Where to Go For The Best Summer Holidays in Scotland
Climb a mountain, explore a Cold War bunker, and eat a lot of ice cream this summer.
Sandy beaches that stretch for miles, spectacular views from towering mountains, and food good enough to impress the Michelin Guide – no, we’re not talking about some luxurious tropical paradise; just Scotland. Here at Plum Guide, we know a good getaway destination when we see one, so trust us when we tell you we've found the very best places to go for summer holidays in Scotland. Good weather may not be guaranteed, but we think you’ll agree that the vast array of cultural, culinary, and plain charming attractions more than make up for the odd rainy day.
As the capital, Edinburgh is always going to be the obvious choice for where to go on summer holidays in Scotland. Add onto this the Fringe festival that crams the city with performers and punters every August, and you’ve got a very popular pick indeed. Looking for a more relaxed holiday? Come in the early summer before it all kicks off. If you’re planning on staying during August to enjoy the Fringe, make sure you book well in advance – accommodation goes quickly, especially homes as nice as ours. But rest assured that no matter when you go, Edinburgh’s a lovely holiday spot. Pick up a chic summer outfit in Armstrong’s Vintage in Grassmarket, try the ice cream of the day at Mary’s Milk Bar, and picnic in the always-popular Prince’s Street Gardens. Be warned, though – as soon as the temperature starts to creep past 15 degrees celsius, the gardens are packed with optimistic sunbathers, so get there early to stake out your spot.
Though often overshadowed by Edinburgh, Scotland’s second city shouldn’t be a second choice when deciding where to spend your summer holidays in Scotland. The city’s got a strong independent vibe that’s reflected in its bars, restaurants and shops; search for design-led homewares in GOODD, dine on contemporary Scottish cuisine at Stravaigin, and sip on a craft brew at Brel. If you’re travelling with family, we’d recommend staying a bit outside of the city to give the kids enough space to let off some steam. If you ask us, we’d stay halfway between Glasgow and the nearby Trossachs National Park, making your trip a double-whammy of city break and hiking holiday. Who says you can’t have it all?
If you’re driving up from England for your summer holidays in Scotland, the Borders is the ideal place to settle – as the name suggests, it’s just over the border between the two countries. Don’t expect big-city living here; it’s decidedly rural with a few small towns but it’s just over an hour’s drive to Edinburgh if you fancy a day trip. Sticking to the Borders, there’s plenty to do here, from the historic (you can see the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart in Melrose Abbey) to the gastronomic (try out Seasons in Gattonside, recognised by the Michelin Guide for its focus on simple, local cuisine done perfectly). And of course, you’ve got all that scenery -- there’s no shortage of backdrops in the Borders for that perfect holiday photo.
If it’s a tan you’re after, we’re afraid we have to disappoint. The Highlands may be more drizzle and midgies (the local lingo for mosquito) than island paradise, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular. Summer here might not be hot, but there’s definitely (usually) enough sun to get out and about. Why not try to bag yourself a Munro (climb a mountain, to non-Scots), take a day trip to the islands along the coast, or explore the castles and ruins dotted through this majestic landscape. Dunrobin Castle and Gardens is one of the most impressive – with 189 rooms, this is a bit larger than even our biggest Plum home. Luckily, we’ve sourced some equally luxurious, if slightly smaller, homes for you in the Highlands, so you won’t feel too bereft.
If you enjoy a good putter around the green, Fife is one of the best places to go for your summer holidays in Scotland – the county’s filled with golf courses, including the one where the game was actually invented. Not a golf fan? Fife’s filled with countless other attractions, from whisky distilleries such as the scenic Kingsbarns Distillery to a secret bunker in Crail designed to withstand the Cold War. For a wander around independent shops and quaint tearooms, pop into Fife’s main hub of St Andrews. As a university town, it empties out somewhat in the summer when all the students go off to do… well, whatever it is students do on their holidays, so it’ll be much more peaceful than term time. Like many places in the region, Fife is filled with dog-friendly pubs and beaches, so if you can’t picture summer holidays in Scotland without your furry friend by your side, this is the place to be.