10 Reasons Why You Should Summer in Scotland

When you imagine your summer vacation plans I bet you probably think of sitting on a beach somewhere, drinking a fancy cocktail with an umbrella straw. Perhaps you think about a trip to the big city where you can visit museums and get lost in the crowd. Or maybe you get a little bit crazy and plan an all-inclusive cruise somewhere exotic with plans to drink your way through a week at sea. Nothin’ wrong with that! But I have to tell you that all of these options are silly and you should really be booking a plane to Scotland for your summer break.

Why Scotland? Well, because I said so. I’m just kidding. Except I’m not. In all actuality, Scotland is a great place to visit no matter the time of year, but it’s especially enchanting during the summer months. True, it might get cold AF in the evenings and be rainy and windy a few days every week, but don’t let that stop you! For real, don’t let that stop you.

You’ll be surrounded by history and beauty and have a chance to meet some of the most friendly people on the planet. Don’t forget the excellent shopping in the major cities, yummy food and good brews and even some interesting local wines. There’s something for everyone!! Here are ten of my favorite reasons to head to Scotland tomorrow, but there are so many more just waiting for you to discover.

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Linlithgow Palace: A Quick and Cheap Morning Trip

Linlithgow Palace - A Quick and Easy Morning Trip

It doesn’t happen too often, but every once in a while I find myself with a free morning in Edinburgh. On mornings like these I like to get out of the city and explore somewhere new. Trains and buses take you pretty much anywhere you want to go that isn’t within easy walking distance, which is something I’m definitely going to miss a lot when we leave. Our trip to Linlithgow Palace occurred on one of these rare mornings when we didn’t have anything else planned.

The ruins of Linlithgow Palace sit in the town of Linlithgow, a short train ride away from Edinburgh. With a great history and free access to almost every corner of the palace, it makes for a great morning away from Edinburgh.

You’ll have to excuse the quality of photos presented in this blog post. I forgot my camera and had to use my phone to capture these moments.

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Photo Highlights from the Scottish Highlands

Photo Highlights from the Scottish Highlands

I’ve been obsessed with the Scottish Highlands ever since I was a little girl. I read books and watched documentaries about them whenever I could. So when we had the chance to actually go and see them, I was stoked! I imagined myself walking through fields of heather, climbing over hills and dipping my toes in lochs, bagpipe music floating over the air as I became one with Scotland.

Granted very little of that happened, but I was still amazed by the astounding beauty that I found in this rugged, wild place. We drove through a decent portion of the Highlands, stopping every once in a while to take photos and stretch our legs. Since our final destination was Isle of Skye, we didn’t have too much time on the mainland to explore, which was a bummer. But I didn’t mind since Skye was absolutely wonderful.

I must note that I’ve spent hours over the last couple of days trying to virtually retrace my steps and give you names for all of the places I’ve photographed. Unfortunately I’m not able to figure out some of the shots – we stopped and took photos of too many places! So the photos that I can’t name I hope you’ll just join me in enjoying them for what they are: gorgeous shots of the Scottish Highlands.

These photos are some of the highlights of our three-day Isle of Skye tour. 

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15 Reasons to Visit the Isle of Skye

There have been a few places I’ve been to that have left a mark on my heart and soul, the Isle of Skye being one of them. I know I’m prone to fits of hyperbole, but guys I really mean it. This little island off the coast of Scotland has some serious charm, stunning natural beauty and the friendliest people. When you have the chance to visit you’ll feel it too: you’ll be dreaming of this place for a long time after you leave.

We spent two nights in Portree, right off the town square. We had one full day to explore the island even though I could have easily spent more than a week. An entire summer, perhaps. You can roam through fields of heather, climb some stunning hills and walk along beaches at your leisure. It’s island life at its finest!

There are so many amazing reasons to make the trip into the Highlands to Skye, many more than I’ve included here. This is just a taste of what the Isle of Skye has to offer. It’s my way of making you want to rent a car and head up to the island yourself.

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Eilean Donan and Dunvegan: Iconic Highland Castles

Two Iconic Scottish Highland Castles

Over the weekend we returned from our latest tour, this one took us up into the Scottish Highlands. We took the three day tour through Timberbush through glens and past lochs until we got to the Isle of Skye, where we spent two nights. I can’t possibly put our entire trip into one blog post; it would be way too long and probably take a week to write. Baby steps! I want to start with our adventures to two gorgeous, yet very different, Scottish Highland castles, Eilean Donan Castle and Dunvegan Castle.

Because if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I love castles.

These two experiences couldn’t be more different, but they were both highlights of the trip for their own reasons. But to be honest there were a lot of highlights for me. So many that I felt like I was constantly walking around with a grin on my face. Although now that I think about it, my grin could have been caused by the insane amounts of caffeine coursing through my veins. One of the best parts of staying in hostels is when all of your bunk mates snore. There’s nothing like the dulcet tones of snores surrounding you to lull you to sleep! I kid, I kid. It’s actually the worst. But I think these two castles are a great place to start our Highland journey together!

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Ten Reasons to Stay in Leith, Edinburgh

10 Reasons to Stay in Leith, Edinburgh

There are plenty of neighborhoods to look at when you’re booking accommodations for your trip to Edinburgh. You could stick close to city center and find a hotel in Old Town. There’s a chance you might find a great place near the University or in New Town. Maybe you’ll decide to stay in Bruntsfield or Stockbridge, both close enough to city center that you can walk easily. Don’t do any of those. When you’re looking for a place to stay, I think you should check out Leith first. You’ll probably fall in love with it and not need to look elsewhere.

Our neighborhood is my favorite place in the entire city of Edinburgh! There is so much to do here, and it’s a short bus ride away from both Old and New Town. You could stay in other areas of the city, but I think for everything that Leith offers, as well as how inexpensive it is, you’d be silly to stay elsewhere. It’s such a cool neighborhood, a prime location and home to some of the best food in the city! But those aren’t the only reasons why you should base yourself here. Keep on reading for more information about staying in Leith.

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A McVagabond’s Guide to Liverpool

Guide to Liverpool

It’s official, I can’t hide it any longer: Liverpool is one of my favorite cities. We’ve visited a ton of really great places over the last year, but not a single one has left me feeling the way that a weekend in this English city has. It’s a delightful combination of all of my favorite aspects from my favorite cities! The city has a really great vibe, and you can feel it from the moment you step out of the train station. It’s hard to describe, which means you have to get there in person.

We spent a weekend taking in as much of the city as we could, from a game in Everton to an afternoon stroll along the River Mersey and stopping in to a couple of museums. Check out what we did, and hopefully I can convince you to add Liverpool to your dream destination list!

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Edinburgh Castle: One Castle, Many Views

It’s been pretty rad living in Edinburgh for the last six weeks. There’s culture everywhere, epic nature within city limits, crazy awesome history to learn AND I can walk everywhere. What’s not to love, right? I love all of the architecture and  friendly people. But my favorite thing about living here is that quite often when we’re out walking, I look over and see Edinburgh Castle sitting on top of it’s rock.

It gave me chills when I first saw it. Even now, seeing it multiple times in a week, I’m still usually in awe and ask Ryan to take a moment with me and just look at it.

This isn’t my usual post, full of interesting history and little details. Rather it’s a visual love letter to one of my favorite parts of the city: Edinburgh Castle.

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Cramond Island: An Island Getaway in Edinburgh

Cramond Island - An Island Getaway in Edinburgh (1)

Have you ever typed “cool things to do in city name here” into Google and actually hit the jackpot? I have to admit, most of the time when I try to use Google, I end up throwing in the towel within a few websites (go Pinterest!). You usually find the same information regurgitated on many different websites, which is a bummer. But once in a while, I find something that I want to go and check out immediately. Cramond Island was the result of one of these searches.

Even though we’ve been spending most of our time in Old Town watching street performers and taking in Fringe shows, we’ve also made sure to leave the city center. There are a ton of extra people in the city right now (roughly 1 million extra) and sometimes my anxieties just can’t handle being around all of them. So when I stumbled upon this little piece of paradise, I immediately wanted to go.

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The Falkirk Wheel: When First Impressions Are Wrong

Falkirk Wheel - When my First Impressions Were Wrong

The Falkirk Wheel was one of those tourist attractions that I had zero desire to visit upon first glance. True, it’s a modern marvel, but how do I actually motivate myself to go and look at it? It takes a bit of time and effort to get to Falkirk from Edinburgh when you don’t have a car. Time and effort that I’m sure I could be doing something much more glamorous. Don’t ask me what though, I’m not entirely sure. Give me some time and I’m sure I could come up with a list of alternatives.

So when I decided to surprise Ryan with a trip to Falkirk it was definitely more for him than me. I felt like the World’s Best Wife. Even though I didn’t want to go, I would do it for him.

Let me explain a bit. Our first apartment in Seattle was on top of Magnolia Hill. That meant for either of us to get to work, we had to bike through the Ballard Locks. Also a tourist attraction, I hated the locks. Too many tourists for me to hit with my bike (and I hit quite a few unsuspecting out-of-towners). But Ryan loved them. We would meet there after work to have date nights in the park. So when we saw a documentary on Scotland and he laid eyes on the Falkirk Wheel, I just knew I’d have to take him there eventually. What I didn’t expect was that I might enjoy it just as much as he would.

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