What to see in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 3 days

If you are planning a trip to the UK you need to add Scotland, or Aberdeenshire to be more precise, to the list. Did you know that with 263 castles, stately homes and ruins, Aberdeenshire has more castles per acre than any other area of the UK?

Fyvie Castle Aberdeenshire

That said, my trip has started with a castle visit. Fyvie Castle is a great example of Scottish Baronial architecture, and it’s pink in colour (another castle called Cragievar has become quite popular recently due to its pink colour). The castle has wonderful art and antique collection, and as every Scottish castle, it has its own ghost story wonderfully shared by the castle’s knowledgeable guides. 

For more information about the most beautiful castles in Scotland have a look at my previous post here.

Fyvie Castle

Fyvie castle has many beautiful rooms but the Music Gallery pictured below was my favourite.

Fyvie Castle

A very unusual place to visit in the area is Peterhead Prison Museum. The former Victorian HM Convict Prison had the first state-owned railway in the UK and part of the history saw the only time the SAS (Special Air Service) was used to end a domestic siege in Britain. The museum shows what life in prison is like, a very special but slightly nerve-wracking experience.

Peterhead Prison museum

After the museum visit, you need a good lunch and what better place to enjoy it than The Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. In the late 1800s this hotel was a regular vacation spot for Bram Stoker while he wrote Dracula. His signature can still be seen in the guestbook of the hotel.

We stayed overnight at Meldrum House, a four-star country hotel complete with a golf course and famous for its Cave Bar that dates back 800 years. 

Our dinner was accompanied by address to a haggis, a poem by Robert Burns that is usually recited on Burns night. Quite a performance I must say! The hotel also offers a vegetarian option of the haggis in case you a slightly opposed to trying the regular one.

We then visited the newly opened Braemar Highland Games Centre dedicated to Highland games. This is where the famous Braemar gathering takes place (not to mention all the royal connections).

Braemar Highland games centre

One of the other highlights of the trip was a visit to the charming fishing village of Footdee (locals call it Fittie) located at the east end of Aberdeen’s harbour. The area has had a settlement as far back as the Medieval times and is currently known for its tiny colourful cottages with quirky details.

Footdee
Footdee
Footdee

After a wander around the area, stop for a lunch of fish and chips at the Silver Darling. In addition to the delicious food, the restaurant also offers great views of the harbour - just perfect for dolphin spotting!

Moving on to Aberdeen, Scotland's third largest city. Did you know that it grew out of two distinct communities - New Aberdeen and Old Aberdeen? Old Aberdeen was originally a separate burgh. It is home to King’s College, the forerunner to the University of Aberdeen. The area’s cobbled streets and historic buildings make you step back in time.

Don’t miss Brig o' Balgownie - possibly Scotland's oldest surviving bridge and Powis Gates (pictured in the bottom right corner) inspired by Turkish-style minarets.

Aberdeen

In New Aberdeen, have a look at the grand Marischal College, founded in 1593 - a true icon of Aberdeen and the second largest granite building in the world.

Aberdeen St Marchar's cathedral

Since 2017 thanks to Nuart Festival walls around Aberdeen have been transformed by street art and now boast numerous brightly coloured murals and various pieces of street art. Some of them are fun, provocative and inspirational adding a fresh vibe to the city.

Aberdeen street art

If you are into museums, don’t miss the Aberdeen Maritime Museum that brilliantly shows the city’s long relationship with the sea. The museum is conveniently situated on the historic Shiprow in the heart of the city near the harbour.

For dinner in Aberdeen, I can highly recommend Vovem where we had delicious seafood (for some) and burgers (for others). It’s positioning itself as a steakhouse but their fish and vegetarian options are really good too. 

No visit to Scotland can be complete without a whiskey tasting. We opted for Glen Garioch distillery (pronounced Glen Geery in the ancient Doric dialect still spoken in these parts) - one of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland. 

I was a guest of VisitAberdeenshire. All opinions are my own. 

What to see in and around Buckinghamshire

I am often asked by my followers who are visiting England, what to see outside London. In fact, there’s so much to see that it can take a few months!

This time I’m going to take you around parts of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. Those areas are easily reachable from London and are just perfect for a weekend getaway with a bit of history.

Waddesdon Manor

If you only visit one place in Buckinghamshire, make it Waddesdon Manor. This country house was built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 19th century in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French Loire Valley château.

It is currently managed by the Rothschild Foundation and is part of the National Trust. If you are planning to visit only the grounds, you can buy a ticket at the gate when you arrive but if you’d like to visit the house as well, I’d recommend booking online in advance as the tickets get sold out very quickly, especially at Christmas and weekends.

Waddesdon Manor

Interesting to note, that Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild left his estate to his youngest unmarried sister Alice. She established a set of housekeeping rules ‘Miss Alice’s Rules’ – guidelines for the care and preservation of the collections which even today form much of the basis of National Trust conservation guidelines. She did not allow even King Edward VII to touch the furniture!

Wrest Park

Wrest Park is a country estate in Bedfordshire with a Grade I listed 19th century country house set in restored garden landscape originating from the 17th century. You can easily spend a day there admiring the beautiful gardens, the sculptures and exploring the house. I imagine it’s particularly lovely in summer.

Wrest park
Wrest park

Wrest Park was used as a hospital during the First World War. Nan Herbert (Auberon Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas’ sister) was responsible for setting and running the hospital, and under her leadership Wrest Park became recognise

d as one of the best-run country house hospitals.

Wrest park
Wrest park

Where to stay

While exploring the area, I was invited to stay at Woughton House - MGallery in Milton Keynes.

I have previously stayed at MGallery hotels in Cheltenham and Bath and was happy to stay with them again. What I particularly like about MGallery hotels, is that they are addressing the needs of female travellers. They have recently launched a special ‘Inspired by her’ offering designed especially for women.

If you are looking for a place to surprise your mum on Mother’s Day, have a look at what Woughton house has to offer – starting from cocktails on arrival to lovely in-room amenities and ladies afternoon tea.

Woughton house Mgallery
Woughton house Mgallery
JM4A9893.jpg

Stowe House and gardens

Stowe House is a grade I listed country house in Stowe, Buckinghamshire. It is now home to the independent Stowe School, while the gardens are owned by the National Trust. I haven’t visited the house because I didn’t book tickets in advance, but as it was a beautiful day, I had a lovely walk in the gardens.

Stowe House
Stowe house and gardens
Stowe house and gardens

Orangery of Castle Ashby

Last but not least, Castle Ashby gardens, located in Northamptonshire, but still easily reachable from Milton Keynes/Buckinghamshire. The unique Orangery dates back to the 19th century and houses a large central pond filled with fish and water lilies. It’s a very beautiful space for a photo shoot.

Castle Ashby orangery

In partnership with MGallery. All opinions are my own.

48 hours in the most beautiful parts of England with MGallery by Sofitel

I am often asked about the best day trips from London. This trip was slightly longer than a day but it should give you plenty of ideas for a day trip or even for a week of travel around England. As I am based in London I usually travel only for a day but thanks to MGallery by Sofitel this time we had an opportunity to stay a bit longer and explore more.

The first stop of our trip was Windsor for an afternoon tea at Castle Hotel Windsor.

Windsor Castle

On Sunday Windsor was incredibly busy so we were glad to find a moment of calmness over a delicious afternoon tea in the Castle Hotel. The pale green elegant Georgian building is located right in the centre, just around the corner from Windsor Castle. The hotel has been in service since the 15th century and has been awarded eight Royal Warrants.

Afternoon tea at castle Hotel Windsor

After savouring all the treats we headed to the Cotswolds and, of course, we couldn’t miss a quick visit to Castle Combe. The day was a bit rainy but the village looked even more authentic with an overcast sky. If you haven’t been to Castle Combe yet, you definitely need to add it to your list as it’s surely one of the prettiest villages in England!

Castle Combe

We got there in no time thanks to our trusty companion, Mini 3-door Hatch that was kindly provided to us for the trip. We had so much fun driving this little beast!

You don’t need more than couple of hours in Castle Combe as it’s so tiny.  And it’s only 30 minutes away from Bath where we were staying for the night.

We arrived in Bath just in time to see the lovely Francis Hotel in the daylight. The hotel is located in the very heart of Bath and occupies seven of the original 18th-century townhouses on the Queen Square. The city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the hotel is Grade 1 listed. Throughout the 18th century, Queen Square remained a residential district of Bath. Soloman Francis, a local builder, first opened a hotel at No.10 in 1858. Later, the hotel has expanded.

Francis Hotel Bath

Taking the advantage of staying overnight in the city we decided to pop in the Roman Baths, a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. It is now open as a museum, you cannot bath there anymore but there are plenty of other spas in the area if that’s what you are after.

Roman Baths in Bath

If you are planning to visit Bath you can also check out this post from my previous trip.

I can talk about Bath forever as it’s one of my favourite cities in the UK (and if you are visiting for the first time you need to allow at least a day to see everything) but it was time for us to head further.

Having initially planned to spend more time in the Cotswolds, we realised that we could also visit Frome and Wells in Somerset so we decided to make a little detour.

Packed with historic buildings and lovely independent shops, Frome is worth visiting for a few hours.

Wells Cathedral

I loved Frome but a real discovery of this trip was Wells. Most known for its Cathedral, Wells had city status since medieval times and is now considered to be England’s smallest city.

Vicar's close in Wells

After admiring Vicar’s Close, claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings surviving intact in Europe, it was time to head to Cheltenham where we were staying for our second and final night of the road trip.

Cotswolds

Passing through the pretty villages of the Cotswolds we have arrived to the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham.

Impressed by the grand white (Grade II listed) building of the hotel we had a really warm welcome with cocktails waiting for us in our rooms. The hotel has recently undergone a complete restoration but it still retains many of its original features including the wallpaper designed by Augustus Pugin, a key feature in 19th century architecture and design. We loved the gorgeous Georgian staircase too!

That was the end of our exciting girls’ road trip but I will surely return to those beautiful areas of England and will hopefully stay at MGallery by Sofitel hotels again.

Queens Hotel Cheltenham

In partnership with Mgallery by Sofitel and Mini. All opinions are my own.

The most beautiful castles in Scotland you have to see

If you have visited Scotland but have not been to the Highlands - you are missing out. If you haven't visited Scotland at all - you are missing out even more!

I've met so many people living in the UK for years and never venturing out to Scotland. Yes, it can be very wet but if you are dressed for any weather you'll surely have a great trip.

Autumn is my favourite time to visit Scotland - the leaves and the grass turn the most amazing golden colour. This time we only stayed for 3 days but I'd like to show you how much you can see in this limited time.

Scotland in autumn

Stirling Castle

After arriving to Glasgow and picking up our car we first made our way to Stirling. The Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland but I wouldn't call it the most beautiful (=instagrammable). It was one of the two castles we managed to see from the inside so it was still interesting, plus the view from the castle's walls is just great.

Stirling

Blair Castle

Without wasting too much time we headed to Perthshire to visit the Blair Castle. Sadly, the castle was closed to a private event but we had a lovely walk in the area and tried to make friends with the hairy Highland cows. To our disappointment, the cows decided that the grass was too irresistibly tasty to pay any attention to us.

Ballintaggart Farm

In the evening we stopped for the dinner at Ballintaggart Farm (booking required) where we were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the owners - Rachel and Chris. It was dark, so pictures don't do justice but this kind of food and attention to detail can't be found anywhere else in the Scottish Highlands. We did not stay overnight but the farm has two rooms for the guests, they also run cookery masterclasses that you can book in advance online.

Ballintaggart farm

Dunnotar Castle

Next day we drove to yet another castle, the Dunnotar - a ruined cliff top fortress. As you can see all the castles we visited are very different so it doesn't get boring. We got really lucky with the weather in terms of rain but unfortunately, it was too windy for the castle to stay open for visitors.

Dunnotar Castle

Craigievar Castle

You won't be surprised to hear that our most anticipated visit was to Craigievar Castle. Does it even look real? As you approach it from the distance you can't miss this pink fairytale building peeping between the trees. It is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle and you can see why. The castle was already closed for the season (even when it's open you can only visit as part of a guided tour) but we were lucky to have it for ourselves to photograph from the outside for almost half an hour.

Craigievar castle
near Craigievar castle in Scotland

We had dinner and spent our last night in the Pierhouse Hotel in the quiet village of Port Appin which is located in Argyll, on the shores of Loch Linnhe. In the morning we admired the picturesque location of the hotel followed by a quick walk to the lighthouse where we were greeted by those furry locals.

Port Appin
Scotland

Castle Stalker

The Castle Stalker is surrounded by water making it look very special. It is privately owned but a tour can be booked in advance (we didn't do it).

Castle Stalker

Oban

Back to civilisation for a quick lunch in Oban, it was almost time to head back to Glasgow airport for our flight back to London.

Oban Scotland
Oban

Inveraray Castle

On the way to the airport, we managed to squeeze in another stop at Inveraray Castle and even had a quick look inside (finally, a castle that wasn't closed or needed prebooking). The castle is surrounded by a beautiful garden that must look wonderful in spring and summer as well.

Scotland Inveraray Castle
Inveraray castle

That was the end of our trip but I hope to be back to Scotland again soon as there are more castles to explore and more places to visit.

Scotland highlands

More information on Scotland can be found here.