Tour at a Glance
|GLASGOW||1 - 4|
|EDINBURGH||4 - 7|
|Transfer||Glasgow International Airport [GLA]||Jurys Inn Glasgow|
|Transfer||Jurys Inn Glasgow||Glasgow Central Railway Station|
|Transfer||Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station||The Principal Edinburgh|
|Transfer||The Principal Edinburgh||Edinburgh Airport [EDI]|
|Transfer||Glasgow Central Railway Station||Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station|
Few countries can boast a traditional culture as distinctive as Scotland. From haggis and whiskey to men in kilts playing the bagpipes, this proud country’s local customs are recognised throughout the world. Scotland is a land of hilltop castles, formidable fortresses, and mist-cloaked glens. With some of Western Europe’s largest areas of wilderness in their backyard, the Scots are blessed with a host of outdoor pursuits including hiking and mountain-biking in the rugged terrain of the Northern Highlands, whale and dolphin watching off the coast of Mull or sea-kayaking among the seal-haunted isles of the Outer Hebrides. With all this wilderness on offer alongside some of Britain’s most fascinating cities, it is no wonder that the Scots are so fiercely passionate about their remarkable country and its impressive heritage.
BANKING AND CURRENCY
Pound (GBP; symbol £) = 100 pence. Notes are in denominations of £50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of £2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 pence. Scotland has its own bank notes (produced by three different banks – The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank), but English notes have exactly the same value and are accepted as well. You’ll receive Scottish notes from ATMs and usually as change too. Coins are identical.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union.
Banking hours: Monday – Friday 09h00-17h00 (there may be some variations in closing times). Some banks are open on Saturday morning; some all day Saturday.
American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are all widely accepted. Cash can be obtained from a multitude of ATMs available across the country.
You can withdraw cash from a multitude of ATMs available across the country. Stock up on cash if you’re visiting any rural areas however, as remote villages won’t necessarily have an ATM. If you’re travelling from overseas, it’s worth letting your bank know that you’re planning on using your debit card abroad so the bank doesn’t think the card is being used fraudulently.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted in banks and bureaux de change. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller’s cheques in Pounds Sterling. Many travellers now find it easier to purchase a prepaid currency card which can then be used in the same way as a debit card, either to withdraw money or to pay for goods.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Car hire is available in towns and cities across the UK from all the major companies. Roads in rural areas can be slow and winding, and in upland areas may become impassable in winter. Access to Scotland from London is by the A1/A1(M) or the A68 to Edinburgh, or the M6 to Carlisle followed by the A74 to Glasgow. Within Scotland, motorways link Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. Vehicles are sriven on the left side of the road.
Taxis are widely available in towns and cities. You can pick them up at taxi ranks (often outside railway stations and in city centres), hail them in the street, or book them by phone.
Licensed taxi operators are generally metered; small supplements may be charged for weekends, bank holidays, excess baggage and late-night travel. In the larger cities, unlicensed operators offer a cheaper (but less efficient and knowledgeable) unmetered service with fares based loosely on elapsed clock mileage; these taxis are called mini-cabs and can be booked by telephone.
National Express is the UK’s main coach operator. Megabus is a low-cost alternative. All cities and towns have local bus services of varying efficiency and cost. Glasgow has an underground railway system while Edinburgh has tram services.
FOOD, DRINK AND CUISINE ADVICE
Food within the UK is generally safe to eat, with health and safety standards monitored by various government agencies. Tap water is considered safe to drink but bottled water is widely available. If you’re camping, always boil, filter or purify water from streams.
Iconic cakes, splendid sandwiches and heart-warming stews all hail from the United Kingdom. Don’t miss tea and cake or, for a fancy occasion, try the full-blown afternoon tea, with three-tiered plates of sandwiches, cakes and scones.
Another fine UK institution is breakfast, and although there are plenty of coffee shops selling US-style muffins and bagels, the full-on British breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, tomatoes) served with a cuppa can be found in cafés lovingly called “greasy spoons” or in pubs with an early license.
Chefs from the UK, such as Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, have found international fame and fortune, while fine and experimental cuisine can be found in most cities – but this usually comes with a high price tag.
In hotels, a service charge of 10 to 12% is usual, which may be added to the bill. 10 to 15% is usual for restaurants; if this has already been added to the bill, a further tip is not required.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Scotland has four seasons; spring, summer, autumn, and winter. However, the changeable nature of the climate means it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day! Scotland’s high latitude means that although winter days are short, in summer there are very long daylight hours and often an extended twilight. In the north of the country, Lerwick in Shetland has about four hours’ more daylight at midsummer than London. At this time of year there is actually no complete darkness in the far north of Scotland. And with the extra hours of daylight, you can pack a lot into your day. Round of golf at midnight, anyone?
January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the daytime maximum temperatures averaging around 5 °C (41 °F) to 7 °C (45 °F). July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with temperatures at an average 19 °C (66 °F).
CLOTHING AND DRESS RECOMMENDATIONS
Rainwear is recommended throughout the year. Warm clothing is advisable at all times, and is essential for any visits to upland areas.
ELECTRICITY AND PLUG STANDARDS
Electrical sockets in Scotland are the “Type G ” British BS-1363 type. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.
Electrical sockets in Scotland usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 220-240 volt electrical output, a voltage converter will be necessary.