Scotland is a country that is known for its natural beauty and rich history. If you are planning on traveling to Scotland, you will want to read this Scotland travel guide first! In it, we will cover everything from the best areas to visit, to how to save money while traveling. We will also discuss some of the must-see attractions in Scotland, so you can make the most of your trip!
Scotland travel guide general information
Scotland at glance: Scotland is a country located in the northern part of Great Britain. It is home to the United Kingdom’s capital, Edinburgh, as well as its largest city, Glasgow. Scotland is surrounded by both land and sea, including the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Scotland is unique in Europe to travel to because most of its terrain is hilly and mountainous and is therefore stunning to explore.
Popular destinations in Scotland: below are some of the most popular places to visit in Scotland. Of course, there are many more places to see, but this is a good start when planning your trip.
- Edinburgh: the capital of Scotland, it is home to many historical sites and monuments, as well as being a vibrant city full of culture.
- Glasgow: Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow offers plenty of cultural experiences in its art galleries and museums, as well as shopping opportunities.
- Highlands: this mountainous area is known for its stunning scenery and is a great place to explore Scotland’s natural beauty. The best place to explore the Highlands is Fort William.
- Loch Lomond: this picturesque lake is popular with walkers, as you can take many beautiful walks around the lake and the surrounding area.
- Isle of Skye: the largest island in Scotland, it is popular for its rolling hills and dramatic coastline that are perfect for exploring.
- Glen Coe: this mountain range is known for its stunning scenery and offers some of the best hiking in Scotland.
- North Coast 500: this is a popular road trip along Scotland’s rugged coastline, perfect for those looking for adventure.
- Cairngorm National Park: this park is a nice place because it has many forests and you can walk over the hills where you can spot wildlife.
- Loch Ness: home to the legendary Loch Ness Monster, this loch is a top place to explore where you can visit a centuries-old castle..
Tipping in Scotland: tipping in Scotland is not a common practice, however it is appreciated. If you eat out at a restaurant, 10-15% of the bill is generally accepted as a tip.
Religion and culture in Scotland: Scotland has a long history of Christianity, with the majority of the population belonging to the Church of Scotland. However, there are also smaller numbers of Catholics and other denominations present in the country. Scottish culture is strongly influenced by its Celtic heritage, with festivals such as Hogmanay (New Year) and Burns Night being celebrated annually. There is also a strong tradition of music and dance, as well as a variety of traditional foods that are unique to Scotland.
Transport in Scotland: Travelling around Scotland is a great way to experience the country and its culture. The most common way of traveling in Scotland is by camper or car, however, there are also trains and buses available for longer distances. Many small towns and villages may not have regular public transport services so it can be beneficial to hire a car.
If you travel to Scotland by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.
The best time to visit Scotland
The best time to visit Scotland depends on what you want to do. If you are looking for warmer temperatures and longer days, then the summer months (June-August) are best. During this time the average temperature is 18°C (64°F) during the day and 10°C (50°F) at night. This is also a great time to enjoy Scotland’s outdoor activities, such as hiking. However, it can be very busy during these months and accommodation may be more expensive.
If you are looking for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds then spring (March-May) and autumn (September – November) are great options. During these times the average temperature is 12°C (54°F) during the day and 4°C (39°F) at night. This is a great time to enjoy Scotland’s cultural attractions as there are usually fewer crowds.
In terms of weather, winter (December-February) can be unpredictable with temperatures averaging 3°C (37°F) during the day and -2°C (28°F) at night. Although the days are shorter, winter can be a great time to visit Scotland as it is less crowded and lower prices on accommodation. However, some attractions may be closed during this period due to bad weather conditions so it is important to check before you travel.
Please note: there are many midges in Scotland between the months of May and September, culminating in the summer months of July and August. Midges are small flies that resemble fruit flies, but they sting. In the summer months when you are in the Highlands, west coast and north coast, many midges occur. They emerge when there is no wind and damp weather. You can do our itinerary in the summer months because you spend a lot of time along the coast where there is a lot of wind. The only place where you can be bothered by midges in the summer months is at Glencoe and Fort William. It is best to buy protection at local outdoor stores.
Is Scotland safe to visit?
Scotland is generally a safe place to travel, but you should watch out for pickpockets in the larger cities.
Do you have travel insurance? When you travel, it is a good idea to have travel insurance. This means that if something bad happens like your phone gets stolen or you break your leg, you will be covered. World Nomads is a good company to use for this. You can fill out the form below to get an idea of how much it will cost for your trip.
Why travel to Scotland?
Scotland is a beautiful country with stunning landscapes and unique culture. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and wildlife spotting, as well as lots of cultural attractions to explore. The best time to visit Scotland depends on what you want to do. Here are some of the best things to do in Scotland.
Visit Edinburgh Castle: one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, Edinburgh Castle is steeped in history and provides stunning views over the city. Edinburgh is without a doubt the best city to visit in Scotland because of its stunning architecture, cobbled streets, and vibrant nightlife.
Explore Isle of Skye: Scotland’s largest island, Skye offers some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery as well as a variety of outdoor activities for all ages. It is worth exploring the Isle of Skye for 2 days as there are so many things to do.
Take a whisky distillery tour: Scotland is famous for its whisky and the best way to learn about this traditional drink is to take a tour of one of the many whisky distilleries located in the country. We visited Glengoyne when we were in Loch Lomond.
Hike Ben Nevis: Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK and a popular hiking destination. The Ben Nevis hike can be challenging but it’s worth it for the views during the hike. You can start the hike of Ben Nevis at Fort William.
Road trip: take a road trip around Scotland and discover Scotland’s impressive scenery. From the rugged Highlands to the peaceful lochs, there is something for everyone on a Scottish road trip. The North Coast 500 (NC500) is one of the most popular routes. The North Coast 500 takes 5 days and shows you the incredible landscapes of the north of Scotland.
Visit Loch Ness: The famous Loch Ness is worth a visit during your trip to Scotland. Take a boat tour out on the lake and see if you can spot the legendary monster ;).
Take a cruise on Loch Lomond: Take in Scotland’s beautiful scenery on a cruise of Loch Lomond. Enjoy the views and if you’re lucky, spot some wildlife! While exploring the area of Loch Lomond, you can challenge yourself to ascend to Conic Hill for an unforgettable view of the surrounding terrain.
Explore Cairngorms National Park: Get out into nature by exploring the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. Take a walk like the Meall a’ Bhuachaille hike in Glenmore. This one is cool because the walk is very varied.
Admire the Glenfinnan Viaduct: take a trip to Glenfinnan to explore the famous viaduct from the Harry Potter films. It is super fun to visit because you can see the steam train journey passing by. In our comprehensive article on visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct we provide all the necessary tips and advice you need to know before visiting.
Best itinerary Scotland
When you preparing your own itinerary for Scotland it is smart to determine upfront which areas and places you want to visit based on your time.
We traveled through Scotland for 3 weeks and have put together a 3 week Scotland itinerary based on our experience. You can use this as a basis to put together your own itinerary or simply copy it. If you have less than 3 weeks, we will advise you which places you can skip.
Best dishes in Scotland
When you are in Scotland the cuisine is a fun way to explore the country. There are plenty of dishes that are worth trying while being here. Here is an overview of some of our favorite Scottish dishes:
Haggis- This famous dish consists of sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs minced with oatmeal and spices before it is boiled and served with mashed potatoes, turnips, and whisky sauce.
- Cullen Skink: this is a creamy soup made up of potato, onions, smoked haddock, and cream.
- Lorne Sausage: these square sausages are made from pork or beef mince and are usually served for breakfast.
- Cranachan: cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert made with oatmeal, whisky, raspberries, and cream.
- Deep Fried Mars Bars: these are a classic Scottish snack. The bars are battered and deep-fried before being served with chips!
- Scotch Pie: this savory pastry is filled with minced mutton, beef, or poultry and is usually served with mashed potatoes.
- Tablet: this sweet treat consists of sugar, condensed milk, and butter. It has a crumbly texture similar to fudge.
- Fish and Chips: a classic British dish, fish and chips are a must-try when in Scotland.
How expensive is Scotland to travel to
Traveling in Scotland can be expensive. Costs for accommodations, transportation, and activities can quickly add up. Knowing where to save money is key when traveling around the country. To help you save on your travels in Scotland, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide detailing all the associated Scotland travel costs. With our practical advice, you can make your journey even more enjoyable and cost-effective. To help maximize cost savings and make your travel budget go further, we provide a breakdown of the costs associated with different types of travelers. We also share tips on how to save money per category.
Where to stay in Scotland
Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel, an affordable hostel or a good spot for a camper, we have put together a list of the best accommodations in Scotland. You can combine this article with our Scotland itinerary to prepare without having to do all the research yourself which saves you a lot of time.
What to pack for a trip to Scotland?
When packing for a trip to Scotland, make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear. In summer months a light jacket or sweater may be necessary due to the unpredictable weather of this region. A pair of comfortable walking shoes is advisable if you plan on doing some hiking. Be sure to bring several layers of clothing as temperatures can vary from daytime to evening. It is also important to have a raincoat and waterproof jacket in case of wet or cold weather. Additionally, make sure to pack any necessary toiletries, and specific medications, and if required bring lip balm as the air can be dry. Finally, don’t forget your camera so you can capture all the amazing sights of Scotland!
Other travel tips for Scotland?
- Don’t go on an organized trip. Instead, try to do everything by yourself. This will save you a lot of money and you can always decide for yourself what you want to do during your trip. You are not following a schedule. If necessary, it is fine to book a tour from places like Edinburgh, but always try to do things yourself if you have the time.
- There is a saying: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. Many people do not travel to Scotland because of the ‘bad’ weather only when you have the right clothes you should be fine. We traveled for 3 weeks in Scotland. We only had 1 day of rain during the day. The rest of the time it was dry.