My favourite booking platforms, Scottish providers and other tricks.
On this page I am sharing my favourite travel resources –
my preferred booking platforms for flights, transport and accommodation, essential apps and tools to download for a trip to Scotland and other things to keep in mind when preparing your travels.
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- A 30-page e-book with a detailed 8-day itinerary covering the best of Scotland.
- A resource library which contains downloadable checklists and links to interactive area maps.
Click here to read my ALL my tips for finding cheap flights to Scotland.
I always double-check directly with airlines to make sure I get the best price.
I recommend flying into Edinburgh or Glasgow airports. Depending on your itinerary, you could also book a flight to Inverness (north) or Aberdeen (east).
For local flights within Scotland (for example to Islay, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney or Shetland, check the local airline Loganair.
Hiring a Car
Click here to read my top tips for renting a car in Scotland.
There are two services I recommend to hire cars in Scotland:
Auto Europe | A comparison platform where I always find the best deals for car rentals. They compare prices from various international car rental agencies and offer great insurance packages (much cheaper than booking insurance directly with the agency). I recommend choosing established agencies like Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz or Sixt, and stay away from low-budget options like Easirent or Keddy because their small print can be vicious, emergency support lacking or deposits super high!
Arnold Clark Car Rental | A fantastic local car rental company with comprehensive insurance packages and great support – if a bit more expensive. They also work with Celtic Legend, a highly recommended service!
Check out my top driving tips if you decide to hire a car!
TRAINS | I recommend booking train tickets in advance via Trainline. Most trains in Scotland are operated by Scotrail, but there are a few other companies travelling in routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as down to England. There is also the Caledonian Sleeper Train that connects London with the Scottish Highlands overnight.
Top tip: Keep hold of your train ticket as you might need it to exit the train station.
BUSSES | For inter-city travel, check out Citylink and Megabus and book tickets in advance. Stagecoach operates a wide network of buses all over Scotland – mostly on local routes (not necessary to book ahead), but also some inter-city routes which are best to book in advance.
FERRIES | There are two major ferry operators in Scotland. Calmac runs most ferries on the west coast (incl. to Skye, Mull, Lewis and Islay), while Northlink Ferries services the northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland). There are a few smaller ferry operators in specific locations.
Top tip: Popular crossings to islands such as Skye, Mull, the Outer Hebrides, Islay, Orkney and Shetland MUST be booked in advance year-round.
Read my island hopping guide for more ferry travel tips.
CITY TRANSPORT | Public transport is different in each city. Glasgow and Edinburgh have the largest networks, with busses, trains and a subway in Glasgow, and busses, trains and a tram in Edinburgh. Other Scottish cities, like Inverness, Aberdeen and Stirling, have local bus networks.
Click here to read about my favourite hotels and B&Bs in Scotland.
I mostly use the following websites to book accommodation around Scotland:
Booking.com: For hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation.
AirBnB: For private rooms, self-catering accommodation and B&Bs.Get £25 off your first airbnb booking
VisitScotland Accommodation Tool: For small accommodation providers and hidden gems. Downside: This tool does not include reviews.
Regional tourism board websites: These websites are particularly useful to find accommodation on islands and in remote communities. Downside: They don’t always include availability calendars and reviews.
Top tip: Accommodation must be booked in advance, particularly from May to October and in popular destinations.
Small Group Tours
Small group tours can be a great alternative to driving yourself. Here are five things I love about taking tours:
- Tours save you stress and you can focus on enjoying the scenery.
- They are perfect if you only have a limited amount of time in Scotland, but want to see a lot.
- Group tours can provide a welcome change from travelling alone.
- The routes usually include the “must-sees” and some hidden gems you would not have seen otherwise.
- Tour guides have a wealth of knowledge to share, whether it is about Scottish history, current life in Scotland or Scottish culture!
Here are some recommended tour providers that I’ve tried myself:
Attractions, Activities & Sightseeing
From castles and museums to natural highlights and cultural encounters, Scotland boasts a vast amount of unique experiences.
Membership passes: Depending on which sites, monument and castles are on your itinerary, the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass or a National Trust for Scotland membership can save you a lot of money. Both include free entrance to extensive lists of attractions around Scotland.
Castles: Many popular castles such as Eilean Donan, Dunvegan or Blair Castle are privately owned and thus not part of membership passes. Unfortunately, you can only get individual tickets for these.
City passes: In Edinburgh, you can get your money’s worth for the 48h Royal Edinburgh ticket which includes the sightseeing bus as well as entrance to the Castle, Holyrood Palace and Royal Yacht Britannia. Most attractions in Glasgow are free of charge, so there is no city pass for attractions. However, I recommend the City Sightseeing bus to get an overview.
Guided Hikes: Girls on Hills is a fantastic organisation that offers training and navigation courses for women as well as private guided hikes for mixed groups in the Glencoe area.
Activity Providers: Sign up to Wild Adventures Scotland to receive a handbook with my favourite activity providers in Scotland
Read my guide to outdoor activities in Scotland for inspiration.
Top tip: Get in touch with activity providers as early as possible to discuss suitable dates and activities.