A rail experience through the heart of the Highlands has put Scotland on National Geographic’s ‘Best of the World - Top 20 Travel Experiences’ for 2024.

The experience of taking the Royal Scotsman train through the Highlands is ranked 14th in the travel bibles' annual list of the top 20 global travel experiences. 

It is the only UK destination to make the list - which was created, researched, reported and written in collaboration with National Geographic’s international editorial teams. 

Other experiences include a horseback safari in Kenya, bear watching in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, diving with sharks in Western Australia, hiking a volcano in Panama and wandering tea trails in Sri Lanka.

The 2024 travel guide celebrates not only must-see destinations but has expanded to include a complete and authoritative suite of must-do, must-stay and must-consume recommendations for travellers to engage with destinations more deeply.

READ MORE: Scotland’s first UNESCO Biosphere makes National Geographic's 'cool list' for 2024

About the rail experience through the Highlands, National Geographic wrote: “Exploring Scotland’s wild, scenic Highlands doesn’t have to mean roughing it. The Royal Scotsman train glides among the moody lochs and dramatic peaks in style.

"New suites debuting in May 2024 sport interiors that reflect the compelling landscapes through dark woods, wool tweeds, and richly patterned bespoke tartans crafted by Scottish brand Araminta Campbell.

"After a day spent hiking to waterfalls or playing rounds of golf (a sport inextricably tied to the nation), guests can wind down with a massage at the onboard spa.

“Departing Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, the two-to seven-night rail journeys cross the heart of the Highlands, from Perthshire to Inverness to the rugged west coast.

"During stops guests can tour castles, stargaze in Cairngorms National Park, sample whisky at revered distilleries, and even take a dip in a loch.”

The Herald: The Royal Scotsman offers several Highland journeys with associated experiences which weave their way through many breathtaking locations, including GlenfinnanThe Royal Scotsman offers several Highland journeys with associated experiences which weave their way through many breathtaking locations, including Glenfinnan

Commenting on the news, Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “The breathtaking scenery and landscapes of the Highlands is one of the top reasons that people visit this region, so it’s no surprise that National Geographic has highlighted a journey that takes in this natural splendour.

“It’s fantastic that Scotland has been recognised once again in the Best of the World list, shining a spotlight on our world-class experiences. It is particularly welcome, as we encourage visitors to explore our country across the seasons using sustainable transport.

“VisitScotland is committed to the development of Scotland as a globally recognised responsible tourism destination. We are working with the industry, communities and visitors to preserve and protect the natural, social and cultural assets which are so vital to Scotland’s brand and its future prosperity.”

The Highlands was previously named as one of National Geographic’s Best of the World destinations for 2023 in the ‘nature’ category. The region was one of only two UK destinations to make the annual list and referenced areas such as Alladale Wilderness Reserve and the Affric Highlands project.

The Royal Scotsman offers several Highland journeys with associated experiences, which weave their way through many breathtaking locations, include the Cairngorms, Culloden, the Kyle of Lochalsh, Fort William, Glenfinnan and Bridge of Orchy.

For more information on Nat Geo’s Top 20 Travel Experiences list, as featured in their best of the world guide 2024, visit NatGeo.com/BestOfTheWorld