Found in the northern third of the United Kingdom is the great country of Scotland.
Known for the warmth of its people, lush greenery and mountains, beautiful coastlines and beaches, medieval castles, and rich history, Scotland is a place like no other.
It is perfect for those who find the beauty in nature. Made up of almost 800 small islands, there is a lot to see and explore here.
This Scotland travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Currency: Scotland currency is the Pound sterling (£) and 1 pound sterling is equal to 1.25 USD.
- Power: Scotland power voltage is 230v 50 Hz.
- Visa: Tourist Visas are not required when visiting Scotland. All that is needed is a U.S. passport that has been valid for at least 6 months prior to visiting Scotland.
- Best way to get around: Renting a car is considered the best way to get around Scotland. You must be over 21 to rent a car.
- Driving in Scotland is done on the left-hand side of the road!
- SIM Cards: The most common cellular networks in Scotland are Orange, O2, and Vodafone. You can purchase a UK SIM card to connect your phone to one of these.
- Best Sim Cards: We use KnowRoaming packages are $3.99 per day for unlimited data and calls. PlanetD readers receive an extra 50% off using promo code DDSave50
- Value-added tax (VAT) is applied to most goods in Scotland. Visitors may be able to reclaim these taxes based on the store and amount purchased. For more information, click here. http://www.rampantscotland.com/know/blknow_vat.htm
Budget: For those on a budget, Scotland offers many hostels at roughly 20 pounds per night. Many have shared bathrooms, but you can upgrade to get a private bathroom in some if you’re willing to pay more.
Mid Range: These typically cost £60 to £100 per night and often come with complimentary breakfast as well as free Wi-Fi. Scotland also offers plenty of bed and breakfasts around the same price.
High End: For those who wish for a unique experience, Scotland offers plenty of high-end castle hotels. These castle hotels are rich with history and offer plentiful views. Prices tend to fall in the £100 to £350 range. In the smaller cities, it might be best to check out an Air B&B for more of a selection.
You can find a variety of pubs and street food in Scotland. The national dish is haggis, a meat pudding served with mashed potatoes and turnips. Expect to pay around £30 per day for food.
Getting to Scotland: For those flying to Scotland, the Edinburgh Airport or Glasgow Airports are two of the main airports and are conveniently just 7-8 miles from the city center.
You can check for the best flights to Scotland on Skyscanner.
Compare Flights to Scotland Below
Bus: When you need to get around the city, the bus is a cheap option. They run all throughout the day and cost around £2-5 depending on where you go
Train: Trains are available throughout Scotland and tend to cost at least 20-40 pounds for a one-way trip depending on how far your journey is. This is a great way to get to major cities if you don’t have a car, as routes such as Glasgow to Edinburgh only take an hour.
Car Rental: By far the most flexible way to discover the country is by renting a car. It is fairly reasonable ($40/Day) and allows to reach those charming little towns you might not otherwise be able to discover.
Just remember they drive on the left-hand side of the road and almost all cars are manual transmission. If you want an aoutomatic you will have to pay more.
Scotlands weather is relatively mild throughout the year except in the Highlands. Rain can be exp[ected at anytime so pack accordingly.
- Pack a raincoat – chances are that you will encounter rain no matter what month you travel. A light rain shell is highly recommended as it will combat the rain AND wind you will probably face in Scotland.
- Layers – As Scotland has diverse weather, it is best to bring clothes with multiple layers to accommodate the changes in temperatures. Scarfs, sweatshirts, gloves are all good options. For travel during winter months, make sure to bring a heavier coat as air frost can be common in certain areas.
- Footwear – Pack a pair of lightweight, durable, waterproof and comfortable shoes and/or a pair of light boots with lugged soles and ankle support if you plan on doing a lot of hiking
- Classic Basic items – You do not need to be a fashionista to blend in. The key is in embracing neutral toned items that can be mixed and matched easily. Avoid logos, baseball caps, shorts, hoodies, flip-flops, and running shoes as these items scream tourist!
When to Go
June to August is considered the best time to visit Scotland, as this is Scotland’s summer months. This is also the peak of tourism.
For those who want to avoid the crowds and perhaps get better deals, the spring season (late March to May) is a good period to go.
There is also little difference in weather between the spring and summer seasons, so you can still enjoy plenty of great weather, with temperatures around 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Places to Stay
Grand Central Hotel: Located right in the city center of Glasgow, this Victorian hotel is 4 stars and offers many attractions. Take a stroll through the shopping district, walk to Central Station to visit more of Glasgow, or dine at the hotel’s very own restaurant and bar. This hotel also offers the best in high-speed Wi-Fi.
Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh: Shaped like a castle, this four-star hotel comes with 24-hour room service, a spa and health club, and its own restaurant and bar. Located in the famous Royal Mile, you get to see amazing sights and history of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland, and shopping area are all within walking distance from this hotel.
The Chester Hotel: This contemporary and classy hotel is in the heart of West End Aberdeen. Enjoy some of the best in hospitality, with rainfall showers, Egyptian cotton sheets, and designer toiletries. Explore more of Aberdeen or stay indoors for some afternoon tea and cake.
Things to Do
- Edinburgh Castle: Take a guided tour through this medieval and world-famous castle. Visitors will get to learn about the fascinating history behind this castle while exploring the castle up close.
- Culloden Battlefield is the historic site of the last battle to take place on British soil in 1746. This battle is frequently referred to as one of the most important for Scotland, as it marked the end of the clan system in the highlands.
What not to Miss
- Kilchoman Distillery: Learn everything you wanted to know about whiskey and how it’s made. Stay for lunch at their café, try some coffee or cake, or enjoy whiskey tastings.
- Drive the North Coast 500 – Scotland’s epic road trip takes you around the entire northern route of the country through the highlands, past impressive sea cliffs and through the land of castles and distilleries.
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We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices as well as great customer service.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Google Flights: What we love about Google Flights is it will give you notifications when flights are going up and it will also suggest which flight is the best bang for your buck so you don’t have crazy layovers or there is a non-stop flight available.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Intrepid Travel: We have been on quite a few tours with Intrepid and have found they always provide great value for the money. Especially if you are looking for budget oriented tours.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Europe you always should have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.