European Destinations

Traveling to Scotland on a Budget

With its unspoiled beaches, shimmering lochs, gently sloping glens and whimsical castles, Scotland will always be viewed as a country of romantic and mysterious beauty. 

You may think that Scotland is inaccessible for an average tourist… and yes, that is true. The cost can be quite high and lofty as the summit of Ben Nevis! Expect a Scottish holiday to be a lot more expensive compared to a holiday in Asia, Africa, South America or any other developing region in the world. But compared to the rest of the United Kingdom and other European countries, you may find that Scotland is a cheaper option. Here are the tips that enable you to enjoy Scotland on a limited budget:

1. Look for cheap flights to Scotland

Booking flights to Scotland via a travel agency is not exactly the most economical option. More often than not, travel agents add hidden charges, which is usually 5% to 15% to the total booking charge. Howvever, the most significant advantage of booking flights with travel agents is that they can directly deal with the airline on your behalf.

You may look at another option: booking flights online, whose main allure is cheaper costs. Even travel agencies compete with online travel companies to match or even beat the latter’s prices. But as you might expect, there are risks with booking flights online. There is a lack of “live” help so you cannot ask anyone with questions about flight routes, hotel rooms, visa requirements, or other things concerning your travel. Plus, dealing with airlines can be a great inconvenience because you are often made to wait for long periods. But that still depends on the online travel company.

Many people recommend Skyscanner to search for in and out flights at several different airports. Use Skyscanner to search flights to some of the main cities in Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness. Booking through Skyscanner is fast and gives you the most affordable flight rates.

Another option for booking cheap flights to Scotland is to purchase at least a couple of one-way tickets instead of buying all trips on one airline ticket. While buying one-way tickets means connecting flights, it will save you lots of money. Just make sure that you have enough layover time between flights to catch enough amount of rest. And don’t forget – travel insurance! It will be a life-saver if and when you get caught in a case of a delayed or missed flight.

2. Look for hostels

Hostels are especially attractive to backpackers because they are cheap and offer just the necessary facilities. You can find hostels in several Scottish cities and towns. As for the hostels in the Scottish Highlands, the majority of them are operated by the Scottish Youth Hosteling Association. For additional information about hostels in Scotland, you can find lots of data on the Internet. There are websites (such as Hostel Geeks) that feature handpicked selections of hostels in every city and town in Scotland.

3. Consider campsites

Camping out in the wild is perfectly legal in Scotland, unlike in many countries including neighboring Britain. Scotland is known the world over for its peerless natural beauty, so camping out and exploring the remote countryside is undoubtedly the ultimate Scottish outdoor adventure! Imagine waking up and coming out of the tent to be greeted by sparkling blue lochs and tall emerald cliffs – ’tis the sight to behold! Many of Scotland’s most popular campsites are situated on the beaches or in the forests.

If you don’t fancy shelling out a fortune at a hotel or any other lodging, camping out is a good option. However, expect some challenges – high winds, a frigid climate, and midges biting on you – but you can manage them, right?

4. Check out free attractions

National parks aside, there are other free-of-charge tourist attractions that you might not want to miss during your Scottish holiday. Some of the free attractions include:

  • National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh)
  • Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh)
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Glasgow)
  • Riverside Museum (Glasgow)
  • St. Giles’ Cathedral (Edinburgh)
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Edinburgh)
  • Gretna Green parish and its famous blacksmith shop (Dumfries and Galloway)
  • Gallery of Modern Art (Glasgow)
  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh)
  • The People’s Palace Museum (Glasgow)

5. Search for cheap but good eats

Your eyes may be pleasantly satiated by the awe-inspiring Scottish glens, lochs, castles, churches, gardens, and museums. But how about your belly? It’s probably growling.

Fortunately, dining out in Scotland does not have to break the bank. If you are currently staying in Edinburgh or on the outskirts, you are in luck. The city is home to several restaurants and eateries which offer affordable but delicious quality food.

Aside from traditional Scottish cuisine, you can also find Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian, and fusion specialties. Most of the “budget” restaurants offer affordable options without compromising on quality, taste, and portion sizes. In fact, for less than £10 you can enjoy big pizzas with generous toppings, hearty day lunches, and ultimate comfort food such as grilled cheese sandwiches.

You would never leave Scotland without sampling their street food. They are cheap, but honest-to-God excellent artisanal stuff made only from the freshest seasonal ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

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