On a clear evening, anyone who looks towards the horizon from the towering cliffs at the southernmost point of Scotland will see Ireland, England and the Isle of Man silhouetted against the setting sun. The region boasts 200 miles of coastline dotted with small coves, sandy beaches and fishing villages. Dumfries and Galloway are known as the Scottish Riviera thanks in part to the area's numerous gardens. Other attractions include Celtic stone circles, castles and monasteries. Art lovers should take an excursion to Kirkcudbright, a former artists' colony with a large selection of galleries, studios and exhibitions.
Pink ducal palace in an extensive park
This so-called “Pink Palace” was built in 1689 for the Duke of Queensbury. It was made of pink sandstone and built in the renaissance style. An alley lined with beach trees leads through the extensive park to the imposing residence with its impressive towers and chimneys. The palace now houses an art collection with paintings by Rembrandt and da Vinci.
From an idyllic lake to rugged peaks
This small lake is located in the Glentrool region, which features one of Scotland's most charming landscapes. Bruce's Stone, from which you can look down at the lake, was also the site of one of the few battles the Scots won against the English. The trail will take you past a waterfall and then uphill to the Little Spear, which is the highest mountain in the Southern Uplands with an elevation of 843 meters.
The wedding forge
Parliament passed a law in 1753 requiring minors to obtain parental consent before marrying. However, this law only applied in England. In Scotland, boys could still marry at 14 and girls at 12 without any parental consent. As a result, countless young couples living in England ran away to Scotland. In Gretna Green, the first Scottish town they would come to after crossing the border, the local blacksmith was authorized to perform wedding ceremonies, and the weddings were actually held in his shop. It often came to dramatic scenes when parents who had caught up with their children tried to hinder the ceremonies at the last minute.
Today, the blacksmith's forge is a museum, but weddings are still held here – over 5,000 a year.
Hiking trails around a waterfall
This nearly 2,500 acre nature reserve is named after one of Scotland's most beautiful waterfalls. The waterfall, which is fed by Loch Skeen, plummets 60 meters through a spectacular rocky landscape. The best viewing locations can be reached via a loop trail that only takes around ten minutes to complete. If you have more time, you can also hike upstream to Loch Skeen.