburgh her name. She has stood over the city for almost 1,000 years. Kings, queens, soldiers, generals, and a few spare pirates have lived here. It was also a great place for parties; one medieval banquet lasted for an entire year before the soldiers went off to battle. Looking above the door to the Royal Palace, you’ll see the initials of Mary, Queen of Scots—she gave birth to her son, James VI, in this castle. The Stone of Destiny, used to crown Scot Royalty for decades, is next to the crown jewels. Be still, and you will feel the passions of those long gone.
The Isle of Skye
When it’s time to unwind and turn off your busy lives, we suggest the Isle of Skye. Largest of the Inner Hebrides, Skye is infused with the mystery of prehistoric sites and of ancient Dunvegan castle with its 1,000-year-old Fairy Flag. Go on a seal boat trip, have a picnic, collect green, sky blue, and purple agates as a golden eagle soars above. Explore remote craft villages and find something unique to take home with you. In the evening, savor local fresh food. Ancient rituals still take place on Skye—you might be lucky enough to encounter one. Enchantment and romance are very much alive on Skye.
Scotch Whisky on the Speyside Trail
Whether the whisky is a toast to each other, a warm-up when you’re chilly, or a drink to get up your courage, good Scotch is a pure pleasure. From the Gaelic, uisge beatha, the words translate as ‘water of life.’ Imagine whisky straight from the cask, the art of barrel making, a highland safari, tastings and exquisite dining on lakesides, mountaintops, and a castle. You can learn to make a small barrel yourself while enjoying a dram of the cooperage’s private single malt. We think of Scotch whisky as liquid romance.