From hitting the slopes and exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites, to clever local social enterprises, we’re excited about Scotland this year. Here’s why:
In 2019, the Scottish government declared a climate emergency and has since pledged to drastically reduce emissions in the next 10 years. In keeping with that ethos, there are plenty of ways to enjoy an eco-friendly Caledonian trip. You could stay in an eco lodge or hotel accredited by its Green Tourism scheme*, sign up for one of their slow travel experiences, such as cruising the Caledonian Canal aboard a traditional barge or foraging for your supper in the Highlands. Or opt for restaurants that champion seasonal produce, such as Inver on the shores of Loch Fyne, which holds a Michelin Guide Green Star for its sustainability.
*and if you’re booking via Travalyst partners, remember to look out for sustainability information displayed on accommodation across Booking.com, Google and Expedia – find out more here.
Scotland is home to a whopping 13 UNESCO sites, all of which are connected through a new award-winning trail, especially designed to support the country’s ambitions to be a world-leading responsible tourism destination. The trail is made up of six World Heritage Sites, including the stone-built Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae and the ancient Antonine Wall, two Biosphere Reserves in Wester Ross and Galloway, two Global Geoparks in Shetland and the North West Highlands, and three creative cities, which include Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Follow it to discover some of the finest examples of Scotland’s awe-inspiring nature, ancient Roman structures and richly compelling history.
Getting involved with local social enterprises is a great way to explore a city while also helping support businesses that specifically channel their profits into enhancing the wellbeing of their communities. Luckily, there are loads of them peppered throughout Scotland. One of our favourites, Invisible Cities, organises tours of Edinburgh and Glasgow led by guides who have previously experienced homelessness. They’ve also teamed up with Geotourist to launch a special audio tour of the Scottish capital, with the aim to help visitors support altruistic businesses and initiatives across the city.
March sees the opening of the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, the latest project from Trees for Life. The Centre is on a mission to rewild the Scottish Highlands by restoring the historic Caledonian Forest, which once covered much of the country, acting as a gateway to its 10,000-acre flagship estate. The estate has been rewilded since 2008 and is now home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals, including rare golden eagles and black grouse.
Not many people know this, but the Scottish Highlands are home to no less than five ski resorts. And, as they’re accessible by train, car or bus, getting there has a fraction of the carbon footprint of flying from the UK to the Alps. Choose from the Cairngorms, Glencoe, Glenshee, the Nevis Range and the Lecht, all of which are accessible from Scotland’s cities.
To find out more, head to visitscotland.com