The biggest event in women’s golf returns to Scotland for the first time in almost two decades in September when the iconic venue of Gleneagles hosts the 2019 Solheim Cup.
Catriona Matthew will lead a dozen of Europe’s best golfers into battle as they bid to wrestle back the trophy from Juli Inkster’s Team USA in the biennial transatlantic match play contest.
But while the main focus will be on which of the two sides can claim bragging rights, the event is not only about the world-class competition on the PGA Centenary Course.
For the thousands of spectators expected to descend on the rolling Perthshire hills, there will also be plenty of things to see and do in Scotland away from the golfing spotlight.
And with excitement building for the 16th Solheim Cup - the first held in Scotland since 2000 - here’s a look at some of the activities on offer for those wanting to make the most of their visit.
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Gleneagles is located in Auchterarder - a picturesque town in Perthshire, south west of the city of Perth - which is home to the longest main street in Scotland at more than a mile long.
If you don’t want to stray too far away from the fairways of the PGA Centenary Course then there are a host of wonderful towns and villages to explore in the surrounding area.
Any keen walkers will be in their element on the Cateran Trail, starting from the River Ericht in Blairgowrie and taking in Bridge of Cally, Kirkmichael, Spittal of Glenshee, Glenisla and Alyth.
Alternatively, nature-lovers can walk through the majestic Douglas fir and pine forest at The Hermitage in Dunkeld, where some of Britain’s tallest trees are located.
The Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve at Glen Doll is also a stunning setting to experience the great Scottish outdoors, with wild flowers, waterfalls and picture-perfect scenery.
EXPLORING THE SIGHTS OF PERTH
Away from the idyllic walks in the areas surrounding Gleneagles, those interested in learning more about the rich heritage and architecture of Perth will also be in for a treat.
Known as the ‘Fair City’ of Scotland, there are many fascinating landmarks to take in, starting with Balhousie Castle, which is considered an alluring introduction to the history of Perth.
From the days of the Jacobites, to playing a key role in both World Wars, the castle dates back to 1631 and tells the story of Scotland’s elite military regiment, The Black Watch.
Elsewhere, Elcho Castle on the banks of the River Tay is another popular tourist attraction along with Huntingtower Castle, which was a sanctuary for Mary Queen of Scots during a rebellion.
Culture vultures can also make the most of the Fergusson Gallery, while those in need of some retail therapy will be able to shop until they drop at the independent stores on George Street.
PLENTY OF STIRLING ATTRACTIONS
Only a short drive away from Gleneagles, Stirling is another fascinating city with lots of historic attractions, restaurants and unique experiences to take advantage of.
It is steeped in the past and features popular tourist destinations such as the grand Royal Palace of Stirling Castle and Bannockburn, where one of Scotland’s most defining battles took place.
A visit to the city would also not be complete without venturing up the distinctive National Wallace Monument, the famous landmark which commemorates the life of Sir William Wallace.
Not only does the monument provide breath-taking views of the city from The Crown at the top, it also includes three exhibition galleries inside telling the story of Wallace.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s always Blair Drummond Safari Park and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park ready and waiting to provide fun and frolics for all the family.
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR STAY
With the Solheim Cup presenting a perfect opportunity to enjoy the best of what Scotland has to offer, day trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow are also worth adding into the itinerary.
Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh has more than enough world-class attractions to keep visitors busy for a week, let alone just a day, including the National Museum of Scotland and St Giles Cathedral.
A walk up to Edinburgh Castle is a must for any trip to the city, while tourists can also explore Edinburgh’s film locations and the spectacular parks and gardens on offer.
Alternatively, Glasgow is within an hour’s drive of Gleneagles and possesses its own wide range of parks, gardens, historic buildings and events to keep anyone and everyone entertained.
From the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art to Strathclyde Country Park and Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland’s largest city will certainly keep you on your toes.