Visiting Scotland is an adventure. The country is beautiful, the people tend to be friendly, the dialect is simply to die for, and many of us citizens of the USA are part Scottish. What could be better. Here are a few helpful hints and tips to make that vacation a dream rather than a nightmare.
Before You Go If you are staying for under six months you do not need a visa so there is no need to fill out any paperwork before landing. Be sure to leave before your six month time period is up and remember after you have stayed 180 days you cannot return for an additional 180 days in a one year period. However if you are planning your vacation to Scotland to get married you and your future spouse will need a visa. This Visa is good for anywhere in the UK but remember, despite the amount of time your visa is good for it does not extend the 6 months in each year rule. Overextending this can lead to a ban of up to ten years.
Getting Around After landing in Scotland you may rent a car, motorcycle, bike, van or just use public transport. These tend to be readily available along with boats and ferries to get you between islands. If you are planning on seeing the whole island i would recommend the car as it can sometimes be a bit damp, but if you just want to explore one part of the Scotland go for the bike. It is more scenic and you will remember the vacation much more than if you whizzed by everything with the air conditioning on. Also when going between islands please try to take the ferries. These are a historical part of Scotland and some of them have been in place since the middle ages (yes the pilings and ferries have been replaced since then, no need to worry about safety.) You can walk, bike, drive a car, or even take a horse over any of these with no problems whatsoever.
Take A Tour
While exploring on your own can be fun, the Scots really know what they have to offer and have arranged a series of tours throughout their castles, highlands and countryside. Packages can be simple and cheaper then going without it or can be purchased in extreme luxury. Its all up to you. Try Scotland Made Easy for a better look at what they have to offer.
Scotland has notoriously changing weather and can go from sunny to pouring rain in a matter of minutes. Be prepared and be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella. If you don’t have the room in your suitcase try buying a cheap one or a rain poncho at the airport or your hotel. Try to bring a coat no matter what time of year it is as Scottish temperatures rarely get above 68 degrees. Even in summer. If you would like an up to date weather forecast try calling their weather service at 09068 500 425.
Try booking all of your hotels in advance, especially if you are going from island to island. Many of the islands are quite small and with a thriving tourist business Scottish hotels are often full by the end of the day.
Be sure to take insect repellent as Scotland hosts a thriving Midge population. This may sound like some sort of cute gnome to you but a Midge is in fact a small fly that will land on you and bite. OUCH! Don’t forget the insect spray. If camping out, try to get mosquito netting. You won’t regret it.
Also between July 1’st and and Oct. 20’th watch out for hunter’s culling stags. Pheasant hunting also goes on at about this time so be careful and wear bright colors if you must go out in the woods and moors.
Places To Visit Finally what you came for, things to do places to see, here are some of the better ones. These are listed in no particular order.
Edinburgh Castle (probably one of Scotland’s biggest and most preserved castles) The Titan Crane (The worlds largest crane) Dawyck Gardens (Probably my favorite one of Scotland’s famous gardens) Dallas Dhu Distillery (Visit between April 29 and May 3 and get the bonus of the Speyside Whiskey Festival. Any other day and it is a very old and beautiful whiskey distillery.)
Brandy Cross, Tourist Guide To Scotland, Associated Content