Scotland's national animal is an unicorn.
Scotland follows the same UK time zone, which is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during most of the year, and British Summer Time (GMT+1) when there’s daylight savings.
Scotland follows the same visa/immigration regulations as the UK. There’s no border control when traveling between Scotland and England and Northern Ireland.
If you’re a EU, EEA, Swiss citizen: no visa necessary. You can enter Scotland with a national ID card or a passport.
If you’re a citizen of other countries (including most of North America, Central America, South America, Asia): you’ll need a passport and do not need a visa for a trip lasting less than 6 months. If you wish to stay more than 6 months, then you’ll need to apply for an entry clearance or a visa before entering the UK. See here for a full list of countries that falls under this category.
If you’re a citizen of Oman, Qatar and the UAE: you can apply for Electronic Visa Waiver (EVA) that can be used for six months with the purpose of tourism and study.
If you’re a citizen of China and India with an Irish Short-Stay Visa: you can visit the UK visa-free until your current permission to enter or leave Ireland expires.
These are the top 2 popular airports in Scotland:
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) and Glasgow Airport (GLA).
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is located 8 miles from the city’s circle. This airport only has one terminal although it is the busiest airport in Scotland. To go to and from the airport, the easiest ways are tram, Airlink bus, busses 35 and N22, Taxi or airport transfer service.
Glasgow Airport (GLA) is located 7 miles west from the city center. This is the second busiest airport in Scotland. The best way to travel to and from this airport, bus (Glasgow Airport express service 500), train, car or taxi.
There are plenty of ways to travel in Scotland. Here are some of the ways to:
Renting a car would be the ideal way to travel within Scotland because there are beautiful scenic routes to see. Not only that, but you can stop and go at your own leisure. Tip: if you are going to drive in Scotland, the car always drives on the left side of the road.
Riding the train is the more logical way of traveling in Scotland. There are rail connections that go to all seven cities in Scotland. You can purchase tickets at the station, through the phone, the automatic ticket machine or the conductor themselves. There are three different types of tickets, first class (extra space carriages), Anytime tickets (standard tickets used anytime), and Off-peak tickets (cheaper travel when the train is not as busy). Tip: there are sometimes discounts due to age, booking in advance, time of travel, or a large group travel.
The subway only operates in Glasgow. This is the cheapest ways to travel in this city. Tickets can be purchased at the electronic machines or the ticket office. There are four types of tickets, singles, returns, all days, or 7 day tickets.
Uber is active in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen.
Bus or Coach
Here are a list of coaches and busses used in Scotland: Scottish Citylink, Stagecoach, Megabus, and National Express. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or at the bus station. It is best to book in advance since the busses fill up fast.
If you are traveling around the islands, the best way is to do so is with a ferry ride. Here are the types of ferries in Scotland: CalMac, Argyll ferries, NorthLink ferries, and Pentland ferries. For more information on the ferries in Scotland, click here.
If you are traveling locally in Scotland, it is recommended to walk and ride a bike. Cycling and walking are good for your health and environment. Scotland ‘s goal by 2030 is to have communities be more active travelers in their everyday lives so why not include the tourist as well.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are very international especially during summertime, travelers and exchange students flood both cities so young female solo travelers can feel very at ease and safe in both cities.
Scotland in general, is very progressive in regards to women’s rights. As of 2019, Scottish Prime Minster is a woman, Nicola Sturgeon. The government is also made up of 50:50 radio of both genders who support programs and initiatives that support women’s rights especially at home, and female entrepreneurship.
Scotts are SO NICE that cat calling is rare, and sexual harassment is also rare.
Here are a few things to remember:
Keep in mind that cars in Scotland drive on the left. So beware when you’re crossing streets.
For emergency, dial 999 or 112 for ambulance, police, coast guards, mountain rescue or fire. For the police on non-emergencies, dial 101.
Scotland is very safe, and pickpockets don’t occur as often as they do in Southern European countries. Just use your common sense and intuition.
When hiking, make sure you carry: a compass, a map, waterproof clothes, a flashlight, great boots, an extra battery for your cell phone.
In general, expect the weather in Scotland to be colder than where you’re from and it’s also wet all the time.
Spring/Autumn: It may be the best time for dry weather (but still expect rainfall), and daylight will extend until late into the evening, close to 11 p.m.
Late Autumn/Winter: There will be snow, and daylight will end around 4 p.m. Expect the weather to be extremely cold and wet.
Summer: Although it’s the warmest time of the year, there will be rain. Midges (small flying insects) are the worst especially in the Isles and Highlands.
English is the main language in Scotland. There’s also Scottish Gaelic which is the traditional language spoken by 33% of the population mainly in the Highlands and Western Isles. There’s also “Scots” which is a community language in the Lowlands and it’s akin to English depending on the thickness of how it’s spoken.
Don’t refer to kilts as skirts, the traditional garment has evolved from a long robe with an interior cloak to a shorter version that we see in the present day.
Be careful of what you say about England, there’s a long political and religious history between the Scotland and its neighbor in the South. Hence getting into a heated argument about Scottish Independence might not be a good idea either.
Avoid midges – small biting flying insects that look like mosquitoes. They’re prevalent in damp areas and mostly in Western Scotland. They tend to bite men more than women, so bring a bug spray!
The Scots refer to mountains as hills, so if you’re recommended to visit a hill, be sure to know that it’s probably more massive than you think.
Don’t forget to pack a raincoat, the sporadic rain in Scotland is no joke.
Although the Scots are known to be extremely friendly, do not confuse Scotland as part of England. They’re not anti-English, they’re just very proud of Scotland as a nation and differentiate themselves with a separate identity than that of the English.
Try not to say everyone sounds like Sean Connery when they speak.
Be sensitive when it comes to discussions regarding the Scotland Independence since the referendum was rejected by 55% of voters in September 2014.
There’s strong football clubs rivalry in Scotland, which can lead to a sensitive subject. Try not to wear the wrong colors in the wrong place to avoid conflict. For examples, the Celtics wear green and white while the Rangers wear blue and white. Orange can also be often associated with Northern Ireland.
Just like the rest of the UK, Scotland uses the British pounds: £.
Some stores in touristic areas will accept euros, but try not to abuse it since the exchange rate is so bad that it’s not worth it. It’s best to exchange your money at the airport.
In Scotland, the more north you go, the more expensive spending will be since supplies are harder to reach there.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted. Most places will accept credit cards and ATM machines can be found in many places.
Tipping! You’re not expected to tip in Scotland, only if you’re feeling extra generous.
It’s between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
You can safely drink the tap water in Scotland. If you’re in the Highlands, make sure to let the water run for a few seconds before drinking it since the color might first come out as a bit beige due to soil that’s not considered dangerous. But the more north you venture, the better the water will taste.
It is an offense in the UK to use wireless internet without being given the permission of the administrator. Wi-Fi is quite prevalent throughout Scotland, so you won’t have a problem being connected.
There is Uber in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and it’s particularly convenient in a city like Glasgow.
In both cities, there are plenty of taxis on the streets and they take credit cards.
Despite that Scots are some of the nicest people and they’re tolerant of homosexuality, you should probably be careful with PDA in the case of being frowned upon. Especially in more industrial areas of Glasgow where neo-Nazi skinheads are, you might encounter discrimination. Although it’s against the law for them to behave this way, they rarely get into serious trouble for it.
Regardless, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have thriving gay districts. Check out Scotsgay for LGBTQ events and venues. There are also different tour groups you can join that cater to LGBTQ travelers.
Scotland celebrates LGBT History Month in February with plenty of movie screenings, parties and events in major cities. In June, Pride Scotia – Edinburgh’s pride festival – occurs and the city hosts several live music acts with BBQ and marches.
Scotland is filled with many eco travel accommodations and activities, here is a list of some.
Where to stay:
The Dulaig Bed and Breakfast in the Cairngorms National Park won a Gold Green Tourism award for its outstanding ecotourism. Whether it be cooking ages from their chicken cope or relaxing in the garden, this is probably the most fulfilling place to stay.
Camping in a glamping pod on the Dundas Castle estate in South Queensferry. These pods are solar and propane powered and is still a luxurious camping experience.
Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow has an eco-boiler system, a great recycling system, and uses local suppliers.
What to do:
Logan Botanic Garden in Port Logan is a magnificent garden and is considered to be Scotland’s most exotic garden of time.
Arbroath Abbey in Arbroath, which is the ruins of the Tironensian monastery.
Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire is a wonderful, historical castle on the edge of the North-Sea.
In the Stone, Age Hunter and gathers hunted for fish and wild animals as well as gathering fruits and various nuts
The Roman Empire tries to conquer Caledonia but never did so they retreated back away from Britain. Much of the 60km Antonine Wall still survives today.
Macbeth ruled as King of Alba from 1040 to 1057 and was immortalized in Shakespeare’s play.
Unrest from feudal rule continued when Robert the Bruce took the throne and was crowned king. In1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn Robert the Bruce and his army defeated Edward II, which was a major turning point in his rule.
The Declaration of Arbroath was written in Latin and signed by Scottish Barons and Nobles and then sent to Pope John XXII. The Declaration proclaimed Scotland as an independent sovereign state and many historians believe it inspired America’s founding fathers to write the Declaration of Independence.
When Elizabeth I died with no children, James VI succeeded to the English throne and he became James VI & I. This is called the Union of the Crowns and is a historic movie in Scottish history.
Ideas from Scottish philosophers during The Age of Enlightenment ranging from physics to poetry shaped the modern world today. Figures like Thomas Hobbes and David Hume are still praised for their achievements.
Scottish soldiers in World War I were able to produce products of steel and iron that were extremely valuable to the war effort.
The first drilling of North Sea oil was considered a major industrial achievement. This allowed Scotland to give the UK access to oil made at home for the first time.
J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter in Edinburgh.