Top 10 Budget Travel Ideas in Scotland

| December 4, 2017 | Reply

We’ve got ten great cost saving ideas for anyone who want to travel around Scotland but needs to keep a careful eye on their budget.

 1. Island Hopping

The introduction of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) fares has made getting out to Scotland’s isles much more affordable. You can cut the cost even further with Caledonian MacBrayne’s Hopscotch tickets. These can be used on 25 routes and are valid for 31 days from the date of your first journey!

CalMac, Brodick, Isle of Arran

CalMac, Brodick, Isle of Arran (c) Robin McKelvie

2. Let the Train Ease the Budget Strain

Train travel can be pricey, but national operator Scotrail have come up budget trumps with their trio of ‘Rover’ tickets. Choose from Spirit of Scotland, the Highland Rover and Central Scotland Rover. The Freedom of Scotland is superb value as it allows four days of travel out of eight consecutive days for £139 or, even better value, eight days travel out of fifteen consecutive days for £179. This pass also includes many ferry services and some linking bus journeys so you really do have the freedom to travel Scotland.

3. Whisky Galore

You don’t get much for free in whisky circles, which makes it even more important to make sure you get great value. GlenDronach Distillery offer just that with their Premium Tasting Tour option for only £15. Here you can savour a guided distillery tour plus a tasting of the GlenDronach 8, 12 and 18 years old.

4. Follow our Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage have a wealth of great of day trip ideas across Scotland on their website. Using these free guides you can put together a budget conscious tour of Scotland’s natural and cultural attractions. There have everything from coastal routes in Aberdeenshire and an exploration of the dramatic scenery of Caithness & Sutherland, through to dolphin watching in Easter Ross, an island journey through the Outer Hebrides and, in Argyll, the chance to visit the ancient kingdom of Dalriada.

Easting Beach, Unst

Easting Beach, Unst (c) Robin McKelvie

5.  Stirlingshire Film Tour

Stirlingshire has enjoyed its fair share of cinematic success making it a great venue for your own low budget adventure. Doune Castle was the setting for swathes of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, as well as the current Outlander TV sensation. ‘The Bruce’ meanwhile saw the largest filmed reconstruction of a medieval battle ever staged in the UK at Bannockburn. And who knew much of ‘The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby’ was shot in Stirling’s Old Town Cemetery? Stirling Castle stood in for ‘Colditz’ in the TV series and the area has connections with ‘The 39 Steps’, ‘Burke & Hare’, ‘A Game of Thrones’, ‘The Eagle’ and ‘Angel’s Share’. The list goes on . . .

Doune Castle

Doune Castle (c) Robin McKelvie

6. Hostels are Not Just for Backpackers

Gone are the days of strict curfews and communal dish washing at Scotland’s official youth hostels. They have had to react to the success of more flexible private hostels and growing consumer expectations so these days we are talking decent showers, private rooms and smiley rather than surly staff. There are around 60 locations to choose from around the country and you certainly don’t need to be a youth to stay with everyone welcome, including families. Rates compare very favourably to hotels.

7. Bag a Bargain

With so much direct B2C interation these days, it is easy to forget that VisitScotland list special offers that they are running with their partners on their website. It’s worth keeping an eye on these.

8. Free Visitor Attractions

Many of Scotland’s first-rate attractions are completely free. From its world-class museums to vast wild spaces where craggy mountains and stunning lochs are protected in national parks.  See our guide to the Top 10 Free Visitor Attractions in Scotland.

9. By an Explorer Pass

If you plan on visiting Scotland’s most historic properties you should consider buying an Historic Scotland pass. Historic Scotland take care of more than 300 properties including the magnificent Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, For short-term visitors an Explorer Pass is valid for 3 days (over a 5 day period), or 7 days (over a 14 day period) and cost £29 and £38 respectively for an adult. Even better value for those who travel around Scotland more extensively is an annual membership, which costs just £47.25 for an adult or £51.75 for an adult and up to 6 children.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle (c) Robin McKelvie

10. Camp for Free

Scotland has some of the most liberal land access laws in Europe and one positive spin off of this is that you can wild camp for free in most parts of the country. The idea is brilliantly simple – you just turn up and pitch your tent. Common sense should always be applied and it is also essential to stick to the unofficial ‘rules’ set out by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. There are literally thousands of possibilities from the Borders to the Shetland Isles.

Camping on Gigha

Camping on Gigha (c) Robin McKelvie


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