Scotland Travel Guide
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Intro to Scotland
What do blaring bagpipes, tartan-kilts, haggis, the Loch Ness monster St. Andrews and whisky distilleries have in common? You guessed it— Scotland. This country is located on the continent of Europe and is a unique mix of history, adventures, magnificent castles, major festivals in vibrant cities, impressive natural attractions and sweeping scenery. It’s no surprise that Scotland is home to countless filming locations for movies and series, including Harry Potter.
A relatively small country, Scotland has a population of just over five million. In spite of the size, this part of the United Kingdom is ideal for those looking for a vacation they will never forget.
The country’s capital, Edinburgh, is among the leading festival cities in the world and where you can enjoy festivals such as Edinburgh Fringe. A large part of the city center is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edinburgh’s Old Town, with its cobbled streets, historic places and iconic sites, makes you feel like you have stepped into a time machine. Glasgow, the most populous city in Scotland, offers world-class museums and galleries, along with breathtaking architecture. Scotland’s verdant landscapes never disappoint especially in the Highlands where cities like Islay, Mull and Jura promise plenty to hike and explore.
Scotland’s Top Destinations
It’s hard not to think of castles when thinking of Scotland. Two of the most popular and visited castles are Edinburgh Castle, which sits perched on Castle Rock overlooking Scotland’s capital city skyline, and Eilean Donan Castle. Even more magnificent is Stirling Castle located in central Scotland. It’s hard to miss Stirling Castle as it can be seen for several miles due to its location sitting atop a volcanic rock.
Hiking the Scottish Highlands is an almost spiritual experience and is suited for all levels and abilities whether you are a seasoned backpacker or prefer a casual stroll through Scotland’s oldest and most historic landscapes. When you travel to Scotland, the Isle of Skye mountain range offers two ridges for more experienced hikers whether they want to make it a two-day or a one-day hike, and is worth the day trip.
Dividing Scotland’s Highlands and the lowlands of Central Scotland is Inverness Loch Lomond—a scenic and tranquil area famous for its cruises and walking tours, and is a popular place for weddings. Explore the misty glens and remote islands of Orkney located off the north coast of Scotland. This Scottish archipelago is home to 5,000-year-old sites and Viking carvings dating to the 12th century.
The Scots are credited for many inventions, including penicillin, the telephone, the television, the steam engine and the MRI scanner. Most Scots are polite, chatty and know how to have a good time. And while the older generations are fond of drinking Scotch whiskey, Scots are also passionate about their national beers.
Plan Your Trip to Scotland
Where is Scotland?
Scotland is a part of Europe and the United Kingdom and occupies the northern part of Great Britain. It shares a border with England to the southeast, and it’s surrounded by the Irish Sea, the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting Around Scotland
One of the best ways to get around cheaply is by train since Scotland’s rails cover most of the country. Buses are also an excellent alternative. But, if you want to explore Scotland’s countryside, you may wish to rent a car. Getting around by plane is not necessarily the best way because internal flights can be expensive.
The official language in Scotland is English and spoken with a Scottish accent. However, there are two more native languages in Scotland: Scots and Gaelic, but they are only spoken in particular regions of Scotland.
The currency in Scotland is the British pound (£). Standard English banknotes are accepted throughout the U.K. You can exchange money in banks, at foreign exchange bureaus or through ATM machines.
When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland?
The best time to visit Scotland is from June to August. The weather is warm, and the chances of rain are relatively low. Keep in mind that the summer months are also the busiest time of the year. You can expect crowds as well as the highest prices for accommodation. A great time to visit Scotland is also in May and September, which also is an ideal time to visit popular golf courses such as St. Andrews. The temperatures are pleasant, and the prices are a bit lower. Be aware that from mid-October, many sites close for winter.
What to Pack When Visiting Scotland?
When traveling to Scotland, always take clothes that can be worn in layers. Depending on the time of your visit, bring a rain jacket or a waterproof coat and boots. If you are coming during the winter season, make sure to pack sweaters, thermal underwear, wool socks, hats and gloves.
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