The Highlands and Islands has been named one of the top regions in the world to visit next year by a leading travel guide.
The wildlife and landscape of the north are among the reasons it has been listed in the company of Normandy, America’s Catskill Mountains and the Far East of Russia.
The region has come fifth in the top 10 of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019, a collection of the best destinations, trends, journeys and experiences to have in the year ahead.
The guide said that the whisky boom, which has seen a swathe of new distilleries open in the region, helped secure its place on the list headed by Piedmont in Italy.
It said they offer “a great introduction to one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe” while the region’s “innovative and fast-developing” accommodation sector is also highlighted.
Lonely Planet experts recommend “unmissable experiences” including joining a nature-watching trip to discover the wealth of wildlife, from red deer, golden eagles and otters to whales, dolphins and basking sharks and savouring the region’s seafood.
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Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s editorial director, said: “The wild landscapes of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands offer the ultimate escape and visiting the region’s remote areas is now easier than ever thanks to impressive developments in accommodation.
“This is a stunning area with so much to offer travellers, from its glorious natural landscape and rich history to enviable local food and drink.”
The guide highlights the range of accommodation on offer from purpose-built campervan parking spots to designer cottages modelled on ancient buildings which it said makes visiting remote areas “easier than ever”.
It also suggests experiences such as climbing Suilven following the repair and upgrade of its footpath.
Sri Lanka has been named the number one country to visit in 2019, while Denmark’s capital Copenhagen has been named the number one city to visit.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It’s fantastic to see the Highlands and Islands receive recognition for its breath-taking scenery, history and heritage.
“From its wide range of distilleries and tourist attractions, to its beautiful islands and iconic landmarks, I am sure the Lonely Planet’s support for the Highlands and Islands will help to inspire and captivate the imaginations of new visitors.”
Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019
1. Piedmont, Italy
2. The Catskills, USA
3. Northern Peru
4. The Red Centre, Australia
5. Highlands and islands
6. Russian Far East
7. Gujarat, India
8. Manitoba, Canada
9. Normandy, France
10. Elqui Valley, Chile