Travel & Transport Tips
for Scotland (Vacation / Holidays)
Internet Access - Phone
Numbers & Address Postcodes
Brochures - Money - Useful info addresses
Disabled access / Mobility assistance
How to get to/from Ireland
Travel by air - ferry - train - coach
Car hire - Campervans - Motorbikes - Cycle hire
Guided coach tours
Tours and excursions - Activity holidays
Summer Schools / Teaching English / Learning English
Accommodation web sites - Hostels - Campsites
For travel and transport details on specific places
see the appropriate regional pages.
BT Internet kiosks (payphone boxes) are now available in many cities in the UK. Services include Instant Email, SMS text messaging and access to the Internet via broadband. Pay by coins or credit card. Most public libraries in Scotland offer Internet access (often for free).
- For wi-fi hotspots - use the search facility on the BT OpenZone web site
- There are several Internet cafes in Edinburgh.
Most phone numbers in the UK now follow the format: 01 plus 8 or 9 digits which is easy enough to dial if you are already in the country. However if you have to call from outside the UK, first dial the international dialing code, then dial 44, omit the lead zero, then dial the rest of the of the number you are calling. For example if the phone number is 01475 650 100 and you are not already in the UK, this is what you dial: international code + 44 1475 650 100. A phone number beginning with 07 is probably a mobile phone (cellphone).
Looking for the exact address of a house or business? If you wish to mail/post something to someone in the UK, you can find their postcode via the Royal Mail web site (click on Postcode and address finder).
Brochures by mail
The currency in the UK is the pound sterling where 1 pound (£) is made up of 100 pence. This is the currency of England, Wales and Scotland, although you will find that Scotland has different banknotes. Yahoo keeps up-to-date figures on currency rates (select British Pounds).
Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in major shops and hotels, but not often at small B&Bs.
uk-yankee.com has a useful page showing photos of UK coins and notes (although this doesn't include Scottish notes).
Useful info addresses & sites
Visit the official UK Government Foreign Office web site for all information about Visa Requirements.
VisitScotland (formerly the Scottish Tourist Board) has various offices. You can view contact details for them at visitscotland.com
Or if you are in North America, visit their US site at toscotland.com
Also try the main UK tourism agency VisitBritain which has offices worldwide.
Scotland Groups Guide - everything you need to know to plan group travel in Scotland (activities, coaches, accommodation, incoming tour operators, etc.).
VisitScotland's Convention Bureau has useful information for conference planning and group visits.
For advice on hospital and medical treatment for visitors to the UK - visit the Citizens Advice Bureau.
First time visitors
- www.i-uk.com: UK Government web site
- Although aimed at Americans moving to live in the UK, the uk-yankee.com is also useful for tourists with practical tips including articles on cultural differences, electrical goods, money, etc.
- To see the status of the roads, check out the CCTV traffic cameras.
- Capability Scotland which offers an Advice Service at 11 Ellersly Road, Edinburgh EH12 6HY. Tel: 0131 313 5510. Fax: 0131 346 1681.
- Holiday Care Service. Tel: 01293 774 535 / Fax: 01293 784 647
- Allgohere.com incorporating Everybody.co.uk offers disabled-friendly accommodation listings
- ShopMobility - great scheme offering mobility scooters for shoppers in many UK cities including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Inverness
- Autobility - wheelchair accessible vehicles for hire and for sale. Family-run company based in Fife.
- Blue Badge parking guide - searchable maps for holders of the disabled 'blue badge' showing accessible public toilets, disabled parking bays, etc.
- Nevis Mobility offers mobility equipment for hire (mobility scooters, wheelchairs and walkers). Collection/delivery anywhere in the Glasgow/Edinburgh area. Tel: 01698 711103.
- Mobility Scotland
- Ardgarth Guest House in Portobello (Edinburgh) has full disabled access for 2 of its ensuite bedrooms. In recognition of this, they were awarded overall winner of the Leonard Cheshire Award for Business 2005 (designed to recognise businesses in Scotland which are promoting inclusion and equality for disabled employees and customers).
- VisitScotland, the national tourist board, checks accommodation and attractions for accessibility, and this information is included on their web site. Click here to search their accommodation database by location and degree of accessibility (see explanation of categories). All accommodation and attractions listed are part of VisitScotland's grading schemes. You can also call them on 0845 22 55 121 or email VisitScotland via their web site.
- The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions lists contact details for over 400 places - email them about disabled access to the properties you want to visit.
- For access to the great outdoors for those with mobility problems, visit the WalkScotland site.
To calculate driving distances, use the RAC route planner.
If you are trying to identify the location of specific places, check out these other sites where you can view searchable maps online:
Old maps (circa 1850) are available courtesy of Landmark and are currently browsable by county name.
The Scottish Gazetteer is another useful resource online.
Ferries between Scotland and Ireland:
- P&O: between Larne (in Ireland) and Cairnryan or Troon (in Scotland)
- Stena Line from Cairnryan to Belfast (Northern Ireland).
- Combined coach and ferry tickets to Belfast: CityLink
- Also check out air travel below.
For international and domestic flights, see:
- British Airways online searchable timetable. Tickets from London Heathrow or Gatwick to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, also to Inverness (more expensive). Flight connections to the islands of Barra, Benbecula, Islay, Lewis, Orkney and Shetland.
- bmi (British Midland International) has a variety of cheap flights (domestic and international) from London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Manchester, Notting East Midlands, etc.
- EasyJet operates daily cheap flights from Gatwick (London), Luton Airport (about 30 miles north of London) direct to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Single journey tickets allow flexibility to fly into one part of the country and fly out of another.
- Flybe operates services between Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Inverness, London Gatwick, Manchester, Southampton, Stornoway (Lewis), Kirkwall (Orkney) and Sumburgh (Shetland), as well as European destinations.
- RYANAIR operates cheap flights from Prestwick (south of Glasgow) to London and many other European cities. Ryanair routes also include Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
- KLM UK is another company which is offering flights from London City Airport to Edinburgh, or from Stansted to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, as well as European destinations.
- cheapflights.co.uk and cheapflights.com (for US residents)
Main Airports in Scotland:
Other airports in Scotland include:
- Edinburgh Airport (7 miles from the city centre). Coaches every 10-20 minutes. Taxis available. Car hire available
- Glasgow Airport ( 8 miles from the city centre). Coaches every 20 minutes direct to city centre. Coach service to railway station 2 miles away. Frequent coach service to Edinburgh. Taxis available. Car hire available
- Prestwick Airport. 30 miles south of Glasgow on the Ayrshire coast. Coaches every hour to Glasgow. Trains every 30 minutes to Glasgow. 50% discount on rail tickets. Taxis available. Car hire available.
- Aberdeen Airport (at Dyce 7 miles from city centre). Regular coach service at peak times. Dyce railway station is a short distance away by taxi. Taxis available. Car hire available.
- Inverness Airport (at Dalcross, 8 miles from Inverness, 7 miles from Nairn). Frequent bus service to/from Inverness city centre. Taxis available. Car hire available. The nearest train stations are at Inverness and Nairn.
- Dundee Airport - flights by ScotAirways to/from London City. Also private planes.
- Stornoway (Isle of Lewis)
- Balivanich (Isle of Benbecula)
- Isle of Barra
- Isle of Islay
- Kirkwall (Orkney)
- Sumburgh (Shetland)
- Lerwick (Shetland)
For more info on these, visit the Highlands and Islands Airports official web site.
Flights between Scotland and Europe include:
- Ryanair flies from Glasgow Prestwick to Girona (Barcelona), Bergamo (Milan), Ciampno (Rome), Beauvais (Paris), Charleroi (Brussels), Hahn (Frankfurt), Skavsta (Stockholm), Torp (Oslo), Gothenburg.
- Germanwings flies from Edinburgh to Cologne.
- Germania flies from Glasgow Prestwick to Berlin.
Most ferries in western Scotland are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne based in Gourock. They sail to 23 islands off the west coast and have special tickets for multiple journeys (Island Hopscotch and Island Rover tickets).
Ferries to Orkney and Shetland from the Scottish mainland are run by NorthLink Ferries.
Ferries between the various islands of the Orkney group are run by Orkney Ferries Ltd. in Kirkwall - Telephone: 01856 872044 / Fax: 01856 872921.
Ferries to/from Europe:
- P&O North Sea Ferries operate ferry links from Holland and Belgium to Hull (northern England) from where it is a 6 hour drive to Edinburgh.
- DFDS Seaways operate ferries from Europe to Newcastle (northern England) from where it is a 3 hour drive to Edinburgh.
- For all the different European ferry routes, visit ferrybooker.com.
The main railway lines within Scotland operated by First Scotrail are:
- Between Edinburgh and Glasgow
- From Glasgow south to Dumfries
- From Glasgow south to Stranraer (via the following places on the west coast: Wemyss Bay, Largs, Ardrossan, Irvine, Troon, Prestwick, Ayr, Girvan).
- From Glasgow north to Oban
- From Glasgow north to Fort William and on to Mallaig
- From Edinburgh north to Inverness (via Stirling, Perth, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Aviemore)
- From Edinburgh north to Inverness (via the east coast stations of Dundee, Aberdeen and Nairn)
- From Inverness north to Thurso
- From Inverness west to Kyle of Lochalsh
Since there are now so many cheap flights from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, the rail companies have had to do special deals to compete. It takes about 4 hours to travel from London to Edinburgh on a day-time train and 5 hours to Glasgow. Sleeper trains are available from London to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fort William, Inverness and Aberdeen.
thetrainline.com is the official way to check timetables and book train tickets online.
Savings within Scotland can be made with TravelPass & Rover tickets. For example the Highland Rover allows 4 days unlimited travel out of 8 consecutive days on Highland rail lines plus the Inverness-Fort William-Oban Citylink bus service. The Freedom of Scotland Travelpass allowing unlimited travel throughout the country on trains plus Cal Mac ferries and some bus services is available for 4 days travel out of 8 consecutive days (or for 8 days out of 15). For more details and prices see the special tickets page on the First Scotrail web site.
- Railtrail Tours Couriered Holidays - exploring the Scottish Highlands and other parts of the UK in style.
- The Royal Scotsman - luxury tours of Scotland by train departing from Edinburgh.
- Great Rail Journeys - escorted rail tours throughout Scotland and the Scottish Isles.
- Treyn Rail Holidays - short breaks and special interest tours of the Scottish Highlands.
National Express is probably the biggest company - tel: 0990 808080. It takes almost 8 hours to travel from London to Edinburgh (twice daily) or Glasgow (up to 6 buses a day).
The Scottish Citylink web site gives the timetables of all their services within Scotland (click on Journey Planner). If you are a student aged 16-25, or if you are aged over 50, you can get a Smart Card offering you discount fares. Another option is the Explorer Pass which offers for unlimited travel between certain dates.
Megabus is a new budget double decker bus service operating between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness. Tickets from as little as £1.
travelinescotland.com is the official public transport guide with online timetables and a journey planner.
Each island has its own bus service run by a local operator. Some places (both on the mainland and on the islands) are also served by Royal Mail post buses which not only take the mail around to villages, but also transport a few passengers for a small fee. Telephone 0131 228 7407.
- Black Isle Campers are based just north of Inverness. 4x4 campervans available (sleeping up to 4) with all facilities.
- Based near Stirling, Campers Scotland have campervans for hire with a collection and drop-off service for all major Scottish airports and stations.
- Carty's Campers offer classic VW campervan for hire (based in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, central Scotland)
- Daisy Campers (based in Dollar in Central Scotland) offer campervans for hire for 2 people (converted Toyota Previas) plus bike and kayak hire. Pick up/drop off available at Glasgow Airport & train stations, Prestwick, Edinburgh Airport & train stations, Dunfermline, Perth, Stirling and Alloa.
- Deeside Motorhomes (based in Aberdeenshire) have a fleet of motorhomes for hire.
- Escape Campers offer classic VW campervans for hire. Based near Glasgow.
- Happy Highland Campers - fully equipped vintage VW Camper Vans for hire (based near Inverness).
- Highland Campervans - offer 4-berth campers and motorhomes for hire. Automatic and 4-wheel drive. Based in Inverness.
- Kira Rentals have modern campervans for hire (based near Glasgow Airport).
- Openroad Scotland - 2-berth VW campervan and luxury 6-berth motorhome hire (based in Glasgow).
- OutThere Campervans offer a choice of campervans or motorhome. Based between Nairn and Inverness. Free transfers from Inverness Airport, railway or bus station.
- Perth Motorhome Hire - vehicles which can sleep up to 6 people.
- Scotland by Camper - classic camper vans for hire (based just outside Glasgow).
- Scottish Tourer - motorhome hire based in Perth
- Strathpeffer VW Campervan Hire have a range of T25 Autosleeper Trident campervans (sleeping up to 4). Based 15 miles north of Inverness.
- The Tartan Camper Co have VW campervans for hire, based just 15 minutes drive from Glasgow Airport and and 20 minutes from Prestwick Airport.
Make sure you have enough petrol (gas) in your vehicle - some islands may only have one filling station. It is more expensive than in North America for example. (Note that 1 US gallon is about 3.785 litres but 1 UK gallon is 4.546 litres). Diesel is more expensive. Prices fluctuate frequently of course.
Yahoo keeps up-to-date figures on currency rates (select British Pounds).
Motorbike Hire & Tours
- AMTURUS - Guided motorcycle tours through Scotland and Ireland with accommodation, baggage transfer, and a German and English-speaking motorcycle tour guide. Hire of Harley-Davidson motorcycles available as extra.
- Caledonia Motorcycle Services - based in Aberdeen.
- Highland Motorcycle Holidays - based in Invergordon. They can also arrange itineraries and biker-friendly accommodation in the Highlands if you are visiting on your own bike or hiring one from them. Contact Nigel Newell - tel: 01862 842260.
- Guided motorbike tours can be arranged by Highland Rider. Bring your own bike or hire one of theirs. Based near Edinburgh.
- scotlandbybike.com offers guided motorcycle tours throughout Scotland.
Click here for my list of places where you can hire bikes. Other places are listed on the appropriate regional pages.
List of trains / ferries / bus services which can take cycles.
- If you want an all-inclusive coach tour package (4-14 nights accommodation, etc.) then check out the major coach tour companies such as Shearings Holidays.
- Prestige Tours offer a choice of all-inclusive coach tour packages with hotel accommodation and flights from the USA if required.
- Based in Argyll, Highland Heritage have a variety of trips.
- Brightwater Holidays specialise in coach tours including gardens, castles, islands, wildlife, etc.
- Perth-based McLeanScotland operate all-inclusive luxury coach tours. Also fly-drive, golfing, fishing, weddings, as well as trips covering England, Wales, Ireland, WW2 Battlefields, etc.
- Based in Edinburgh, Timberbush Tours offer a choice of small coach tours with a driver-guide. Tours include the Scottish Highlands, Fife, Perthshire, Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Edinburgh area. Half day and one day excursions are available, plus longer tours of 2, 3 and 5 days. Accommodation not included, but a booking service is offered if required.
- Discover Scotland have several day tours by 16-seater mini coach with regular departures from Glasgow. Tailor made private tours can also be arranged.
- Walk Wild Scotland - day tours by minibus for groups of 2 - 12 people with pick up from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Stirling. Walking trips explore Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and include a guided walk, picnic lunch and a boat cruise or cycle ride. Sightseeing day tours can include Stirling Castle, Doune Castle & Glengoyne distillery, Inveraray Castle & Kilmartin (Argll) or Edinburgh & Rosslyn Chapel.
Also see the tour operator list compiled by The Scotsman newspaper.
Alternatively, why not book base yourself in Edinburgh or Inverness, and then take day trips by coach to see the sights?
For tours departing from Inverness - click here.
Departing from Edinburgh:
- Highland Experience Tours offer daily scheduled tours by minibus from Edinburgh and Glasgow (1, 2, 3 or 5 days) including Loch Lomond, Rosslyn Chapel, St Andrews, Loch Ness, Oban and west coast, Highlands & Skye. Multi-day tours offer a range of accommodation from hostels to B&Bs and small hotels. Private, bespoke tours can be arranged. Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars.
- Heart of Scotland Tours - daily minibus tours all year round. Tours include Lothian castles & distilleries, St Andrews & the fishing villages of Fife, Stirling Castle & Loch Lomond, Rosslyn Chapel & Hadrianís Wall, Loch Ness.
Booking Tel: 01828 627799. Tours can be booked at Edinburgh Tourist Information Centre. All tours depart from Waterloo Place, Edinburgh. Private tours for groups can be arranged.
- Rabbie's Trail Burners: 1 day and multi-day tours from Edinburgh to the Highlands & Islands. Day tours also available to St Andrews or the Scottish Borders. Longer tours as far as Orkney and Outer Hebrides. Special tours for castles, clans, whisky, etc. Award-winning, 5 star tours in a 16 seat Mercedes minicoach. Some day tours from Glasgow. Tailormade tours also available.
- Haggis Adventures: 1, 3, 5 and 7 day tours of the Highlands & Islands. 5 star tours. The longest running backpacker tour company in the UK.
- Wild in Scotland: tours from 2 day to 9 days to the Highlands. Longer tours can include Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. 16-seater minibus.
- Highland Experience Tours depart from Parliament Square, Edinburgh, 7 days a week. Day trips include Loch Ness, Loch Lomond & Stirling, or Rossylyn Chapel. An extended 2 day (1 night) tour to the Highlands is also available. Private tours can be arranged on request.
- Timberbush Tours offer a choice of small coach tours to the Scottish Highlands, Fife, Perthshire, Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Edinburgh area. Half day and one day excursions are available, plus longer tours of 2, 3 and 5 days.
- Scotline Coach Tours - daily minibus tours all year including Stirling, Perthshire, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, the Borders.
- Gray Line offers a wide selection of day coach trips, plus a few that are afternoons only. Book online via their web site or contact them at 81 Salamander Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 555 5558.
- Based in Edinburgh, Jackie Queally of Celtic Trails offers unique half day and whole day personalised tours from Edinburgh to sites of prehistoric, Celtic and medieval/Templar interest, including Rosslyn Chapel and other sacred sites.
Tours and excursions
( For walking/cycling tours see below. )
Here are just some tour companies who operate in Scotland:
Scotland Made Easy can plan a customised itinerary for a self-drive tour to suit your interests, budget and time available. They will book you into recommended accommodation where you are assured of quality, comfort and hospitality - usually in 4 or 5 star B&Bs in Scottish homes. Optional 'specials' include a night in a castle, church, lighthouse, country mansion, etc. Whether you have already decided which places you want to visit or if you haven't a clue where to start, Scotland Made Easy will advise and take care of all the planning for you.
Best of Scotland Holidays offer golf and leisure vacations. Self-drive hire car, chauffeur driven, luxury coach or touring by train. Golf, castles, gardens, whisky, walking, island hopping. Leisure tours of Britain & Ireland also available. Sporting activity packages. Choice of accommodation.
Clansandcastles.com can take you on guided tours of Scottish Castles with departures from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness or Aberdeen. Take one of the suggested tours or have a trip customised especially for you. Themed tours to follow in your clan footsteps available on request. Small groups in a car, minibus or a 50-seater coach can be catered for. Day or half-day trips, or week-long tours. Professional, local private guides.
Accommodation reservations for castles, inns & country houses also available, together with itinerary planning for self-drive tours (with car hire if required).
Absolute Escapes is a specialist Destination Management Company providing tailor-made travel packages for individuals, groups and corporate clients. Packages can include acommodation and activities - either self drive or with a private tour guide.
Celia Ffitch-Stewart is a fully insured driver-guide with Mercedes limousine for your tailor-made guided tour. Based near Inverness. She offers half day, full day or extended tours. Airport collection (Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness). Services can include itinerary planning and accommodation reservations. Meet your clan chief, trace your roots, stay in a castle, tour the distilleries. Member of HOSTGA (Highlands of Scotland Tour Guide Association).
Kathleen Cameron is a professional Scottish tour guide living in Inveraray, Argyll (tel: 01499 30 2361, fax: 01499 30 2435 or mobile phone: 07777 5691641). For walking or driving tours in cities, towns, or countryside, she can accompany groups of any size, from independent travellers (up to 7 in her own vehicle) to coach parties. Tours can be started from any destination including Edinburgh or Glasgow. Fluent in Spanish.
Sandy Stevenson (native Scot now based in the US) is a guide offering custom-designed small group tours to Scotland.
Hans Arends is a tour guide for German speakers who wish to visit Scotland.
Visit the web site by Activity Scotland which is an association representing activity holiday providers in a multitude of fields throughout Scotland. Their site has separate pages for each region and each activity on offer so it is easy to find a company to suit your needs.
Information is also provided on my Walking and Cycling page.
- Hebridean Princess - small cruise ship (48 guests) offering 5 star luxury. Sails from Oban to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. March - November.
- Lord of the Glens - small cruise ship (54 guests) offering 4 star luxury. Sails from Inverness/Loch Ness to Fort William and the Inner Hebrides. Some departures from Glasgow. 4, 7 or 10 night cruises.
- Noble Caledonia - variety of itineraries and cruise ships, including expeditions to various Scottish islands.
- Northern Light Charters has 4 small ships which offer a variety of private charter, wildlife cruises, bird-watching and whale-watching cruises, dive charter, island cruising, and research and survey services. Based in Oban.
- The Majestic Line operate 3 and 6-night cruises from Oban and from Holy Loch (near Dunoon) in converted traditional wooden vessels with 6 cabins (for 12 guests) to explore the coastline and islands of Argyll. April to October.
- Links list of Cruising & Charter companies in Scotland.
Summer Schools / Learning English / Teaching English
- Association of Recognised English Language Services (ARELS) - private language schools in the UK
- British Association of State English Language Teaching (BASELT)
- English courses for adult foreigners in Stirling
- English for Everyone in Aberdeen offers English courses for all levels and also preparation for the UK Citizenship Test.
- ESL ≠ Language Studies Abroad offer English language courses for adults in England or Scotland and English summer camps for juniors in Edinburgh
- English language courses in Edinburgh - price comparison
- Gordonstoun International Summer School
- Highland Dimensions - a small language school offering English tuition in Oban.
- Language teachers / private tutors in Scotland
- Lingua Service - based near Oban. Tailor-made, English language courses for business people or families.
- List of Universities & colleges in Scotland
- Stevenson College Edinburgh is the largest provider of English language programmes in Scotland
- TEFL Org UK provides highly accredited classroom-based TEFL courses in Inverness and across the UK as well as online.
- The Scottish Universities' International Summer School (SUISS)
- Walking & Talking - combined language and walking holidays in Perthshire
Scotland is well known for its unpredictable weather. It can change very fast in a matter of minutes, especially in mountain and sea areas. When travelling around Scotland it is always best to be prepared for anything, good or bad.
In the height of the summer, the hours of daylight are long and it may not get dark until after 11pm, particularly the further north you are. In winter, daylight hours are reduced to around 7 hours at the lowest point in December (click here for a useful daylight hours summary table) or use the Sunrise and sunset calculator for Edinburgh (and other places).
Average Temperatures for Edinburgh are approximately as follows:
January 6 C / 42 F May 14 C / 58 F September 16 C / 61 F February 6 C / 42 F June 16 C / 61 F October 12 C / 54 F March 8 C / 47 F July 18 C / 68 F November 9 C / 49 F April 11 C / 52 F August 18 C / 68 F December 7 C / 45 F
Web sites providing useful weather forecast information include:
- The BBC
- The official UK Meteorological Office including an overview of Scotland's climate
- Mountain Weather Information Service
- SportScotland Avalanche Information Service
- Weather Online (inc. current & annual figures, etc.)
- The Weather Channel
- The Internet Guide to Scotland list of recommended accommodation throughout Scotland - includes list of Special Offers.
- Scotland's Best B&Bs: an organisation with members throughout the country - all have 4 or 5 star grading, and are friendly places welcoming no more than 6 guests at a time.
- Inverness & District B&B Association: over 20 bed and breakfast establishments around Inverness and Loch Ness, all members of the Scottish Tourist Board.
- VisitScotland - the Scottish Tourist Board (which has an accommodation search engine)
- Self-catering accommodation on the Ardtornish Estate in Argyll
Selected, individual hostels:
- Dervaig Village Hall Hostel on the Isle of Mull has 10 comfortable beds in the community hall of a pretty conservation village with post office/grocer and Inn. 7 miles north of Tobermory. 2 bunkrooms: 1 sleeps 4 and 1 sleeps 6, each with ensuite bathroom. 3 star grading. Beds can be booked individually or by complete room/s. Community hall kitchen, dining area and a small communal sitting room. Outdoor sports pitch.
- Drinishader Hostel on the Isle of Harris is a traditional Hebridean stone cottage with 3 sleeping rooms, 1 open plan lounge/dining space and 1 shower/WC. Sleeping rooms comprise of one 6-person dorm with 3 bunk beds, one 4-person dorm with 4 single beds, and one twin room. 1 extra bed can be added in the twin room. Bed linen and towels provided. Large patio area for barbecues, bike store and laundry facilities. Cycle, kayak and canoe hire available.
- Euro Hostels - Glasgow with 360 beds. Choice of rooms sleeping 1, 2, 4, 8 or 14. Each room has ensuite bathroom with shower, WC, bunk beds, lockers. Continental breakfast provided. 24-hour reception and security. Bar, TV, games room. Luggage storage. Cycle store. Secure online booking. Open all year.
- Euro Hostels - Edinburgh offering 250 beds in 43 apartments open from June to early September. Ideal central location in the Cowgate. Secure online booking.
- Glencoe Independent Hostel - choice of accommodation in the hostel, bunkhouse, log cabins, caravans and camping in Glencoe just south of Fort William.
- Globetrotters Independent Hostel (Glasgow)
- Scottish Youth Hostels Association
- 'Scotland's Top Hostels'
- Scottish Independent Hostels
- Hostelbookers.com - Scotland
- International hostels web site - Scotland listing
- Hostelz web site - Scotland listing
- Cairngorms Hostels in the National Park
- scottishcamping.com includes official and many unofficial camping grounds
- Searchable database, reviews of campsites and also message board - www.ukcampsite.co.uk
- You can also search the official tourist board databases by clicking on the Accommodation section of their web site and specifying your requirements - see visitscotland.com
Click here for advice about wild camping (courtesy of walkscotland.com) and also read the advice leaflet by The Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
Be responsible and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
It is always best to book accommodation in advance on the islands during the tourist season. Some islands are so small they don't have that many places where you can stay and you might find that they are all full.
Allow yourself plenty of time when driving from A to B since many of the roads in rural areas are narrow and sometimes twisting. Also, don't underestimate the number of times you will be stopping to admire the views and take photos!
Be sure to take waterproof clothing and good shoes or boots. The weather in Scotland can change very quickly particularly in mountain areas and by the coast (which means most of the country!). It can be sunny one minute and pouring with rain and blowing a gale the next. Be prepared for anything and everything.
If you are walking the hills and moors during the hunting season, make sure that there is no deer stalking or grouse shooting in progress, as I'm sure you wouldn't want to get shot. Ask your host or the people at the Tourist Office which are the areas to avoid at this time. The usual season for deer stalking in Scotland is from 1 July to 20 October for stags. Hinds are culled from 21 October until 15 February. No stalking on Sundays. You should also take care during the grouse-shooting season from 12 August to 10 December. Shooting seasons - click here (courtesy of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation).
I have always found people in Scotland to be very welcoming and friendly. Often they will go out of their way to help visitors, particularly in the islands where the community spirit is still very strong. They will pick up hitch-hikers and offer people a lift even if you are just walking along.
Scotland is a wonderful place - visit it if you can. And once you have been there, it will keep drawing you back.