Scotland Travel Guide

Scotland Travel Guide

Scotland holds very special memories for me.

As kids we used to finish our summer with a trip up to the Isle of Arran. My mum was a teacher and would join her geography class on their field trip to this magical island. Whilst they were measuring river flow or taking rock samples, we would head out with my stepdad: hiking up Goatfell, cycling the hilly roads, trying to convince him to let us have a sip of whisky at the distillery or photographing adders out amongst the dry-stone walls. Bliss.

I am ashamed today I haven't spent much time in Scotland since, but all that changed in 2018 with a trip to Edinburgh, and I've caught the bug again.

If the landscape of Scotland doesn't draw you in, then the people will. The kindness, generosity, warmth and sharp humour of the Scots never fails to amaze me, and is a stark counterpoint to the hectic cold nature of my workplace in London.

I'll definitely be making Scotland are more regular destination from now on, and I look forward to adding to this page.

Map of Scotland (click for articles)

Scotland Travel Guides

Facts & Travel Information

  • Information & Stats

    LOCATION

    Scotland is in western Europe and is part of the island of Great Britain which also includes Wales and England. It is also part of the United Kingdom (UK) which includes Northern Ireland.

    It shares a border with England to the south, and is otherwise surrounded by water.

    It is the most northerly part of the UK. Heading west from most of the coastline will see you next hit land at Newfoundland in Canada, and the remote Shetland Islands will see you level with Scandinavian towns such as Bergen. Cold!!!

    POPULATION

    The population of the Scotland is around 5.25 million (April 2018), which means there are 2 million less people living here that in London.

    LANGUAGE

    The main language of Scotland is English.

    However, Scots speak several languages and dialects.

    A large proportion of the population speak 'Scots' which has many dialects such as Lallans or Doric. In the latest census this was around 30% of the population. There is some debate about whether this truly is a separate language to English.

    Around 1% of the population speak Gaelic, generally in the Western Highlands and Islands

    Find out more information about Scottish dialects here.


    TIME DIFFERENCE

    Scotland is at GMT during the winter but observes daylight saving in the summer to make the most of the sunlight.

    During the summer Scotland moves an hour ahead of GMT which is known as 'British Summer Time'

    The clocks change forward 1 hour on the last Sunday in March and 'fall back' in autumn (or fall) by 1 hour on the last Sunday in October.

    Be aware, that due to its distance from the equator, the hours of daylight drop sharply in the Scottish winter. In the extreme north, the Shetland Isles drops to 6 hours of daylight, whilst further south in Edinburgh, they will see around 7 hours of daylight.

    THE FLAG

    The flag of Scotland is a white cross on a blue background. The cross represents the cross of the patron saint of Scotland, Saint Andrew, and the background represents the blue sky it sits against.

    The flag is called the 'Saint Andrew's Cross' or 'The Saltire'

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  • When to Visit

    High Season (Jul & Aug)

    • Accommodation prices 10%–20% higher (book in advance if possible).
    • Warmest time of year, but often wet.
    • Midges at their worst in Highlands and islands.

    Shoulder Season (May, Jun & Sep)

    • Wildflowers and rhododendrons bloom in May and June.
    • Statistically, best chance of dry weather, minus midges.
    • June evenings have daylight till 11pm.

    Low Season (Oct–Apr)

    • Rural attract­ions and accommodation often closed.
    • Snow on hills November to March.
    • Gets dark at 4pm in December.
    • Can be very cold and wet November to March.
  • Costs

    CURRENCY

    Scotland uses the same Pound Sterling as the rest of the Great Britain.

    You will however find a slight variation in the type of Sterling issued.

    This will be in the form of Scottish banknotes. It is best to try and use these up of you are heading elsewhere in the UK.

    Whilst Scottish banknotes can be accepted, and are legal currency in England, smaller shopkeepers might not accept them.

    This is usually because they are less familiar with Scottish notes, rather than them trying to be difficult. Due to this lack of familiarity some may be less able to spot forgeries. They also make processing cash difficult, as most collection companies require them to be separated from note issued by English banks. 

  • Getting Around

    DRIVING

    Scots drive on the left hand side.

    Due to the rural nature of the country, you arelikely to need a car if you want to get out of the bigcities.

    PUBLIC TRANSPORT

    All of the major cities have a good network of buses, trains, and trams. If you are planning to stay in big cities and move between them I would suggest using this network.

    Here are a list of useful public transport websites for Scotland:

  • Modern Living

    ELECTRICITY

    Plugs are the square pin style. 230 Volts, 50Hz. Plug type G (3-pin plugs, UK)

    FREE WIFI

    Free WIFI can be found in cafes, libraries and service stations all over Scotland. I find Costa Coffee to be a good place to work with a reliable connection. They can be found in most big towns.

  • Health

    DRINKING WATER

     
    The tap water in Scotland is perfectly safe to drink.
     
    EMERGENCY NUMBERS
     

    The number for all emergency services in Scotland is 999.

    There is a non emergency line that can be contacted on 101 and is for reporting any crimes that aren't currently taking place.

    INFORMATION

    As long as you are uo to date with your standard vaccinations you should have no problems when travelling to Scotland.

    If you're an EU citizen, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – available from health centres or, in the UK, post offices – covers you for most medical care. An EHIC will not cover you for non-urgent cases or emergency repatriation.

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