ONE way to stave off the January blues is to start planning holidays and breaks for the weeks and months to come.

As highlighted in the first part of our guide to Scotland’s hottest places, tours and events in 2019 highlights, living here means you rarely have to go far to find the sort of destinations and attractions people come from all over the world to experience. How lucky are we? Part two outlines even more fantastic options, so get planning.

Outlander Tour

Season five of the hugely popular time-travel yarn isn’t due till 2020. But if you can’t wait that long, relive some of Claire and Jamie’s early adventures with a tour of some of the stunning locations used in the TV show. Fans come from far and wide to see the scenery and history that inspired author Diana Gabaldon to write the books, and much of it is right on the doorstop.

Fife has some of the most beautiful and historic stops on any Outlander tour - Falkland, Culross, Dysart and Aberdour Castle are all worth visiting in their own right. In Perthshire, meanwhile, Drummond Gardens and Tibbermore Church stand out, while a drive through Loch Katrine and Kinloch Rannoch, on to Glencoe, never disappoints whether you've got Outlander in mind or not.

Scotland’s Storybook Trail

Staying on a literary theme, this charming tour was created last year by Visit Scotland to celebrate the country’s prominent place in children’s literature. From Harry Potter to Peter Pan and Peter Rabbit, Scotland has inspired more than its fair share of much-loved characters. The trail, which has a downloadable map (see, makes it easy for the young – and the young at heart – to embrace their inner child. Highlights include the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands, Edinburgh locations that inspired Harry Potter and Greyfriars Bobby, and Birnam Arts, Perthshire, the heart of the countryside that inspired Beatrix Potter to write and draw. Then it’s off to Dundee, home of Beano and Dandy characters that are still making us smile after more than 80 years.

Lagg Distillery, Arran

Already a firm favourite with visitors for its stunning scenery, excellent hotels and restaurants, and proximity to Glasgow, Arran will soon have yet another star attraction in the shape of the Lagg Distillery ( Legend has it there was once 50 distilleries on the island (mostly illegal), though that dropped to just one, the Arran Malt made at Lochranza. The new distillery, which is owned by the same company and will be located on the southern tip of the island near the village of Lagg, is set to open in spring, complete with a visitors centre. Cheers all round.

Women’s Tour of Scotland, 9-11 August

Keen cyclists – and those who prefer just to watch – won’t want to miss the Women’s Tour of Scotland, a brand new race that has chosen Scotland for its inaugural event. Taking place across Scotland over a 350km course (details still to be announced) the three-day race will attract not only some of the best cyclists in the world, but spectators keen to soak up the scenery as well as the road action. At the same time, a mass participation event hopes to attract 5,000 amateur cyclists to get on their bikes. For more information, go to

Snow Roads Scenic Route

Scotland’s landscape has a particular beauty in winter, as a new tourist trail perfectly highlights. Spanning 90 miles across the Cairngorms National Park, you’re guaranteed plenty of the white stuff, even if it’s just looking up to the snow-capped mountains. There are a plethora of outdoor adventures to be had along the route, including some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Scotland. Even if the weather doesn't oblige on the slopes, wildlife fans will be in their element with abundant opportunities - including a number of winter Land Rover safaris - to see how animals and plants cope with the season. The area’s restaurants and hotels, meanwhile, provide a warm welcome.

Stay on the island where George Orwell wrote 1984

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of the classic dystopian novel 1984, a story of government surveillance and control that is arguably more relevant now than it ever has been.

Orwell, real name Eric Blair, wrote the book at a remote farmhouse on the island of Jura just two years before his death from TB at the age of 46. Visitors can stay at the house, Barnhill - which sleeps eight and still needs a boat or 4 x 4 to access – and soak up the unique and surprisingly humble atmosphere of the place, while enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the ultra-secluded setting. There are many great places to stay on Jura, however, the wilder, less visited and populated island than its neighbour, Islay. Go to for ideas.

Go dolphin-spotting in the Moray Firth

The Moray Firth is renowned as one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins in their natural habitat. You’re never guaranteed to spot these beautiful, intelligent mammals, of course, but there’s nowhere you’re more likely to see a bottlenose dolphin frolicking. Chanonry Point, on the Black Isle, north of Inverness, is acknowledged as perhaps the best location to see them – you can all of a sudden find yourself just a few metres away from a pod - since the tides and feeding patterns are known to suit the creatures. But there are reliable spots up and down the Moray Firth coastline – the excellent Scottish Dolphin Centre is at Spey Bay – so you’ll hopefully get lucky at some point. has useful info and tide timetables.

Visit the Wigtown Book festival, 26 September – 6 October

The south west of Scotland is still relatively undiscovered compared with its north west cousin, which can be advantageous. The roads in this part of the country are blissfully quiet whichever time of year you come, giving more time and space to enjoy the spectacular and varied scenery all around. If you’re looking to plan a visit around an event, the ever friendly and accessible Wigtown Book Festival ( offers an ideal platform to enjoy the best of the area. Even if you can’t make the festival itself, you can always pop in and enjoy a literary jaunt in what is now officially known as Scotland’s National Booktown as you negotiate the South West Coastal 300 featured in part one of this guide.

Beach tour of Harris

When it comes to bucket list things to do in Scotland, a tour of the beaches on the Isle of Harris must surely be up there. It’s hard to put into words just how special the breath-taking beauty and remoteness of Luskentyre, Hushinish or Seilebost is - you really have to experience the white powdery sands and clear blue waters for yourself. Even in summer the beaches never anything close to busy, and in winter you’re lucky to see another soul at all. Medicine for the soul. Go to for more information.