From the pistes of Aviemore to the chic boutiques of Edinburgh, Scotland is a place of dramatic contrasts and breathtaking natural beauty – and a perfect weekend break destination
When is the best time for a short break in Scotland?
The good thing about Scotland’s famously bad weather is that you can visit any time of the year without being disappointed if it rains! They say that you can enjoy all four seasons in one day in the Scottish Highlands – so just grab your plastic mac and head outdoors regardless – because there are few more stunning sites of natural beauty than you’ll find here, where loch meets river, meets ocean, and park meets forest, meets mountain.
Autumn in Scotland
Scotland’s wildlife comes into its own in the autumn. The nation’s stunning National Parks are populated with red deer, their antlers now nearly fully grown, while endearing grey seals bob about the islands off the western coast. Scotland is 20 per cent trees – that’s a lot of autumnal colour to enjoy on walks and weekend trips. Scottish produce is at its best at this time of the year, too – native Scottish oysters and succulent lamb should be at the top of your wish-list when reading menus.
Winter in Scotland
Edinburgh is the place to spend New Year’s Eve – or rather Hogmanay – thanks to its dazzling midnight fireworks and lively street parties. Something about Scottish towns and cities suits the winter months – whisky, woollens and open fires are what Scotland does best, and the perfect antidote to a day out exploring the elements! Winter is also the right time to hit the slopes, with Aviemore, Glencoe and Nevis all carpeted with snow, offering perfect winter-sports possibilities to skiers and boarders on the hunt for a weekend adrenaline rush.
Spring in Scotland
If you fancy taking a walking holiday in Scotland, spring-time is when it’s best to do it. Fantastic foliage combines with warmer temperatures to add stunning colour and contrast to Scotland’s already breathtaking landscapes. The sheer variety, from high rocky tors to lowland loch-side and heather-studded wilderness, stretching to the horizon, must be experienced for yourself – plus, there’s the chance to glimpse red squirrels, pine martens, deer herds and just maybe an eagle.
Summer in Scotland
What could be more Scottish than to see a Highland fling? The Highland Games take place throughout the summer, across the whole of the country. Expect hammer-throwing, caber-tossing, country dancing, tug o’ war, acres of tartan and more bagpipes than you could imagine… or possibly desire! In fact, the summer sees a festive feel spread throughout Scotland, climaxing in Edinburgh in August with its famous Fringe. There’s no atmosphere in the world like that on the streets of Scotland’s capital city at this time…
The beauty is that, while scheduled events on the main bill require tickets in advance, many Edinburgh Festival events are there for you to just rock up to as the whim takes you. All of the pubs and restaurants in the city will be jam-packed at this time – but that’s half the fun of it. And if you are in Edinburgh in August, you must plan your trip around the Military Tattoo – a spectacle of live music, pipes, drums and astonishing firework displays up at the Castle.
If you do get lucky with the weather, then Scotland’s beaches can be quite incredible – an August short break at the coast, or on one of the many extraordinary islands, will leave your friends thinking you holidayed somewhere more exotic when they see your photographs of powdery deserted beaches and turquoise water. Especially if you take a boat trip to get a snap of the dolphins that regularly dance in the Moray Firth.
What is there for a family to do in Scotland?
If your family are up for learning about art and history, then they’ll find plenty to satisfy their cultural cravings in Glasgow. A weekend in the city can easily be filled with edifying exploits at the GoMA or Kelvingrove galleries. Meanwhile, Edinburgh is your ideal destination for walking tours – often with a ghostly bent – and visits to sites of historical interest.
If the weather is good (or you don’t mind sporting a brolly) then the whole country is surrounded by great beaches and fantastic, rugged coastline – you can easily spend a weekend racing around the sands and then replenishing your energies at the many shoreside pubs. In fact, a trip to Scotland is wasted without taking advantage of either its coast or National Parks. Primary among these is the Cairngorms, which should be a Wonder of the World – twice the size of England’s Lake District, it boasts mountains, rivers, lochs, forests and little villages with charming inns and cottages. Your family can try almost every sport imaginable here – from skiing to windsurfing.
What’s the best way to travel to Scotland?
Scotland’s major cities, and many of its islands, have airports – but if time is not an issue, then the Caledonian Sleeper rail service can be a magical way to travel, with something of the Hogwarts Express about it. If you can afford a first-class sleeper carriage then as well as a bed you’ll get access to the lounge, where you can dine like Poirot… hopefully without an on-board murder-mystery!
So why not take a look at our hotels in Edinburgh and see what this country has to offer.