A trip to the Edinburgh Festivals can be the perfect starter for a longer holiday around Scotland. Excellent transport links by rail, car and ferry give an abundance of options for exploring the rest of the country.
Travelling north, the incomparable beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Islands has to be seen to believed. The area around Lochaber and Fort William is home to some of the world’s best adventure sports including world championship mountain biking routes; no wonder it's known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
While there, why not take the same route as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films, over the beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct on your way to Mallaig? For a more laid back trip visitors can revel in the stunning landscape of the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and Ben Nevis. Take a boat trip on a loch and picnic beneath one of the 282 Munros, Scotland's highest mountains which are scattered throughout the country.
The city of Glasgow is just an hour away with a thriving nightlife, the UK’s largest shopping area outside of London and has a unique character all of its own. The historic cities of Perth and Stirling - both former seats of the King of Scotland (at Scone Palace, Perth and Stirling Castle) - are also just an hour drive from Edinburgh, in an area full of charming B&Bs and hidden restaurants showing off the local produce.
South of Edinburgh and just over an hour from the city, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway encompass a lowland landscape of medieval castles, abbeys and historic towns. Home to Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, this area is perfect for those on literary pilgrimages as well as visitors looking for an idyllic getaway.
Even closer to Edinburgh are the unspoilt beaches of East Lothian. Surfing, sailing and other watersports are available on many of the stretches of beach from Cockenzie and Port Seton to Berwick-upon-Tweed. East Lothian is also home to 22 links and parklands golf courses including the Open Championship course at Muirfield and the popular links courses in Dunbar, North Berwick and Gullane. Regular train and bus services run from Edinburgh to towns in East Lothian or you can make the short journey by car.
On top of all of Scotland's ever-present wonders, 2014 is a special year for visitors and locals alike, as the Year of Homecoming is celebrated. A series of hundreds of events throughout the country are hightlighting all that is wonderful about Scotland, from food and drink to the great outdoors, arts and crafts to ancestral heritage.
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Or go straight to browsing the Homecoming 2014 events.