If you are coming to Scotland on holiday then quality local Scottish tourist information is important to get the most out of your holiday here. Visit Scotland (formerly known as the Scottish Tourist Board) is a good source of information about local festivals and events that are taking place across Scotland throughout the year and most towns in Scotland have a tourist office where you can get up-to-date tourist information. Most self-catering accommodation will have a lot of local brochures and owners usually leave a list of good local restaurants and walks etc.
In the summer you are likely to find Highland Games near your self-catering cottage and they are definitely worth a visit. Argyll is a great area for some of the best games and the Argyllshire Garthering in Oban is one of the finest. Argyll has some very beautiful gardens open to the public - the climate leads to some of the finest rhododendrons and magnolias in the country as well as some of the largest conifers in the UK. Oban is the gateway to the Scottish islands - being on a CalMac ferry sailing out of the port is an exciting experience as you know special adventures will lie ahead. If you are staying in Argyll then you can do a day trip to many of the islands - the Isle of Mull is a very popular one and its wild interior is home to golden eagles and fish eagles. Tobermory is the main town on Mull and the painted harbour houses are very recognisable from the BBC children's series, Balamory. You get the ferry from the south west corner of Mull to Iona, the birthplace of Celtic Christianity. If you want to visit Coll and Colonsay, rent a holiday cottage on Tiree, or have a day trip to the small island of Lismore or Kerrera then a ferry from Oban is your starting point. All these islands have wonderful beaches, wildlife and walking and are also great for cycling holidays too.
The Outer Hebrides are also reached by ferry. Harris has turquoise sandy beaches where you are unlikely to see another soul, puffin colonies and of course is the home of Harris tweed. It is reached by taking a ferry from Skye. Other Outer Hebridean islands include Uist and Lewis - if you are on Lewis then a visit to the Callanish stones is a must as they are the best Neolithic standing stones in Scotland and you feel the sense of the past all around you. If you visit at the right time of year you will have a good chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in the Outer Hebredies.
If you want to stay in far north Scotland and explore Sutherland and enjoy a Caithness holiday then there is lots of excellent self-catering cottages to rent near Thurso and Wick. The north coast of Scotland is very unspoilt and has dramatic scenery - the newly named North Coast 500 is Scotland's Route 66. The route starts in Inverness and goes along the west coast to Applecross. The road then heads north through Torridon and Ullapool. Travelling along the stunning coastal roads in the far north it finally heads south again, passing through Dingwall. Inland from the Sutherland coast is the Flow Country; a desolate bog and moorland wilderness which is home to interesting birds and plants. Castle Mey and its beautiful gardens are fascinating as are visits to the many heritage centres. Sutherland was many of the infamous clearances and this shameful part of Scottish history is commemorated in the area and indeed many foreign tourists visit highland Scotland as they research their Scottish roots. A visit to John O'Groats is always popular but in fact the most northerly point in the UK is Dunnet Head and the RSPB have a nature reserve there. If you are staying in a rural retreat in northern Scotland this gives you a chance to take a day trip to Orkney - one of the most fascinating parts of Scotland.
Isolated Highland retreats are perfect for exploring the highlands and getting away from modern life - some retreats have no mobile phone reception or internet access so you can really escape - but most do! Fort William is a great base for a highland holiday and it's famous for the range of outdoor pursuits - there's even an indoor ice climbing centre. The surrounding mountains offer great hill walking and climbing and Glen Coe is a popular place to visit. Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, is worth walking up and the Nevis Range of mountains has some excellent skiing in the winter. The other popular part of Scotland for winter sports is to go on an Aviemore skiing holiday - the facilities are excellent for skiing and snowboarding. The funicular railway takes you up the mountain where there is great walking if there is no snow.
The Moray Firth has been a popular destination for family holidays for generations. The magnificent sandy beaches in Nairnshire are wonderful for a bucket and spade holiday. Cawdor Castle and Brodie Castle are great days out for all the family and the sense of history is palpable. The ghosts of fallen clans are felt at Culloden - just walking through the battlefield and seeing the cairns is a very moving experience. Speyside fishing holidays are on many fishermen and woman's bucket list - the Spey and the Findhorn offer some of the finest salmon fishing in Scotland. The local rivers and lochs also have some excellent trout fishing too. If you want to catch sight of a larger fish then stay near Loch Ness and hope for a viewing of the elusive Loch Ness Monster - the museum at Drumnadrochit has lots of information and photographs which may or may not convince the sceptics!
Holiday cottages in Royal Deeside are never far from a castle - if you follow the Castle Trail you can visit lots of fascinating castles on your holiday - they all have different things to offer but all are equally fascinating and quentissentially Scottish. Aberdeenshire has lots of interest to visitors and Aberdeen itself is a very interesting city.
Visit Perthshire for another fascinating part of Scotland which offers a very central location where you can visit the east and west coast as well as much of the highlands. A day trip to Edinburgh is easily in reach and often can be done by train - great so you don't have to worry about expensive parking in the capital city. Glasgow is also easily reached from Perthshire self-catering accommodation and there are frequent trains to the city from Perth and Dunblane. Perthshire is known as Big Tree Country and if you are self catering in Alyth then you are in an ideal location to explore much of the county and visit many attractions. Faskally Wood, near Pitlochry is an easy walk for all levels. If you are staying near Pitlochry in the autumn then be sure to book tickets for The Enchanted Forest and throughout the year you can enjoy the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Perthshire gardens are fabulous and many are open for charity under Scotland's Garden Scheme so be sure to buy the yellow book or check their website to see which ones are open near your holiday house. Aberfeldy is another ideal location in Perthshire for a self-catering holiday - Aberfeldy offers many tourist attractions, both indoors and outdoors and is one of the most beautiful parts of highland Perthshire. Renting Blairgowrie cottages places you in another superb part of Perthshire and Blairgowrie has an excellent golf course. Dunkeld self catering can be in the National Trust for Scotland Little Houses which are in the town centre, near the very historic Dunkeld Cathedral. Dunkeld is a delightful town and is adjacent to Birnham (on the opposite side of the River Tay) with its excellent Arts Centre and Beatrix Potter Garden which delights children. Renting Comrie or Crieff accommodation has been very popular for holidays since Victorian times. You will find cottages and houses to suit all sizes - romantic cottages for 2 to large country houses for 12 and more. This part of Perthshire has many attractions for visitors as well as lots of excellent golf courses - Gleneagles is nearby too. Walking holidays in Perthshire are very popular and there are walks for all levels - gentle strolls through flat countryside on marked paths to more strenous climbs up munros where you will be rewarded with magnificent views (sometimes coast to coast!).
St Andrews is well known as the home of golf and you can book a tee time on the Old Course or enjoy putting on the Himalayas - lots of fun for all the family! St Andrews has the most glorious beaches - the vast expanse of the West Sands is ideal for kite surfing and picnics. St Andrews is home to the oldest university in Scotland and is a very unspoilt town with a fascinating ruined castle and cathedral. Going down the Fife coast you reach St Monans and Pittenweem and Elie - all are very popular for summer holidays by the sea and winter breaks in the picturesque cottages that line the harbours. Fife coastal cottages mean you are never far from a sandy beach - many Fife beaches have the coveted blue flag. To complete the classic beach holiday you will find what is known as the best fish and chip shop in Scotland in Anstruther, the heart of these East Neuk villages.
Lothian vacation retreats are numerous and lots are very close to the beautiful East Lothian coast. East Lothian is a great place to stay if you want to be in the countryside yet be able to reach Edinburgh easily (and very quickly by train) whether for the Edinburgh Festival or just to enjoy all the delights of the capital. Borders holidays are popular for fishing holidays as the River Tweed runs through much of the Scottish borders. If you are holidaying in the Scottish borders in the summer then don't miss the Common Ridings held in the local towns of Biggar, Coldstream, Duns, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Langholm, Melrose, Peebles, Selkirk and West Linton.
Dumfries and Galloway holiday homes are on the western side of the Scottish borders and this is a very unspoilt and hidden corner of Scotland, despite its accessibility. Castle Douglas is known as Scotland's Food Town and the wealth of quality artisan producers and individual shops selling the finest food is testament to this. Nearby Kirkcudbright is known as The Artists' Town and has been home to many famous artists in the past (including Hornel and Jessie King) and many fine local artists are located there now. The special light and the harbour setting is inspiring to artists and craftspeople and there are lots of galleries where you can see and purchase their work. Rural accommodation along the Solway Firth are often white-washed cottages which sleep 2, 4 or 6 with superb views over the sea. In the western corner of Galloway you will find self-catering cottages in Wigtown, which is home to the wonderful Wigtown Book Festival and lots of enticing second-hand book shops as befits Scotland's Book Town. Stranraer in the furthest western corner of Galloway is well known as the ferry port to Ireland.
West coast holiday cottages in Ayrshire have been popular for generations from Glasgow wanting to escape the city and enjoy the Scottish countryside. If you want to visit the stunning Isle of Arran then go to Ardrossan and take the ferry to Brodick - Arran is known as 'Scotland in Miniature' as in encompasses all that Scotland is known for. Many tourists want to visit the Isle of Islay on the west coast to sample their wonderful single malt whiskies in the distilleries where they are produced: there are 8 working distilleries on Islay. Nearby Jura is often visited by those who want to climb the famous Paps or bird watchers hoping to catch a sight of a golden eagle.
Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park is another great place to stay centrally for a Scottish holiday. Situated to the north of Glasgow it has many lochs apart from the famous Loch Lomond. The Lake of Monteith near Aberfoyle and Stirling was a famous curling loch years ago and is home to Inchmahome Priory which is fascinating to explore and also a lovely island to picnic on. Stirling Castle is definitely well worth a visit on a Scottish holiday with so much to see there. Dunbartonshire can be easily reached from a holiday house in the Trossachs and can Renfrewshire and if you are staying in either counties then you are very well placed to explore Glasgow. There are also lots of food, arts and music festivals all over Scotland throughout the year so wherever you are staying you are likely to be within reach of a festival of some sort! Of course many people are booking their holiday cottage to specially visit a local festival and accommodation gets booked up early around the big festivals. Lots of towns have farmers' markets selling local produce or craft markets where you can meet the artist or crafter - often farmers' markets have some stalls selling craft products too. Wherever you are staying in Scotland you are never far from a castle, great walking or beautiful towns and villages. An iconic place to visit in Scotland is Gretna Green and whilst fewer people get married there nowadays it is a very popular place for a Scottish honeymoon as it has such romantic associations. These tourist guides give you information on the local area, major tourist sites, great places to walk or cycle, fishing rivers, places to shop, details of local customs, regional food and much much more!
Tourist guides to Scotland take a variety of forms - many people like to read all about the country on an online guide before coming on holiday, and then buy a guide book for more detailed historical and tourist information. Some holiday-makers arrange a guided tour to take them round Scotland, exploring some of the less visited parts of the country with a tourist guide who has specialist local knowledge or book a professional guide for a day tour. This online tourist guide to Scotland has a wealth of information on travel, accommodation, culture, history and is a great Scottish visitors' guide to individual towns and cities.