Scotland may not be the first place you think of as a honeymoon or romantic travel destination, yet it has much to offer couples.
Traveling to Scotland for the first time? Fly into Edinburgh (airport code EDI). Or, better yet, catch the slow train from London, the Caledonian Sleeper. A private compartment is an extraordinarily cozy place doze en route to Scotland.
Awaken early in the morning, pull aside the shade in your compartment, and look out upon fields of Scottish heather. As far as the eye can see, the lavender-tinted foliage waves in the breeze.
After the train pulls into the city, it's short cab ride to an Edinburgh hotel. Choices range from casual and modern to traditional with opulent tea services.
Visiting Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh is a walkable city with many cobblestone streets. From many quarters there's a clear view of Edinburgh Castle high on the hill. One part of the fortress dates to the 12th century, while most of the structure is from the 16th. Tourist buses cluster around its perimeter. You'll find your way up; just be prepared for a steep climb.
Spend all the time you like exploring and imagining the romance of holding court at the Castle, and don't miss viewing the crown jewels on display. Unless you're starving, though, delay eating here; the café food isn't recommended.
Afterwards, if you're hungry, pop into a local restaurant (some of the city hotels have excellent ones), buy a tin of Walker's Shortbread or feast on delectable smoked Scottish salmon from room service.
After touring, you may want to spent time shopping along Princes Street for tartan clothing (resist buying a kilt, unless you're certain you'll also wear it when you get home) and cashmeres (arrive price- and style-aware; you may find less expensive and more updated ones in the United States).
Edinburgh's Penguin Parade
Children and adults alike are fans of the world-famous Penguin Parade at the Edinburgh Zoo. It's a ten-minute bus ride from the City Centre to the Zoo. King penguins, followed by smaller ones, enact their parade protected by the zookeepers.
It's remarkable how orderly they are, lining up one in back of another, patiently following a leader in one direction. Next, as if it is choreographed, they all turn about-face and march as far as they can go in the opposite direction, the last penguin becoming the new leader. And then they all turn and do it again, and again -- until the zookeeper shows up with their fishy reward.
Edinburgh's cultural fests are world-renowned. Each summer the Edinburgh International Festival attracts new and established performers from around the world and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world's biggest arts festival, draws up-and-coming talents.
For couples, one great pleasure of many of the city's festivals, including the ones below, is that they are geared toward adults — so it's unlikely your fun will be diminished by screaming or misbehaving children.
If you only see Edinburgh, you'll miss out on the Scotland of lochs and legend. In the vast countryside, where sheep outnumber people, are inns and lodges made for couples on a honeymoon or romantic getaway. The best belong to Connoisseurs Scotland. And the ultimate way to experience the Scottish countryside is from the back seat of a chauffeur-driven car.
Savor more than the salmon plucked from the world's freshest waters. Dine on Scotland's succulent lamb, cooked as you like it. Wash it down with a single-malt or an exquisitely blended Scotch whisky.
Active, adventurous couples have vast wide open spaces to hike, many beside incredibly scenic lochs.
Then there are the country's food festivals: Come spring and summer, regional foods are highlighted via competitions, cookery demonstrations, and exhibitions.
Often music and dance are part of the fun, with a ceilidh (traditional Scottish dance) held at least one night during a festival. Traditional dishes are presented for your delectation: Arbroath smokie (wood-smoked haddock); Forfar bridies (meat pies); stovied tatties (a potato side dish); black bun (a rich, dark-colored fruit cake); and haggis, the county's best-known delicacy, are among them.
Pleasures for Golf and Whisky Fanciers
When planning your romantic visit to Scotland, keep in mind that this country is the home of golf. Your hotel can help you to arrange a game at one of the country's treasured courses. Many, such as Gleneagles and The Turnberry Resort, are affiliated with the greens.
Scotch drinkers will find themselves in a festive mood if they can make it to a gathering such as the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. This lively event celebrates Scotland's whisky-making heritage at locations along the River Spey. Enthusiasts can partake of tours and tastings at distilleries rarely open to the public, and meet master blenders and distillery managers who share their passion. Visitors may get an opportunity to turn the barley in traditional floor maltings or even try their hand at "raising" a cask.
And if you pay close attention, you'll learn how the same water used in producing malt whiskies yields the world's finest cashmere.
See? There's something for both of you on a honeymoon in romantic Scotland.