Scotland isn't all bagpipes, kilts and haggis (a delicacy made of a sheeps' innards boiled in its own stomach). That’s the discovery I made while trekking across this bonnie country a few years back. While tradition is certainly ingrained in Scottish culture, and you'll definitely find your share of bagpipes, kilts and, yes, haggis, too, there is so much more to discover.
Here are my top eight must-dos when visiting Scotland:
1. Eat deep-fried. Whether it's chips from a "chippy stand" or deep fried Mars Bars, the Scots know how they like their food -- crispy on the outside, warm and delicious on the inside.
2. Tap into your inner thespian, musician, writer, film maker or artist. The Festival, which takes over the city of Edinburgh in August, is comprised of film, books, jazz, politics, art and Fringe festivals all at once, attracting locals and tourists worldwide.
3. Hunt for "Nessie.” After all, what's a trip to Scotland without a little mythological adventure? The city of Inverness thrives on its affiliation to and affection for all things Loch Ness Monster. And the lake is really pretty, too.
4. Visit the National Galleries of Scotland, housed in five galleries across Edinburgh.
5. Stay up all night in Glasgow. Once notorious for its reputation as a rough and tumble blue-collar city, Glasgow is now known for its vibrant and energetic nightlife, making it a magnet for the young and young at heart -- and one of the coolest cities in Europe. Visit King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, where some of the U.K.s most important bands -- Radiohead, Oasis, The Verve and Travis -- got their humble starts.
6. Scotland is dubbed the home of golf, so playing a round on the world's oldest course is a no-brainer.
7. Drink. Whether you're a whisky novice or connoisseur, you can't visit Scotland without sampling its national drink. You won't have to go far to find a pub or restaurant that houses multiple whiskies, but there are a variety of tours, such as this one, designed to lead you to your perfect single malt experience.
8. Go for a hike in the highlands. While these hills are no match for the kind you'll find in Switzerland or Austria, the fact that you went hiking in the highlands, just like William Wallace did, is reason enough to do it (at least it was for me).