Scotland is one of the best destinations to visit on your own. Solo travel in Scotland is incredibly easy and enjoyable – it is a safe country with a low crime rate, easy to navigate and has an very welcoming culture. Read on for many more reasons why Scotland is the perfect solo travel destination, especially for first-time solo travellers and female solo travellers.

This post was commissioned by Hostelling Scotland and contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. Find out more here. All opinions are my own.

Scotland came onto my travel radar when I was 18 years old and dying to take a gap year after high school. I was enticed by Scotland’s natural beauty, fascinating history, phenomenal hiking areas and the promise of coastal adventures.

In the end, my gap year turned out to be a little different – my parents weren’t excited about the prospect of a backpacking trip and so I opted for a year of voluntary work through the EU-funded European Voluntary Service.

Had I only known back then what I know now, I might have found it easier to convince my parents of my Scottish backpacking dreams…

A few years later, I got what I wanted and moved to Glasgow to study. Ever since then, I have solo travelled around Scotland extensively. From road trips to long-distance hikes, I have explored many corners of Scotland as a female solo traveller in all manners of ways.

Based on these experiences, I strongly believe that Scotland is THE perfect destination for solo travellers, and female solo travellers in particular. 

In this article, which was created in partnership with Hostelling Scotland, I’ll explain why Scotland is such a great place to travel on your own.

1. Scotland has something for everybody

Whether you’re looking for mountain scenery, sandy beaches, thriving cities, ancient monuments, gory history, witchy stuff, delicious food, bike trails, swim spots or golf – Scotland caters to many types of travellers.

You may have a dominant image of Scotland in your head, but the truth is that Scotland as a destination has so much to offer. If you’re open to different experiences, you’ll be able to discover many of Scotland’s different sides.

You could experience a hiking holiday in the Cairngorms National Park, attend a book festival in Dumfries & Galloway, tour whisky distilleries on Islay, follow in the footsteps of the Jacobites or learn about traditional crofting in the Outer Hebrides. 
The best thing about travelling on your own is that you get to decide what you want to do – without having to consider anybody else’s interests. Here are 20 unique trip ideas for Scotland.

You might also like: The 20 Best Hikes in Scotland – for Beginners and Munro-Baggers

2. Scotland has a thriving hostel culture

One of the most important things to consider as a solo traveller is budget. Accommodation can be expensive when you travel on your own, but hostels have long presented the perfect solution for this problem.

Scotland has a thriving hostelling culture. Hostelling Scotland, formerly known as the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA), was founded in 1931 and runs over 60 youth and affiliate hostels all over Scotland. Whether you’re looking for a city trip, an active getaway in the mountains or an island adventure, their hostels have got you covered.

Some of their most popular locations include hostels in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and the Isle of Skye. Outdoorsy travellers will find hiker- and bike-friendly hostels in iconic locations such as Glencoe, Glen Nevis, Loch Lomond and the Cairngorms National Park.

Hostelling Scotland also has hostels all along the North Coast 500 and on the West Highland Way, as well as islands like Islay, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. Some of their most remote locations are Loch Ossian at Corrour train station and Glen Affric – neither of which has road access. These are hostelling experiences for true adventurers.

I personally have stayed at a wide range of their hostels and in my experience, they attract a wide range of travellers. Despite their name, the “youth hostels” are suitable for solo travellers, mature travellers and families alike – not just young folks.

Hostelling Scotland hostels have comfortable common areas for socialising and well-equipped self-catering facilities for your culinary adventures. If you’re not up for sharing, many also have private rooms, some even with en-suite bathrooms.

Most recently, I did a 5-day solo trip from Edinburgh to the Cairngorms (where I stayed at the Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel) and Inverness. Mixing city sightseeing with hiking and cycling adventures, it turned out to be an epic trip. Catch up on my experiences from this trip here.

Only got a day? Here is how to spend one day in Edinburgh.

3. It’s easy to get around by public transport

Scotland is covered by a wide network of public transportation, including trains, ferries and buses. While driving is the preferred transport option for many travellers, it is absolutely not necessary to hire a car in order to experience Scotland to the fullest.

You can reach most places in Scotland by public transport, including popular places such as the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and Glencoe. It’s even possible to follow my best-selling Best of Scotland Itinerary by public transport.

My guide for public transport in Scotland contains tons of tips and advice for planning a trip without a car, including information about travel passes.

Not only is it a cheaper way to travel, but it is also more environmentally friendly and you get the chance to meet other travellers on your bus or train journeys.

PS: Most Hostelling Scotland hostels can be reached by public transport. The trip I mentioned above (to Edinburgh, the Cairngorms and Inverness) – I did that trip entirely by bus and train.

4. Highland hospitality

Scotland is easily one of the friendliest nations I’ve ever visited. Scottish people are proud of their reputation and as a solo traveller you’ll soon experience the so-called Highland Hospitality all over the country – not just in the Highlands.

Whether you’re looking a little lost in the maze of Glasgow’s city centre or you’re in desperate need of a cup of tea during a long-distance hike, Scots are quick to come to your aid.

As a female solo traveller, I always feel welcome wherever I go in Scotland. I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences as a solo traveller here – people are incredibly welcoming and helpful. It’s those encounters that make every solo trip to Scotland so special.

Guided whisky tour in the Speyside, Scotland

5. All you need is English

It’s no secret that language barriers introduce additional challenges on a solo trip. Choosing a country with a language you already know is one of the most obvious things you can do to make your solo travel experience easier. Especially if you are a first-timer.

Now, I know that not everybody learns English in school, but if you’ve made it this far in this article, you’re probably OK with the language. So rest assured, that Scotland will be a great choice for you too.

English is the main language spoken in Scotland, even if the accent can admittedly be a little hard to understand. Other languages spoken here are Scots (southern Scotland), Doric (Aberdeenshire) and of course Gaelic (west coast & islands). But really, as long as you can speak a little English, you’ll be able to get around.

If you encounter a local accent that is a little strong for your ears, just ask people to slow down and repeat what they said.

6. The crime rate is low and street harassment is rare

Is it safe to visit Scotland? This is one of the most common questions I hear from fellow solo travellers, especially women who travel solo.

It is a shame that safety is still such a big issue for female solo travellers, but an article about Scotland as a solo travel destination would not be complete without touching on this subject.

Scotland has a low crime rate, especially in terms of crimes that might affect tourists.

As a woman who has travelled extensively around the world, I am also happy to say that street harassment (things like cat-calling, staring or whistling) are incredibly rare in my experience.

There are of course certain areas that are more affected by crime than others (and I wouldn’t cross a dark park at night), but those parts are usually not interesting for tourists anyways. City centres and rural areas are perfectly safe for solo travellers.

7. There are excellent local tour companies

Going on a solo trip doesn’t mean that you have to travel on your own all the time.

Scotland has a wide range of local tour companies to choose from, whether you’re looking for a multi-day tour where all the logistics are sorted out for you or a guided experience that adds a unique experience to your itinerary.

Nobody knows the country better than local guides and when you join a group for a few hours or a few days, you never know who you’ll meet. You might even forge life-long friendships with some of the other guests.

My favourite Scottish tour company for guided bus tours is Rabbie’s. They only use 16-seater buses, which guarantees a small group size. Their tours leave from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen. You can either base yourself in these cities and take day tours to the surrounding areas, or you can join one of their multi-day tours around Scotland.

For shorter experiences guided by locals, use the search function at the top of my blog to find my travel guides for destinations on your itinerary. If I know a local guide in a specific area, I’ll mention them in my travel guides.

Some of my favourite guided experiences in Scotland so far have been: wild swimming with Dan the Merman in Argyll, guided hikes on the Isle of Mull with Tony from Walk Mull, a croft tour with DJ and Lindsay on South Uist, a boat trip to Mingulay with Dave from Uist Sea Tours, a guided walk with storyteller Sarah from Strathspey Storywalks, and mindful paddleboarding in Ayrshire with Chris from Adventure Carrick.

If the Isle of Arran is "Scotland in miniature", then this three-day Arran tour includes everything you could want to see, do or experience in Scotland!

8. Scotland is a country that embraces progress

Like anywhere else in the world Scotland has to deal with political and socio-economic issues (and those have to be taken very seriously), but overall, Scotland is a very progressive and forward-thinking country. To me, that shows in the quality of life in Scotland and many of its government’s policies.

As a female solo traveller it is reassuring to know that you are exploring a country where your rights are being taken seriously. From equal rights with regard to gender and sexual orientation to social and environmental policies, Scotland embraces a better future for everybody.

Getting back to Hostelling Scotland, this is also something they fully embrace in their values – from operating in an environmentally-friendly way to providing equal work opportunities to their staff as well as budget-friendly opportunities for travellers to experience Scotland.

With all this in mind I wish my 18-year-old self would have stood up for her dreams and insisted on becoming one of many female solo travellers in Scotland.

Scotland is a fantastic place for people travelling on their own, whether you are a first-timer or seasoned solo traveller.

By staying in hostels, taking public transport and spending your hard-earned money on special experiences led by locals, you’ll make the most of your time here in Scotland.

What are you waiting for?


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65 thoughts on “Solo Travel in Scotland: Why Scotland is perfect for female solo travellers

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  3. Lacy Hayes says:

    Hi Kathi 🙂 you talk about private renting like it’s as easy as booking a hotel. This siunds very attractive to me if I’ve interpreted you correctly.. could you tell me a bit more please? Lacey

  4. Sazjan says:

    Hey Kathi!
    I will be traveling to Scotland next year. This post has greatly helped me finding out many new great things about Scotland. Is there something else I should know before going to Scotland. I would be glad if you mentioned one or two.

  5. Nancy says:

    Well, I am 74 and believe it is about time I take the much dreamed of trip to Scotland. I thank you so much for this site. I am reassured that at my age I can be safe and comfortable. I will probably be traveling alone and I really appreciate your advice about the “grown up” hostels! Hope to be there in 2020

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Nancy, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I’m inspired by you – take that trip, fulfil that dream!! If you need any help with your trip, get in touch! All the best, Kathi

  6. Sara says:

    Hey Kathi! Great tips you shared in this post, I haven’t been to Scotland yet, but it’s definitely on my list in coming future. Moving to USA and will definitely visit this place, this post fueled me up for this.

  7. fishfoot says:

    Was a good read and would definitely consider Scotland as a travel destination. I mean its been on the list for sooooo long but guess it get higher up on the list the more I find out about it. Not sure about travelling solo though but will consider it. So thanks for the article, glad to have found it and stuff

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  11. Helen Marie Traglia says:

    So I am a 60yo single female coming to Edinburgh for the first time at the end of April. I am still seeking accommodations and saw on the most previous post you mention hostels. Are there hostels available for me? I would appreciate the community aspect you mention. I’ll be spending 8 nights. Thanks, Helen

    • Kathi says:

      Of course! I think you might not necessarily enjoy a party hostel or a super budget hostel, but I can recommend the hostel by Hostelling Scotland. Their hostels have more of a grown up vibe, they also have private rooms but still a community vibe! I hope you have a great trip!!

    • Eddie says:

      I`m a 61 year old man. I have no experience of hostels. I seen articles on youth hostels and thought they were for “kids”. I`ve been on holday to Turkey with a singles holiday company and found them companies over priced. I need to get a life and travelling is an option. It`s inspiring seeing people of my age “biting the bullet” and going for it!

  12. Adrienne says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I’ll be taking my first real solo trip to Scotland in May of this year. I was wondering if you could recommend an easy way to meet other travellers or locals. I’m trilled to have the time to explore on my own, but I wouldn’t mind some company when going to a pub or out for a nice meal.

    Thank you, Adrienne

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Adrienne, thanks for taking the time to comment and for your question! First of all, I would choose to stay in hostels – people usually make use of the common areas, which makes it a lot easier to meet others! There are a few Facebook groups, where you might be able to arrange meet-ups with others in advance, like Girls Love Travel or Scottish Travel Society! I hope this helps!

  13. Janey Fitzgerald says:

    Hi Kathie! Woke this morning and your post is the first read of the day.
    I’m 57 and finally going to travel solo, having spent years with the wrong partner trailing round looking at the wrong things.
    I’ve had a long fascination with the highlands and it’s where my family originated from.
    So! I’m planning my itinerary and keep rattling my pot for contributions to the Scotland here I come fund.
    I might be older in years but your post brings out the gal in me that says this is going to be awesome! And it’s never too late . Happy travels to all , this world is a great place to explore x

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Janey, aw your comment made my day! It is definitely never too late and I hope that your dream of visiting Scotland is becoming a reality very soon! Keep me up to date – I’d love to hear from you when you’ve made it here! 🙂 Go you!! x

  14. Suzanne Borsody says:

    Hi Cathy I’m a 53 year old single woman who’s been alone for 10 years I finally got myself together and decided to go on a journey not only am I looking forward to seeing the beautiful country but I guess a small part of me is also maybe hoping to find a single I don’t know how single men are over there but I guess I have to start somewhere I love your blog and God bless you for all you do reply

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Suzanne, there’s nothing like a solo trip to boost your confidence and happiness with your self! Who knows you might get lucky 😉

    • Erin says:

      I’m right there with you..turning 50 this year and 4 years alone. My kiddos are with Dad for Christmas and with the time off, I’m off to Dublin, Edinburgh and the Highlands for Christmas with a tour! One time through and its time to make it count!

      • Kathi says:

        I love your spirit – it’s amazing to hear about your Christmas trip! Have an amazing journey and I hope you enjoy Scotland!

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  16. Debbie Hansen says:

    I am toying with traveling to Scotland in the next few years. I would be flying solo and am pushing Sixty but I really want to go and experience this beautiful country. I am a big Outlander fan so that makes me want to get there sooner 😉 good to know that Scotland is a lone female travel friendly place!

    • Kathi says:

      I think it’s a brilliant place for solo female travelers – across all ages! There are so many Outlander locations you can visit by public transport, and even more tours that take you there with a little more comfort and guidance – I hope you get to see many of them when you’re here! Do it 😀

      • Maddy says:

        Hi Kathi,
        Thinking of going to scotland in july. Any links for or sites for public transport or train or underground transportation. First time flying solo anywhere. And cant drive on the left sode of the road lol. Looking to visit outlander sites but wont know how to get there. Also do you know about the prices of accommodation. Not a fan of Hostles and I have had bad experiences with air bnb.

        Cheers, Maddy

        • Kathi says:

          Hi Maddy, check out this blog post with more info on public transport: http://watchmesee.com/blog/plan-a-trip-to-scotland/ I usually use Trainline to purchase train tickets, bus tickets depend on the company, but Citylink operates a lot of the bigger routes. Busy routes between cities I recommend buying in advance, but you can also get tickets on the bus. Public transport is useful in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but you can also walk a lot in either! I did this Outlander day tour from Edinburgh: https://watchmesee.com/blog/outlander-day-tour-from-edinburgh/, and there are similar ones from Glasgow: https://watchmesee.com/blog/best-day-tours-from-glasgow/. Some of the sites are quite hard to get to on public transport… And finally, accommodation – it really depends on the area and the time you visit. May – August are generally more expensive; Edinburgh is more expensive than Glasgow etc. If you are looking for single rooms in standard B&Bs you’re looking at anywhere between £50-100 I think, unless demand is really high, then it might be a bit more! Hope this helps – have a fab trip!

  17. Erika says:

    I literally just booked my flight to go to Scotland in June, largely based on this blog, so thank you so much for taking the time to write it! Now to decide to rent a car and drive in the left lane (which makes me nervous), or to book a tour with a tour company…. decisions, decisions… luckily, I have a bit more time to figure it out 🙂

    Thank you again!

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  21. Diane Houghton says:

    As a 1st time female traveller from Aussie, I found the Rabbies tours terrific.. both I did were a mix of young and older (4 “girls” my age, mid 60’s on the 1st one) the young ones great company, we all went to the pubs together most nights.. Scotland was just fantastic, (we so lucky with the weather.. just great for Nov last year) and the guide was just so so knowledgeable.. so much history to absorb everywhere..

    • Kathi says:

      That’s great to hear! I love going on tours with Rabbie’s – particularly the music they play in the buses; always makes the tour more fun 🙂 And good for you & the weather – I went on a tour today, and it was raining most of the day – in Scotland you just never know when the good weather hits you!

  22. Kariane Bourgault says:

    This is actually funny because, me and one of my friends are going to Scoltand this summer. She is 18 and I will have 18 in Scotland, during our trip. Thanks for your beautiful blog!

  23. Shari says:

    I’ve wanted to see Scotland for as long as I can remember and this blog telling me that it’s also good for a solo female travel makes me so happy! My friends ‘want to’ travel, but never actually buy a ticket, so I’ve been hunting for somewhere to go that I’ll feel safe. Are you still there?

    • Kathi says:

      It’s the ideal place for solo travel and there is so much to see! I’m still in Glasgow, studying at University of Glasgow and with no plans to leave anytime soon 😀

  24. Jeanette says:

    Would you recommend this for your Grandmother? As the “baby boomer” generation retires, we are looking for fun destinations.

    • Kathi says:

      Absolutely! Scotland is so beautiful and you get really close up to nature without having to go for strenuous walks. Depending on what you’re into, Scotland is just great for anyone with an interest in the outdoors, history, food and culture! I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a great destination after retirement 🙂

  25. Michelle Crayford says:

    Totally agree! I’ve travelled as a solo female since I was 22 and got on a plane to England by myself (I refuse to sit around waiting for my friends to get their stuff together). I love the freedom of being able to make the choices I want.
    I travelled to Scotland solo this past July and fell in love! I’m actually hoping to move to Edinburgh one day. I rented a car for a week and drove with no real plan except to get to a certain town eventually. I never felt unsafe and everyone was very nice. I also came across several other solo females. 100% it’s the place I would recommend to anyone, but especially solo people.

  26. Jessica says:

    I know it’s been a while since you posted this but I just found it and am in love with it! I am from North Carolina (good ol’ southern United States) and have always had a passion for traveling over anything else! I have researched and researched places to visit that would satisfy my parent’s fear of me traveling alone and I feel Scotland is truly the most wonderful place to be if you are single and a girl and are new to traveling. Plus I am of Scottish decent and have bright red hair and freckles (which I know is pretty stereotypical) so I just kind of already felt drawn there! Thanks for the guides and inspiration to get out there!

    • Kathi says:

      Well, I can highly recommend Scotland for a first dip into female solo travel – Canada is great too, but maybe too close for your wanderlust? 🙂 If you have any questions about planning your trip to Scotland let me know – I’m happy to help! I hope you get to come here soon! x

      • Nicole says:

        My friend and I are going to Scotland in 11 days and I am beyond excited!! It will be my first time in Europe and we are stoked to explore the country for 2 weeks!

        • Kathi says:

          Two weeks is a great amount of time to have in Scotland as well! Are you coming here for New Year’s Eve or just after? Do you have your itinerary sorted? 🙂

      • Jenny Sweeting says:

        Hi there,

        Great to read about solo female travellers 🙂 I am planning a week trip cycling around Scotland on the North Coast 500 route and am wondering if it is safe enough to wild camp alone and what things I should look out for?

        • Kathi says:

          Oh wow, what a journey! I’ve actually not wild-camped here on my own, but I think it’s no less dangerous or safe as anywhere else. I’d go for it! The North Coast 500 is a touristy destination, more and more popular, so it’s not like you’re absolutely in the middle of nowhere on your own. In terms of tips, have a look here – definitely a reputable source: https://www.tiso.com/blog/wild-camping-guide-scotland Make sure to bring a midge net for your head (not a mosquito net, as the holes are too big!) – the Scottish midges are everywhere!! Have a great trip – I look forward to hear how it went!

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  28. juda says:

    Hello! love this article!!! I am looking forward to traveling solo:) Scotland is def. my first stop! Thanks for this write up!:)

  29. Ashley says:

    I’m so glad I found this article! I am a new solo travelette from Texas and will be flying into Glasgow in October! My plan is to backpack and use couchsurfing for a month and I couldn’t be more excited! I didn’t get this opportunity in my twenties so I’m trying to make up for lost time lol.

    • Kathi says:

      Oh amazing! Scotland is such an amazing place. I haven’t couchsurfed here yet, but I’m sure you will meet some great people! Have a fantastic time, and if you need any advice on places to go, please feel free to get in touch! Cheers K

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  31. Johanna says:

    Thanks so much for this!
    As a first time female solo travellette I am thinking of initiating myself into solo female travelhood by travelling to Scotland for a week. I have been before, mainly exploring Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Now, all by myself, is there a place you would recommend to enjoy the outdoors ( I am NOT an experienced hiker), meet nice people and get some rest for the soul?
    Thanks so much!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Johanna, thanks for your comment! Oban might be a good place to go – there are some hostels, so you’ll bump into other travelers, no problem. From Oban you can explore the islands, e.g. Ferrara by bike or foot, the Isle of Mull, or Iona & Staffa on a boat trip. There are some great cycle route in the area, excellent sea kayaking also for beginners, and I’m sure also some nice hikes (although I have not hiked in the Oban area yet). Glen Coe is another option, although many hiking routes in that area get quite tricky quickly; or the Isle of Skye where you base yourself in one of the Portree hostels; or Fort William from where you could hike parts of the West Highland Way. Rest for the soul won’t be an issue in any of these places! Check out Scotland Independent Hostels as they have many great, quirky places all over the country 🙂 Hope this helps!! Happy travels 🙂

  32. Fiona says:

    Great blog. I live in Aberdeen and most weekends I spend enjoying what Scotland has to offer from Snowboarding at Glenshee in the Winter to walking and hiking in the Summer. I climbed my first Munro – Lochnagar today. Loch Muick is also gorgeous and I love Loch Lomond. Aberfeldy and Loch Tay at Kenmore is a must too. So many beautiful places. Enjoy!

    • Kathi says:

      Fiona, thank you so much for your comment! Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire is an area I have only just dipped into for the first time with my mum earlier this month – still so much to explore! Congrats on the first Munro – 281 to go 😀

  33. Ali // The Ravenous Nomad says:

    Hey Kathi! Great tips! I haven’t been to Scotland yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I have a friend moving to Glasgow later this year for school, so I’ll definitely be using that as an excuse to visit, hehe.

    • Kathi says:

      You certainly should! It’s such a great little country to visit and I love love love Glasgow! Which school is your friend going to? I’m at Glasgow Uni 🙂

  34. Henar says:

    Oh how I miss Scotland, sometimes I wish I had never left! It’s full of inspiring culture, people and life. Plus Glasgow has more concerts per week than any other city I’ve ever lived in! AMAZING!

    • Kathi says:

      I’m happy I’m not the only one feeling this way 🙂 I’d miss Glasgow to bits and currently I can’t even imagine going on a longer holiday than 2-3 weeks! If you ever come back, give me a shout! Thanks for your comment 😀

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