Mr. and Mrs. My Vacation Lady spent 2 weeks in Bonnie Scotland in late May/early June 2024 and I have some really good info for you if you are interested in visiting Scotland.  We took an escorted group tour (our choice) but you can also rent a car and explore on your own or take trains or busses around the country.

Even with traveling around the country for 2 weeks, we still felt as though there was more to see that we missed but we did see a lot and have some great travel tips to share.

We stayed in 3 to 4 star hotels during our trip and had a few surprises.

Tips on Scotland Hotels:

  • None of the hotels had air conditioning.
  • The windows don’t open much (maybe 3-6 inches) and some don’t let in much air.
  • All rooms had a fan and if they don’t- ask for one.
  • As with most of Europe, the hotels didn’t have any wash cloths (or flannels as the Brits call them)
  • The bath tub entry were all very tall. While the standard US tubs are 14-16 inches in height, the average tubs in Scotland were about 20 inches (51 cm).  If you have issues with your knees or are very short, ask for a room with a shower.
  • Electric outlets are few and far between and sometimes no where near the bed.  If you need to have your phone, etc. near the bed, bring an extension cord and some duct tape (so you don’t trip over it)
  • Of course, bring UK plug adapters.

Money matters:

  • Both British and Scottish pounds are accepted but you don’t need much cash.
  • Credit cards (Mastercard and Visa) were accepted everywhere we went and most accepted Apple pay.  Check to make sure your credit card has a chip since they all used chip readers.
  • If there is a choice, ask for the purchase in LOCAL currency.  You’ll save some money on foreign exchange fees.
  • If you are on a tour or excursion, tips are appreciated in pounds vs. US $

Food in Scotland:

  • Don’t ask what is in the Haggis or Black Pudding (part of every breakfast).  Just eat it.  They were really good.  Had I looked up the ingredients, I never would have eaten them.
  • We found food prices to be very reasonable.  Even at tourist locations, you can still get a sandwich or soup or scones (yum!) for 2-5 pounds.
  • Water is safe to drink and if you bring a refillable bottle, you can refill them for free.
  • We had afternoon tea a the Domes in Edinburgh and it was fabulous.  We booked a 4:45pm reservation and it was more than enough for us to eat and we didn’t need dinner after tea.

Getting Around Scotland:

  • They drive on the wrong side of the road.  We didn’t feel comfortable driving which is why we took an escorted group tour and let someone else do the driving.
  • If you opt to drive, reserve an automatic car since it will be easier to drive without having to think about shifting gears.  Be careful on the roundabouts- they can take a bit of time to get used to.
  • In Edinburgh, the bus system is easy and cheap- 2 pounds per person or 5 pounds for a day pass.  Just tell the driver what ticket you want and tap your credit card.  Nice and easy.  You can pay in cash (coins)
  • We used a hop on hop off bus (the Grand 48) for 2 days to get around town on 3 different routes.  The first day we did the Edinburgh Tour (with a live English speaking guide) and on the 2nd day used the Majestic tour for both the Royal Yacht Brittania and the Botanical Gardens an switched between the City Sightseeing tour to get us around town.  It was nice to have the commentary of what we were seeing.  Take the head sets so you can listen to the commentary.
  • You can travel by rail or bus around the country as well.

Pre-book excursions and dinner reservations:

  • I always suggest pre-booking activities so you don’t miss out on what you want to see and do.  We had 11am advance tickets to the Royal Yacht Brittania so that we could plan our day around it.  Edinburgh Castle was sold out on the day we visited but our tickets were pre-booked with the tour.
  • If you want to eat at a specific restaurant, pre-reserve it.  While in Kirkwell in the Orkney Islands, we didn’t realize that there were 3 cruise ships docked and tried (unsuccessfully) 5 different restaurants before we were able to get a table for dinner on a Friday night.  They were all booked up in advance.

Clothing and what to pack will be in another blog since there is so much to consider.

Whether you are looking for an escorted tour or a fully independent vacation in Scotland, the team of travel professionals at My Vacation Lady can help.  We have the contacts and resources to make your Scottish vacation special.

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