Planning a Trip to Scotland, Part 1

by Keith Savage · 120 comments

Western Scotland

You want to go to Scotland.

At least, that’s the premise for this four part series on planning a trip to Scotland. I’ve planned countless trips to Scotland over the past 10 years, and now seems like a good time share my knowledge in the hopes that you will consider planning your own trip to Scotland!

After a destination has been chosen, I see the process of trip planning as four simple questions:

  1. When should I go?
  2. Where (within the destination) should I go?
  3. How much time do I want/need?
  4. How much will it cost me?

Each Monday this month I’ll tackle one of these questions and share my Scotland trip-planning tips. Each question bears on the others and I’ll point out these areas to help make decisions easier. For example, when you should go might depend on your trip budget and where you want to go might depend on how much time you have.

Are you with me? Good. Here are three areas to consider when thinking about when you should go to Scotland.


Specific events will dictate when you visit Scotland. The country is loaded with world-famous cultural events, from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Hogmanay to loads of folk music, highland games, and whisky festivals throughout the land. If you want to take in the Fringe Festival then you’re going in August. If it’s Hogmanay and Burns’ Supper you’re interested in, then you’re looking at late December and January.

In addition to Scotland’s major events, related smaller-scale events seem to cluster at certain times of the year. Highland games tend to occur in August/September, whisky festivals occur in the spring and fall, as many distilleries go “silent” during summer months, and folk music festivals span the warmer half of the year.

You’re probably aware if events are driving your visit to Scotland. If that’s the case much of your decision of when to go is complete. I still recommend that you read the following sections as they can help you position your trip on either side of the desired events.

Climate and Weather

Climate and weather played a huge role in my decision to visit Argentina late last year, and it figures into the earliest stages of most trip plans. There are many jokes about Scotland’s weather and misconceptions about the greater United Kingdom’s situation (e.g., it’s always raining), so let’s get the facts straight.

Scotland has a temperate maritime climate, which is typically experienced as highly variable but rarely extreme weather. There’s little reason to pout if it’s drizzling and foggy when you wake up; it could be sunny and breezy by late morning. Scotland is a northerly country at a latitude with Scandinavia, Russia, and Labrador and middle Canada, but it’s not nearly as cold as these comparisons because Scotland, like the rest of the United Kingdom, benefits from the Atlantic gulf stream that brings in warmer winds from the southwest. This weather system also modulates Scotland’s average temperatures, which fall between 32F and 68F throughout the year. This equates to cool summers and wet winters.

Rain falls often in this part of the world, but downpours and extended bouts of rainy days thankfully are not the norm. Low average rainfalls and long days with more sunshine coincide between April and September, so this period is an ideal place to start when planning your trip.

High/Low/Shoulder Seasons

Whether or not you take tourism seasons into account is largely a function of your budget and how well you put up with crowds of tourists. High tourism season in Scotland occurs from June through August, with August being the busiest month due to the incredible number of festivals at this time (especially in Edinburgh) and holidays for many UK residents. It’s also an incredibly beautiful time of year.

Shoulder season represents April, May, September, and October. In these months, the bulk of tourist destinations are ramping up or winding down and the overall feel is a bit slower around the country. Hours of operation can be irregular and need to be double-checked.

Low season starts in October and runs through early April. The weather gets wetter, the days shorter, and the hours for popular destinations like castles, distilleries, and parks change. Some places like B&Bs close up altogether though some open for a short time around Christmas and Hogmanay.

My Recommendation

Assuming cultural events and festivals aren’t dictating your travels to Scotland, I’ve found May, June, and September to represent the best time to go to Scotland. In May and June, the weather is generally good and the days are very long – it was light until 11pm in Inverness around the Summer Solstice. September sees the dissipation of August’s crowds and the first touches of Autumn’s gorgeous light. Both times take advantage of Scotland’s shoulder seasons so the crowds are lighter and the prices lower.

If you’re heading to Scotland to attend specific events and want to tack on some additional time, add it in the direction of the shoulder seasons. The weather is often just as good as the heart of summer and the crowds (and prices) will be lower. August is a month I would avoid unless you’re aiming for the festivals as prices will be higher, accommodation harder to book, and many attractions extremely busy with tourists.

Need more help planning that trip to Scotland? Check out the Scotland trip-planning services I offer.Β Also, continue on to part 2.

Original photo by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL’s photostream via Flickr under Creative Commons

Annette PriestNo Gravatar May 27, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Thank you for your reply to my earlier question. Now for some advice. My husband and I have booked flights to arrive in Glasgow on 28/7/14. We would take the train straight to Oban were we have booked 1 nights accommodation before heading to stay with relatives near Mull for 4 nights. We have then booked 2 nights accommodation in Fort William and at that time will decide either to walk the Great Glen Way (subject to weather and accommodation) or hire a car and tour the north before heading to Perthshire for walking and cycling. Our last 3 nights will be spent in Glasgow before flying home on 27/8/14. My question is would we be wiser to put our trip back 2 weeks to avoid the UK school holidays at an additional airline fee of $300 or would be OK leaving our plans as they are? Your advice and comments would be appreciated.

KenNo Gravatar May 22, 2014 at 10:52 PM

Hi Keith,

I will be driving from Inverness to Edinburgh after visiting Glasgow, Loch Lomond and Fort William. Should I take the route via Perth or Aberdeen? Which route offers better scenic view along the way? Thanks

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 23, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Hi Ken,

I prefer the A9 route south from Inverness that skirts the Cairngorms National Park and takes you through the forested heart of Perthshire.

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar May 23, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Inverness – Nairn, Grantown on Spey, Tomintoul, Braemar, Blairgowrie, Perth, Edinburgh – takes in two mountains ranges, plus high Northern moorland and is just very scenic (try to see Lochindorb and the Wolf of Badenoch’s island fortress hidden away on the moor, North of Grantown. Difficult to locate as no road signs,but off on a tiny unmarked road for two miles to the right as you drive Southwards..

Takes about 90 minutes to two hours longer than the A9 – WORTH IT!! Willie

KenNo Gravatar May 23, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Thanks Keith.

AnnetteNo Gravatar May 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

My husband and I will arrive from Australia in Oban on 29th July to spend some time with relatives in this area. My cousin lives here in July and August each year thus our restriction with travel months. We would like to do a long distance walk in the Highlands and wonder what you would suggest. We thought we would leave the West Highland Way, Loch Lomond area till mid August so were considering the Great Glen Way or John Muir Way. Although we are fit and walk 8 to 13 ks most days on flat paths and have done day bush walks we have never done continuous long distance walking. Your suggestions would be appreciated.
Also is it necessary to prebook a walking tour with a company or can we use a baggage drop service and organise our own accommodation along the way, bearing in mind that we will be walking in the last week or 2 of the school holidays.
Thank you

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Hi Annette,

Walking one of Scotland’s great walkways has been a dream of mine that I have yet to fulfill. I’ve heard great things about the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way, so this latter walk would be my suggestion. Many if not most of the accommodations along these routes do baggage drops. It is *not* necessary to prebook a walking tour with a company – you can do it on your own, though I would recommend checking on the baggage drop service with the accommodations you select. This leaflet might be of interest to you:'s%20Great%20Trail%20leaflet.pdf

All the best,

KarenNo Gravatar May 16, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Four of us are traveling to Scotland September 15-24, 2014. Is that too late in the month to enjoy sights and mostly decent weather? Also, can we get around by public transportation – bus, train – between Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, and Largs? Should we buy train tickets in advance from the US?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Hi Karen, it’s definitely not too late in the month to enjoy the sights or weather, as it were. The weather is consistently cool, which is nice for planning, depending on your point of view. September and May are my favorite months to visit Scotland. Public transportation will serve all your needs and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance. The only reason to do so would be peace of mind.

ReenaNo Gravatar May 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM

hi Keith
can u suggest me the best attractions in Scotland?can i take my baby (1 yr n 4 mnths old)in a tour bus or a train? i m confused about my my husband n our frns are planing in May it safe to take baby there. how will b the climate there in May…???? looking forward to hear frm u soon…thank uuuu

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 13, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Hi Reena,

This site is all about suggesting the best Scotland has to offer. I suggest you spend some time digging through the archives here. Yes, you can bring a baby on trains and buses. May is a beautiful month to visit Scotland. Expect temperatures in the 45F-65F range.

momoyNo Gravatar May 2, 2014 at 5:52 AM

hai.. glad i found you blog and read about you trip to Scotland.. btw am Momoy from Malaysia been thinking to go there this year.. my question is do i need visa to go there and do i need some total money that allow me enter that country? what issue i may facing to enter that country?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 2, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Hi Momoy,

According to this page, you will need a visa to visit Scotland. You don’t need to have money specifically to enter the country, though of course it will help make your trip enjoyable πŸ˜‰

Mike HancharNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Dayna ,
Why not try North Berwick to the east of Edinburgh ? It`s a short train ride away , they go quite frequently , and North Berwick has a beautiful beach , as well as The Law which gives absolutely fantastic views for miles around , not to mention Tantallon Castle as well . It`s a very beautiful place , and makes a great day trip if that`s what your looking for .

Dayna HerzNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Thank you Mike…I’m open to all suggestions. I’ll check that out!

Dayna HerzNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Can you recommend a good day trip from Edinburgh by train? We’re doing a one day bus tour at the begining of our trip to the highlands, are staying at The Missoni Hotel and would like to see beautiful scenery and a different direction, possibly coastal?…. No car rental so we’re thinking hopping a train would be a good option. Any suggestions?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Hi Dayna,

Mike’s suggestion below is a good one. I’d also recommend taking the train up to Perthshire and a place like Dunkeld. Nice, forested hills south of the Cairngorms National Park. Sounds far but the journey is only 90-minutes each way, I believe. Good hiking in the area, too.

Dayna HerzNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Thank you! I love your blog πŸ™‚ I’m making notes on everything.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Glad to hear it! πŸ™‚

BrittanyNo Gravatar April 7, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Hi Keith,

I learned just today that I’ll be visiting Scotland the first week of May. It will be a first visit for both of us. We are planning to fly into Edinburgh Sun am. My husband has meetings in Edinburgh Tues and Wed (won’t be all day meetings though.) We then plan to fly out that following Saturday. We are looking into how to extend our trip on the front end but it looks like we’ll have 6 full days at a minimum. Any recommendations on where to visit for side trips? What must we do? Not sure if/when we would get back. We love scenery. Based on the very little research I’ve done, the Isle of Skye looks breathtaking. Could be too far from Edinburgh though with the little time we have? We are most interested in scenery/sight-seeing (castles, etc.). We are not big whiskey drinkers (although I’m sure some of the tours are great) and could care less about golf.

Any suggestions are appreciated…thanks!

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar April 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Brittany, It is a 12 hour round trip to Skye and while it is beautiful, all of Scotland’s islands are lovely. I suggest you go to the Isle of Arran. The tourist board call it Scotland in Miniature and for once, they have it right and it has it all – mountains, lochs, beaches, glens, waterfalls, river, streams, highland cattle, 4,500 year old standing stone circles, Viking and prehistoric forts, a distillery, a brewery, even golf courses – oh that’s right, you don’t care about golf :o) There are some nice hotels, but our favourite, which we use regularly, is It is about 90 minutes drive from Edinburgh to Ardrossan from where the 55 minute crossing goes to Arran. Rent a car from us and you can see loads. There is a little ferry which comes off the Northern tip of Arran to Claonaig on the Mull of Kintyre and there is a lovely drive from there to Oban and then you can either visit the islands of Mull and Iona, or you can slowly make your way back to Edinburgh, via Callender and Stirling. Have fun, Willie

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Hi Brittany,

Willie offers some solid advice, and to complement it I would also suggest the Scottish Borders around Melrose/Kelso for a rich side-trip filled with castles and ruined abbeys. I’m also quite a big fan of Perthshire’s forested vales just south of the Cairngorms, places like Dunkeld and Pitlochry. Both Perthshire and the Borders are easy trips from Edinburgh. You needn’t hustle off to Skye for great scenery, that’s for sure.


BrittanyNo Gravatar April 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Thanks so much Keith & Willie! We fly into Edinburgh at 9:45 am on a Friday and we don’t have to be back in Edinburgh until the following Monday night. Perhaps Isle of Skye is not so far fetched anymore? πŸ™‚ We’ll be in Edinburgh Tues & Wed but we have 2 more free days on Thurs & Fri until we fly out Saturday am. Any revised recommendations to the itinerary suggestions above? Yikes, 2 weeks to get everything planned!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 15, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Two extra days? Nah, I wouldn’t change anything. That’ll just give you extra time to soak in the places you’ve chosen. You could easily do Skye with four days and go farther afield if you like, but there’s no need.

BrittanyNo Gravatar April 23, 2014 at 10:13 AM

If going from Edinburgh > Arran > Oban > Mull/Iona, where would you recommend staying each night? Will be spending 4 days/3 nights before heading back to Edinburgh. Thanks!

KenNo Gravatar April 3, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Hi Keith,

I am Ken from Singapore. My family of 8 intend to visit Scotland in Jun this year. We plan to rent a car to move from Edinburgh to isle of Skye in 7 days. Is it a good idea to move around in car? Is it easy to get accommodation as I move along or do you thick I should book accommodation in advance? Thanks.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 3, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Hi Ken,

A car is definitely the way to go, but with 8 people you will either need the largest vehicle possible or two separate cars. I toured around Scotland in a huge Mercedes van one year – there were six of us – and we still had a little room to spare. I recommend booking accommodation in advance as a rule of thumb, and especially since you’ll be on Skye in June. That will be a fairly busy tourist time for the isle. Not to mention with 8 people it will be very hard to simply drop in on B&Bs seeking rooms day of. Many B&Bs can’t even accommodate groups of that size. Definitely book ahead!

KenNo Gravatar April 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Hi Keith,

Thank you very much for the advice. Will book ahead.

KenNo Gravatar April 8, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Hi Keith,

I will be going to Edinburgh in June for 6 days. I intend to visit Stirling castle, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Fort William, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness, Inverness and back to Edinburgh by car. Any suggestion on the route to take. Thanks

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 9, 2014 at 7:06 AM

Hi Ken,

One option would be start in Edinburgh and drive up to Stirling. Continue on west through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and then north to Glen Coe. Keep going north and you’ll hit Fort William and Ben Nevis, and then you can dart up the A82 along Loch Ness to Inverness. On the return trip just follow the A9 south to Edinburgh – you’ll have the benefit of driving along the Cairngorms National Park and through Perthshire. Enjoy!

KenNo Gravatar April 9, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Hi Keith,

Thank you very much for the suggestion.

JoyceNo Gravatar March 6, 2014 at 1:40 PM

I am planning a 10 day trip for 2015 to Scotland for a group of 5 people – which includes a 4 year old. Can you suggest lodgings that would be near the main points of attraction (Edinburgh area) which we can be a home base for the entire trip and we make day trips to various areas – would like to possibly drive to Orkney Island area too.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Posts I’ve written about accommodations should give you some ideas: Otherwise sites like Trip Advisor, VisitScotland, and Sawday’s, depending on budget, are good places to look for accommodations.

Keep in mind that driving to Orkney takes the best part of a day, and you must time your driving to the ferry schedules. I drove back from Orkney to Edinburgh on my last trip. We took the 7am-ish ferry from Stromness to Scrabster and were in Edinburgh by 3 or 4pm.

PaolaNo Gravatar February 24, 2014 at 2:44 AM

Hi Keith,
I really want to visit Scotland this year in April, to rent a car and just travel around.
Since will me my first time is the area, 8-9 days will be enough? what you will recommend to visit? can you let me know the budget for this? to rent a car, B&B houses, etc , It is safe to travel by myself (girl)?
So many questions! πŸ™‚
I hope you can help me , thanks!!!!

MeganNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 4:04 AM

Hey Paola. If you’re willing to postpone your trip, and haven’t already bought a ticket, I’ll be going to Scotland this June from the 2nd-17th.

PaolaNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 4:10 AM

Hi Megan,
Thanks for the offer but must be April, I am going to celebrate my B-day πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 25, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Hi Paola,

The best thing to do is have a read through my Scotland Itinerary Ideas and Best of Scotland articles. These will give you a strong idea of what and where I consider to be great places to visit. My section on Accommodations also highlights places I’ve stayed and enjoyed.

The estimated budget for any trip depends on where you fall on the budget/luxury spectrum and what your home currency is. Just speaking in dollars, it will probably run between $500-$1000 USD not including airfare.

Scotland is a safe country for solo travelers and women, but just as anywhere you ought to use common sense and care when traveling at night and in cities.

Hope this helps. Enjoy the trip!

Kim CameronNo Gravatar February 17, 2014 at 8:19 AM

My hubby John and I are planning a trip to Scotland this June 12-27/14.
We are sooooo excited as both never been and both our families originate from there . My hubby’s dream is rent a a motorcycle & tour 3-7 days . Any suggestions on where get good info ?
Also B n B & pub accommodation ?
Kim & John Cameron Barrie Ont Canada

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Hi Kim & John,

I can point you to a couple of pages here on Traveling Savage with information about accommodation and pubs:

That should give you a good start. Beyond that B&Bs are literally everywhere in Scotland and many hotels with excellent bars are littered hither and yon even in the most remote places. I recommend figuring our your ideal journey and then look for places to stay along that route.

Unfortunately I don’t have any recommendations for motorcycling touring at this point.

martaNo Gravatar February 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Hi Keith,

Thank you for your informative articles on Scotland! My friend and I are planning another trip to Scotland for 2 1/2 weeks and can go in either May or October of this year (2014). We were there (but only for 5 days) the last week of April in 2013. It was still rather cold and wintery looking (snow only on mountain tops but still melting and no leaves on trees, most hills were brown or gold). A local said it was a “late winter” that year and although the “after winter” look was still quite beautiful, we were wanting to go this time when the hills were a bit greener and the trees were a bit more lush. It was also quite cold when we were there in late April last year which doesn’t bother me but my friend gets cold easily. My question is, do you think it would be greener and more leafy in May (approx. the 2nd & 3rd week of May) or October (2nd & 3rd week of Oct.)? I’m thinking the weather would be about the same at both those times, but I could be wrong. From some of the pictures I’ve seen on line, it looks like a lot of the mountains have already turned gold and brown in October, but I’ve only seen a few that specify October. We’ve also been to Scotland in June and August and it was gorgeous but can’t go in summer this year. Our destinations are Edinburgh, Highlands (various places), Skye & Lewis. We love Scotland and enjoy being immersed in the solitude of its natural beauty. Thank you!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Hi Marta,

I’d choose May. I’ve been to Scotland in both May (many times) and October, and May has always been a lush, green time. You’ll be fine especially in the second or third week.

MeganNo Gravatar February 9, 2014 at 3:12 AM

Greetings, it has always been my dream to visit Scotland. So I decided for my 25th birthday in June that I’m going to go. I am not planning on going on a scheduled tour guide that way I can set my own pace. I will be going alone and wanted to get any advice from an expert such as yourself. Would you recommend hostels? Any help or advice would be great!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 9, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Hostels are ubiquitous, generally very safe, and often excellent all across Scotland. Some have been recognized as the best in Europe. As for other help/advice, it looks like you’ve already found my other planning articles. If you have specific questions please feel free to email me.

glen davidNo Gravatar January 27, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Hi keith, thank you for this article. we will be visiting scotland first week of march ’14. Edinburgh – glasgow/stirling – oban (and back to Edinburgh) and a bit of everything we manage to visit on that way (traveling by car after 3 nights in Edinburgh). Anything we should know since we seem to go at a quite unusual time in the year? We do check the opening hours of the main attractions we want to see and will probably book hotels and b&b’s in advance due to the limited servicing times. My main concern is that we go in march. Would appreciate your insights;)
Thanks Dave

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Hi Dave, the main thing is just to check on the opening times of accommodations and attractions, which you’re already on top of. I’ve visited Scotland in March and it wasn’t much different than visiting it at other times of the year, except perhaps a little colder. πŸ™‚

Mike HNo Gravatar January 24, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Hi Keith ,
A bit of a kindred spirit perhaps … I myself love Scotland very much . I have been there now 5 times , off there once again in a couple months for my 6th trip . As you have , I have been there at different times during the year , and agree that May , and September are probably my favourite times to go , for the reasons you mention and others .
However , I have been in January as well , and was surprised at how green it was , and actaullay enjoyed a beautiful warm sunny day on the sandy beach at Aberdeen with many others in the middle of January , so being from Canada myself was quite a treat ! You never know what your going to get . Although it depends on what your looking for , as far as I`m concerned there`s no ” bad ” time to go to Scotland .
As for destinations , I believe the same applies . Each time I go , I travel around the country and always try to add in new places I haven`t been before . I never tire of it , there is just so much to see . After 5 trips I have to say I have seen quite a bit of the country so far , but still so much more to see .
And it is actually so easy to get around as well I find , I always travel by train and bus and just go wherever I feel like going . It`s very easy . And cheap , if you do just a bit of planning in advance .
Anyway , definately another lover of Scotland here my friend !

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Hi Mike,

My first trip to Scotland was in January, and sad to say but the weather was not good. Very damp and rainy/snowy. The funny is that you can get that kind of weather at almost any time of the year in Scotland, so I agree with you that there’s no wrong time to go.

TiaNo Gravatar January 16, 2014 at 4:03 PM

I was wondering what you think of late October as a time of year to travel to Scotland. My fiancΓ© and I are getting married the 17th of October and are thinking of Scotland for our honeymoon!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 16, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Hi Tia,

It depends on where you go and what you’re hoping to do. I spent my honeymoon in Scotland and it included the last week of September and the first week of October. All of my time was spent in Speyside and the Orkney Islands. It was quite cool in general and often very cold and windy in Orkney. At that latitude, the days are noticeably shorter and there are far fewer people around. All that said, I don’t regret it at all as Orkney had special significance for us. I would caution you to think about these factors, though.

LakshNo Gravatar January 15, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Will the scottish countryside be green in April/may?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 15, 2014 at 9:07 AM


RichardNo Gravatar December 29, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Headed to Edinburg, Inverness (Culloden), isle of Skye , Glasgow and to see my 21st great grandfather’s castle, Bernard Castle. Will do this in July. I’d welcome a recommendation on a car rental company, any good b&b’s along the way and since I am also headed all the way south to Bernard Castle (and running out of time by then) which is the best drive to Bernard Castle? From Glasgow or from Edinburg? Thanks!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Hi Richard. I always use Celtic Legend when I rent a car in Scotland. Willie offers good prices and great service. This link will help you read about all of my recommended accommodations.

Do you mean Barnard Castle in northern England. If so, it will be quickest to drive from Glasgow there on the M74/M6/A6, but if you drive from Edinburgh you can follow the leisurely A68 through abbey country in the Scottish Borders, which ought to be beautiful.

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar December 31, 2013 at 3:38 AM

Thanks for the recommendation, Keith. The A68 is definitely the nicest route if coming from Edinburgh, but if in a hurry, the A1, then A1(M) will be the faster of the two routes.

ElsaNo Gravatar December 10, 2013 at 1:40 AM

I found your website extremely useful.But I am afraid, I was unable to find any info on best places to travel to during December( that might be because it is the worst time to travel to Scotland :)).Nevertheless, me and my friend who is only here on a holiday for a week are thinking of travelling to Scotland.We have rented a car(but that’s all we have done in terms of exact planning) Any suggestions on what all places must/can be seen in 3 days?? It is our first trip to Scotland.
Thank you.

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar November 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Very easy to answer this, Mark. There are no tours that do that North And Western coast. The most beautiful and remote part of the Scottish mainland and what makes it so remote and satisfying to visit, apart, of course, from the outstanding scenery, is the fact that so few other visitors reach that far and certainly very, very few coach trips. In January, it has to be said, not many trips are operating anywhere. Companies like Rabbies might have some going, but mostly short day trips. When the sun rises at 09:00 and sets before 16:00, there is not much time to go anywhere.

Mark TateNo Gravatar November 17, 2013 at 12:50 AM

Hi, my wife and I wish to do Northern Scotland and throguh the west coast in January 2015. We wanted to join a tour, but can’t find any that operate in winter, maybe you know of something?

We are happy to drive ourselves, and are interested in nature and the beautiful highlands, but want to go as far north as we can and then head south along the west coast.

we will have about 2 weeks.

if theres any type of info, links etc.. than that would be fantastic!

Thank you,

Mark Tate

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 17, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Hi Mark,

What Willie said below. Winter is a tough time to find tours in Scotland, and especially the area you’re seeking to go.

RandyNo Gravatar October 31, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I visited Skye in June of 2011 and it was beyond amazing. I hope to go back in July of 2014. I have some photos from my trip on my website.

AlexNo Gravatar October 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM

I am going to Edinburgh for a week to 10 days in the coming Feb., where will be your suggestion for looking around, which is not too far away from Edinburgh?

For your information, I had visited the areas from Oban to Fort Augustus in this summer.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 10, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Hi Alex,

There is so much to do in an around Edinburgh that you’re spoiled for choice. First off, have a browse through the articles I’ve written on the region:

Since you mentioned spots around Edinburgh, I suggest considering Glasgow, Loch Lomond, the Perthshire towns of Dunkeld and Pitlochry, Fife’s East Neuk villages, Glenkinchie distillery, Stirling, Falkirk, and the abbeys of the Scottish Borders. You could make day trips from Edinburgh for a month straight without growing bored.


Willie WallaceNo Gravatar September 19, 2013 at 1:56 PM

It can be rainy, foggy and damp at any time, as Keith knows, Aidan. I just got in the door from a whisky tour on Islay and other places and while it has been gale force winds off and on, sun and heavy showers all day, it meant that every 20 minutes, there was a brilliant rainbow or part of one somewhere. Fabulous!

The biggest problem will be attractions and accommodations being closed. You might be lucky with accommodation, as many stay open until New Year and then have a break until Easter. For ideas about ANYWHERE in Scotland, the best possible site is

I am supposed to be an expert on Scotland and I still love looking at this site!

Booking a cottage or a cabin for one of your weeks is a great idea and at that time, it is going to be much cheaper than normal. If you want to be remote, there are some nice places on an estate on the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula. Beautiful, but stock up with groceries and whisky before you head off. There won’t be a supermarket around the corner. From GBP253 per week –

is a good site about the general area and below is a place which might suit, at only GBP280 per week and actually walking distance from two shops and I believe, the local bar, but still remote, is

Hope that helps. Just go for it. The days are short in November, but that means you can hurry back to an open fire, in some places and the wee one above has underfloor heating. Yummy!

AidanNo Gravatar September 16, 2013 at 8:31 AM


We are having a very difficult time deciding if we should take a trip to Scotland early November of this year.
It’s a last minute get away for my husband and I, we want a romantic get away, Scotland has always been at the top of our wish list of places to go.
Our priorities are to site see and have a relaxing visit. We have 2 weeks and are traveling from eastern Canada.
Is it miserable in November?
Does everything shut down this time of year? We would like to go to pub’s see some live music visit castles, do some hiking.
We have friends to visit in St Andrews who say Scotland is the best place on earth all year round.
We are on a budget. We would like to save where we can but still have a nice trip, accommodations are important to us. We would be open to renting a cabin and taking day trips.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Hi Aidan,

Fair warning: I have not been to Scotland in November. However, November is in the “low” tourist season so some things might not be open or have reduced hours of opening. This is true as a rule, but there are always exceptions and I encourage you to research places you’d like to visit to ensure they will be open should you visit in the fall.

If you don’t have specific places to visit in mind, just thinking generally, then consider what types of activities you like. Hiking and pubs care not what time of year it is – they’re always available. Castles are a different story and even have strange hours in the summer months.

I’ll say this: My first trip to Scotland was in January and it enthralled me. Yes it was rainy, foggy, and damp cold, but it was a beautiful place. How badly do you want to go? Is it November or never? If so, go!

KanchanNo Gravatar September 9, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Hi Keith,
Thx for info on Scotland that is being shared on this forum. It is helpful.
I am planning a last minute trip to Scotland ( from Nottingham) as soon as next week and I would need a few suggestion from you:

1. Appropriate Sequence for travel to the below mentioned places
Loch ness
Isle of Sykes
Fort William
Whiskey tour
Lake district (unsure if it’s worth a visit. I hv mixed feedback for this place)

2. Area where I could hunt for an accommodation. I would be traveling by public transport within Scotland and hence it would be important for me to stay at places closer to tourist attractions plus good coonectivity/ access to public transport is available. Could you suggest a few places.

3. Hv heard that one could stay at Glasgow and travel to the above places which is a convenient option.
Is this true?


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Hi Kanchan,

Windsor and the Lake District, being in England and far away from the rest of those places, would need to be either at the beginning or end of your trip. Within Scotland, I like Edinburgh as a starting point, then Inverness, Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, For William, and finally Glasgow. Your best bet for a great whisky tour is in the Speyside region, so you could wedge that in between Edinburgh and Inverness.

Using a combination of trains and buses should allow you to visit all of these places with ease. That said, you will likely want to stay in towns on the larger side of the spectrum so that you have more transportation options. Good places include Edinburgh, Inverness, Fort William (though it’s not the loveliest place to stay), and Glasgow.

I suppose it’s possible to spend the entire trip in Glasgow and get to many of these places, but I would never recommend doing that. In fact, it could well be impossible if you don’t have your own car and thus own schedule. Put it out of your mind.

TaliaNo Gravatar July 31, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Hi there,
I’m coming for a family celebration in Febuary but i’d love to take a week by myself to travel around the countryside. How bad is Febuary?? I’m looking for the great scenery and atmosphere and an easy place to hang and wander around by myself (not in the citys). I tend to be too naive hoping things will just flow but I even don’t come from a wintery country! My main question is whether there is some options for the winter that you can think about? off-course it’s not ideal, but what can still be just great and not a suffer?

Many Thanks!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 1, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Hi Talia,

Scotland can be beautiful in February, as it can be in any month. There are fewer B&Bs and attractions open in the winter time, so I would be careful about winging it too freely. Your experience will really turn on the weather, and no one can predict it. I imagine you’ll be able to find an atmospheric place to hang out and enjoy the scenery.

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar June 28, 2013 at 3:40 PM

hi Alicia.

Take Isla to the beautiful island of Islay. People there are lovely and friendly and always like children named after their home, (even if she wasn’t ;o)

How log do you intend to travel to Scotland? Or are you intending to move here? That is not a budget, that is a year’s allowance :o) The first time I went travellin, I spent six months going around Europe and left for the trip with GBP100. A bit of work here and there helped, but still, $50K is a huge amount of money. I dont want you to think I am jealous :o)

Seriously now, how long are you looking to travel? There are so, so many places to stay. You want to socialise? then have you ever looked at Meetup groups? They are found all over the world and are generally safe and cool groups who meet to share a particular liking for everything. In Edinburgh for example, there are hundreds of them from wine meetups to hill climbing meetups, from kayaking meetups to clubbing and beer appreciation, photography to gentle jaunts, cinema to …. you name it, there is probably a meetup.. Loads more I can’t even think of. Have a look at They meet in public places and like I say, they are a really safe way of meeting new people in a new town. You can join groups on line and then you will be included in their notices about planned meetups and you can scan and see if you are interested, long before you reach Scotland and even contribute to their forums to try and meet people in advance.

If you are travelling in Scotland, you need a car. if you are staying a long time, you might be best to lease one for six months or more. Make money go further by booking small apartments, rather than hotels . Here are properties currently availablein Inverness for around GBP600 a month. I stayed in Inverness last night in the Premier Inn Hotel and with breakfast, paid GBP77 for a room. The Premier Inn chain is one of the best value, low priced chains around. Staying anywhere else on Ness bank near the centre would have cost me closer to GBP110 a night. You can rent an apartment for GBP600 for 30 nights or a hotel for GBP110 for one night. Admittedly, these are not holiday flats and you may have to book for two months or more, but you get the idea. Here is a very long link to look at the page. Cut and paste it into a URL line. Good luck and give me more information about the length of your visit and possibly somebody can help you.

AliciaNo Gravatar June 27, 2013 at 6:59 AM

Hi Keith, I plan to take my baby girl (Isla) over to Scotland May 2014 (she’ll be 2 & a half by then).
I have no friends or family over there & wondering what do you recommend for a single mum & her baby girl? Our budget (including airfare from Australia) will be $40-$50k). Also, are there (safe enough) forums I can meet people before we leave. Would be nice to socialise a little along the way πŸ™‚
Thanks for this & I look forward to hearing from you when you’re able.

MindyNo Gravatar May 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

We’re traveling in Scotland May 27-June 7. Do we need to take insect repellant? (driving Perth, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Edinburgh.) Thanks!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I’ve brought insect repellant a couple of times but never used it. Midges could/would be your biggest problem at this time, but again, I’ve never had an issue with them and I’ve been pretty much everywhere in Scotland during the time period you’ll be there.

Joyce MillerNo Gravatar May 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

I am considering flying to Scotland and then try to book tours within. Is that possible?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Hi Joyce,

Absolutely, though you should be mindful of the time of year you’ll be there and just how busy it might be, tourism-wise.

SaskiaNo Gravatar May 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Some friends and I are going to Scotland Aug 6 – 13.
We’ll be in Edinburgh for 4 days and then heading north to Aberdeen for another 4 days. Can you give me suggestions on what to see? Oh and some great pubs, we plan to crawl our way through Scotland. Are the distilleries still open this time of year?
Lots of questions.
Thank you for responding.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Hi Saskia,

Here are some links that ought to help you:

Most distilleries are open year round, though their hours change in the winter, except for one month when they go silent for cleaning and installing new fittings. This silent season, as it’s called, is different for every distillery so you’ll need to check.

Sounds like you might be there for the Fringe. Enjoy your trip!

Jennifer M.No Gravatar March 26, 2013 at 10:36 PM

Good Evening,

I am not sure you will even get this question, but I will try anyway…..

My sister and I would love to plan a trip to Scotland in 2015.

1.) Best time of year (you say April-September). She hates large crowds, and I could care less. September? We are really in it for the scenery.
2.) Best places to visit for first timers? Scenery, festivals, pubs…….

Thank you in advance!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 27, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Hi Jennifer,

1) You really can’t go wrong with May, June, or early September. You never quite know what you’re going to get with the weather in Scotland, but these are months in which I’ve had epic stretches of sunshine.

2) My favorite scenery hot spots are forested Perthshire, the mountainous Cairngorms, and the truly magnificent west highlands (driving west from Inverness toward Skye and south all the way to Glasgow – also north to Ullapool and beyond). I also really love Orkney’s austere beauty.

If you hate large crowds I recommend that you skip Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival in August. Otherwise, you won’t run into large crowds really anywhere in Scotland. There are plenty of folk music festivals throughout the country during the year. Really, the best advice I can offer you for recommendations is to browse this site – I’ve put everything I like here!

Have fun,

Jennifer M.No Gravatar March 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Thank you so very much for your quick response!

I love the crowds….it’s my sister who does not. I will browse your entire site and take a lot of notes!!!

Thank’s again!

JohnNo Gravatar January 25, 2013 at 7:48 AM

This is a great site. Lots of useful info. Never been to Scotland and we’ve wanted to go for years. Planning on going mid-May. Not quite sure where to start or where to go! (am in same boat as Jen). Is travelling around easy? Should I rent a car or depend/use rail or bus instead? What shape are the roads like?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Hey John, if you always dreamed of going to Scotland, what are the characteristics of that dream? Is it your perception of the scenery, the history, the whisky, the golf, etc. that draws you in? Start there. I can say unequivocally that a first trip to Scotland should include Edinburgh and some time in the highlands. The roads are generally very good and easy to navigate. I always rent a car, but then I like to ramble around, off the beaten path, and see what I find out in the countryside. Trains are also very good but obviously limited to where the tracks run, though you can surely craft a satisfying trip that only uses trains.

Have a look around here – check out the categories at the bottom of the site or the tags on the right – and let me know if you have other questions.

MOlly tokazNo Gravatar January 16, 2013 at 9:09 AM

As far as the best time to go to scottland, what do you think about the end of April. Oh say from the 20-28th? And my main goal would be to do some beautiful hikes, spend time in the outdoors, explore Edinburgh…

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 16, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Hi Molly, that’ll be a good time to go. I’ve been to Scotland many times at the end of April and the weather, though never predictable, is not apocalyptic.

JenNo Gravatar November 12, 2012 at 3:02 PM


Ive always dreamed of traveling to Scotland, but havent a clue where to go exactly

Not interested in any events, would like to see some castles and my major goal is the scenery
Can you recomend a few places for research or feedback?
I havent even started to look and the thought of traveling to a place with so many choices is a bit overwhelming
The time of year is open

Either a hotel, B&B or renting a home is all fine

thank you for any assistance

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 13, 2012 at 8:02 PM

Hi Jen!

Some of my favorite castles are Edinburgh Castle, Dunnottar Castle, Drum Castle, Stirling Castle, and ruined Kildrummy castle. If you’re looking for a good area with a high concentration of castles, consider Royal Deeside. Beautiful region, too.

For scenery, check out forested Perthshire, the gorgeous mountainous Cairngorms (including Speyside), Orkney for austere, almost magical beauty, and the western highlands west of Loch Ness for utterly jaw-dropping scenes.

North of Glasgow/Edinburgh, 90% of your accommodation options will be B&Bs and guest houses. Embrace it – there are some real gems out there!

matt jennesonNo Gravatar September 2, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I think you have it a little wrong…you don’t mention the autumn colours that dominate the Highlands in the Autumn, everything turns to beautiful shades of orange and brown, far more spectacular than the summer seasons.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 2, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Hi Matt, valid point. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around Scotland a couple times in the fall and it is beautiful, though I’ve never gotten to see the colors. Worth thinking about for the prospective traveler, but it can be difficult to anticipate when the colors will happen and the weather is a bit more unpredictable.

ChloeNo Gravatar July 13, 2012 at 8:18 AM


Thank you for the info!
We are going to Edinburgh in August and a weekend at Aberdeen.

My question is what weather should we expect at Aberdeen? What clothes shouls we take with us? I had a look at internet, we know more or less what clothes to wear during day, but are not sure about night time.

Thank you

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar July 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Layers, Chloe.

t-shirt, shirt and light fleece or sweatshirt. The most important thing is to have a lightweight rain-proof and wind-proof outer shell. That will always keep you warm as it is the wind which will chill more than anything. It has been know to rain in Aberdeen, too :o) have fun, Willie

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 13, 2012 at 12:06 PM

+1 to Willie’s suggestions. It’s usually colder than you’d imagine.

GusNo Gravatar March 25, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Thank you very much for the insanely swift response! By the way, I live and work in Milan, if you ever happen to be in Northern Italy drop me a line, it would be lovely to share a drink and some travel memories together.


Willie WallaceNo Gravatar March 25, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Nice Gus.

That is the nice thing about travelling, the people you meet (plus the places you see). We are currently in Malta, far to the South of you, but due to return to Edinburgh tomorrow. I’ll hold you to that drink the next time we’re in Lucca or up by Como. Or get in touch of you are ever in Edinburgh.



Willie WallaceNo Gravatar March 25, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Hi Gus,

When a driver, working for me in Ireland, told me where he broke down at 30 minutes to midnight, he described it as “Slap-dab, Smack-bang, in the middle of the A*se-end of fock*n’ nowhere” and that is where this lighthouse is, so if you find my bus, please send it back :o)

It has five bedrooms and three en-suite bathrooms, plus two further bathrooms, so it should be perfect for you The nearest house is 3 miles and the nearest village is 12 miles.

Stock up big time before you leave the supermarkets of Inverness and two hours later, you are hanging off the West coast of Scotland at the end of a three mile, private, single track road. None of you are going to be run over for not paying attention when you cross the road!

Another, if possible, even more remote place I have been trying to get my friends to go to for ages, is on the Ardnamurchan Estate. The Westerly point of the estate is the most Westerly point on Mainland Britain.

There are several cottages on the estate, but with this one, all the bedrooms have their own en-suite bathrooms. Check the estate map and book more than one cottage, if there are more than eight of you. Just make sure the two cottages are nearby each other.

I have always wanted to go there myself. Maybe one day.

You will need to book a rental car, because there are no cars, or even donkeys, going anywhere near these places! – click the link below.

Have fun,

Willie Wallace

GusNo Gravatar March 25, 2011 at 3:33 PM

First of all, nice resource the pages of yours!

Second, I would love a suggestion on a specific location in Scotland. I am looking for a remote place, ideally a cottage or some tiny far away village with a genuine B&B or actually any facility, to stay 3-4 days with close friends from the old days, to talk about the past and the future, roleplay or boardgame or cardgame as we used to do when we were kids, annihilate a good deal of beers, perhaps watch movies from the 80s and run around on green grass or near high cliffs or deep woods. The company will likely be no bigger than 10 people.

Any thoughts?

Logistics are not a problem, it will be a sort of one-in-a-lifetime retreat with old buddies and we can use whatever is available, from ferries to car rentals to horse or donkey-riding.

Thanks a lot.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 25, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Thanks Gus. Your trip idea sounds marvelous and there’s no shortage of such places in Scotland.

Three possible locations come to mind, all favorites of mine:
1. Dunkeld. Located in heavily forested Perthshire. It’s a small town easily accessible from Edinburgh and Glasgow, that feels far removed. Walking trails crisscross the region and quickly rise in elevation. The snow-capped peaks of the Cairngorms rise up in the distance. The town itself is renown for it’s traditional folk music and has more than enough pubs. I love the hidden glens and rivers running through the larches.
2. Portree. The primary town on the breath-taking Isle of Skye, Portree is also quite beautiful. You could look for a place within a half hour of Portree and be fine – the scenery is stunning and the area, like much of northern Scotland, is lightly-peopled. Great beer and whisky are made here. Skye is a rare place.
3. Orkney. If you really want to get away from it all, consider the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland. Think maritime culture, strong winds, long days in the summer and long nights in the winter, and a beguiling blend of Scottish and Viking culture. It’s a mystical place marked by ancient stone monuments and fortifications.

For wherever you choose to go, start with and think about booking a self-catering holiday rental. Having your own house, is really, really cool.

AmitNo Gravatar March 14, 2011 at 7:22 AM

Hi Keith,

Thanks for your quick, detailed and helpful comments. No, this is not our last chance of coming there, we can come next year or the year after. So there is no hurry or urgency as such.

We are thinking of doing
Edinburgh (1 day)
Oban (1 day)
Mull / Iona (1 day)
Fort Williams (1 day)
Isle of Skye (2 days)
Inverness and Loch ness (1 day)
Edinburgh (1 day)

So if the scenery is 70-80% same as what it will be in May / Jun / july, and it may be a few degrees colder in Apr than in later months, then we would come.

But if the scenery is 60% of what it could be, then we would avoid.

I know its not quantifiable…but directionally.

Your thoughts would be useful.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

If you can go in May and June, I ‘d go then. Simple as that, really. There’s no guarantee on weather whatever the time of year, but the landscape will be greener and more lush in May/June.

CatherineNo Gravatar May 4, 2014 at 3:50 PM

The only time my husband and I can go is the second week of August. Planning the trip now. Will the megees be a nuisance?
Just curious?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 4, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Hard to say. Midges are typically worst in late spring and early summer, but they can be encountered throughout the highlands.

AmitNo Gravatar March 14, 2011 at 4:11 AM

Hi – we qare planning a trip from Apr 9 to 17 of 2011. Based upon what youve said above and also hours of internet research, we know that Apr is NOT THE BEST of times (we are not that keen on events, more on driving around and soaking in the natural beauty).

Our question is – is Apr worth coming there at all or its better to go somewhere else and come in a later month of another year? So if highlands are not lush green and most cafes / attractions are closed / open for short hours / days are short, then we would rather avoid Apr.

Please advise.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 14, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Hi Amit. April is quite a variable month in terms of temperatures and weather, especially depending on where you’re planning to be. I think May and June are the best months to visit Scotland based on weather, temperature, and length of the days, but Scotland is gorgeous at all times of the year.

If this is your one chance to come to Scotland, come. Even in the best months weeks of rain are possible. Again it depends on where you’re going, but by April I anticipate most places would be open with slightly shorter hours. To answer your question: yes, it is worth coming to Scotland in April. The highlands probably won’t be lush green – there might still be in snow in places – but they’ll never be anything less than astounding.

I hope that helps, Amit. Let me know if you have other questions.

EricaNo Gravatar February 10, 2011 at 4:31 AM

While I applaud you for going to a place that captures your heart, 68F as a high average still gives me the shivers.

Other than that, the scenery looks amazing and I am sure you will meet some amazing people with the pub culture.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 10, 2011 at 8:46 AM

The 60sF are my favored temperature range so it’s a perfect match for me. It’s also a great excuse to dart in doors and chat with others escaping the weather. I think I do gravitate toward cooler weather cultures. My sister lives in San Antonio, so I’m well aware of Texans’ distaste for the cold. πŸ™‚

CindyNo Gravatar February 20, 2013 at 11:23 PM

When I saw the San Antonio mention, I had to write. I live just up the road, near Wimberley. This Texan enjoys cool, cloudy days, perhaps because I was raised on a Baltic island in Denmark. For me, living in this great state is doable only because we leave for about 6-8 weeks every summer, the extended time away made possible by my husband’s job as a teacher… which brings me to how I found your site. I’m in the initial research phase of family summer 2014, and hoping for Scotland for 2 adults and a 13 yr old. We’re always on a tight budget, usually spending summers in our trusty tent on the shores of Lake Superior. Not sure that Scotland’s climate, even in June/July is too compatible with that scenario. While I do plan to read the rest of your installments on trip planning, any additional tips are appreciated. The trinity of tickets, lodging and transportation will be challenging to budget for. Thanks for the site!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 21, 2013 at 7:55 AM

You can camp all over Scotland, but you need to prepare for cooler temps even in the height of summer. The hottest I’ve ever experienced there was about 82F in June, down in Inveraray. Normally, temps rarely feel warmer than 70F in the middle of July. Add in elevation, Scotland’s wind, rain/dampness, and it could feel like the coldest months in Texas.

CherylNo Gravatar March 22, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Want to go to Scotland from May 8 on for 2 weeks. Really don’t want to rent a car. Spent way too much on that last July in Dingle, County Kerry. A must is to go back to Portree on Skye. Then maybe Highlands. Have not been there yet. Will be on my own. Will I be able to manage such a trip all by train? Any suggestions? Really want to hear some great true music. Also want to do research on Selkie myths/legends. Need oldtimers for that. Does that mean Orkney? Thank you. (Go raibh maith agat. Studied Irish in Dingle. Yes, I know the 2 languages are quite different)

ZablonNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Great tips now i know when to go to Edinburgh

AlexisNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Thanks for the links, you both saved me a lot of time and money!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Good luck! I’ll also be taking a train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. At the end of April I need to catch a ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland for the folk music festival.

BeckyNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I’ve often imagined planning a trip to Scotland around an event — the national sheepdog trials!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 2:25 PM

I just Googled this as I’d never heard of it before. Looks like the trials will be in the lowlands around Jedburgh this year. That’s a beautifully pastoral area with many ruined abbeys (e.g., Jedburgh, Melrose, Dryburgh).

andiNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM

You’re going to have the best time!!! πŸ™‚

KenNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 7:43 AM

Well thought out advice, Keith. Very useful. Nice pic from western Scotland, too.

Anthony MiloticNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 7:16 AM

We haven’t really considered going to Scotland yet. But the more I read your blog the more you are convincing me. I would have to agree about traveling on the shoulder or in low seasons. Prices are cheaper and less tourists around make for a more enjoyable experience. Great planning advice. Cheers

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Glad to hear you’re thinking about Scotland, Anthony. I swear, you’ll thank me if you make the trip.

AlexisNo Gravatar February 7, 2011 at 7:16 PM

What’s the cheapest way to travel by train around Scotland? (I plan on travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen) I know coach costs are a lot cheaper…but I need to get around quickly so I may need to travel by train and the costs are scaring me.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 7, 2011 at 9:34 PM

It depends on how much rail travel you intend to do. If it’s just the one trip from Edinburgh to Aberdeen I would buy a single ticket in advance instead of going for a rail pass. Tickets can be A LOT more expensive if you purchase them near or on the date of travel. For more information, check out BritRail’s site:

Willie WallaceNo Gravatar February 8, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Hi Keith and Alexis,

Another site for train tickets and times is

It has more details on local matters than the Britrail one, so if you are just staying in Scotland, it might be better.

Unfortunately, you cannot buy tickets more than 12 weeks ahead – nobody knows why!



Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 23, 2014 at 11:41 AM

The train can take you to Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh, but from there you will need to (ferry first, if from Mallaig) catch a bus to Portree (helpful: You can find great trad music all over Scotland. Portree and Dunkeld are a couple of my favorite music towns. Edinburgh and Kirkwall, too. The Selkie myth is most common in Orkney and Shetland, so those would be ideal places to consider for research.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Hi Brittany,

I liked the Douglas Hotel on Arran. It’s right in Brodick near the ferry terminal, and the hotel has a high-end boutique feel. Oban – sorry, I haven’t stayed there – only passed through. I don’t recommend staying on Iona. Mull is tricky. Have a look at my Mull posts where I wrote a couple places I stayed.

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