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Here Is the Ideal Overseas Destination for Older Women Travelers

I should know. I grew up here.

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Calton Hill in Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Richie Chan/Shutterstock)
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I was born and raised in Scotland. It’s only since living elsewhere that I realize how lucky I was to grow up in what looks like a Hollywood set — a rugged landscape of mountains, castles, rolling green hills and vast empty beaches.

Scotland is an ideal destination for mature travelers. It’s big enough to offer a myriad of travel options, but small enough to tackle in one trip. There are discounts on public transport (including trains) for people over 60. Many attractions, such as castles or tours, provide concessions for older adults. It’s always worth asking about senior discounts at places you visit, and while touring, carry identification with your date of birth.

It's a year-round destination, but not known for its warm climate, so bear that in mind when you’re packing for the trip. In our warmest months, the average temperature is around 64°F, and in the coldest months, it registers around 32°F.

The spring and fall seasons are a good time to visit. There are less tourists and it’s a more affordable time to travel, with flights from most major American cities to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

British Airways offer AARP discounts on your airfare. Visit Scotland is a reliable source for quality accommodation options, ranging from hotels to lodges in one of Scotland’s many national parks, to converted castles with executive chefs.

Edinburgh

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Restaurants on Rose Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
Hans-Georg Eiben/eStock Photo

Scotland’s Capital has something for everyone. Famous worldwide for its more than a dozen majestic castles, the annual Festival Fringe (the largest arts festival in the world) and legendary Hogmanay celebrations, celebrated by Scots on New Year’s Eve. It’s a city steeped in history, with a myriad of museums, stately homes, shopping and dining options. Edinburgh is an ideal location for a short break or as a base for the rest of your Scottish adventure.

Spend some time on the Royal Mile, which connects two of the city’s must-see attractions; Edinburgh Castle and The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

If you are interested in history, a walking tour can be a fun and accessible way to hear the real stories of Scotland. There are several to choose from, but I’d recommend Mercat Tours, a family business that’s been running for almost 40 years.

When you’ve had your fill of castles and culture, treat yourself to an elegant afternoon tea at Colonnades at the Signet Library, a minute’s stroll from the impressive St Giles' Cathedral.

The East Neuk of Fife

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The harbor at Crail, East Neuk, Scotland
Richard Taylor/eStock Photo

Just 50 miles from Edinburgh, you’ll find yourself in another world. The Scottish word “neuk” means a small nook, but what this corner of Fife lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm! The East Neuk is home to several picture-perfect fishing villages, with twisty cobbled streets and charming cottages jostling for position over the harbor. Each village has a unique personality and it’s easy to travel between them, either on foot using the coastal path, by taxi or on the local bus route.

Anstruther holds a special place in my heart because we often vacationed there as children. Sample some authentic food while you’re there at the famous Anstruther Fish Bar.

You can visit the East Neuk on a day trip, but if you’d like to spend more time exploring, The Waterfront offers good-quality affordable accommodation including breakfast.

Glasgow

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Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland
Shutterstock

Scotland’s largest city offers visitors a range of activities and is famous for its impressive shopping options like the Buchanan Galleries. And after you’ve shopped to exhaustion, you can revive yourself at the charming Willow Tea Rooms.

If the weather prohibits outdoor touring, there are plenty of art galleries and museums to shelter in. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Burrell Collection. Set in Pollock Country Park, it houses over 9,000 pieces of artwork and treasures. Closer to the city center, you’ll find the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Loch Lomond

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Exterior view of Cameron House on Loch Lomond
Courtesy Cameron House

In less than an hour, you can leave the hustle of Glasgow behind and find yourself in a tranquil oasis of natural beauty.

There are plenty of gentle hiking routes to appreciate Loch Lomond’s natural beauty, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a buzzard or red squirrel. Nature lovers can visit the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Center, the Sea Life Aquarium and the wildlife reserve near Gatrocharn.

The award-winning Cameron House, overlooking Loch Lomond, offers guests a truly five-star experience, with its own spa, cinema, restaurants and golf course, but there are also plenty of more affordable options in the area as well.

Glencoe National Nature Reserve

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Glencoe waterfall at the Meeting of Three waters at the foot of Three Sisters mountains of Glencoe National Nature Reserve, Scotland
Getty Images

If you’re seeking truly stunning Highlands scenery, head north from Loch Lomond to the mountains and valleys of Glencoe, home to red deer and golden eagles.

Glencoe Village is an ideal base to explore the area, which boasts a museum, golf course, nature reserve and gin school. If you are looking for something more active, you can try hillwalking, pigeon shooting or even archery!

Glencoe has some wonderful accommodations, ranging from hotels with open fires to self-catering cottages, but the most famous is the 300-year-old Clachaig Inn, which also offers food and live music. It’s a little rustic, but not to be missed if you’re keen to sample a warm Scottish welcome.

Inverness

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Ruins of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Highland Region, Scotland
Susanne Kremer/eStock Photo

Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. It’s a small city but boasts a castle, cathedral, botanic gardens, museum and art gallery.

If you are fascinated by Scottish history, the visitor center at Culloden Battlefield is a short 15-minute drive from the city center.

Inverness is also just 30 minutes away from one of Scotland’s most famous and iconic locations, Loch Ness. Loch Ness holds more water than all the English and Welsh lakes combined, which is why it’s the perfect place to allegedly hide the famous Loch Ness Monster. If you want to try Nessie spotting for yourself, there’s a visitor center offering an immersive experience and boat tours.

Afterwards, visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle which has stood overlooking the Loch since medieval times. It provides spectacular views of the area (and one last chance to spot Nessie).

Scotland might be a small country, about the size of South Carolina, but it has a lot to offer. As you tour and take in my homeland’s lush landscapes, you will also be greeted with many warm welcomes. Scotland is a country of friendly locals, eager to help tourists with directions and to recommend a good pub. They may even accompany you there!

 
Have any of you ever been to Scotland? What did you love most about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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