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.
When to fly to Scotland
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.
Getting around Scotland
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.
Scotland insider information
- Nobody taking cheap flights to Scotland could be unaware of the legend of the Loch Ness monster. There have been more than 4,000 "sightings" of Nessie who dwells in Loch Ness, the largest body of water in Scotland by volume. Loch Ness is about 40km southwest of Inverness.
- The Titan crane at Clydebank is said to be the oldest of its kind in the world. It has been open to visitors - between May and October - since 2007. Visitors can ascend 45 metres to get a sense of the history and power of this 800-ton crane.
- Ancient castles include Glamis Castle; Eileen Donan Castle in the northern Highlands, which is located on an island at the crossing point of three lochs; Urquart Castle stands in ruins on the banks of Loch Ness; Balmoral is the summer home of the British royal family; the Castle of Mey is in Caithness on Scotland's north coast.
- In Edinburgh, a Hallowe'en-time ghostly walk will spirit you under the city streets to the vaults, where people used to live in the 18th century when the city got too crowded.
- In addition to the world-famous Fringe Festival, Edinburgh is home to the World's largest Arts Festival every August and is the First Unesco City of Literature. Most of Edinburgh's centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
- Scotland is the home of golf. Some courses are world-famous - the Old Course at St. Andrews, Troon, Carnoustie, Turnberry and Muirfield - but there are hidden gems too such as Machrie, west of Oban on the Island of Islay, Murcar Links Golf Club, near Aberdeen, and Boat of Garten, south of Inverness.
- The island of Islay has eight working distilleries, producing world-famous malt whiskies. The distilleries on the south coast - Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Port Ellen - produce the most powerful whiskies. Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain are milder and lighter-flavoured. Bowmore Distillery is located in the middle of the island and Kilchoman is a farm distillery, the newest one, opened in 2004.