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How to Plan a Trip to Scotland: Frequently Asked Questions

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Stirling Castle in Scotland

Stirling Castle in Scotland

Travel to Scotland with peace of mind knowing all you need to know with insight and information referencing the top travel questions frequently asked when exploring the UK destination.

Making up the northernmost part of Britain, Scotland is a fascinating independent nation of the United Kingdom with a culture all its own. From bustling cosmopolitan cities to spectacularly lush scenery, empty windswept moorlands, and some of the finest luxuries on the planet, this is a place that is sure to delight every visitor with its down-home hospitality and rebellious spirit.

Scotland attracts travelers eager to experience the Scottish Highlands, explore remote castles, and more, and the following can help you plan for your authentic Scottish adventure.

  1. Can I travel to Scotland?
  2. When is the best time to visit Scotland?
  3. How many days should I spend in Scotland?
  4. What are the most popular destinations in Scotland?
  5. What should I do on my trip to Scotland?
  6. Should I visit castles in Scotland?
  7. Does Scotland have good beaches?
  8. Is Scotland a good place for hiking?
  9. Where can I see wildlife in Scotland?
  10. How do I travel around Scotland?
  11. Is Scotland a good destination for families?
  12. Is Scotland suitable for senior travelers?
  13. Is Scotland suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  14. What food should I try in Scotland?
  15. Is Scotland safe to visit?
  16. What language do they speak in Scotland?
  17. What vaccinations do I need to travel to Scotland?
  18. Which airports should I plan for?
  19. Do I need a visa for Scotland?
  20. What currency does Scotland use?
  21. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Scotland?
  22. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to Scotland?

US travelers can visit Scotland on vacation.

There are no entry requirements for Scotland, though you can find updates as you plan your trip in our Where Americans Can Travel Now guide.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Scotland

When is the best time to visit Scotland?

The best time to visit Scotland is from March to May and September to November. Spring and fall shoulder-season months are attractive for their comfortable weather and great travel rates.

Early spring months are filled with Scots reveling in the sunshine and crisp breezes that run across the country, celebrating their unique region and culture in a variety of unforgettable ways. In contrast, fall months bring changing colors to the foliage across the country and there are far fewer crowds to contend with in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and beyond.

The summer months of June, July, and August are an excellent time to visit to experience Scotland when it is warm or if you wish to see the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which combines a wide array of writing workshops, traditional music and dancing, a film festival, and numerous activities for children. The winter months offer excellent conditions for outdoor activities like skiing and the Christmas scene in Edinburgh and Glasgow is quaint, charming, and undeniably inspiring.

Learn more: Best Time to Visit Scotland

How many days should I spend in Scotland?

We recommend travelers plan for 10 days in Scotland to experience the highlights of Edinburgh, Glasgow, or the Scottish Highlands. Ten days offers time for tours and days at leisure, allowing you to enjoy the country at a comfortable pace.

You can also plan shorter week-long trips to the main tourist destinations, iconic golf courses, or scotch whisky distilleries. If you wish to explore more of Scotland or visit neighboring European countries on Ireland & Scotland Tours or Tours of England, Ireland & Scotland, we recommend planning for up to 14 days. Longer trips allow you to immerse yourself in Scottish culture or see highlights in several nearby European countries.

What are the most popular destinations in Scotland?

From castle towns to dramatic headlands, medieval shires to vibrant capitals, there is all manner of places to explore on Scotland tours. Below, we share our top picks of popular destinations you should consider visiting:

  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Aberdeen
  • Dundee
  • Inverness
  • Stirling
  • The Scottish Highlands

Our recommendations of the 7 Best Places to Visit in Scotland share options for all travelers, whether dreaming of wandering the fairytale shires as a family or searching for romance among the reflective lakes of the Scottish Highlands.

Learn more: 7 Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh6 Best Places to Visit in Glasgow

What should I do on my trip to Scotland?

In Scotland, you can cross the mysterious waters of Loch Ness, putt on the famous greens of St. Andrew’s, or explore the royal castles peppering the hilly countryside. The list of things to do is endless, though you can find several fantastic ideas to inspire you below:

  • Experience the sacred grounds of the birthplace of golf, where the fairways run wide and wild in St. Andrew’s
  • Wander the length of Scotland in pursuit of the world’s finest single-malt whiskies, from dense Speyside to the remote western islands
  • Travel in luxury onboard lavish trains, where the breathtaking countryside is highlighted by the world-class railways
  • Walk the steps of some of Scotland’s most famous literature in Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature
  • Explore some of the oldest, best-preserved, and most spectacular castles in the world
  • Bask in the otherworldly majesty of Scotland’s islands, where people live as they have for centuries in some of the most stunning and surreal scenery
  • Uncover the reminders of the country’s war of independence against the British, led by the near-mythical figure, Sir William Wallace, on historical tours
  • Foray into the Highlands, where rolling, heather-filled moorlands give way to towering peaks, lush valleys, and plunging peat-filled lochs

To learn more about what to do on your travels, our Top 9 Things to Do in Scotland provides insight into these iconic experiences and more. From ideas of which castles to visit to activities highlighting the breadth of Scottish history, discover what sets Scotland apart from other European destinations.

Should I visit castles in Scotland?

Scottish castles are surreal, unlike any you can see elsewhere in the world, with several must-visits. The impressive stone fortresses share tales of ancient Scotland and royal history that comes to life amongst the ramparts and rose gardens. Set on scenic headlands or stationed on cliffs, the following Scottish castles are among the best to visit:

  • Stirling Castle
  • Eilean Donan
  • Alnwick Castle
  • Balmoral Castle
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Inverness Castle
  • Dunvegan Castle
  • Urquhart Castle

Learn more: 8 Best Castles to Visit in Scotland

Does Scotland have good beaches?

Scotland may not be at the top of travelers’ radars for beach vacations. However, there are spectacular stretches of sand along the cinematic Scottish coastline. From rugged, windswept cliffs to remote sandbars in the shadows of rolling hills, here are our top Scottish beaches you should visit on vacation:

  • Sandwood Bay Beach, Sutherland
  • Seacliff Beach, North Berwick
  • St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland
  • Loch Morlich Beach, Glenmore Forest Park
  • Sango Bay Beach, Durness
  • Pencil Beach, Largs

Is Scotland a good place for hiking?

Hiking in Scotland is exceptional as rocky peaks, sparkling lochs, country castles, and scenic shires await adventurous travelers exploring the trails. There are casual hikes for families with children that showcase highland beauty and challenging treks for active travelers that reveal panoramic views atop jagged rock formations. Below, we highlight the best trails, routes, and hiking destinations to explore:

  • Old Man of Storr Trek
  • Ben Navis Climb
  • West Highland Way
  • Cobbler Climb
  • Southern Upland Way
  • Rob Roy Way

Where can I see wildlife in Scotland?

Scottish forests, national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries are home to marvelous species, from otters to red deer, white-tailed eagles to Scottish beavers, and more. For your outdoor adventure in Scotland, consider the following best wildlife viewing places and the animals, marine creatures, and birdlife that inhabit them:

  • Knapdale Forest, Scottish beavers
  • Galloway Forest Park, red deer
  • Isle of Skye, otters
  • Glentress, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, and osprey
  • Kirroughtree, red squirrels and woodland birds

How do I travel around Scotland?

From international and domestic flights to rental cars, trains, ferries, and bicycles, many transportation options are available to travelers in Scotland.

Airplanes are the best means of arriving and leaving the country, while rental cars are great options for cruising the coastal roads and those leading to countryside castles. Public transport provides convenient access around the cities, while private transfers offer more comfortable day trips. Trains are ideal for cross-country travel and enjoying sweeping views of the countryside, while bicycles are fantastic for touring the cultural neighborhoods of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The transportation options in Scotland provide unique ways to explore the country and are reliable, enabling scenic and timely transfers from one place to another.

Is Scotland a good destination for families?

Scan the waters of Loch Ness for Nessie, take the Hogwarts Express across the Scottish West Highland, or watch white-tailed eagles soar in the sky with your family in Scotland, an excellent place for all ages.

On Scotland Family Vacations & Tours, you can embrace Edinburgh’s welcoming atmosphere, explore fairytale castles, play in forests teeming with wildlife, and listen to bagpipe performances.

You can enjoy the family-friendly fun comfortably with your young children on scenic train trips to lively towns or explore the history and mystery of Loch Ness and other iconic sites with your teens. There are activities for every member of the family to relish.

Is Scotland suitable for senior travelers?

You can experience Scotland’s rich history on comfortable private tours and epic landscapes from luxury trains, making it a stunning place for senior travelers.

The storied alleys of medieval cities keep Scottish secrets safe for eager travelers to discover on a whim, while whisky distilleries reveal the art of crafting world-famous scotch. Castle fortresses share insight into Scottish royal history and far-flung lochs reveal the mysteries of ancient Scotland.

Our Scotland Tours for Seniors combine the best of Scotland’s popular cities with local treasures you cannot find in the guidebooks, curated by specialists who cater to your every need.

Is Scotland suitable for couples or honeymooners?

Scotland’s combination of dreamy countryside, bustling cities, remote lakes, and windswept coastlines make it a perfect destination for couples and honeymooners.

There are forest lodges where you can enjoy the intimacy of escaping the crowds, the world’s finest whisky distilleries where you can share an iconic bottle of scotch, and scenic drives on which you can embrace the natural beauty of Scotland from land to sea at your own pace.

Romance can be found in every corner of the medieval cities and along the ramparts of old-world castles, in the rose gardens of royal grounds and the waters of famous Lochs.

Learn more: 7 Most Romantic Places in Scotland for Couples

What food should I try in Scotland?

Scottish cuisine is steeped in history, tempting travelers' taste buds to family-run restaurants in the highlands and introducing visitors to the unusual culinary traditions that have stood the test of time. The following dishes represent a few of the top dishes to try:

  • Haggis, Scotland’s national dish of sheep’s pluck minced with oatmeal, suet, and spices
  • Cranachan, cream and seasonal raspberries mixed with oats and scotch
  • Tablet, a sugary confection similar to fudge, made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter
  • Cullen skink, smoked haddock, potato, and onion soup
  • Scotch pie, a double-crust meat pie made with minced mutton or haggis
  • Grouse
  • Black pudding, blood sausage
  • Tattie scone, potato scone

Is Scotland safe to visit?

Scotland is very safe.

There are very few instances of crime in well-traveled tourist areas and violent crime is almost unheard of. Petty theft, like pickpocketing, can occur in busy public areas, though exercising vigilance can help you steer clear of these rare occurrences.

Generally, our travel specialists advise traveling in groups, keeping to well-lit areas and major streets, restraint from flashing around large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry, and keeping your passport and credit cards safe. These are general precautions to take wherever you travel in the world.

If you need help during your trip, Scots are very friendly, helpful people, and help desks and kiosks are easy to find, particularly in large cities.

What language do they speak in Scotland?

The main languages of Scotland are English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic.

English is the most widely spoken language, followed by Scots, then Scottish Gaelic. Other dialects and minority languages are spoken, though you will be able to communicate with guides and service staff in English during your trip.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to Scotland?

There are no vaccination requirements for Scotland.

The United Kingdom CDC Vaccination Information provides several routine vaccine recommendations for you to consider before your trip. We also advise consulting your doctor or travel nurse about vaccines, as they can provide more comprehensive information.

Which airports should I plan for?

For most travelers, the most convenient airport is Edinburgh (EDI), followed by Glasgow (GLA). There are additional airports available for domestic transfers and below we list the best airports for your trip:

  • Edinburgh Airport (EDI), Edinburgh
  • Glasgow Airport (GLA), Glasgow
  • Aberdeen Airport (ABZ), Aberdeen
  • Inverness Airport (INV), Inverness
  • Dundee Airport (DND), Dundee
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK), Glasgow

Do I need a visa for Scotland?

American travelers do not need a visa to visit Scotland on vacation.

Visa requirements are subject to change and you can consult your travel specialist for the latest information when you plan your trip. Though they cannot help you arrange visas, when applicable, they can provide you with more insight into visa requirements for Scotland.

What currency does Scotland use?

The official currency of Scotland is the pound sterling (£).

We recommend you carry pounds in cash during your trip as it is the most widely accepted currency. You can also exchange US dollars at the airport or make an ATM withdrawal. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are also commonly accepted in Scotland.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Scotland?

Zicasso travel specialists can curate your trip using inspiration from our Scotland Tours & Vacations, whether you plan to explore the Scottish Highlands with your family or travel through the countryside on honeymoon. You can also experience the best of Edinburgh, the history of St. Andrews, and the beauty of the lochs with ideas from Luxury Scotland Vacations.

When you have found a sample itinerary that aligns with your travel style, you can complete a Trip Request to provide us with more information regarding your vacation plans. We will then match you with one of our leading travel specialists, who will help you plan every detail of your trip.

When you are happy with their proposed itinerary design, all that is left to do is for our partners to plan your vacation and for you to get excited about the adventure ahead. Your travel specialist will be available for the duration of your trip, able to offer additional guidance and information, or help in the rare chance of an emergency.

Learn more: How to Plan Your Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Isle of Sky in the Scottish Highlands

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Scotland can feel captivating with its folklore and impressive with its dramatic landscapes. An overflowing treasure of culture, beauty, and charm, you can find Gothic castles; Georgian-style, untouched coastline; and the legends of warrior poets.

Our Scotland Tours & Vacation shares sample itineraries that can help inspire your trip or you can find helpful information and tips for planning it in our Scotland Travel Guide.

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