Skip the Umbrella
Pack a good raincoat instead! If you are visiting Scotland, you will stand out like a tourist if you are walking around with an umbrella, locals do not use an umbrella they stick with wearing raincoats. Scotland has some very strong winds, so the rain is going in every other direction and the umbrella tends to spend more time inside out than protecting you from the rain. Buy a raincoat that covers you to make exploring in the rain more comfortable. Don’t skip out on the rain gear, you will need it to get a true Scottish experience. Especially if you are going to be visiting Edinburgh there will be rain and there will be wind in Glasgow.
Let Your Host Know When to Expect You
When visiting Scotland it is very common to stay at a guest house, similar to a bed and breakfast. It is a common courtesy to inform the host when to expect you so they can make sure their house is open and the lights are on. Unlike hotels, there typically aren’t main lobbies that stay open 24/7. Guesthouses are often the same place the owners call home, and you can only enter it by being let in, or upon arrival, you will receive a key. We recommend giving them a ring the day before your checking in to let them know your estimated time of arrival.
Consider Chatting with the Locals
The Scots take friendliness and hospitality to another level! In general, if you need help with directions or are feeling like a friendly chat, Scottish people tend to be willing to help or are game to shoot the breeze. While of course every person and every situation might vary, we encourage our travelers to be open to making friends while visiting the UK, and especially when in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Try the Haggis
Many say Haggis is a must-try dish when visiting Scotland. Haggis is a savory pudding dish of sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs with minced onion, vegetable stock, traditionally cased in a sheep’s stomach, but commonly an artificial casing is used. It originated in the Scottish Highlands as a go-to specialty that’s nutrient and calorie rich, and as a means to not waste food. It can be found all over the country, and just like any dish, each recipe will vary at each location. Give it a try in a few places, you might surprise yourself and truly enjoy it.
Have a Wee Dram
So long as you partake in alcohol, we recommend giving Scotch a chance. Even if you are not a fan of whiskey, if you are visiting Scotland, you need to try Scottish whiskey at least once. If you enjoy it, try mixing it with coke, but be careful it’s sweet and goes down easily, dangerous for some!
Be Aware that the Accents Might be Thick
Scotland is an English-speaking country, but the Scottish accent can be difficult to understand for those who haven’t developed an ear for it. When visiting Scotland, it may take time to understand exactly what someone is saying, so don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves.
Brush up on Pub Ettiquette
If you plan to spend time at the pubs while visiting Scotland, which you should, you must, at the very least, get a real Scottish experience, there are a few customary things to know before heading in for a drink. Everything is ordered at the bar, including food, and you pay for the drinks before bringing them back to the table, leaving a tab open isn’t an option.
Do not worry about tipping every time you get around, it is only customary to leave a 10% tip at restaurants, not push when visiting Scotland. If someone offers you a drink don’t turn it down and make sure to buy the next round. When buying the next round make sure it is brought up before the current round is finished.
Have Cash When Visiting the Cities
When visiting Scotland, you may notice many Scottish cities offer public buses to get you from place to place but do not forget, you need exact change when riding the bus. Especially in Edinburgh, the buses do not offer change so make sure you have exact change or you will lose a few pence. Each of the bus stops has a sign with the fair on it so make sure to double-check before hopping on the bus.
Plan for Ferries
If your trips fall during peak season make sure to book your ferry trips ahead of time. The boats fill up fast and you do not want to miss out on the beautiful islands when visiting Scotland. The Inner and Outer Hebridies offer loads of off-the-beaten-path sightseeing for day-trippers, and those staying overnight would be in quite a jam if they can’t even get to the island! Pre-booking is a must, and these are the kinds of details your Juniper Tours Destination Specialist will handle.
Remember, when visiting Scotland and getting on the roads or sidewalks, you much keep left! Don’t get in a car if you are worried about driving on the left, but I promise it is not as scary as you might think. This also goes for the sidewalks, make sure you are walking on the left and not messing up the groove of foot traffic. Another important universal thing to remember is to move to the side if you would like to admire something or snap a picture, people are trying to walk.