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Destination Guides > Europe & Russia > Europe > Scotland
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The Scottish capital, Edinburgh , is a handsome and ancient city, famous for its magnificent castle and Palace of Holyroodhouse as well as for a world-acclaimed international arts festival and some excellent museums - not least the outstanding National Museum of Scotland . A short journey west is Glasgow , a sprawling industrial metropolis that has done much to improve its image in recent years and can now boast a range of fine museums and galleries to complement the impressive architectural legacy of its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century heyday.

Southern Scotland , often underrated, features some gorgeous scenery, but nothing quite to compare to the shadowy glens and well-walked hills of the Trossachs , or to the Highlands , whose multitude of mountains, seacliffs, glens and lochs cover the northern two-thirds of the country. Inverness is an obvious base, although Fort William , at the opposite end of the Great Glen near Ben Nevis , Britain's highest mountain, is an alternative.

Some of Britain's most thrilling wilderness experiences are to be had on the Scottish islands, the most accessible of which extend in a long rocky chain off the Atlantic coast, from Arran through Skye (the most visited of the Hebrides) to the Western Isles , where the remarkably hostile terrain harbours some of the last bastions of the Gaelic language. At Britain's northern extreme lie the sea- and wind-buffeted Orkney and Shetland islands, whose rich Norse heritage makes them distinct in dialect and culture from mainland Scotland, while their wild scenery offers some of Britain's finest birdwatching and some stunning archeological remains.