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2019 Bucket List - 10 Scottish Experiences You Can't Miss

Here at Absolute Escapes we have well and truly leapt into the new year - welcome to 2019! While seeing friends and family over the festive period, the conversation of holidays and where to go always makes an appearance.

Still unsure of how to make the most of your time off this year? Do not fret, we’ve listed ten of the best experiences you can have in Scotland. With a stunning design museum showcasing the best of human imagination, traditional Scottish festivals, bold whisky distillers breaking new ground, and the re-opening of one of Scotland’s oldest lodgings along the stunning West Highland Way - no wonder Scotland featured in Lonely Planet's '10 Best in Travel’ destinations to visit in 2019.

Isle of Skye
Trotternish, Isle of Skye (Credit: Visit Britain / Adam Burton)
 

Absolute Escapes offer award-winning tailor-made travel in Scotland, so if the wonderful experiences listed below inspire you to head to Scotland for an unforgettable self-drive holiday or self-guided walking holiday then please don't hesitate to get in touch!

With so much to see and do, this is truly a great year to experience Scotland. Here are our top Scottish experiences in 2019 ...

V&A Dundee

The city of Dundee has gone through a reimagining and reinvention in recent years, culminating in it being named the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design.

With design at the very heart of the city, it is the perfect location for Scotland’s first museum of design - the brand new V&A Dundee. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma used the cliffs on Scotland's north-eastern coastline for inspiration, and the museum has been built to jut out over the River Tay like a boat, recalling the shipbuilding heritage of the city.

V&A Dundee
V&A Dundee and the RRS Discovery (Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam)
 

NE250 - Scotland’s Newest Driving Route

As we specialise in driving holidays we have to tell you about one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets - the North East 250.

Stretching across the regions of Moray, Speyside and Aberdeenshire, this driving route takes in ancient castles, dramatic mountains, warming whisky distilleries, diverse wildlife, picturesque seaside villages, stunning coastal landscapes and much, much more. If you want to read more about the NE250, check out our earlier blog about the route - North East 250: Scotland's Newest Road Trip

Corgarff Castle NE250
Corgarff Castle on the NE250 (Credit: VisitScotland / Damian Shields)
 

Reopening of the Kingshouse Hotel

The West Highland Way is one of the most famous walking trails in the world. The route is simply spectacular: a 96-mile (154 km) trek along the banks of Loch Lomond, across the wilderness of Rannoch Moor, into the breathtaking beauty of Glencoe and the very heart of the Scottish Highlands, before ending under Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain.

A journey along this famous route isn’t complete without stopping at the legendary Kingshouse Hotel. Having undergone a major £12 mil revamp, the hotel has been brought up to a world-class standard while retaining its charm and history. Reopening in February 2019 - we can't wait to stay!

Kingshouse Hotel
The Kingshouse Hotel pre-renovation (Credit: Richard Webb)
 

Experience the Highland Games

Ever wanted to have a tug o’ war with a tartan-clad pipe band? Or test your metal by tossing a 20-foot caber? Then the Highland Games are for you!

The Games are a traditional Scottish event which combine heavy athletic events, Highland dancing, track events, and bagpiping. The games are full of fun with locals and international visitors all having a good time. Click here for a 2019 calendar of Highland Games happening across Scotland. 

Highland dancers
Highland dancers at the North Berwick Highland Games (Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam)
 

Hebridean Whisky Trail

Surrounded by the mighty Atlantic, the Hebridean islands are set in some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery. Within these wild islands, you'll find four distilleries producing a unique and memorable spirit. This year is the perfect time to travel over the waves on the Hebridean Whisky Trail.

Your journey could begin on the Isle of Skye, with views of the Black Cuillin hills where Talisker Distillery has been producing malts for generations. The second distillery to be built on the Isle of Skye and set in a converted farmstead is Torabhaig Distillery. With a motto of "Without Haste", you can tell this distillery will be one to watch.

A short crossing to the Isle of Raasay, you’ll find the new Raasay Distillery. Driven by passion, expertise and curiosity, they respectfully push the boundaries of single malt Scotch whisky.

Cross The Minch (the 15 mile stretch of sea between Skye and Harris) and you’ll find one of the most exciting distilleries to open in recent years - Isle of Harris Distillery. Known as ‘The Social Distillery’, they exude the generous nature of the ‘Hearach’ (a person from Harris), which helps to create a real community feeling in the distillery.

Raasay Distillery
Looking across to the Isle of Skye from Raasay Distillery
 

Kaleidoscope at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Visitors to Edinburgh in August are in for a real treat! The largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, will be pouring out of venues and onto the streets - a mindblowing selection of performances and shows await.

But the only show which has Edinburgh's iconic castle as its backdrop is The Royal Military Tattoo. The Tattoo is synonymous with music, dance and total entertainment, all unveiled with pinpoint precision. This year's show is titled Kaleidoscope and will be bursting with colour, with plenty of pipes, tartan, and worldwide performers. Make sure you book your tickets in advance as they tend to sell out, or book our Edinburgh Festival & The Military Tattoo package and let us do all of the hard work - leaving you free to turn up and enjoy the greatest show on Earth!

Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle (Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam)
 

Holyrood Park Distillery - Whisky returns to Scotland's Capital

After a gap of almost 100 years, this year marks the return of whisky distilling to the centre of Edinburgh as the Holyrood Park Distillery opens its doors. The distillery takes its name from its historic location at the bottom of the Royal Mile, which is steeped in whisky distilling heritage.

Offering visitors a unique hands-on, sensory experience - make sure to include a tour here during your time exploring our fantastic capital city.

Holyrood Park Distlillery
Projected image of Holyrood Park Distillery
 

The Hebridean Whale Trail

A quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species can be found off the coast of Scotland, making this one of the best destinations in Europe to view these majestic mammals.

In 2019, the Hebridean Whale Trail is launching a network of key whale and dolphin spotting sites across Scotland. From sea lochs to white sandy beaches and harbours packed with sea life (my personal favourite spot to watch dolphins is Channory Point on the Black Isle), this year is a great time to explore Scotland’s coast.

Sounds good? Check out our Magical Island itineraries for some Scottish island-hopping inspiration.

Dolphin spotting on the West Coast of Scotland
Dolphin spotting on Scotland's West Coast (Credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins)
 

Autumn Colours in Highland Perthshire

The Autumn months are a fantastic time to visit Scotland. The weather is crisp and fresh and the trees have begun their change, showing off an array of rustic tones.

One location that is particularly riotous for its array of colours is Highland Perthshire. From the Queen’s View at Loch Tummel to the charming Hermitage walk at Dunkeld, there are so many locations to enjoy these Autumnal sights. To experience the best of Perthshire’s scenery, lace up your hiking boots and take on the popular Rob Roy Way walking route.

Perthshire Autumn colours
Looking over the Garry Bridge by Killiecrankie (Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam)
 

Macallan Whisky Distillery

The world-famous whisky brand Macallan have recently upgraded their distillery to other-worldly proportions, and their design and approach have enabled them to create the most impressive whisky distillery on the planet! Guided tours are on offer that transport you into the wonderful world of Scotch whisky.

Is this a whisky distillery or a piece of modern art? Take a trip on the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail and decide for yourself ...

With so much to see and do, 2019 is a great year to plan your Scottish holiday. Whether it’s a self-drive discovery or a walking adventure, we’ll be there to assist you along the way.

Jason Martin

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