A cultured itinerary of creative Scotland

Scotland has a fantastic artistic and cultural heritage and there has never been a better time to explore this. Take a look at this special three-day itinerary with creative highlights which are guaranteed to inspire you on a visit to this fascinating country.

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  • The Douglas Dunn quote
    Edinburgh Castle lit up with a quote from Douglas Dunn's poem 'Disenchantments' © Chris Scott
  • An array of items, including mugs, vases and plates from Crail Pottery
    Crail Pottery
  • Exterior shot of the Glasgow School of Art lit up
    The Glasgow School of Art
  • The Animal World Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland
    The National Museum of Scotland

Start your creative tour in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, with a visit to the Writers’ Museum, just off the Royal Mile. This wonderful treasure trove includes manuscripts by some of Scotland’s best loved writers; Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Find out more about Sir Walter Scott, author of classics including Ivanhoe and Waverley, at the Scott Monument, the largest monument to a writer anywhere in the world. It may include climbing 287 steps, but the challenge is well worth the effort, with a fascinating museum on the way up and spectacular views over the city at the top.

Edinburgh is also ‘Europe’s festival capital’ and hosts over 10 international spectacles throughout the year, from film, jazz and blues, to literature and arts festivals. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, held each August, is the largest arts festival of its kind in the world. But whenever you visit, there are creative events to inspire you.

A good literary stop off point for a coffee or meal is The Elephant House on George IV Bridge, where Harry Potter author JK Rowling spent time writing the early novels in the hugely popular series.

On the nearby Chambers Street, the recently refurbished National Museum of Scotland has a fantastic collection of thousands of exhibits spread across 36 galleries, which can be enjoyed by all the family.

Art lovers are spoilt for choice and can enjoy a fabulous range of galleries and exhibitions, many within the city centre, such as the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen’s Street and the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound.

A great way to end the day is with Edinburgh’s wonderful Literary Pub Tour.

The short trip by rail or road to Glasgow offers a great opportunity to indulge in the creativity of Scotland’s largest city.

The art and design of celebrated Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh can be enjoyed throughout the city with a special tour of his work.

Start with a tour of the Glasgow School of Art, one of Mackintosh’s most iconic and influential works, which was built in the Art Noveau style between 1897 and 1909.

A short walk will take you onto Sauchiehall Street and the Willow Tea Rooms, where you can enjoy light refreshments. This is a stunning example of Mackintosh’s concept of total design. His distinctive, linear designs adorn everything from the fixtures and fittings to the cutlery and menus cards.

The Lighthouse, on Mitchell Lane just off nearby Buchanan Street, is one of Mackintosh’s earliest buildings and was originally designed as the Glasgow Herald newspaper offices. Now home to Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City, it includes a fascinating Mackintosh Interpretation Centre and the Mackintosh Tower, which offers wonderful views across Glasgow.

Other examples of Mackintosh’s work can be found at Scotland Street School Museum, The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian and a dedicated gallery at the brilliant Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, all situated in the south-side and west of the city.

Back in the city centre, complete your stay with a performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sauchiehall Street or the Glasgow City Halls and Old Fruitmarket on Candleriggs. There is a fantastic programme of events held throughout the year and as Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music, it hosts more than 100 musical performances across the city every week.

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a trip to the Fife coast, famed for its rich arts and craft heritage.

The delightful east coast of Fife is home to the annual East Neuk Festival in June, which attracts musicians from around the world.

The quaint fishing villages in the area are also home to many local art galleries and potteries, such as the Fisher Studio and Gallery in Pittenweem and Crail Pottery, where you can see the potters hard at work in their studios, and find out more about this fascinating tradition that has been handed down the generations. Find your own hidden gems and unique pieces of pottery in the many shops.

Nearby St Andrews was recently named one of Scotland’s Creative Places and also boasts many art galleries and craft shops. While in the area, stop off for a coffee and catch a show at the town’s Byre Theatre, which has a packed programme of events throughout the year.

Cross the Tay Bridge and you’ll be spoilt for choice with a trip to the vibrant city of Dundee, and a visit to the McManus Art Gallery and Museum, which hosts fascinating exhibitions and events. The city is also home to the Dundee Rep and Dundee Contemporary Arts which are renowned for their inspirational creativity.

A short drive from Dundee is Perth, Scotland’s newest city, which was granted city status in March 2012. Why not enjoy a performance at Perth Concert Hall or Perth Theatre which both boast a busy programme of events including music, comedy and theatre.

Find more information about arts and culture in Scotland.