Five Must-Visit Historical Places in Scotland to Experience This Summer

Five Must-Visit Historical Places in Scotland to Experience This Summer


Scotland the brave, Scotland the beautiful, Scotland the best. Did you know that this epic wee country continues to be one of the most visited in the world? Whether you’re lucky enough to live in the ‘land of cakes’ or you’re arriving - bags in hand - for a short trip or lengthy getaway, there are a number of must-see sights to conquer during your stay.

With a history like no other place on the planet, these five ancient landmarks, as selected in Scotland the Best by Peter Irvine, should go to the top of your list during a visit to Scotland this summer.

Stirling Castle

Dominating town and plain, Stirling Castle is worth the hype and history - a timeless attraction that withstands the waves of tourism as it did the centuries of warfare for which it was built. It does seem a very civilised billet, with gorgeous frescoes, peaceful gardens and cannon-studded rampart walks from which the views are excellent, including the aerial view of the ghost outline of the King’s Knot Garden (the Cup and Saucer, as they’re known locally).

Elgin Cathedral

Set in a meadow by the river, a tranquil corner of this busy market town, are the scattered ruins and surrounding graveyard of what was once Scotland’s finest cathedral. The nasty Wolf of Badenoch burned it down in 1390, but there are some 13th century and medieval renewals. The octagonal chapterhouse is especially revered, but this is an impressive and evocative slice of history.

Skara Brae

It can be a windy walk to this remarkable shoreline site, the subterranean remains of a compact village 5,000 years old. It was engulfed by a sandstorm 600 years later and lay perfectly preserved until uncovered by the laird’s dog after another storm in 1850. Now it permits one of the most evocative glimpses of truly ancient times in the UK.

Rosslyn Chapel

Medieval but firmly on the world map because of The Da Vinci Code. Grail seekers have been coming forever but now a whole experience – chapel, tour, visitor centre, coffee and gift shop – is available. This place teems with tours in the summer yet there’s no doubting the atmosphere in this temple to the Templars, all holy, meaningful stuff, if somewhat over the heads of most. But it is a special place after its major restoration and is a working Episcopalian church.

Glasgow Necropolis

The vast burial ground at the crest of the ridge running down to the river was the focus of the original settlement of Glasgow. Everything began at the foot of this hill and, ultimately, ended at the top, where many of the city’s most famous (and infamous) sons and daughters are interred within the reach of the long shadow of John Knox’s obelisk. Generally open dawn till dusk, though most atmospheric if you can get this very Glaswegian experience to yourself (possibly best not alone, though there is CCTV).


Discover hundreds of unmissable historic sights and landmarks, secret beaches, unique accommodation, family attractions, and so much more in this revised and updated edition of Scotland the Best by Peter Irvine. This is the ultimate insider’s guide and must-have travel companion highlighting the very best Scotland has to offer. Buy your copy online and from all good bookshops.