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With nonstop flights to Edinburgh (EDI) now available thanks to a new Norwegian Air flight from the New York City area (SWF), Scotland is closer and more affordable than ever. One thing that keeps visitors coming to the city each year? Festivals. And while the Fringe and International Festivals, among others, are certainly worthy of your time and money, there’s so much more to this vibrant part of the country. Here are four things to add to your Scotland bucket list the next time you’re visiting Edinburgh.
1. Discover Edinburgh’s 101 Objects
2017 marks Visit Scotland‘s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and in collaboration with the tourism board’s theme, Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) has created a self-guided list of 101 Objects so you can explore the city’s literary, military, culinary (and sometimes colorful) past. Start at the EWH offices on Bakehouse Close, where you can learn about the Acheson House — what’s now the EWH headquarters was once a brothel affectionately known as the Cock and Trumpet, named after the Acheson family’s crest, of course. More than 75% of the 101 Objects are free to visit and city bus routes can be found on the website for planning purposes, with a few suggested itineraries listed here to get you started.
2. Visit a Nearby Classic Malt Distillery
After learning about Object 62 — the first-ever blended Scotch whisky — your palette will be well-prepped for your next adventure. And for the Scotch whisky drinker, there’s no better way to discover Scotland than to visit the 12 classic malt distilleries that represent its unique whisky-producing regions. Even if you aren’t a whisky drinker, a visit to a distillery or two will enlighten you as to how the ‘water of life’ has helped shape the history of the country.
While many distilleries can be quite a journey from the city center, Glenkinchie, a distillery celebrating its 180th anniversary this year, is just a 35-minute drive from Edinburgh. Here, you can explore the ground floor exhibition that details the history of the distillery and the surrounding Lowlands region, take a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the production area and end your visit with a flight in the bar. Prices vary depending on what you want to see, and if you’re tight on time, make sure you at least splurge on the 5 pounds (~$6) it costs — yup, that’s it! — for a sample of three generous pours of the local stuff.
3. Stroll (or Drive) the Fife Coastal Path
Across the River Forth from Edinburgh is the Kingdom of Fife, a beautiful region full of coastal towns where local artists thrive and fish ‘n chip shops rule. Along its waterways, the Fife Coastal Path stretches 117 miles, with eight digestible sections for those who desire to walk it in its entirety. If driving the coast is more your speed, you can still discover all the path has to offer, including the small fishing villages of Saint Monans and Crail, known for their pastel-colored homes and art galleries, as well as the storied college and golf town of St. Andrews. Dine on fish ‘n chips at the award-winning Anstruther Fish Bar in Ansrtuther — whether you sit-in or takeaway, don’t forget to douse your meal in “chippy sauce,” a special blend of vinegar and brown sauce that’ll earn you a nod from the locals.
4. Road Trip Along the North Coast 500
Also known as Scotland’s Route 66, the North Coast 500 is perfect for travelers who prefer the freedom to wander at their own pace. Established in 2015, the scenic route through the Highlands starts and ends in Inverness and covers 500 or so miles of northern Scotland. To explore the entirety of the trail takes between four and five days by car and whether you start by heading east or west, you’re guaranteed to discover breathtaking views in either direction. Start by visiting this website to plot the ultimate Scottish road trip based on the attractions you want to see, reviewing the suggested itineraries, or downloading the NC500 app for access to its interactive map. What’s ahead for those who discover the great Up North? White-sand beaches that rival the Caribbean, castles that aren’t overrun with tourists, lighthouses that illuminate majestic cliffside towns and limestone caves that dwell deep underground.
What are some of your favorite things to do in and around Edinburgh? Tell us about them, below.
Featured image courtesy of Jim Dean Photography.
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