Scotland is a land of great natural beauty, stunning historic sites, and an abundance of culture. Its cities are havens for arts, music, food and festivals, while the countryside, with its lakes, hills, and ruggedly beautiful highland areas, is attractive for nature-lovers, scenery seekers, and adventurers. For travelers, Scotland is a great destination for spending a few weeks, but it is also small enough for a weekend vacation. Whether you want a nature-themed experience in the Scottish Highlands or a cosmopolitan weekend in Edinburgh or Glasgow, there are plenty of options for travelers who want to enjoy a weekend break in Scotland.

Here is where to spend a weekend vacation in Scotland.

Exploring Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh

Photo: laszlo-photo / Flickr

This ancient and modern metropolis in Scotland’s densely populated “Central Belt” is an attractive urban destination because of its unique atmosphere, culture, and dining scene. From avant-garde arts festivals to live music venues to historic castles, this city has more than its share of worthwhile attractions. Visitors can spend one day in the Old Town, exploring sites like Edinburgh Castle, and then hit the art galleries and concert venues on the following day. Head to Edinburgh in August to enjoy the theater, performance and art fests that this city has become famous for.

A Weekend in Glasgow

Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow

Photo: o palsson / Flickr

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. A former industrial town, it is now known for its amazing culture, with historic architecture, art galleries, museums, and the highest concentration of music venues of anywhere in the United Kingdom. In short, if you have an appreciation for popular music or high-brow culture, a weekend in Glasgow will be very satisfying. With hundreds of music events happening, on average, each weekend, travelers who spend their Saturday and Sunday in Glasgow will surely find multiple worthwhile performances. During the days, people taking a weekend break in Scotland can indulge in some sightseeing, stopping by attractions like the amazing Glasgow Cathedral and the historic Glasgow Cross.

Scotch Whiskey Tour

Bruichladdich Distillery

Photo: M^3 / Flickr

Even people who have never even thought about setting foot in Scotland are familiar with the nation’s most prized export: Scotch whiskey. Distilled by well-respected labels that have been in operation for centuries, this drink draws tourists who have a passion for fine liquors and traditional distilling methods. Scotland is home to more than 100 distilleries, and nearly half of them provide tours and tastings to visitors regularly. Tourists can visit larger distilleries like the famous Glenfiddich Distillery, or they can plan to navigate their way through the countryside and visit some of the smaller family run distilleries.

A Weekend Driving Tour

Road in Scottish Countryside

Photo: bobsfever / Flickr

Scotland’s scenery and sparse population make it an ideal location for people who want to spend their weekend cruising down uncrowded country roads enjoying the views of forests, fields, mountains, lakes and valleys. There are routes through the Central Valleys and Highlands of Scotland that can be driven a two or three days, with plenty of time to stop to taste local food and culture and take photos of the amazing panoramas. If you want to take a couple of days to get a taste of all the things that make Scotland famous (its lochs, whiskey, art, music, small villages, mountains, and traditional culture), then driving through the countryside is your best option for seeing the most in the least amount of time.

A Lake Getaway

Loch Lomond

Photo: baaker2009 / Flickr

Some of Scotland’s best scenery can be seen along the shores of its highland lakes. Known as lochs, these bodies of water feature rugged shorelines and scenery. Some lochs have castles and historic buildings on their shores, creating an almost fairy-tale-like scene. These are not places to swim, but the scenery and the rustic feel make them popular destinations for weekend vacationers.

Staying in a Castle

Eileen Donan Castle

Photo: moron noodle / Flickr

Scotland’s castles are its most attractive feature. Many of these aged buildings have been renovated throughout the years and some have been converted into inns. Weekend visitors can spend a couple of days one of these historic structures. Some inn-castles date back to before the 16th Century, providing amazing atmosphere for guests. Scottish castle rooms range from basic affairs sitting on the shores of Highland lochs to luxurious country estates that provide all the comforts of a modern five-star hotel.

Want to add to this list of possible weekend breaks in Scotland? Provide your insights into travel in this beautiful country in the comments section below.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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