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The solo traveler’s guide to the best things to do in Scotland

Jan 11, 2024 by Steph Herron

There’s an undeniable magic to Scotland. Whether you’re looking to explore winding cobblestone streets, mist-covered Highland hills, or the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, any tour of Scotland will deliver spectacular moments in spades. One of our favorite ways to traverse Scotland, though? It’s as a solo traveler.

Nicknamed “The Land of the Brave,” Scotland is the dream destination for that courageous solo trip you’ve been contemplating. The good news? Our Scotland for Solo Travelers: Highlands, Aberdeen & Edinburgh tour makes it easier than ever to travel solo (not alone) to Scotland.

Still, even a brave solo traveler needs to consider the facts, so we have you covered. We’re offering a breakdown of why you should choose Scotland for your solo travels, as well as everything you need to know to make your memories just as magical as Scotland’s stunning scenery and mystical energy.

Why travel to Scotland solo?

We can tell you all the reasons to travel to Scotland solo—and we will—but first, hear from a traveler who took the leap and journeyed to Scotland solo. “My first solo tour was a huge success,” said traveler Lori of her solo experience on our Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland tour. “On top of seeing Scotland’s beauty, learning her history, and exploring the castles and ruins, the group I traveled with were all so nice. I never felt lonely.”

Locals are notoriously warm and friendly

Scots are known for their welcoming, warm energy. Hospitality is culturally ingrained in Scotland, so don’t be surprised if that local you stop to ask for directions ends up wanting to learn where you’re from, what brought you to Scotland, and what your plans are for your stay. Chances are you’ll also leave the conversation with plenty of recommendations to fill your free time and maybe even an invitation to join them for a home-cooked meal.

You can travel at your own pace (and embrace your independent side)

Scenery as breathtaking as the Highlands’ emerald landscapes or Edinburgh’s charming cobblestone streets deserves to be cherished. We recommend taking your time throughout your Scotland solo travel to do just that. Traveling to Scotland solo provides the perfect opportunity to slow down and take in the beauty of the sites at your own pace. In a country that’s been known to fight for its independence over the centuries, it’s only natural that you’d explore your own independent streak as well. On our Scotland for Solo Travelers: Highlands, Aberdeen & Edinburgh tour for example, you’ll get to traverse the country with you group but enjoy solo moments to marvel at the splendor and spend your free time just the way you want it.

There’s no language barrier (well, almost none)

Even for a brave solo traveler, crossing an ocean to a new country requires serious courage. A solo tour can stir up anxiety when thinking about navigating a new country in a foreign tongue. Removing language barriers from the mix can be a wonderful bonus to assuage some nerves. Throughout your Scotland solo travel, you can leave the foreign language phrase guides at home. The comfort of being able to communicate easily with the locals will allow you to focus more on the memories that you’re looking to make. We do, however, challenge you to add some Scottish slang words (such as “shoogle,” “fankle,” and “bahookie”) to your vocabulary before returning home. What an underrated souvenir!

It's safe for solo exploration

One question we often get from solo travelers is “will it be safe for me to explore on my own?” We know this is an important thought when headed someplace new, especially when traveling solo. Luckily, Scotland happens to be one of the safest destinations for solo travelers. With the country’s inclusive culture and warm locals, travelers report feeling extremely safe when branching off to explore on their own. This can be perfect for solo travelers looking to embrace their independence during free time.

A pub is never far away

Pull up a chair and order a dram (that’s a small glass of Scotch whisky). If enjoying some whisky or a pint in a lively setting sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening, you’re in luck. Pub culture is prominent in Scotland, making it one of the best things to do in Scotland as a solo traveler. Looking to get to know another solo traveler better in a relaxed setting? Unclear on how to spend an evening after a day of solo travel? Head to the pub! If you’d like suggestions of spots to explore, check out some of our recommendations in Edinburgh or ask your expert Tour Director—they’ll be happy to clue you in on their favorite local haunt.

The landscapes are perfect for self-reflection

We know that everyone chooses solo travel for different reasons. There’s the convenience, freedom, opportunity to make new friends, and the chance to spend time with yourself. Solo travel offers a unique retreat from our normal routines to get quality time with our thoughts. Whether you’re looking to reflect on change, set goals for the year ahead, or find some tranquility, Scotland’s legendary landscapes offer the ideal backdrop to recharge. It’s hard not to daydream as you journey through the magnificent Highlands, so let your mind wander as you take in the dramatic scenery. We have a feeling you’ll enjoy the time with yourself (after all, if you’re here, you’re probably pretty cool).

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Best places to travel in Scotland


Travelers on either our Scotland for Solo Travelers: Highlands, Aberdeen & Edinburgh tour or our Edinburgh & the Castles of Scotland tour will begin their Scottish adventure with a couple of nights in Glasgow. Discover the rich history of Scotland’s second-largest city (often regarded as the creative capital of the U.K.) as a local expert shares their vast regional knowledge while whisking your group between cherished sites. You’ll explore the famed Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, 18th-century George Square, and enjoy a photo stop at the city’s breathtaking, medieval Glasgow Cathedral.


In our opinion, no trip to Scotland can be complete without a stay in Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital city is impossible not to fall head over heels for. You can admire the charm of this spectacular city for yourself on any of our Scotland Tours. On a guided sightseeing tour of the city, you’ll explore the majestic Edinburgh Castle, walk the lively Royal Mile, and get to know the equally stunning New and Old Towns with your expert Tour Director. Looking for free time suggestions? Explore our guide on the most enchanting neighborhoods to visit.

(Pro tip: Sound like a local when you pronounce the capital city correctly—Ed-in-bruh)


The third-largest city in Scotland should not be forgotten when contemplating travel to Scotland, so we’ve made it an overnight destination on our Scotland for Solo Travelers: Highlands, Aberdeen & Edinburgh tour. Known for its impressive architecture, coastal scenery, and rich history, time in Aberdeen is sure to impress. On this tour, you’ll explore Footdee—the city’s quaint fishing village, discover Scotland’s oldest bridge, and take in the sites of historic Old Aberdeen with your expert guide.

The Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are world-famous—and for good reason. These mesmerizing landscapes have inspired songs, literature, and legends for centuries. The Highlands are known for their mystical mountain landscapes, sprawling lakes, gorgeous greenery, and medieval castles. If you tend to seek out natural wonders in your travels, look no further. See Loch Lomond (the site that inspired the folk song with the same name), Loch Ness (the supposed home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster), the otherworldly Isle of Skye, the city of Inverness, the misty scenery of Glencoe, and so many other spectacular Highland sites on any of our Scotland Tours. Time spent in the Highlands will make it clear why the region has prompted so much lore.

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6 of the best things to do in Scotland (all of which solo travelers can do on one of our tours):

Visit a distillery and sample authentic Scottish whisky

It wouldn’t be a complete visit to Scotland without touring a distillery, so we make sure you get a proper experience (complete with a tasting) on our Scotland for Solo Travelers: Highlands, Aberdeen & Edinburgh tour. For more on this famous Scottish beverage, check out our ultimate guide to Scotch whisky & distilleries.

Take a bagpipe lesson

While we can’t promise you’ll be a natural by the end of your lesson, we can promise a fun time and lots of laughs. You and your fellow travelers may not end up being bagpipe prodigies, but we have a feeling that the professional instructor will blow you away (see what we did there?)

Experience a Scottish Ceilidh

An age-old Scottish tradition, ceilidhs are a joyous affair filled with live music, folk songs, and energetic dances. If high-spirited evenings are your speed, our Scottish Ceilidh excursion offered on several of our Scotland tours is not one to miss. Helpful tip: this is pronounced kay-lee.

Tour a castle (or several!)

This is one of the top things to do in Scotland, so on any of our Scotland tours, we’ll make sure you see plenty. Whether you prefer the grand Edinburgh Castle, the smaller Eilean Donan Castle, or one of the many in between, you’ll see your fill on any of our Scotland tours. Decide for yourself which is your favorite.

Discover the home of golf in seaside St Andrews

Also home to Scotland’s oldest university, St Andrews is a coastal gem on the country’s east coast. You may have seen it heavily featured on the sixth season of The Crown as the spot where royals Will and Kate met. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee you’ll find a prince on your visit, but we have a feeling you’ll fall in love with the scenery.

Have afternoon tea—in a palace!

Think afternoon tea is reserved for England? Think again! Afternoon tea is also one of our favorite things to do in Scotland. On our Palace of Holyroodhouse & Afternoon Tea excursion, you’ll enjoy a tour of the historic home to British monarchs before indulging in scones and other fine foods. We can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

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Food and drink to try when you travel to Scotland:


The national dish of Scotland, haggis, can be divisive among tourists. What exactly is it? To keep it vague—it’s a mixture of various types of meat, oats, and spices bound together and boiled in the stomach of a sheep. Vegetarians can also find meat-free versions at certain restaurants throughout Scotland to sample the dish in a way that may be easier for some to stomach (pun intended).

Neeps and tatties

This traditional Scottish side dish made of swedes (big, orange turnips) and potatoes is a staple at any traditional feast. Beloved locally for more than just its whimsical name, you’ll often find it served alongside haggis.

Scottish tablet

Essentially pure sugar and cream, this Scottish delicacy is absolutely delicious in our opinion. Be sure to pick some up to take home as it makes a great gift for friends and family—or to save for yourself (we don’t judge).

Deep-fried Mars bar

Think a Milky Way bar that’s been battered and deep-fried. It’s not exactly a health food, but we get to indulge when we travel, right? We think so, and this decadent treat is definitely worth splurging for.

Scotch whisky

While we’ve already mentioned whisky, it requires a second mention as one of Scotland’s main exports. One of our best Scotland travel tips? Ask a local expert to help you find your favorite whisky in the land where it’s made (and enjoy tasting a few along the way).


Distilleries aren’t just for whisky. Having a similar production process to whisky—but a shorter production time—gin is a helpful moneymaker for these businesses while whisky ages. Why not sample both while you’re there?

Tennents lager

Jokingly referred to locally as “Vitamin T,” it’s common to see Scots enjoying a pint of Tennents outdoor at a pub whenever the sun comes out—it’s usually a celebratory occasion when it does, after all.

Irn Bru

You’ll spot this iconic bright orange soda prominently displayed in shops throughout your Scotland solo travel. Widely acknowledged by locals as a foolproof hangover cure, the sugary drink is often referred to as “Scotland’s other national drink” (following whisky, of course). Pronounced “iron brew,” it’s worth a try during your travels.

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Our top 5 Scotland travel tips for solo travelers:

Prepare for rain

Scotland is famous for its frequent rainfall, but we find the unpredictable sky adds to the country’s dramatic charm. We know from experience, however, that unexpected downpour can be a travel buzzkill. To avoid sightseeing in damp clothes or wet socks, we recommend you prepare for precipitation at any moment. A raincoat and a pair of waterproof shoes will keep you dry and enthused for continued solo adventures.

Pack extra layers

Scotland tends to be even chillier than travelers expect, so we recommend staying prepared for the cold. While “pack layers” may sound like a cliché packing tip, it is key for Scotland. A big scarf, for example, can be wonderfully multi functional. Wrap up in it when the wind picks up or use it as a blanket to cozy up on a drive up to the Highlands. Solo travel is all about staying prepared, so you’ll be thankful for the extra packing care when you’re staying toasty.

Wear your walking shoes

A solo tour of Scotland is no time to break in a new pair of shoes. The destinations you’ll visit on our Scotland tours are very walkable, so a savvy solo traveler should be prepared to traverse comfortably on foot. When planning your footwear, consider the hilly terrain and cobblestone streets. An excellent shoe choice for Scotland solo travel will be both waterproof and comfortable. You’ll be grateful for the extra consideration when your supportive footwear lets you stay on your feet to make more memories.

Keep your camera ready

Whether you’re looking to capture a rainbow after a rainstorm or a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, we recommend keeping your camera close throughout your Scotland solo travels. The landscapes may take your breath away in the moment, but your photos will last a lifetime. We know your friends and family will also love seeing the Highland highlights with you upon your return. (Disclaimer: they may just be a wee bit jealous.)

Bring your adventurous spirit

Solo travel always presents the challenge to step out of your comfort zone, and solo travel in Scotland is no different. We recommend embracing that famous independent Scottish spirit in your travels and trying something new. This could mean hiking the beautiful Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, sampling a new food (like haggis), tasting a peaty Scottish whisky, or even challenging yourself to strike up a conversation with a local in a pub.

Ready to claim your Scotland solo travel experience? Shop our Scotland tours today.

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About the author | Steph Herron
Since moving abroad for college at the age of 18, Steph’s never doubted that travel is her passion in life. When she isn’t seeking opportunities to satisfy her wanderlust—and inspiring others to do the same—you’ll find her exploring Boston’s vegan food scene, shopping for eclectic pieces to add to her closet, or rewatching 90s romantic comedies.

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