Cost of a trip to Scotland: how much is it to visit?

If you’re just starting out and thinking about a trip to Scotland then one of the things you’ll be wondering is – how much is it going to cost? It doesn’t matter whether you need it to be an ultra budget trip or you have a little bit more spare to make it a trip of a lifetime – we all need to know a ball park figure right?

I’ve visited Scotland on ultra tight budgets (too many times to mention) and also begun learning to splurge a little, like when we stayed in Edinburgh in a hotel overlooking the castle. You really can do a trip to Scotland on any budget!

So read on to discover the cost of a trip to Scotland as well as ways you can splurge or go budget in each category to make it the perfect trip for you.

Highland cow in Scotland
Getting out in nature in Scotland is thankfully free!

A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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How much is the cost of a trip to Scotland?

A trip to Scotland may cost an average of £250 per day without flights. This is for mid range hotels, using a rental car, taking in some attractions and eating out for one meal a day. You can do the trip a lot cheaper and a lot more expensive too!

For a 2 week trip to Scotland this would be around £3.5k without flights or insurance.

It can be cheaper per person to do the trip with someone else rather than traveling solo, especially as hotel costs can usually just be halved.

You can choose to visit on a tight budget which could bring the cost down to around £60 per day – this is without much spending money though and choosing to stay in hostels.

BudgetMid-rangeTop-end
Accommodation£30£100£300
Getting Around£10£75£100
Food£10£40£100
Tours and Attractions£10£30£50
Total£60£245£550
Daily costs of a trip to Scotland

Accommodation

Accommodation can be one of the biggest costs when exploring Scotland.

  • Hostel – £20-£50
  • Mid range hotel – £100-£150
  • Top end hotel – £300 – £1000+
  • Cottages & Apartments – £50-200+

Many hotels will include breakfast with your stay so this can save you some money overall although some will add it on as an optional extra so if you want you can decide nearer the time.

If you’re traveling solo around Scotland then you’ll find that the most cost effective way to travel is using hostels, although that’s not always for everyone. Most hotels will have single rooms available.

Families or couples might like to take advantage of apartment and cottage rentals which can give you space and kitchens to be able to cater for yourselves if you want. It can be a very cost effective way of seeing the country especially if you combine it with car rental to explore more off the beaten track places.

Getting Around

You have a couple of options when it comes to getting around Scotland – with a car and without a car!

Let’s take a look at them in turn:

Getting around Scotland with a car

Having your own car can make huge difference when exploring the country. You can go at your own pace, explore hiking trails and coastlines, islands and small villages. All of these can be done with public transport but it’s not so easy.

Rental cars are fairly inexpensive in Scotland, costing around £50-75 per day, depending on a few factors such as size and time of year you’re renting. Renting a car in Inverness has slightly less choice than down in Edinburgh so factor that in too.

Fuel is one other cost you’ll need to consider when using a car in Scotland. Once you get out of the central belt and into more remote places the cost can increase quite a lot and you’ll always want to keep your car’s fuel tank topped up!

Parking in the cities can add quite a hefty charge to your day so I recommend not using a car there if possible or seek out cheaper park and ride options.

For a quote on the cost of car rental in Scotland check out Discover Cars

Getting around Scotland without a car

There are quite a lot of options available to you if you want to get around Scotland without a car so don’t feel like you won’t have a good time – you can, but it might take a little more forward planning.

Buses, trains, taxis and ferries will take you almost everywhere in the country. You might not be able to explore so many remote areas of the north but there’s still plenty you can see.

For more remote places there are a lot of organised tours which can help you see some of the main sights such as the Isle of Skye, the Hogwarts train and a lot more too.

If you’re sticking to the cities then NOT having a car is actually preferable as it’s generally easier to just use public transport or the tourist buses. Walking is even easier and cheaper!

Train from Edinburgh to Glasgow (return)£15
Bus from Inverness to Isle of Skye (return)£36
Small group tour from Inverness to Skye (1 day)£60
24 hour parking in Edinburgh centre£30
Car rental price£75
Approximate costs to get around Scotland as a tourist

Food & Drink

Food and drink in Scotland is something I am very much in the ‘spend as little as possible’ category – years of budget traveling means I always struggle to spend here!

If you’re like me then you’ll find plenty of supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Aldi that will have food you can use to self cater easily and cheaply. You can probably feed yourself for around £10 per day and not go hungry!

If you like to enjoy a meal out or a treat from a cafe then you’ll find a large range of places to try out some Scottish food.

Tip – If you’re out and about in the country each out local bakers where you’ll find sweet and savoury pastries to try! They are all over and inexpensive!

Meals can vary around the country with very expensive options in upmarket hotels in Edinburgh to more modest affairs in a pub restaurant in a village.

Remember to think about tips when in restaurants – tipping in Scotland is never expected but always appreciated! 10% is a good amount to factor in and it’s always a good idea to have some Scottish currency on hand.

Pasty from a bakers£2-3
Coffee at a cafe£3-£5
Full Scottish Breakfast£10-£15
Evening main course£15+
Three course meal£50+
Whisky shot£4+

Tours and Attractions

Budget and Free

If you’re on a real budget you’ll want to seek out some of Scotland’s amazing free and low cost museums. There are loads of them around, especially in the cities.

Other budget things to do might be to do free walking tours in cities, hiking and exploring small towns. You could also seek out other free things to do such as visiting the Kelpies or the Forth Bridges

Mid-range

In the mid-range category you’ll have all the must see sights like Edinburgh Castle, boat trips and experiences like whisky distillery tours.

You might like to join a group tour to places that are further afield (useful if you don’t want to hire a car) you can even get to Skye from Edinburgh fairly inexpensively.

Top-end

At the top end you might like to splurge on a trip on the Harry Potter Steam Train (The Jacobite Express), perhaps even taking first class tickets there. You might also want to have afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh or play a round of golf at St Andrew’s Old Course.

Perhaps you’ll want to explore the country on a private or small group tour.

Here are some sample things to do around Scotland with an approximate price per person:

Edinburgh Castle£18
Walking tour around Edinburgh£20
Jacobite Steam Train ride (ticket only from Fort William)£57
Afternoon tea at the Balmoral£55
St Andrew’s Old Course £300

Flights

Flights can sometimes be the biggest cost of a trip to Scotland, depending on where you’re flying from! You’ll be pleased to know that Edinburgh receives quite a lot of international flights and the other airports in Scotland are well connected too, some getting flights from Europe as well.

From the USA flights will start at around £500 ($650) for a return and you can fly direct from New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Atlanta.

From Europe you should be able to find some cheap flights, but it really depends on where you’re starting from. Many cheap airlines will go to some of Scotland’s international airports and flights will start at around £100 return.

When planning a trip it’s worth considering flying to London and travelling on to Scotland from there – it often gives a lot more choice and trains or connecting flights can be a great way to arrive in Scotland.

I always check Skyscanner for flights as they look at all the choices around and showing the best options.

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?

YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!

Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.

Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?

YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable

I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland

How to book accommodation in Scotland?

For hotels I recommend Booking.com

For apartments and cottages check out VRBO

Will my phone work in Scotland?

Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.

If you need a SIM for use in Scotland I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.

What to pack for Scotland

Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.

See my post about what to pack for Scotland

Do I need midge spray for Scotland?

YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.

Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!

If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.

What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?

I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Where to get flights for Scotland

Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.

Do I need a visa for Scotland?

Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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