Scottish Tourist Hot-spots
If you’ve never been to Scotland before, it can be tempting to head straight for the famous spots — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, if souvenirs and guided tours aren’t really your thing, you might find yourself disappointed and out-of-pocket if you stick to the beaten track.
We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations to save you time and money. Here’s what’s worth a visit — and what’s not.
The quality of your experience at Edinburgh Castle really depends on when you visit. Adult tickets are £16, and at that price, you really want to make sure you enjoy yourself! Weekends (particularly in summer) are a nightmare, especially if you haven’t already bought your tickets. The queues can be enormous. The solution? Plan your visit before you leave and book online. To get your money’s worth, you’ll want to see the Scottish crown jewels, the one o’clock cannon and the National War Museum. Or, if you don’t mind a drive, Stirling Castle is a cheaper, quieter alternative.
Verdict: Pricey and very busy. Visit off-peak.
Getting to Loch Ness can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a car. Bus journeys are long and uncomfortable, but the scenery is exquisite when you do get there. If you’re interested in the legend of the Loch Ness monster, you’ll be pleased to find tourist trails and Nessie souvenirs. But, if it’s the scenery you’re after, there are plenty of other, equally beautiful lochs around Scotland. Try Loch Lomond and the Trossachs as an alternative.
Verdict: Avoid during peak tourist times, unless you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
If you have young kids, Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park is probably a good call. Children might not appreciate historical sites and long walks as much as you do, and a safari park can be a great way of breaking up an otherwise “grown-up” holiday. From lemurs to lions and eagles to elephants, Blair Drummond has a huge variety of animals and attractions that kids of any age can enjoy. The park is perfect for an afternoon visit, and if you have the energy, the pedal-boats are a lot of fun.
Verdict: Worth a visit with the kids.
For nature and hiking enthusiasts, Ben Nevis is one of the best places to visit in the UK. Climbing Ben Nevis will take up the whole day, but you can guarantee you’ll sleep well when you get back. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance the weather will let you down. If the view is important to you, visit in the summer — the odds of you getting clear skies are much better between June and August but not guaranteed.
Verdict: Visit but be prepared for changing weather and plenty of holiday walkers throughout the summer.
If you haven’t booked your holiday yet, you might want to keep the above destinations in mind when deciding on accommodation. Where transport is concerned, driving to Scotland does have its benefits, but it’ll cost you a fortune in petrol, especially if you intend on visiting far-out places like Loch Ness.
Taking a train will give you the best of both worlds when it comes to speed and scenery, and you can save a lot of money by booking in advance. If you’re worried about the length of the journey, don’t be — getting to Scotland is part of the adventure!