Scotland may seem harsh at first glance. Endless skies, relentless weather, rocky peaks, glens and mysterious lakes create mystical and baffling atmosphere. But a closer look will reveal unspoiled beauty hidden under roughness. This delightful country located in the Northern part of Great Britain has so much to offer. From the most astonishing views, raging seas, engaging outdoor activities, rich history, and culture, great architecture and countless stories to tell, Scotland is sure to impress you.
After all, it’s one of the most scenic countries in the world for a good reason. No matter how much fun and diverse the cities are, do yourself a favor and explore the countryside! Just like in England, this is where you’ll meet and get to know the real Scotland. Scottish people are kind and friendly, and even though you may have some problems understanding them, their charming accent will have you captivated. Sit down and listen to their stories for hours while sipping on a whiskey (their renowned beverage), and don’t forget to check what they’re wearing (or not) underneath their kilts.
What to see and do in Scotland
Do the cities’ tour
Scotland is home to many wonderful cities. Glasgow is the largest, followed by Edinburgh, the charming capital.
Inverness, Aberdeen, Dunde, and Perth are just a few other names to remember. Either one you decide to visit, they all have a colorful variety of attractions that will keep you busy.
Inverness is close to Loch Ness, offering a whole spectrum of different activities. Glasgow is a bustling university city where a visit to Glasgow University is almost mandatory. Visit the city of the three Js – Dundee. The Js stand for jute, jam, and journalism. Dundee is also home to one of the best universities and is a fun, quirky city, brimming with student life. Last but not least – Edinburgh, the impressive capital of the country and the gorgeous city will catch your attention with many of the hidden gems waiting for you to discover! A great way (although more on a pricey side) to see the city is by taking a helicopter tour.
Hike the Highlands
The untouched nature of the region is like a natural playground for outdoor lovers. Hike around the craggy mountains, explore the paths of glens and deep lochs, and take in spectacular views of the area. Here, mother nature proved once again that it’s by far the most talented artist. Watch the snow-capped peaks and see how the weather changes rapidly in this rough, but unbelievably beautiful part of Scotland.
Drink all the whiskey
They don’t call whiskey the water of life for nothing! You’re in Scotland, a homeland of this amber spirit so seize the opportunity and take a tour to one of the distilleries. Learn all about the art and the process of making whiskey, learn why it’s so valuable and of course enjoy sampling it at the end!
Visit the monster
The country is known for its many lakes and other waters. But the best known is the mysterious Loch Ness. And it’s all thanks to its famous monster resident Nessie. Some believe that a large dinosaur look-alike lurks in the deep waters of the lake in Northern Scotland. Come and see for yourself – if you dare! The area has plenty of hiking trails around the lake and nearby hills.
Admire the art of imposing architecture
All the country is scattered with wonderful examples of fine architecture. From the marvelous cathedrals to the splendid castles and ancient manors, Scotland speaks history. Glasgow Cathedral is one of the best. There’s no entrance fee, but you can leave a small donation. Others worth stopping by are St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Dunkeld Cathedral, St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney. Some of the most beautiful castles and manors are Culzean Castle (it once belonged to the Kennedy’s!),
Eilean Donan in the Highlands is believed to be one of the most romantic locations in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, Urquhart Castle (or what’s left of it- but it’s overlooking the Loch Ness so you can combine both trips), Drummond Castle Gardens is a dream come true for garden lovers. And last but not least Kelburn Castle near Largs in Ayrshire because it’s so different. Instead of the usual stone facade, this castle features a cartoon mural!
But not for real, of course! Gretna Green a small village in the south of the country, Scotland’s alternative to Las Vegas. The romantic idea of runaway weddings goes way back in history when Scottish marriage laws were less loose and liberal, so many ran to this place to say I do. This famous Blacksmiths Shop’s been one of the most popular wedding venues since 1754!
You’ll need between 20-35 USD for a smaller room, and around 15 USD if you don’t mind sharing your space with other people. Privacy of own room in a hotel will cost you 60 USD and up per night. Free WiFi is standard in many places. Staying in a city, especially if staying at a downtown location is pricier than staying somewhere on the outskirts or somewhere in the countryside. You can save some money by couchsurfing or wild camping. Just be careful with the unpredictable weather conditions.
Food and drinks
You’ll need around 70 USD per week if you plan to cook for yourself. Another budget-friendly option is eating at pubs. A meal there will cost around 25 USD. Expect to pay around 30 USD for a meal at a restaurant, drinks not included. Tap water should be fine and safe to drink. Enjoy a beer for around 5 USD and two shots of whiskey around 15 USD. Tipping isn’t expected in pubs while it’s up to 10% in most restaurants, and 15% in high-end places.
You can get around cities by bus. Typically, you’ll pay around 2-3 USD for a one-way ticket and 5-10 USD for a day ticket. You can also rent a bike to explore the surroundings in most cities it costs around 20 USD per day. Check out the backpacker’s tours! It’s an easy way to travel the country, with prices starting at 160 USD.
Sghtseeing in Scotland won’t break your budget as you can see and do a lot for free. For example, most public museums don’t charge entrance fee. You may need to pay for special exhibits, but even those aren’t too expensive and usually cost around 8-10 USD. The price of other attractions is usually starts around 20 USD.