What do you think of when you think of Scotland? Whisky, kilts, bagpipes, haggis, bad weather and even the Scottish accent all spring to mind. But here are some things you might not know about our favourite country!
1. Scotland is the UK’s largest producer of gin
Our Scotch whisky may be renowned across the world but did you know that we are also the UK’s biggest supplier of gin? 70% of gin in the UK is produced in Scotland, including global brands such as Gordon’s and Tanqueray. You can actually see the gin-making process at the Edinburgh Gin distillery, which is located just across the street from our language centre!
2. Our national animal is a unicorn
Yes, that’s right! A unicorn. There are a few different theories (independent article) about why we chose this graceful mythological creature to represent our nation, but it surely has something to do with Scotland’s long-standing love affair with all things legendary.
3. You can go swimming outdoors
While Scotland’s climate is far from tropical, it does have some of the most beautiful spots for jumping in and indulging in some wild swimming. Our top pick is the Fairy Pools in Skye but you can find many more great spots on www.wildswimming.co.uk. Don’t forget your wetsuit if you get cold easily!
4. Scotland is home to some of the most famous actors in the world
Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, Gerard Butler, James McAvoy, Shirley Henderson and Karen Gillan to name a few! Listening to them is a great way to get an idea of the Scottish accent!
5. We have a great music scene
We’re proud to be the homeland for many famous artists, including Calvin Harris, Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian, Lulu, Garbage and many more! Some international acts coming on tour to Scotland in 2016 include Adele, Muse, Jason Derulo, Massive Attack, Coldplay, Rihanna and the Stone Roses!
6. There’s so much wonderful wildlife
While people are aware of Scotland’s beautiful countryside, its wonderful variety of wildlife are less well known. It’s actually one of the best places to spot sea life in Europe, with tourists spotting everything from seals and otters to dolphins and basking sharks! Inland at the Highland Wildlife Park, you can find native species such as the red squirrel, Scottish wildcat, red deer and grey wolves alongside more exotic animals such as Victoria – the only female polar bear in the UK!
7. Scotland has some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain
Going to the beach in Scotland might not be the first thing you would think of doing here but it’s a great idea! Scottish beaches appeared several times in Trip Adviser’s list of the UK’s most beautiful beaches. While it’s great to visit them at any time of year, you can venture out for a paddle and enjoy the ocean during the summer months.
8. It’s home to the largest arts festival in the world
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place every August for three weeks in Edinburgh. Every year the city welcomes thousands of performers to showcase their talents in hundreds of venues across the city. It’s the largest arts festival in the world, featuring everything dance and theatre to comedy, mime and even puppetry. The Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Book Festival and the Edinburgh Art Festival also take place in August alongside the Fringe.
9. It’s the perfect destination for thrill-seekers
For the adrenaline junkie, Scotland offers a natural playground to enjoy everything from snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing to bungee jumping and even sky diving!
10. Almost everywhere is only a day trip away!
From the centre of Edinburgh you only have to take a 30-minute bus journey to feel like you’re in the real Scottish countryside and the rest of Scotland is easily accessible by train, bus or car. If you want to discover a whole new city while you’re here, Glasgow is only a 50-minute train ride away!
What surprised you most about Scotland?
Let us know your ideas!