Solo travel to Scotland: adventure through unchartered paths alone

The welcoming locals, safe environment, stunning landscapes, and rich history make solo travel to Scotland a serene escape for traveling alone.

solo travel to scotland
Kristin D. wrote this solo travel to Scotland guide. She helps people organize incredible trips to Scotland’s most off-the-beaten-path and isolated locations.

Having grown up in Norway, where the countryside is never far away, I now live in London, which feels like the complete opposite. That is why I am so glad I went to solo travel to Scotland.

On one of my first trips to Scotland, I drove from Glasgow to Portree on Skye. The open countryside was literally a breath of fresh air.

The landscapes are vast and open, dotted with fascinating castles. You’ll also discover wonderful white sandy beaches and hiking trails with terrific views.

The Scots must be some of Earth’s friendliest and most welcoming people.

When visiting a pub on your own in rural Scotland, you can guarantee that someone will strike up a conversation, although I have to admit that I still struggle with solid accents.

I love the Scottish countryside, but Scotland also has great cities to explore. Edinburgh has a lot of history and fascinating museums.

Glasgow, on the other hand, is a place to go out and it is perfect for anyone who prefers an edgier scene.

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Scotland solo travel: quick info

  • Capital: Edinburgh
  • Safety Index: 68.76
  • Power Plug: Type A & B
  • Scotland E-SIM: Airalo
  • Scotland Travel insurance: SafetyWing

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Is solo travel to Scotland safe?

Ben Nevis in Scotland | Photo: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

Yes, Scotland is a safe destination and is perfect for solo female travelers. However, like in most countries, the countryside is safer than the bigger cities.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen are safe, but you should take the usual precautions you would in any Western city.

I also recommend arriving whilst it is still light so that you can safely find your feet. Scotland is further north than you might think.

Anyone traveling from October to March should remember that the sun sets as early as 3:45 pm in the middle of winter.

I always book a place to stay ahead of time since it saves me wandering around looking for accommodation.

There are lots of hotels and hostels all over Scotland. Hostels are more social and an excellent place to meet people.

In addition, staying in hostels in Scotland keeps the cost down in what can be a reasonably expensive country.

The fact that everybody speaks English also makes me feel safer. It means that most visitors can easily ask for advice, help, or directions.

Is Scotland good for solo travel?

Glencoe, a village in Scotland, is a must-visit for solo travelers! Photo: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

Scotland is divided into 32 council areas and the largest cities are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. There are three main languages in Scotland, English, Gaelic and Scots, although outside of the islands you will nearly always hear English spoken.

It is easy to imagine that the Scottish landscape is the same across all parts of the country, but that is not the case at all.

The cities, the countryside and the islands are all very different. Depending on how long your trip is, try to include a mix of everything.

Even on a shorter trip don’t spend all your time in the cities, include at least one destination where you can witness the stunning Scottish countryside.

Scotland’s scenery is great for outdoorsy solo travelers

Fairy Pools walk on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. | Photo: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

For me, the main reason to solo travel to Scotland is not its cities but its countryside. The scenery in the Scottish countryside is amazing!

You will find picture-perfect lochs, green hills, and white sandy beaches.

I recommend including at least one of the Scottish islands on your itinerary. The Isle of Skye is one of the best islands for solo travelers.

Since it is one of the most visited islands, it has more to offer in terms of hostels, B&Bs, restaurants, and cafes, which makes it easier to meet people.

It is also one of the most scenic parts of Scotland, with iconic sites such as the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, and the Fairy Pools.

The beaches in Scotland deserve a special mention. Who would have thought that Scotland has some of the prettiest beaches in Europe?

The waters are turquoise, and the sands can be bright white. The most excellent beaches can be found on islands such as Mull and the Outer Hebrides.

But don’t plan to sunbathe on them. Given the Scottish weather the beaches usually are better suited to walking. 

When planning your itinerary keep in mind that public transport is much less available as soon as you get outside the cities and you might have to get a ferry.

With a lot of pre-planning you can travel using buses, but renting a car or joining a group tour is better.

Food in Scotland

Stuffed fried hot Scotch eggs with breadcrumbs.

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of some famous Scottish dishes like Haggis and it can be hard to find good, fresh vegetables when eating out in some areas of Scotland.

But the cuisine in Scotland is changing with the times. There are new, modern cafes and restaurants popping up all over Scotland serving delicious coffee and healthy food.

Think fresh fish, locally smoked salmon and even locally grown vegetables.

The days of everything being deep fried are over, although you will still find some of the best fish and chips in the UK in Scotland.

Anyone who enjoys a drink will love Scotland. You are never far from a cosy pub and wherever you go you won’t be far from whisky and gin distilleries.

Whisky enthusiasts should visit the area around Speyside and Islay which are known for their quality whisky.

Most distilleries offer tours and tastings but usually must be booked in advance.

Scotland has friendly locals!

Vatersay, a stunning beach in the Isle of Barra.

The Scots must be some of the friendliest people on Earth.

Since people speak English in Scotland, you remove the communication barrier, and it is easy to strike up a conversation with anyone you meet.

Pubs are one of the best places to meet locals and other travelers. Another good way to meet people is through language meetups.

Language meetups are where people gather in a pub or other location to practice their foreign language skills and learn about new cultures.

Not only can you practice your English, it also means you can teach others some of your mother tongue. Events are arranged regularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Meetups are detailed on the Glasgow Language Exchange website and on the Edinburgh Language Exchange website.

It’s easy (and safe) to get around Scotland alone

Beaches in Scotland for solo travel. | Photo: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

Public transport is safe across the UK, and Scotland is no exception. As a woman, I never think twice about taking the bus or train home at night.

Trains and buses in Scotland are generally reliable and clean. However, if you are travelling by train, you must plan your itinerary carefully.

Trains regularly run between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but it is more difficult to travel across Scotland by train.

If no train is available between the two destinations, there will likely be a bus. However, it is worth remembering that buses might only run once a day in the countryside.

Unless you take a group tour or rent a car, you must plan well in advance to travel to the more remote parts of Scotland using public transport.

You must also book bus and train tickets in advance to get the cheapest tickets. This is especially true for trains where booking tickets on the day of travel is very expensive.

Buses generally take longer than the train between the same two destinations and cost much less.

Weather in Scotland

Exploring castles in Scotland alone. | Photo: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored

There is no escaping from the reality that it rains a lot in Scotland, regardless of the time of year you visit.

It can often be windy as well, so I always make sure I pack waterproof and windproof clothing. I never travel to Scotland without a fleece and my Gore-Tex jacket, even during the summer.

The key to what to wear is to think of layers. The weather and temperature can vary significantly daily and within a single day, especially in the Highlands and islands.

Mid-April to June is my favorite period for visiting Scotland. It is before the school summer holidays start in Europe, so there are fewer tourists and, in April and May, fewer midges.

The summer months are the warmest, but statistically, spring tends to have more sunshine.

During winter, it often rains, and storms can affect ferry crossings to the islands. Buses are less frequent during the winter, and many tourist sights, hotels, and restaurants are closed.

Unless you are looking to get away from everything and don’t mind there being few other tourists, this is not the best time for solo travel to Scotland.

Budget for solo travel to Scotland

Scotland is not a cheap destination. As a budget traveler, expect to spend around $63-$126 a day with budget accommodation costing from $25-$63 per night.

A mid-range budget is $126-$253, but you can easily spend a lot more than that staying in top-end hotels and eating at good restaurants.

To reduce your spending, stay in hostels with kitchens and cook your own meals. Not eating dinner and lunch at a café or restaurant will also significantly reduce your outgoings.

Another option is to buy food at one of the supermarkets and have a picnic.

The other large expenses will be transport and entrance fees. The good thing is that many things to do in Scotland are free, such as hiking, admiring the scenery, or just wandering around a city.

In my opinion, most Scottish castles are most impressive from the outside, so you don’t even need to pay to go inside.

I can’t wait to travel to Scotland solo again!

Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As soon as I finish a trip to Scotland, I start to plan my next trip. Each time, I try to add a new area to explore.

With so many amazing sights, islands, and villages, I am sure I will never run out of interesting things to see and do.

My favorite areas to visit are the Highlands and the islands. Visiting these areas requires more planning but don’t just stick to the well-trodden tourist itinerary of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Add at least one island to appreciate the fantastic scenery Scotland is so famous for.


Let me help you plan your trip!

I’ve been giving expert and genuine advice to solo travelers and digital nomads for the last 15 years. You choose the destination and I will answer all your questions!

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