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Travel Center
Scotland
Scotland

History, castles, friendly people and Highland beauty await in Scotland. Look through these travel tips to find out what else to expect. It might just make the difference between a good trip and a great one.

Prepare for All Weather

Unpredictability is the name of the Scottish weather game. Come prepared with a waterproof jacket for wind and rain (like our Hilary Radley Packable City Rain Coat), warm and comfortable clothing, and water-repellant walking shoes, especially for the Highlands and megalithic sites. Hiking boots are a must for trail walkers. See all our footwear at travelsmith.com.

Monuments & Megaliths

The National Trust for Scotland (private) and Historic Scotland (public) preserve many of the country’s historic sites and buildings. These destinations may require a fee for admission. If you plan to visit more than one site or monument, you can save money by purchasing a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass or a National Trust Touring Pass, available for adults, seniors, children and families.

Road Rules

Driving in Scotland is on the left. Roads in rural, island and Highland areas are often narrow, winding, single-lane affairs, with crossing cows, sheep and pheasants. When cars approach from the other direction, the vehicle nearest to a passing place must stop in or opposite it to let the other vehicle pass.

Rail Travel

Leave the worries of driving behind and consider traveling by rail. The Freedom of Scotland Travelpass allows unlimited rail travel for four out of eight consecutive days for £114 (approx. $172 U.S.) or eight out of 15 days for £153 (approx. $230 U.S.). It includes all scheduled ferry services within Scotland, as well as bus/coach services and discounts. This ticket package and others are available at Scotrail.

Mountain-Bike Mecca

Considered home to some of the best mountain biking in the world, a network of seven centers called 7stanes (7 stones) link southern Scotland. Trails for beginners and experienced riders are well-mapped with marked and graded routes. Each center offers restrooms, parking, cafes and bike rentals with nearby pubs, inns and guesthouses.

Stalking Season

Walkers in Scotland’s hills and moors should avoid areas where stalking (or hunting) is in process, particularly during stag-stalking season, which intensifies at the start of September. Stalking never occurs on Sundays or on the upland estates owned by the National Trust of Scotland. Special Hillphones inform walkers and climbers about stag-stalking activities.
Scottish hunting seasons:
July 1 to October 20: Red Deer (stags)
October 21 to February 15: Red Deer (hinds)
August 12 to December 10: Grouse

Calling Around

Just like they do elsewhere in Europe, telephone numbers in the U.K. include a zero that precedes the area code. Here are some simple rules to follow for problem-free dialing:

  • Calling from overseas: Do not include the zero
  • Calling within the same city/town: Do not include the zero or area code
  • Calling between cities/towns within the U.K.: Include the zero
  • Calling from a cell phone within the U.K.: Include the zero and area code, even for local calls

Bed &Breakfasts

Bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) are the best way to experience Scotland’s local charm and hospitality, not to mention a fabulous breakfast. Some B&Bs, hotels and guesthouses offer family rooms with multiple beds, and many have rooms specifically for the single traveler. For regional lists, visit About Scotland. For 4-star and 5-star accommodations, visit Scotland's Best B&Bs.

What is Haggis?

Considered a delicacy in Scotland, haggis consists of sheep heart, liver and lungs blended with oatmeal, onion, spices, and beef or mutton—all boiled in the sheep stomach. Modern-day haggis may be cooked in casing instead, much like sausage. Tatties and neeps (or potatoes and turnips) usually accompany haggis, along with a glass of whiskey.

English & Gaelic

Many of the locals in the Highlands, on the Isle of Skye and in the Outer Hebrides speak Gaelic. Most road signs are in both languages, with Gaelic first. Since the Outer Hebrides and some areas on the Isle of Skye feature road signs in Gaelic only, you should bring along a bilingual map when traveling to the area. 

Stay Tuned

BBC Radio Scotland (92.4 – 94.7 FM) is the country’s national radio station, providing news and all manner of music, from pop tunes to traditional Gaelic folk music. In the Scottish Highlands, you may lose radio reception due to the peaks and glens. Bring CDs or an MP3 player for such instances, if you prefer driving with a soundtrack.

Golf Tips

Golf comes packed with tradition in Scotland. Be sure to bring these items along for golf-club entry and optimal play:

  • Handicap card (usually required)
  • Two pairs of golf shoes (soft spikes)
  • Lightweight, good-quality raingear
  • Sweater and windbreaker
  • Polo or collared shirt
  • Casual pants—NO jeans
  • A good pair of shoes — NO tennis shoes, deck shoes or sandals
  • Tips for caddies: Base fee plus £15 (approx. $23 U.S.) for good service

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