Often mistaken as a city in England – which is not true, Scotland is one of the countries that make up the United Kingdom alongside Wales, England, and Northern Ireland.
Scotland is a sovereign, beautiful, and majestic country with warm hospitality and fascinating landmarks. Scotland is home to many historic castles, monuments, and artifacts – making it one of the most visited countries in the U.K.
Just as you would any country, traveling to Scotland requires planning your itinerary. You need to figure out where you are visiting, how long your stay will last, and, most importantly, if you can afford the trip.
We found using destination-focused online trip planners to be handy in making your travel plans, especially for making your reservations, making a list of places to visit, and managing your best trips to Scotland yourself – you should give it a try.
Top Scotland Travel Tips
For most tourists, visiting Scotland is a dream come through and its an opportunity they won’t trade for anything else in the world – and we can’t blame them, Scotland is a beauty!
Whether you are visiting for the first time or not, you should always make adequate preparation for your journey. Being put on the next available flight back home upon arrival is one out of the countless things that could cut your dream trip to Scotland short.
Here are practical tips for your Scotland itinerary
- Get Your Visa Ready
Sometimes, travelers find out that their visas are due for renewal or validation just a few hours to their flight.
You can imagine how heart-wrenching that can be – Always validate your travel papers in advance. If you are too busy to handle it, get a travel agency to make preparations for your trip.
2. Language Barrier
It’s no news that Scots speak with an accent, sometimes the accents are so strong that you had practically strain your ears and focus on their lips to make the words.
If you ever come across such brawny accented scot, don’t be shy to ask the person to repeat the sentence or take it slowly – at least you (definitely) won’t be the only one in that situation.
Tip: Familiarize with the accent by watching Scottish T.V. programs, films, and interviews – they help a lot.
- Prepare for the Weather
The weather out there can get cold and drag on for days. Remember to pack winter clothing, unless you are visiting in the summer.
The weather is also unpredictable; don’t be surprised to see rain in June and days of sunlight in November. Check weather forecasts to help plan your tour. While at it, embrace whatever the weather throws at you.
They say, “it’s the weather that makes Scotland” and “there is no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, there is an only bad choice of clothes.”
- What to Spend: Scottish Vs. British Money
Scotland uses the British pound, but theirs is quite different from the one you know. The Scottish banks print their notes with portraits of Catherine Cranston and Sir Walter Scott and Robert The Bruce.
Even though the Scottish pound notes are recognized as legal tender in the U.K., most stores in Wales, Northern Ireland, and England don’t accept them.
- Credit Card Payment
Virtually all stores and businesses accept credit card payments. Master cards and Visa are commonly are the popular choice around here. Regardless, it’s good to carry some cash in case you run by shops in rural areas who accept only cash.
- Less Is More!
Confused? Here is the deal. Often, travelers or tourists cramp up their trip with almost every place and thing there is to see in Scotland. Most times, if not all the time, such tourists miss out on the treat and essence of the vacation because they end up spending most of the trip in cabs, and trains.
- Book Accommodation in Advance
Unless you don’t have problems paying for whatever accommodation you find on arrival, it’s always best to book your accommodations months in advance. Accommodations in hotels are usually fully booked in summer, and the few that will be available will cost a fortune.
Save yourself the stress and hassles – You stand a chance of getting massive discounts by booking your reservations during off-seasons, especially in winter.
Traveling Around Scotland
- Hiring a Car
Driving yourself around as you go on tours is one of the best ways of exploring Scotland to the fullest. However, don’t forget to drive on the left. If you plan on visiting the highlands and you are not sure if you can handle the turns or navigate the single track roads, ask the car to hire attendants for a map.
Also, request for a guide on speed limits, parking spaces, roundabouts, and any information you that will help your journey.
Tip: let people overtake you on single track roads. Better safe and late than never making it to your destination.
- Public Transport
There is virtually every type of public transport at your beckon! If hiring a car will be too stressful, you can try the ferries, trains or busses. Sometimes, you may find that public transport is a lot cheaper than car hire.
Tip: Book ferry tickets in advance. Ferries on popular routes can be hard to get in the summer because the large crowd – sometimes, you would have to stand for hours just to get a ticket. If you have the Isle of Skye, Orkney, Islay, or Mull on your itinerary, then you should book your tickets right away.
- Getting a private driver
This is not a bad idea if you can afford it. Having a private on call to take you wherever you want to go is a convenient option to consider. Other than the luxury ride around the city, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery as the air caress your face.
The luxury of having a private driver can cost you up to 500 pounds per day, and you will also have to make arrangements for the driver’s accommodation. There are a host of tour providers and car hire services you can reach out to. You only need to research any company to decide to settle for.
If you need to book train tickets in Scotland or anywhere in the world, you can do that at Rail.Ninja. They are reliable and will get you on the best trains!
The perfect itinerary: where to visit!
- Don’t follow the crowd
Unless you are going on a group tour, you shouldn’t do what almost every tourist will do. Go out and take a walk down the streets, have breakfast at the cafe, and do dinner at local restaurants at night. There is more to Scotland than the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Edinburgh – Get off the beaten track!
- Look under your Nose!
Yes, there are countless famous islands and places to visit, but there are more exciting places you can explore in Scotland. This is not to say you shouldn’t visit the Isle of Skye, start with the islands or isles ( like Eigg, Muck, or Canna) that are closest to you!
Tips: Isle Arran is equally gorgeous and is easy to get to. You can dash in by train and ferry, and it’s perfect for last-minute detours. There is a lot to experience in Arran, from the distilleries to the unusual standing stones and wildlife. You also get to see the Brodick and Lochranza castles in their magnificence!
- Visit the Castles
Scotland is home to many castles, due to their many decades of existence, some have been renovated while the ruins of others are preserved to retain the original architecture and history. Some castles you can start with are:
- The incredible Balmoral castle
- The ruins of Dunnottar Castle
- The highly preserved Stirling Castle
- The stunning Kilchurn Castle on the way to Oban and
- The beautiful Culzean Castle overlooking the Isle of Arran
Having seen the isles and castles, you should settle for some Food and Drink
- A Dram Of Whiskey – Learn The Right Words!
In Scotland, you don’t ask for a shot of whiskey! It gives you up as a tourist. There are varieties of whiskey you can try to douse the cold. While at it, keep an open mind because it takes a while to get used to whiskey in this area.
- Scottish Cuisine
Scottish cuisines are remarkably tasty and can put a smile on your face after a stressful day. Traditional dishes like the Cullen skink and Stovies will blow you away!
Here are some terms you should know
- Cullen Skink is a creamy fish soup
- Stovies refer to a potato dish
Other native dishes are steak or mushroom pies and chicken tikka masala. The best place to get superb fish and chip treat are at the seaside towns and villages – this is where fresh fishes make their first stop.
Lastly, keep an eye out for seagulls whenever you have fish in your hands at the seaside. The seagulls here can be crazy and daring. They have a habit of stealing and snatching fish off unsuspecting tourists.