Living in a big city can feel claustrophobic sometimes, and most of the time you don’t notice it until you get out away from it and smell the fresh air. Whether you live in Glasgow or Edinburgh, there are plenty of alternative destinations to the two big cities within only an hour or two drive, train or bus.
Situated right between Perth and the Cairngorms national park, Pitlochry is a Victorian-influenced town perfect for an outdoors break or simply a day out strolling in and out the main street’s various shops. I’ve been plenty of times, first camping on the outskirts of the town, staying in a farm house on the hills and then again on multiple stop offs on my way up to more northern territories. Each time I’ve been even more and more surprised at how much this little town can offer locals and tourists. It’s more than just a main street of bars, shops and restaurants.
The town is easily accessible by road, rail and bus, and has plenty to offer all year round (there’s even a shop dedicated to Christmas with its very own countdown!). To get involved in the town’s history, why not visit the Pitlochry & Moulin Heritage Centre or Blair Athol Museum. Or you could warm with a wee dram from the Blair Athol Distillery or Edradour Distillery.
If you’re more of an outdoors person, you could spend your time taking in local walks, cycle routes, fishing or water sports. For easy walkers or beginners try the Loch Dunmore route. Or if you would rather a challenge with exceptional views, why not try heading up Ben y Vrackie just north of the Pitlochry town.
Aberfoyle is one of my favourite day trips to make from Glasgow. It lies in the heart of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, and gives a great sense of wilderness without venturing too far from the city. It’s similar to Callander that it has that main street filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. One of my favourite things to do is to see duck and dog show at The Scottish Wool Centre which showcases a short demonstration of the sheepdog herding some utterly cute ducks.
Aberfoyle is the perfect gateway to start exploring the national park, with access to the likes of Loch Ard , Loch Chon, Loch Arklet, Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine all within close vicinity. Loch Ard is particularly great for water sports, whereas Loch Katrine offers a great scenic cruise and a flat cycling route around the water. Like most places in Scotland, you will be subject to amazing views no matter what you choose to do during your visit to Aberfoyle.
I feel like St Andrews is one of the places in Scotland that’s talked about but very rarely people actually go. It’s a beautiful coastal town in the East of Scotland (and North East of Edinburgh), probably most famous for being the place Prince William was educated. It’s also home to the award-winning chip shop Cromas – I can confirm their food is amazing!
St Andrews is the home of golf, and hosts one of the most famous links courses. If you’re not a golf fan, why not visit Scotland’s secret bunker, the St Andrews aquariam or the Scottish Deer Centre. Kingsbarn Distillery and Eden Mill Distillery are close by, where you can watch your favourite beer, gin or whisky being brewed/distilled.
It was only on a recent Sunday drive to Stirling that I realised how much there is to do in the city. If you’re a history buff, then Stirling should be one of your first stops. With Stirling Castle, The Wallace Monument and Bannockburn on every visitors to-do list, the city is steeped in good old patriotic Scottish history.
As well as with these main attractions, you will also find yourself transported back in time to gain a unique insight into the story of Scotland as a nation. Whether its the cobbled streets, medieval churches or renaissance buildings. The city is also right on the outskirts of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs so you will have the opportunity to get out of the city and into nature.
My earliest memory of Oban was going on a boat trip out on the Firth of Lorn to spot otters and seals when I was around 12 years old. It was probably the first time I remember thinking ‘wow I can’t believe this is actually in Scotland’. Oban is a great little town that has its own distillery, museum and plenty of opportunities to get out into the water and sport some wildlife. Oban is one on the places that just always smells like fresh air and salty sea water – my favourite!
The Isle of Mull is also just a short ferry ride away. The island offers a range of attractions, from pony trekking and cycling to wildlife spotting or beach walks. Oban’s port also gives you direct access to the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
ISLE OF ARRAN
Arran is a whole world in itself. Easily accessible from ferry from Ardrossan harbour, the island has everything you could possibly want from a trip. I’ve only every visited for a weekend break, but there is so much here to see and do that you could easily holiday here for longer. The island offers water sports, walking routes, wildlife spotting, brewery tours and plenty of first class restaurants to visit after a full-on day of exploring.
As well as the adventure side to the island, I love going to Arran to relax. They have some of the most amazing hotels and accommodation with top of the range luxury spas and swimming pools. To relax further, take a walk along the beach or go for a guided tour of the island with amazing sunset and sunrise views on one of the islands beauty spots.
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