I already wrote a kind of “emotional roundup” of my trip to Scotland. However, I have been doing official roundups in this format for every country I have traveled in depth since starting blogging two years ago. So I decided to keep the tradition alive and hopefully give a hint or two to those that may be visiting Scotland for the first time soon,

What I Did: 4 days in Glasgow, 3 days in Edinburgh, and 3 weeks based in Irvine exploring the West Coast

Overall: I already explained a lot about my Scotland trip in my confessional post about failing at Scottish tourism. The consensus in the comments (thanks guys!) was that I gained something even more valuable by doing things a little differently. I agree!

In a snapshot, Glasgow was energetic, Edinburgh was beautiful, and the coast was peaceful and ripe for exploring. My highlights include attending a Scottish wedding, hiking Ben Nevis, and exploring Glasgow, by day and by night.

I heart Scotland sign, Edinburgh, Scotland

Getting around: Scotland is well connected via a major network of trains and buses. We consistently found the best deals via Megabus though you sacrifice the comfort of trains for the cost. We went to London for only

Another option is to rent a car, especially for areas in the North less accessible by public transit. The rental itself is quite affordable, but it is the fuel cost that will add up. If you have a vague idea of your route, use Google Map’s embedded fuel calculator to estimate costs. Remember if you are visiting the isles via car to factor in the cost of ferries.

Food and Drink: I may have mentioned around these parts that my biggest fear before arriving in Scotland was being fed haggis. Lots and lots of haggis. I did give it the old college try once, and to be honest while it wasn’t the worst it wasn’t my favorite British dish either. Those honors go to steak pie, bacon butties, and Canterbury fudge bars. The stereotypes are true: the food is very stodgy and filling.

I was thrilled by the cheap prices of drinks out and about around Scotland, but soon realized that due to new laws the actual alcohol going into each drink was strictly measured, and therefore they seemed quite weak compared to the heavyhanded concoctions of New York bartenders! And for once in my life I didn’t feel like an outsider for shunning beer, but rather joined the masses in drinking the many different summer ciders available. Long live Strongbow!

Dining in Scotland

People: What can I say? Many of you already know that I have quite the affinity for one Scotsman in particular. And I found all the people we encountered to be warm, friendly, proud of their country and happy to show it off.

There is tendency towards deprecating humor towards every subject (self, town, you). But if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Money: Um, yes. If you haven’t caught on to my moaning about the high cost of everything United Kingdom, you haven’t been reading very closely. For a few examples, a cider is around £4; a bacon butty, £3; a hostel in Glasgow, £20; entry to the Edinburgh Castle, £14; cost of a highland cow hat, £9.

If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend couchsurfing or camping when possible, using Megabus or sharing a car rental to get around, and self catering from budget groceries like Asda and Tesco. Many activities, like hiking, walking and attending museums and galleries in Glasgow, are free!

Harbor, Oban, Scotland

Safety: I felt extremely secure in Scotland, both for my personal wellbeing and my belongings. This is a first world tourist hotspot and so you will see large cameras and cash being flaunted with no fear.

Good to know: If you have a student ID, it will quickly become one of your most precious possessions as your start raking in the discounts. Always, always ask for a “concession rate” and reap the rewards. Although I already graduated, my ID has no dates on it and I intend to use it until I start going gray (or my nose starts growing!)

The List is a great resource for finding what’s on in terms of nightlife, comedy, and entertainment in various cities across Scotland.

Gumtree is like the Craiglist of the UK and is great for finding rideshares, selling and buying large items and also for finding odd jobs.


Are you guys done reading about Scotland? Good, because I think I just exhausted my energy for writing about it. On to Ibiza, London, and beyond…

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Are you now officially craving a getaway that highland coos and regal castles?

  • Kris Koeller
    July 27 2011

    Nice wrap-up. I’m not looking forward to it, but I will try the haggis…

    • Alex
      July 28 2011

      It wasn’t as bad as I expected, its basically like spicy mince meat. But I don’t like spicy!

  • Danielle
    July 28 2011

    I think I would fear having to eat haggis as well. However, steak pie looks delicious. That’s something I’m going to have to try whenever I go to the UK.

    I enjoyed reading your posts on Scotland. Can’t wait to see what adventures Ibiza and London bring!

    • Alex
      July 28 2011

      Thanks so much for saying that Danielle! And yes, I highly recommend the steak pie!

  • Nomadic Samuel
    July 28 2011

    Alex, this is a nice post. I’ve always wanted to travel to Scotland but I’ve been having a hard time getting away from Asia 😛 Did you feel given it’s expensive that traveling there still offered good value?

    • Alex
      July 29 2011

      Now that is a tricky question. (And I love Asia too!) I think for a shorter jaunt, where you targeted what was most important to see and made the most of your time (a lot of my time was taken up doing non tourist stuff the average traveler wouldn’t be doing, less they too start dating a Scotsman!) it is absolutely worth it. But there will be no more long term Europe trips for me for a while now. When I do go next, I’ll make it a bit shorter, prioritize, set aside the money and just enjoy myself and not stress about my bank account!

  • Dad
    July 28 2011

    I amm sorry this is your last Scotland post. It has been so much fun to be looking over your shoulder. Thanks



    • Alex
      July 29 2011

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying them! No worries though, new destinations loom!

  • Taylor Hom
    July 28 2011

    Alex, your blog is amazing and so is this trip! I’m incredibly jealous of all this world frolicking.

    • Alex
      July 29 2011

      Thank you so much Taylor! Maybe you should start planning your own post grad adventure 🙂 (and don’t tell your mom I said that!)

  • I visited Scotland about 7 years ago (wow!) and I had a nice time, but it just didn’t excite me. I will probably return in the future to get a 2nd opinion though!!!

    • Alex
      July 29 2011

      I never knew you traveled there! I’ll have to get the inside scoop of your trip from you someday 🙂

  • Jonathan
    July 28 2011

    Not so authentic but for the faint of heart, vegetarian haggis is the way forward and very tasty.

    • Alex
      July 29 2011

      Truth be told I’m a meat eater through and through, but I just might have to check out this vegetarian haggis next time I’m in town!

  • Sarah
    July 30 2011

    Measuring drinks!? But WHY!?

    Seriously though, Scotland seems like a blast. If only do purchase over-priced cow hats and eat anything Canterbury!

    • Alex
      July 31 2011

      Well I believe the drink measuring is due to the Scottish inclination to, ahem, overdrink. But seriously, if you tip a bartender in NYC well the first time, the second drink can knock you on your feet!

  • Globetrottergirls
    August 1 2011

    No Loch Ness?? Don’t be too sad about it, we found it pretty underwhelming. Our favorite Loch is Loch Lomond, did you go there? Also loved Loch Shiel, not sure if you got to visit it. But Scotland is one of these places that you can always go back to 🙂

    • Alex
      August 1 2011

      I did go to Loch Lomond, it was beautiful! And yes, I have a feeling there will be a lot of Scotland in my future.

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