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Highlands, hiking, and history: Scotland has a lot to offer

Scotland has the cities, the landscape and the culture — and much more.

(Clint Henderson)

Scotland is an easy trip from the US and well worth the effort. With an incredible history that thousands and thousands of years and incredible sights and culture, it is also a popular tourist destination.

On arrival, many tourists use of the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow as a base for exploring the rest of this relatively small country — but there is much to discover.

Visitors have many possibilities including a trip through the history, castle visits, museums, hiking and golf (invented by the Scots). Some Americans spend time hitting the archives in Edinburgh and the investigation of the family’s heritage.

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One of the new activities, but will be on an “Outlander” tour. The Channel Starz show is set in Scotland, and many people visit to see the locations where the popular series was filmed.

There are plenty of “Harry Potter” attractions in Scotland, as the author JK Rowling lives in Scotland, and wrote many of the popular series in Edinburgh. Tourists can also find many places that are a source of inspiration for the adventures of the young wizard.

Ken Brown, a real estate agent in New York City, visited in October. “Scotland is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people,” Brown recalled. “Edinburgh is a city full of history. The Highlands were magical. It was a great trip.”

In fact, a visit to the Highlands is often the highlight of a trip to Scotland. A look at the rugged, beautiful landscape and it is easy to see why so many movies and television shows were filmed there is also “Harry Potter,” “Skyfall,” “Braveheart” and “The Da Vinci Code”.

“The Highlands were magical,” recalled an American tourist who recently returned from a trip.

(Clint Henderson)

Depending on what part you travel from the Highlands can make for a picturesque day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow.

(Clint Henderson)

The Highlands is also an easy day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow.

In addition, tourists should be sure to check out the Scottish National Gallery, an incredible collection of art and is free to attend. Another must-do is a visit to the Castle of Edinburgh, dominates the skyline and offers a wonderful overview of the history of the country for about $25 entrance fee.

The picturesque views of Edinburgh can be seen from the top of the hills surrounding the city.

(Clint Henderson)

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Planning a trip is also a great idea for first-timers. Gordon MacKanzie, a guide with Rabbie’s in Glasgow and the Highlands, recommends the hiring of a guide for the sharing of their knowledge of the area.

“With the benefits of an experienced guide you will be able to explore places that others often miss … you will be able to make the best of your experiences, together with a guide which often personalize your tour on request.”

Michael McCuish, who works for VisitScotland, advises John Muir Way, “The path, along both Edinburgh and Glasgow goes from coast to coast and is made in honor of the founder of the AMERICAN National Park system, having been born and raised in Scotland — it can be walked, cycled or rode a horse.”

When it comes to accommodations, The Glasshouse Hotel, in the centre of Edinburgh, is right in the centre of the city, close to the many attractions of the city and the sights.

“The hotel itself is a mix of history, with the exterior of the 160 year-old Lady Glenorchy Church, as the guests enter to find a modern, attractive and contemporary interior,” said Greenhouse manager and sales manager Judy Lee.

She also refers to the hotel’s rooftop garden with views of calton Hill, Edinburgh’s best kept secret.”

Glasgow is a short train ride from Edinburgh (about $20 one way). The largest city in Scotland, it is a vague, Victorian feel, but it is a young city with a vibrant nightlife.

“The medieval Glasgow Cathedral to the Neo-Gothic University of Glasgow — rumors that the inspiration for Harry Potter Hogwarts — the Art Nouveau wonders of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow’s rich past has left a legacy of beautiful Victorian architecture in the united kingdom, but you only have to walk along the ever changing river to see innovative, cutting-edge designs,” says Murray Thompson, the general manager of the city’s five-star Blythswood Square Hotel.

George Square, Glasgow, where the City Rooms are located, and is surrounded by beautiful architecture.

(Clint Henderson)

“The medieval Glasgow Cathedral to the Neo-Gothic University of Glasgow — rumors that the inspiration for Harry Potter Hogwarts — the Art Nouveau wonders of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow’s rich past has left a legacy of beautiful Victorian architecture in the united kingdom,” said a resident.

(Clint Henderson)

Be sure to visit the Cathedral of Glasgow is considered one of the best examples of medieval architecture left in Scotland, and the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum and the reflection of the city is the River Clyde.

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Other fun attractions include the charming town of St Andrews, about an hour outside of Edinburgh (where Prince William attended the school and met Kate). Or go see Loch Ness where the legendary Loch Ness Monster is located.

If that fails, there are plenty of whisky tours, such as the Scottish are known for their Scotch whiskies.

And finally, no trip to Scotland would not be complete without trying the infamous Scottish dish is Haggis but give it a chance for the assessment of the premature.

Clint Henderson is the former executive producer for “Now” and an avid traveller. Follow his adventures on Twitter, ClintPHenderson, and Instagram, clintpage1.

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