A travel destination that I feel is often underrated is Scotland. Scotland may seem like quite a journey from Southampton, however it has plenty to offer and doesn’t need to be that expensive either. A few summers ago, I got the chance to do a road trip around Scotland and its isles. From this, I can now truly say Scotland is a travel destination you do not want to miss. So here are a few tips for places and things to consider when organising this grand voyage!
Transport: Transport may seem tricky when considering the Scottish highlands and how best to manage these. There are easy and cheap coach services with Megabus and National Express, which can take you as far up as Inverness. Plus there is always the train to take you even further north. For our adventure, we rented a car; the roads around the Scottish coast and through the highlands are interesting at times. The scenery you get from that experience and the ability to stop along the way and really take it all in is well worth it from my point of view. If you have your own car, I would say that is your best option, or equally, if a few friends can club together to rent a car that could also be a solution.
Accommodation: I was lucky enough to have family along the way to stay with, which cut down our costs. If you don’t have this luxury, there are plenty of B&Bs and YHAs along the way. For the brave-hearted, camping is also an idea but I can’t say I would personally be too keen on that one.
Edinburgh: The first stop we made was Edinburgh, which I absolutely adored. It’s a beautiful city with plenty of history and culture to dip into, including Edinburgh Castle (which Harry Potter is infamously based upon), the Royal Mile, endless museums and so much more. In the summer, Edinburgh is gripped by festival fever. Edinburgh is then brimming with different festivals and has something to please everyone, such as the famous Fringe Festival. If you go up the Royal Mile during festival season many people are there promoting their shows. You’re bound to be overwhelmed by leaflets but it’s a great atmosphere and good way to find out what shows are on and if you want to watch any of them. There are numerous free shows meaning you don’t need to fork out too much to enjoy these festivals. Besides Edinburgh’s vibrant offerings of culture, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a dram of whisky and sample the divinity of haggis. All stereotypes aside though, there are some wonderful eateries in Edinburgh and something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.
Isle of Skye: We also spent a few days on the Isle of Skye, which was absolutely stunning. There are only a couple of cities on this island but if you’re going to the Isle of Skye, you should really just take in its astounding natural beauty. There are plenty of opportunities for nature and coastal walks around the isle and to see fairy-tale castles, glens, mountains and more. I certainly can vouch that I’ve never experienced anywhere as beautiful. It’s tricky to get around if you don’t have a car and you do have to get the ferry to the isle. So I would recommend renting a car at the very least for this excursion to make your journey simpler. However, I think it is well worth the effort.
Orkney: We also made a stop at Orkney, which is another group of islands at the very top of Scotland. Orkney is particularly interesting because of its extensive range of Neolithic sites. These sites include old burial tombs, stone circles and even old excavated villages. It’s impressive to say the least and is very well-preserved with all the sites being very much intact. There is a bus service, which runs between all the different sites and is quite easy to take. Nonetheless, a car is always easier. You’ll need to take a ferry to get to Orkney but ferries are relatively cheap and it’s nothing too different from us catching the ferry to the Isle of Wight from Southampton. The cities on Orkney are equally charming, as is its natural landscape. So for those more interested in walking than history, Orkney is another very different landscape to marvel and explore.
Highland Games: On our return trip from Scotland, we got the chance to enjoy the highland games. The highland games can be found all over Scotland in the summer, the games are quite different and definitely something exciting to witness. These games test people’s highland dancing, caber tossing (tree throwing), athletics, bag-piping, hammer throwing and multiple other abilities. All the skills displayed were so different to ones I had ever seen performed but it was a really fun spectacle to watch. Burger vans and beer tents also make routine appearances at these games, so you can really make a day of it all. It was the best way for us to end our Scottish adventure too!