Backpacking Scotland

Are you longing for a new adventure and don’t know where to go? How about a trip to Scotland? Medieval ruins, castles, and rugged coastlines – the small country has a lot to offer. Have fun discovering the perfect backpacking route through Scotland.


Important Basics

Languages (English, Gaelic, Scots)
EnglishGaelic
HelloHalò
Goodbyebeannachd leat
Thank youmòran taing
Yestha
NoChan eil
Capital

Edinburgh

Form of Government

Scotland has its own parliament, which is largely independent from the UK one.

Best Time to Visit

The weather is constantly changing. The high season is from April to October, with May, June, and September being the most popular months.

Fun Facts
  • Scotland’s national animal is a mythical creature – the unicorn.
  • There are more than 800 islands in Scotland, 130 of which are inhabited.
  • Scotland is home to the Fortingall Yew, which is between 3,000 and 9,000 years old.

Cities

Edinburgh

If you’re travelling from Central Europe, a flight to Edinburgh will cost you about €30. How about starting your trip with a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour around the city? The ticket is about €20 and will get you to 14 different stops, where you can get on or off the bus as you like. The ticket is valid for 24 hours.
If you’re interested in history, we would recommend visiting Edinburgh Castle and/or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, this palace includes the Great Gallery, where many balls have been held over the centuries. You can also find the abbey ruins and the beautiful gardens next to the palace.

Back in the city, you can take part in a zombie apocalypse game, which will take you all over Edinburgh. You can gather supplies and find shelter in different locations – just make sure that no zombie catches you! Alternatively, you can play the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Game. This guided tour takes place at night and lets you explore the dark alleys and streets of Edinburgh. Be ready to get goosebumps from all the spooky stories your guide will tell you.

Now would also be a good time to hire a car, so that you can both explore the surrounding area and prepare for the rest of your trip. A short drive will take you to Dunbar, about 40 km east of Edinburgh. Nearby, you can visit Foxlake, where you can try out cable wakeboarding or make your way through a rope course with only water beneath you. On the way back, you can stop at one of the many fish restaurants along the coast and enjoy their tasty food. Your bed in Edinburgh is already waiting for you. A night in a 12 bed dorm will cost you about €18.

Glencoe

After about a three-hour drive, you will reach Glencoe, the gateway to the highlands. The beautiful valley became tragically famous when more than 30 people were murdered there in 1692. Back then, government soldiers betrayed and killed many members of the MacDonalds clan, after enjoying their hospitality and playing cards with them just the night before. This event horrified people, especially because hospitality is considered sacred in Scotland. Even today, you can find a small sign saying “No lawyers, no Campbells”. Despite this gruesome history, Glencoe is a great place for outdoor sports. Hiking through the whole valley will take you around three to four days. Make sure you don’t leave out Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, with about 1,345 metres. You can stock up on food in one of Fort William’s many supermarkets. By driving westwards on the A830, you will get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was featured in the Harry Potter movies and has accordingly become very popular. A little bit further on is the Glenfinnan Monument, which commemorates the victims of the Jacobite uprisings. After this exciting day, we recommend staying in a hostel near Glencoe, where you can share a six bed dorm for approximately €16 per night.

Loch Ness

A further two hours in the car will take you into the middle of the Highlands and to Loch Ness. You can visit different places along the legendary lake, which is among the deepest and largest ones in Britain. Why not take one of the boat tours that are on offer all around the lake? The monster that allegedly lives in the lake and that hundreds of people have already seen is said to emerge from the loch’s depths from time to time. Maybe you can spot the ripples on the water’s surface where the monster has dived back under again.

We also highly recommend driving along the Great Glen, which has some great views of other lochs. Also located near Loch Ness are Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, two places that are perfect for a short trip or a lunch break. You can also visit Nessieland or the Loch Ness Centre, where you can learn more about the legends surrounding this mythical creature. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, horse riding, sailing, and cycling. The choice is yours! There are several hostels available along Loch Ness, where you can stay for about €25 a night.

Inverness

It only takes about 30 minutes by car from Loch Ness to Inverness. Welcome to the capital of the Highlands! The city is located in a small bay called Moray Firth. There are a few beautiful castles in the area, including the one in Inverness. It is situated on a picturesque hill above the city, just next to the river Ness. Both the lookout tower and the park are open to the public. Inverness Castle is also an important literary location – it’s the place where Macbeth kills Duncan, King of Scotland. The Old High Church in Inverness is also well worth a visit. Its pulpit is in between the two entrances. Outside, in the church cemetery, you can visit some damaged gravestones. According to local legend, these headstones belong to people who did wrong while they were alive and were never punished for it. For dinner, we recommend trying out one of the many fantastic pubs in Inverness, some of which even have live music! Afterwards, you can stay at one of the city’s hostels, where a bed in a dorm with five other people will cost you about €21.

Aviemore

This small town is only about 40 minutes by car from Inverness. It’s located on the banks of the river Spey and is part of the Cairngorms National Park. In the park, there are many different trails for walking and mountain biking. You can also visit the Cairngorm Brewery to learn more about the beer making process. Of course, you’ll also have the chance have a pint afterwards!

Make sure to ride the steam train, which will take you through the Highlands all the way from Aviemore to Broomhill and back again. You can also visit the Highland Wildlife Park or watch reindeers at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. At Landmark Forest Adventure Park, there are many different attractions for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic views of Cairn Gorm or just go hiking in one of the surrounding forests. There are endless possibilities for spending your time in the Cairngorms National Park. Prices for a bed in one of the nearby hostels start at €20.

Glasgow

The last stop on your trip is Glasgow, which is about another three hours by car. It’s the cultural capital of Scotland and has a lot to offer, especially for young people. How about a whiskey tasting at the Clydeside distillery? Because it only opened in 2017, it doesn’t have a wide range of whiskeys yet – the whole process can take over ten years –, but it’s still well worth a visit. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a great place for a more rainy day. The Glasgow Necropolis is a famous cemetery with many beautiful statues and tombs. In case you feel like taking a break from all the sightseeing, just relax in one of the city’s many parks. One of our favourite places is Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens, where beautiful marble statues, magnificent flowers, and palm trees are waiting for you.

In the West End’s Ashton Lane, you can find great restaurants that serve haggis, the Scottish national dish. If you’d rather have something sweet, there are of course also a lot of places to have a traditional afternoon tea. In the evening, you should go to the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall. This theatre is more than a hundred years old and has seen many famous performers, among them, for example, Cary Grant. Nowadays, you can experience magic shows, silent film nights, and other events here. Glasgow’s Style Mile, on the other hand, is the perfect spot to go shopping, as it offers just about anything your heart could desire. Glasgow has also often been a shooting location for different movies and TV shows, such as Outlander. If you’ve seen the show, you might sport some familiar buildings! Finally, you can return your car in Glasgow and find a bed for the night, which will cost you about €19.

After 14 unforgettable days in Scotland, it’s already time to go home. You can fly from either Glasgow or Edinburgh or take the train south.


Edinburgh

Edinburgh

If you’re travelling from Central Europe, a flight to Edinburgh will cost you about €30. How about starting your trip with a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour around the city? The ticket is about €20 and will get you to 14 different stops, where you can get on or off the bus as you like. The ticket is valid for 24 hours.
If you’re interested in history, we would recommend visiting Edinburgh Castle and/or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, this palace includes the Great Gallery, where many balls have been held over the centuries. You can also find the abbey ruins and the beautiful gardens next to the palace.

Back in the city, you can take part in a zombie apocalypse game, which will take you all over Edinburgh. You can gather supplies and find shelter in different locations – just make sure that no zombie catches you! Alternatively, you can play the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Game. This guided tour takes place at night and lets you explore the dark alleys and streets of Edinburgh. Be ready to get goosebumps from all the spooky stories your guide will tell you.

Now would also be a good time to hire a car, so that you can both explore the surrounding area and prepare for the rest of your trip. A short drive will take you to Dunbar, about 40 km east of Edinburgh. Nearby, you can visit Foxlake, where you can try out cable wakeboarding or make your way through a rope course with only water beneath you. On the way back, you can stop at one of the many fish restaurants along the coast and enjoy their tasty food. Your bed in Edinburgh is already waiting for you. A night in a 12 bed dorm will cost you about €18.

Glencoe

Glencoe

After about a three-hour drive, you will reach Glencoe, the gateway to the highlands. The beautiful valley became tragically famous when more than 30 people were murdered there in 1692. Back then, government soldiers betrayed and killed many members of the MacDonalds clan, after enjoying their hospitality and playing cards with them just the night before. This event horrified people, especially because hospitality is considered sacred in Scotland. Even today, you can find a small sign saying “No lawyers, no Campbells”. Despite this gruesome history, Glencoe is a great place for outdoor sports. Hiking through the whole valley will take you around three to four days. Make sure you don’t leave out Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, with about 1,345 metres. You can stock up on food in one of Fort William’s many supermarkets. By driving westwards on the A830, you will get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was featured in the Harry Potter movies and has accordingly become very popular. A little bit further on is the Glenfinnan Monument, which commemorates the victims of the Jacobite uprisings. After this exciting day, we recommend staying in a hostel near Glencoe, where you can share a six bed dorm for approximately €16 per night.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

A further two hours in the car will take you into the middle of the Highlands and to Loch Ness. You can visit different places along the legendary lake, which is among the deepest and largest ones in Britain. Why not take one of the boat tours that are on offer all around the lake? The monster that allegedly lives in the lake and that hundreds of people have already seen is said to emerge from the loch’s depths from time to time. Maybe you can spot the ripples on the water’s surface where the monster has dived back under again.

We also highly recommend driving along the Great Glen, which has some great views of other lochs. Also located near Loch Ness are Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, two places that are perfect for a short trip or a lunch break. You can also visit Nessieland or the Loch Ness Centre, where you can learn more about the legends surrounding this mythical creature. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, horse riding, sailing, and cycling. The choice is yours! There are several hostels available along Loch Ness, where you can stay for about €25 a night.

Inverness

Inverness

It only takes about 30 minutes by car from Loch Ness to Inverness. Welcome to the capital of the Highlands! The city is located in a small bay called Moray Firth. There are a few beautiful castles in the area, including the one in Inverness. It is situated on a picturesque hill above the city, just next to the river Ness. Both the lookout tower and the park are open to the public. Inverness Castle is also an important literary location – it’s the place where Macbeth kills Duncan, King of Scotland. The Old High Church in Inverness is also well worth a visit. Its pulpit is in between the two entrances. Outside, in the church cemetery, you can visit some damaged gravestones. According to local legend, these headstones belong to people who did wrong while they were alive and were never punished for it. For dinner, we recommend trying out one of the many fantastic pubs in Inverness, some of which even have live music! Afterwards, you can stay at one of the city’s hostels, where a bed in a dorm with five other people will cost you about €21.

Aviemore

Aviemore

This small town is only about 40 minutes by car from Inverness. It’s located on the banks of the river Spey and is part of the Cairngorms National Park. In the park, there are many different trails for walking and mountain biking. You can also visit the Cairngorm Brewery to learn more about the beer making process. Of course, you’ll also have the chance have a pint afterwards!

Make sure to ride the steam train, which will take you through the Highlands all the way from Aviemore to Broomhill and back again. You can also visit the Highland Wildlife Park or watch reindeers at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. At Landmark Forest Adventure Park, there are many different attractions for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic views of Cairn Gorm or just go hiking in one of the surrounding forests. There are endless possibilities for spending your time in the Cairngorms National Park. Prices for a bed in one of the nearby hostels start at €20.

Glasgow

Glasgow

The last stop on your trip is Glasgow, which is about another three hours by car. It’s the cultural capital of Scotland and has a lot to offer, especially for young people. How about a whiskey tasting at the Clydeside distillery? Because it only opened in 2017, it doesn’t have a wide range of whiskeys yet – the whole process can take over ten years –, but it’s still well worth a visit. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a great place for a more rainy day. The Glasgow Necropolis is a famous cemetery with many beautiful statues and tombs. In case you feel like taking a break from all the sightseeing, just relax in one of the city’s many parks. One of our favourite places is Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens, where beautiful marble statues, magnificent flowers, and palm trees are waiting for you.

In the West End’s Ashton Lane, you can find great restaurants that serve haggis, the Scottish national dish. If you’d rather have something sweet, there are of course also a lot of places to have a traditional afternoon tea. In the evening, you should go to the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall. This theatre is more than a hundred years old and has seen many famous performers, among them, for example, Cary Grant. Nowadays, you can experience magic shows, silent film nights, and other events here. Glasgow’s Style Mile, on the other hand, is the perfect spot to go shopping, as it offers just about anything your heart could desire. Glasgow has also often been a shooting location for different movies and TV shows, such as Outlander. If you’ve seen the show, you might sport some familiar buildings! Finally, you can return your car in Glasgow and find a bed for the night, which will cost you about €19.

After 14 unforgettable days in Scotland, it’s already time to go home. You can fly from either Glasgow or Edinburgh or take the train south.

Scotland Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Edinburgh
Home – Edinburgh
Flight
30
12-Bed Dorm
18
2. Edinburgh
Edinburgh
-
12-Bed Dorm
18
3. Edinburgh – Glencoe
Edinburgh – Glencoe
Rental car
6-Bed Dorm
16
4. Glencoe
Glencoe
-
6-Bed Dorm
16
5. Glencoe
Glencoe
-
6-Bed Dorm
16
6. Glencoe – Loch Ness
Glencoe – Loch Ness
Rental car
Dorm
25
7. Loch Ness
Loch Ness
-
Dorm
25
8. Loch Ness –Inverness
Loch Ness –Inverness
Rental car
6-Bed Dorm
21
9. Inverness
Inverness
-
6-Bed Dorm
21
10. Inverness – Aviemore
Inverness – Aviemore
Rental car
Dorm
20
11. Aviemore
Aviemore
-
Dorm
20
12. Aviemore – Glasgow
Aviemore – Glasgow
Rental car
8-Bed Dorm
19
13. Glasgow
Glasgow
-
8-Bed Dorm
19
14. Glasgow – Home
Glasgow – Home
Flight
30

Total price.

Flights 60,00
Transportation 180,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 250,00
Total490,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Scottish Breakfast: is very rich and consists of porridge, cereals, fried eggs, and meat. Even breakfast is divided into several courses here.

Soups

Barley soup: is a creamy soup made from potatoes, usually with the addition of pumpkin, garlic, and onions.

Main courses

Black Pudding: is similar to a blood sausage and if often served with potatoes. 

Smoked wild salmon: is a Scottish speciality. The fish is usually served with a red wine sauce.

Fish and Chips: are also a staple dish in Scotland, especially for lunch or as a takeaway. It’s just the best!

Haggis: is the national dish of Scotland. It consists of sheep’s offal, which is cooked and prepared with onions and oats.

Burgers: with various side dishes are another staple of Scottish pub food.

Angus beef: is a Scottish speciality you definitely shouldn’t miss. It’s similar to a steak and made from very high-quality meat.

Drinks & Snacks

Craft Beer: from Scotland is a favourite among backpackers.

Whiskey: is another Scottish speciailty.

Pies: come with many different fillings, such as quark, meat, or vegetables. So no matter your preference, you’re bound to find one you’ll love!

Scotland

The exchange rate for €1 is about £0.92 (as of March 2020). You can see the average prices for basic products as well as the cost of living below.

Cost of Living

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Road trip: Scotland’s countryside is perfect for a road trip. Take the chance to enjoy the stunning landscape of Highlands.

Clothing: Scotland is not a tropical travel destination but rather a country with rough weather. The key is to always wear several layers and to bring some warm clothes with you.

Architecture: Glasgow is famous for its fantastic architecture, which you definitely shouldn’t miss on your trip.

Don'ts

Shots: A shot of whiskey isn’t a good idea because you should enjoy every drop of this liquor when you’re in Scotland.

Complaining about the weather: Are you always moaning about the ever-changing weather? Scots won’t appreciate this attitude, so if you’re planning to come to Scotland, just prepare yourself for the wind and rain.

Comparison with England: You shouldn’t compare Scotland to England, especially not when it comes to politics. It doesn’t go down well with Scots.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

Yes

Temporary national ID

Yes

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Yes

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Before travelling to Scotland, you should make sure that you’ve had all the standard vaccinations and that your passport is valid until the end of your trip. We also recommend researching the visa requirements for your country before your departure.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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