New exhibitions to see in autumn and winter

From the announcement of the Turner Prize winner to a host of incredible installations and one-off exhibitions, Britain’s galleries are preparing to welcome a wide array of exceptional art as autumn and winter approaches. At sites across the UK, works from emerging and renowned national and international artists are set to go on display, showcasing everything from the power of photography to the mastery of the portrait.

Keith Haring – Tate Liverpool, Liverpool

The first major UK exhibition of renowned artist and activist Keith Haring is at Tate Liverpool until mid-November. Taking inspiration from underground club culture, graffiti and pop-art in 1980s New York, Haring’s works explore societal issues including racism, homophobia, drug addiction, AIDS awareness and the environment. He developed a fashion line with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, designed record covers for David Bowie and Run DMC, and directed a music video for Grace Jones during a career that was tragically cut short. More than 85 of the late artist’s works will be displayed in Liverpool, as well as an array of photographs, posters and videos that capture the essence of 1980s New York street culture.

When? Until 10 November 2019

William Blake – Tate Britain, London

An icon of British art, the works of William Blake have inspired artists, musicians and performers around the world. In recognition of the talented painter, printmaker and poet, the Tate Britain is exhibiting more than 300 original works as part of an immersive experience that showcases Blake’s visionary art as he wanted it to be viewed close to 200 years ago. The largest display of his works in Britain for more than 20 years, the exhibition will include his resplendent watercolours, paintings and prints, highlighting the enduring impact that Blake had on the art world.

When? 11 September 2019 – 2 February 2020

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things – V&A, London

Delve into the creative world of fashion photographer Tim Walker and discover his unmistakeable style at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. His pictures, photographic sets, films and special installations showcase his inventiveness, creativity and style, with Wonderful Things including ten new series of photographs that are heavily influenced by the collections in the V&A.

When? From 21 September 2019

Anthony Gormley, Royal Academy of Art, London

The Royal Academy of Art welcomes Turner Prize winner Anthony Gormley in September, hosting the most significant set of works for more than a decade. As part of an exhibition detailing his illustrious 45-year career, the sculptor and creator of the Angel of the North is set to fill part of the Royal Academy with seawater. Focusing on his use of organic and industrial materials, the exhibition will also include a number of Gormley’s early works, detailing the journey of how he became one of Britain’s most celebrated sculptors.

When? 21 September – 3 December 2019

Mark Leckey – Tate Britain, London

Turner Prize winning artist Mark Leckey’s exhibition will see a life-size replica of a motorway bridge from the Wirral, in Merseyside where he grew up, acting as the setting for a new audio play. Featuring new and existing work, and titled O’ Magic Power of Bleakness, the ghostly theatrical experience focuses on a group of teenagers and draws inspiration from folklore and Leckey’s own childhood memories. Since coming to prominence in the 1990s, Leckey’s works have focused on the ties between technology and popular culture, as well as on young people and nostalgia, resulting in powerful and topical artworks, exhibitions and experiences.

When? 24 September 2019 – 5 January 2020

Turner Prize 2019 – Turner Contemporary, Margate

Renowned for recognising the best in visual art, the Turner Prize 2019 will be showcased at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Awarded annually for an outstanding presentation of art work in the previous year, the Turner Prize can be won by any artist born, living or working in Britain. Four artists are shortlisted for this year’s award – Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani and Helen Cammock. The awards have been hosted in London every other year since 2011, but this marks the first time they have been presented at a venue with direct links to innovative artist JMW Turner – after whom the prize is named. The Turner Contemporary is built on the site of the artist’s lodging house and can be reached from London by train in 90 minutes.

When? 28 September 2019 – 12 January 2020

Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein – Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

Explore the influential work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein at Newcastle’s Hatton Gallery from late September. Part of the Artist Rooms programme of exhibitions, which display modern and contemporary art of international significance in smaller cities around Britain, the Roy Lichtenstein collection showcases cultural and political change in America from the 1960s to the present day. Expect abstract patterning, ambiguity and eye-catching works from one of the leading figures of the pop art movement.

When? 28 September 2019 – 4 January 2020

The Mackintosh Festival, Glasgow

The life and works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh are celebrated annually in October at locations across Glasgow with close ties to the famous Scottish architect, artist and designer. Developed by members of the Glasgow Mackintosh Group, including The Glasgow School of Art, The Mackintosh Church, Glasgow Museums and the Lighthouse, the Mackintosh Festival features an array of workshops, exhibitions, walks, talks and performances for people of all ages. A full programme of events will be unveiled in August.

When? 1-31 October 2019

Rembrandt’s Light – Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Designated the Year of Rembrandt as it marks the 350 years since the Dutch Master’s death, 2019 will see a host of related exhibitions across Europe. Rembrandt’s Light at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is part of the celebration, and will include 35 carefully selected works that detail Rembrandt’s mastery of light and visual storytelling. This includes the chance to see the captivating painting Philemon and Baucis – on-loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, USA – in Britain for the first time. A number of the Dutch painter’s other works are also set to be displayed on British shores for the first time, while award-winning cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, renowned for his work on Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Mars Attacks, will provide lighting assistance for the exhibition, helping to showcase Rembrandt’s works in the best way possible.

When? 4 October 2019 – 2 February 2020

Gauguin Portraits – National Gallery, London

Discover how French artist Paul Gauguin revolutionised the portrait at the first ever exhibition devoted solely to his portrait works. Bringing together a set of around 50 extraordinary works in the National Gallery’s Salisbury Wing, the exhibition will include an exciting array of paintings and 3D objects from public and private collections around the world. To coincide with the exhibition, a special event will run in cinemas across Britain from 15 October, titled Gauguin from the National Gallery. The documentary will explore the life and work of Gauguin, with the biopic featuring scenes shot in Tahiti, France, the Marquesas and Britain, before taking cinema goers on an exclusive filmed tour of the National Gallery’s exhibition.

When? 7 October 2019 – 26 January 2020

Lucian Freud Portraits – Royal Academy of Art, London

More than 50 paintings, prints and drawings from Lucian Freud go on display as part of one eye-opening exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in October. Spanning a period of nearly seven decades, his self-portraits showcase his extraordinary development as a painter and provide insight into the mind of a modern master of British art. The collection traces the fascinating evolution of Freud’s works and his portraits provide a gripping insight into the process of ageing, displaying a lifetime of art in just one showing.

When? 27 October 2019 – 26 January 2020

Dora Maar – Tate Modern, London

The largest retrospective of French photographer, painter and poet Dora Maar ever held in Britain goes on display at the Tate Modern in November. Renowned for symbolic photography and photomontages, Maar was an icon of surrealism and had close ties with Pablo Picasso, with whom she worked closely to create a series of images and portraits using experimental photographic and printmaking techniques. This ground-breaking exhibition seeks to explore Maar’s long career in the context of work by her contemporaries.

When? 20 November 2019 – 15 March 2020

Vivian Suter – Tate Liverpool, Liverpool

Taking inspiration from the tropical landscapes of her home region of Panajachel in Guatemala, Vivian Suter’s immersive installation of hanging paintings is set to dominate the Tate Liverpool’s Wolfson Gallery. The first solo display of her work in Britain, the large-scale installation, titled Nisyros, has close ties to the environment and the outside world, as Suter leaves her artwork outdoors to be exposed to the elements. As a result, an array of natural elements can be found in her creations, from twigs and volcanic matter to imprints of her dog’s paws.

When? 13 December 2019 – 15 March 2020

Discover Britain’s musical legends on the trail of Rocketman

Telling the story of multi-Grammy award-winning superstar Sir Elton John, Rocketman dives head-first into the colourful world of rock and roll. The masterful biopic charts his rise to fame, from his origins as youngster Reginald Dwight to the fabulously flamboyant world of Elton John. Taron Egerton stars as the leading protagonist, as Rocketman explores Elton’s relationships with manager John Reid and lyricist Bernie Taupin, among others. In collaboration with Taupin, Elton has released more than 30 albums to date and has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. But Elton isn’t the only British artist to change the face of music history. From The Beatles to Queen and David Bowie, Take That to the Rolling Stones, Britain is a cultural mecca for music fans, and whether you’re visiting London or Liverpool, there’s a musical experience that perfect for you.

London

A hive of musical activity throughout the ages, London really came into its own in the swinging 60s, when up-and-coming bands from across the world flocked to soak up the creative vibes and jam together. It was from his parent’s home in Pinner, North London, that a young Reginald Dwight formed Bluesology – the first step on his path to stardom. Indeed, the names of two band members, Elton Dean and John Baldry, were used to create his solo stage name – Elton John! Fans of the charismatic star can walk in his footsteps on a Pinner Walk, which takes in Elton’s childhood home, spectacular views from Pinner Hill Golf Club and his first gigging venue. Having welcomed Elton as a weekend pianist in the 1960s, Northwood Hills Hotel may be gone, but the building lives on as Namaste Lounge, a modern Indian restaurant, bar and shisha lounge. If you’re a rock fan on a trip to the capital you can also discover the former haunts of Led Zeppelin, The Clash and Amy Winehouse on a Rock Legends minibus tour, or visit the London flat that all four Beatles shared on the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Tour of London, which also reveals the history of artists including U2 and Elton himself. Alternatively, why not go time travelling on the Swinging 60s bus tour, which transports you back to the music-defining decade.

Liverpool

Elton has close ties to Liverpool thanks to his auntie, while drummer Nigel Olsson, who has played drums alongside him for half a century, was born in the Wirral. The city is packed full of music-themed tours and experiences to enjoy. You can discover the history of Liverpool supergroup The Beatles and a whole host of other British artists at the British Music Experience.  With a section dedicated just to the Fab Four, you can see letters written by fans of the band, clothing worn by Ringo and John, and a whole range of memorabilia from the band’s travels in the 1960s. Other highlights include outfits worn by David Bowie, the Union Jack guitar played by Noel Gallagher at the pinnacle of Oasis’s fame, and even lyrics written by Adele.

Manchester

As the birthplace of Oasis, The 1975 and The Smiths, Manchester is no slouch when it comes to musical heritage. If you’re inspired by Rocketman to get back to your musical roots and Manchester is your destination of choice, why not jump on one of Manchester Music Tours sightseeing trips? Founded by Craig Gill, the drummer of Inspiral Carpets, the tours reveal the history of famous artists, bands and venues throughout the decades, from The Stone Roses to Joy Division. You can even travel in rock star style and take the tour from the comfort of a Manchester taxi. And from two-hour group tours to private itineraries, Manchester Music Story Tour has something for every fan – you can even do a combined tour of three British music cities, taking in the highlights of Manchester, London and Liverpool.

Edinburgh

From bagpipes to the Bay City Rollers, Scotland’s capital city has a rich musical history that’s well worth discovering. Elton’s first solo concert in 1972 was at the city’s Festival Theatre in Nicolson Street, then called the Empire, while the extravagant musician has also wowed crowds at Edinburgh Castle and Easter Road in the past. If you’re visiting the city, why not check out Edinburgh Music Tours, which offer 1.5-hour tours of the city’s musical highlights. For over 18s only, the tours finish in one of Edinburgh’s most famous folk bars, where you can discover more about the legendary acts that have played there over a wee dram or two.

Glasgow

A hot spot for up-and-coming musicians over the years, Elton wouldn’t have been out of place trying to forge his career in Glasgow! A favourite stomping ground of bands including Oasis and Manic Street Preachers, the city’s bars and pubs have played host to many a struggling artist both before and after they made it big. You can find out more about this epic musical heritage on a Glasgow Music City Tour, enjoy traditional folk music on the Scottish Trad Trail Tour or visit the historic music venues of yore on the Merchant City Tour.

Discover Queen Victoria’s Britain

2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria, a monarch whose reign defined an era and who oversaw a period of unparalleled industrial, cultural, scientific, political and military change in Britain. On the throne for more than 63 years at a time of great invention and innovation, the anniversary is being marked with events across Britain, and especially at locations with close ties to the monarch. This year is therefore a great chance to discover Queen Victoria’s Britain…

Balmoral

To mark the 200th anniversary, the Ballroom Exhibition at Balmoral Castle includes objects and portraits that detail Queen Victoria’s time at Balmoral. As the only room in the Castle available for viewing – the others are the reigning Queen’s private quarters – visitors can see a number of Victorian items that provide a glimpse into what life was like during the period. The City of Leeds Pipe Band will also perform on the Saturday closest to the anniversary, with the lead piper being a descendant of Queen Victoria’s first piper Angus Mackay.

When? 1 April – 31 July (The grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and café are open daily from 10am to 5pm). 25 May (Pipe Band between 12pm and 2pm)

Glasgow Museums Resource Centre 

Find out about life as a contemporary of Queen Victoria as part of a tour showcasing the parallel lives of a generation who were born in 1819 at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The Queen Victoria and her contemporaries at 200 tour will focus on objects connected to both Victoria and Price Albert, alongside novelist George Eliot, art and social critic John Ruskin, pioneer war photographer Roger Fenton and painters Gustave Courbet and William Powell Frith, among others. It will raise questions over generational identity and will explore the many ways of living in Victorian Britain.

When? 30 April (from 2.30pm)

Cliveden House

Once enjoyed by Queen Victoria as a relaxing destination for afternoon tea, the Spring Cottage at Cliveden House is one of two experiences on offer to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Guests can tuck into an afternoon tea, including the famous Victoria sponge cake that was named after the Queen herself, and an array of finger sandwiches and savoury treats, all accompanied by an aromatic Cliveden blend tea. Or retrace the footsteps of royalty with a stay at the Spring Cottage on the Banks of the River Thames, accompanied by a 45-minute Champagne river cruise.

When? 24-26 May (Afternoon tea, must be booked in advance) 20 May – 30 September 2019 (Spring Cottage Escape, must be booked in advance)

Kensington Palace

Queen Victoria’s birthplace will celebrate her bicentenary by altering the state rooms at Kensington Palace to reflect what life was like for the young princess growing up, alongside an incredible exhibition of her life. Historic Royal Palaces are creating an evocative and family-friendly display using an array of remarkable objects that relate to Victoria’s early years, including a scrapbook of mementos created by her German Governess Baroness Lehzen, which goes on public display for the first time. The palace’s Pigott Gallery will house an exhibition that delves into her later life and the legacy left behind, providing a unique insight into the private woman behind the public monarch. Featuring rare clothing from Victoria’s private wardrobe and other items that have previously remained out of the public eye, both the exhibition and the new walking route around the state rooms will open on the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birthday.

When? From 24 May (Entry to the exhibitions is included with standard entry to the palace)

Osborne, Isle of Wight

Renowned as Queen Victoria’s seaside retreat, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight will mark the bicentenary with a new trail around the unique collection found within the house and its gardens. The gifts received and exchanged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert form the focal point of a new display too, highlighting their eclectic tastes and interests. Browse the opulent state rooms, as well as the pair’s bedroom and the royal nursery, before heading into the walled garden or wandering along Queen Victoria’s private beach. English Heritage is hosting The Great Victorian Show at Osborne House, celebrating the many inventions from the era and featuring a display of horsemanship and other entertainment including a traditional Punch and Judy show. Victoria’s Island Trail also includes 14 locations across the Isle of Wight that were popular with Queen Victoria and the royal family.

When? 28-30 May (The Great Victorian Show), Daily opening (Osborne House is open from 10am, and stays open for longer from 1 April)

Buckingham Palace

Discover how a young Queen Victoria transformed Buckingham Palace into a stunning working residence as part of a special exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Queen Victoria’s Palace focuses on how the Queen, with the support of Prince Albert, reformed the palace into a symbol of the British monarchy and a family home for 9 children.

When? 20 July – 29 September

48 hours in… Glasgow

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow is renowned for its vibrant arts, music and culture scene, rich architectural heritage and a wealth of friendly locals .

The city has the greatest concentration of creative industries in Britain outside London. Its architectural assets include the Victorian splendour of Glasgow City Chambers, the neo-classical surroundings of the Gallery of Modern Art, and the ultra-modern spikes of Zaha Hadid's Riverside Transport Museum. And with more than 1,500 shops, this fashionable city is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre.

UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow stages an average of 130 music events in the city every week. It's also considered a place to discover new talent: bands hailing from, or starting their careers here include famous names like Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis, Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Travis, Texas and Paolo Nutini.

TIME TO CHECK IN:

The four-star Grand Central Hotel has been open since 1879; this Queen Anne style landmark has 230 rooms and suites, and former guests include politicians and Hollywood stars.

Situated on the Banks of the River Clyde next to The SSE Hydro, the Radisson Red Hotel opened its doors in 2018 and is home to 174 studio rooms. The OUIBar + KTCHEN and rooftop RED Sky Bar, with its craft beers and classy cocktails, mean your food and drink needs are well covered too.

Scotland’s largest bedroomed hotel with 374 rooms, Motel One Glasgow provides a stylish budget option with an interior that takes inspiration from its location next to Glasgow Central Station. The hotel’s signature One Lounge – a breakfast café, bar and living area rolled into one – is themed around the golden age of train travel in Scotland. 

Alternatively, the new Ibis Styles Glasgow Centre West is another that mixes affordability with style across its 137 rooms. The hotel recognises Glasgow’s influence on the global music scene, so keep an eye out for the names of iconic bands and venues that are splashed across the décor.

DAY ONE:

11.00 Take in the Gallery of Modern Art

Discover an incredible collection of contemporary art right in the centre of Glasgow at the Gallery of Modern Art. Thought-provoking displays and temporary exhibitions pack the gallery, and building tours take place at weekends that can introduce the history of the building and the exhibitions within it. 

12:15 Follow in the footsteps of great pioneers

The historic campus of the University of Glasgow is another edifying tourist attraction. Take a self-guided tour of Britain's fourth oldest university, and follow in the footsteps of renowned visionaries such as the pioneer of television John Logie Baird. Not to be missed are the Cloisters - these impressive archways have featured in several films, including OutlanderOutlaw King and Cloud Atlas.

13:30 Enjoy lunch along a cobbled backstreet

A cobbled backstreet close to the university, Ashton Lane is a treasure trove of bohemian bars and restaurants. With its rustic chic interior and a beer garden for al fresco drinking and dining, Belgian-style bar and restaurant Brel is a popular choice. Or try renowned Glasgow bar and eatery the Ubiquitous Chip.

14:30 Experience Glasgow's bohemian side

The neighbourhood that includes the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane is known as Glasgow's West End. This bohemian quarter of ornate sandstone tenements and cobbled streets is well worth exploring. A fantastic range of vintage and design stores, cafés, bars and specialist delicatessens can be found here. It's also home to the picturesque Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park, as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's distinctive and stylish Mackintosh House.

15:30 Explore Scottish and world history

Also located within Glasgow's West End is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Built in 1901, this grand red sandstone building displays one of Europe's greatest and most eclectic art collections, and is one of Scotland's most popular free-to-enter visitor attractions. Highlights include Salvador Dali's iconic painting Christ Of St John Of The Cross, plus Scottish history and archaeology, dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, arms and armour, and Dutch Old Masters. Several stunning exhibitions run throughout the year, while visitors can take the Natural History Trail to explore Scotland’s natural world.

19:30 Dine in a cool up-and-coming quarter

Once an industrial area frequented by dockworkers, Finnieston is now a neighbourhood with a cool new vibe. Anchored by The SSE Hydro arena, initially built for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and now a renowned live entertainment venue, the area has witnessed a change in fortune. Known as the city's foodie quarter, a stretch of Argyle Street is now lined with bars and eclectic restaurants, with top picks including industrial eatery The Gannet, tapas-style Indian food at Mother India's Café, or fish and shellfish at Crabshakk

21:30 Sip a cocktail or a dram of whisky

After-dinner options along Argyle Street range from cocktails at Kelvingrove Café to a dram of Scottish whisky and traditional live music at The Ben Nevis.

DAY TWO:

9:30 Visit a champion transport museum

Voted 2013 European Museum of the Year, the spiky Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum is Scotland's museum of transport. Its collection includes a historic Tall Ship, an icon of Glasgow's shipbuilding heritage now moored at Riverside, while inside the vast free-flowing gallery space are trams, trolley buses, vintage cars, bicycles and motorbikes - each object telling a unique story. Discover the story of Glasgow’s telegram messengers throughout 2019 and keep an eye out for numerous one and two-day specialist exhibitions that are held across the year.

11:00 Take a Scottish brunch break

Enjoy a delicious Scottish brunch at Cup, Glasgow's award-winning tea rooms. The tiled Victorian interior of Cup Tea Lounge is truly stunning. There's also Cup Tea Room in Glasgow's West End, and the Cup Tea Garden in stylish Merchant City. Cup's big breakfast includes Scottish cured bacon, sausages and homemade beans. Other choices include Eggs Benedict, Florentine, Royal or Stornoway - the latter two coming with either Scottish smoked salmon or Stornoway Black Pudding. Cup is also a great choice for afternoon tea.

12:00 Shop till you drop in Britain's second largest retail centre

With more than 1,500 shops, Glasgow is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre, providing one of the best shopping experiences outside London. Glasgow's Style Mile is the city's central shopping district, with all the big high street brands. Tucked away behind the city centre is the Merchant City, one of Glasgow's oldest quarters and an area of huge architectural interest. Dating back to the 1750s, it was home to the warehouses of wealthy merchants. Those old warehouses have since become quirky designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and stylish loft apartments.

14:30 Head out of the city to a grand old country house

In easy reach of Glasgow city centre, Pollok House is a grand country property built in 1752. Now part of the National Trust for Scotland, its lavish family rooms are packed full of period furniture and fine art, while downstairs are vast servants' quarters. Afterwards, hire a bike to explore the surrounding Pollok Country Park - look out for the Highland Cattle and Clydesdale Horses.

19:30 Taste a crisp apple ale and hearty Scottish fare

Britain's first experiential craft brewery, Drygate produce a range of ales and IPAs, and is home to 26 rotating taps and a carefully curated bottle selection. Their Glasgow brewhouse is also home to Drygate's Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen serving seasonal Scottish produce, burgers and charcuterie-grazing boards.

22:00 Listen out for the next big thing in the City of Music

Glasgow is designated UNESCO City of Music thanks to its thriving music scene and multitude of live music venues. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut is consistently named Britain's best small live music venue, or there's the legendary Barrowland Ballroom in the east end of Glasgow, plus Saint Luke's, an exciting music and arts venue in a restored former parish church.

HOW TO GET HERE:

Glasgow is in Scotland, five hours by train north of London, one hour from Edinburgh. Glasgow International Airport is just shy of 9-miles from Glasgow city centre with a bus connection taking 15 minutes.

60 minutes from… Edinburgh

If you’re coming to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, to enjoy one of its many festivals, you’ll soon see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of Britain’s greatest foodie and nightlife hotspots! And with gorgeous beaches, romantic castles and the vibrant buzz of Glasgow all only an hour away, you’ll be able to experience the country’s diverse landscapes, history and culture too, all within easy reach of a day trip.

 

The Borders

Picturesque coastlines in the east and rugged hills and moorlands in the west greet you at the Scottish Borders (bordering northern England), all of which is easily reached thanks to the Borders Railway, which connects Edinburgh and the Borders town of Tweedbank in less than an hour. Have your camera at the ready on this lovely rail journey as you pass by iconic architectural gems such as the Lothianbridge and Redbridge viaducts. Alight at Tweedbank to visit Abbotsford House, the home of famed writer Sir Walter Scott. This romantic mansion was built during the early decades of the 19th century and very much reflects the tastes of one of this era’s most prominent authors. Close by is the attractive town of Melrose, which is not only the home of the magnificent 12th-century Melrose Abbey, but also to two National Trust for Scotland gardens. Priorwood houses Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden and Harmony Gardens features a beautiful walled garden with breath-taking views over the abbey and the nearby Eildon Hills.

 

Glasgow

Did you know that Edinburgh, the capital, and Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, are only an hour apart? A lively, creative city, Glasgow is renowned for its mighty industrial heritage and world-class shopping as well as its vibrant arts, culture and music scene; it’s even a designated UNESCO City of Music! Discover why it won this status on a Glasgow Music City Tour, while fans of street art should check out Glasgow’s first dedicated tour to the genre, the City Centre Mural Trail. Football lovers can take tours of the world-famous Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs, while you can discover the city’s artistic and industrial legacy at a host of inspirational museums such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow and the Riverside Museum of Transport and the Tall Ship on the banks of the River Clyde.

 

North Berwick

In just half an hour by train you can swap Edinburgh’s cityscapes for coastal relaxation. North Berwick and its stretches of golden sands are spectacular – and if it’s glorious views you’ve come for, you won’t be disappointed. Sweeping vistas look out to Bass Rock, home to the world’s largest northern gannet colony, and to the Forth Islands. Take a boat trip out to the islands for an even closer inspection, while bird lovers should also pay a visit to the town’s Scottish Seabird Centre. Alternatively, if you fancy a game of golf overlooking these wonderful coastal scenes, tee off at either of the town’s excellent links courses, the Glen Golf Club and the North Berwick Golf Club.

The town itself is home to a fine collection of cafés, bars and shops, from vintage-style tearooms to stylish coffee shops…also make sure you hit the fish and chip shops and ice-cream parlours, it’s tradition at a British seaside resort! For heritage seekers, don’t miss the 14th-century fortress Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle, which houses some of the oldest castle architecture in Scotland.

 

Stirling

If you’ve ever watched the film Braveheart, you’ll want to visit Stirling. The iconic National Wallace Monument, which overlooks the scene of Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, gives a fascinating insight into the world of Scottish hero William Wallace. History pulsates through every inch of Stirling; explore the streets of the medieval old town, encounter intriguing royal history at Stirling Castle, and even see the world’s oldest football at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum. Perhaps one of the most absorbing attractions that tells the stories of the area’s past is the Battle of Bannockburn Experience. This 3D, immersive exhibition takes you into the heart of one of Scotland’s most historic battles, ending with a visit to the Battle Room where visitors can take part in the interactive battle game. And, if you’re a fan of the hit TV show Outlander, take the time to visit Doune Castle. Located around 15 minutes out of town, multiple scenes from the popular series were filmed at this splendid castle, as they were for Game of Thrones and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

Peebles

South of Edinburgh, on the banks of the River Tweed, lies Peebles, a small, attractive town with a distinctly artistic vibe, that’s framed by gorgeous countryside scenery. Scottish novelist John Buchan, author of The Thirty Nine Steps, made his home here and a picturesque 13-mile walking route is named after him, the John Buchan Way. Alternatively, head out hiking in Glentress Forest, which is also brilliant for mountain biking, as its trails are one of Scotland 7stanes (seven mountain biking centres in southern Scotland). Despite its size, Peebles boasts a number of art galleries and studios and its historic past is prevalent on every corner; ancient relics are dotted across town, from the ruined Cross Kirk to an old Mercat Cross (which depicts a town’s right, granted by a monarch or baron, to hold a regular market).

 

You might also like…

  • Rosslyn Chapel - Discover intricate carvings and unique stonework at one of the most intriguing places of worship in Scotland, in the village of Roslin, 30-minutes’ drive from Edinburgh. Discover its story from its founding in the 15th century to its depiction in the novel and subsequent film The Da Vinci Code.
  • Musselburgh - Step into the past at this historic market town that derives its name from the mussel beds found on nearby shores. It’s also home to the oldest racecourse in Scotland – which hosts many race meets throughout the year – as well as to the historic nine-hole Musselburgh Links golf course, which has royal connections going back to the early 16th century.
  • Linlithgow Palace - Explore royal history at the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, a palace that was once a stopping point for royalty en-route between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. Visit in the summer to enjoy its annual jousting spectacle.