With more than 6100 miles of coast to mainland Scotland, there are clearly a lot of beaches, cliffs and lochs to explore, offering stunning views and incredible wildlife that includes dolphins, whales, sharks, sea otters, seals, puffins, eagles and osprey. It’s just as stunning inland. You can explore Scotland by following some of the wonderful driving routes, including the NC 500, a circular route of the North Highlands, running to and from Inverness and taking in castles, beaches, lochs and countryside. If you’re partial to a dram of whisky, a trip to Speyside for a tour of the distilleries is a must – the scenery is wonderful and the welcome warm. Speyside is part of a new tourist route, the NE 250, which takes in the Cairngorms, Deeside, Aberdeen and the east and Moray coasts. The 90-mile Snow Roads Scenic Route takes you through the eastern reaches of the Cairngorms National Park, from Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-spey, taking in Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul along the way. This route follows the highest public roads in Britain and can be narrow and twisting, but the rewards are great: mountains, rivers, forests, distilleries and castles. Things to look out for in 2018 include the V&A Museum of Design, due to open in late summer as part of the £1bn investment in Dundee’s waterfront, and the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, at Moat Brae in Dumfries, which will celebrate the work of JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan. Glasgow will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh with an exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, while Dundee marks the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel, Frankenstein.
A wee dram, anyone?
New whisky makers opening their doors in 2018 include the Borders, Falkirk and Ardnahoe Distilleries (the latter bringing the number of distilleries on Islay to eight), and Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park Distillery. Families will love the Harry Potter tour that takes in Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, Rannoch Moor, Bo’ness Motor Museum, the Scottish Owl Centre, the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig, Steall Falls, Clachaig Inn, near Glencoe, and Glen Etive.
■ Turn to p11 of the Top 100 guide for site info
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Speyside whisky trail takes in some fine scenery. Head to the coast to see puffins. V&A’S Dundee museum opens later this year