Numerous activities are recommended in Scotland.
Hiking, road trips, and enjoying some of the best islands in the world. Wild camping, multi-day treks, and travel to some of the world’s coolest cities.
You could even consume a chocolate bar deep-fried in oil, play the bagpipes, or cuddle a Highland cow.
However, Scotland is not entirely comprised of must-dos. In addition to all the excitement and adventure, there are certain things you should avoid doing. Some are cultural blunders, some are oversights, some are common tourist mistakes, and some are simply stupid.
Want to avoid common mistakes in Scotland? Continue for about 220 of them…
What Should Visitors to Scotland avoid?
Here are the top behaviors, errors, and blunders that you should avoid in Scotland.
1. Do not assert your Scottishness
Numerous tourists, particularly American tourists, believe that having a distant Scottish relative makes them Scots.
If you are not actually Scottish, you should not tell people that you are. Locals will not find it endearing; they will find it annoying.
Be sincere with yourself; you are not actually Scottish, so do not pretend otherwise.
2. Don’t Use a Dumb Scottish Accent
You cannot, you cannot learn, and you will never be able to. Don’t bother, then. People will be ambivalent at best and offended at worst.
No one in Scotland wants to hear your mediocre Scottish accent because they have already heard it all.
3. Do Not Ask Endless Financial Questions
Scottish currency differs in appearance from English currency, despite being the same currency.
And that is odd. However, Scots already know it’s strange, so there’s no need to inform them.
Instead, familiarize yourself with the Scottish currency by studying it.
4. Prioritize Not Loch Ness
Loch Ness is renowned. And Loch Ness is huge.
Loch Ness, however, pales in comparison to many (and I mean many!) of Scotland’s far superior lochs (which translates to ‘lakes’). It’s a huge letdown after visiting Scotland’s much more beautiful lochs. It’s neither alluring nor exciting.
In a country with more than 30,000 lochs, do not waste too much time on its most famous, but least impressive, loch.
Not everyone will agree with me, but you should skip Loch Ness altogether. Tourists throughout the world consistently make the error of visiting the most popular attractions rather than the best ones.
5. Do not state that the Loch Ness Monster is not real.
Let’s be honest, we all recognize that it does not work.
However, The Loch Ness Monster (also known as “Nessie”) is a Scottish myth. As the nation’s most well-known fictional export, some Scots adore it.
Some of the more jingoistic Scottish citizens believe, without irony, that the nation’s largest loch is home to a strange half-dinosaur creature.
Once, while I was hitchhiking throughout Scotland for a couple of weeks, I was picked up by a kind-hearted old Scotsman. We were near Loch Ness, so I made a stupid joke about how some Scots believe that Nessie exists. Unfortunately for me, he was one of them, and he spent the remaining hour of the trip explaining why Nessie exists.
I was not persuaded, but he did give me a ride.
6. Do not anticipate good weather
The weather in Scotland can be pleasant. With any luck, the weather in Scotland will be sunny, clear, and devoid of precipitation.
However, this is unlikely.
Even if you visit Scotland in the summer, you should not anticipate endless days of brilliant sunshine. Because you likely will not.
Pack instead waterproof and warm clothing. If you’re fortunate, you won’t need them, but it’s always prudent to be prepared for bad weather.
7. Don’t Just Visit Edinburgh
Edinburgh is magnificent. The Scottish capital is fantastic due to its enormous theater festival, numerous cultural attractions, and one of the world’s finest castles.
But contrary to what some tourists appear to believe, Scotland has much more to offer. If you only visit Edinburgh, you will miss out on all of the other excellent (and frequently superior!) regions of the country.
Glasgow and Inverness are great if you’re looking for other cities. The North Coast 500, some of Scotland’s islands, or one of the country’s two expansive national parks are better options than Edinburgh if you’re looking for outdoor activities.
Learn how to pronounce the city’s name while you’re searching for adventures outside of Edinburgh, and you may be the first tourist ever to get it right.
8. Don’t Avoid Haggis (or Other Scottish Food)
Numerous tourists look down their noses at haggis. When they hear about the strange ingredients, they immediately transform into whiney infants who appear to be terrified of consuming anything unusual.
Don’t act like a baby.
Instead of considering the strange ingredients in haggis (which are, admittedly, strange), consider how delicious it is. It sounds strange, but it’s truly astounding.
Produced by chopping up sheep organs and stuffing them into a sheep’s stomach, it does not sound appetizing. But it is.
9. Do not bother discussing soccer.
First of all, if you call it “soccer,” you’ll likely start an argument.
It is known as football.
Beyond that, however, people in Scotland (and England) can be quite provincial when it comes to football. They adore their hometown team, and there is no room for debate.
Any conversation about football that goes beyond the most superficial level will likely result in an argument, so don’t bother.
10. And avoid discussing politics at all costs.
Even worse than discussing soccer is discussing politics. Scotland does not belong to England (more on this here). No, asking Scottish people about it is not an effective method of education.
The history between the English and the Scots is storied, convoluted, and contentious, and any discussion of Scottish politics (or how it relates to English politics) will end similarly to a discussion of football.
11. Contrast not cities
Do not tell Glasgow residents that Edinburgh is superior. Or tell Edinburgh residents that Glasgow is superior. Or tell any resident of any city that another city is superior.
There is no need to make comparisons between Scotland’s great cities.
12. Do not visit the Harry Potter merchandise.
You’re an adult. Grow up.
Harry Potter did not ride on the Glenfinnan Viaduct in reality. Since he is not real.
Nonetheless, if you insist, I’ve written a special article listing all the cool places you can visit and activities you can partake in. Not to be missed!
13. Do not tell everyone how insignificant everything is.
Locals are indifferent to the size of your country, state, or home.
Scotland is small, remote, and rural, which contributes to its allure. However, no one will be charmed by your description of how adorable, modest, and traditional their nation is.
14. Avoid Skipping the Islands.
There are over 900 islands in Scotland, and some of them are incredible. From world-famous Skye to charming Arran to some truly bizarre tiny settlements, these islands are among the most incredible and fascinating on the planet.
Yes, you must typically take a ferry to visit them, but it is well worth it. Some individuals consider the Scottish islands to be the best part of Scotland. Don’t ignore them!
15. Do not assume that you can wild camp everywhere.
The vast majority of places in Scotland permit hiking and wild camping. If it is not private property, you can typically pitch a tent and enjoy a night of free camping.
This is known as the freedom to roam.
But this is not always the case. Camping in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is only permitted on designated campsites or with a camping permit.
Additionally, you cannot camp on private property without permission. However, if you ask a farmer or landowner if you can camp on their property, they will often grant your request – Scots are incredibly friendly, hospitable, and accommodating.
16. Show proper regard for bothies
Similarly, exercise caution if you intend to spend time in bothies. Bothies in the Scottish Highlands are small, primitive cabins intended for overnight stays. Similar to camping, but in a hut rather than a tent.
Bothies are a fantastic resource for hikers and other outdoor adventurers despite having few or no amenities and being maintained by charities. When utilizing a bothy, respect the structure and the surrounding area. This article contains numerous tips on how to use bothies properly and with courtesy.
17. When camping, don’t leave your belongings behind
The old camping saying goes, “Take only photographs and leave only footprints.”
Indeed, this is the case in Scotland. It is a camping-friendly country, but we can only keep it that way by camping responsibly and respectfully.
Be a responsible camper, be cautious when building fires, and always keep the environment and its inhabitants in mind (both human and otherwise).
18. Do not forget your insect repellent
Midges in Scotland are tiny insects that inhabit damp, humid environments. They are drawn to humans and other animals and tend to congregate around the heads and faces of humans.
They are vexing since they bite!
Their bites can cause welts that are red and itchy. Insects can be very annoying when you’re trying to enjoy a nice day outdoors; therefore, you should never forget your insect repellent when hiking in the Scottish Highlands!
If you intend to spend time outdoors in Scotland, you should pack at least one (and preferably two) bottles of insect repellent. There are numerous brands and formulations to choose from.
Reapply it frequently throughout the day, particularly if you are sweating or swimming.
19. Do Not Travel Too Slowly on the Highway
On Scotland’s famous road trips, particularly the North Coast 500, locals are sometimes understandably irritated by slow-moving tourists.
It is easy to forget that people live here while on vacation.
People behind you are attempting to get to work as you drive 5 mph with your arm out the window and camera in hand. While you’ve stopped your vehicle to point out a Highland cow, the people behind you are trying to get their children to school. People behind you who are attempting to get to a funeral are impeded by your mountain-gazing.
You have the concept.
Drive with caution and courtesy. And take your time on some of the more hazardous roads if you’re uncertain. However, do not annoy locals by carelessly impeding their daily activities.
20. Do not park in passageways.
Learn how to use passing zones while we’re talking about roads.
Passing places are small laybys designed to allow two-way traffic to pass one another. They are strictly prohibited for parking, but numerous obnoxious tourists park in them anyway. Instead of being an annoying tourist, use proper passageways.
If you’re looking for a place to park in Scotland, you should always use designated parking spaces, of which there are plenty available in every location.
In rural areas, parking spaces are frequently located on the side of the road. Occasionally, these are small parking lots, but typically they are four- or five-car lay-bys.
If you are in or near a town or city, you will find ample parking in and around it.
In Scotland, parking spaces are indicated by a blue sign with a white letter ‘P’. These are marked on maps and marked with signs, making them easy to locate.
21. Do not purchase stupid souvenirs.
Surely no one buys these, but since they are sold in stores, someone must. Your fake kilt is not going to impress anyone in Scotland. Or your idiotic ginger wig.
Despite this, there are a great number of fantastic souvenirs available in Scotland. If you have completed the North Coast 500, you can purchase t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other cool merchandise.
If you want a snackable or slurpable souvenir, try shortbread or heather honey. For natural cosmetics, try Arran Sense of Scotland’s products or any of the numerous cosmetics made from Scottish heather, which Scotland appears to sell in abundance.
If you travel to more rural and remote areas, you’ll also find an abundance of unique and unusual handcrafted items sold by small local merchants and enterprises. These are the best souvenirs to purchase; they are meaningful, unique, and support the local economy. Support the underdog!
I penned a comprehensive article with numerous Scottish souvenirs and gifts from which to choose.
22. Do not inquire about clans
You are not from a clan, neither are they, and nobody in Scotland cares about clans.
Not the seventeenth century. And if a tourist shop informs you that your clan has a world-famous, iconic tartan that you must purchase, they are likely lying.
You Should Know These Scottish Customs and Etiquette Guidelines
Considering Scottish customs and etiquette is unnecessary, as Scots are extremely accepting, laid-back, and straightforward. The culture and people of Scotland are characterized by a high degree of informality.
In a number of countries, there are cultural peculiarities and customs and traditions that you must respect.
There are very few of these in Scotland. The Scots have no empty pretenses, meaningless rituals, or empty gestures. In Scotland, you get what you get, and what you get are incredibly kind individuals.
Having said that, here are a few things you may wish to know:
Handshakes are the most common form of greeting when meeting a new person. Shake hands with all adults and older children when you first meet them.
The Scottish accent is initially difficult to understand. If you’re having difficulty, ask people to slow down a bit.
And if you are courteous, they will not mind.
In a formal sit-down restaurant, a 10 percent gratuity is expected. It is not expected if you place your order at the bar or any other informal establishment. Tipping is also not expected if you only purchase beverages.
Don’t be offended by the candor of the Scottish people. They are very direct, very abrupt, and very abrupt. However, this is not intended to be offensive; it is simply how they are. Once you’re accustomed to it, you’ll find it charming – and much more sincere than the insincere pleasantries that some countries appear to prefer.
What Are Not and Are Not
Thus, you now know what to avoid doing in Scotland.
If you follow our tips on what not to do, you will have a fantastic time.
Check out the other articles on our site for additional Scotland travel tips. We have articles on cities, cultural oddities, the infamous and incredible North Coast 500, the best reasons to visit Scotland, and a great deal more.
Topic: What Not To Do In Scotland: 22 Things You Should Avoid on Your Trip To Scotland
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