What to know before you travel to Scotland.
In Scotland there are harsh nature, deserted beaches and three thousand ancient castles.
Go there for the green hills, steep mountains and cliffs. Scotland is suitable for those who do not like hot summers and crowds of tourists. To relax on such a trip is unlikely to work: there pass a day of twenty kilometers with altitude differences up to 200 meters – a common thing.
Scotland is an expensive country, but if you want you can save money. We tell you how to do it. Read more details in the full article.
What you will learn.
☔ When to go.
The best time to go to Scotland is from May to September. Summers there are cool, even by Russian standards, and it often rains.
In August it is festival time in Scotland. A huge number of tourists come there – accommodation at this time is even more expensive and you may not have enough.
In early spring it often rains heavily, and in the evenings there are frosts. In the fall, you can appreciate the full range of vivid colors of Scottish nature, but the price to pay for it will be the cold weather.
To travel you need a British visa – it is not the same as the Schengen visa. You can apply for it yourself at the Moscow visa center of Great Britain. You must apply three months in advance.
It’s easy to get a British visa if you have a white salary or can document other sources of income. The list of documents for tourist visa is not long – before you apply we recommend to check the actual list on the website of the UK government. All documents must be translated into English. It is possible to translate yourself – it is enough to indicate the authorship at the end of the sheet.
Template for translation of 2-NDFL statementXLS, 55 KB
Template for the translation of the excerpt from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities for a mortgageDOCX, 25 KB
Sample of filled in form for semi-annual tourist visaPDF, 107 KB
To apply, register online at uk.tlscontact.com. There you can also keep track of your passport’s readiness.
You can only fly to Scotland with a connection. If you have a Schengen visa, you can take a ticket via Paris or Amsterdam to spend a day in an interesting European city along the way. Tickets cost from 13,000 P .
Some tourists fly to Edinburgh via London to walk in the British capital. There are 650 km between the cities. It can be covered by bus, train or plane.
The cheapest way to get by bus. Tickets are sold on the Megabus and National Express websites and on average cost 1,500 P . All buses have a toilet and wifi. The trip takes 8.5 hours.
What to see in Scotland
Planning trips around Scotland is handy at visitscotland.com and walkhighlands.co.uk. There are detailed descriptions of most routes with maps, photos and advice on choosing the right footwear. All information is in English. If you know decent analogues in Russian, post in the comments.
Google-doc with an example route can be used as a template for your journey.
It is also convenient to look for beautiful places on Instagram. There are accounts there that post the best photos of Scottish regions and cities, such as @visitscotland. As a rule, they include the names of the locations.
Glenfinnan Viaduct. It’s an iconic place for Harry Potter fans. The Hogwarts Express train runs along the viaduct from late May until October. About a hundred people gather on the hill in front of the viaduct in the morning, and the train passes it exactly on schedule. At 10:50 it appears on the bridge, the driver slows down and lets off steam so that all those gathered can take the main picture.
Locks. There are three thousand ancient castles in Scotland. They are all very different. For example, Huntingtower is small, ascetic, and looks like Winterfell from Game of Thrones. Dannottar stands on a cliff and is considered one of the most impregnable fortresses in Scotland. The seven-story Cragivar, painted soft pink, stands in the woods and looks like a castle from a Disney cartoon.
Loch Ness Lake. You won’t see the monster but enjoy the mountain streams, cliffs and quiet castles around the famous lake. Tourists go boating on it and visit the Loch Ness Monster Museum. The yellow submarine, on which scientists explored Loch Ness in the 20th century, is preserved there.
One goes to the Lewis and Harris Islands for the wildlife. They are in the same archipelago, but the landscape is different: Lewis has plains and Harris has more mountains. There are few tourists everywhere, sheep walk in the fields, and wild deer run across the roads.
The most popular place on Harris is Luskentyre Beach. On TripAdvisor, one in two people named it one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. It is like the Caribbean, only in the north: the water there is turquoise, and the sand is fine and white. The only difference is that it’s cold to swim.
On Lewis, there is a Blackhouse Village in Gerenan Township. It is 9 restored traditional houses with floor-to-ceiling windows, stonework and carts in the yards. There are two beaches 6 km from the village where locals and tourists surf. There’s also fishing, cycling and a trip to Callanish, Scotland’s Stonehenge.
Glencoe is a valley in the southwest corner of the North Scottish Highlands in the Ben Nevis and Glencoe Wilderness Area. The valley has been called the wildest and most majestic place in Scotland, with noisy streams flowing down from the cliffs and clouds looming over the mountains. You’ve probably seen Glencoe in the movies. For example, some scenes from The Highlander and the Harry Potter films were filmed there.
The Isle of Skye is the reason many tourists go to Scotland. It’s pointless to describe it – it’s better to look at these photos:
You can travel around Scotland comfortably with a bank card. Most supermarkets and cafes have a paypal. Petty cash will be needed for small expenses like a deposit for using a hairdryer in a hostel.
Rent a car
Look for cars on car rental intermediaries’ websites or from reputable rental companies. Sometimes it can be cheaper to book directly with Hertz in Scotland.
“Hertz” offers different rental rates for different countries. For example, when ordering a Class A car from Russia it costs 30,719 P and from Argentina 9000 P.
In “Hertz” you can save in addition, if you use discounts from partner companies. For example, Ikea-family cardholders receive 10% cheaper reservation in “Hertz”, and Visa or Mastercard cardholders receive 10-20% cheaper. The list of partners can be found on the company’s website.
Sometimes the renters upgrade the car for free with their vouchers. You can find them on forums where they discuss the work of rental companies, for example on Vinsky’s forum. To get such an “upgrade”, show the printed voucher to a company employee.
A small crossover, such as an Opel Mokka or Renault Capture, is better for driving in Scotland. The roads on the islands are often single lane, so you have to separate from the oncoming car.
Generally, Scotland does not require an international driver’s license. But just in case, you can get one through the public services.
There are two insurances included in the cost of booking a car in Scotland: Collision Damage Waiver with excess (CDW), and Theft Protection (TP).
If the driver has extra insurance and gets into an accident, he will first have to pay the rental company’s deductible. After that, the driver sends checks to the insurance company, and he will be reimbursed the full amount.
On the smaller islands, gasoline is about 8-10% more expensive. If you go to Lewis and Harris, fill up a full tank before the ferry. In the rest of Scotland, prices are about the same, and gas stations are common.
More often than not, a rental company will issue and accept a car with a full tank. If you return an unrefueled car, the price per liter will increase by 2 to 3 times. The cost will be deducted from the deposit.
You can get to the Lewis and Harris Islands by ferry. From there you can get to the Isle of Skye by bridge or by ferry.
There are Caledonian-McBrain ferries between many of the islands in Scotland. Tickets are sold on their website.
About a hundred cars fit on the ferry. The loading and unloading process is easy and takes a maximum of 20 minutes: the ferry staff regulates the traffic.
In Edinburgh a place in a hostel with a shared bathroom will cost 5,000 P and a private room can cost as much as 8,000 P.
There are few hotels on the islands of Lewis and Harris, and options cheaper than 5000 P sell out quickly. Lodging with locals through the “ABC” is cheaper, such as a room for one in a couple’s house for 3000 P per night.
Accommodation on the Isle of Skye is also expensive, especially in the summer. Single room at 5000-7000 P per night still have to try to catch. To save money, you can stay in a hostel for 2500 P per night.
If you don’t need to be always connected, free wifi in cafes, museums, shopping centers and sometimes at gas stations will be enough.
What to bring back from Scotland
If anything happens.
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What the tourist needs to know about Scotland, the land of a thousand castles
One of the most incredible countries on our planet, which often remains unfairly neglected by tourists and travelers.
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Let’s try to imagine a country, the territory of which is equal to the territory of three Ukrainian regions, washed by two seas and the Atlantic Ocean, among which nestle about 800 large and small islands. To all this splendor, add about 3 000 thousand castles, scattered on the heath and green hills. It’s a fantastic picture, isn’t it? And it’s not Tolkien’s world or even a Scandinavian epic – as some might have guessed by now we are talking about Scotland – a country with thousands of years of history, incredibly peaceful and majestic.
At the moment Scotland is part of the United Kingdom United Kingdom and North Ireland . In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one of Scotland’s largest cities was Glasgow – Glasgow was an important industrial and economic center of the world. The city has preserved its original charm of industrial buildings of the times of steam engines and horse-drawn streetcars. Walking through its streets one can not help feeling that at any moment a gentleman in a cylinder could walk out of a modern business center and somewhere on the horizon outside the city heavy trebuchets and catapults are laying siege to some lord’s castle. Yes, in this country history and modernity are intertwined with unprecedented force. And no one has ever turned down the pleasure of drinking ale in the damp, stone-smelling cellars of ancient castles.
Flight and Visa
The flight is very comfortable and inexpensive. A ticket from Kiev to Glasgow costs on average from €20 0 per person. It is most convenient to fly via London but there are also many flights through other European cities. To visit Scotland you will need UK visa To visit Scotland you’ll need a UK visa, which is worth taking care of in advance by contacting the British Consulate in Kiev.
The cost of living
Offers of accommodation in Glasgow and other cities, towns and villages of Scotland are very diverse. Prices start at €45 for a double room and end at €1000 a night. A café lunch will cost you €10 – €15, a cup of coffee €3 – €4, a glass of beer or ale €7 – €8. Tips are welcome in Scottish restaurants. If everything is to your satisfaction you can leave them in the amount of 10-12% of the order value. It is not customary to tip in bars and pubs, but if you admire the service or the conversation with the barman you can generously leave 1 pound.
The main currency of Scotland is the British pound sterling. The exchange rate to the dollar at the end of September 2017 is 74 English pounds per 100 dollars. As for the hryvnia, for 100 pounds you will be offered about 3,540 UAH. Below we will give prices in dollars for ease of counting and understanding.
Going to the Scottish province, it will not be superfluous to take care to have in your wallet small bills, because in small towns there may be a problem with the change of £100 bills. In larger cities, you can exchange dollars or euros for pounds sterling at almost any bank branch you meet. But you have to take into account the fact that most banks close very early, often only working until lunchtime. If you managed to withdraw or exchange money, do not despair, in Scotland they accept bank cards for payment even in small markets.
Another useful tip is to stock up on an English plug adapter. Of course, you can buy it locally, but it will be 3-4 times more expensive than at home.
What to see
The cities are. Edinburghand Glasgow it is worth focusing on the urban architecture, everyday life and habits of the locals. It is not difficult to notice their leisurely, relaxed yet serious manner. On weekends, as well as in the evenings, residents love to stretch out on the lawns of the many parks, to feed the swans and crows that live here in great numbers. Visiting the many museums, from ornithological museums to gun museums and medieval torture chambers is a pleasant and rewarding pastime. Scottish towns have little of the hustle and bustle of big cities, and people are attentive and patient with one another. If someone notices a foreigner getting lost, they will gladly be the first to offer help. Gothic austerity and peace reigns everywhere.
Scotland – the Land of a Thousand Castles
Once you’ve enjoyed the cities, you simply must set out in search of castles, green hills, heather heath and rocky ocean surf. When you travel through Scotland you want to climb the hill and see everything for miles, standing among the ruins of medieval castles, stretch out your arms, lift your head to the sky and sing loudly to the bagpipes, scaring the birds on the branches of surrounding trees. Or freeze and imagine that you hear the clanging of weapons, the clanking of knights’ armor, the neighing of horses, and the shouts of English knights gathered to fight against the Scottish rebels. After visiting the ruins of the ancient Scottish castles, Mel Gibson, for example, was so inspired by the history of the liberation battles that he decided to make the film “Braveheart”, which gained high fame and recognition around the world.
Navigating the country
There are plenty of ways to travel around this country: hitchhiking, buses, high-speed trains, and airplanes. But since trains and airplanes do not reach many parts of the country, the most popular means of transport of tourists in Scotland is a car, which can be rented at any airport or found in any, even a small town. Similarly, you can leave it in any office of the same company, even in the opposite corner of the country. The cost of car rental is from € 50, depending on the class of the car and the number of days. Another popular way to travel is by bus (intercity and local). With this method you can plunge into the local life and habits of the inhabitants of villages and small towns on the way. In the local buses you can meet incredibly colorful characters who are happy to talk with you, tell you in detail about the folk traditions, life, and if you are lucky, even invite you to their home for tea. For fans of a more comfortable stay suit bus tours, which can be purchased almost anywhere. They can be ordered in Ukraine, but you can also buy them on the spot by finding the nearest tourist center, which is in every town.
Holidays by the Ocean
Going to Scotland, be sure to plan a trip to the Atlantic coast. In this country it is unique: here the ocean is cold, powerful and monumental. Standing on its shore, you can spend hours gazing into the waves and spray of the surf, imbued with respect for this invincible element. But when the sun comes out from behind the clouds and the ocean calms down, you will get an unforgettable pleasure of swimming in the cool waters of the second largest ocean in the world.