Visiting Scotland From Overseas

If you plan visiting Scotland from overseas there are many considerations to take into account. Having travelled widely ourselves, we know that good planning reduces the chances of things going wrong when you arrive and helps you enjoy your holiday more.

Visiting from overseas Plan your trip

Practicalities

The information that we give on visiting Scotland is correct to the best of our knowledge, but it is worth double checking, especially on things such as insurance and health issues, which may vary from country to country.

With recent terrorist attrocities around the world, many people are very concerned about the safety of travelling. The UK is considered a safe place to visit, however it is worth checking with your own government as situations can change.

For information on visiting other parts of Scotland when you don't have much time, take a look at Gilbert's website ScotlandInAWeek.com

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is like all insurance, it seems a waste of money if you never need it, but money very well spent if you do.

I would strongly recommend that when visiting Scotland you take suitable insurance before you travel (it will probably be compulsary on an organised holiday). There are any number of good deals to be found on the internet, but consider the following when you search :-

  • If you have an existing medical condition, make sure your insurance will cover you. 
  • If you plan to do any sporting activities, make sure you are covered, as many sports are not included in a standard policy
  • Do you travel frequently ? It may be worth looking at multi trip insurance
  • Does the policy cover you for the length of your stay for visiting England? Many policies are only available for up to a month
  • How much will you be insured for ? 
  • Are you paying for things you don't need ?
  • Can you get a discount for your age ?
  • If you are travelling with someone else,what will happen to them if you are incapacitated ?

Car Hire

If you plan to hire a car when visiting Scotland, it is advisable to book this in advance to get the best prices. It is also worthwhile familiarising yourself with the driving laws.

For many overseas visitors there is the added problem of driving on the opposite side of the road. This does take some getting used to, so try to get a bit of practice at the car hire depot before you hit the road.

Check what your hire cost includes. Many car hire firms now quote a full package price, so there are not usually any nasty surprises. It is however worth checking the excess charge applied in the event of an accident

Make sure you bring your driving licence with you. Check with the hire company if they need any other paperwork.

 

Frequently asked Questions

Is there any dangerous wildlife ?

The adder is the only poisonous snake in the UK, but you would be extremely lucky to even see one and the chances of being bitten by one are very remote. There are no snakes on Arran.

Probably the biggest danger are deer on the road at night. They are very large animals and a crash with them could be very serious.

Deer at Lochranza Deer at Lochranza

What about the Midges ?

Yes, midges can be a real nuisance. For those not familiar with the great Scottish midge, it's a tiny insect whose bite can last for a few days. In some places they are horrendous and can drive you to distraction. On Arran they are around but in nowhere near the numbers of some places.

The west coast of Scotland is the main area, though you can get them anywhere in Scotland in small numbers.

The main season is mid May to mid September and they are at their worst in still damp conditions near standing water, early and late in the day. If it's sunny or windy you are usually OK.

My experience is that the best defence is to use 'Skin So Soft' a moisturiser spay from Avon. It's not an actual repellant, but seems to work better than anything else. Forestry Commission staff wear it and they are out amongst them more than most people. I have found that mosquito repellants don't seem to work for me, in fact the midges seem to like it.

Don't let them put you off visiting Scotland. My view is that they are one of the best things in Scotland, as without them there would be twice as many tourists !

Is the water safe to drink ?

Yes, any water from a tap should be perfectly fine. Many people do drink bottled water, but personally I don't see the point in paying for water when it's free and just as good fom the tap.

In some more remote areas the water may be a bit brown and cloudy, especially after heavy rain. This is from peat which gets washed in to streams and is not dangerous, though it's probably worth boiling.

Will I like the food ?

This should not be a problem for most people visiting Scotland and trying new dishes is part of the adventure of visiting new places.

As well as local food such as haggis there is often a wide range of international cuisine available. Scotland has some excellent seafood and locally reared meat and a great reputation for the quality of many of its restaurants.

For anyone fancying living dangerously, how about trying the fabled 'deep fried mars bar' ?

Directions to Lochranza Hostel - How to get here from the ferries

Ardrossan to Brodick ferry - Ferry timetable and fares

Lochranza ferry - Seasonal ferry timetable and fares

Getting Around Arran - Bus network, cycling and the roads

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