Scotland is a dream destination and a trip here has great potential to become a life-time memory. But planning can be overwhelming when you’ve built up a destination so much in your head. These 50 useful travel tips for Scotland will help you get the most out of your trip!


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Whether you are a seasoned traveller or just dabbling in globetrotting as a lifestyle, it is always a good idea to read and learn as much as possible about the destination of your next trip.

Scotland is no different!

While Scotland is pretty compact and fairly straight-forward to navigate, especially for first-time travellers, you can’t go wrong reading up on the ins and outs of travelling this country.

Travelling to Scotland?
Get in touch and let me help you plan a trip that is 100% YOU!

 

The 50 travel tips on this list will…

  • Prepare you with facts that are good to know before you go,
  • Offer tips for planning every detail of your trip at the right time,
  • Provide an overview of transport options,
  • Give you plenty of inspiration for your itinerary,
  • Sum up my top tips for visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Tell you tips for visiting castles and other tourist attractions,
  • Help you with some packing tips,
  • Provide tips for engaging with Scots and Scottish culture,

And make you chuckle from time to time!

Scotland FAQ: Good to Know Before your Trip

Scotland is a country, but it’s not independent

Don’t ever call Scotland “England”. Scotland is a sovereign nation that is part of the United Kingdom. The other countries in the UK are England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own parliament and a First Minister who leads the Scottish government; however, many decisions are made by the British parliament down in Westminster which is dominated by English MPs (Members of Parliament).

The Question of Scottish Independence
Despite a 2017 referendum vote to remain part of the UK, there is a significant independence movement in the country and a strong sense of national pride. In the 2016 EU Referendum, in which Scotland voted to remain in the EU, but the overall UK majority voted to leave. Many Scots are thus calling for another “Indy Ref”.

 

Scotland flag at the front of a ferry with and island in the background.

You might experience a “Language Barrier”

There are many different accents used all over Scotland and in some regions, the Scottish accent is so thick, even native speakers might struggle to understand. 

Get in the groove by watching Scottish films, TV programmes and interviews with Scottish celebrities. I recommend watching Scottish productions as these will feature the most accurate representations of local accents.

Don’t be afraid to ask locals to slow down and repeat what they said.

Useful Scottish Words
Wee – small, little
Dram – small alcoholic drink, often refers to whisky
Skint – broke Maybe someone will buy you a drink.

What is Scottish Gaelic?

In some parts of Scotland, people still speak Gaelic which is related to, but not the same as Irish Gaelic. Particular areas where you might be able to hear native Gaelic speakers are the Outer Hebrides and parts of the Isle of Skye. 

Road signs in the Highlands and islands are generally bilingual and there are Gaelic radio and TV stations (BBC Alba). 

You can learn Gaelic online if you are interested or on Duolingo, but it is not necessary to get by in Scotland.

How to deal with Scottish weather

The Scottish weather is unpredictable at any time of the year. I know you are anxious to plan your trip around the best weather period, but the truth is that it could rain for a week in June or have glorious sunshine for a week in November – it’s impossible to predict. 

In Scotland, it is feasible to experience all seasons in a day at any time of the year. Thus, it is important to be prepared: 

  • Check the forecast, but don’t rely on it. 
  • Pack in layers. (more packing tips below) 
  • Embrace whatever weather welcomes you. The weather makes Scotland.

Of course, I still have a personal favourite time to visit Scotland

Scottish money or British money?

Scotland uses British Pound as currency (GBP, £). Scottish banknotes look different than in England as Scottish banks print their own with portraits of people like Robert the Bruce, Catherine Cranston and Sir Walter Scott.

Scottish Pound notes are theoretically legal tender throughout the UK, but some shops in England, Wales and Northern Ireland won’t accept Scottish banknotes either way. 

Paying with debit and credit cards

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, even in rural areas. Mastercard and Visa are the most commonly used cards.

Contactless debit cards are very common and usually the easiest way to pay for bus tickets.

All that said, it is good to carry a small amount of cash with you, particularly as some B&Bs prefer cash payments (or can’t accept cards – make sure you double-check), some shops have minimum limits for card payments, and some very remote areas might only accept cash.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Scotland

Start Planning Early

I recommend starting to plan your trip approximately 9 months in advance.

Why 9 months? 

Because that’s when Aer Lingus releases their cheapest airfares from North America to Europe. Find your flight with AER LINGUS US or AER LINGUS CANADA.

Need help finding cheap airfare to Scotland? Check out my tips for booking flights to Scotland.

Find a Planning Checklist to track your progress in my FREE Resource Library – Sign up here!

View from the plane window over Scottish island Tiree.

Less is more: Reduce your mileage and explore more in-depth

I think people sometimes wrongly equate stopping at as many sites as possible with “seeing more” or “experiencing more”. In reality, it just means that you have less time in each location to really take it in and you might end up feeling rushed.

I understand the wish to see as much as possible – I think it’s about striking a balance.

In my opinion, you will see the same amount of sites in, say, a week – whether you move on every night or stay in one or two locations and explore locally. A week is always a week.

Book accommodation in advance

Depending on the time of the year of your visit, you must book accommodation well in advance. 

If you don’t book ahead, you run the risk of not finding availability or affordable options during the summer, or not finding B&Bs that are open for the season yet (winter). 

For trips from April to October, I recommend booking accommodation by November or December. Particularly if you plan to follow my 8-day itinerary and visit popular sites like Glencoe, Fort William, the Isle of Skye or Inverness. 

Here are some of my favourite places to stay in Scotland, which are worth a trip alone!

Book ferry crossings in advance

In peak season during the summer, it is essential to book ferry crossings on popular routes, such as the ferry to the Isle of Skye, Mull, Orkney, Islay or the Outer Hebrides in advance. This is to avoid disappointment or long wait times with “standby” tickets.

Note that some shorter crossings cannot be booked in advance – these are first-come, first-serve.

To plan an itinerary with ferry crossings, check out my Practical Guide to Island Hopping in Scotland.

Allow time for activities

Scotland is beautiful from the roadside, but I highly recommend planning some time for activities to really immerse yourself in the Scottish scenery.

There are endless opportunities for outdoor activities in Scotland: Choose a hiking route for a day out, book a guided hike with a mountain guide, learn kayaking or climb Scotland’s only Via Ferrata.

Join my Facebook group WILD ADVENTURES SCOTLAND and be a part of an adventure community of Scotland-lovers.

Woman on steel cables above a waterfall climbing the Via Ferrata Scotland in Kinlochleven.

Consider hiring an expert – ME!

How far can you make it in three, seven or ten days? Which attractions and activities are really worth the admission fee, and what are the best free things to do? What are the hidden gems you should not miss?

Planning a trip to Scotland can be overwhelming. There are so many things to do and places to see, where is one to begin?

I offer Travel Consultation Services including itinerary reviews, itinerary planning and accommodation research to help you plan a trip that is 100% tailored to you. Find out more here

Transport Info: Getting around Scotland

Hire a car…

Personally, I think hiring a car is the most convenient way to get around, especially if you plan a road trip to the Highlands!

Check out my guide to hiring a car in Scotland!

Some Basic Driving Tips
Remember to drive on the left.
Pick up a leaflet at the car hire place with info on speed limits, roundabouts, parking rules etc.
Allow others to overtake you on single track roads.
Don’t park in passing places.
 
If you’re a little nervous about driving on the left or navigating small mountain roads, read my top tips for driving in Scotland.

…or take public transport

Consider investing in a ScotRail Travel Pass if you travel around Scotland by public transport. These passes usually cover most trains, buses and ferries, and allow multiple travel days. It can, however, be cheaper to get individual tickets!

When you look up public transport, always check buses as well as trains – they can be a lot cheaper! Find out more about travelling Scotland on a budget.

BONUS TIP
To see the Jacobite Steam Train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct (yes, that’s the Harry Potter train!) ask for the exact train times at the tourist info in Fort William.

 

Consider a guided tour

If you’d rather not drive yourself, there are many tour companies taking people around Scotland on day or multi-day trips.

Most scheduled day tours leave from cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, in case you just want just a day’s break from driving yourself.

Splurge on a private driver

Hiring a private driver for your road trip in Scotland is the ultimate luxury option. Not only can you lean back, enjoy the scenery and listen to the stories of your driver-guide, your itinerary will also be entirely tailored to your interests.

Expect to pay £300-500 per day plus accommodation for the driver. 

Check my Travel Resources page for recommended providers

Wonder which Scottish travel companies I recommend?

Check my Travel Resources page for my preferred car hire platforms, local transport companies, booking platforms, tour companies and activity providers.

Lagavulin distillery on Islay, Scotland

Tips for your Scotland Itinerary

Explore Scotland off the beaten path

Do more than the typical bucket list items, Edinburgh, Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. They are all beautiful, but Scotland has so much more to offer and it’s easy to go off the beaten track!

Choose “YOUR” destinations 

Don’t just follow the crowds.

Read up on different Scottish regions and make informed decisions. Choose destinations that tick the boxes that are important to you

You don’t need to go far for an island adventure

The Isle of Skye is Scotland’s most popular island destination, but if you only have a couple of days in Scotland, I recommend choosing an island that is closer!

The Isle of Bute is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Glasgow! 

The Isle of Arran makes for an amazing island getaway if you’re pressed for time. The island is easy to reach with a train & ferry combo ticket and suitable for a day trip or longer stay. The beaches and mountains are gorgeous (try climbing Goatfell) and there are endless things to do on Arran, from Brodick and Lochranza Castle, a brewery and whisky distilleries, to standing stones and wildlife experiences.

There are many other Scottish isles to explore that are much closer than Skye – no need to spend hours in the car only to be able to say you’ve been to Skye.

Cara Island Bay

Visit the Small Isles 

Visit one of the Small Isles (Rum, Eigg, Muck or Canna) to go completely off the beaten track. 

The ferry to all four islands leaves from Mallaig and it’s easy to combine an island adventure with a road trip on the epic Road to the Isles or a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train.

The Small Isles are car-free and incredibly welcoming. All the islands are great for hiking, long walks by a beach and other outdoor activities.

There are standing stones all over Scotland

No need to travel as far as Orkney or the Isle of Lewis to see standing stones in Scotland, unless you have enough time to visit such far-flung destinations.

There is no shortage of standing stones and stone circles all over Scotland. Some of my favourites are the Machrie Moor standing stones on Arran, the Nether Largie standing stones in Kilmartin Glen and the stones at Clava Cairns near Inverness.

Standing stones at Kilmartin Glen

Go on an epic road trip

I love exploring Scotland by car and there are endless opportunities for scenic drives all over the country. 

From the famous North Coast 500 which loops around the far north-west of Scotland’s Highlands, to the North East 200 in Aberdeenshire, the South West Coastal in Dumfries & Galloway and the Heart 200 in Perthshire

There is no shortage of epic road trip routes in Scotland.

Island hopping is easy

There are over 900 islands in Scotland, most of which are uninhabited. Since many of them are within easy reach from the mainland and/or from each other, it is easy to do some island hopping in Scotland.

One island region where island hopping is particularly easy to do, is the Outer Hebrides, also called the Western Isles. Cycling or walking the Hebridean Way, you can easily visit 10 islands in a week or two, and add a few more to the count by taking breaks for day trips to nearby islands.

Closer to Glasgow and Edinburgh, the southern Inner Hebrides are also a great island-hopping destination. Following my west coast itinerary, you could easily hop from one Isle to the next, including Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Gigha.

Follow the wildlife

If you want to see Scottish animals, read up on where they roam and what time of the year they are easiest to spot!

Many marine mammals and seabirds are best observed during the summer from mid-April to early August. 

Puffins and many other seabirds form massive nesting colonies up and down the Scottish coast, but they prefer places that are less frequented and take some effort to get to (usually a potentially choppy boat ride). One of my favourite areas to see them are the Isle of Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.

Other animals you can see seasonally are basking sharks and whales. Seals and dolphins are more permanent residents on the Scottish coast.

And of course, no trip to Scotland would be complete without seeing some Highland cows. They are not commonly used as farm animals anymore but are kept as treasured “pets” all over the country (for example by farmers or at hotels). A great place to see them up close is Pollok Park in Glasgow, but there is also a famous Highland cow on the Isle of Coll called Wonkey. 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The best places to see wildlife in Scotland

Puffins on the Isle of Lunga

Visit Scottish Beaches

Ever thought about a beach holiday in Scotland?

Some Scottish beaches are so beautiful, the sand so white and the water so clear, that images have been accidentally used to promote tropical beach destinations! 

Only the temperatures would give it away…

Some of my favourite beaches in Scotland can be found…

  • in the Outer Hebrides: Vatersay, Berneray, Bosta,
  • along the North Coast 500: Red Sands, Achmelvich Beach, Sango Sands,
  • in Fife: St Andrews, Elie,
  • in Aberdeenshire: Rattray Head, Balmedie,
  • and the Inner Hebrides: Colonsay, Coll, Tiree.
Need more help planning your itinerary?
Book a travel consulting session with me!

 

Visiting Scottish Castles + Attractions

Visit a variety of castles

I recommend visiting castle ruins as well as fully preserved or restored castles to experience a variety of Scottish castle architecture. 

My favourite castles to include on your itinerary are: 

  • Stirling Castle: very well preserved & a great self-guided tour,
  • Dunnottar Castle: my favourite ruined castle in a breathtaking location,
  • Balmoral Castle: only the grounds + gardens are accessible since it’s an official Royal residence, but it’s incredible,
  • Kilchurn Castle: a stunning castle ruin on the way to Oban,
  • and Culzean Castle: overlooking the sea and the Isle of Arran.

Kilchurn Castle ruin in Scotland

Follow the Scottish Castle Trail in Aberdeenshire

If you want to see many castles in a short amount of time, follow the Scottish Castle Trail through Aberdeenshire – it covers 19 (!) castles that are all just a short drive from each other!

Invest in an attractions pass

Visiting many castles and attractions, most of which charge an entrance fee, can quickly add up. 

It might be worth investing in an annual membership for the National Trust for Scotland (join here), an annual Historic Environment Scotland membership, a short term Historic Scotland Explorer Pass or the VisitBritain Heritage Pass.

Write down which castles and attractions you’d like to visit, look up entrance fees and research which passes would cover them. Then do the maths.

Edinburgh Travel Tips

Spend 2 days in Edinburgh

2 days in Edinburgh gives you plenty of time to cover the highlights and explore off the beaten path.

The city is very walkable, there is an easy-to-navigate bus system or you can use Uber.

My personal must see’s are: 

  • Scott Monument for the best views, 
  • Grassmarket for pubs + castle photos,
  • Calton Hill and/or Arthur Seat for a hike,
  • National Museum of Scotland for heritage and rooftop views,
  • the Water of Leith Walkway to escape the crowds, 
  • The Shore + surrounding neighbourhood in Leith for pubs and food,
  • the Scottish Design Exchange in Leith for shopping.

Old Town view from Scott Monument in Edinburgh

Start with a city tour

Rabbie’s City Tour of Edinburgh tour or one of the Edinburgh Hop on Hop off routes can give you a great introduction to the city. I recommend doing this as soon as you arrive!

Explore beyond the Old Town

Particularly in the summer, Edinburgh seems full of tourists – but it is easy to escape the crowds in the Old Town.

Explore beyond the major tourist attractions and go off the beaten path:

Book accommodation well ahead

Accommodation in Edinburgh can be expensive and hard to come by, so book well ahead of time. I recommend staying in the Old Town, West End (Haymarket area), New Town or Leith.

On a budget? Check hostels, avoid August and December (festival season) and stick to weekdays. Alternatively, you could stay in Glasgow or Dunfermline and take the train to Edinburgh for a day trip.

EDINBURGH TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay | Browse my suggestions for accommodation in Edinburgh.
Food & Drink | Giving away some of my favourite (vegan-friendly) eateries in this Edinburgh restaurant guide. Guaranteed no tourist traps!
Things to Do | Edinburgh Hop-on, hop-off bus tour – gain the perfect initial overview of the city; Edinburgh Castle – dive into the medieval history of the city; Royal Yacht Britannia – learn more about the Royal life at sea; Edinburgh Old Town Underground Tour – to explore Edinburgh’s dark history.
Read up on my favourite tours in Edinburgh here!

 

Victoria street in Edinburgh

Glasgow Travel Tips

Don’t make the mistake to leave Glasgow off your itinerary

Glasgow is an amazing city with a thriving cultural scene, beautiful architecture and parks, a great food scene and plenty of things to do. I recommend spending at least one day in Glasgow.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 50 Travel Tips for Glasgow

Mingle with Glaswegians

Visiting Glasgow is all about mingling with the locals – the city’s slogan is “People Make Glasgow” after all!

It’s easy to meet locals at the pub – just stand by the bar and someone will start chatting to you.

Discover free things to do in Glasgow

Glasgow is a budget-friendly city and there are many free things to do.

Most museums are free of charge, the City Chambers offer free tours during the week, there are beautiful parks and nearby hiking areas and lots of beautiful architecture to discover.

Book a walking tour with me

Glasgow is a city best seen through the eyes of a local. Whenever I can, I offer private walking tours through Glasgow to show you my favourite places, take you off the beaten track and answer all your questions about life in Glasgow.

Book me for a private Glasgow tour!

GLASGOW TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay | Browse my suggestions for accommodation in Glasgow.
Food & Drink | Giving away some of my favourite (vegan-friendly) eateries in this Glasgow restaurant guide. Guaranteed no tourist traps!
Things to Do | Glasgow Hop-on, hop-off bus tour – for an introduction to the city; Glasgow Cathedral – dive into Glasgow’s medieval history; Charles Rennie Mackintosh trail – see Glasgow’s most beautiful architecture; Pollok Park – see why Glasgow is called “Dear Green Place”.
Read up on my favourite tours in Glasgow here.
 

Mural of St Mungo in Glasgow's oldest quarter near Glasgow Cathedral.

Packing Tips for Scotland

Pack layers

Since the Scottish weather is so unpredictable it is important to pack layers. That way you will be prepared for any kind of weather and can add or remove one or multiple layers as needed.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The complete packing list for Scotland

Invest in GOOD waterproofs: jacket + trousers

Forget umbrellas, invest in a high-quality waterproof jacket and some waterproof trousers (pants). It’s worth the money to stay dry!

And don’t forget: don’t let a bit of rain drag you down. It’s all part of the Scottish experience.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

Comfortable walking shoes that keep your feet dry and warm are an absolute must on your Scotland packing list! 

For hiking, I love my Zamberlan boots, but I also often wear them for active road trips with shorter walks. They are just so comfortable and keep my feet dry.

On city trips, I tend to wear Chelsea boots or lace-up boots.

If you go on a road trip in Scotland, it is important to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty. Waterproof/-resistant shoes are ideal, but it is not necessary to go as far as wellies (rubber boots) – these might be really uncomfortable to wear.

Pack hiking equipment

If you plan to go hiking in the Scottish Highlands, on islands or on the coast, bring proper hiking equipment to protect yourself from the elements.

This includes waterproofs (jacket + trousers), sturdy hiking boots, a map and compass, and emergency supplies. Hiking in inadequate clothes or shoes, or getting caught in bad weather without required emergency supplies can cause unnecessary search + rescue missions for the local mountain rescue teams. Make smart choices.

Never underestimate the weather in the hills and only go as far as you can safely navigate back.

If wild camping, pack what you need to leave no trace. Check out my guide to wild camping in Scotland for tips.

Experiencing Scottish Culture, Food & Drink

Give whisky a chance

Be open-minded when it comes to whisky. It took me three years and multiple visits to whisky distilleries to realise that I kind of like single malt whisky. Try a few different ones to find a whisky you like.

To learn more about the different whisky regions and find your preferred taste visit the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: An essential guide to trying Scottish whisky

A woman holding a glass of whisky on the beach.

Have a dram at Loch Ness

A wee dram (= drink of whisky) increases your chances to spot the monster of Loch Ness.

BONUS TIP
Don’t order a single malt whisky with ice or pour water in right away.
Try the whisky neat at first, then maybe add a few drops of water to release the full aroma.
Only if you still insist, ask for some ice – some bartenders won’t be very happy.

 

Experiment with Scottish cuisine

Scottish food is excellent, whether you go for traditional dishes like haggis or Cullen skink, or try contemporary fusion cuisine.

If you eat meat and seafood, order typical Scottish dishes like… 

  • Cullen skink (a creamy fish soup), 
  • steak or mushroom pies, 
  • stovies (a potato dish), 
  • fresh seafood,
  • and of course chicken tikka masala. 

For the best fish & chips head to a seaside town where the fish is the freshest. I highly recommend the fish & chips shop in Anstruther close to St Andrews!

Ask what’s in haggis after you tried it, not before! And if you don’t eat meat (or you’re vegan) give veggie haggis a go – it’s delicious!

Black pudding is not a pudding. Like with haggis, don’t overthink it, and maybe try the veggie version.

If you are vegan, find out how easy it is to travel Scotland as a vegan here!

BONUS TIP
Tap water is safe to drink in Scotland.
No need to buy single-use plastic bottles – bring a reusable water bottle & fill it up frequently!

 

Be aware of Seagulls

When buying fish & chips to take away, especially by the seaside, watch out for seagulls. Scottish seagulls are big and fierce – they are known to try and steal fish & chips out of people’s hands. 

seagull in south queensferry

Taste Scottish (craft) beers

Scottish appreciation for alcoholic beverages does not stop at whisky. The Scots also love their beer!

Tennent’s is by far the most famous lager, so make sure you try a pint of that. It has been brewed in Glasgow for over 400 years. The brewery also offers a great tour + tastings. 

There is also a growing craft beer scene in Scotland and there are many small breweries you can try. Some of my personal favourites are Loch Fyne Ales from Argyll, six°north from Stonehaven, and Hangman’s Rock from Colonsay Brewery on the Isle of Colonsay. 

Try Irn Bru in all its forms

Irn Bru is an iconic Scottish carbonated soft drink. It is bright orange and a staple in many Scots’ regular diets. Produced by Barr’s in Cumbernauld near Glasgow, only 3 people know its secret recipe. 

You can drink it, or try Irn Bru-flavoured sweets or ice cream.

Find local live music and join a local dance

Scotland has a rich music scene. Many bands and singers from Scotland are famous around the world – Belle & Sebastian, The Proclaimers, Amy Macdonald and Franz Ferdinand, just to name a few.

Traditional music is also big in Scotland and there are many bands who play old-fashioned or contemporary versions of trad music, such as Skerryvore, Talisk or Breabach. Many pubs around the country are known for their regular trad music nights, such as the Edinbane Inn on Skye, the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe or the Crofters Music Bar on the Isle of Arran.

Another important part of Scottish music culture is the Ceilidh, a traditional social gathering that involves lots of dancing and traditional music. Many Scottish weddings end with a Ceilidh and many rural communities host regular Ceilidh dances. 

An easy way to participate in a Scottish Ceilidh is by visiting Sloans in Glasgow (Ceilidh every Friday night, tickets are £10) or join the Edinburgh Ceilidh Club.

Island ceilidh at the Jura Music Festival

Attend a Scottish festival

Edinburgh is famous as a festival city, particularly during the summer festivals in August, such as the Fringe theatre, comedy & performance festival and the Military Tattoo.

Many islands host music, food and whisky festivals, and each city is home to a variety of cultural festivals throughout the year. 

Whether it’s Hogmanay in Edinburgh or other Scottish winter festivals, a music festival, an arts festival like NEOS in Aberdeenshire, a cultural festival like Up Helly Aa, a food event or a whisky festival – the Scots love to celebrate. Join them! 

No matter how wild the party gets, don’t lift up a man’s kilt!

Do I have to say more?

bagpipe player in scotland

I hope my travel tips for Scotland will prove useful to you on your upcoming trip or inspire you to get started planning a holiday to Scotland – or at least I hope they made you laugh a bit!

What is your top tip for a journey to Scotland?

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Planning a trip to Scotland?

Find accommodation, book your rental car or a guided tour with Rabbie’s.

Book day trips to explore the country or get advance tickets for attractions.

Read up in a travel guide and prepare for hikes with OS Explorer Maps.

Get your rain gear in place and browse my packing list.

Book your Glasgow tour with me or let me plan your itinerary.

 

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.Save

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61 thoughts on “50 Useful Travel Tips for Scotland

  1. Adita says:

    I love this list! We are heading there with our family last year on 17th March 2019 after ITB berling. Flying to Scotland for a week. Amazing destination to be in everone backlist.

  2. Mannon says:

    I was in Scotland and did Edinburgh and Glasgow on the top of the list. It was a really good trip. I will go back again in the near future.

  3. Pamela says:

    We will have a carhire when we visit in May. How should one go about selecting where to pick up your car once you are ready to travel outside of Edinburgh? Airport, train station, city outskirts?

    • Kathi says:

      I’d probably get it from the airport – it’s easy to get to from the city after sightseeing for a few days, easy to navigate because signage is good, and usually also a bit cheaper than city offices!

  4. Tomina says:

    Thank you SO much for the wonderful info, ESPECIALLY including vegan and vegetarian info and options! Your site is fantastic!! I hope to be traveling to Scotland with my hubby in 2020 for our first time and your blog has been extremely helpful!

    • Kathi says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tomina! I hope you have fun planning your trip to Scotland – and a great time here, when it comes!!

  5. Shane Walker says:

    Here is my plan in May. 2020
    Inverness –
    Fortrose
    Cromarty
    Dingwall
    Fodderty
    carbisdale castle
    Dunrobin castle
    Backies
    Dunbeath castle
    Wick castle sinclair Girnigoe
    Keiss – old keiss castle
    bucholie castle
    john o groats
    duncansby head and stacks
    Castle of Mey
    dunnet head lighthouse
    Crosskirk
    Puffin Cove,Drumhollistan
    Tongue – castle bharrich
    Durness
    scorie
    drumbeg
    Clashnessie and falls
    Lochniver
    Ardvreck castle and peach and horne memorial
    ullapool
    poolewe
    torridon – am ploc open air church
    Applecross
    Plockton- duncraig castle
    Caisteal Maol
    Fort augustus -falls of foyers
    Dores
    Inverness

    Then Nairn
    Brodie castle
    Culloden battlefield
    Lossiemouth Spynie palace
    Dufftown – Glenfiiddich Distillery
    Bow fiddle rock
    Banff – temple of venus
    Pennan
    Rattray lighthouse
    peterhead prison museum
    bullers of buchan
    Cruden bay
    Slains castle
    Aberdeen
    banchory – abergeldie castle
    Braemar castle
    Balmoral castle
    Glen lui
    blairgowrie
    bon scott statue
    linn of tummel
    Airlie monument
    newtonmore
    blair castle
    garry bridge
    Carrbridge and back to Inverness

  6. Ricky smith says:

    I really love for traveling mostly i have travel to Europe for business purpose next time i will try to travel Scotland and visit this unique places. overall thanks for share this informative blog.

  7. Lynne says:

    I’m so excited to be returning to Scotland for a 4th time! With my 82 year old mom who just hurt her knee pretty bad, so hoping to do some things that don’t involve a lot of walking or hiking. We’ll have a car and wanted to go to Inverness and beyond. Oban sounds interesting! Any islands that wouldn’t involve a ton of walking? We love castles! Thanks for a great post!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Lynne, Thanks for your comment and question! Have you seen my Scottish islands post – I summarise all the islands in it: https://watchmesee.com/blog/the-best-scottish-islands-to-visit/ Oban is wonderful and a great starting point for many islands. I’d recommend Mull because it’s near and there is lots to do that isn’t necessarily hiking or walking too far, incl a castle and a whisky distillery! You could also explore the region around Oban (Argyll) and head down towards Tarbet – there are tons of castles in that region and such a meandering coastline, it feels almost lie you’re on an island! I also have lots of posts about Argyll – you can find them by browsing the menu. I hope this helps! Have a fab trip! Cheers, Kathi

      • Lynne says:

        Can I ask one more question – do you recommend the Historic Scotland or Heritage Pass? I can’t figure out if it will pay for itself or not for us. I didn’t see you comment on that one. And also if we should purchase that before we come to Scotland or purchase it there. Thanks!

        • Kathi says:

          Hi Lynne, there are three passes you could consider – 1) National Trust of Scotland membership (1-year validity), 2) Historic Scotland membership (1 year) and 3) Heritage Pass (7 days). Each includes different attractions and has a different price point. Whether it’s worth it or not, really depends on what you want to see – some castles cost £13-18 entrance fee, so if you want to see three expensive castles a pass might be worth it. Check which attractions you want to see along your route, look up entrance fees at their individual websites and then check which pass would cover them. It’s a bit more work to prep for your trip, but then you know you don’t have unnecessary expenditure! And since you do the research in advance, why not also buy it in advance 😉

          I write about the three passes in this post too: https://watchmesee.com/blog/backpacking-scotland-on-a-budget/

  8. Rebbecca says:

    Thanks for the great insights into Glasgow – myself and my partner are heading there for a conference in late August via a few nights in Edinburgh to catch the tail end of the Fringe Festival. Your blogs on Glasgow have made us much more optimistic for what Glasgow can offer tourists – my partner was fixated on Glasgow’s knife crime and very few Kiwis who had traveled there had anything positive to say about Glasgow – we can now see from your blogs it offers so much more and are looking forward to our time there! We are seriously thinking of using your 7 day classic intinery from Glasgow to Skye to Inverness back to Endinburgh (potentially taking in a bit of Adberdeenshire & the Cairngorms if time allowed) – do you think this is too much traveling for 7 days? We are also thinking of heading out of Glasgow after 5pm on a Thursday night – is there anywhere an hour or so from Glasgow that is nice to stay on the way north?
    Looking forward to seeing your wee adopted country. Thanks again for a great informative blog from the Edinburgh of the south – Dunedin, New Zealand!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m so glad you found my blog – honestly! It’s such a shame that Glasgow is still ringing with these negative stereotypes. Don’t worry about knife crime at all – any crime actually – and enjoy your time here. There is so much to do and see, lots of new tour companies, museums, parks, viewpoints, great food and lots of cultural venues! It’s a beautiful city that has changed a lot in the last few decades!

      Regarding your road trip, you could stop in Arrochar near Loch Lomond – a gorgeous place and just about one hour away from Glasgow. Check out Ashfield House B&B – Cristina is a fantastic host! If you only have a week and want to follow my 7-day itinerary, you wouldn’t be able to also add the Cairngorms and Aberdeenshire. My 7-day itinerary is already pretty busy and I actually recommend to spend 9-10 days on that route to see everything on the list and relax a little too! If you have longer, it’s a different story.

      I hope you have a fantastic trip to Scotland. I’d love to hear how you got on!

      All the best, Kathi

  9. Debbie says:

    Fantastic info off to Dumfries and Galloway next week been before but a few years ago
    Always loved Scotland
    Just learned what wee meant hear it a lot

  10. Janet Wheatcroft says:

    Well done. At last a sensible and non-patronising list of dos and don’t for visiting Scotland. The England thing is the most crucial! My only slight cavils are: Balmoral isn’t really a castle but a mid-victorian fantasy house. There are plenty of authentic ancient castles in Scotland but Balmoral isn’t one of the. Then, why does nobody on these blogs mention the New Town in Edinburgh as a wonderful place to explore. It’s not new, but street after street, square after the square of Georgian architecture of the very highest quality, and the main reason that Edinburgh is a World Heritage site. It dates from the 1760s and was the home of famous Scots like Robert Louis Stevenson.

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Janet, I’m glad you found the list useful! I’m actually going to New Town next week to try and review an accommodation there and can’t wait to explore that part of Edinburgh more in-depth. This list only has four tips regarding Edinburgh, but if you look at my 2-day Edinburgh guide you will find New Town among my essentials: https://watchmesee.com/blog/edinburgh-in-two-days-weekend-trip/, so I’m not sure what you mean by “these blogs”. I loved Balmoral – the gardens were among the most beautiful I’ve seen and it’s so close to other castles in the region. You can see a great variety of castles and big houses in this area!

    • Kathi says:

      Absolutely! April is when all the Spring flowers usually start blooming. I guess just stay aware of he Easter holidays when you book accommodation. Enjoy!!

  11. Debra says:

    Hi there,
    We’re leaving for Scotland in 3 days. Attending the wedding of a highschool friend in Inverness. Will be in Edinburgh 3 days, Inverness & Culloden 4 days, then have a week of driving to Oban, out to Tobermory, Maillig & About. Will attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, stay one night in Barcaldine castle, an Airbnb & some small guest houses. Thank you so much for your suggestions – even about the haggis :>. We’re looking forward to the adventure, weather, sheep, music, culture, views & Scotch!

    • Kathi says:

      That sounds like such a lovely and relaxed trip – you will see so much and get a real sense for the country 🙂 Enjoy your holiday and thanks for checking out my blog!

  12. Myrna says:

    THANK YOU!!!!
    We are going to Scotland for our honeymoon next May and I’ve been reading blogs through Pintrest for several months now. Yours is all I need!! It answered every question I had and more! I am so exited about the vegan fish & chips in glasgow!!
    I honestly can not thank you enough! ☺☺☺

    • Kathi says:

      Myrna, thank you so much for your comment! I’m so happy to hear from readers who find my blog useful. Let me know if you need any assistance on planning your perfect Scotland holidy!!

  13. Charlie Chandra says:

    Hi Kathi,

    I’m really enjoying your web content. Thanks for sharing these tips. It will help other users as well :). Big Love and Big Support!

  14. Mateo says:

    I appreciate your sharing and I must say that you have shared such nice and useful information about Scotland with all of us which is really good. I also visited there for having enjoyment. It is a best place for having fun and tourists can enjoy there hiking and many other outdoor activities. I hope you will have a joyful time there.

  15. prabhu says:

    great tips you shared, i love your blog only for this reason that you share true fact. Next month we all going to scotland and lots of activity we will do. Thanks to you and your article, who suggested me good option.

  16. Linda Logan says:

    Oh, my. Thanks for the giggles. I have been to Scotland four times from The States, and am planning my fifth go for late summer – early fall. Your fun insider’s take on the endless joys to find there are inspiring. And I haven’t gotten to your take on The Shetlands. I hope you have some info on The Orkneys in here too. Have joined your newsletter. Well done and thanks again!

  17. Bobby Saint says:

    I like that you provided some tips when traveling to Scotland such as looking for public transportation when getting around. It is recommended that you tour the city via public transportation as this can definitely save you lots of money. Plus, you are able to communicate with locals who can give you tips and recommendations on the best local restaurants and bars. If I were to visit Scotland in the near future, I would make sure to keep this in mind. Thanks.

  18. Pingback: How to Plan a Trip to Scotland: Driving in Scotland

  19. Pingback: How to Plan a Trip to Scotland | WatchMeSee.com

  20. Pingback: 50 Useful Travel Tips for Glasgow | Watch Me See

  21. Kristina says:

    Oh my god, this list is amazing! I am actually planning on visiting Scotland in November, so now I really can’t wait for this weird country. (Weird in a good way) …Thank you .)

    • Kathi says:

      Have a fantastic trip – November can be a bit rainy, but also so eery and mysterious in the mountains. And the colours are amazing – I love it!

  22. Erika N says:

    My husband and I will be visiting August 31st to September 14th. We plan to take the train to get around (Edinburgh, ft William, skye, Inverness, pitlochry & Glasgow) Are there any tips or websites you recommend. I’m a little nervous about it honestly.
    Thanks

    • Kathi says:

      That’s absolutely doable, although you’ll have to take a bus to Skye. For trains I always use trainline.co.uk – I find the best deals around three weeks prior to my intended travel dates, and the site is a lot more user-friendly than the Scotrail websites; plus it lists various train companies in its search results! For buses check our citylink.co.uk, which is as far as I know the main bus company operating in rural Scotland. Prices are usually reasonable if you book in advance or do short routes! Traveling by public transport can be a bit more time consuming, but particularly the train routes are so scenic, you’ll actually want them to last longer 😉 Have a great trip!

  23. Josie says:

    Gonna hold my hands up and say I came to read this list (as a Scot in Scotland) to see what ridiculous advice was being doled out. I’ve never been happier to admit I am completely wrong and this was a very useful, interesting and well-written list – a must-read for anyone coming to visit Scotland.
    I would add that for number 28, Fife (an area north of Edinburgh, over the iconic Forth Bridge) is also worth a mention in terms of cheaper accommodation if you want to see Edinburgh, even in August. There are very regular trains (more and later running during the festival) and it’s as little as 35 minutes away.

    • Kathi says:

      Good shout about Fife – I’ll add this tip to the article if I may. I’m glad I could surprise you with my list! I’ve lived here for several years and was hoping that by now I’d have a pretty good idea of what travelers should know about 🙂 I hope you’ll share it with friends coming to visit you! X

  24. Afton says:

    Love this list! We are heading there in March and will only be there for a week. I wish I could stay a month or longer and do so much more. Still working out our itinerary, though, so this has given me many ideas. (Sorry to hear the highland cows aren’t as easy to spot as the travel websites make them seem. But it’s good to know. 🙂 )

    • Kathi says:

      Oh a week really isn’t enough, but it’s a good time to get a first overview! In terms of highland cows – maybe I was just always not lucky enough… I wish you a great journey and all the best spotting coos 😀 Thanks for your comment!

    • Kathi says:

      Haha I was totally thinking of Amy Macdonald there – neither of them make it into my playlists, so it’s easy to mix up 😀

  25. Camila says:

    Love this so much! And agree with all of them!! The thing about not lifting a man’s kilt made me laugh, it’s my man’s biggest fear when we’re out and he’s wearing his kilt. At graduation in St Andrews, people randomly asked him to take photos because he was wearing one. Also, I invested in a Craghoppers last year and it was by far my favourite purchase ever! It’s doing really well in currently -15 Canadian weather too! And agreed about the classic trifecta, Edinburgh, Loch Ness and Isle of Skye. I always try to get people to think further than that!

    • Kathi says:

      Thanks for your comment – I’m glad I picked some you could personally relate to. I wish my partner was wearing a kilt more often – he’s Scottish, but he doesn’t have one – I’m often disappointed ha ha 🙂

  26. Ruth Cronan says:

    Thanks for the advice! I will be heading to northeast Scotland in March (Inverness and the Black Isle), I will definitely be using some of your advice. This is my first time to Scotland and really appreciate your time to dish out some advice.

    • Kathi says:

      Oh what a fantastic trip waiting for you! I’ve never been to the Black Isle, but they have a great brewery up there, if you’re into that sort of stuff! Have a fab trip! 🙂

  27. Edith gillian says:

    I was interested in your take on Scotland, as I once lived there, and still have relatives there, it is a beautiful country, except for the dreaded Scottish mid he, especially in the west, it absolutely eats you to bits, especially the English, so be warned from May to October beware the midge

    • Kathi says:

      You’re right – the midges are the worst! They can really ruin your trip to some extent – but the landscape makes up for it 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

    • Mary A. Geissler says:

      Hi Edith — just beginning exploring the possibility of traveling to Scotland alone – and I am kinda old but good shape! I do not know what a midge is — is that a mosquito? A gnat? And you mention the Scottish mid he — what is that? Is bug spray enough to ward them off? Thanks for any input!

      Mary

      • Kathi says:

        Hi Mary, I think Edith’s had a typo there – she’s of course also talking about midges (not mid he) 😉 I would describe midges as a mix between mosquitos and flies – they’s quite small (hence there are specific midge nets to keep them away – they can slip through normal mosquito nets), they bite and can itch like crazy! Mosquito repellent might work, but there is also a spray called Smidge, which you can pick up in most outdoor shops here, which was specifically designed with the Scottish Highland midge in mind. It helps really well, but it is also advisable to wear long sleeves around sunset to keep them off your skin! Hope that gives you an idea of how to protect yourself from the ‘wee beasties’ – as we call them here!

  28. Anisa says:

    I was just in Scotland and did the Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, and Edinburgh. It was all we could fit in for that trip, but I really wanna go back and see more. I will put Glasgow on the top of the list. I did try haggis while I was there and loved it!

    • Kathi says:

      Thanks for your comment! Those three places are a great introduction and all classics! Next time do Glasgow for sure, and maybe Oban <3

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