Self-Catering Cottage Holidays in East Central Scotland
Take our tour of East Central Scotland with our holiday guide
Whether you're looking for fine food, great walks, impressive castles or playing some of the finest golf courses in the world, then East Central Scotland will hold something special for you. Not only does this region boast some of the finest golf courses, some of the oldest castles and the largest National Park in the UK, but it also boasts a stunning coastline - National Geographic voted the Aberdeenshire coast as one of the most scenic coastlines in the world!
Aberdeen - the Granite City - has been voted the happiest place to live in Scotland. If it's fantastic to live here, then it must be pretty spectacular for a holiday! The city is awash with reasons to visit, from amazing beaches, to impressive architecture and history dating back more than 8,000 years. Aberdeen International Airport makes it easy to reach from around the UK and Europe and it's also well serviced by trains, ferries, coaches and roads.
Venture out of Aberdeen and you'll find yourself on a beach that feels far too pristine to be so close to a major city. Stonehaven, Cruden Bay, Banff, Aberdeen, Balmedie and the endless empty sand dunes of Forvie National Nature Reserve in Ellon, are all begging for you to visit. Once you've had your fill of sand and surfing, head inland to the Cairngorms National Park, or country parks such as Balmedie, Haughton and Haddo.
Follow the Castle Trail and discover Aberdeenshire's 300 castles, or explore the region's cultural history at the Aberdeen Art Gallery. There's no shortage of museums celebrating parts of Aberdeenshire's culture, from The Gordon Highlander's Museum, to the quirky Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh.
Angus is renowned for its food production, having nearly half of Scotland's Class 1 agricultural land. The glossy black or red coats of Angus cattle is a common sight on farms and there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy local produce in the area's excellent restaurants.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find it easy to work up an appetite. Walking and cycling trails, fishing and golf are all common past times. Good spots to visit include Balgavies Loch, the Falls of Drumly Harry, Bachnagairn Falls and the Rocks of Solitude near Glen Esk in Edzell.
The northern and eastern parts of Scotland were originally inhabited by the Picts and Angus was the centre of the Pictish kingdom. They left their mark not only in the culture and language, but in the heavily decorated Pictish stones. Several of these are still standing, such as the Aberlmeno Sculptured Stones. Other fantastic historical spots include Glamis Castle (open daily from April to October), Arbroath Abby and the town of Kirriemuir.
Fife, or to use its proper name, the Kingdom of Fife, stretches from Dundee in the north, to Dalgety Bay and Dunfermline in the south, including the Lomond Hills, Cupar and St Andrews. The latter attracts golfers from around the world, who come to play on one of more than 40 courses in the birthplace of their favourite pastime. If your favourite hole of any course is the 19th, be sure to visit the Eden Brewery, or Fife's Whisky Distillery and Visitor Centre in Kingsbarns.
If you can drag yourself away from the links, the British Golf Museum covers the sport's history, while St Andrew's itself offers a stunning cathedral, shops and cafes, a university and beautiful beaches. You may also enjoy the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum and the Scottish Deer Centre in Cupar.
Fife is characterised by pretty fishing villages and a rocky coastline. The Fife Coastal Path is suitable for both serious ramblers and idle strollers. It's not uncommon to see dolphins and grey seals splashing off shore. A short boat trip away are Inchkeith, Inchcolm and the Isle of May, the latter with one of the UK's few puffin colonies.
There is so much to do in Perth and Kinross you could easily spend several weeks here and not exhaust it all. Head off-road on a Highland safari to see the incredible scenery and its wild inhabitants without distraction; or maybe bungee jumping is more your thing. The Victorian town of Pitlochry is as attractive as it is interesting and is popular with tourists who want to walk and fish in the surrounding area. The dazzling white towers of Blair Castle are complemented perfectly by the stunning 18th Century Hercules Gardens. It's a great family day out with woodland play areas and a sculpture trail.
The Loch Leven Heritage Trail is a fantastic way to explore the area either by bike or on foot, taking you past historical points of interest and allowing you to view the abundant flora and fauna. Stop off at Kirkgate to view Lochleven Castle where Mary Queen of Scots made her daring escape in 1568.
Many tourists assume that Scotland's history only became interesting with the uprising led by Robert the Bruce, but East Central Scotland proves it has been fascinating visitors - both welcome and not-so-welcome! - for millennia.