The Top Sun-Soaked Holiday Destinations Enjoyed By Scots


The top ten holiday destinations for Scottish travellers in summer 2023 have been revealed, and there are not many surprises. Spain takes all three top spots, with the Canary Islands at number one, with mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands at the silver and bronze positions. Greece’s islands and Turkey come in at four and five, with Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco and the Netherlands – city breaks to Amsterdam are perennially popular – rounding out the top ten. It’s a little different to 2019 in the pre-Covid landscape when Scots were beating out a path to the USA and Mexico. The current cost of living might mean Cancun may be mothballed for a little while.

While staycations on our shores may have been almost enforced over the pandemic, the Scots are canny enough to know that guaranteed summer sunshine requires jetting off. Domestic tourism is starting to build back up, and 2023 has been a good year for local attractions, with the UCI cycling championships and the Edinburgh Fringe in full swing.

However, if one wants to spend time at outdoor events and not get rained on, it’s probably better to be in Alicante than Aberdeen. Let’s take a look at four favourites for Scots seeking the sun.

Thousands of Scots head to Spain every summer and have done so for decades. The difference between now and the package holidays of the twentieth century is the amount of choice on offer. Traditionally the entry point to the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Málaga is now a destination for cheap all inclusive holidays in its own right, with modern attractions like the Museo Picasso Málaga and the historic Alcazaba providing as much draw to culture vultures as the Alcazar and Catedral de Seville. The steel Technics wheels still spin in Ibiza, with new superstar DJs like Ben Hemsley taking the decks alongside legends like Carl Cox and Scotland’s own Calvin Harris. Meanwhile, Barcelona has so many tourists the mayor is actively trying to curb cruise liners docking at its port.


Morocco is the relative newcomer on the list, but it’s been a popular destination for Scots since the low-cost airlines started flying direct from Scotland around 15 years ago. There’s the full-on sensory experience of the souks that is Marrakech, but it’s only a three-hour bus ride to the surfing town of Essaouira, where life is lived at a much slower pace. The adventurous can hike up into the Atlas Mountains, while families can head for the beaches and waterparks of Agadir. Both those contingents seem to love getting their photos taken with Morocco’s infamous tree-climbing goats. They play an important role in chewing up the fruit of the Argania tree, which makes it suitable for processing into the Argan oil toiletries and shampoos that you’ll find on chemist’s shelves (and likely your hotel bathroom).

From ancient Byzantine cities to the bustle of Istanbul, Turkey is very much a place where history meets the present day. However, with coastlines on both the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea, it’s also a place to simply spend some time soaking up the sun. The Roman ruins of Ephesus are a short trip away from the hotels of Dalaman; the finest surviving example of a Roman theatre, Aspendos, is also a popular half-day trip from the resorts of Antalya. However, it’s the resorts that have proved particularly popular in 2022. While Turkey is currently having something of a currency crisis, and the pound holds up very well against the lira, essential tourist needs, like car hire, haven’t dropped in price much, if at all. That makes it a less attractive destination for multi-stop breaks but a great candidate for a single-stay holiday in resort towns like İçmeler, where there are fewer additional necessities required to enjoy the trip.

The Netherlands
Whilst not a classic “summer holiday” destination, The Netherlands’ temperate climate (average highs of 23C in June and July) means Amsterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag can be explored in shorts and t-shirts. Or you can buy them when you get there, as Dutch retailers have their biggest clearance sales of the year in July. The Holland Festival in June is the country’s biggest celebration of the performing arts, and Pinkpop (think T In The Park) saw Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens Of The Stone Age and Pink perform to packed crowds in 2023. The Netherlands is a small country with good rail links both internally and to the rest of Europe. It’s only two hours on the fast train to Dusseldorf, making it a destination that can act as a springboard for a wider European adventure.

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