Language: English is the main language with recognised regional languages and dialects including Scottish Gaelic
Currency: Pound Sterling
Time Zone: GMT
Tipping: 10 to 12% is usual for hotels with 10 to 15% being usual for restaurants. In each case, it is not necessarily added to the bill. If a service charge has already been added, no further tip is required.
In a nutshell, Scotland is one of the most extraordinary places you'll get to visit that's crammed coast to coast with amazing scenery, beautiful historic towns and cities combined with cutting-edge attractions for everyone to enjoy. Scotland tours are the best way to discover England's fascinating neighbour with its rugged coastline, romantic lochs and eye-watering peaks so high that they touch the skies above.
When you visit Scotland, you will find yourself doing all manner of things that you wouldn't normally do such as listening to live fiddle music, sampling heather-infused whisky or following in the footsteps of Royalty at Stirling Castle. Ride the Jacobite Steam Train, the real 'Hogwarts Express', from Inverness to Mallaig where you could even pretend you're a wizard like 'Harry'?
On your tour of Scotland, you will begin to realise that the country has a complex history and houses an astonishing number of ancient monuments and buildings such as the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis or The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage which takes you back 5,000 years with its burial tombs and prehistoric settlements. On the other hand, wildlife enthusiasts will love the accessible wilderness of the Shetland Isles, The Orkneys and The Hebrides with its abundance of wildlife at every turn.
Edinburgh should definitely feature high on your itinerary when you visit Scotland as not only is it home to the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo but it also has a thriving arts scene boasting an International Festival Fringe, a good wash of museums and an Old and New Town ensemble that have earned this city an 'Athens Of The North' nickname and World Heritage acclaim. Visit The Royal Mile for outstanding street entertainment, go to Princes Street where there are more shops than you can throw a stick at including a rather upmarket looking Primark! Jump on a sightseeing tour bus for a whistle-stop tour of the city including all the major sights such as Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse, Jenners Department Store (the oldest in Scotland) and the Council Buildings.
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and take your Scotland tour into the wilderness where you can climb ice falls in Glencoe, hurtle down rapids in Perthshire or trek through the awesome glens of West Highland Way. See if you can spot the elusive wildcats of the Cairngorms National Park, relax by the tranquil waters of Loch Lomond or see if you can spot 'Nessie' lurking in Loch Ness. Gaze over the fields where the Battle of Bannockburn was fought and won near Stirling or pay a visit to Burns Cottage, the birthplace of Robert Burns in Ayrshire. No visit to the Scottish Borders would be complete without seeing the interiors of Floors Castle. Admire the priceless artwork and hunt for the holly tree in the grounds that apparently marks the spot where King James II was killed during a siege!
Coming back to the present day, 2014 is going to be a momentous year for Scotland and will have the eyes of the world watching as it hosts the Commonwealth Games in July and the 40th Ryder Cup at historic Gleneagles in September. However you needn't wait till next year to visit Scotland, start planning your itinerary now!
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Scotland, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
British Citizens are advised by some of our tour operators to have travel insurance before going on a tour or holiday, even if it happens to be in your country of residence. As a British citizen, you will be entitled to free emergency health care on the NHS.
If you are visiting Scotland from outside of the United Kingdom and fall ill or are involved in an accident and are from any member of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can obtain free or reduced cost treatment with The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all other nationals planning on visiting Scotland.
If you need to contact the emergency services whilst in Scotland simply dial 999 or 112 to ask for an ambulance.
Most destinations are generally trouble-free, however as with all places that you are not familiar with, keep an eye on your belongings and if necessary lock them away somewhere safe back at your hotel. Keep an eye on everyone in your party and don't go off with people you do not know. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and don't venture off on your own.
Local Laws and Customs
Queuing is a British Institution - jump a queue at your own risk!
Drug offences will carry penalties in the UK, so avoid getting involved with anything whilst in Scotland. Please note the narcotic plant Khat/Qat is legal in the UK, but it isn't in a majority of other countries so never try to export this when leaving the UK.
If you are visiting from outside of the United Kingdom, it is wise to check customs requirements before you travel. If you are planning to bring alcohol, tobacco or souvenirs into the country, you need to be familiar with the UK's custom laws. For those people coming to the UK from the EU, you are allowed to bring an unlimited amount of most goods for your own use without paying tax or duty.
However, if you are travelling to the UK from outside of the EU, you are given an allowance of how much alcohol, tobacco, perfume, souvenirs and other goods. If you go above this allowance you may have to pay tax or duty. It is worth checking the HM Revenues and Customs website before you travel.
When travelling between the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man in most cases an official form of identification such as a Driver's License will be ok. However, some airlines will insist you show a passport so check before you travel.
If you are travelling to Scotland from Australia, Canada or the USA, you must have a valid passport for at least three months beyond the length of your stay. EU nationals need to have either a valid passport or identity card.
Visas for the UK are not required by those travelling from Australia, Canada, USA or EU for stays of up to six months.
Any other nationality looking to visit the UK must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For further information about visiting Scotland you can visit the Official Tourism Website at visitscotland.com
Scotland is such a fascinating country to visit and should definitely feature high in your touring itinerary if you are planning a tour of the UK. Here are just a few ideas of the places you could visit during your tour:
Balmoral has been a holiday home for the British Royal Family since it was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848. Queen Victoria herself described Balmoral as her 'dear paradise in the Highlands' and on visiting, you will hopefully see why. The estate has been lovingly preserved for 150 years and covers in excess of 51,000 acres.
This mystical ancient settlement was uncovered by a ferocious storm in 1850. Older than Stonehenge, this settlement consists of eight houses which are connected by low covered passageways and was inhabited between 3200 BC and 2200 BC. It has been carefully preserved allowing a unique insight into prehistoric life.
Cairngorm National Park
The Cairngorm National Park makes up Britain's vastest and tallest mountain range. The scenery here is spectacular with clean rivers, lochs, moorland, native forests and farmland. Stop off at the nearby Speyside Heather Garden and Visitor Centre, to view the heather exhibition and visit the Garden Shop.
Jacobite Steam Train
Often described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, this 84 mile round trip, starts near the base of Ben Nevis, and will take you past many impressive sights. These include Loch Morar, the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, the most westerly railway station (Arisaig) and the deepest seawater loch in Europe – Loch Nevis.