The world’s first ever UNESCO trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites, has been launched today.

Glasgow UNESCO City of Music is one of the 13 place-based designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail that covers World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities. The dedicated digital trail aims to take visitors on a cultural journey across the country experiencing everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes.

Designed specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination, Scotland’s UNESCO Trail encourages visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.

The digital trail – which is available at – showcases the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations on offer across Scotland, providing information and inspiration to visitors across the world. It also celebrates and priorities businesses and communities that are committed to responsible tourism business practices and promotes sustainable travel options.

Scotland is the first nation in the world to create a UNESCO trail, which has been developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland, as well as Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations, which include biospheres, global geoparks, creative cities and world heritage sites. The project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government to support the strategy for the sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee officially launched the trail today in Dundee, the UNESCO City of Design, by unveiling a specially commissioned design by illustrator and printmaker, Jagoda Sadowska, a graduate of the city’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The design which features on a door, will be incorporated into the city’s Open Close tour as a permanent legacy of the trail.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland has always been a pioneering nation and I’m pleased to see we’re leading the way with the world’s first UNESCO digital trail. Tourism is key to Scotland’s economy and as we begin to recover from the pandemic, this collaboration between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, NatureScot and UNESCO could not be more timely.

“Supported by £360,000 of Scottish Government funding, the UNESCO Trail will help to attract and welcome both domestic and international visitors again, by showcasing Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and many UNESCO sites. As we approach COP26, I’m pleased to see that the UNESCO trail has sustainability at its core and will help visitors make responsible and sustainable choices by highlighting green accredited businesses and promoting environmentally friendly travel.”

Francesca Osowska, CEO of NatureScot and Chair of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail Steering Group, said: “The Trail is a hugely exciting global first, inspiring visitors to Scotland to journey through its unique natural and cultural heritage. All the designations in the Trail have a distinctive story to tell and we hope that, whether people visit just one, or travel to all the sites, they will be wowed by what they see.

“Responsible tourism and greener travel are at the heart of our ambitions for the UNESCO Trail.  This will lead to a more sustainable economy and will help to create better places for people to live and visit in every corner of Scotland. This is so essential as we work to tackle the nature loss and climate change crises and prepare to host COP26.”

Susan Deighan, Deputy CEO, Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow has a legendary music scene that stretches across the whole spectrum from contemporary and classical, to Celtic and Country. Its venues are equally varied and the city hosts an average 130 music events each week. Glasgow is the musical capital of Scotland, and the largest music economy in the UK after London. Historically, music has played a key role in attracting visitors and continues to be a vibrant part of city life, reflected in the excellence of its home grown musicians and practitioners. The enthusiasm of Glasgow audiences has been well-reported by musicians who often cite their love for the city’s music fans! In Glasgow, music is both an art form to be enjoyed and experienced, as well as a tool of education and social integration.”

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland Director of Industry, Destination and Development said: “There is no other journey like Scotland’s UNESCO Trail and we want to inspire visitors to take a once-in-a-lifetime experience across the country, delving into its history and heritage, experiencing the wonder of its natural assets and the magic that inspires art, music and literature. The innovative trail not only highlights the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations we have across Scotland, but also the exceptional visitor experiences this trail creates.

“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’re continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.

“Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it.”

The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere, Dundee UNESCO City of Design, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark, North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark, the Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Kilda World Heritage Site.

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