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Practical Tips for Your Self-Catering Stay in Scotland

Booking a self-catering holiday in Scotland offers not only the opportunity to break away from everyday life; it’s an experience that allows you to immerse yourself in Scottish culture from the generous and warm hospitality found in cities such as St. Andrews and Inverness to the stunning and wild landscapes, from the dramatic Highland scenery in the Cairngorms to the quiet rolling hills of Dumfries and Galloway.

To ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable trip, proper planning and preparation is essential.

Below we have put together a guide and practical tips to make the most of your self-catering stay in Scotland.

Choosing the Right Accommodation

Researching Locations:
Be sure to research the regions within Scotland to make sure you end up with the holiday you have been dreaming about. Consider accessibility, local amenities, and proximity to attractions such as museums, beaches, restaurants and transport links. Remember the roads can be single-track in places and may take a lot longer than anticipated. Check out distances on Google Maps.

Each Scottish region holds its own appeal, whether that be the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, the historic streets of Edinburgh, or the beautiful beaches in the Outer Hebrides. We urge you to take the time to research different options to ensure you choose the ideal setting for your Scottish getaway. Find out more here.

Feel inspired by exploring social media platforms like Instagram. Search using relevant hashtags for the places you’re interested in visiting to discover inspiring images and helpful recommendations. Check out #EmbraceCoorie #EmbraceScotland for inspiration.

Property Facilities:
Look for appropriate accommodation that can offer you the facilities you desire, such as fully-equipped kitchens, washing facilities, and a secure garden for your pet. You might also want to consider bed sizes and luxury facilities such as a hot tub or sauna.

Reading Reviews and Recommendations:
It’s a good idea to read reviews from previous guests to get a sense of the quality and experience offered by different accommodation providers. Check out Tripadviser, Google Reviews, and Facebook as well as the booking agent or property website. Additionally, seek recommendations from friends, family, or online communities such as Facebook.

EmbraceScotland properties, see the end of the page for direct links.
Packing Essentials

Weather-Appropriate Clothing:
Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, so pack cosy layers and waterproof clothing to stay comfortable in all weathers. After all, as the old saying goes, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’!

Outdoor Gear and Equipment:
If you plan on exploring Scotland’s great outdoors (any time of year), pack walking boots, waterproof jackets, a cosy jumper or two, hat and gloves, and any other necessary gear. Wellington boots can be very handy all year round.

Food and Cooking Supplies:
While many self-catering properties provide basic cooking utensils and equipment, consider bringing along your favourite spices, condiments, and specialty ingredients.

Travel Adapters and Converters:
Ensure you can charge your electronic devices by packing the appropriate travel adapters and converters for Scotland’s electrical outlets.

Planning Meals and Grocery Shopping

Creating a Meal Plan:
Plan your meals ahead of your stay to make sure you have everything you need and to minimise food waste. Consider incorporating local ingredients and dishes into your menu.

Make the most of Local Produce and Markets:
Take advantage of Scotland’s abundant fresh produce from local seafood to fresh bread. Discover local markets to create delicious meals during your stay. Check them out in advance and you might even be able to pre-order a delivery. Don’t be afraid to ask the property owner for advice on where to shop.

Stocking Up on Essentials:
Make a list of essential groceries and household items you’ll need for your stay, such as bread, milk, and toiletries, and stock up upon arrival. Check the property’s pre-arrival information in advance of your stay to see what is included.

Navigating Transportation

Transport Options:
Public transport is an excellent option for those staying in or near urban areas. However, we strongly advise researching ahead of your stay if your accommodation is in a rural setting. In some instances, hiring a car or using your own vehicle may be the only viable option.

Scotland offers a range of transport options including rail, ferries, bus, and cycle routes.  Consider using public transport during your stay to reduce your environmental impact. Have you considered hiring an e-bike?

Travel Planning:
If you choose to drive in Scotland, please familiarise yourself with driving laws and regulations to ensure you are safe and have an enjoyable journey.  You can find out more here.

Local Attractions and Activities

Outdoor adventures:
Scotland benefits from a wide range of outdoor activities from walking trails such as the West Highland Way and cycling routes to kayaking, white water rafting, and paddleboarding. Scotland is one big adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts and has something for every level guided or non-guided.  Check out outdoor options on the Wild Scotland website so that you can make the most of your time in Scotland’s great outdoors!

Visiting Historical Sites and Landmarks:
Immerse yourself in Scotland’s rich history by visiting castles such as Balmoral or Edinburgh Castle and other historical sites scattered throughout the country including The Calanais Stones on the Isle of Lewis or the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Inverness-shire.

Cultural Events and Festivals:
Check local event calendars for festivals, concerts, and cultural events happening during your stay, and immerse yourself in Scotland’s vibrant arts and music scene from the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the summer months to the Crail Food Festival in Fife. You can find out more about events and festivals here.

Wildlife Watching:
Scotland is home to incredible wildlife, including the majestic red deer, basking sharks, dolphins, pine martens, seals, and golden eagles. Keep an eye out for wildlife viewing opportunities during your travels, and consider hiring a wildlife guide for a more in-depth experience and photo opportunities. Find out about watching wildlife responsibly here and find options here.

Embracing the Scottish Lifestyle

Interacting with Locals:
The Scots love a chat and are incredibly proud of their heritage so don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a local to learn about Scotland’s culture, traditions, and way of life. Do ask for recommendations or insider tips on where to eat, drink, and explore. These can end up being the best experiences!

Learning About Scottish Traditions and Customs:
Take the time to learn about Scotland’s customs, traditions, and folklore, such as ceilidh dancing, Highland games, and the significance of tartan. Research before you go!

Trying Traditional Scottish Foods:
Sample traditional Scottish food, such as local smoked salmon or venison or you could try haggis, neeps, and tatties! Check out 11 dishes to try here in this VisitScotland blog.

Whisky and Gin Tasting Experiences:
Scotland is well known for its whisky and gin so be sure to visit a distillery or two on your stay if you are a fan. For those looking for a more in-depth experience, consider well-known destinations for whisky such as the Isle of Islay, or sample delicious gin on the Isle of Harris!

Make the most of the tail-end of winter and coorie up in a Scottish self-catering property with a real log fire, or cottages on EmbraceScotland offering special winter offers. Discover even more advice and tips to help with the general planning of your trip to Scotland, on the VisitScotland website here.

Image credits (in order of appearance): VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins | EmbraceScotland Properties: Kirkstone Lodge, Highland Gateway Glamping and Caravanning, Mountview Self Catering, and RiverBeds Luxury Wee Lodges with Hot Tubs. |  Beeldbewerking from Getty Images Signature | DegImages | pixelshot | Caroline Anderson from Getty Images | Victoria Kotlyarchuk from Getty Images | Robas from Getty Images | DDieschburg from Getty Images | theasis from Getty Images Signature | Elnur |  zmurciuk_k from Getty Images


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EmbraceScotland is powered by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers


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