Scotland is famous for many things – its stunning scenery, fantastic natural larder, amber whisky and its friendly, welcoming residents.
But this small little nation is also the proud home to some unique – and sometimes downright quirky! – attractions. Many of them are free to visit, so pack your picnic, grab your camera and let’s go as Capital takes you on a guided tour.
Familiar to Harry Potter fans across the globe, the iconic 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct takes railway passengers through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Highlands, offering a magnificent view of Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. Hop aboard the famous Jacobite steam train and relax as you enjoy what has been described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world.
The Pineapple, Airth
Scotland has its fair share of follies – decorative buildings that often have no real purpose. And none is odder than The Pineapple, a bizarre summerhouse created by the Earl of Dunmore in 1761 to enable him to enjoy the views over his estate.
In the days when the tropical fruit was a novelty in cool Scotland, this towering pineapple-shaped building must surely have had the locals scratching their heads. Now it’s a popular attraction surrounded by a lovely walled garden and woodland.
McCaig’s Tower, Oban
Talking of eccentric structures, visitors to Oban can’t fail to spot McCaig’s Tower, an enormous granite structure that bears a passing resemblance to Rome’s Colosseum. Standing proudly above this bustling west coast town, the tower was commissioned by a local banker as a monument to his family, but was never completed.
It’s quite a climb to reach the folly, but it’s well worth it for the spectacular views across the Sound of Mull and surrounding islands.
Fort George/Chanonry Point
The imposing Fort George, north of Inverness, is a remarkable fortification that dates back to the 1700s. Built as a base for King George II’s army, it is still a working barracks, but you’re welcome to wander round the main rampart and explore the fort’s history in the Highlanders Museum.
It’s also home to one of Scotland’s two dog cemeteries, where the officers’ dogs and regimental mascots are laid to rest. From its prominent position on the Moray Firth – and particularly from Chanonry Point across the channel, you can spot the famous Moray dolphins hunting and playing just metres from the shore.
A sight not to be missed!
The Kelpies/Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk
Standing more than 300 metres tall, these beautiful animals are a marvel of engineering – you can even book a tour to see inside the heads.
Just a few miles away there’s another incredible engineering feat – the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first – and only – rotating boat lift.
Opened in 2002, it connects the Union and Forth and Clyde canals and you can enjoy a serene trip on one of the canal boats or pop into the visitor centre to find out how this incredible wheel was created.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
This ancient volcano (don’t worry, it’s extinct!) is 251m high and affords spectacular 360˚ views across the capital and beyond.
Arthur’s Seat sits in Holyrood Park, which has lovely lochs and walks, with the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland – nearby.
At its heart is the ochre-coloured Culross Palace – a grand home that features beautiful ceiling paintings and panelled walls.
Take time to visit the Town House, a former jail and courthouse, and the ruins of the historic Culross Abbey, originally built in the 1200s.