If you want a mixture of historical treasures and grand sweeping landscapes, with a little dash of cosmopolitan city life thrown in, you can’t beat Scotland.
As part of the UK, Scotland still retains much of its own unique national identity as England, Wales and Ireland, and is fiercely proud of that fact. The unique and proud history and culture of Scotland is often considered even stronger than the association with the rest of the UK by many Scots, but whether you visit to explore the vast, glorious countryside of the Scottish Islands or the surprisingly cosmopolitan cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh, Scotland has more than enough surprises to keep you coming back for more and more.
Visitors to Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, will have very little trouble. The UK as a whole is extremely welcoming of all visitors and has a diverse, multicultural population. Despite a long seated – let’s just say rivalry – between Scotland and England, there is in reality no real discernible difference in culture between the two, or the UK as a whole.
Members of the EU do not need a visa to enter, stay or work in the UK. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries can visit for up to six months but cannot work.
Citizens of other countries must apply for the relevant visa dependant on whether they intend to be a general visitor, family visitor, business visitor or any other relevant category.
There are no specific immunisations needed to visit Scotland, but as always routine vaccinations should be up to date. Reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the whole of the UK and many countries throughout the world allow for free or at least subsidised treatment. Scotland has a separate NHS system to England but runs under the same principles. Everyone will get free care at the point of delivery via the NHS, but it is still essential that you have valid and comprehensive health insurance and an EHIC card if you are from the EU.
Crime and Safety.
Scotland is generally very safe with relatively low crime rates. This does not mean that crime does not occur at all, but reasonable common sense precautions for your personal health and safety are enough to keep you safe.
Costs and money.
The currency in Scotland is the Pound, which is divided into 100 pence. It is tied to the UK currency and the only difference is in how the notes look.
Although much cheaper in general than England, particularly the south, Scotland can still be quite expensive to travel through long term, and a budget traveller will only just get by in Scotland on less than £30GBP a day. A much more realistic budget is £50 a day upwards dependeing on how much comfort you want and how much you want to see or do.
When to go.
Like the rest of the UK Scotland has it’s major high seasons in June, July and August and a further season in December for Christmas and the New Year. Accommodation is much more difficult to get in these periods and it is wise to book ahead.
The weather is at best unpredictable, and on the whole can be cold, grey and wet for much of the year. Crisp sunshine is not unheard of in the summer months, but cannot be guaranteed.
Edinburgh is what many people imagine when they think of a Scottish city, huge, imposing castle, check. Winding cobblestone streets, check. Glorious history, check. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and parks, check again. But it is so much more than that too. Edinburgh really has a lot to offer tourists who visit, from amazing restaurants and pubs to great shopping, you can even get a kilt made up for you! But get off the beaten path a little once you have explored the touristy sites and get a taste of some of the local culture, you will be surprised at how cosmopolitan Edinburgh really is.
Situated not far outside of Edinburgh, near Glencorse Barracks, this infamous chapel has been the subject of myths and legends for centuries, with tales ranging from the Knights Templar and Pagan worship in a Christian church to the rumours of it being the resting place of the holy grail or the lost treasure of the Templars. It even formed an integral plot device for the Da Vinci Code.
Located in the Trossachs National Park just outside of Glasgow, this stunning loch is perfect for a day trip or spending a few nights in the beautiful surrounding area in one of the many accommodation options.
This coastal city is worth visiting for the stunning gothic architecture of its city alone, the mixture of granite and sandstone giving the city a unique feel. But beyond that the rugged North Sea coastline and beaches are perfect for exploring, and Union street in the heart of the city centre has an array of shops, restaurants, bars and even a thriving West End.
Perth is a wonderfully compact city full of history, shopping, top foodie spots and endless culture, and makes for a perfect base for exploring the surrounding area of Perthshire, with the famous Scone palace and the Black Watch Museum being particular highlights.
Get out and explore the countryside.
The highlands and lowlands of Scotland offer some of the most spectacular and rugged landscapes in the whole of the UK. The mountains, glaciers and vast, rugged topography is perfect for hiking and wildlife spotting.
Look for Nessie.
Head to the famous Loch Ness near Inverness and spend a few days on it’s shores seeing if you can spot the famous Loch Ness Monster. Whether you believe or not there is a thriving tourist industry based around the creature and daily tours heading out onto the Loch itself.
Watch the Highland Games.
With traditional heavy athletic events like the tug-o-war and the caber toss (huge men in kilts lobbing tree trunks as far as they can, and no I am not kidding), as well as Highland dance competitions and piping held all over Scotland every weekend between May and September, the games are a spectacle not to be missed. Just check out local village fetes, castle ground events and other local news wherever you are in Scotland to find something near you.