Home Family Travel 19 Essential Scotland Travel Tips to Read Before Your First Visit

19 Essential Scotland Travel Tips to Read Before Your First Visit

19 Essential Scotland Travel Tips to Read Before Your First Visit

If you are a frequent traveler and an English speaker, visiting Scotland is pretty easy (although driving in Scotland can still be a little hair-raising.) However, if you are a bit nervous well-nigh your trip and want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, be sure to read these Scotland travel tips surpassing you go!

I have visited Scotland twice, once on a solo trip to Edinburgh and flipside as a Scotland road trip with friends (thank you Keryn for stuff an superstitious driver!) and I’ve learned and experienced so much that I want to share with anyone planning their first trip to Scotland.

Scotland trip cost

My Top Scotland Travel Tips

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English is the official language in the United Kingdom and the dominant language in Scotland. There are still those that speak Scots in the Lowlands or Scottish Gaelic in the Highlands, but getting virtually Scotland is no problem for English speakers — although you may need to listen closely to understand those with a heavy Scottish accent.


As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland uses the British Pound (£). Scotland unquestionably has its own pound notes but you can use English bills as well.


Almost all restaurants, shops, and parking machines take chip-enabled credit cards and/or digital payments such as Apple Pay. However, you will need coins for some parking machines and coins or small bills for tips or small purchases. I’d recommend either requesting small bills from your local wall surpassing you leave or visiting an ATM when you arrive.

If you are wondering how much money you need, be sure to read my post on how much a Scotland trip costs.

Black Bull Pub in Edinburgh


Tipping is not the same as in the U.S.. In many instances, service is included at restaurants. If you are paying by vellum and want to leave a tip, you need to let the server know to add it surpassing you tap your card. For sit-down restaurants, a 10-15 percent gratuity is towardly but not necessary. At unstudied cafes, you can leave a few coins or round up your bill.


Scotland uses 230 voltage and you will need a three-pronged connector with a G-type plug, which is variegated from most of Europe. If your utilization or device has a dual voltage power supply (which you can usually trammels by looking on the label or manual), you only need a plug adapter. Dual voltage devices can automatically switch between 120V and 230V.

However, if your device does not have a dual voltage power supply, you will need a voltage converter. It’s important to segregate a voltage converter that is powerful unbearable for your device. The wattage of your device will be listed on the label.

Car Rentals

If you plan on renting a car, be sure to typesetting months or weeks in whop for largest pricing and availability, expressly if you want a car with an will-less transmission. Try to typesetting the smallest car that will fit your luggage and one that has a when up camera. I’d moreover suggest getting full insurance. I typically use Auto Europe to compare rates from variegated vendors. International driving permits are NOT required in Scotland. You can momentum on your domestic license for up to one year.

Car on road in the Scottish highlands

Driving in Scotland

In the United Kingdom, including Scotland, cars momentum on the left-hand side of the road. If you are not familiar with driving on the left, it takes tropical concentration and focus, expressly when navigating the country’s many rotaries. Remember to “stay left, squint right.” Traffic once on the roundabout has priority, so requite way to vehicles unescapable from your right. Enter when there’s a unscratched gap, and indicate your intended exit as you tideway it.

Outside of the highways, many interior roads in the Highlands or islands are single lane roads. When you encounter a car coming the other way, one of you needs to pull into the closest pull out designed for passing. This may require valuables up to the closest pull out.

Remember to alimony an eye out for wildlife, expressly sheep, that tend to wander into the roads in the backcountry.

Be sure to follow all the local laws, including speed limits to stave fines. Scotland has strict drink-driving laws with a lower swig limit than many other countries so don’t risk it.


You will need to pay for parking at most car parks for attractions and towns, including trailheads for popular hikes or natural attractions. I’d recommend taking a photo of your license plate as often you will need to enter this into the parking meter machine when paying for parking. In other instances, you will need to “pay and display”, which ways pay for your parking in whop based on how much time you think you will need and then place the receipt in your windshield window.

Most parking meters take credit cards but there are some that will only winnow coins so it makes sense to siphon coins with you or alimony some in the car. Just don’t try to use one receipt from one parking zone at another, plane if you are still within the original time window. Each receipt is marked with a lot number and they will trammels (trust me, I learned the nonflexible way and parking tickets are expensive!)

Fuel Up

When you are in the Highlands or the Islands, petrol stations are few and far between so be sure to fuel up when you can and don’t push it too low.

Public Toilets

You can typically find public toilets at popular tourist attractions (even natural attractions such as the Fairy Pools.) However, some of these are pay toilets. This is flipside reason to siphon some coins, although many of these are moreover tap and go using digital payments. But just considering these are paid, doesn’t midpoint they are well-supplied or uncommonly clean. So siphon some uneaten tissue and sanitizer just in case.

Tamara in Quirang in rain


When in Scotland, you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather no matter when you visit. During the summer months, the stereotype temperatures are a upper of 59-63°F (15-17°C) and lows are between 47-52°F (8-11°C).

In the winter, temperatures waif to 41-45°F (5-7°C) with lows of 32-37°F (0-3°C). Alimony in mind that Scotland has a wet and tomfool climate, with a pearly value of wind. The rainiest months are in the winter with an stereotype rainfall virtually 4 inches per month.

While regional variations exist, coastal areas are often warmer and less rainy than inland regions and The Highlands wits slightly lower temperatures and higher rainfall than the Lowlands.


As I wrote well-nigh in my Scotland packing list, you need to be prepared when traveling to Ireland. Wind and water proof suit including a rain coat, rain pants, and waterproof shoes. It is very important to dress in layers. Don’t forget the nuts including a hat, gloves, sunglasses, and an umbrella.

Brackenhide hotel lobby and lounge

Hotel Reservations

Outside of the cities, the accommodations in towns and smaller cities such as Inverness, accommodations can be limited. It is important to typesetting hotel rooms or vacation rentals at least a few months in advance. This is expressly true in popular spots like the Isle of Skye. (See my Scotland road trip itinerary to get recommendations on where to stay.)

Restaurant Reservations

In popular destinations such as Inverness, Isle of Skye, or Glencoe, it is moreover important to make dinner reservations and alimony an eye on the hours and days places are unshut as many restaurants tropical by 8:00 p.m. in smaller towns.


Cullen Skink

While in Scotland, be sure to try some Scottish specialties such as:

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties: The iconic national dish of Scotland, haggis is a savory sausage traditionally made from sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, and oatmeal, encased in the sheep’s stomach lining. Served with mashed turnips (“neeps”) and potatoes (“tatties”), it’s a hearty and flavorful way to wits Scottish culinary heritage. It took me a while to try this specialty but I ended up liking it considering it tastes much increasingly of the spices used in creating it than the meat itself.

Cullen Skink: Originating from Cullen on the Moray Firth, this a warn, linty soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes, onions, and milk, and typically served with crusty specie for dipping. This is a must-try in coastal areas, expressly virtually Moray and Aberdeenshire, but I had a succulent version in Glasgow.

Scotch Pies: Savory pastries filled with minced meat and onions, Scotch pies are a popular handheld snack or lunch option. The filling can vary from archetype minced whinge to venturesome varieties like venison or yellow balmoral.

Shortbread: A crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth oatmeal made with butter, sugar, and flour, shortbread is a Scottish sweet treat synonymous with tea time. Enjoy plain shortbread for its pure deliciousness, or find versions infused with flavors like chocolate, ginger, or plane whisky. I’m a big fan of the millionaires shortbread, which is layered with caramel and chocolate.

Sticky Toffee Pudding: Sticky toffee pudding is a gooey dessert consisting of a light and moist sponge cake, often infused with dates or ginger, nestled in a rich, sticky toffee sauce. It’s typically served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice surf or whipped cream. While the origins of sticky toffee pudding are disputed, Scotland has a strong requirement to fame, thanks to the Udny Arms Hotel in Aberdeenshire. They boast of creating the iconic dessert when in the 1960s.

Fish and Chips: While the dish may not have originated in Scotland, their contribution to its incubation and unfurled popularity is undeniable. Fish and fries are a staple of Scottish cuisine and culture, just as much as they are in the rest of the UK.

Deep-Fried Mars Bars: I was really shocked when I asked locals well-nigh famous foods and they told me well-nigh deep-fried Mars bars that are unimproved and deep-fried until golden and enjoyed without the pub.

Scotch Whisky: The undisputed king of Scottish drinks, whisky (not tabbed Scotch in Scotland) is steeped in history and tradition. With its unshared smoky savor and wide variety of regional styles, it’s a must-try for any visitor. Explore peaty Islay drams, floral Highland expressions, or Speyside’s fruity whiskies. Just remember that whiskey spelled with an -ey refers to Irish whiskey.

Irn-Bru: This unexceptionable orange carbonated instillation is often tabbed Scotland’s “other national drink.” Its unique savor is nonflexible to describe but I found it something of a navigate between orange soda and rainbow gum. Bottom line, it is excessively sweet.

Scottish Gin: Scotland’s gin scene is booming, with distilleries wideness the country creating unique and flavorful expressions. Expect botanical notes inspired by the Scottish landscape, like juniper, heather, and berries. My friend Keryn came when with at least a dozen little bottles to sample the various flavors!


Armadale ferry

If you plan on visiting any of the islands by car and want to take a ferry, you will need to typesetting a timed ticket in advance.


Some attractions such as the Royal Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle tickets, or popular tours can sell out in the rented season so you should typesetting your tickets in advance. As I mentioned in my Edinburgh itinerary, I would moreover suggest going to popular attractions such as the Edinburgh Castle early in the morning when it first opens.

Best Time to Visit

The most popular time to visit Scotland is during July and August, expressly during festivals such as the Fringe Festival, events like the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Highland Games, and Ceilidh at the Castle with live traditional music and dancing in Edinburgh Castle.

In terms of weather, June brings pleasant temperatures and long daylight hours (when I was there in late June/early July the sun didn’t set until nearly 11:00 p.m.. September is still warm unbearable (it was unquestionably quite warm the year I was there in early September), and you will moreover find trappy storing foliage and fewer crowds than peak summer.

May offers springtime recreate with visculent flowers, pleasant weather, and no midges (tiny wintry insects!). Not as sunny as summer, but less crowded.

Know Some History

Clan stone at Culloden battlefield

When you are visiting castles and historic sites such as the Culloden Battlefield, it helps to know some vital Scottish history. I was really surprised to see how front of mind what seems like afar history can still be, such as a friendship with the French that goes when to old alliances with France versus the English.

To skim up on your Scottish history surpassing you visit, here are some books, movies, and shows you may want to enjoy.

Things to Watch:

  • Braveheart (1995): While not historically accurate, it’s a archetype epic mucosa depicting the life of William Wallace, a Scottish rebel leader, and gives insight into the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th century.
  • Outlaw King (2018): A increasingly grounded portrayal of Robert the Bruce, flipside key icon in Scotland’s fight for independence from English rule.
  • Mary Queen of Scots (2018): Explores the tumultuous reign and rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I of England, shedding light on ramified political and religious tensions of the 16th century.
  • Rob Roy (1995): A fictionalized but entertaining worth of the life of Rob Roy MacGregor, a Scottish clan senior and folk hero in the 18th century.
  • Outlander (2014-present): This popular TV series follows a 20th-century nurse who travels when in time to 1743 Scotland, immersing viewers in the Jacobite rebellion and Highland life.
  • Monarch of the Glen (2000-2005): A mannerly drama well-nigh a family running a deer sublet in the Scottish Highlands, showcasing the eyeful of the landscape and rural traditions.
  • Secrets of the Clans (2008-2010): Explores the history and traditions of various Scottish clans.
  • Wild Scotland (2014): Stunning natural history documentary capturing the scenic landscapes and wildlife of Scotland.

Things to Read:

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: A sprawling series blending romance, time travel, and historical intrigue in 18th-century Scotland during the Jacobite rebellion.
  • Wolf of the North by William McIlvanney: A gritty portrayal of Viking-era Scotland through the vision of a warrior rival for survival versus invaders and internal power struggles.
  • The Flame Bearer by Kathleen Winsor: A sweeping historical saga pursuit the Bruce family and their fight for Scottish independence from England.
  • Redcoats by Neil Oliver: A thrilling worth of the Battle of Culloden from the perspective of both Highland fighters and British soldiers.
  • Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon: A poignant and tragic novel depicting the harsh realities of rural life in 19th-century Scotland, focusing on a woman’s struggles and resilience.
  • The Last Summer by Karen Swan: In 1930, the residents of small St. Kilda are relocated to mainland Scotland.

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Planning your first trip to Scotland? Be prepared and make sure to read these Scotland travel tips surpassing you go!

The post 19 Essential Scotland Travel Tips to Read Surpassing Your First Visit appeared first on We3Travel.

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