With such a lengthy and diverse history and culture, Scotland can be a richly rewarding place to visit.
Manor houses, castles and palaces abound, but Scotland has other charms equally as engaging, from its weird and wonderful traditions to its increasingly acclaimed cuisine. Its landscape shouldn’t be overlooked: for such a small destination it has a remarkable breadth of scenery, ranging from the strikingly dramatic to the charmingly picturesque.
Planning your trip
Although it may be less challenging to arrange a trip to Scotland than with other countries, it can be hard to get off the beaten track. We will use our expert knowledge to design an itinerary based around your individual preferences, and will endeavor to help you avoid the crowds and discover experiences unique to each area.
Having originated in England, English is spoken throughout the United Kingdom. However, different regional accents exist which can be quite strong and difficult to understand. There are a few subtle variations from American English, and certain words or phrasing may be confusing to begin with.
Food & drink
Modern British cuisine puts a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients — and Scotland is not spoilt for choice. Organic meat and vegetables can be found across the country, with different regions specializing in different produce.
Areas where dairy farming is prevalent are known for their excellent local cheeses.
With such a large coastline, fish and seafood is ubiquitous, with salmon and trout in particular being prized. Traditionally, fish and meats were smoked to preserve them better, a practice which is still common.
Tea is the national drink, although coffee is catching up in popularity and is certainly a trendier choice — you'll find coffee shops galore in every city and town you visit.
Scotland has a number of breweries and microbreweries, producing beers and ales which are often only sold in the local area.
The most obviously associated drink with both Scotland and Ireland is of course whisky, which is produced widely across the country. Different regions use different distilling techniques and ingredients, which culminates in a wide variety of tastes from mild and fruity to strongly flavored, smoky liquors.
In general you'd only give tips to drivers/guides, to waiting staff in restaurants and to certain hotel staff. In restaurants, it is normal to tip around 10% of the total cost of the meal. Do check your bill first though, as some establishments will have added this on automatically.
Money & expenses
The currency used across the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling (GBP), more commonly known as the pound. You can pre-purchase GBP from currency exchange offices across the world, or at the airport prior to flying. You will find ATMs accepting all major credit and debit cards in all cities and towns, but if you are visiting rural areas you should make sure you have enough cash with you.
Although most shops and restaurants will accept credit card payments, you may incur a fee if you use your card for small amounts. American Express and Diners Club cards are not widely accepted.
Food and drink is not cheap across the country. Allow around £10-15pp for lunch each day (including drinks) and £20-30pp for a two-course dinner with drinks. The more exclusive restaurants, and hotel restaurants, may be more expensive but equally it is possible to find simpler, cheaper fare.
The international dialing code for the United Kingdom is +44. Phoning abroad from hotels can be expensive, although most hotels will also have complimentary Wi-Fi, which makes using programs such as Skype a viable option to speak to family at home.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
When to go to The UK
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to The UK.