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    7 Places You Wouldn't Believe Are in Scotland

    By Meike van Krimpen, Content Editor
    More by Meike

    Surprising Scotland

    With people fantasising en-masse about exploring exotic destinations we thought we’d highlight to our UK visitors surprising spots you can find closer to home in Scotland, and to our international visitors, what treats await you here when it’s safe to travel again.

    Take a Day Trip to France and See Dunrobin Castle

     

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    Dunrobin Castle | Golspie, Highlands

    Dunrobin Castle is one of the most northerly great houses in Scotland. It was remodelled in the French Renaissance style which is both striking and uncommon in Scotland. The gardens were inspired by Versailles, and it’s easy to picture yourself strolling through one of France’s most iconic visitor destinations when you’re in them. Despite its northern latitude, the gardens are sheltered and lush. Visitors will be able to visit sections of the interior, the gardens, falconry and museum.

    Barradise, Barrahamas, Barrabados

    Isle of Barra | The Outer Hebrides

    The puns are endless but apt. Barra’s notoriously beautiful beaches look like they’ve been lifted straight out of the Caribbean. Characterised by their azure waters and white sands, a bit of a temperature difference stands between you and living your best beach life. You can get the ferry to Barra, or fly to the island to experience landing on what is rumoured to be the only tidal beach runway for scheduled flights in the world. If Barra is a bit too far-flung for you, most beaches in the Inner and Outer Hebrides are also pretty spectacular. Travel to Barra with us on an island-hopping road cycling adventure, a walking holiday to Uist, Barra & Mingulay or on a self-guided cycling tour.

    Stroll Along Scandinavian Waterfronts

     

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    Tobermory | Isle of Mull

    When thinking of Scandinavia, colourful harbour fronts may spring to mind, such as famous sites like Nyhaven Harbour in Copenhagen, Stockholm’s old town Gamla Stan and Bryggen in Bergen. You might imagine brightly-painted warehouses lining sunny quays, cobbled streets and fishing boats moored on the water. You can find sights like this dotted around Scotland if you know where to look! The most obvious is the picturesque town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, which is undeniably pretty. You can also get the Scandi vibes on Leith’s Shore in Edinburgh, Pittenweem Harbour in Fife and in Portree on Skye. Visit Mull as part of a wilderness trip on a self-guided cycling adventure to Skye & the Inner Hebrides, on a wildlife tour taking in Mull, Staffa & Iona or on a green-graded sea kayaking holiday.

    Culture and History in the Italian Chapel

     

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    The Italian Chapel | Orkney Isles

    A little bit of Italy….on Orkney. The last thing you’d expect in Orkney’s normal windswept and wild landscapes is an ornate Roman Catholic chapel, but there it is! The chapel’s pretty white facade fronts two joined Nissen huts. The Italian Chapel’s creation was a result of Italian prisoners being placed on Orkney during the second world war. Whilst the prisoners were set to work on building the Churchill Barriers at Scapa Flow, they requested a proper place of worship. The chapel is a testament to their ingenuity and creativity, as they were given limited resources and had to construct it outside of working hours. The prisoners recycled corned beef tins, ship parts and car parts to make lanterns, candlesticks and even the holy water stoup. One of the prisoners, Domenico Chiocchetti, was an artist, and his interior paintwork still stuns visitors today. The impressive murals and painted windows are all by his design. Experience the beauty for yourself on our winter walking trip to Orkney or on our summer walking holiday to the Orkney Islands.

    It's Called "Big Tree Country" For a Reason

     

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    Big Tree Country | Perthsire

    Ask any non-Scot what they’d associate with Scotland and I’d bet you it wouldn’t be trees. Scotland is known for its rugged but stark landscapes like the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye or the imposing scenery of Glencoe. It’s unsurprising really considering our ancient deforestation issues. However, tree growth is significantly on the up (pun intended) with dedicated tree planting and conservation efforts across the country. Nowhere is this as evident as in Perthshire, affectionately nicknamed Scotland’s “Big Tree Country”. The area is not only home to Scotland’s most dense forests but also to some of the oldest, largest and rarest trees across the whole of Europe. The Hermitage woodland walk is one of the best ways to sample Perthshire’s famous woodlands. We include Perthshire’s Big Tree Country on our Highland Perthshire self-drive adventure, and on our walking holiday to Glencoe & the Highlands.

    Giant's Causeway or Fingal's Cave?

    Fingal’s Cave | Isle of Staffa

    If Fingal’s Cave is not on your travel bucket list, then it should be! This atmospheric sea grotto is truly a sight to behold. It’s formed entirely out of hexagonal basalt columns, and visitors can walk into the mouth of the cave. It’s often compared and confused with the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland as they were formed in the same ancient lava flow, but Fingal’s Cave exists on a much smaller scale. It’s considerably harder for visitors to get to Fingal’s Cave, which in combination with its smaller size means it’s not as famous. Find out more about Fingal’s Cave here and experience it for yourself on our Mull, Staffa & Iona wildlife holiday or our Isle of Mull sea kayaking trip.

    Norwegian Fjords and Fairy Tale Castles

     

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    Loch Duich | Western Highlands

    This one is a bit cheeky because everyone will know of Eilean Donan Castle, its image being pretty much synonymous with Scotland itself! But would you be able to name where it is? Maybe not. It sits on Loch Duich – which is a jaw-droppingly beautiful loch that could easily be confused with a Norwegian fjord. Steep hills rise from the loch’s edge on either side, although both sides still allow for a road. The castle itself sits at a strategic point where Loch Duich meets Loch Alsh and Loch Long, and together they form a marine conservation area. We visit the castle on our walking holiday to the Outer Hebrides & Skye and will paddle on the loch itself on our sea kayaking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

    Other Places You Wouldn't Believe Are in Scotland...

    These are just some examples of places in Scotland you wouldn’t believe are in Scotland. You could also visit Marvel’s New Asgard with a day trip to the coastal village of St Abbs, enjoy French Riviera vibes at the palm tree lined waterfront of Plockton on the west coast or pretend you’re caving in Asia with a trip to Smoo Cave on the north coast. What hidden gems would you recommend?

    Meet the Author: Meike van Krimpen

    “Having grown up travelling across the world I’ve developed an addiction to all things spice and to travel! When it was time to go to university I wandered off to Scotland for a new adventure and have not managed to leave yet!”

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