The Scotland Travel Guide

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The Budget Scotland Travel Guide includes important travel planning tips that will allow you to see and do more on your budget. Learn how you can benefit.

Over the course of this guide to visiting Scotland, we'll explain not just what you should expect to discover during your stay, but also provide plenty of handy tips that'll make your time here as straightforward as possible.

While nobody will argue that the whiskey, Nessie, tartan, and haggis still plays a major role in attracting a few million tourists every year (nearly 20% from the USA), but look beneath the surface and you'll find a far richer, deeper country at odds with many of the stereotypes.

Many visitors to Scotland do so as part of a greater tour of the British Isles and it is also a handy 'launch pad' for delving deeper into Europe too. From the majestic highlands and islands through to the very modern bustle of the central belt cities, you'll find Scotland as welcoming as any destination on the planet.

Considering that most visitors will be arriving in either Glasgow, Edinburgh, or one of the English cities to the south, we'll begin our guide by exploring some of the major attractions to be found the moment you hop out from the plane.

When is The Best Time to Visit Scotland?
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July and August are the peak-season for Scotland. Expect the cities to be far busier than usual (especially Edinburgh). Everything may be in full swing but you'll pay a little more than usual for all styles of accommodation. Showers are always a risk in Scotland and summer makes no difference, even though the weather can often be quite sunny and warm throughout.

While these months are the most popular they are not necessarily the best to visit - especially if you plan on exploring the countryside. You may (or may not) have heard of the infamous Scottish midge problem. These are a big issue in northern and westerly parts of the country but can appear almost anywhere in swarms of many thousands.

While not dangerous they are extremely irritating with their bites often resulting in unseemly rashes. Needless to say, these are best avoided! With the proper equipment, preparation and a degree of luck/fortitude you can certainly still get out exploring over summer. That being said...

In the opinion of the Scotland Travel Guide, you're best off visiting during either late spring (May/June) or early autumn (September/early October). Everything will still be open, accommodation prices are normal, midges will be far fewer, the weather tends to veer towards 'drier' (still expect some rain), and the long lasting evening light makes for some spectacular sunsets.

Of course, if you are visiting the Festival then these months are not an option! But do remember that there's always plenty to do in the cities outside of festival time too - and that many locals dread August!

Winter can be a good time to visit for those who are seriously invested in discovering Scotland at it's purest. Expect snow on the most northerly hills over the whole/most of the season with some good quality ski slopes dotted here and there. While it does become dark early - and you will need to have a degree of experience and good quality outdoors kit - this is an excellent time for hiking providing you wish to enjoy entire glens to yourselves.

Do I Need A Tourist Visa in Scotland?
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All visitors to Scotland must present their passports upon arrival. If you enter Scotland by rail/road/plane from England you will already have done this. There is no border between Scotland and England so you will not need to provide any documentation when crossing north or south.

EU/EEA visitors can stay and work for up to six months without the need for a visa. Those from elsewhere are not allowed to work without appropriate documentation. Arrivals from approved countries - including the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Israel, and a few others can visit for up to six months without a visa.

Note that many Commonwealth citizens with ancestry may be able to easily gain working/residential status providing they can prove their status. It is advisable to arrange any special visas well in advance of arrival as these can take a long time to verify.

Do U.S. Citizens Need A Visa for Scotland

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Scotland, which simplifies entry into the country; however, a passport valid for at least six months past the planned date of departure is required.

What Kind Of Budget Do I Need In Scotland?
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Scotland can be as expensive as your budget allows - or as affordable as you are willing to get by. From five-star golf resorts through to the most crowded urban hostels, you'll have no difficulty finding somewhere to stay apart from Edinburgh during August and New Year. These are generally very good quality - Scotland enforces stringent standards on even the most basic hoteliers - but do not expect to be making much in the way of remarkable savings at any time of year.

On the plus side, travel costs are not going to be very steep and everywhere has plenty of free attractions well worth checking out. Food is abundant, high quality and can also be very wallet-friendly! Here is what we at the Scotland Travel Guide would suggest what you ought to broadly expect for your daily budget.

Budget (£50/day)

Besides Edinburgh, Scotland is not much of a destination for those looking to skip by on pennies. While there are plenty of hostels a good proportion are YHA outside of the major cities and they can be a little on the pricier side. If you intend on staying in hostels then it is wise to book up in advance if you are visiting during summer. Outside of the peak couple of months, you are unlikely going to be left without a room, but still, expect somewhere between £20-25/night.

Luckily for those on a tighter budget, you can walk around most cities in relative ease. Sure, that may not be so much fun in howling rain, but just consider it all part of the experience! Scotland is great for al-fresco lunches with plenty of parks to enjoy during sunnier spells. Pick up most of your food from supermarkets and you'll eat well and with plenty of money for a round at a reasonable pub off the main tourist routes.

Try and save up some cash to see the essential ticket-only sights such as Edinburgh Castle. Trains to central towns/cities worth seeing are pretty cheap when tickets are purchased in advance. One thing to factor in should you intend on hiking/exploring is that your options may be limited to camping or expensive B&B's.

Mid-Level (£100-150/day)

This is the budget that most visitors can easily get by on wherever they end up visiting in Scotland. Assuming you are sharing a room expect either a smart central-ish hotel or a very nice B&B. Out in the countryside, this may stretch towards a room in an inn (these can be booked out months in advance) or even a very fancy hotel/estate during the low season.

In our opinion somewhere comfortable but not excessively fancy is the way to go on this budget. You'll have plenty of spending money to see all the sights, perhaps take in a show or two, enjoy some excellent meals (the Scottish culinary scene is astonishingly good), and have plenty of options for exploring the rural regions.

With careful planning, you could make this budget work for a multiple destination tour of Scotland. For £150/day you could spend three/four days in the central area (Glasgow and Edinburgh are only an hour apart by train), then take a trip to the islands and highlands of your choice. Car hire is also an option for those who really want to head off the beaten track, especially if they opt to camp as well.

High-Level (£200+/day)

Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen enjoy no shortage of more luxurious ways to spend your hard-earned! Throw in some legendary countryside retreats (most involving golf) such as St Andrews and Gleneagles and your budget can be swallowed up by breakfast time.

For those who can afford the very finest then Scotland is an outstanding option for picking up some unique souvenirs, especially if you have a taste for fine scotch and woolen garments.

The rural accommodation sector has seriously upped its game in recent years. Fancy hiring a remote cottage with a wood burner and no cell service? You could do so even on a lower budget than this and find absolute tranquility. Alternatively, you can enjoy the same in absolute five-star luxury!

With this sort of money, you may want to look into more specialist activities. Salmon fishing is a big attraction in certain areas and you'll have your fair helping of astonishingly beautiful scenery to appreciate too.

Some more exclusive tour operators - mostly for no more than 8-12 people - offer tailored trips through the highlands and distilleries. These are understandably expensive but offer a fabulous way of making a visit truly memorable.

While nobody is going to claim that Scotland is cheap you can certainly find far better overall value now compared to just a few years ago. Broadly speaking we'd compare the prices to those of the Benelux countries (Belgium & Netherlands) where accommodation is going to be your largest expense but everything else can be done pretty affordably.

What Should I Pack for A Trip to Scotland?

Pretty much anywhere in Europe is susceptible to occasional showers but in Scotland, you can pretty much always expect a drop or two at any time of the year. So pack a good quality waterproof when visiting in the summertime, and plenty of warm clothes for the winter and autumnal months. If you are going out exploring then it is sensible to be well equipped and to dress in layers. Don't forget your hat!

You should have no difficulty replacing or stocking up any essentials no matter where you find yourself in Scotland.

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My wife Laurel and I retired on Social Security in 2013 began traveling the world. We started a blog about international travel and soon found out that people in America were more interested in what we were eating than where we had been.

Las Vegas, NV

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