Millions of Australians and New Zealanders with Scottish ancestry book cheap flights to Scotland each year to trace their heritage, find out where their ancestors hailed from before they arrived on our shores.
Scotland is spectacular, there is poetry in the air. The landscapes – towering mountains, rolling glens and crystal-clear lochs – are brochure perfect. The cities pulsate. For the gregarious Scots sport is a religion and going out is a national pastime.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and seat of government, a city that has stood, amid the rocky crags, for more than 1,000 years. Its medieval lanes, Georgian terraces and historic castles complement the modern architecture, contemporary galleries and cutting-edge restaurants, bars and clubs.
Glasgow, 74km from Edinburgh, is Scotland’s largest city. It was once the Second City of the British Empire, a fact easily deduced from walking its streets. There is a wealth of Victorian and Glasgow-Style buildings (read Charles Rennie Mackintosh), art galleries, museums and shops. It’s the UK’s second-largest shopping centre – after London.
Away from the big cities, many visitors consider the Highlands and Islands to be the real Scotland. The wild countryside, remote villages, and distinct cultural heritage all speak of Scotland’s unchanging ways.
The West Coast of Scotland gets most of the rain that blows in from the Atlantic Ocean, the East Coast is slightly more continental. On the East Coast, winters are drier and colder and summers are sunnier. January and February are the coldest months. Temperatures range about 5-7 degrees Celsius and snow is to be seen on higher ground. July and August are the warmest months, with temperatures averaging 19 degrees.
Most travellers take cheap flights to Scotland during the summer months. This is when the festival season is in full swing. If you’re considering being in Scotland for the Fringe Festival in August, book far in advance. Hogmanay – New Year’s Eve – is a time of great rejoicing in Scotland, another peak time.
Winters can be harsh in Scotland, particularly on the West Coast and on the islands. The off season runs from November to mid-December and the weeks after Christmas and Hogmanay to mid-March.
Edinburgh and Glasgow and other cities have good public transport systems. Edinburgh has Lothian Buses, Glasgow has an integrated bus, rail and underground network that serves the city and outlying areas, Stagecoach Strathtay runs bus services around Dundee’s city centre and First Aberdeen operates bus services in and around Aberdeen. There are good train links too, connecting the bigger cities with more remote parts of Scotland.
For touring around renting a car is the best option. All the major rental car companies are represented at the airports.