Springtime sees lambs gamboling over green hillsides; castles dot the countryside, standing in mute testimony to this land’s turbulent history; and poets immortalize its beauty and people. This is Scotland, a land that ranges from gentle rolling hills to towering peaks, rugged coastlines and elegant cities. It’s a kingdom that succumbed to British might, yet has maintained its independent spirit.

There are the highlands that, for some, epitomize Scotland with their towering mountains, shimmering lakes, peaceful glens and miles of coastline. You can hike, go off-road biking or meander through castles and historic sites. Scotland is an emerging adventure destination, offering mountain biking, fishing, whitewater rafting, mountaineering and other extreme outdoor sports.

It’s a land of islands -- the Shetland, Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides. The islands can be places of wild beauty and rough seas but can have a quiet, pastoral side as well.

It’s also a land of cities. Elegant Edinburgh is often a starting point for many visitors, with its medieval Old Town and splendid castle dominating its skyline. Outside the city lie castles, great houses and battle sites. It's also a gateway to the ancient home of the game of golf and you can find some of the great links and parkland courses of the world here. You can meander along fine golden beaches or walk the Pentland Hills.

Working-class Glasgow’s shipyards launched thousands of ships, including warships and ocean-going liners. Outside Glasgow lie the rolling hills of the Clyde Valley and the lovely walking country of East Dunbartonshire that borders the southwest Highlands.

The kingdom of Fife is almost a microcosm of Scotland, with a semi-industrial south and rural north. This is the ancestral home of Scottish monarchs. It’s world famous for its golf -- St. Andrews is here. It’s also home to major landmarks such as Forth Road and Rail Bridges. Its landscape varies from the gentle hills in the rural hinterland to the windswept cliffs, rocky bays and sandy beaches where scenes from the film “Chariots of Fire” were shot.

Scotland has a modern and efficient road, rail and ferry network which allows good access to almost all parts of the country, and you'll have no trouble getting to the main tourist destinations. You can fly direct to Scotland or via a connection in the U.K. or Europe to any of its four international airports, or take the ferry from the Continent.

June, July and August are high season. Spring, just after Easter, and fall, through mid-October, is shoulder season, and many attractions and accommodations are open through this period.