GREETINGS FROM SCOTLAND
WHERE TO DO YOU WANT TO GO?
Oh hello there! Welcome to Scotland’s capital Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a city split in two; the cobbled streets of the Old Town and the neoclassical New Town both credited by UNESCO World Heritage. As a first time visitor to Scotland, you will want to spend time in both.
In the Old Town, you will find the Royal Mile with Edinburgh Castle at the top and the Scottish Parliament at the bottom, overshadowed by Arthur’s Seat (that flippin’ big hill). Edinburgh’s main shopping strip is called Princes Street and behind that is the fancy George Street but if you are looking for ‘real life’ Edinburgh, head down Leith walk to the village in the city, Leith.
For the ultimate guide written by myself, Edinburgh fans, business, and fellow bloggers check out this post
The best and busiest time to visit Edinburgh is August, and that’s not just because there is a chance to avoid the Scottish rain, it’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Over 3000 acts in 313 venues take over Edinburgh for three weeks and the city does not sleep.
- First time or return visitors to The Fringe, get your bearings and bargain tips here.
Yes, Scots do like to drink. Our national drink is whisky, which I am sure you are aware of but we are growing in the craft beer industry and have our own gin company here too in Edinburgh. Here to have a dram or two? Check out my guide on
- Edinburgh’s best bars *warning – not for the faint hearted!*
Everyone complains about how expensive Edinburgh is but you can eat 3 course meals for under £30, I promise!
- Affordable fine dining in Edinburgh
The Kingdom of Fife is a mere bridge away from Scotland’s capital and this county has lots to offer those who love quiet beaches, gory history, fresh fish and a round of golf or two.
- Your extensive Fife guide
Arguably, Scotland’s best city; Glasgow is where the ‘real’ people live. Yes, Edinburgh has its Castle and cobbled streets but the local joke points out that you’ll struggle to find a Scot in the capital. Voted Rough Guides friendliest city, Glasgow is a raw city full of talent – art, music, food, and fashion. Not only is Glasgow a banging night out but it is also known as The Dear Green Place due to its several parks situated through the city.
- For all things Glaswegian here’s my ultimate mature local’s guide to Glasgow
WEST COAST OF SCOTLAND
Enough of the cities, you’ve come to Scotland to see the rolling hills, calm lochs, and highland coos and what better way to see them than by foot? Why not take on the 96-mile trek, the West Highland Way which kicks off just outside of Glasgow (Milngavie) and ends in Fort William (near Inverness). You’ll pass over Conic Hill through Balmaha and on to my favourite spot in Scotland, Glencoe. You also get to sleep in a valley and enjoy a well-deserved beer at the end of each day. If you are looking for a shorter trek, the West Island Way is a short train and ferry ride away from Glasgow (on the Isle of Bute) can be completed over two days. Rothesay and the rest of the Isle of Bute is also a lovely day trip if walking is not your thing.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a bothy for the past year, you will know about the new craze in Scotland – the North Coast 500. Holidaymakers and locals are flocking to Inverness to drive (and cycle) 500 miles to John o ‘Groats and back down to Inverness taking in turquoise sea beaches, cute villages and a wee dram in one of the many NC500 distilleries.
ISLE OF ISLAY
Like whisky? Well, Islay is the island of distilleries! This tranquil southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides also has beautiful beaches and scenic drives. So who is the designated driver?
- A night and some nips on the The Queen of the Hebrides
ISLE OF SKYE
By far one of my favourite trips in Scotland, so good we have visited twice. Skye is stunning but the drive there is just as special. Saturated with stories of fairies and giants, Skye’s dramatic backdrop of waterfalls and mountains is the perfect canvas for folklore and fairytales. Don’t miss the Old Man of Storr, the cute capital, Portree or Eilean Donan Castle on the way to Skye.
- Group tour of Skye -> let someone else do the driving
- Self-guided two nights in Skye -> Scenery without the stories
ABERDEEN + CAIRNGORMS
While you are up north you may want to head east to the ‘oil-rich’ city of Aberdeen. Known for its love of seagulls and sheep, Aberdeen is one of Scotland’s lesser known cities and stop off for many tourists heading to Aviemore and the Scottish Highlands. The city is close to Cairngorms National Park which is a dream for hikers, bikers, and those who hit the slopes. Did you know that we have five ski resorts in Scotland?
SCOTLAND ESSENTIAL TRAVEL INFORMATION
Scotland’s public transport system (trains and buses) is mostly reliable, yet expensive, in the central belt. It is recommended that you hire a car or take a group tour when visiting the Highlands and Islands.
Scotland uses the British pound (GBP £). For best rates see here. ATMs are widely available and all credit cards are accepted (with the exception of American Express which is less so). Tipping in Scotland is not essential but appreciated.
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom but we are not England (or English!) We join Wales, Northern Ireland and England (which is not simply London) to make up Great Britain. It’s easy to cross the border though, here’s the cheapest way to get to London.