Why visit Scotland? Scotland in the UK has picturesque scenery, stunning castles, delicious food and whisky, and years of rich history have made the country a must-visit place for many travelers. The official natural animal of Scotland is the unicorn. Enjoy Scotland’s famous oatmeal cakes, and enjoy whiskey from one of over 140 whisky distillers (making Scotland the largest whisky producer in the world).
Here’s your complete Scotland travel guide below!
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Fun Facts About Scotland
Before you start your Scotland trip planning, packing clothes, or booking a hotel, you must know more about your destination. Let’s start with five fun facts and a brief history of Scotland:
- The official natural animal of Scotland is a mystical creature. The country adopted the Unicorn as its national animal in the 15th century.
- Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, hosts the world’s largest arts festival called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
- Scotland is known as the “Land of Cakes” because of its famous oatmeal cakes.
- Scotland is home to Great Britain’s tallest waterfall. Known as the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, this waterfall has a height of 658 feet. It is three times as high as the Niagra Falls.
- With over 140 distilleries, Scotland is the largest producer of whisky in the world.
Brief History of Scotland
The history of Scotland dates back to 10,000 years. However, the traditional written Scottish history began with the Roman Empire. The Romans started invading Scotland (known as Caledonia) in 80AD.
From the 5th to the 15th century, Scotland witnessed massive changes. The Celtic immigrants from Ireland, known as the Scots, settled north of Clyde. Later, the Scottish monarchy was established. King James VI became the king of Scotland in 1567. 1603, he also inherited the English throne, leading to the Acts of Union in 1707. It united the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England into the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Today, Scotland remains an integral and essential part of the United Kingdom. It is renowned for its contributions to the literature, culture, and economy of the United Kingdom.
Top Destinations in Scotland
Here are some of the top destinations you should include in your Scotland trip plan:
Along with being the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The city offers the perfect blend of medieval charm and modern vibes. Make sure to visit Edinburgh Castle – one of the oldest fortified destinations in Europe. You can also include places like Arthur’s Seat and the National Museum of Scotland in your Scotland trip plan. A stay of two to three days is enough to explore Edinburgh.
If you are interested in stunning castles, check out our other article on the top castles to see worldwide.
Your Scotland trip plan will be incomplete without visiting the beautiful Glasgow – the largest city in Scotland. While Edinburgh boasts a historical charm, Glasgow offers a vibrant and energetic modern vibe. You should visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside Museum, and Glasgow Cathedral in Glasgow. Explore the vibrant West End with plenty of bohemian cafes, stores, and boutiques. A trip of three days would be perfect to enjoy Glasgow.
3. The Scottish Highlands
Prepare to be amazed by The Scottish Highlands’ natural beauty and royal charm. Enjoy a serene boat ride in the Loch Ness (you might even spot Nessie, the elusive Scottish monster). Hike the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, or the Cairngorms National Park. Enjoy a touch of royalty by visiting the gorgeous Balmoral Castle, the personal Scottish residence of the British royal family. A three to four-day trip is sufficient to explore The Scottish Highlands.
What Do You Need to Do Before Traveling to Scotland
Here are some of the things you must include in your Scotland travel planner before catching your flight:
- Depending on your nationality, you might require a visa to enter Scotland. Check out the government website to learn about the visa and other necessary documents you must carry.
- Just like many parts of the UK, Scotland can have unpredictable rainy weather. Carry a raincoat, good jackets, trendy casuals, and a few pairs of sturdy footwear, depending on the months you visit.
- Items to consider bringing are a pair of sunglasses, a hat, any prescribed medicines, a good quality camera, and a UK sim card.
The Best Time to Visit Scotland
One of the most essential parts of preparing your Scotland trip plan is to decide when to visit the country. While you can visit Scotland throughout the year, April and May are the best times to visit if you want to explore the country peacefully due to fewer crowds. In Scotland, the spring begins during these months, and nature is fully blooming. You will get more extended hours of sunlight and warm and pleasant weather.
However, if you want to enjoy the iconic Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August would be the best month to visit Scotland.
What to Expect from the Culture of Scotland
Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory in Scotland. You don’t need to tip if a restaurant or organization levies a service charge. Otherwise, a 10-15% tip is customary.
Cultural Norms and What to Not Violate
Scotland has a warm, welcoming, and diverse culture. The locals are pretty friendly and helpful. You can easily engage in a friendly conversation with the locals or ask for advice or directions.
When visiting Scotland (or any place), respecting and not violating the local cultural norms is essential. In Scotland, you should not break a queue, avoid shouting in public places, and not try to mimic the Scottish accent. Basic courtesy and politeness will go a long way.
Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Scotland?
Yes, Scotland is highly safe for solo travelers, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals. It is a highly diverse and inclusive country, and crime rates are down by over 20% since 2008.
- While Scotland is highly safe for travelers, it is still important to be vigilant. Keep an eye on your belongings, and don’t travel to secluded, unknown, or high-crime-rate areas.
- Scotland offers excellent emergency services, including police and fire departments. You can dial 999 in case of emergencies.
- The country also offers top-notch medical facilities. But you need to ensure your travel insurance covers any medical needs.
Best Ways to Get Around Scotland
For international travelers, flights are the best option to reach Scotland. The country has four main airports, and the Edinburgh Airport is the primary and busiest airport in the country.
Scotland has an excellent rail network. You can visit all the major cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Aberdeen by train. If you are making a Scotland trip plan from London, you can easily reach Edinburgh via a direct train from London. You can also access various remote areas with trains.
Buses and Coaches
You can also opt for buses and coaches to explore Scotland’s scenic routes, villages, and coastal areas. Car rentals and ferries are also readily available.
Famous Local Dishes to Try in Scotland
Along with its world-class whisky, Scotland is also known for its delicious food that attracts foodies worldwide. Here are some of the local dishes you shouldn’t miss including in your Scotland trip plan:
- Haggis: It is a traditional Scottish dish made from oatmeal, meat, onion, salt, and spices.
- Scottish Porridge: An incredibly tasty, fulfilling, and healthy meal you can easily find in almost every cafe in Scotland.
- Cranachan: It is a traditional Scottish dessert containing fresh cream and raspberries. It is served with Scottish oats and whisky.
- Scottish Salmon: Renowned for its quality and flavor, it is a must-try seafood in Scotland.
One-Week Budget for Traveling in Scotland
An average one-week trip to Scotland can cost anywhere around £70 to £200 per person per day, depending upon your travel choices, meals, and accommodation.
Money-Saving Tips in Scotland:
- Consider booking budget-friendly accommodations like hostels and guesthouses.
- If possible, avoid the peak tourist season of June to August. Opt to travel during April and May. Scotland is less crowded, peaceful, and cheaper during these months.
- Buy a rail or bus pass for unlimited travel within a fixed duration.
- Explore free attractions like parks, museums, etc.
To make the most of your trip to Scotland, you need an excellent Scotland trip planner to help you choose the correct destinations, the right time to visit, what to carry, and more. That’s where Travel-Wise comes in. From helping you plan an itinerary to offering complete travel guides, we are your reliable travel partners.
Also, explore our AI itinerary generator to generate effective and quick itineraries for your Scotland trip. You can also view user-submitted itineraries from our community for Scotland. You can also use our Help Guides for help learning the tools to plan the vacation of your dreams. Also, feel free to explore our country travel guides that contain a wealth of knowledge per country, all for free. Don’t forget to use Travel-Wise as your travel journal app to record all your beautiful memories and experiences of visiting the Land of Scots!