14 Spots You Would Never Know Were In Scotland

Scotland really does have it all – from snow-capped mountains, palm trees and turquoise seas. But at first glance, would you guess where you actually were?

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Feels like France, right? While this fairytale castle might look like a French château or Bavarian palace, it’s actually Dunrobin Castle, the seat of the Earl of Sutherland, located in the Scottish Highlands. It owes its continental appearance to Sir Charles Barry, who did extensive remodeling in the early 1800s.

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Are we in a rainforest? While this might look like the Amazon, this gorgeous gorge is actually Puck’s Glen, near Dunoon, in the west of Scotland. This tumbling, rocky burn that runs through the glen is criss-crossed by wooden bridges, giving it a “Lord of the Rings”-style charm.

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Coping in Copenhagen? Not quite – this is the Shore in Leith. It used to be a separate town but was merged with Edinburgh in 1920, even though the citizens voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the union. Nowadays, it’s commonly referred to as Edinburgh’s port.

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Which way to Norway? While these Northern Lights do put on some of the most spectacular displays in Scandinavian skies, the aurora is also visible in northern parts of the Scottish mainland as well as Shetland and Orkney. There, the lights are known as the “merry dancers.”

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“Yo Ho” in the Caribbean? The white sands and turquoise sea of the Luskentyre peninsula might first make you think you are in Antigua, but this beach it’s actually on the west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

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G’Day Mate? While this croissant-like building looks a lot like the Sydney Opera House – it’s actually the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow. The SECC recently hosted a wide range of Commonwealth Games events.

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Memories of Malta? These palm-fringed battlements of Culzean Castle may look exotic enough to be in the Med, but this particular fortress is actually in South Ayrshire. If it looks familiar to you, that might be because it was used as the castle of Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) in the cult 1973 film The Wicker Man.

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A view from Venezuela? This tall waterfall isn’t tumbling from a Central American plateau; it’s actually the 60-metre-high “Mealt Falls” located on the Isle of Skye. Those imposing cliffs in the background are Kilt Rock, a rocky outcrop with vertical basalt columns that are said to resemble a pleated kilt.

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A glimpse of the Alps? This sunrise shot was taken from the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is a popular destination for climbers – the other peaks in view include Bidean nam Bian, a long ridge on the south side of Glen Coe. The name means “pinnacle of the mountains.”

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Vienna, did you say? These pretty little red-and-white houses might look like the sort of picture postcard backdrop you might find in Austria, but they’re actually Ramsay Garden, a block of private apartment buildings situated right next to Edinburgh Castle. They were constructed in 1733 by a poet and wigmaker called Allan Ramsay the Elder.

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Who wants Gelato? This is the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, a small uninhabited island in Orkney. It’s also referred to as the Prisoners’ Chapel, as it was built by Italian prisoners of war held on the island during the second World War. While Italians have certainly had a hand in this site, we are still far from the boot-shaped land!

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Namaste? Welcome to Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries & Galloway, located at the southwestern tip of Scotland. The area is warmed by the Gulf Stream, making it a perfect spot to cultivate southern-hemisphere plants like eucalypts, rhododendrons, and Chusan palms. You get the feel of being in India without actually being there.

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Andes, anyone? This is Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most famous and arresting locations. Similar to parts of the Andes, Glencoe was formed by an ancient supervolcano, which left a huge crater when it erupted in the Silurian period. It was carved into its current shapes by glaciers during the last ice age.

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Game of Thrones, right? It might look like a CGI set from the recent box office hit, but this is actually Dunnottar Castle, a ruined medieval fortress on a well-defended headland near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. The Scottish Gaelic name is Dùn Fhoithear, or “fort on the shelving slope.”

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By Hannah Jones

Hannah is a Manchester based writer who has spent many years studying and working in the field of journalism and psychology. Hannah enjoys swimming, meditation and dog walking. Her favourite quote is, 'If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.'