If you're looking for a bustling city that still has the enchanting castles and historical architecture you crave, spend a few hours in Edinburgh. The first stop should be the Edinburgh Castle. Although the body of the castle is only 100 years old (rebuilt after sieges and takeovers), St. Margaret’s Chapel on the grounds dates back to the late 11th century. In addition to the sweeping views of the city from the castle walls, you can also see the crown and jewels of Scotland in the Crown Room, which date back to the 14th and 16th centuries.
After the castle, grab a cab to the royal mile, which is full of shops, pubs, restaurants and historical buildings. For the best haggis in Edinburgh, dine at the Witchery by the Castle. For a more laid-back pub atmosphere, check out the World's End pub. The pub is aptly named because it lies on the wall that was built in the 15th century to protect Edinburgh. If you're a music junkie, stop off the royal mile to Cockburn Street, which is filled with boutiques and old-school record stores. Don't leave without a stop at Cadenhead's Whiskey Shop, which has an unbeatable selection of Scotch whiskey.
Located in the town of Stirling, right in between Glascow and Edinbugh sits the stunning 14th century Stirling Castle. This is one of the largest and most important castles in the history of Scotland and was home to some to several Scottish Kings and Queens, like Queen Mary of the Scots, 1543. The castle sits on top of Castle Hill, an intrusive craig, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geographical formation. There are several key sights to see while touring the castle, like the 15th cenutry outer defenses, the 15th century forework (the entryway of the castle), the 14th century King's Old Building (shown above) and the brightly colored Great Hall, which represents the first example of Renaissance-influenced royal architecture in that country. Tickets cost £13 to view.
The Isle of Lewis is located on the northern part of Lewis and Harris and is the largest island of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Although the Isle of Lewis is home to many amazing sites, it's most famous for the Callanish Stones. The stones have been around since 2000 B.C. There are 13 primary stones in the collection and the circle of monuments represent a somewhat distorted Celtic cross. The largest stone marks an entrance to a burial site where human remains have been found. In addition to the stones, there are stunning beaches on the isle, like Valtos Beach and Tolsta Beach. If you plan your trip for summer, you'll make the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which is one of the largest Celtic festivals in the world.
Check out this exclusive video of Claire's recent trip to Scotland with Disney/Pixar for the DVD/Blu-ray release of the movie Brave. Watch her practice archery, falconry and more!
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