Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and some of the world’s most revered fairways are found here. Cruises of this northern nation can bring you closer to St. Andrews, where golf was first played in 1400, or your own little slice of historical heaven.
Scotland is a beacon for heritage buffs. Some sightseeing tours might include a royal review of the country, touring castles and other landmarks of the English crown (including the queen’s private yacht, Britannia) in and around the capital. The Royal Mile is a must-see attraction in Edinburgh, anchored by the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Elizabeth II’s official Scottish residence, and Edinburgh Castle.
Other tours explore Scotland’s historic and, at most points, tragic pursuit of independence, including the Jacobite uprising led by the “Bonnie Prince,” Charles Edward Stuart, in the 18th century. Shore excursions also might highlight Scotland’s mystical side, stopping at spots known for its standing stones -- mysterious circles of rock much like England’s Stonehenge -- or Loch Ness, where reports of a strange underwater creature date to 565.
This also is an outdoorsman’s paradise, where long bike rides and wilderness hikes reach hidden lakes and rivers. Some visitors seek out fishing guides or a whitewater rafting expedition. For a shorter walk with easy access to museums and streetside cafes, try a walking tour of cities like Aberdeen or Inverness. In Edinburgh, literary pub tours will follow the inspirations of writers like Robert Burns and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and wet your whistle between attractions. And despite its reputation as the birthplace of haggis, Scotland also calls to gastronomes -- Glasgow is known for its annual food festival, and a celebrated whisky trail highlights the national drink.