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.
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.
Loch Ossian Hostel Cairngorm Lodge Hostel Gairloch Hostel
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.
On a Stagecoach bus Catching a 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.
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.
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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