Whether it’s your first or fifteenth visit to Scotland, it’s highly likely that you’re going to be doing things you’ve found easily online.
Edinburgh Castle. Loch Ness. A whisky distillery or two. There’s so much to see and do in Scotland that sights and attractions such as these (i.e., the most popular) are vast and varied, making it possible to only visit tourist hotspots time after time.
And as worthy of a visit as these places may be, Scotland has an absolute wealth of other attractions, many that are much less popular but just as fantastic, with the following five just a very, very (very!) small selection.
1. Argyll’s ‘Secret Coast’
A shining example of one of Scotland’s many hidden attractions, in a small corner of Argyll on the west coast is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the entire country.
Surrounded by Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute, the coast oozes beauty in every sense. From rolling hills that lend themselves to fairytales through to white beaches and crystal clear waters that appear to have been picked up from a tropical island many miles away, the area is very much one of wonder.
Remote and almost entirely unspoilt, the coastline is known for its mouthwatering seafood and selection of alcoholic drinks in the many local pubs – and of course, the friendly locals.
2. The Dunbar Tank Wreck
In World War II, a large part of the east coast was expected to be invaded by German troops located in Norway. Although it never happened, precautions were made because of the risk and you can still see some of the remnants today.
Located just west of Dunbar in the John Muir Country Park, one of the most notable remains is of a tank. Destroyed and potentially unidentifiable if you’re not a military fan, it’s a fantastic sight to behold when you realise how important it could have potentially been just a few decades ago.
3. The Northern Lights at the Ring of Brodgar
Whilst the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney is not that much of a ‘lesser known’ attraction, it’s what you can see from them that makes it worthy of a mention.
The Aurora Borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – are a stunning display of nature’s wonder in the sky, but most people believe that to see them in their full capacity they need to travel further afield – anywhere from eastern Canada to Iceland.
But they can be just as easily seen in all of their glory whilst standing right next to the Ring of Brodgar. In fact, many people suggest that the views are more spectacular here than elsewhere in the world.
4. Cairngorm’s Reindeer
When most think of reindeer, they think of Christmas. They think of snow and they think of faraway destinations where reindeer roam freely.
What they very rarely think of is Cairngorm National Park, where Great Britain’s only herd of free-ranging reindeer can be found.
With daily visits taking place to allow you to get up close and personal with the 150 reindeer that live in the area, it is worthwhile noting that you’re not always guaranteed to see huge numbers – the reindeer really are free to roam wherever they wish, so finding them isn’t always easy!
5. The Blantyre Carvings
For many years, much questioning took place over these pieces of art, carved into stone on a cliff face overlooking the River Clyde in South Lanarkshire. From stories of medieval origin, it was eventually discovered that they are in fact relatively new, mainly carried out in the mid-1950s.
But this in no way makes them any less fantastic.
Mainly religious carvings, they feature everything from a crucified figure through to an individual holding a cross and although there is some graffiti on the area today, they make for a wonderful visit, if not simply to say you have seen a part of Scotland that not many people know about.
With so much to see and do in Scotland, you could visit dozens of times and still only see the very tip of the iceberg. However, it really is strongly recommended you take the time to find out just what Scotland has to offer away from the most notable of attractions, as you might just be surprised at some of the sights that you unearth.
Matthew Bettoli writes for Cottages and Castles, who provide self-catering Perthshire accommodation.