A Staycation Guide to Scotland

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This summer, holidays are going to be taken a lot closer to home. Fortunately, the UK is blessed to have Scotland within its borders. With such a rich heritage and full of beautiful landscapes, Scotland is full of historical, cultural and scenic activities that will make your 2021 staycation a memorable one. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best locations, the best activity providers, and the best accommodations for each type of staycation, plus answered all your burning questions!

When should I go?

Scotland has something for everyone and is well worth a visit at any time of year. The summer months are the most popular for tourists, and many say that Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to visit, with good weather conditions and less chance of seeing many midges. If you’re keen to visit this summer, don’t let the midge season (from May to September) put you off, just go prepared! Make sure to pack a midge repellent to help keep the pesky bugs away.

Scotland coast staycation

Where should I go?

In the south, Edinburgh is perfect for a dream city-break.  

In the west, Loch Lomond is perfect for couples and thrill-seekers! The alluring peninsula of Cowal also in the west is perfect for wildlife watchers. For vast amounts of walking terrain, visit Rannoch Moor.

In the north, Ullapool is a fantastic coastal town to explore. For breath-taking views and a world-class golf course, Dornoch is a good option. For more culture and heritage, including the 18th century Old High Church and Victorian Market, visit Inverness. The Isle of Lewis off the north west coast is perfect for surfers given its status as one of the most unusual beaches in the UK. Full of natural wonders, the Isle of Skye is one for unforgettable views.

In the east, Aberdeen is a city exploding with culture and heritage.

Scotland sites

How should I get there?

For transport, the most viable options are by car, and by rail, but for a more luxurious approach you could consider sailing, or travelling by plane.  

Major car rental companies like Avis, Enterprise, Alamo and Hertz have widespread coverage, particularly around the major cities and airports, but there are also some fantastic local brands that have great deals. The likes of Celtic Legend are a family-owned business, that is the only car rental company in Scotland offering unlimited mileage on all rentals. In the capital, Edinburgh Car Rental caters to many requests that their competitors won't, including vehicles with an automatic transmission, collection from Edinburgh Airport, long term car hire and one way car rental. For more remote locations, EasyDrive operates in two key regions of the highlands. A key thing to note is that you must be over 23 when hiring, and you must have held a license in your home country for 12 months prior.

Scotland travel
Image courtesy of Edinburgh Car Rental

For travelling to Scotland by rail, we recommend Trainline or Trainpal, both of which come with their own unique features. Trainline is used most widely throughout the UK, offering tickets from all stations from various rail companies. Trainpal is the same, but offers split-tickets, whereby users save (on average) 37% of the original rail fare price on journeys in the UK. For travelling by rail within Scotland, we recommend ScotRail.

For travelling around the cities via public transport, we use Citymapper – an app which instantly compares your travel options in real-time, allowing you to navigate your unknown destination in minutes!

Scotland travels

Where should I sleep?

Luckily, there are a plethora of accommodation options, each more different than the last! All throughout each region of Scotland and the Scottish Isles, there are traditional experiences like hotels, cottages, BnB’s as well as holiday homes for the quirky traveller. From family-run glamping sites, featuring the best pods, huts, yurts and treehouses, all the way to national, award-winning providers with pristine locations in Scotland’s most sought-after National Parks. We’ve compiled a list of the best accommodation providers throughout the country!

If supporting family-run businesses is important to you, consider a stay at Newbarns Glamping. Situated 10 minutes away from one of the top 10 ranked beaches in the UK, this small site offers luxury pods with private hot tubs, and are well-equipped to cater for all of your glamping needs.

Scotland holiday
Image courtesy of Newbarns Glamping

For cosy pods, and cross-country national parks in Falkirk, visit Spoke & Boot.

To stay in a luxurious and unique eco hut, nestled away in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, visit Lazy Duck.

Scotland accommodation
Image courtesy of Lazy Duck

For luxury eco-pod breaks in Perthshire, visit Whitemoss Lodge.

Voted the most hospitable guest house by the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit Newton Farm Holidays. Experience life on a farm with a chance to interact with friendly animals, including hand feeding them and even an alpaca walking experience – we are sold!

Scotland farm
Image courtesy of Newton Farm Holidays

To sleep amongst a herd of Aberdeen Angler Suckler Cows, visit Air Pods.

If you want the security of going with an award-winning provider, (named as one of The Guardian’s ‘Best Travel Websites Ever’) visit, Go Glamping.

Scotland glamping
Image courtesy of Go Glamping

For a magical glamping experience in the stunning Ettrick Valley, visit Ettrick Valley Yurts.

To be spoilt for choice, with WigWam sites in 15 regions across Scotland, visit WigWam Holidays.

Scotland retreat
Image courtesy of WigWam Holidays

For an abundance of lodges in the Cairngorms National Park, visit Booking.

For a unique, self-catering style of accommodation on the Isle of Lewis unlike any other, visit Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.

For more truly unique stays throughout Scotland, visit Host Unusual, who are the best curators of unusual places for special travel experiences which we highly recommend!

Looking for something more mainstream? Providers like AirBnB also have an abundance of listings throughout Scotland.

Scotland stays
Image courtesy of Host Unusual

What can I do there?

No matter your preference, we’ve got an activity for you.  Throughout Scotland there are fantastic activity providers, ranging from the tame to extreme. Perhaps you’d like a long walk in a breathtaking National Park, a unique sailing experience in the famous Loch Lomond, or maybe bungee jumping or kayaking are more your thing – we’ve got you covered!

For Canals & Boating experiences, visit Black Prince, HoSeasons and the Lake Lomond National Park.  

For an activity centre that does it all, we recommend Galloway Activity Centre, they cover everything from watersports and climbing, to mountain biking and archery. They even have a waterpark with huge inflatables!

Scotland activities
Image courtesy of Galloway Activity Centre

Looking for specialist providers? Visit Bungee Jump Scotland for bungee jumping (of course!) and 7Stanes for world-class mountain biking centres.

For easy to follow hiking routes and walking trails, we love the AllTrails app.

To see the best wildlife Scotland has to offer, visit Speyside Wildlife.  For fans of birdwatching, download the Birding App.  Want to learn more about wildflowers? Download Wild Flower ID, the only real time photo recognition wild flower app in the British Isles!

Scotland bird watching
Image courtesy of Speyside Wildlife

What essentials should I take with me?

Depending on your plans, you will of course need different things to best suit your adventure! In addition to essential clothes, toiletries, and your phone (with charger), there are a few key items we recommend taking wherever you go.

The first, a reusable water bottle, and if you want to go one step further, take reusable cutlery too! Staying hydrated is so important for your health, and having a bottle handy is not only convenient but better for the planet.

The second, covid protection – remember to check government guidelines before travelling and check what precautions you might have to take when setting off for your trip.

Last but not least, midge protection, especially from May to September! Consider packing multi-functional clothing infused with insect repellent, to serve two functions in one. Check out our special bamboo anti-insect sleepwear which includes a top, trousers, socks and 2-in-1 pillowcase and storage bag, all treated with anti-insect tech.

Scotland travel clothing
Bamboo sleepwear set infused with anti-insect treatment

Where can I get more inspiration?

We hope by now we’ve convinced you enough to want to explore Scotland! If you are in need of even more inspiration, look no further. We’ve created a list of our favourite influencers and blogs, our go-tos for wanderlust inspo, perfect for planning your next adventure. They are the best Scottish influencers and bloggers, with expert knowledge of the country, and sublime photography skills to best illustrate the country steeped in culture that is, Scotland.

Scotland with the Wee White Dug, is a blog dedicated to informing people about Scotland as a visitor destination. Started by Sam from Edinburgh (a Scottish history and literature graduate) it has been featured in BBC Scotland, The Herald on Sunday and more. Brimming with spectacular photography and rich articles on touring routes, accommodation providers and the heritage of Scotland, it truly is a great starting point for anyone planning their upcoming trip to the highlands.

Our So Called Life, is a travel blog full of destination guides around the world, but their Scotland article contains details of the stunning scenery within their home country. It offers information about hidden gems like the Harris Gin Distillery Tour and more, all in a user-friendly manner.

Kieran Duncan, is a Scottish travel influencer with a particular focus on rock-climbing, whose amazing photography adorns his Instagram page, offering potential visitors a vast amount of portraits of inspiration.

The Chaotic Scot, is a blog from Kay, who has produced the most character-filled travel blog of them all! Full of personality and eccentricity, the Chaotic Scot offers travel tips, fun illustrations, destination inspiration and odd adventure reviews. Most recently, she published a glamping guide to Scotland, detailing cute and unusual places to stay.

Rona McMillan, is a Scottish influencer who posts breathtaking images on her Instagram centred around wild-swimming, outdoor activities and hidden travel gems in Scotland.

Scotland highland

Where can I go for more information?

If you have your trip planned, and still have some burning questions or information you need, these Facebook communities will help you out. Perhaps it’s your first-time wild camping or planning a road trip along the coast – these groups of experts, avid-fans of their activities and thrill-seekers will help you understand what you need before you start, the best places to start, and the best people to be in contact with.

For general information on travelling in Scotland, visit Scotland Travel Group, Travel to Scotland,  and Scotland Travel Tips.

For local walking and camping groups, visit Scottish Hill Walking & Wild Camping, the Scottish Outdoors Young Team, Wild Camping Scotland and Scottish Hillwalking & Mountaineering.  

For more information on high octane activities like white-water rafting, paragliding and rock-climbing, visit Scottish Whitewater, Paragliding Scotland, or Scottish Rock Climbing Partners.

Travel scotland

About us

We Drifters are a UK start-up, inspired by travel and fuelled by the motto of living life on our own terms. Our adventures inspired the creation of our bamboo anti-insect sleepwear, to help people explore the world bug-free, with peace of mind, and freedom to keep on drifting. Find out more about our story and join our community of free-spirited explorers.