Visiting Scotland is a trip that will stay etched in your memory.
Scotland is a country that is a part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain mainland.
This stunning country has a 96-mile border with England to the south and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. But it spans far further in each direction due to its collection of over 790 islands!
Scotland has been voted ‘the most beautiful country in the world by readers of roughguides.com and is famous worldwide for its stunning scenery, breath-taking landscapes and rich history.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Scotland is during spring (late March to May), and autumn (September to November), as the temperatures are a little warmer by spring (around 8-16 degrees C). Still, the crowds are lower than in the peaks of the summer months when tourists flock to visit the Scottish sights!
Heavy snow between December and February can make travel a little more complicated, so if you are looking to cover ground, these may not be the months for you.
That said, Scottish weather is unpredictable, varying from warm and damp through cold and sunny to windy and freezing — sometimes all on the same day, as we soon found out on our month-long road trip! So, pack for all weathers!
We visited in August, and we had two weeks of cold temperatures, rain and heavy winds and two weeks of a heatwave with temperatures reaching 30 degrees C. Scotland likes to be different.
Scotland is a vast country with miles upon miles of mountains and highland terrain, and so you may struggle to hit everything in one trip, so getting around depends on what you want to see, how long you have and your preferred option.
However, when it comes to adventuring around Scotland, it’s just as much about the journey as the destination and sights you will travel to see! We spent many hours pulling over at the side of the road to explore on our month-long trip, and we probably saw more on the journey than at each destination!
The country is well connected by an extensive road and rail transport network; public transport provides trains and bus services to some Scottish towns and cities and ferry ports if you are planning on heading to one of the Islands.
Generally, the central belt is straightforward to travel from A to B, with most places being easily accessible, but further north, it can be a different kettle of Scottish fish as its home to some of the more remote parts of the Highlands.
With careful planning, however, practically everywhere is accessible, and the scenery is always worth it in our experience when you go those extra few miles!
Car or camper van
If you want to get under the skin of the highlands and explore some of the more remote areas, by car or campervan is by far the best and most convenient mode of transport. If you can drive in or hire a car, then this means you can enjoy the freedom of experiencing some of the more rugged and beautiful areas In Scotland.
Scotland has an extensive road network, lots of stops where you can pull in and take photographs and whilst some of the roads can be narrow, the journeys are always an adventure!
Scotland is famous worldwide for the stunning NC 500, Scotland’s acclaimed route covering the country’s most remote parts. Named by some as Scotland’s answer to route 66, this is probably one of Scotland’s most popular tourist routes.
Whilst a longer journey (although it can be done at a fast pace as well), it will take you through some of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring scenery.
Scotland is also home to some of the world’s most scenic railway lines, and has an extensive railway network if you prefer to travel by train. However, it is worth noting that whilst it is an excellent mode of transport in the central belt and between major cities and towns, in the Highlands, it is a little more restricted and almost non-existent on the islands.
If you plan to stay central or travel from another part of the UK, then the railway network will serve you well and certainly be a more relaxed mode of transport.
Scotland is home to several international airports, the main ones being Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, which make it extremely easy to get into or out of Scotland, whether you are travelling from within the UK or elsewhere in the world.
As well as long-haul flights, there are many scenic tours you can book in Scotland to access or view some of the islands, which is a unique way to travel if you are not averse to flying!
Coach and Bus
Most of Scotland’s major cities and towns are serviced by a couple of long-distance coaches, with Scotland’s national operator being Scottish Citylink (citylink.co.uk). Again, a great way to travel if you stay central, but if you seek exploration further north, this may become more difficult.
As Scotland has a considerable number of islands both habited and inhabited, most with diverse wildlife, it is no surprise that Both passenger and car ferries operate in Scotland. Many routes often serve larger islands.
Ensure you book ahead as they do get busier, especially in the summer months.
Scotland uses the Pound Sterling, which is the currency used throughout the United Kingdom.
In Scotland, the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the typical frequency is 50 Hz.
English is the most widely spoken language in Scotland, but you will likely hear many other languages due to its diverse and multicultural communities.
The ancient Celtic language of Gaelic is spoken in Scotland but you may not encounter the language at all given the number of people only amounts to 1% of the population.
Some basic yet useful phrases
Hello – Halò
Goodbye – Mar sin leat
Please – Mas e do thoil e
Thank you – Tapadh leat
Yes – tha
No – Chan eil