Scotland is home to a whole host of foodie experiences that will get your taste buds tingling. From tasting a genuine Arbroath Smokie, to eating fish and chips or other street food in an idyllic location, there are plenty of amazing experiences you can have up and down the country.
Here are just a few suggestions we know you’ll love…
1. Delve into Scotland’s Traditional Dishes
Haggis Neeps n’ Tatties
Nourishing and oh-so-satisfying, haggis, neeps n’ tatties is a Scottish staple that usually tops the list of traditional Scottish foods. Think of haggis as pudding of oats, minced meats and spices. Traditionally concocted from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, the recipe is usually infused with minced onions and suet before cooking. There are as many variations of haggis as there are palettes, but is universally agreed that this is a dish best enjoyed with a generous helping of mashed turnip (neeps), and potato (tatties) on the side, with a dram of the finest single malt whisky. You can try haggis in a range of dishes and across the country in many cafés and restaurants. Or why not buy some delicious haggis from a local butcher and make your own haggis, neeps and tatties dish?
Interested in Scotland’s other traditional foods? Find the answers with our Frequently Asked Questions about Scottish food and drink.
The king of Scottish desserts, cranachan is traditionally made with crowdie, a soft crumbly Scottish cheese, mixed with cream, oats, a dash of whisky and ripe raspberries and finally, drizzled with honey. Typically served in a glass, it is best described as a Highland twist on the Eton Mess, with oats taking the place of the meringue. It is also a lovely alternative – if not improvement – on the trifle.
2. Try some succulent seafood gems
Succulent, nourishing and bursting with rarefied flavour, Scotland’s seafood enjoys a sparkling reputation across the world. Harvested from the waters along the west coast, Scottish oysters are in season all year round, and are often enjoyed with a chilled glass of dry white wine.
You could say our smoked salmon is simply world class, and is a common starter on most Scottish restaurant menus. Freshly caught and hand filleted, traditional smoke houses use time-honoured methods to slowly ‘smoke’ the fish and give it its signature silky texture and taste. Donaldsons of Orkney have won awards for their delicious hot smoked salmon while Jolly’s of Orkney use a wide variety of different smoking methods and flavourings. Treat yourself to their Highland Park Whisky Smoked Salmon for an authentic taste of Orkney.
If you’ve already tried an Arbroath Smokie you’ll know there’s nothing quite like it. If not, you have a treat waiting for you! An Arbroath Smokie is a fresh haddock, smoked over a hardwood fire. The flakes of fish melt in your mouth and are packed with delicious savoury flavours, along with a subtle smokiness. Eat with warm bread or flaked over a salad for a quick, tasty and healthy meal.
Explore some of the Best Seafood Shacks in Scotland.
3. Let someone else do the cooking and head to a prestigious restaurant
Treat yourself to a luxurious break at the Gleneagles Hotel and indulge in one of the many fantastic restaurants, including Andrew Fairlie’s exquisite two Michelin-star restaurant, and the Strathearn, awarded two AA rosettes. The hotel’s decadent afternoon tea is also a refined treat, boasting three tiers of scrumptious sweet and savoury treats.
In Edinburgh, Thistle Street is quickly becoming one of the most famous ‘hidden gems’ in Edinburgh. The street is bursting with boutique shops, trendy bars and high-quality restaurants. Pop into European inspired The Bon Vivant for a delicious meal or head to El Cartel for some late-night Mexican food in an atmospheric surrounding.
Head to the stunning Isle of Harris to enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner in the beautiful Temple Café at Northton. Reminiscent of an ancient temple, the building is made of stone with stunning views out over the beach. Enjoy tasty coffee and freshly baked cakes or opt for a meal including pizza and an ever-changing specials board.
Why not head to one of Scotland’s 10 Michelin Star restaurants?
4. Tuck in to a hearty full Scottish breakfast
Nothing sets you up for the day or restores after a lively night out like a full Scottish breakfast. What sets it apart from a full English? The answer is black pudding, lorne sausage, and tattie scones. Haggis is sometimes thrown into the mix, as is white pudding which is just like black pudding but made with fat rather than blood. Scottish breakfasts can be found in most cafés, restaurants and independent food stops across the country, from popular high street locations to scenic countryside settings.
Ayrshire is famous for its sausage offering and they don’t come much tastier than a sizzling slice of lorne sausage, made from prime Scottish beef, or a couple of juicy link sausages, made from the finest Scottish pork.
5. Cool down with some Scottish ice cream
When the weather heats up, it’s the perfect time to indulge in a sweet frozen treat. Luckily, Scotland is home to many traditional ice cream parlours as well as more modern and independent establishments where you can satisfy your cravings. To name a few; family-run chain Nardini’s whose rich and intensely flavoured recipes have remained unchanged since the 1930s, Jannetta’s Gelateria in St Andrews which employs Italian-imported ingredients to create uniquely Scottish flavours including Scottish tablet and Irn-Bru sorbet, and the tiny Mary’s Milk Bar in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket where whisky and ginger, and peanut butter and cinnamon are just some of the weird and wonderful flavour combinations on offer.
6. Go wild trying local produce
Partial to a bit of wild game? Then Scotland is the place for you. Grouse, wild hare, pheasant, and venison all thrive here thanks to Scotland’s unique climate and terrain, and often form the signature ingredient in dishes that restaurants pride themselves on. Slowly cooked and infused with seasonal ingredients, wild reared meat should be savoured during the autumn and winter months when it is at its most tender and delicious.
Or why not experience the natural sweetness of Scottish produce with an afternoon of berry picking? Scotland’s long daylight hours in the summer are ideal for growing berries, as it helps them to ripen with plenty of flavour. Grab your boots and take a refreshing walk in the countryside, and you might find a juicy treat waiting for you in the hedgerows along the way too. If you want to get your hands on more locally sourced as well as organic food and drink, visit one of the farmers’ markets held regularly around the country.
7. Vegan Delights
In 2013, PETA voted Glasgow as the Most Vegan-Friendly City in the UK, with over 20 vegan and vegetarian-friendly cafés and restaurants across the city that offer incredible meat-free and plant-based dishes for you to try. Soul Food Kitchen in Glasgow is just one of the increasing number of Scottish restaurants across the country to offer diners a rich and varied vegan menu. Elsewhere in Scotland, the Ellishadder Art Café on the Isle of Skye is a quaint little painting studio which boasts delightful homemade food made from ingredients grown in their garden as well as being locally sourced. Head to Fort William where the cosy Wildcat Café offers a range of vegan-friendly dishes, as well as boasts an array of ethical, organic and plastic-free goods. As you’ll soon discover, Scotland’s vegan fare is inventive, healthy and, most importantly of all, delicious!
8. Enjoy a dram of your favourite tipple
Whether your preference is beer or whisky, Scotland is packed with places to sample the best of both. Head to BrewDog in Glasgow and enjoy a taste of their famous craft beers or pop over to the Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw, and browse their extensive collection of over 1,300 whiskies, featuring bottles from all five of Scotland’s whisky regions. In May, why not join in with Whisky Month? This annual festival sees a wealth of whisky tours, tastings, events and get-togethers, or why not host your own? All you need is a bottle of whisky to share with your friends. Breweries are popping up all over Scotland, so why not take a trip to see how your favourites beers are made and all the behind-the-scenes delicate processes.
9. Why not try something a wee bit different?
Created to serve Aberdeen’s growing fishing industry in the 19th century, the Aberdeen buttery – also known as an Aberdeen rowie – is a deliciously salty bread roll, often eaten for breakfast with butter and jam. Have a taste at John Davidsons butchery in Inverurie.
With over 50 food and drink outlets it’s easy to see why Castle Douglas has gained a reputation as a fantastic ‘Food Town’. Pop in to Sulwath Brewery to see how they craft their bespoke ales, browse local delis and restaurants for a delicious bite to eat, or enjoy a trip to the marvellous Cream o’ Galloway, just outside the town. With a huge range of animals to meet and some of the most delicious ice cream in the country to sample, it would be easy to spend a whole day at this wonderful visitor centre.