Hints and Tips for Visitors to Scotland.

Hints and Tips for visitors to Scotland

The following information is Scotland focused, but most also applies to rest of the United Kingdom during the main touring season:

Clothing: Scotland has, subject to occasional extremes, a mild, wet climate. Bring:
  • Layers of relatively light clothing which can be added or subtracted as temperature dictates.
  • A light, waterproof/ rain jacket.
  • Sturdy footwear for navigating the various outdoor visitor attractions.
The foregoing does not apply to winter and extreme weather conditions.

Restaurants: Some High End restaurants will insist on a dress code but smart/casual wear is acceptable in the majority of cases.

Midges: These tiny insects are usually found in the Highlands and West of Scotland and are most active in the summer months. Bites can cause discomfort but are not usually serious. Various repellent proprietary creams and sprays can be purchased. Midges have greatest impact on participants in outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing.

Laundry: Laundromats and launderettes are available but it is best to research actual locations in advance.

Electrical Appliances: If visiting from overseas please bring suitable adapters. Alternatively, this equipment can usually be purchased at airport shops on arrival. Remember to bring chargers for mobile telephones and cameras.

Mobile Telephones/ Cell phones: If visiting from outside Britain it is best to ensure you have roaming facilities. Service can be unpredictable in some of the remoter parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Another option is to purchase a basic 'throwaway' 'phone on arrival at various mobile 'phone outlets. Cost could be around GBP15.00- GBP20.00 for 'phone plus prepaid time.

WiFi: Usually available in most hotels and lodgings plus some coffee shops, pubs and eateries.

Currency and Banknotes: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland use the British Pound (commonly known as the English Pound). However, banks operating in Scotland issue their own banknotes whereas in England all notes are issued by the Bank of England. Bank of England notes are accepted in Scotland but visitors should not rely on using Scottish notes outside of Scotland Prior to leaving Scotland it is best to change local bank notes for Bank of England notes, Euros or other currency as appropriate.

Passes for Visitor Attractions: 1. Historic Environment Scotland operates the majority of the castles and other popular visitor attractions. Either prior to or upon  arrival consider purchasing an 'Explorer Pass' which offers substantial discounts for visitors to multiple sites.Passes can be obtained on-line or at first visit site. 2. The National Trust for Scotland also operates a wide portfolio of heritage sites to access which visitors can purchase a 3 or 7 day 'Discover Ticket'. Visitors should review their itinerary in advance and determine which pass best suits needs.Information is available on line.

Disabilities: Most visitor attractions are accessible to the physically disabled/handicapped. However, checking in advance with each site is recommended. Wheelchair rental is possible from independent operators.

Distances: In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland official road measurements are expressed in miles whereas the Republic of Ireland uses Kilometres.

Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted but less so American Express and Diners Club, particularly outside major cities.

Travel/Trip Insurance: Visitors are reminded of the merits of purchasing suitable trip/travel insurance (with medical cover) prior to arrival. Whilst the National Health Service in Scotland ("N.H.S") is free at point of entry hospitals and other N.H.S. services have the right to charge non-residents.

Preparation for your visit: For guests who wish to undertake serious research prior to touring Scotland consider Magnus Magnusson’s Scotland The Story of a Nation ISBN 0 00 257148 X.

Tipping: Normal rate is 10pct for taxis and restaurants. If a restaurant menu states 'service is included' then there is no need to tip at all.

Travel in Remote Areas: Suggest  individual travel itinerary and schedule incorporate flexibility to allow for possible delays to ferry and flight schedules due to adverse weather conditions and other issues.

Additional Information for Self-Drive (Driving) Tours.
  • There is merit in either bringing, purchasing on arrival or renting a 'Sat Nav' (GPS) The postcodes specified for U.K. destinations ( e.g.GL54 2AF) should take you to within about 100 metres of your destination. 
  • You will require a cellphone (mobile telephone) which works in Scotland/U.K,
  • Emergency ‘phone number is: 999. The non-emergency medical helpline is 111.
  • You will require a Road Atlas as back-up for GPS ( Sat Nav). Such can be purchased at airport shops, petrol (gasoline) stations and retail outlets such as W.H. Smith. The author has found 'Scotland Visitors' A-Z Atlas & Guide' very helpful. ISBN is 978-1-84348-649-7.
  • Rules of the road with instructions for navigating roundabouts can be found online by using search online search term 'U.K. Highway Code'. Remember that in common with rest of the U.K. driving in Scotland is undertaken on the left hand side of the road.


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