Scotland is a semi-autonomous part of the United Kingdom but enjoys a high level of independence in terms of legislative powers. The country is divided into three regions: Highlands and Islands, Central Belt, and the Southern Uplands. Before you travel to Scotland, you can use this guide to plan your trip.
The country’s total land area is estimated at over 30,000 square miles with a population count of 5.3 million as of 2014. English is widely spoken in Scotland but Gaelic is currently recognized as the official language. In terms of religion, majority of the population observes the Christian religion.
When it comes to Scotland’s economy, they were an industrial powerhouse during the 19th century with major success in ship building, mining, and manufacturing of supplies for the expanding British empire. However, it declined by the latter half of the 20th century and was replaced by discovery of North Sea oil deposits. Today, the economy of Scotland is best known for exporting the following goods: chemical and petroleum products and food or drink items.
Currency: Pound sterling
Official Language: Gaelic is the official language of Scotland.
Wi-Fi Availability: Since 2014, some of the top cities in Scotland such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen have been considered wi-fi hotspots.
Airport/s: The Edinburgh Airport and Glasgow Airport are among the top international airports in Scotland. You can travel to Scotland via these airports.
Visa Required: If you are from the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland, you do not need a visa to travel to Scotland. Other nationals who require a visa can travel to Scotland for a maximum of 6 months only. They must also present a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds.
Driving: In Scotland, you must drive on the left side of the road.
International Driver’s License Accepted? You can use your US driver’s license or any foreign issued driver’s license in Scotland. An international driving permit is not required.
Crime: Scotland has recently hit its record low in crime rate in the country’s history over the past 40 years. Therefore, this country is one of the safest countries in the world.
Electrical Adapters: The electricity in Scotland uses 240 volts and 50 Hertz.
Trivia: Even though Scotland is part of the constitutional monarchy of the UK, it has a separate education system and has some level of independence in other areas including health service and economy.
The cuisine of Scotland shares attributes with that of the British and many other European cuisines due to influences from neighboring countries – both in the ancient and modern times. However, there are a few notable traditional dishes from the cuisine that are known amongst the locals, on top of the imported dishes brought on my migration to Scotland.
When it comes to cereals, the Scots enjoy their porridge or skirlie a lot. Meanwhile, soup is an integral part of every Scottish meal and among their favorites are Cullen skink (thick soup of made of potato, onion and smoked haddock), cock-a-leekie soup (made with chicken and leek), and Scotch broth (a filling soup made with barley, lamb or mutton, and root vegetables).
Fish and seafood is also an integral feature in the Scottish cuisine. Among their favorite seafood dishes are smoked salmon, rollmops (pickled fillet of herring), and cabbie claw. Due to their access to dairy products, these are used heavily in many traditional Scottish dishes and desserts.
Travel to Scotland: Must-Visit Attractions
Edinburgh Castle – This historic fortress dominates the skyline in Edinburgh. It is located on top of the hill at Castle Rock. The castle is operated by Historic Scotland and is open daily for tourists from 9:30AM to 6PM. It is an important icon of Scotland’s history within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Edinburgh.
Glasgow Cathedral – This cathedral is located within the heart of Glasgow, which is the largest city in Scotland. The cathedral was built on the site that was believed to be the burial site of St. Mungo. The very first cathedral was built in 1136 by King David I; however, the current building was consecrated in 1197.
Wallace Monument – This is a 67-meter tower standing atop the summit of Abbey Craig, which is a hilltop in Scotland. The tower commemorates Sir William Wallace, who is a hero in Scotland during his time in the 13th century. The tower features a Gothic revival architectural style and was designed by architect John Thomas Rochead.
George Square – This is a civic square in Glasgow and was named after King George III. It was built in 1781 and is currently where the headquarters of Glasgow City Council is located.