If this is your first time coming to Scotland, have a read of what you need to know first to help you plan an epic journey to this magical land
Hint: Make space in your timeline for at least 5 days, more if you want to visit the Islands 😉
Scotland is a big and small country at the same time. South is where the majority of the 5 million residents live, but the vast territory of the Highlands and Islands is almost empty, except in summer during the tourist season of course, when there are traffic jams of vans and motorhomes!
If you’re coming via London, a quick flight or train trip is enough, my personal favourite is catching the Caledonian Sleeper in London Euston station the night before and waking up in Scotland. There are stops in Edinburgh, Inverness and Fort Williams.
Hint: I might try to catch the Caledonian to Inverness, get a car, tour Scotland and return it in Edinburgh, that way you can go different routes all the way and visit a little bit more of the country
The main motorway/freeway (no tolls in Scotland, yay!) coming from England is the M74 to Glasgow, and then you can head over to Edinburgh, Stirling and Perth. Further north, there won’t be any more high-speed roads, except some areas of the A9 to Inverness that can be a dual carriage-way. But, the rest of the country is a network of country roads and single-track roads. The last has a special etiquette that you might want to familiarise yourself with: slow down your speed, give way, never park on passing places, and always wave!
Also to keep in mind is the fauna… three types of animals to be aware of: Petrified stags on the road (mainly at dusk and dawn…), the usual slow sheep in the middle of the road and that suicidal pheasant…
Hint: just don’t speed
On the Highlands and Islands, be cautious to have your fuel (gas) tank at least half full. Stations are scarce so don’t trust driving on an almost empty tank!
Weather & Clothing
Scotland is a mild country, never that much cold, nor warm, but changing. Yes, you can have the four seasons in just one day! Wear a selection of layers, and waterproof is a must. Towards the west coast is extremely windy, so make sure you’re all wrapped in cosy and waterproof outfits, including sturdy or hiking footwear, also waterproof!
This is the perfect country to show up all your outdoorsy outfits 😉 and if you forget something, there will be an outdoors store almost everywhere!
Hint: waterproofs are your best friends, and make sure you get more than one fleece during your visit
Midges, the tiny monsters!
Summer in Scotland is notorious for the fierce midges. They are tiny, almost invisible, but can be deadly to the point of annoying you so much that you will end up all bitten the next day… best to avoid them using spray and making sure you’re in a windy area! They come mostly in around one hour after sunrise and will come back just before sunset
The West Highlands and Highlands are full of ticks 🙁 and sadly Lyme’s disease with many of them, so make sure you’re checking yourselves a thousand times in you’re hiking, even a small stroll!
The Highlands aren’t cheap, although they can be cheap depending on your travel skills and interests, but expect at least:
Accommodation – £80 min per night
Fuel – £50 per tank
Food – £15/20 per person
Highlands and Islands, for 2 week minimum: Inverness > NC500 > Isle of Skye > Western Isles > Oban > Glencoe > Edinburgh
Skye, at least a week: Inverness > Loch Ness > Fort Augustus > Eilean Donen Castle > Skye > Glencoe > Edinburgh
Viking lands, at least 2 weeks minimum: Inverness > Thurso > Orkney Islands > the Shetland Islands > Aberdeen > Edinburgh