Things to do in Scotland

Wild and majestic countryside combines with sophisticated cities to make Scotland the dream destination for an invigorating weekend break

Ogle at nature in Aberdeen

The Granite City is so called because of the glittery hunks of stone making up its distinctive old architecture, hewn from the surrounding countryside. It makes for a distinctively Scottish, brooding backdrop to this delightful little city. Make Aberdeen your base and you can see Scotland at its rawest and most beautiful in the surrounding coastline and parklands – the Cairngorms, Britain’s largest National Park, is a short drive away.

Scotland’s castle trail starts in Aberdeen – pack your walking boots and head off on a ramble of discovery that takes in stunning clifftops and historic ruins. You might not get the weather to sit on Aberdeen’s splendid sandy beach (recently upgraded with a huge deposit of new sands, to combat natural erosion, and so looking better than ever), but you can certainly amble across it to admire the view. And when you’ve taken in enough of the elements, you can head back to the city for some more urban charms – the buzzing cinema, restaurant and bar life provides the perfect contrast to those dramatic landscapes.

Take in Glasgow’s buzzing art scene

Glasgow is home to some spectacular galleries. These include Scotland’s most popular art museum of all, The Gallery of Modern Art. A handsome building in the centre of the city, it boasts an incredible collection that deserves at least an afternoon of your time. For serious enthusiasts, its library is probably the best art resource in Scotland, while its café is a great spot for rubbing shoulders with the scene’s resident bohemians.

For a wider scope. Head to Kelvingrove, where more than 8,000 exhibits span art history, from Salvador Dali masterpieces to an original Spitfire plane dangling from the ceiling. You can’t talk about Scottish art without giving a nod to the hugely influential and much-loved Charles Rennie Mackintosh – architect, designer, Art Nouveau pioneer. Visit the Hunterian Museum to see his Glaswegian home, which has been painstakingly restored and reconstructed on-site, with original interiors and furniture designed by the great man himself, to illustrate his very distinctive style… and give you major wallpaper envy.

Why not immerse yourself in some wildlife while you’re in Glasgow? SEA LIFE Loch Lomond aquarium, situated on the stunning shores of the loch, offers an immersive experience for all ages. Discover an amazing underwater world and take a fascinating journey from the shores of Loch Lomond to the depths of the world’s oceans! Journey through the Tropical Ocean Tunnel, where you can come face-to-fin with blacktip sharks, get up close to more than 1,500 creatures and see the largest collection of sharks in Scotland! For more info visit Travelodge guests enjoy an exclusive 40% discount for up to five people! Simply present your current Travelodge booking confirmation at the welcome desk.

Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Hit the slopes in Aviemore and beyond

Winter sports enthusiasts probably think a weekend break for them means a flight to Geneva or Grenoble. But Scotland has its very own ‘Alps’ in the shape of Aviemore – Cairngorm, Glencoe and Nevis are stunning resorts. The first of these features a super little funicular train line to the top, where you can dine in Scotland’s highest restaurant. Glencoe is a great destination for a mixed-abilities group – veterans of the slopes can challenge themselves to ‘The Flypaper’, the UK’s steepest black run, while newbies can practise falling over on the mountain’s large plateau. A new snow cannon keeps the terrain in perfect condition for sport, making Aviemore a respectable alternative to many of its European rivals.

Take a cultural trip to Edinburgh

It’s famous for its Fringe Festival – the high point of the year for any stage actor or comedian, both amateur and professional – but Edinburgh’s cultural appeal is not just for August. A short break in the Scottish capital is always a good idea. This stunning city is dramatic in every sense – the imposing castle casts its shadow and presence over the city, the streets slope suddenly upwards and back down, and the rich theatrical heritage is apparent in venerable institutions such as the Edinburgh Playhouse, the UK’s largest theatre.

A weekend break in Edinburgh should be built around taking advantage of its fabulous nightlife – and its sophisticated daylife, too. August or no, do try a play or a comedy performance. The Festival Theatre is a fabulous venue for prestigious ballet or opera year-round, while the Church Theatre, or ‘Churchy’, is the place to catch something a little more Fringe. Had your fill of the stage? The Royal Botanic Gardens are officially a centre for scientific plant life research, but double up as one of Edinburgh’s loveliest parks. Should the weather suit, it’s also just a short car journey to the nearest beach – a fabulous sandy bay called Cramond. Come on in – the water’s, well, admittedly freezing!

Go Nessie-hunting in Inverness

This compact city is perched near the sea in the north of Scotland, so expect the unexpected when it comes to the elements. But outdoorsy types will love being exposed to the River Ness and the stunning surrounding countryside of the Highlands. Take a drive to Loch Ness to see if you can spot Scotland’s most famous resident. Should Nessie somehow fail to show, however, you can content yourself with views of the largest freshwater lake in the UK – with more water than all the other lakes in England and Wales put together! But that’s not the only liquid to be found – this is whisky country, let us not forget. Glen Ord and Tomatin distilleries are both close by and love nothing more than showing off their methods and wares to those on a short Scottish break with a craving for a wee dram of the good stuff.