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Scotland is a beautiful country that’s a part of the United Kingdom. It’s full of varying landscapes and quaint cities that’ll capture your heart.
Use this Scotland travel guide to help you plan your trip from within the cities to the Scottish Highlands! Learn everything from what to eat to where to stay.
The currency for the Scotland is the Pound (£).
U.S. Citizens can stay in the United Kingdom without a visa for up to six months.
Scotland is generally a safe country like its surrounding countries, but be mindful of areas of nightlife in cities.
For emergencies, dial 999.
In Scotland, the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
This universal travel adapter will work converting US appliances to GB sockets and has space for two USB cords.
However, it will not work with appliances that heat up such as a hair straightener or clothes steamer. Head to this post to learn about using hair appliances abroad.
People in Scotland speak English.
Best Time to Go
The best times to visit Scotland are in the summer time because of the weather. They’re ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Nonetheless, this means that prices are higher for hotels and activities.
Shoulder season is in the Spring (late March to May) and Fall (September and October). The weather is still mild during these times, and there’s less tourists than the summertime.
Winter is quite cold and rainy. However, flights and accommodations are the cheapest during this time.
Scotland is a mid-priced European country with prices that vary depending on the season.
For accommodation, cities are priced relatively well but finding a hotel in the Highlands when everyone is on holiday in the summertime can get expensive, especially if you book last minute.
- Hostels: $30-50
- Budget Hotels: $50-100
- Mid-range Hotels: $100-200
- Luxury Hotels $200+
- Airbnb Private Rooms: $50-100
- Airbnb Entire Place: $75-200
Prices are in USD.
Dining out is comparable to cities in both the United States and Europe. Keep in mind that both tax is included in the price, and tipping is quite minimal.
Here are prices of meals for one:
- Lunch and Fast Casual Places: less than $20 USD
- Restaurants: $20-45 USD
- Fine Dining: more than $50 USD
Prices are in USD.
Renting a manual car in Scotland is about $37 USD a day but will cost about $30 more for an automatic.
Trams within Edinburgh cost about $2.00 to $8.00 depending on if your journey is within the city or if you’re going to the airport.
Trains can cost about $20-50 for a one way trip depending where you are going to in the country.
Getting around Scotland is really easy, especially with Google Maps, which you can use offline without wifi or data. This is because you can use Google Maps for walking, public transportation and driving directions.
To get around cities, you can use Uber, walk since they’re not too large or use public transportation.
For between cities, you’ll want to rent a car or take a train. From experience, renting a car is a better option for getting around Scotland if you plan on exploring the countryside.
I rented a car from both Budget and Hertz (on two separate trips) and enjoyed my experience with Budget better. The two main reasons are that (1) there was no wait when picking up the car but this is all based on what time your flight arrives and how many other people are renting from Budget and (2) we got a free upgrade on our car. We rented a small car but got a mid-sized car.
Also, the car that we got from Budget was newer than the one we got from Hertz, and it had an operational navigation system that we didn’t think we’d need since we had Google Maps on our phone, but ended up being handy in the countryside when we didn’t have phone service.
Driving in Scotland may be a bit different from your own country because they drive on the left side of the road. However, there is more to driving in Scotland than just knowing what side of the road to drive on.
Instead of traffic intersections like in the United States, there are many rotaries. Give way to those coming from the right.
One of the more important driving tips to know is that there are no speed limit posted. Instead, there are road signs with symbols posted.
Generally the speed limit is 20-30mph in Urban areas, 60mph in Single carriageways and 70mph in Dual carriageways. But double check the signs to make sure. Here’s what they look like.
If you want an update on mileage, you can also check Apple maps (Google maps doesn’t give the speed limit), but still rely on road signs over what Apple maps says.
Last but not least, there are electronic cameras that take note of your speed limit. You will see signs for them!
Good to Know: There are no toll roads in Scotland!
Local Customs & Tips
Local customs don’t differ too greatly from America or other Western countries, but there are a few that stick out.
- Be polite and mindful of your manners.
- When someone walks past you, feel free to say hello.
- Don’t wave your hand at a waiter, or even snap your fingers at them.
- Don’t complain in public.
- It is unusual to ask to bring your leftovers home from a restaurant so don’t order more than you can eat.
- You can tip about 10% on a meal.
- They call mountains “hills” so going for a hiking on a hill can be much more exhausting than you might think!
- Stick with small talk when talking with strangers.
What to Pack
For Your Electronics: Since Scotland’s voltage is 230 and they use a Plug Type G, you’ll want to bring a universal travel adapter that also has two USB ports for your phones.
If you prefer plain adapters, then I recommend these smaller ones as they’ll fit into any socket the best.
Important Note: Your heated appliances like a clothing steamer or hair straightener will only work abroad if it’s dual-voltage. Here is a post fully dedicated to using hair straighteners abroad.
For the Weather: As mentioned above, Scotland can be quite rainy for a large part of the year. As a result, having a windproof umbrella on you at all times is your best bet. Here’s the exact travel windproof umbrella that I bring with me while traveling. You may also want to pack a stylish, reusable raincoat.
For Clothing: Scottish men and women dress simple but classy. They often wear dark jeans with solid or patterned sweaters and t-shirts and a pair of sneakers or boots.
They do not dress up so often and women barely wear heels. It’s a pretty casual dress code.
Although they don’t dress up too often, they definitely do not wear sweatpants, yoga pants, or clothing with holes in public. The only time you’d wear these items outside your home is if you are going to and from your gym and yoga classes.
You might like: How to Keep Your Clothes Wrinkle Free While Traveling
For Traveling: Roads, apartments, planes and cars tend to be smaller in the Scotland than the USA. As a result, I recommend traveling with a carry-on size luggage such as this eBags Fortis one that I’ve used in Scotland, the Netherlands, Spain and France. Its wheels roll so smoothly, which makes walking through airports and train stations a breeze.
Miscellaneous: I find it’s always a good idea to bring a foldable, reusable bag. Besides them being handy for shopping, they’re really convenient to have when traveling in general. Read my post on why a reusable, foldable bag is a must when traveling, or get some on Amazon here.
You might like: Ultimate European Packing List
Best Things to Do
For the best things to do, you’ll want to check out places to visit in Scotland such as Edinburgh and the Highlands.
Explore Edinburgh, the Second Largest City in Scotland
If you want city life with a touch of nature, then Edinburgh is the place to visit. Between its charming coffee shops and bars are tons of green spaces to relax and hike in such as Holyrood Park.
Here are some suggestions for what to do in Edinburgh:
- walk around Old Town
- visit Edinburgh Castle (get tickets in advance here)
- hike to the highest point of Holyrood Park for an amazing view of Edinburgh
- take a full-day trip visiting three whiskey distilleries in Speyside
- hear tales of 17th century Edinburgh with a 1-hr underground tour of Real Mary King’s Close
- get free entry to 18 of Ediburgh’s top attractions with an Edinburgh pass plus tram rides and transportation to and from the airport
- take a day trip to the Scottish Highlands to discover breathtaking nature
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there’s tons of Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh to check out.
You might like: The Best Instagrammable Places in Scotland
Feed Free-Ranging Reindeers in the Scottish Highlands
Reindeers were once native to Scotland until they became extinct here. That is until 1952 when Mikel Utsi and his wife Dr. Ethel Lindgren made it a mission to bring back reindeers to Scotland.
Now it is the only free-ranging herd of reindeers in the United Kingdom whom you can feed and watch in person!
Timing: There are daily hill trips all year round except early Jan to early Feb at 11:00am. From May to September, there’s an additional trip at 2:30pm. Then in July and August, there is a third trip at 3:30pm from Mon to Fri only.
Pro Tip: Go an hour before the hill trip is supposed to happen, especially if you are visiting on weekends. This activity is very popular.
Good to Know: There is a short 15-20 minute hike to get up the hill. There were children on the trail so it’s not too bad, but you still might want to be mindful of your physical capabilities.
Also, it is quite muddy so if you don’t have your own hiking or rain boots, you can rent boots from the center for £1.
Discover the Many Castles of Scotland
There are an endless number of castles in Scotland, including one right in Edinburgh. Either rent a car, or if you prefer not to drive, then hop on a group tour to visit these majestic buildings!
Visit the Infamous Glenfinnan Viaduct aka the Harry Potter Bridge
The Glenfinnan Viaduct, better known as the bridge from the Harry Potter movies, is a grand piece of architecture to see in person, especially at sunset.
You might like: The Best Instagrammable Places in Scotland
Hike, Kayak and Go Clay Shooting in the Scottish Highlands
The Scottish Highlands is an adventure packed paradise. You can hike, kayak, bike and even go clay shooting.
If you only have one day to visit the Highlands, no worries. You can take a one day tour from Edinburgh to get your fill of Scotland’s nature.
Take Photos at all the Instagrammable Places in Scotland
What to Eat in Scotland
There are tons of Scottish foods to try in Scotland, but the top three you must try are:
- Fish and chips, especially at Happy Haggis in Aviemore if you are visiting Cairngorms National Park
- Lamb, which you may be inclined to try as you see thousands of lamb roaming freely in the countryside
- Scottish breakfast, which has black pudding, beans, and tomatoes in addition to eggs and meat that you may usually be accustomed to eating
Places to Stay
During my trip to Scotland, I visited Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Aviemore, Isles of Glencoe and Glasgow. Here are all the hotels I stayed at and recommend!
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Grand was by far one of my favorite hotels that I’ve ever stayed at. From the cozy touches that you’d find at home to its very convenient location, this hotel is guaranteed to make your stay in Edinburgh a great one.
You can read more on why I loved these hotels/serviced apartments in Edinburgh, or see if there’s availability for your trip here.
Where to Stay in Aberdeen
Besides just visiting castles, you can stay in a castle right outside of Aberdeen at the Ardoe House Hotel and Spa. The large gym and pool make up for the fact that the rooms are a bit outdated, although still comfortable.
Where to Stay in Aviemore
Accommodation in Cairngorm National Park can surprisingly get quite expensive. As a result, we opted for Cairngorm Guest House, which was reasonably priced and served a very filling and delicious homemade breakfast. The accommodation itself was clean and cozy!
Note: This hotel is a 15 minute drive from Aberdeen’s city center. Click here if you’re looking for something right in city center.
Where to Stay in Isles of Glencoe
The Isles of Glencoe hotel is a modern hotel set on a beautiful lake with mountains in the backdrop. It’s a great place to stay at if you’re looking to have epic scenery to wake up alongside contemporary amenities.
Where to Stay in Glasgow
The citizenM hotel is one that I like to frequent time and time again, and the Glasgow one proved that to be true. The small room is wonderfully designed to feel big and is oh-so-comfortable!
There’s also quite a large “living room” to catch up on work if you’re on a business trip.
Latest Blog Posts About Scotland
In case you didn’t get all the information you wanted above in my Scotland travel guide, here are my latest posts to help you travel in this country.
- The Ultimate Scotland Travel Guide
- The Best Instagrammable Places in Scotland
- The Best of Serviced Apartments in Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Grand
Thanks for making it all the way down to the end of the post. I’d love to connect. Come say hi to me my Instagram @sarchetrit, especially if you found any part of this post to be helpful.
Till then, thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!
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