Although global travel restrictions to protect public health are still in place around the world, it doesn’t hurt to plan your future itinerary. And for people locked indoors, looking at places with beautiful countryside and lots of clean air is probably top of their list. If you’ve been eyeing Scotland as a possible future destination, we can’t blame you. Here are some of the most important things you need to know before visiting this country.
Scotland is Not a Part of England
Politically, culturally, and economically, both Scotland and England are separate countries that are part of the United Kingdom. Never call a Scottish person English, as the Scottish people are extremely proud of their cultural identity and heritage. The Culture Trip advises playing it safe by simply assuming that every person you meet while in the country is Scottish. In relation to this, you should also never ask if their money is real or not, as Scottish legal tender is accepted across the UK. Furthermore, don’t even think about asking anyone what they wear under their kilt, as this is tantamount to asking whether or not they wear underwear, a topic best left between close relationships. Respect Scottish culture and tradition and you’ll find that they are a very welcoming people.
Be Prepared for Scottish Food
Scotland is famous for having some of the best produce in the world, with many of the world’s top restaurants ordering from the country. However it is also home to some of the “stranger” dishes you may encounter. Do try haggis, Scotland’s national dish made of sheep’s offal. Many of the best restaurants have their own versions. If you’re feeling brave, and not on a diet, you can even venture to try a deep-fried Mars Bar – a caramel chocolate bar dipped and fried in batter. Depending on who you ask, it’s either culinary sacrilege or pure genius.
It’s the Land of Picturesque Hikes
Europe’s gorgeous, natural terrain has inspired some of the greatest stories and mythologies of the last thousand years. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Scotland where you’ll find some of the most picturesque hiking spots in all of Europe. Bring your walking boots, as there are plenty of places to explore. Encompassing 50 rivers, 22 lochs, and larger burns, Trossachs National Park is considered by Gala Bingo to be one of the top spots in Scotland for hiking and dog walking. Try Conic Hill if you want a quick nature hike with superb views of Loch Lomond. For a trip back in time, go for the Glen Ogle Trail, a historic hike that will have you walking across disused railways and stone viaducts. No wonder Wanderlust calls Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park a walker’s paradise.
Expect Fickle Weather
While you won’t necessarily see rain every day, it would be prudent to expect it and come prepared. Don’t just pack for the cold, pack for rain. Raincoats and boots would be ideal if you’re planning to go on hikes. But if you’re mostly staying in the city, at least have your own umbrella. With that being said, Scottish weather is notoriously fickle, and you might even experience every type of weather on certain days, so be prepared.
New Year is a Three-Day Affair
Hogmanay is Scottish for the last day of the year. It’s one of the most unexpectedly wild and fun New Year celebrations on earth. On the first day of Hogmanay, thousands of people march the streets of Edinburgh, each bearing torches and walking through the capital to the sound of traditional pipes and drums, culminating in fireworks at midnight. This signals the beginning of what is pretty much a days-long street party, which includes Loony Dook: the Scottish tradition of dressing up in silly, funky outfits and taking a dip into the River Forth together. If you are planning to have a wild time, this is the time to go.