11 Reasons Why You Should Visit Scotland In 2024
Where else can you be part of a world championship, experience 900 years of history and top it all off with a glass of authentic Scottish whisky?
This country has so much to offer, but here are some of our top reasons to visit Scotland in 2024.
Scotland is a great place to visit any time of year, but there’s something quite magical about crisp winter days and starry nights. We’re well-known for our Hogmanay celebrations, so why not ring in the new year with epic fireworks, spectacular light displays and world-renowned fire festivals? But it doesn’t stop there! The darker nights provide the perfect backdrop for stargazing and even the chance to see the Northern Lights. Here are just a few highlights to add a bit of light to those darker months:
- Hogmanay – celebrate like a local and join in our New Year celebrations
- Up Helly Aa – connect with Viking history at Shetland’s annual fire festivals, running from January to March
- Hebridean Dark Sky Festival – soak up the wonder of the night sky on the islands
- Dark sky parks and stargazing – winter in Scotland is the best time for stargazing
- Northern Lights – will you be lucky enough to see this elusive phenomenon?
2024 marks the 750th anniversary of the birth of Robert the Bruce, one of Scotland’s most famous rulers. The king who fought for Scottish independence in the 14th century travelled all over the country, so there are plenty of spots to connect with his story and continued influence in this landmark year. Make sure to add some of these to your list!
- Stirling – discover the history of Stirling Castle and the nearby site of the Battle of Bannockburn, a landmark battle in Robert the Bruce’s campaign. It’s also the 900th anniversary of the Royal Borough of Stirling in 2024, so there’s no better time to visit.
- Dunfermline Abbey – this stunning abbey is also the site where Robert the Bruce is buried, along with other significant Scottish monarchs from history.
- Melrose Abbey – Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders is supposed to be where Robert the Bruce's heart is interred.
- Arbroath Abbey – take a trip to the coast to see the atmospheric abbey ruins where the famous Declaration of Arbroath was drawn up.
If you’re looking for places to visit in Scotland, the north Highlands isn’t a bad place to start. With rugged landscapes and engaging history, it’s no surprise that Caithness and Sutherland have been listed in Lonely Planet’s Top Destinations of 2024. The vast region makes up the northern Highlands area of Scotland, where there are plenty of signs of its Viking heritage, unique wildlife and stunning Flow Country. The Flow Country is in the running to become the UK’s next natural UNESCO World Heritage site, so there’s no better time to visit and find out more about the vital role it plays in our defense against the effects of climate change.
Another must-visit destination to add to your list is Galloway and Southern Ayrshire who were recently named by National Geographic on their Cool List for 2024 as one of the most exciting places to visit in 2024. It is home to Scotland's first UNESCO Biosphere reserve and has been granted 10 years of protection by the organisation.
This year is set to be the best yet to sample some of our most famous spirits! Scotland’s rugged landscapes, varied botanicals, natural produce and history of distilling mean there are plenty of places across the country to enjoy our hand-crafted whiskies and gin. Complete your holiday to Scotland in 2024 with a trip to a distillery:
- Port of Leith Distillery – situated in Leith, one of Edinburgh’s coolest neighbourhoods, this vertical distillery opened in late 2023 and has some pretty unbeatable views across the Firth of Forth.
- Rosebank Distillery – this Falkirk-based whisky distillery is ideal for those looking for a luxury, authentic experience.
- Portintruan Distillery – part of the Elixir family of distillers, their latest distillery is due to open on Islay’s south coast in 2024.
- Eden Mill Distillery – the St Andrews-based distillers will be opening their new premises overlooking the estuary and St Andrews skyline.
- Harris Distillery – famous for delicious gin and their glass-blown bottles, Harris Distillery has launched their highly anticipated whisky, The Hearach.
This year is going to be packed with events taking place across the country, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow. There are very few tickets left for the event so make sure to book now to avoid disappointment! Other big events in Scotland this year include:
- National Cyclo-cross Championships – Callendar Park in Falkirk is hosting a weekend of cycling taking place in January, the first time they've ever been hosted in Scotland!
- World Irish Dance Championships – yes, you read that right. Scotland is hosting the World Irish Dance Championships in 2024, they’ll be taking place at the SEC in Glasgow in March.
- The 152nd Open, Royal Troon – visit this historic course as it hosts its 10th Open in July.
- Sprint World Orienteering Championships – grab your compass and head through to Edinburgh in July for this programme of exciting orienteering events.
- Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – for the first time in its history, the Clipper Race will stop in Scotland in July during its 2024 edition, in Oban.
- The AIG Women’s Open – enjoy the Women’s Open taking place in St Andrews in August.
Disney celebrates its 100th year in 2024, but did you know there are plenty of Disney connections in Scotland? Most famous is the pastel pink Craigievar Castle, which reopens in 2024 and is thought to be the inspiration for the iconic Disney castle.
Although it’s animated, Disney’s Brave features many real-life Scottish locations, from Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire to the Calanais Standing Stones in the Hebrides.
If you’re looking for a more cultured 2024, then Scotland is the place to be. We’re well-known for our fascinating history, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of newly refurbished museums and galleries reopening to the public this year to add to your list:
- Perth Museum – opens on Easter weekend 2024 (29 - 31 March) after a huge redevelopment of the historic Perth City Hall. It will be be the permanent new home of the Stone of Destiny.
- Scottish National Gallery – the refurbished Scottish Wing of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh is free to visit and reopened at the end of 2023.
- Paisley Museum – after a £45 million investment, Paisley Museum is a world-class museum space, featuring the famous Paisley textiles.
- Kilmartin Museum – recently reopened, explore the museum which is packed full of ancient artefacts from burial sites close by.
- Citizens Theatre Glasgow – work is underway to transform this iconic Victorian building in the Gorbals area of Glasgow this year.
- Ruthwell Savings Bank Museum – the site of the world’s first saving bank will reopen to visitors in Dumfries & Galloway in 2024.
Scotland was awarded not one, but two new Michelin star restaurants in 2023, which should be on any foodie’s list to try:
- Timberyard – nestled in the heart of Edinburgh, Timberyard is run by Head Chef Jimmy Murray and is the perfect spot for those looking for exceptional dining in stylish but cosy surroundings.
- Heron – based in Leith, the team at Heron showcase Scotland’s best natural produce in a Scandi-inspired environment.
These are just the latest to receive a Michelin star – we're lucky to have Michelin restaurants across the country so make sure you check out the full list.
Scottish landscapes feature unspoiled coastlines, fresh rivers and rich sealife, so why not plan a water-based experience when you visit? There are some incredible new facilities and trails to try in 2024:
- Lost Shore Surf Resort – come and visit Europe’s largest inland surfing destination when it opens in September 2024! Based just outside of Edinburgh, it will be capable of generating up to 1,000 waves per hour and be set within a country park with luxury accommodation, food, shopping and even a wellness spa.
- Isle of Arran Snorkel Trail – see Scotland like never before with this award-winning snorkel trail for your chance to spot anything from sponges and anemones to dolphins and whales!
- Tweed Valley Canoe Trail - launching in spring 2024, the first official canoe trail in the south of Scotland covers a 30-mile stretch of the majestic River Tweed.
Start 2024 as you mean to go on, by slowing down to soak up some of Scotland’s finest luxury hotels. One of Scotland’s most famous hotels, The Gleneagles in Perthshire, is celebrating its 100th anniversary, but there are also some new kids on the block to try:
- Dornoch Station – part of the Marine and Lawn chain, this old hotel has been tastefully restored. It’s the ideal spot for fans of golf, only a few steps away from the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.
- Harestone Moss Treehouse – escape the everyday with this luxury hideaway in the Aberdeenshire countryside. Complete with fire pits, underfloor heating and hot tubs (of course), it’s a great example of eco luxury.
- 100 Princes Street – due to open in 2024, be amongst the first to savour this boutique hotel full of character in the centre of Edinburgh.
- The Address – this design-driven hotel in the heart of Glasgow opened at the end of 2023. Its great location and townhouse façade are matched with craft dining, using sustainable, local produce.
Keep active this year with some stunning cycling trails across Scotland. It’s a really unique way to explore the country and our engaging landscapes.
- Round the Forth – this long-distance cycling route is launching in January 2024, just in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge!
- Hoy on Hoy Cycling Route – launched by Sir Chris Hoy to celebrate the reopening of the Scapa Flow Museum, take in the sites on this route across the island of Hoy in Orkney. It is part of a collection of 12 new routes across Orkney's islands launched in 2023.
- Kirkpatrick C2C – this coast-to-coast route was inspired by the creator of the first pedal-driven bicycle! Cycle across the stunning countryside of the south of Scotland, from Stranraer on the west coast to Eyemouth in the east.
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