Going to Edinburgh? Congratulations! Apart from being an amazing city, Edinburgh is also the starting place for great adventures onto the Scottish highlands. It’s not a coincidence that Scotland has been used for settings in the world’s most iconic stories, movies and TV series.

Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness is an incredibly beautiful lake, but it’s the monster that made it famous. The first recorded sighting of this dinosaur-like creature was in 565 AD, when it was said to have appeared from the deep waters and snatched up and ate a servant! Over the years, more rumors spread of other such strange events at Loch Ness.

When in 1933 construction began on the road along the north shore of the Loch, the drilling and blasting forced the monster once again from the depths and into the open. This is when a London surgeon managed to take a now world famous photograph, showing a slender head and neck rising above the surface of the water. The monster hit the headlines and has remained the topic of fierce debate ever since. To this day, many respectable and responsible observers have been utterly convinced they have seen a huge creature in the water. Prehistoric animal? Elaborate hoax? Seismic activity? A simple trick of the light? Who knows, but there truly is something special about Loch Ness and its vast waters and if you are in Scotland, you need to take the tour to see the lake yourself.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Ride in Harry Potter’s train

In his first adventure, now written over 20 years ago, Harry Potter left the cruel Dursley family in London to attend Hogwarts wizarding school, which is somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.

Writer J.K. Rowling famously wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in an Edinburgh cafe while she was a single mother struggling to live on benefits. She has talked about her love for Scotland many times, calling it one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, with fascinating history, handsome men and delicious whisky.

Once the books became world famous, movies followed and that’s when the millions of Harry Potter fans flocked into the highlands to find the Harry Potter settings. Highlight of everybody’s trip is the Jacobite Steam Train, which crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct – a stunning bridge from the 1890’s, the same one that the Hogwarts' Express crossed on. Starting in Fort William and ending in Mallaig, the train crosses the Scottish countryside on the West Highland Line.

Doune Castle

Meet Jon Snow at Winterfell

Game of Thrones, Outlander, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Ivanhoe and The Bruce - not a bad resume for one countryside castle. The 14th century courtyard castle in Doune, with a striking gatehouse and one of the best preserved great halls in Scotland with its carved oak screen, musicians' gallery and double fireplace, is a very popular movie setting indeed.

Doune Castle was used as Winterfell in the pilot of the award winning TV series Game of Thrones, home of Jon Snow and the Stark family. If the towers look familiar, there's a reason: this is where Bran Stark was pushed out of the window by Jaime Lannister. And if you are concerned that the northern home seems dreary and cold in Westeros, don’t worry. In real life, this is a gorgeous, interesting place, full of natural wonders amid lovely Stirlingshire countryside.

During a tour here, visitors find out about the exciting history of the medieval castle and residents, how grand banquets were prepared in the kitchen, and enjoy stunning views of the River Teith and Ben Lomond from the battlements. The castle courtyard and cellar is accessible via a steep, cobbled tunnel. Visitors can touch the well in the courtyard and there's a nature walk around Doune Castle for lots of exploring.

The article was reproduced with permission from hi-europe.net.