How many times have you told yourself that you’ll definitely visit this or that must-see attraction just down the road on your next day off, and then ended up bingeing box sets in your pyjamas all weekend? We often don’t appreciate where we live, but if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere like Scotland there’s so much to explore without ever jumping on a plane. Here at Plum Guide, we’re giving you a little nudge to indulge in a Scotland staycation and discover the best that this bonny land has to offer (and some truly exceptional holiday homes to stay in as you travel). After all, when you live somewhere as beautiful as this, why would you ever want to leave?
For a gastronomic getaway, go to Aberdeenshire
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding Scottish cuisine – we all know no one really eats those deep-fried Mars bars apart from tourists, though we can’t say that the national obsession with Irn Bru has been exaggerated. But if you really want to explore the pinnacle of Scottish food, take a staycation to beautiful Aberdeenshire. We think we could quite happily live the rest of our life feasting only on this region’s produce – from aged Aberdeen Angus beef steaks, to artisanal cheeses from local dairies such as Cambus O'May’s and The Devenick Dairy, to shellfish pulled straight from the sea that morning by local fishing boats. Finish off with a wee dram of single malt from Royal Lochangar – right on the edge of Balmoral estate, it’s one of the finest whisky distilleries in Scotland. Considering there’s 130 of them, that’s no mean feat. Of course, great produce can only go so far without the skills of great chefs – luckily, Aberdeenshire has those in abundance as well. Enjoy a slap-up seafood lunch in Moonfish, dine on Scottish classics like cullen skink at The Tolbooth, and visit the Rothesay Rooms for some truly special dishes made entirely from local, seasonal produce.
For a bustling city break, go to Edinburgh
Adios Madrid, au revoir Paris – it’s time to say hello to Edinburgh. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe fly here every year – and you’ve got it right on your doorstep, you lucky thing. We’re sure we don’t need to tell you that Edinburgh’s filled with incredible things to do and see, from delving into the city’s spooky history in haunted cemeteries and underground vaults, to wandering the independent shops and boutiques of gorgeous, hilly Victoria Street, to tucking into Michelin-starred cuisine at fine dining establishments like Restaurant Martin Wishart and Number One. And that’s leaving out the fact that if you go in the summer, you’ll be able to see world premiers of prestigious acts and side-splitting future stars at the Edinburgh Fringe. Time to pack your bags and prepare for a whirlwind break. Just make sure that your first stop is the Black Medicine Company for a strong cup of coffee – you’ll need the caffeine if you’re going to fit everything in.
Greyfriar's Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
For a seaside getaway, discover Fife
We won’t pretend that a Scotland staycation can compare to a week in the French Riviera in terms of weather, but if you can bear to swap your bikini for a wetsuit Fife is one of our favourite seaside destinations in the whole of the UK. One of the sunniest regions of Scotland (though, let’s be honest, that’s not saying much) it’s also home to the most gorgeous stretches of coastline. Tackle some choice routes along the craggy Fife Coastal Path to marvel at the beauty of the scenery, visit the serene isolation of the Elie Ness lighthouse, spend a day on the sands at St Andrew’s Beach, and take a boat trip to the Isle of May to meet the resident puffin population. And, of course, eat some truly exceptional fish and chips – Anstruther Fish Bar serve up the perfect battered haddock as well as some rather more upscale options like lobster and crab, all sustainably caught right here on the Fife coast. We do like to be beside the seaside.
Anstruther, Fife, Scotland
For a truly Scottish getaway, head to the Highlands
Does the sound of bagpipes bring a sentimental tear to your eye? Do you proudly don your family tartan at every available opportunity? Do you wear your kilt in the fashion of a true Scotsman? What we mean is, do you really, really love Scotland? If the answer is yes, there’s only one place for you to take a Scotland staycation, and that’s the Highlands. Here you’ll find heather-strewn hills, crumbling castles galore and majestic stags posing by the side of misty lochs – well, we might have seen that last one on a biscuit tin, but if it happens anywhere, it’ll be the Highlands. Set out to explore Scotland’s most beautiful unspoilt landscapes like the Cairngorms National Park, and discover cinematic ancient history in magnificent places like Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness – yes, that Loch Ness. Say hi to Nessie for us before heading back your Plum home to enjoy another Scottish classic – a whisky in front of a roaring fire. Same place next year?
The Devil's Point Munro, Ballater, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland