Two things we’ve learned to appreciate from doing business in Scotland for 125 years are how to bake the best Scottish shortbread, and all the wonderful things Scotland has to offer. Here’s part one of our travel guide to help you plan your ultimate vacation experience in Scotland.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SCOTLAND?
You’ll want to visit at a time that will provide the experience best for you.
Scotland’s weather is at its warmest from June through August (with average temperatures of 59-66°F), and the warmer weather brings more activities and events to engage in across the country. However, June through August is also when Scotland is visited the most, making for more expensive visits with larger crowds of people.
Other popular times to visit Scotland are during the shoulder seasons in spring, early summer, or fall, when there aren’t as many tourists. If you don’t mind colder weather, winter is also an option. Although visiting Scotland during its shoulder and off-seasons comes with cooler weather, it does give tourists plenty of perks, like more freedom to explore with fewer crowds, lower prices for traveling, and the chance to witness the beautiful seasonal transformation of Scotland’s wildlife and countryside.
GETTING TO SCOTLAND
Glasgow and Edinburgh are both reachable via train services from London, and can also be easily accessed from other English towns and cities.
Once you’ve arrived in Scotland, you can travel around the country using its 4 main train stations: Edinburgh Waverley Station, Glasgow Central Station, Inverness Station, and Aberdeen Station. There are 5 railway routes that connect all of these train stations: the East Coast Mainline, the West Coast Mainline, the Highland Mainline, the West Highland Line, and the Borders Railway Line. The different routes can help you access the highlights and parts of Scotland that you want to see, with some areas that are only accessible by train.
HOW TO GET TO THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
The Scottish Highlands is a massive, mountainous region in northwest Scotland. It covers nearly 10,000 square miles and is full of some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery. With so much beauty on display, a visit to the Highlands is an unforgettable, romantic experience. Walker’s Speyside home where the majority of the country’s Whisky is distilled.
The region can be reached by car, train, bus, and plane.
Flexible and cost efficient, driving is the most popular way of reaching the Highlands. Because the country’s popular destinations and attractions are spread out from one another, using a rental car is the most efficient way of getting to them. Getting around Scotland with a rental car also gives you the freedom to explore Scotland on your own schedule.
If driving yourself isn’t viable, the highlands can also be reached by public transportation, the most inexpensive way of commuting to them.
The luxurious Caledonian Sleeper train runs between London and Scotland. You can catch this train from many Scottish train stations, such as Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly.
Towns in the Highlands, such as Fort William, Aviemore, and Inverness can be reached by other trains that run throughout Scotland. Inverness can also be reached directly and affordably by train from London.
There are also public buses in Scotland that go to the Highlands that travel from the town of Crianlarich all the way to Fort William, a town in the Highlands, and other Highland towns, as well as bus tours operated by private companies.
Another way to travel to the Highlands is by flying into Inverness Airport located in Dalcross, Scotland. Inverness Airport, which essentially serves as the Highlands’ main airport, offers flights to major cities all over the world, from London to New York. Flights from Inverness reach all of the Highland’s major islands, but come at a bigger financial and environmental cost than the other modes of travel.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS NEEDED
American citizens who travel to Scotland do not need a visa, but do require a valid passport. Additionally, as of this writing, there are no COVID-19-related travel rules for those arriving in Scotland from abroad, making it unnecessary to isolate or take tests before traveling.
Be sure to check back in September for Part Two of our Scottish Travel Tips which will include what to do, see, and most importantly, EAT!