Attractions & Entertainment Travel

Touring Scotland with the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA)

View from Edinburgh Castle

3 Days in Scotland just wasn’t enough – sigh! 3 Days in just Edinburgh was barely enough.  My dream would be to take a month hiatus and spend it touring Scotland and seeing the Lochs, Castles and countryside (and seeing Men in Kilts) Sigh, sigh, sigh. One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty and history of  Bonny Scotland is by a membership with the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, or ASVA. The Scotland Visitor’s bureau provided me with a membership for my short tour of Edinburgh and nearby attractions. It covers the whole of Scotland, which unfortunately, is too vast for a 3 Day trip. 

Military Tattoo in Edinburgh Scotland

On the ASVA website you can view ALL the membership benefits and their listing of attractions, no matter what part of Scotland you plan to visit. We packed our 3 days as full as we could with sightseeing and also allowing time to browse the shops. We happened to be there during the month August when Edinburgh hosts the Fringe Festival – a Festival of the Arts. Edinburgh doubles in size with visitors during August. The main reason we chose August to see Scotland, is the weather is warmer and this is when the Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo takes place, in conjunction with the Fringe Festival.  Definitely a busy time, but the only time one can take part in the Tattoo (I’m not talking body art here, but a military musical display). The Military Tattoo was an exhilarating event of a lifetime, as we were seated stadium style outside the Castle walls, with over 400 massed Pipes and Drums corps giving us goosebumps with the nighttime concert.

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh Scotland

We arrived in Edinburgh late in the evening and took a traditional cab ride to our Bed & Breakfast. In the morning we enjoyed a FULL Scottish hearty breakfast, then we took a double decker city bus to the main drag of Edinburgh. We spent hours on the Royal Mile, cruising the shops, and enjoying the street entertainment. Ate lunch at a fantastic spot called OINK! After lunch we spent time at Edinburgh Castle, Mary King’s Close – one of the old open alleyways between the once tall buildings of Old Edinburgh and The Palace of Holyroodhouse – the official residence of British Royalty when they’re in Scotland. Mary King’s Close was extremely fascinating to learn about, and I definitely recommend making a historical stop to learn how Scots used to live in Edinburgh. Spurts of pouring rain made our explorations interesting to say the least, but it was all so worth the experience! The ASVA membership also allows you to visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and the Royal Yacht Britania which is a short bus ride from downtown Edinburgh.

Scotland Highlands and Castles

Our second day we opted to see the countryside by taking a day long bus tour with Timberline Tours, and our ASVA membership allowed us free entrance to the castles we visited – Doune Castle (the location for Monty Pyton and the Holy Grail, as well as the Outlander series now showing on Starz), Inveraray Castle (a location for part of the Downton Abbey BBC series) and Tussochs Woolen Mill, where we met Hamish the Highland Cow (pronounced Heeland Koo). It was a glorious day!! We also made stops at Stirling Castle, but didn’t have time for the tour. Our drive along the Scottish highway took us past the newly opened “Kelpies” – 30 meter high Water Horses. 

Doune Castle - where Outlander and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed

Had we more time, we surely would have visited Culloden, near Inverness, the famed battlefield of the Scottish Rising in 1745 and many more Lochs and Castles. Your ASVA membership opens the door to anything your heart desires in Bonny Scotland. The ASVA is the organization for the best visitor attractions in Scotland, offering around 450 sites across the c0untry, with the highest quality visitor experience at all times. We found the Scots to be Most hospitable. ASVA members range from Historic Buildings to modern Science Centers throughout Scotland. You’ll also receive a monthly publication of visitor trends to help with your business planning and networking opportunities, if you’re looking to improve your business profile. 

Glenalmond House B&B in Edinburgh Scotland

Be sure to check out the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions when planning your vacation, or when looking to build your business, promote events or even job seeking in tourism in Scotland. It’s the one stop location for all things Scottish. 

My thanks to ASVA for helping to make my short visit to Scotland more pleasurable and definitely memorable. 

About the author

Emily Buys


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