Scotland's Cities Insider Tips

A couple gaze out over Edinburgh from Calton Hill
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Finlay MacDonald - Head of Piping Studies

I’m Finlay, and I work at the Centre of Piping Studies in Glasgow. My world revolves around the bagpipes; I spend most of my time travelling the world performing with my bagpipes at events, and I also organise the Piping Live festival in Glasgow every year. One of the most unusual places I have played is on the Great Wall of China! I love teaching the bagpipes also, working with creative people, inspiring them and helping them to develop further is just great.

Finlay MacDonald
Food for thought in the Merchant City
Merchant City, Glasgow

Countless pubs, bars and restaurants can be found here, for example Babbity Bowster's, Bar 91 and The City Merchant. The Café Gandolfi has special furniture designed by Tim Clarke, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art. And the delicious Scottish soup isn't bad either!

Celtic Art Nouveau
Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow School of Art was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Glaswegian artist and designer who developed a whole new style combining Art Nouveau with Celtic influences of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. His work has defined the entire city right up to today. In the Willow Tea Room, you can see a great example of his interior design with a tea and a piece of cake!

Glasgow - Scotland with style
George Square, Glasgow

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is Glasgow's most famous designer, combining Art Nouveau with Celtic influences. To see how he translated his vision, take a trip out of town and visit his Hill House in Helensburgh. "Simply stunning!" says Finlay.

Kelvingrove, a Victorian treasure
Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow

The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in the centre of Glasgow is a real jewel that simply has to be visited. This beautiful building contains 22 different dedicated themes, state-of-the-art galleries in which 8000 stunning exhibits are presented. In addition, there are cafes and boutiques in which to take in the mesmerising beauty of this Victorian treasure.

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Relaxing at Offshore Cafe

In Glasgow's Gibson Street, near the city's university, is the delightfully laid-back Offshore Cafe. You immediately feel at home here and can enjoy great coffee, homemade pastries and organic soups and delicious sandwiches. There is also free Wi-Fi and a heap of newspapers and magazines - the perfect setting to laze around on a Sunday morning!

Tony Singh - Renowned chef

Tony's idea of ​​food is actually quite simple. "It's there to enjoy and share." At 16, Tony started his career as a chef in a pub. Later he cooked on board the Royal Scotsman luxury train and the Royal Yacht Britannia, after it anchored as a visitor attraction and exclusive venue in Edinburgh's port. Tony has co-owned several restaurants in Edinburgh and remains active in the media, presenting a delicious blend of Indian Sikh tradition and proud Scottish personality.

Tony Singh
Stockbridge, a village in the city

For a shopping experience out of the ordinary, away from major retailers, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, is the ideal destination. There is a village atmosphere, just fifteen minutes walk from the city centre. Stockbridge is located north of New Town, along the Water of Leith and just a few minutes from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

Sunset over the city
Calton Hill, Edinburgh

For stunning views of the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Tony suggests that "Calton Hill is the best place for fantastic sunsets and sunrises".

Edinburgh's tranquil Chinese Garden
Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

For anyone who wants a break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Tony has a recommendation: "The Chinese Garden in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is perfect for a couple of free hours of peace and quiet."

William Kay - Concierge, Prestonfield House Hotel

I’m William, and I work at the Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh. The hotel is a cosy, romantic retreat and we welcome plenty of couples who come here to spend a romantic weekend in Edinburgh. I am more than happy to help you make your trip to Scotland memorable, forget the guide books! At Prestonfield we can recommend all the best restaurants for a candlelit dinner, the best walks and the best shopping. All the ingredients for a great time with your loved one.

William Kay
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

William is a concierge of the luxurious Prestonfield House Hotel (Edinburgh). He is in love with his city: "I find the architecture fascinating, with its style of the novel Jeckyll & Hyde."

Spooky Edinburgh!

“Ghost tours” of the medieval old town are really guaranteed to give you goosebumps. "I have taken part in these tours many times in Edinburgh but they still make me shudder with their sinister legends and great storytellers."

Hidden gem within St. Giles Cathedral

At the heart of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile, is the Thistle Chapel (Chapel of the Thistle) of the St. Giles Cathedral, one of William’s favorite places. "The carved oak and beautiful stained glass make this chapel a magical place, especially when the sun shines."

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Julie Trevisan Hunter - Whisky expert

For Julie, the 'water of life' is her life. Julie is one of a select circle; a Keeper of the Quaich. The title honours those who have made ​​an outstanding contribution to the international marketing of Scotch whisky. Julie began her career as a guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh's Royal Mile and today she is the Marketing Manager of the 5-star visitor attraction which, with 3500 different bottles, houses the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky. Julie sees this variety as being the secret to the success of the Scottish national drink. "Everybody is different, but there is something in Scotch whisky that appeals to us all."

Julie Trevisan-Hunter
The view from Arthur's Seat
Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Climb the extinct volcano of Arthur's Seat to view the Queen's Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. From the top you can see many narrow streets containing lots of small boutiques where you can buy Scottish gifts after you hike!"

Discover the Water of Leith
The Shore, Leith

"The Water of Leith" runs right through Edinburgh. Its source sits in the Pentland Hills and flows through the city, forming a green swathe of forest, parks and valleys. Historicly connecting the small villages that now form part of modern day Edinburgh, this waterway retains charming detail with its historic buildings and bridges.

Howie Nicholsby - Contemporary kilt designer

I’m Howie, owner of 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh. Kiltmaking has run in my family for three generations – when I started 21st Century Kilts when I was 18, I knew I had found my calling! My kilts all have a contemporary feel, while still respecting the traditions of kiltmaking handed down from my father. I live in Edinburgh – I really love this city as it has a really international feel, and during the festivals it can feel like the most popular place on the planet! It’s great to be a part of it all.

Howie Nicholsby
Winter Wonderland Edinburgh
Edinburgh winter wonderland

December is one of Howie's favourite months. "Edinburgh is definitely the best place in December. We have one huge party here," he explains. To view of all the attractions, the kilt designer recommends a ride on the Ferris wheel, which is close to the Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens.

Caroline Warburton - Wildlife Expert

I'm Caroline, I am an expert in Scottish wildlife. I love the outdoors, and protecting the environment is close to my heart. My passion all started when I started working on the Isle of Mull as a guide on a whale-watching boat, and it grew from there! I worked in wildlife tourism in Scotland for over a decade so I feel incredibly blessed to have made Scotland's nature and wildlife my day to day occupation. I love nothing better than to go off on a wildlife expedition, I always learn something new!

Caroline Warburton
Scottish Seabird Centre
Scottish Seabird Centre near Edinburgh

Bass Rock is a 140m high rocky islet at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, less than 40 minutes from Edinburgh. It is home to 100,000 gannets, Britain's largest seabirds, and is the largest gannet colony in the world. Take a boat trip from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. With a little luck you'll be able to see gannets diving like torpedoes for food. A perfect day out from the city!

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Stevie Christie - Owner of Wilderness Scotland

Stevie lives in the Highlands where the great outdoors is on his doorstep. Stevie's company Wilderness Scotland is an award-winning tour operator which specialises in unforgettable outdoor experiences. Opportunities to explore Scotland's unspoilt nature are as diverse as the Scottish landscapes. You can hike, bike or explore the coast in a kayak, take the Munro challenge (282 Scottish mountains that are over 3,000ft high) or simply take a relaxing walk along a lochside. When asked for his recommendations for a short break in Scotland, Stevie's answer is quite simple: "Change your plans and stay longer!"

Stevie Christie
Edinburgh jam sessions
Live music in Edinburgh's bars

When staying in Stevie's hometown of Edinburgh, pubs are the perfect place to mingle with the locals. "The best thing to do is to look for a pub which hosts folk music evenings, so you also get to know about traditional music - and I don't mean bagpipes. Anyone who plays guitar or violin will quickly make new friends," explains Stevie.

Gary Forbes - Professional golfer

Gary is a lucky man. He has turned his hobby into a career and is the club pro at Murcar Links, a championship standard golf course north of Aberdeen. Here he gives lessons, sells golf products and takes care of the members as well as visitors from around the world. They come in droves to meet the challenge of the picturesque but by no means easy-to-play course. Gary recognises his fortune in being able to go to the same place both for work and leisure, but Gary is far from resting on his laurels. "It is impossible to be satisfied with your own play when your toughest opponent awaits you in the bathroom mirror every morning."

Gary Forbes
Spectacular views at Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Just 20 miles from Aberdeen, remote Dunnottar Castle is one of the most beautiful and most daunting castle ruins in Scotland - impressive enough to be selected as the backdrop for Zeffirelli's film "Hamlet." Explore the former main stronghold of Scotland's north east and to be impressed by the magnificent views of the tumultuous sea.

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