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Your guide to visiting Scotland

Discover Scotland: the Land of Cakes (no we are not kidding)

Discover the beauty of Scotland right here! Explore must-see places, dive into our latest blog posts, uncover fascinating facts, and gain valuable insights before visiting. Capture the essence of Scotland's enchanting landscapes and vibrant culture as we share our experience taking a road trip from Edinburgh to Inverness.

 

Scotland was the very first country we visited, long before we even thought about traveling full time. It will always hold a special place in our hearts! Let us help you plan your Scottish adventure today with this comprehensive travel guide!

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Interesting Facts

Here are 12 interesting facts about Scotland. Some may just surprise you!

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1. Loch Ness, located in the Scottish Highlands, is famous for the legendary Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as "Nessie."


2. The sport of golf originated in Scotland, with the Old Course at St Andrews being one of the oldest and most prestigious golf courses in the world.


3. Scotland has over 790 islands, including the popular ones like Skye, Orkney, and Shetland.


4. Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is home to the world's largest international arts festival, known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


5. The Scottish Highlands are home to the tallest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, which stands at a height of 1,345 meters (4,411 feet).


6. The national animal of Scotland is the unicorn, which appears on the country's royal coat of arms.


7. Scotland has more than 2,000 castles, including the iconic Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, and Dunnottar Castle.


8. The traditional Scottish dish haggis is made from sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with onions, oatmeal, and spices, and cooked in a sheep's stomach.


9. The Scottish invented many useful items, including the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), penicillin (Alexander Fleming), and the steam engine (James Watt).


10. The official animal of Scotland is the Highland cow, known for its long horns and shaggy coat.


11. The Scottish Gaelic language is spoken by a small percentage of the population, mainly in the Highlands and Islands.


12. The world-famous Scotch whisky is distilled and produced in Scotland, with different regions known for their distinct styles, such as Speyside, Islay, and Highland.

These fascinating facts showcase the rich history, culture, and natural beauty that Scotland has to offer.

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Things to know when visiting Scotland

Here are a few stats and tips that we picked up in our time here. Let us know if there is anything we should add!

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* We will be updating this section with a new format soon

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Total Population: 5.47 million

Capital City: Edinburgh (518,500)

Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP) | Driving: Left Side

Measurement Standard: Metric (km)

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⪢ Entry requirements

The entry requirements for Scotland vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. However, there are some general requirements that all visitors must meet, as follows:

 

  • You must have a valid passport.

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your intended date of departure from the UK.

  • You must have a visa if you are not a citizen of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland.

  • You must have proof of onward travel.

  • You must have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Scotland.

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If you are a citizen of the EU, the EEA, or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to enter Scotland. However, you must still have a valid passport and proof of onward travel.

 

If you are a citizen of a country that requires a visa to enter the UK, you can apply for a visa online or at a visa application center. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose of your visit. For example, if you are visiting Scotland for tourism, you will need a tourist visa.

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You can find more information about the entry requirements on the Scottish government website.

 

⪢ Language

English is the most widely spoken language in Scotland. It is the language of government, education, and the media. Officially called Scots, it is a Germanic language that is closely related to English. It is spoken by a majority of the population, mainly in the Lowlands.  Scots is a complex language with a long history. It is descended from Old English, but it has been influenced by many other languages, including Gaelic, French, and Dutch. Scots is a very expressive language, and it is often used in poetry and literature. 

 

Scottish Gaelic is also spoken but is a minority language, a form of Celtic that is native to Scotland. It is mainly spoken in the Highlands and Islands.

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⪢ Currency

The official currency is the British Pound (£). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it's a good idea to have some cash for smaller establishments. Convert your currency here.

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⪢ Weather

Scotland has a temperate oceanic climate, which means that it is cool and wet throughout the year. The average temperature in January is around 4 degrees Celsius (40 F), and the average temperature in July is around 18.3 Celsius (65 F). There is a lot of rain in Scotland, with an average of 130 days of rainfall per year. The wettest months are October and November, and the driest months are May and June.

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The weather in Scotland can be very changeable, and it is not uncommon to have four seasons in one day. It is also important to note that the weather in the Highlands is much colder and wetter than the weather in the Lowlands.

 

Overall, the weather in Scotland is best described as cool, wet, and changeable. If you are planning a trip to Scotland, be sure to pack for all types of weather.

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⪢ Cultural Etiquette

Scottish people are generally friendly and polite. It's customary to greet with a handshake, maintain good eye contact during conversations, and observe basic courtesy.

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Familiarize yourself with Scottish customs and traditions, such as the ceilidh (traditional Scottish gathering with music and dancing), and be respectful of local cultural practices and sensitivities.

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⪢ Opening Hours

Some shops and attractions have limited opening hours, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas. Plan your visits accordingly and be aware of Sundays when some businesses may have reduced hours or be closed.

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⪢ Midges

In certain areas and during certain times of the year, particularly around water and in the countryside, you may encounter midges, tiny flying insects. Consider bringing insect repellent to ward them off.

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⪢ Scottish Cuisine

Scottish cuisine is a delightful fusion of hearty and traditional dishes, influenced by its rich agricultural heritage and coastal surroundings. Traditional Scottish fare often features ingredients such as beef, lamb, game, fish, oats, and root vegetables. Iconic dishes like haggis (a savory pudding made with sheep's offal), Scotch broth (a hearty vegetable and meat soup), and Cullen skink (a creamy smoked haddock soup) showcase the country's rustic flavors.

 

Scotland is also renowned for its seafood, including fresh salmon, langoustines, and scallops, which are often served simply to let their natural flavors shine. Whisky, an integral part of Scottish culture, is celebrated worldwide, with distilleries scattered throughout the country offering tours and tastings.

 

Additionally, Scotland's culinary scene has embraced modern influences, offering a diverse range of international cuisines and innovative fusion dishes. Whether indulging in traditional delicacies or exploring contemporary flavors, Scotland's cuisine provides a memorable and satisfying gastronomic experience.

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⪢ Whiskey Tastings

Scotch whisky is enjoyed all over the world, and it is a popular choice for both casual and serious drinkers. If you are interested in trying Scotch whisky, there are many different brands and types to choose from. You can find Scotch whisky in most liquor stores, and you can also find it at many bars and restaurants.

 

If you're interested in trying Scotch whisky, consider visiting distilleries for tastings. Some may require prior booking, and it's advisable to have a designated driver or use public transportation.

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⪢ Transportation

Scotland has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries, making it convenient to travel between cities and explore different regions.

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⪢ Health & Safety

When visiting Scotland, it's important to prioritize health and safety. Scotland has well-developed medical facilities, but it's advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses. Keep prescription medications in their original packaging.

 

Scotland is generally a safe destination, but take usual precautions to protect your belongings. If participating in outdoor activities, follow safety guidelines and consider using a qualified guide. Be aware of emergency services and the location of your embassy or consulate. Stay updated with travel advisories and guidance. By taking these precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable visit to Scotland.

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In case of emergencies, dial 999 for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance, or fire services. Make a note of emergency contact numbers and the location of the nearest embassy or consulate of your home country.

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⪢ Must-See Places

Scotland boasts numerous historic sites and castles. Consider purchasing an Explorer Pass or Historic Scotland membership to save money and gain access to multiple attractions. Check out our discover section for our recommendations.

 

⪢ Driving

When driving in Scotland, it's important to familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and regulations. Scotland follows left-hand driving, so ensure you are comfortable with driving on the left side of the road. Pay attention to road signs and speed limits, which are typically posted in miles per hour (mph). It's recommended to rent a car with automatic transmission if you're not accustomed to driving manual.

 

Take caution when driving on rural roads, as they may be narrow, winding, and less familiar. Be aware of wildlife, particularly in rural areas, and exercise extra caution during dusk and dawn. Parking regulations vary, so familiarize yourself with local parking restrictions and use designated parking areas when available. Overall, taking these driving considerations into account will help ensure a safe and pleasant experience while exploring Scotland by car.