Scotland Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips


Despite its official union with England in 1707, Scotland maintains an independent national identity that extends considerably further than the occasional kilt and bagpipes. With few exceptions the country is beautiful and the Highlands are exceptional. It's hardly a secret, but for a region that has some of the world's most dramatic scenery, it's curiously underappreciated.

When to Go

Whenever you visit Scotland, you're likely to see both sun and rain. The best time to visit is May to September. April and October are also acceptable weather risks, although many businesses close in October. In winter the weather's cold and daylight hours are short but Edinburgh and Glasgow are still worth visiting. Travel in the islands can be a problem in winter because high winds easily disrupt ferries.


Britain is remarkably safe considering its size and the disparities in wealth. However, city crime is certainly not unknown so caution is necessary, especially at night. Pickpockets and bag snatchers operate in crowded public places. Avoid large groups of young lads after the pubs shut (11 pm), as violence is not uncommon on High Sts across Britain.

Drugs of every description are widely available, especially in nightclubs. Nonetheless, marijuana, hash, ecstasy and the other usual suspects are illegal.


Time worldwide is measured according to Greenwich near London - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight-saving time is from late March to late October.

Business Hours

Offices are open 9 am to 5 pm weekdays. Shops may be open longer hours, and 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday. Except in rural areas some shops also open 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday. In country towns, particularly in Scotland and Wales, there may be an early closing day for shops - usually Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon.

Public Holidays & Special Events

Most banks, businesses and a number of museums are closed on the following days: New Year's Day, 2 January (bank holiday in Scotland), Good Friday, Easter Monday (not in Scotland), May Day (first Monday in May), Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May), Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August, first Monday in August in Scotland) and 25 and 26 December.

The main festivals include: the New Year's Hogmanay festival in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Folk Festival in late March, the Oxford/Cambridge boat race (London) in late March, the two-week Bath International Festival in late May, the Chelsea Flower Show (London) in late May, Trooping the Colour (Queen's birthday parade) in mid-June, the Royal Ascot horse races in mid-June, the Wimbledon tennis tournament in mid-June, the Glastonbury music festival in late June, the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals in late August, and the Royal Braemar Gathering (Highland Games) in early September.


Throughout Britain dial 999 for fire, police or ambulance.

Foreign Embassies

Canada (020-7258 6600), 1 Grosvenor Square, London Wl (tube: Bond St)
US (020-7499 9000), 24 Grosvenor Square, London Wl (tube: Bond St)




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