This is a guest post written by Matt from eightbitmatt.xyz, who runs a digital marketing website. After living in Wales for 23 years, he moved up to Scotland seven years ago and has been enjoying touring the country.

Growing up, France was my family’s go-to holiday destination. I lived on the border of England and Wales and I always thought Scotland or the closest neighbour, England, would have been easier to visit. We very rarely had a staycation until I had grown up and I am honestly a little bit gutted it took me 20+ years to finally step foot in Scotland because it is absolutely wonderful.

I didn’t realise how many surprises Scotland had hidden within its border, below are a few that spring to mind! 

The Lochs are a big surprise 

I had heard of the most famous of the lochs, Loch Ness, because I’d always been interested in Nessie. I thought it was very cool to have a fable within the UK. But I had no idea how many wonderful lochs that Scotland actually has.

Moving to my adopted city of Glasgow I was surprised by, and in love with, the fact that Loch Lomond is so close to it. To be able to go from the middle of a bustling city to the beautiful Trossachs national park in about 30 minutes was unreal. 

I have a couple of amazing highlights from my visits to the lochs but without any shadow of a doubt, my top moment is a visit to Inverary. Sat on the side of Loch Fyne with numerous cafes and places to sit and stare into space, it has to be one of my favourite places in Scotland.


The Highlands should be shouted about worldwide

After visiting the Scottish lochs, I didn’t think I could find anywhere better. All of the wonderful views, the forests, the little villages. But then I took my first visit to the Highlands, Aviemore, and Scotland surprised me once more.

My first holiday to the Highlands was at the foot of the Cairngorms, in a campsite next to a little loch surrounded by sandy beaches and forests.  Distilleries and rolling hills around Speyside and a beautifully picturesque vintage steam railway running right through the middle of it. Scotland outdid itself once again. 

I definitely want to explore more of the Highlands the longer I am here. I feel like there is so much more for me to see. 

There are islands?!

I’d heard about Shetland and Orkney and since moving up to Scotland I’d always wanted to visit them, but then I found out about a whole new set of islands. This sounds like I knew nothing about Scotland at all, I knew you had islands just not as many as you do. 

I visited the islands of Harris and Lewis in July last year, along with a visit to Arran in January, Bute in April, Mull, and the small but mighty Iona in June. I was incredibly surprised by the variety that the islands of Scotland had to offer. 

The biggest surprise I had about the islands is much like Loch Lomond’s proximity to Glasgow, it is just as easy to reach the islands. A 30-minute car journey and 50-minute boat ride and you are on an island? Amazing. 

Everyone is incredibly friendly

I am now pretty convinced that a Glasgow kiss is a myth because this city is one of the friendliest I have ever visited. The whole city is vibrant, full of colour, cheer, and friendly conversation. 

Edinburgh is just as friendly, bustling during the Fringe, but always full of friendly faces and great conversations. It seems to be the Scottish way and in all honesty, I’d never want that to change. It makes me feel so welcome.

Some key surprises about Scotland

  1. Living in the city of Glasgow doesn’t mean you are far from the countryside -it’s very easy to get to islands and lochs from here
  2. Scotland is full of surprises, especially if you go higher up 
  3. The islands of Harris and Lewis are like visiting a foreign country – it is my favourite holiday to date
  4. You guys are so friendly and should never let that change

Have you visited Scotland or have you moved here? What’s your biggest surprise about Scotland?

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