Behind the scenes: Take a tour of Edinburgh and the Highlands in 59 seconds

We recently spent time exploring the Scottish capital and its beautiful Highlands for our “59 seconds in…” series. We’ve picked our highlights from the trip to help you plan your visit.

Edinburgh

Not just a capital city, Edinburgh is the leading festival city in the world.  It’s home to some amazing summer festivals, but truly you’ll have a great time any time you visit. With lots of world-class visitor attractions, Edinburgh has it all!

Marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill has some of the city’s best views. If you get up early, it’s also the best place to catch some epic sunrises. Calton Hill is home to iconic Scottish monuments like the National Monument, Nelson’s Monument. Possibly the most recognisable is the Dugald Stewart Monument that’s perched on the edge, overlooking the city.

Dugald Steward Monument, Calton Hill, Scotland

The Scottish National Gallery is one of Edinburgh’s top free attractions. It houses Scotland’s national collection of fine art from the early Renaissance to the end of the 19th Century, so there’s plenty to explore. Spend an hour strolling around this peaceful setting and you’ll find masterpieces from Raphael, Velázquez and Vermeer to Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh.

The National Museum of Scotland is a top 20 most visited museums and galleries in the world and it’s easy to see why. It has an amazing selection of over 20,000 artefacts that take you through the history of Scotland, to wonders of nature, and science and discovery.

Dedicated to the Scottish literary legend Sir Walter Scott, the Scott Monument is one of the largest monuments to a writer anywhere in the world. It’s a wonderfully unique building. If you want to explore inside you’ll need to take a guided tour. Book in advance, as the tours fill up quickly. Inside you’ll explore the life of Sir Walter Scott, the story of the monument and much more.

West Bow, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Royal Mile is at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, with Edinburgh Castle at its head and the Palace of Holyroodhouse at its foot. It’s a cultural playground just waiting to be explored. Get lost in its alleyways, hiding cute little cafés and quirky shops. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the old city.

Further afield and The Highlands

Once you’ve explored Edinburgh, it’s time to see what else Scotland has to offer. The Highlands really live up to the Scotland of your imagination. Think big skies, mind-blowing views and spectacular landscapes at every turn.

Forth Bridge, Scotland

Forth Bridge
The three Forth Bridges are an impressive sight as they cross the Firth of Forth. One of Scotland’s major landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the railway bridge was built between 1883 and 1890 and is an incredible feat of engineering. It’s well worth the stop to take it all in.

Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews
St Andrews, Scotland’s world-famous Home of Golf, is known for its historic university, medieval streets and traditional buildings. With 10 amazing courses to choose from including the iconic Old Course, it’s an unmissable experience for any golfer.

Afternoon sunlight falls upon the iconic form of Eileen Donan Castle in Scotland

Fort Augustus
Halfway between Inverness and Fort William, Fort Augustus offers spectacular views down Loch Ness and is a haven for walkers and cyclists. Jump on a cruise and explore Loch Ness, making sure to keep an eye out for Nessie! Less than an hour’s drive away is the famous Eilean Donan Castle, potentially the most photographed castle in Scotland. It’s the jewel in the Highlands crown. When you first set eyes on it, you’ll understand why. Situated on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye and surrounded by mountains, the setting is breath-taking. Don’t miss the Glengarry viewpoint on your way to Eilean Donan. Here you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Scottish landscape.

Isle of Skye
Skye is a magical place. It has countless ways to enchant you, from mountain ranges, miles of dramatic coastline and picture-perfect towns.

The Quiraing or Cuith-Raing is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish or Tròndairnis (Scottish Gaelic) on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Portree is the main town on the Isle of Skye and it’s a picturesque, bustling seaside town. The town is a good base for exploring Skye. Further north is the Old Man of Storr – a very popular walk for locals and visitors. The Storr is a huge piece of rock that stands high on a hill and can be seen for miles. It was created by an ancient landslide. You can walk up and down the Storr on a 3.8km route that should take you just over an hour to complete.

The Talisker Distillery is the original distillery on the Isle of Skye, set on the shore of Loch Harport with dramatic views of the Cuillins. It’s not just the whisky that’s irresistible. You can take a tour and see how the distillery uses its surroundings to create their whisky. The tours last about 45 minutes. If you’d prefer, you can just pop in for a quick whisky tasting in the visitor centre.

Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye

From Talisker, the road will take you to Glendale and the Neist Point Trail and lighthouse. Neist Point is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland and it’s right on the westerly tip of Skye. Walking down to the lighthouse you’ll get stunning views of the high cliffs and the lighthouse itself. Head here for sunset to see the landscape at its very best.

End your adventure around the Highlands with a trip to Loch Lomond National Park. You’ll find wild scenery, thrilling history and superb food and drink. In the north part of Loch Lomond, Falls of Falloch is a beautiful waterfall and is the perfect place for a picnic.

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Behind the scenes – how the video came together

Highlands Video Minolta X700
Taken on an analogue 35mm camera.

We spent four days travelling through Edinburgh and the Highlands to film “59 seconds in Edinburgh”. Day one was spent in the capital capturing the best of what the city has to offer. The next morning we departed Edinburgh early and crossed over the Forth Bridge heading north, stopping in St. Andrews. After a short time there we were back on the road stopping along the way in Dundee and ending our day in Inverness.

Behind the scenes Scotland
Taken on an analogue 35mm camera.

The following day began with a full-Scottish breakfast and we set out early towards nearby Loch Ness. The road hugs the lake the whole way along. On the way, we picked up a couple of shots of the lake. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of Nessie.) We spent a little time in Fort Augustus on the south-west end of Loch Ness. Boats travel along the Caledonian Canal which cuts through the centre of the village. You could easily spend an hour or two here having lunch and a coffee while watching the boats pass through a series of locks on the canal.

Volvo Scotland Highlands Roadtrip
Taken on an analogue 35mm camera.

Back on the road, we headed west towards the Isle of Skye. The road is full of breathtaking views around every corner. I recommend taking your time as you drive along, allowing time for impromptu stops to take in all of what the Highlands has on offer. We were on a tight schedule but we stopped at Glengarry Viewpoint which offered panoramic views of the valley below. We didn’t stop again until Eilean Donan Castle. Next, we crossed an impressive bridge that finally brought us onto the Isle of Skye.

The first stop on the Isle of Skye was Talisker Distillery. While my colleagues enjoyed a small tasting, as the designated driver I refrained. But I can tell you they told me it was seriously smooth. Our penultimate stop of the day was Neist Point Trail. Unfortunately, by the time we made it to the headland, it was already 7 pm. We didn’t have time to walk down to the lighthouse but it looked spectacular from a distance and the whole surrounding landscape was amazing. At last, our final stop of the day before heading to our accommodation in Portree was Dunvegan Castle.

Buachaille Etive Mor Minolta X700 35mm
Taken on an analogue 35mm camera.

Our final day, we departed the Isle of Skye and drove towards Ben Nevis. We stopped along the way getting more shots of the dramatic landscape on offer in abundance in the Scottish Highlands. One of my highlights was the mountain Buachaille Etive Mor. The only building in the vicinity is Lagangarbh Hut sitting at the foot of the mountain. The isolated cottage with the towering mountain behind makes for a great photo. Our final stop, the Falls of Falloch. You can park nearby and walk up to the waterfall.

Falls of Falloch
Taken on an analogue 35mm camera.

As I said, we filmed this video over four days. Each day had on average 17.5 hours of daylight and we used almost all of them. I don’t recommend covering such a vast distance in such a short time. You can make your trip to Edinburgh and the Highlands last as long as you like but at the very least, I suggest one week.

Ready for your Scottish adventure? Book now!

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