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Scotland (United Kingdom) Tourism And Travel Guide
10.5° C / 50.9° F
April to September
7 to 8 Days
Scotland is a burst of greens and browns, glens and valleys, meadows and castles. It is a country in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and shares a muddled up, bloodied history with its English cousins. Today Scotland attracts a great number of tourists every year, especially in the summers. Tourism in Scotland boasts of castle tours and lake monster sightings, Harry Potter writing sites explorations and adventure expeditions up the highlands. To make your own little itinerary to Scotland, read this travel guide to get a fair idea of what to expect and what will be the best.
How to Reach
The best way for Indians to reach Scotland is by flying, although you can also go to London and then take a road trip from there. UK Visa procedures must be followed and applied in advance.
You cannot get a direct flight to Scotland, however, Mumbai does have one-stop and two-stop flights to Scotland with airlines like British Airways and Air India. Scotland has many international airports like Edinburgh Airport, Glasgow International Airport, Inverness Airport, Aberdeen International Airport and Dundee Airport.
London connects very well to Scotland, with well paved roads slicing through the English and later Scottish countrysides. You can take a flight to London and then rent a car to drive yourself to Edinburgh using the M74/A74 Highway. Buses also ply regularly.
Rail journeys in Scotland are some of the most scenic in the world. You can take the train from England using any of these lines - CrossCountry, Virgins Trains East Coast, Virgin Trains, Transpennine Express and ScotRail. Passes and tourist tickets will give you better discounts.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit this land of Scots is between late spring and summer’s end, i.e from April to September.
Spring (March to May):
With average temperature range of 7-13°C, spring is a good time to enjoy the sceneries and lake-sides and castles of Scotland. The isles are lush green and seas are a minty aqua blue with snowy white froth. This time makes for some peaceful exploration and Instagram-worthy photos, free of crowds.
Summer (June to August):
Summer is the high season and tourists crowd the country. Temperatures are warm enough to rise to 20°C and days are quite long and sunny. Some of the northern most parts of Scotland receive daylight almost all day and half of the night. If you are a full-on tourist kind of a person then visit Scotland in summer but for travellers and solo back-packers it is a no-no. This is also an expensive time.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn brings a fiery red-orange tinge to all of Scotland while temperatures slither down to 14°C. Halloween festival, better known as Samhain in Scots Gaelic culture, is celebrated with much pomp here, followed by the All Souls Day and feast. If you want an insight into the culture of this land then do attend this festival.
Winter (December to February):
Winters in Scotland are freezing wet, if not outright snowy everywhere. The highlands get lots of snow but the lowland and plains are only pelted with sleets of cold rain. This is not the best time to visit as you will have to skip all the outdoorsy places like castles and forts and glens and lakes. But if you want to make a city holiday out of it, then you are welcome to join Edinburgh for Christmas (Hogmanay) celebrations and enjoy the night markets, pubs, cafes and museums.
Things to Do
Discover the Loch Ness Monster:
This mythical creature said to lurk underneath a lake is one of the oldest and most famous tales told in Scotland. You must head to Lake Ness where this monster, affectionately called Nessie, is said to reside. Enjoy all the tales of sightings, the inns and hotels nearby, and take a day out at Nessieland - a theme park based on Loch Ness myth.
Go for an Outlander Tour:
Fans of this book and Netflix series, you cannot go to Scotland and not do an Outlander tour. The books are based here and the show is practically fully shot here. So visit the Midhope Castle that doubles up as Lallybroch and Doune Castle which becomes Castle Leoch in Outlander. Falkland near Inverness is where you will find the show opens with Claire and Frank walking to Mrs. Baird’s B&B. Not only book fans but historical nerds will also find these places interesting.
Visit the Battlefield of Culloden:
One of the major events of Scottish history is the Battle of 1746 that was fought at Culloden near Inverness, where the Scottish highlanders were slaughtered by British Redcoats and their culture and way of life was killed forever. The moor today is home to graves of clans that fought valiantly and also to a museum. Outlander fans, this is the place where Claire sits beside Clan Fraser grave and gives Jamie the news of his daughter.
Rediscover Harry Potter in Edinburgh:
Scotland is the place where a single mother was in the thick of the most difficult time of her life and chose to bring a wizarding world to life. J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter series here and you can go for a tour of all the places where she wrote - Nicolson’s Cafe, The Elephant House and Room no. 552 of Balmoral Hotel (where she wrote the series finale book). There are also places that inspired her, like the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, George Heriot’s School (inspired Hogwarts) and Victoria Street (inspired Diagon Alley).
Do a Castle Trail:
Scotland and no castle expeditions? Och, that’ a real shame. The country is practically halfway populated by castles dating back to the saxons and vikings. Some of the best castles to visit in Scotland are Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Balmoral Castle, Inverness Castle, Falkland Castle, Glamis Castle, Midlothian Castle and Dunnottar Castle located on the edge of a cliff.
What to Eat
Some of the best Scots delicacies include Haggis, Parritch, Scottish Salmon, Scones and clotted cream, sausage, stovies, lamb and beef pies and patties. The most famous roadside desert here is the fried Mars bar and dundee cakes. You can also take back shotbreads and biscuits as souvenirs. The best places to eat in Scotland are Isle of Mull Cheese in Mull, Ubiquitous in Glasgow, Cromars in St. Andrews, Folk Café in Dundee for vegans and vegetarians. The Kitchen serves great delicacies and is a fine dine experience in Edinburgh while The Witchery by the Castle is a romantic restaurant on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Where to Shop
Scotland is famous for its traditional wools, tartans and cashmeres. So you must pick up bespoke suits and dresses in wool as well as the traditional kilts and scarfs in tartan colours. Other souvenirs to take back for loved ones are sporan (a traditional highland waist bag), shortbread, sgian-dubh knives, kilt, aromatic toiletries and single malt Scottish whiskey. For shopping, your best bet is Edinburgh markets like Princess Street, Victoria Street and the Royal Mile in the Old Town.