Planning a trip to Scotland can be a bit of an overwhelming process, especially when one realises just how much there is to see and do in the incredible country. There is so much to Scotland beyond the cobbled streets of Edinburgh or the mystical shores of Loch Ness and this Scotland travel guide is designed to help you get the most out of any length of Scottish adventure.
Scotland has everything from historic islands to stunning mountain peaks to vibrant cities to charming small towns. It is a destination that appeals to both the outdoor adventurer and the most devout of city-slickers. Filled with history, beauty and incredibly warm and friendly people, Scotland is a destination that will continue to draw you back for years on end.
If you’re planning a trip to the wild north and are looking for the best tips, tricks and information to ensure that you have the best holiday possible, then this Scotland travel guide is for you!
Planning a Scotland Route
Mapping out the perfect route through Scotland can actually be a pretty difficult process, with so many different things to see and do in this seemingly small country. Do you want to concentrate on the major cities and their surrounding areas? Do you want to hit the road and take on the now-famous North Coast 500? Or do want to venture a bit off the beaten tourist trail, maybe exploring Scotland’s Highlands and islands?
Regardless of where and how you want to travel around this amazing country, we have a number of guides to help you along the way and ensure that you plan the best trip possible. Make sure to browse the itineraries and routes below in order to map out your perfect Scottish adventure!
Places to Visit in Scotland
Though seemingly small in size, Scotland is packed with incredible places to visit and it is absolutely impossible to see everything in one trip — no matter how much time you have to play around with. From historic sites to windswept islands to mountain peaks to the deepest lochs to dynamic cities, there are countless places to visit in the country that are worth spending your time in.
If you’re looking for some place-specific information about a number of different areas, cities and towns in Scotland, then make sure to have a browse through the guides below to ensure that you’re able to get the most out of your time in Scotland!
Day Trips in Scotland
If you’re planning on basing yourself in a major city like Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness and exploring the country from there during your trip, this is really a fantastic option. Visiting some highlights of the country as day trips is a great way to see as much as possible without having to move destinations every single night.
If you want to check out our guides to some of the top day trips in Scotland, make sure to browse the articles below!
Best Time to Visit Scotland
Figuring out what time of year to visit Scotland can be a difficult task, especially considering the country is necessarily known for having the best weather in the world. In fact, because of the inclement weather you should expect when visiting Scotland, there are a few more considerations that one needs to keep in mind before heading to the country at any time of year.
The most popular time to visit Scotland is in the summer months of June-August. This is when you’re going to get the warmest average weather (don’t really expect any temperatures in excess of 20°C (68°F)) and the longest days — with sunlight lasting well past 10PM. This is, however, where you will encounter the most tourist crowds and the highest prices for things like accommodation. Especially in the month of August, when Edinburgh hosts its world-famous Fringe Festival, the capital city can be absolutely packed and very expensive.
Conversely, visiting in the winter months is where you will experience the coolest temperatures (with highs hovering around freezing and plenty of snow to be expected in some places) and the shortest days. If you’re visiting in December or January, don’t be alarmed when it begins to get dark at around 3PM — winters are dark and dreary in Britain and Scotland gets the worst of it.
Autumn and spring can be great times to visit Scotland if you don’t mind chilly temperatures. These months aren’t nearly as cold and dark as the winter and you can expect the crowds in popular tourist areas to be far fewer than in the summer months.
Regardless of when you choose to visit, make sure that you come prepared with the right gear. Scotland is so impeccably green for a reason — it rains a lot! No matter what time of year, you are going to need to pack a warm, waterproof jacket and adequate footwear because, as the saying goes: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! Browse our guides below to find out our top picks no matter the season.
Cost of Travelling to Scotland
Scotland is not known to be the most budget-friendly destination in the world and these assumptions are true — costs can be quite high in the country. That is not to say, however, that it is not possible to travel in Scotland on a tight budget. In fact, you don’t need to spend your entire life savings on a trip to Scotland. There are countless ways to cut costs in the country without sacrificing overall quality.
If you’re planning on visiting Scotland on a budget or just want to be aware of what kind of prices to expect in the country, we have written a couple of guides to help you plan in advance. Make sure to have a look at the articles below so you know how much to budget for your Scotland trip!
Transportation in Scotland
How you plan to get around Scotland is a major consideration that needs to be taken into account when planning your trip as there are a number of options and your choices can have a big impact on the quality of your trip.
For instance, if you’re only really planning on visiting major cities (like Edinburgh or Glasgow) and their surrounding areas, it’s entirely possible to rely on public transport (like the bus or the train) for the majority of your trip, supplementing it with the occasional small group tour if you want to head out to some harder to reach areas.
Many visitors to Scotland will want to get around solely by using the rail or bus network and, as mentioned, this can work if your itinerary follows what I just outlined. However, if you’re at all interested in visiting the Highlands, islands or more rural destinations in Scotland, you are really going to want to hire a car.
Driving in Scotland is fairly straightforward and nothing to be worried about, you just need to be prepared that there are some narrow country roads in a lot of less densely populated areas and make sure to exercise caution when driving here.
Having your own car in Scotland will allow you to reach a number of otherwise difficult-to-reach destinations all while not having to be at the mercy of erratic or sparse bus timetables. It will also allow you to travel independently and only see the things that interest you, and give you all the time you want in certain destinations — an option not available if you’re travelling by organised tour.
If you want to hire a car in Scotland, we recommend booking through RentalCars.com. This platform aggregates all prices on car hire across major rental companies, ensuring you can get a great deal. It can also very much be worth taking out a third-party excess insurance policy through iCarHireInsurance to ensure that you have peace of mind should anything happen to your vehicle.
Accommodation in Scotland
If you’re wondering about the accommodation options available in Scotland, you will be happy to know that you will be spoilt for choice in the vast majority of the country. Especially if you’re staying in more heavily touristed areas, there are always countless options available to suit all travel styles and budgets, so you don’t need to worry too much about finding accommodation here.
If you’re travelling on a tight budget, hostels are plentiful throughout Scotland, even in more rural areas as they are popular amongst trekkers and walkers along with you typical budget travellers. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of comfort, wild camping is also an excellent option that is legal in many areas of the country — just make sure to be respectful of the place you choose to spend the night and completely clean up after yourself when you leave!
Bed & breakfasts and family-run guesthouses are also popular options amongst mid-range travellers. These can give you a homely, local experience and most will include a hearty breakfast in the price of the room, saving you money on a meal, as well!
You will find nicer, luxury hotels in most major tourist areas in Scotland and there is also even the option to stay the night in a castle if your budget allows for it!
There are also lots of options for private apartment stays or rooms rentals through platforms like Airbnb. A private room on Airbnb can a great option for those looking for a good budget option without sacrificing comfort and an entire flat rental can be a good option for those who are looking for a unique stay or just a comfortable, self-catering place to rest your head.
Scotland is packed with great accommodation options that are suitable for every breed of traveller, from your penny-pinching backpacker to those who like to travel at the height of luxury.
Travelling in Scotland can be a truly unforgettable experience that will forge memories that will last a lifetime. Hopefully, this Scotland travel guide will help you plan the perfect trip to this amazing country and leave you dreaming of many more to come!