How Much Will A Trip To Scotland Cost in 2020?


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Travelling in Scotland inspires images of lush green cascading hills dotted with purple heather, of enormous, mysterious monsters dwelling in the depths of a loch, of ancient, mystical standing stones, and of enjoying a golden, smokey whisky among the backdrop of a stormy sea. But while these scenes are enough to entice anyone to pack his or her bags and hop on the next flight to Edinburgh, many times one question comes to mind. How much will a trip to Scotland cost?

While the UK has certainly never been considered a destination that is particularly friendly to the budget-conscious, visiting Scotland can actually be more affordable than many other European destinations. In fact, it is possible to travel around this spectacular country on an absolute shoestring budget, while it is also possible to spend top dollar and splash out in the lap of luxury.

So is Scotland expensive? Well, it doesn’t have to be. If you, like us, don’t fall into the “luxury traveller” demographic and prefer to travel on a budget without sacrificing ease and experience, then this guide is for you!

You can expect an average trip to Scotland cost to be £55 per person per day (approximately $73 USD). This can, however, be reduced to around £40 per person per day (approximately $53 USD) if wild camping and saving on accommodation or increased to around £80 per person per day (approximately $106 USD) if staying in nicer hotels.

This guide will break down how variables such as accommodation, food, entertainment and activities will impact your average Scotland trip cost.

Trip to Scotland Cost: Accommodation

Like most elsewhere in the world, accommodation will (most likely) leave the biggest dent in your Scotland travel budget. There is, however, a lot of option when it comes to budget accommodation. There tends to be at least one hostel in most larger towns and in the bigger cities — such as Edinburgh, Inverness, and Glasgow — there are multiple hostels to choose from. On average, the least expensive dorm bed in a hostel will cost roughly £20 per night.

If you would prefer not to stay in a hostel, there are a number of B&B’s dotted throughout Scotland and a room there will cost something between £60 – 100 per night.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly accommodation option without sacrificing privacy, I would definitely recommend getting a private room in an Airbnb. Depending on where you are, a room will cost somewhere between £30 – 50 per night, with the better-rated ones landing about £40 per night. Click here to browse the best Airbnbs in Scotland.

Because Scotland isn’t all that densely populated, there often aren’t a ton of Airbnb properties to choose from so it can often be a bit more expensive to spend the night in a rural area rather than in a larger city. Just something to keep in mind, especially when trying figure out the cost of a trip to Scotland.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most popular accommodation options in Scotland — camping. If you truly want to save money and also love to be in the great outdoors, camping is a fantastic option. The wonderful thing about Scotland is that it is also perfectly legal to wild camp just about anywhere, and that is absolutely free.

If wild camping isn’t really your thing and you would prefer to have a few more amenities at your disposal, there are many campsites throughout Scotland where plots tend to be about £8 – 10 per night. Michael and I found that spending a few nights wild camping really cut down on our overall Scotland trip cost, however, and I would highly recommend it if you’re looking, as well, for a little bit of peace and quiet.

Trip to Scotland Cost
Not a bad place to pitch a tent — just outside of Durness

Trip to Scotland Cost: Transportation

The cost of transportation is another area that one needs to consider for a Scotland travel budget. If you wish to cover a lot of ground on your own schedule and maybe add a few off-beat destinations to your list, I would highly recommend that you hire a car.

Not only is a road trip one of the best ways to see Scotland, but the average daily price of a rental car isn’t extraordinarily high, especially if you offset the cost with a few nights of wild camping, as we did. On average, you can expect to spend about £30 per day on a car hire.

Keep in mind that a manual transmission is more affordable, there are often weekly discounts, and it’s almost always cheaper to pick up and return the car at the same place. Have a look at the car hire prices at the varying airports — we originally intended to pick up the car in Inverness only to realise that it was significantly cheaper to do so in Aberdeen. We like to use Rentalcars.com to hunt for the best deal!

Trip to Scotland Cost
The rugged coast at Marwick Head in Orkney

To keep costs down even further, we recommend you buy a policy from ICarHireInsurance who offer full excess coverage at a fraction that car rental companies charge.

If you don’t drive or would otherwise prefer to use public transport, it is worth bearing in mind that bus and train prices anywhere in the UK are quite high. You will almost never find a bus or train ticket, no matter the distance, for under £20 (one way) if booking on the day. The best way to save money on buses or trains is to book far in advance where prices can be significantly cheaper. if you want to unless you book extremely far in advance and on sale. We recommend using Omio to find the best savings on trains in the UK.

While both bus and train connections are good in Scotland, they’re still not ideal if you want to explore more rural areas of the country or if you want to be flexible with your itinerary, which is why I would generally recommend self-driving around Scotland.

If you’re looking to visiting some of Scotland’s many islands, you’re likely going to need to hop on a ferry to get there. Keep in mind that a ticket as a passenger is going to be significantly cheaper than if you’re bringing a vehicle with you. Ferry prices vary depending on which islands you happen to be visiting and how long the journey is. For instance, a ferry from Aberdeen to the Shetland Islands is going to be much more expensive than a short journey from Oban to the Isle of Mull.

Trip to Scotland Cost
The ruined Ardvreck Castle on the banks of Loch Assynt

Trip to Scotland Cost: Food

You have to eat multiple times every day and, unfortunately, that tends to take a toll on your wallet and your travel budget. But how much do you need to factor for food in your total trip to Scotland cost?

Scotland food prices, not surprisingly, vary depending on where you choose to eat. Like pretty much everywhere else in the world, your most budget-friendly food option would be heading to a supermarket and cooking for yourself. Grocery prices aren’t very expensive in Scotland (though there is a chance that London prices have me blinded) and there are a number of budget supermarkets to shop in such as Lidl or Aldi.

For lunch, fish and chips from a takeaway chippy is a great budget option for and you can get a large portion for around £5 outside of major cities. If you’re keen to get a nice meal during your Scotland trip, lunch is a great time to do this as many higher-end restaurants offer pretty good lunch specials where you can get a two- or three-course meal for around £15 – 20. The same meal will cost you significantly more at dinner time.

For a pub meal — be that for lunch or dinner — expect to pay about £10 – 15 for a main meal, again depending on what you get.

Trip to Scotland Cost
A delicious seafood platter from Skerries Bistro in Orkney

Trip to Scotland Cost: Activities

To be completely honest, you don’t really have to spend anything on activities and you can still get a lot out of your trip to Scotland. Many museums are free and it doesn’t cost a dime to go for a hike or wander around a quaint town or city. However, if you do want to throw in a few paid experiences to your Scotland travel budget, here’s what to expect to pay.

By far the most we spent on any activity in Scotland was when we went on a three-hour boat trip outside of Ullapool. It was £35 per person and we thought it was worth the price, but maybe that’s because we saw a massive pod of dolphins and got very excited. I generally don’t believe you need to spend anything more than this for any experience.

Another popular activity when visiting Scotland is to go on a cruise of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, which typically will cost around £20-30 depending on the type of ticket you buy. It is worth noting that for any of these such experiences, it is good practice to book in advance if you are travelling in peak season.

If you like Scotch and you’re interested to see how the whisky is made, I would highly recommend going on at least one distillery tour. Most of the basic tours offered by distilleries will cost around £10 and will include at least one dram of whisky for a tasting. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

While many museums in Scotland are free to enter, there are some historical sites that do charge an entry fee, such as the Edinburgh Castle. They don’t tend to be more than about £10 and are almost always worth it, as they go to the general preservation of important sites.

Trip to Scotland Cost
It was worth splashing out a bit for the boat trip to see these dolphins!

Trip to Scotland Cost: Entertainment

Generally speaking, entertainment won’t add a lot to your Scotland trip cost. While that may be partly because there really isn’t much on offer for nightlife outside of the bigger cities, drink prices aren’t exorbitant. At a local pub, a pint will cost around £4 and dram of single malt whisky will land somewhere around there as well, at about £4 – 5 depending on the vintage of the particular whisky you’ve selected.

It is, of course, worth noting that it is definitely cheaper to buy your booze at the supermarket. However, one of the best things about travelling through Scotland is experiencing the local pub culture and luckily, it doesn’t cost much to grab a pint, chill out, and perhaps listen to some live local music.

Trip to Scotland Cost
A pint of beer won’t set you back too much!

Average Trip to Scotland Cost

Visiting Scotland doesn’t have to be an abhorrently expensive trip and you can keep costs quite low without sacrificing the quality of your holiday. Take the time to prioritise what is important for you and make adjustments to your Scotland travel budget accordingly.

Below is more or less the minimum you can expect to spend per person per day on a trip to Scotland, assuming that you’re travelling as a couple or with friends and have rented a car and are splitting accommodation and transport costs.

Accommodation: £15 / night

Transport: £15 / day

Food: £10 / day

Activities: £10 / day

Entertainment: £5 / day

All in all, you can expect your minimum average trip to Scotland cost to be about £55 per person per day. If you are smart and savvy about where you spend your money, you can offset your average daily costs by spending a number of your night’s wild camping, making your own breakfast every day, and cooking your own dinners many nights of the trip.

This average Scotland trip cost doesn’t factor in pre-trip expenses such as:

Trip to Scotland Cost
The Standing Stones of Stenness in Orkney are free of charge to visit!

It can be hard to devise the perfect Scotland travel budget and to stick to it at that. It is definitely possible to travel to Scotland on a budget and hopefully, this article gave you a better idea as to how much a Scotland trip will cost.

Are you wondering how much will a Scotland trip cost? Have you come up with a Scotland travel budget? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

Comments

  1. Hello Maggie,
    A very informative article, thank you.
    Do you think, using all the tips provided, a month in Scotland could range from 6,000. to 8,000 US
    dollers?
    Not including air fare.
    Thanks
    Megan Allen

    Reply
    • Hi Megan…is your budget for just one person? If it is, I think that $6,000-8,000 is going to be more than enough for one month in Scotland. I recommend planning on spending around £55 ($70USD) per day and with that budget, you will be spending over $200 per day. While it is certainly possible to spend this kind of money in Scotland, it is altogether not necessary.

      Reply
  2. Hello. We would like to travel to Scotland by our own car. Do you, guys, know if there is s fee when crossing the border to Scotland? I remember that when we went to Wales from Swindon we had to pay £5 or £10.

    Reply
    • I honestly have no idea if there is a fee to drive from England to Scotland, but my gut tells me there isn’t. What you might find is there may be a toll road. When we’ve driven from England to Wales we never had to pay a fee to enter Wales, however, there was a toll for the bridge. I’m sorry that I can’t be more helpful!

      Reply
  3. That’s an interesting point about wild camping! A great budget option so I would love to try it. I’m guessing I should definitely aim to travel during the warmer months though 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • Wild camping can significantly cut down on accommodation costs in Scotland! It is definitely better to do it in the summer months though 🙂

      Reply
  4. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a 14 day trip to Scotland for 3 adults. It’s not being planned until June 2021 so I have time, but I’d like to begin a budget for us. We would be renting a car and possibly eating out most of the time. Camping may not be an option. Reasonably, with some mid-range accommodations figured in, and a few touristy things planned, would $10,000 US be enough?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Karly! Hope that your trip planning goes well 🙂 Based on my experience, I think that $10,000 for 3 people should be more than enough to cover a mid-range budget in Scotland

      Reply
  5. Hi my boyfriend and I would like to fly from the US to Scotland. Unfortunately we only have 4 days to spend there. How much would the average cost be and what would be the best town to stay in and explore. I’m interested in Inverness( big Outlander fan) lol. And suggestions and prices are appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Tasha, thanks for your comment! It´s kind of difficult for me to say how much it would cost to spend 4 days in Scotland seeing as I am not sure what kind of budget you have available to you, however, if you are trying to cut costs I would say it is definitely possible to do it for around £300-400 per person (not including flights). This would include staying in budget accommodation (like a private room on Airbnb) but would also allow you to eat most meals out.
      As for where to stay, if you’re into Outlander and are interested in seeing the sites in the Highlands, I would recommend basing yourself in Inverness and hiring a car for the time you’re there. That will give you more flexibility to see some things in the surrounding area (like Loch Ness and Culloden) without having to spend the cash on an organised day tour. Otherwise, Edinburgh is a fantastic option with plenty to occupy yourself with for 4 days.
      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. Hi , I will be traveling to Edinburgh and Glasgow for two days each so can u please tell me about the total pound Sterlings will be needed for two persons. Excluding accomodation

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Suruchi. Unfortunately, I don’t really know your travel style or budget, so I am unable to give you an accurate assessment as to how much your trip will cost. I’ve outlined the average costs in the article above, but if you can provide me with some more details so I can help you further, please don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂 Cheers!

      Reply
  7. Hey there!

    I am hoping to be in Scotland for two weeks next year backpacking around the country as much as I can. How much would I need to save for backpacking, and to enjoy all of its splendors? It’s been a dream of mine to travel scotland and to view the beautiful castles!

    Reply
    • Hi Vanessa, if you plan on backpacking and sticking to a very tight budget when you’re in Scotland, I would recommend planning for a daily budget of around £60 per day. This is just for your daily costs in Scotland and doesn’t include things like flights. Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  8. Hi Maggie
    I am planning a trip for my husband and I in August, and have just seen that the Military Tattoo will be on – a definite must-see…
    Would you recommend using a campervan or motorhome to travel around in, rather than hiring a car and hotels?
    I am planning to spend about 5-6 days in Scotland.

    Cathy

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Cathy! A campervan is definitely an excellent way to travel around Scotland frugally and it would be pretty easy to manage, as well, especially since you don’t need to pay for a campsite in most cases 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hi Maggie,
    Thanks for the info, it was very helpful. My Hubby and I are going to Glasgow in May for a week and then on to London for 5 days. We are from Canada and found that with such a big difference in Pound to Cdn Dollar, we paid for our hotels and airfare here to avoid the exchange which saved a lot. We also paid for the Hop on/Hop off pass for 3 days in London as well. Thanks again 🙂

    Reply
  10. Hello Maggie,

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, regarding budgeting in Scotland. We are heading there for 11 days in May and will be staying in Perthshire and Glasgow. I am not as familiar with Perthshire (we will also be heading to Edinburgh for a night as well), but wondering what you would recommend seeing/doing in the Perthshire area, or in northern Scotland, as we have rented a car. We are open to any and all recommendations.

    Also, my boyfriend and I have already paid for our accommodations and flights. What would be a good daily budget to try to stick to (probably mid-range). We will also have gas/car insurance to consider.

    Also, if you have any suggestions about what to do in Glasgow, please share!

    Thanks so much,

    Laura.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Laura. Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with Perthshire either so I don’t have any personal recommendations for you there — sorry! However, if you have a car, it can be worth heading to the Cairngorms National Park or even checking out some of the attractions around Inverness as well. You could also visit St Andrew’s and Dundee if that interests you.

      If you’ve already paid for accommodation and you’re on a mid-range budget, I would plan to spend between £25-50 per day, factoring in car hire prices. Car insurance shouldn’t be a big burden financially if you take out a portion of it with a third-party provider (we have a link in our resources page for the company we recommend).

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  11. I actually went on a ten day trip to Scotland this past summer and loved it! We stayed in Castles so those accommodations fell into the upper end of cost but were well worth it (£200-£300). One thing that you didn’t mention are the taxes. There was a 20% tax on rooms! That was one thing that really blew up the budget. I find that those sorts of things are the biggest “hidden costs” when traveling.
    Another detail for many travelers is the ability to get some tax money back on goods purchased (retail items only). I don’t believe this applies to all countries but the US has a form to fill out in the airport. Just make sure to save your receipts!
    Great article-loves my visit and will definitely take some of your advice next time I go!

    Reply
    • Hi Amy, thanks for your comment and glad you had a great time in Scotland! I’m surprised that the VAT was hidden in your accommodation costs…I’ve been under the impression that it was illegal not to include all taxes in the advertised price. Great tip on saving receipts for the refund, though! It was always something that I reminded family/friends from the USA and Australia to remember to do when they visited us in the UK. I believe the refund applies to all non-EU nationalities, but I could very well be wrong.

      Reply
  12. Hi Maggie. Im from the Philippines and plans to have our honeymoon in Scotland. We plan to go first in Glasgow and travel to Inverness. What is the easiest way to travel there aside from plane?

    Reply
    • Hi Danah, you can easily get to Inverness from Glasgow via train or coach (direct) if you plan on relying on public transport. The journeys should generally take around 3-4 hours. Hope you have an amazing honeymoon!

      Reply
  13. Thanks for the info. We are a family of 6 heading over for 5 weeks next year in May for a family reunion. (1 of those week will be split between Paris and London). Plan is to hire a motorhome and travel for the 4 weeks but I have read free camping does not apply to vehicle based accomodation. Do you have an idea of how difficult it is to find places to pull off to the side of the road? It is very easy here in Australia.
    Can you also please give me an idea about travel distance and time over there as I am still trying to wrap my head around travel times. For example, the whole of Scotland fits into half of the Sate of Victorian in Australia so we are used to travelling long distances to go places but I believe the travel time is quitr different over there. I am trying to figure out if we will have time to go from London to Cotswolds, St Ives and Tintagel amd Bath through to Lakes District and then travel Scotland roughly a clockwise visiting Galston, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Stirling, Loch Lamond, Glencoe, Glenfinnan, Isle Of Skye Applecross (going over thr Balach na Baa) up to the Orkenys and coming down to inverness to spend a week or so around Kingussie visiting the Park and various family history locations for a reunion and then a straight drive to London to fly home. It seems quite doable on a map but physically I am not so sure.
    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment! As I only have firsthand experience of wild camping in a tent in Scotland, I’m not so well-versed about what the rules are regarding a motorhome. That being said, I don’t think you should have any trouble finding a place to park for the night — whether that be on the side of a country road or at a caravan campsite. Camping (whether it be in a motorhome or in a tent) is super popular in Scotland and facilities are readily available.

      As for driving times, I think that what you have planned is doable in 4 weeks, however, it will be very rushed and probably exhausting. I would choose to either spend time in Cornwall or in Scotland. It is easier to camp in Scotland, in our experience. Also, things do take longer than you might anticipate, especially the more rural you get. Some of the roads are winding and VERY narrow and you can go much over about 50 kph. But if you’re used to long drives anyway, it shouldn’t be a big problem. Google maps usually have pretty accurate time estimates in my experience.

      I hope this helps and you and your family have a great trip!

      Reply
  14. Hi Thank yo so much for your great information, I have been looking at prices of accomodations and my friend does not want shared bathrooms in any of the bookings which leaves us with more expensive options. I have compared the prices of hiring a campervan and it is looking like it might turn out cheaper. We are going in November so wild camping is a bit out of question….any thoughts?

    Thanx a bunch.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment! Yes, accommodation can get a bit more expensive in Scotland if don’t want to share a bathroom! I think hiring a campervan could be a good option — you can still pull over almost anywhere for the night and it won’t be nearly as chilly as staying in a tent. Hope you have a great trip 🙂

      Reply
  15. Hi looking at traveling to Scotland in 2020 and we were going to camper van or motor home around for 3 weeks.I thought that you could only free camp in Scotland in a tent.Travelling with a motor home or camper van you had to stay at a caravan park, is this correct.

    Reply
  16. Hi, we are looking into a trip to Scotland to Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo in August 2022, our wish is to bring along our 4 adult children and two grandchildren, ages then will he 16 and 13…..looking at rentals thru homeaway for a week, what is your opinion of what our budget should be, will be needing transportation as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Colleen, I’m not sure about your travel style or priorities on this trip, however, the prices outlined in this article are a good starting point to understand how much things cost in Scotland. Sometimes it’s easiest just to set a budget before you start planning and then work around that.

      Reply
  17. Hello !

    Thank’s a lot for an interesting article! I am actually planning my 3 weeks trip around Scotland in May 2020. I am so excited about it! Happy New Year and safe travels!

    Reply
  18. Hi! I am thinking of traveling solo to Scotland for about 1 to 1.5 weeks around the end of September and not including airfare, I was thinking that $1500.00 to $2000.00 would be sufficient. What are your thoughts on this budget and also do you think this is a good time of year to visit?? Thank you in advance!!!

    Reply
    • Hi Stacia, that should be a more than adequate amount of money to visit Scotland for a week. September is a great time to visit — not too cold yet, but the tourist crowds won’t be as big as in the summer months yet. Hope you have a great trip!

      Reply
  19. Hi, Maggie.
    My partner and I are travelling to Scotland for approximately 17 days. We will be renting a car and driving from Salisbury. We have places to stay in Edinburgh and Glasglow, however, a majority of our travels will take us to the Isle of Skye and around Inverness. I am unsure how much money we should budget for our trip and whether these regions are more or less expensive than bigger city centres?

    I greatly appreciate your insight!

    Thank you kindly,
    Sasha

    Reply
    • Hi Sasha, prices, for the most part, will remain consistent in places like Inverness and Skye, however, you might find things to be slightly more expensive in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The above budget, however, is around what you should expect to pay for things in Scotland.

      Reply
  20. Hello, thanks for the great article. Any thoughts on the idea of renting a caravan for my trip? I am tossed between doing that or just renting a car and staying at b&b’s. I like the idea of wild camping but can’t do a tent due to chronic illness.
    5thanks for any advice.
    Suzanne

    Reply
    • Hi Suzanne, happy you found the article helpful! I think renting a caravan for your trip is an excellent idea! I haven’t done this myself, but there are lots of companies out there where you can find a decent price for that, and you still get the benefit of being out in nature without having to “rough it” while wild camping in a tent. Hope you’re able to have a great trip!

      Reply
  21. Any thoughts on renting a motor home and traveling for three weeks or so in England and Scotland? Found some interesting rentals at about 125 Sterling/night. Thinking of fall 2020/spring 2021 if this Covid mess clears up. Scotland sounds cheaper then here in Hawai’i.

    Reply
    • Hi Steven, I think that renting a motorhome is a great way to see England and Scotland! Travelling around Scotland is definitely a bit more affordable than Hawaii, but I think you’ll find the weather isn’t quite so nice 🙂 Hope you’re able to do the trip in the near future!

      Reply

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