Scotland is a land of legends. From mountain-top castles to kings in kilts, the picturesque country never fails to romance visitors. Rolling hills, fields of wildflowers, bagpipes and festivals are year-round fixtures, and stories of the Loch Ness Monster and Braveheart are recounted on Scotland flights and immortalised in the country’s history. Along with England, Northern Ireland and Wales, Scotland makes up the United Kingdom but its people remain independent. The Scottish parliament was formed in 1999, creating a new set of laws specific to Scotland and free from London’s reign.
The Scots are passionate people who remain steadfast to their country’s culture and steep traditions. The whiskey flows fast during the popular summer festivals, when many travellers book flights to Scotland to take part in the highland games or head to Edinburgh for cultural celebrations.
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Scotland is surrounded by water on three sides and is often buffeted about by stormy weather. As a general rule, the east coast is cool and dry and the west coast milder and wetter. The weather varies, even in a day, but in general July and August are the warmest months (up to 20 degrees Celsius) and therefore peak season. May and June are nice too; weather is dry.
When to fly to Scotland
The best time to book a flight to Scotland is during the summer months.
Spring can be a beautiful time of year to visit. The weather can be mild and the countryside is starting to turn green again. Autumn can offer great weather. City breaks in Edinburgh and Glasgow are very popular and in more remote parts of Scotland the golden and red leaves can set the countryside ablaze.
The winter months can be wet, cold and dark and they get most of the snow that falls on the UK too. However, this is when legendary and world-famous Hogmanay takes place.
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Getting around Scotland
Public transport in the central belt (Glasgow across to Edinburgh) is reliable and efficient, but getting around the more remote areas of the Highlands and Islands, can take a lot of forward planning. Most train services are operated by FirstScotRail. Coach services are popular and reasonably priced. Rental car is an option. All the major car rental companies have branches here.
By boat: about 50 islands have ferry links. You can take a car on some of them. Book in advance however and be prepared for the weather to interrupt your journey.
Scotland has four main airports – Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Glasgow Prestwick – and other smaller airfields around the country which are linked up by carriers such as British Airways, Loganair, Highland Airways and Eastern Airways.
Scotland insider information
- There is more to discover in Edinburgh, the capital, than the usual tourist stops of the castle, Old Town and Royal Mile. Arthur's Seat is a wild crag in the Holyrood Park and gives a great view of the city. A ghost walk will take you under the streets to the vaults, where people used to live when the city got too crowded. A trip at Halloween can be especially atmospheric. Apart from city-break season in spring and autumn, the Fringe festival in August is famous and the Hogmanay celebrations at New Year attract revellers from around the world.
- Glasgow, the largest city, has lots for art lovers: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the UK’s most visited museum outside of London; Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover; the Burrell collection, more than 8,000 works of art (including medieval European, Oriental, ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome), in Pollok Country Park; Centre for Contemporary Arts; Gallery of Modern Art and the Hunterian Art Gallery. The People's Palace is a social history museum, telling the story of Glaswegians. The Necropolis, behind Glasgow Cathedral, is a wonderful Victorian cemetery with views over the city. It is the final resting place of rich merchants and the higher up the hill you go, the richer and more ornate their headstones. It has its own Bridge of Sighs.
- National Parks include Loch Lomond and the Trossachs - Scotland's first national park, the Cairngorms - a mountain range near Aviemore and Loch Ness, where Nessie the monster is said to reside.
- Royal Scotland: Glamis Castle (the setting for Macbeth); Eileen Donan Castle, which sits on an island at the meeting points of three lochs, is in the northern Highlands; the ruined Urquart Castle is on the banks of Loch Ness; Inveraray Castle on Loch Fyne; Balmoral of course, summer home of the royal family; the Castle of Mey is the most northerly castle on the British mainland.