If there is one word to describe Scotland, it is “welcoming.” Between the fun-loving people, the lush landscapes and the awesome castles, so much about the country opens its arms to visitors the world over. Visit Scotland and learn more about the country’s complex history, have a meal with its lively citizens and gaze out over its mystical lochs. From prehistoric stone circles and burial chambers to modern travel and ceremonies, Scotland tours have experiences sure to delight just about everybody
Live like a Scot at Edinburgh Military Tattoo
One of the most captivating parts of Scotland culture is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Part festival, part light show and all fun, this ceremony celebrates both the Scottish military and the country it protects.
In 1950, the first tattoo came to Edinburgh, entitled “Something About a Soldier.” It featured just eight programs, and drew a crowd of 6,000 that watched from benches set up along the Edinburgh Castle esplanade. Within two years, the seating capacity was increased by nearly 30 percent and more shows were added, allowing 160,000 viewers annually to witness a tattoo.
Today, every Edinburgh Military Tattoo sells out, and more than 200,000 people come to marvel at the events put on. It is a hit with both locals and visitors to Scotland - the crowd is evenly divided between Scots, other U.K. citizens, and outside visitors. Performances take place seven times a week, including every weekday evening, all throughout the month of August, and have never been cancelled on account of bad weather.
Programs include fireworks, drumming and military displays. Over the years, international military regiments have performed as well, with the money raised going to a variety of charitable causes.
Ride the Harry Potter Train
For nearly two decades, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series has captivated a generation of readers, listeners and movie-goers. Rowling’s engaging plot lines and deft touch with characterization have had millions wishing that they could step foot into her magical world. While Platform 9 3/4 has proven tricky to find, those on luxury tours to Scotland can temporarily ride in that realm via the Jacobite Steam train.
The train that travels this 41-mile route is the exact steamer used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. Riders get to cross the 21-arch Glenfinnian aqueduct featured in the movies, one of Scotland’s most gorgeous and iconic views. The train also passes through Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands, Arisaig, a tranquil loch-side village, and Mallaig, a busy fishing port and ferry city.
Any literature lover who wishes to see more of Scotland is well-advised to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express. While there might not be a Sorting Hat at the end of the journey, there is something positively enchanted about the scenery on the other side of the glass.
Bask in the Remote Isle of Skye
Scotland is home to nearly 790 distinct offshore islands, clustered into four major groups: Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. The Scottish isles are renowned for their history, wildlife and natural beauty, and nowhere is that reputation more justly deserved than the Isle of Skye, the largest and northernmost island in the Inner Hebrides group.
For thousands of years, the island has been inhabited, and the remnants of that history is evident throughout its 639 square miles. Visitors can walk around and learn about Skye’s history, or simply walk around and enjoy the beautiful views and mild, cool climate.
Ornithologists especially are encouraged to check out the Isle of Skye, as it has a vast array of bird species, including the corncrake, red-throated diver, kittiwake, tystie, Atlantic puffin, goldeneye and golden eagle. Skye also has a strong musical tradition, with the folk music of years past mingling with modern dance and rock influences.
With jagged mountains and scenic landscapes, Skye encapsulates the fierce and mesmerizing allure that has drawn so many to Scotland.
Step into Royalty at Holyrood Palace
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, known colloquially as Holyrood Palace, is the official seat of the British Monarchy of Scotland. It is also one of its most engaging and beloved attractions, with a history that dates back to the 12th century.
The palace itself extends roughly 230 feet from north to south, and the same from east to west. However, it also sits on 10 acres of gardens, which are as fetching as they are assiduously maintained. For one week every year, the Queen of England performs her duties from the castle, and the garden plays host to parties, events and dignitaries from all over the world.
Built in the neoclassical style, this Edinburgh castle stands at the foot of the Royal Mile, a succession of streets that comprise the city’s main thoroughfare. Visitors who are interested in history, architecture or culture are well advised to walk the mile, which has a variety of buildings, shops and impressive sights. It is the busiest street for tourists in Edinburgh, so those who come looking to be entertained will not leave disappointed.
American and Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least 90 days beyond the intended return date in order to enter and depart the country. Tourists must also provide proof of return or onward travel. Each traveler is responsible for ensuring that his/her passport is up to date. Citizens of other nationalities should check with respective authorities before departure.
Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately.
Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from your original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport.
There are no border controls when travelling within the United Kingdom including the land border with England. Scotland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. and Canadian citizens may enter for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
Cancelation and Medical Insurance is highly recommended as it can safeguard against the expenses associated with in-country medical emergencies, lost or delayed baggage and emergency cancelation or interruption of your trip. Medical facilities in Scotland are comparable to North American facilities. Please ensure your policy will provide you with upfront medical coverage so that you are not responsible for a hefty medical bill. Insurance can be purchased through us.
We always recommend that you see a doctor or health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. They will best determine your vaccination and medication needs based on your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, planned activities and up-to-the-minute requirement changes. For all vaccinations and health requirements, we also recommend that you consult the World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://wwwnc.cdc.gov.
If there are any medical items that are essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
The weather in Scotland tends to be very changeable, but it is rarely extreme. Compared to other locations at the same latitude, Scotland has a much warmer climate. The western highlands of Scotland are one of the wettest places in Europe. Scotland also has a reputation for being very overcast most days which is most notable during the relatively short winter days. For up-to-date forecasts, check weather.com.
Electricity in Scotland is supplied at 220-240 volts. Square, three-pin sockets are standard in Scotland. A multi-adaptor with different plug configurations can be very useful. We advise not to bring a hair dryer as it could blow a fuse.
Phone: Roaming charges vary between carriers, but tend to be quite costly. Consult your phone provider prior to departure to discuss overseas rates and international package options. It is also possible to purchase a SIM card locally to avoid international charges when calling numbers within Scotland. (You should check to see that your cell phone is SIM card compatible.)
Internet: Internet cafés and wireless access and multimedia booths are available in most urban areas, airports and hotels.
Generally speaking, we advise bringing £70-100 per day, per person, for spending money. Be sure to bring lots of small bills for porters, wait staff and housekeeping (not obligatory and based on your satisfaction). Bills come in different colors and denominations: £5, £10, £20, £50 notes available. There are also coins: 1 penny, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, £1. We recommend that you bring approximately 100 Pounds of spare cash in small denominations to have ready for tips and expenses when you first arrive.
We recommend that you get local currency from your bank before you leave home or from a bank machine in-country which is much cheaper than an exchange service at the airport or in tourist areas. Your bank card may work, but Visa or MasterCard are more widely accepted. You will need a 4-digit PIN to be able to use your cards in Europe.
Language: Scottish English
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP)
Time Zone: UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) & UTC +1
Electricity: 220-240 volts
Telephone: Country code for calling you from outside Scotland is +44
Calling North America: Dial 001 and your 10 digit number
Emergency numbers in Scotland: 999 or 112 for any type of emergency.