Hello everyone! Today I’m taking you on a tour with me (and ISUK Tours) and we will be visiting three of the most beautiful Scottish destinations – Dundee, Stonehaven and Aberdeen.
You know when you live somewhere and almost never appreciate it? Well, I went on this tour in June, when I thought I was about to leave Scotland in a couple of weeks because I was due to graduate and had no plans of staying whatsoever. My mission was to visit as many places as possible, because I thought I was leaving for good and wanted to tick all the boxes of my travel bucket list. Oh boy, how wrong I was.. It’s almost October and I’m still here, but that’s a topic for another day.
Back to the tour – Dunnottar castle (in Stonehaven, on the photo above) was one those destinations on my travel list. Lucky me, I saw that ISUK had a tour to Stonehaven scheduled in two weeks time! I traveled with ISUK Tours before so I booked my ticket with no hesitation.
ISUK Tours is short for International Students (in UK) Tours and are probably the best travel organisation in Glasgow. Although they target mostly international/exchange students who, similarly to me, wish to visit as many places as possible for their short visit in Scotland, everyone is welcome to hop aboard – you can buy tickets from Eventbrite. There are different tours happening every Saturday and Sunday, covering various destinations – Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Harry Potter Bridge, Glencoe, Distillery tours, Isle of Skye, you name it. Tickets are selling out fast so you need to book in advance.
Tickets are super affordable – we are talking student life after all 🙂 A day trip costs around £25 and includes return journey with a very comfortable coach, a very helpful and kind guide and plenty of free time for lunch, toilet breaks and walks. There are three pickup points – UWS Paisley, Strathclyde Uni and Glasgow Uni between 7 and 7.30am. More details about each trip can be found on their facebook page. (#notsponsored)
First Stop: Dundee
Dundee is only an hour and a half away from Glasgow, which makes it the perfect first stop of our ISUK tour to Stonehaven! Our guide quickly explained the main tourist attractions in the city and gave us one hour to explore on our terms. My favourite parts of Dundee were the McManus Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum (right) and the penguins (left). We’ve been told that penguins often get dressed up – for Graduation Day, Christmas, Parades, Charity events.. they even have their own Facebook page! 🙂
But why is Dundee obsessed with penguins? Well, in 1901, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his crew set sail from New Zealand on a journey to reach Antarctica. They happened to discover more than 500 new species on Antartica – the first of them being the Emperor Penguin. The ship was built in 1900 in the shipyards of Dundee and the city takes great pride of the discovery. Today the ship resides in the Dundee waterfront and is turned into a museum. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit it but we saw it from the road and it’s huge!
Second Stop: Stonehaven
Another hour into the journey, and we were in Stonehaven. The main attraction is the Dunnottar castle – the highlight of the tour, which is also the inspiration of the beautiful castle setting in the Disney Pixar’s movie Brave. Our guide even put the movie on for us to watch. But let me tell you – the Dunnottar castle is much more magnificent in real life!
Again, we were given one hour – some people had a walk, others went inside the castle. It’s up to you how you wanted to spend your time. I, as always, decided to go around the castle and enjoy its beauty from all angles.
I swear, the weather changed every 47 seconds. You will enjoy some sunshine one second and then get hit by torrential rain the next. Want a new hairstyle? No problem, there’s plenty of strong winds to make you one.
I can’t say when’s the best time to visit the Dunnottar castle. No matter whether you go during Spring or Summer, you will experience all of the Scottish moods. But that’s part of the adventure, so get yourself a windproof jacket, a pair of comfy shoes, charge the battery of your camera and enjoy 🙂
Last stop: Aberdeen
Aberdeen is famous for being the ‘oil capital’ of Europe and the coldest city in the UK. Here they also call it the ‘granite city’ because everything is made of… yes, you guessed it right, granite.
This is the only picture I took of Aberdeen because although the architecture was incredibly beautiful, I simply didn’t like the whole atmosphere. Aberdeen looked too grey and kind of ‘lifeless’ to me, especially with all those clouds above us.
We had 2 or 3 hours to spend there, the majority of which I decided to spend on the beach. Very cold, very windy, but it’s absolutely worth it!
Back to Glasgow
From Aberdeen we went straight back to Glasgow. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the scenery along the way – Scottish landscapes never fail to impress.
If you are on a budget and wish to visit key all of the key spots in Scotland, I can’t recommend ISUK tours any more! There’s a tour happening every weekend and even if Stonehaven is not your thing, there’s plenty of destinations to choose from.
If you prefer to travel solo or with your own transport, then I would absolutely recommend visiting the Dunnottar castle and hitting the beach afterwards if the weather permits. Dundee is the sunniest city in Scotland so I’d say there’s never a wrong time to visit it. I would love to go back to Aberdeen again in winter – I feel like the snow would make it a bit more charming.
Have you ever been to any of those places?