is scotland safe? yes!

Is Scotland Safe To Visit? 9 Travel Safety Tips for An Amazing Trip

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Updated: 2 June 2024

Is Scotland safe to visit? The obvious answer is “yes, Scotland is freakin’ awesome.” Even though it’s popular, travelers might still worry about visiting Scotland for many reasons. For example, travelers who have never left the country might worry about terrorist attacks. Others might be scared about driving in the Highlands. Others may struggle with planning a trip and wonder what parts of Scotland are the safest.

I am here to reassure you about your adventures in Scotland, and hopefully eliminate any major safety concerns.

The crime rate is low, the Scottish people are friendly and helpful, and I didn’t worry about petty crimes and scams nearly as much as I have in other parts of the world.

Sure, I could end my post now, but I have quite a bit to say on this topic, which is unsurprising to anyone who knows me.

Why?

traveling scotland alone? go off the beaten path

Reasons Scotland is a Fun & Safe Trip

Honestly, Scotland’s my favorite country. You guys, I could seriously talk for hours and hours about how incredibly wonderful Scotland is. I’d visit here every summer if I had the time and money at my disposal. I want to go back in the winter to see the festivals in Edinburgh and Shetland. 

For me, Scotland is a dream destination in every sense of the word. 

Seriously, the reasons to love Scotland are numerous. I mean, firstly, the scenery is gorgeous looking like an illustration pulled directly from a high fantasy novel. The beautiful scenery is out of this world compared to the pictures in this post.

You’ll see lush green mountains, crumbling old castles, purple flowers, and crystal clear lakes (or lochs, as they’re called here). Talk about a photographer’s dream come true. 

Be still my beating heart! 

it's definitely safe to eat the food in scotland. garden's cottage is amazing

Furthermore, Scotland’s cities are friendly and fun. Not to mention packed with culture! For example, Edinburgh is a UNESCO designated city of literature, and hosts the world famous Fringe Festival every August. It’s magic.

And, duh, it’s a no brainer that people want to come to Scotland. However, all travelers worry about safety, even in “perfect” places like Scotland. 

So, to help ease your minds, this safety guide will break down the practicalities traveling to Scotland. I promise you don’t have much to stress about regarding personal protection, but still, knowledge is power. 

how safe is scotland? very safe if you hike properly

So … Is Scotland Safe to Travel?

Absolutely! Actually, I highly recommend Scotland for new travelers and anxious travelers. 

Violent crime is very low, and your odds of becoming of a victim to someone who has nefarious purposes is slim to none.

Real talk. I honestly feel as if Scotland is safer than my home state in the United States. I never once felt as if I had to keep a hyper vigilant eye on my belongings or myself – even in larger cities such as Edinburgh. I feel relaxed here. 

Honestly, when it comes to safety, most of the threats will come from nature and alcohol. Sorry, folks, but that’s the truth. Scotland has beautiful nature and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, but you need to respect this great place and its changeable weather.

is edinburgh safe? yes absolutely! the streets are gorgeous

Scotland Safety: Tips for Having a Great Trip

While Scotland is generally super safe, even in comparison to the rest of the UK, there are still plenty of tips for making your trip to Scotland even safer

Just remember that even if you follow all these suggestions and still fall victim to a crime, it is absolutely 100% not your fault. I don’t endorse victim blaming of any kind on this blog, and find the practice of pointing fingers a disgusting defense mechanism. We don’t play that game here.  

Still, use these suggestions to have a good time in Scotland. Time for you to take some notes. 

how safe is scotland? very! look at this view

Give Family & Friends Your Itinerary 

Honestly, this tip is important for any solo trip, not just a journey to Scotland. I know, I know. You’re brave and independent, but still. Someone else needs to know where you are on any given day. 

It’s even more necessary to hand out your itinerary if you’re planning to go hiking in the Highlands. As gorgeous as Scotland’s nature is, it’s also very isolating and you need to be prepared ahead of time. It’s easy to lose cell service in Scotland’s rural areas. 

If you’re spending a week in Scotland or more, then go over your itinerary with a fine tooth comb, and ensure a trusted person has it in their possession.

Not to mention that giving someone else your itinerary is just as important for them as it is you. I mean, what if your family had an emergency and no way to contact you? Wouldn’t that suck big time? You don’t need emotional trauma on your trip to Scotland. 

And remember, you can always change your itinerary later. Just make sure to stay in touch to benefit everyone involved. 

how safe is scotland? very! and it's gorgeous too

Be Prepared to Go “Off the Grid”

As I’ve said, your phone will die in Scotland. It’s just a fact. I know, I know. Sad. But Scotland’s a good place for a digital detox. 

For example, Western Scotland, in particular, is very rugged and rural meaning the cellular connection isn’t great. I know I lost my phone connection for a few hours while en route to the gorgeous Isle of Skye. 

Don’t let the lack of cellular service take you by surprise. Expect it and deal with it. 

Like, for instance, have old fashioned maps with you if you’re planning on a hiking trip or driving yourself to your final destination. I know, shocker, real maps, haha. 

The lesson here is not to 100% rely on your phone in Scotland. But it’s still important to keep your devices charged. I always pack a portable phone charger with me on all my trips, including Scotland.

If losing cell service concerns you, then I suggest you stay in a more touristy area of the Scottish Highlands, such as Fort William or Loch Ness. There is tons of infrastructure in that area, so you don’t need to feel overly concerned.

is scotland safe? definitely, and it's beautiful too

Always Buy Travel Insurance Ahead of Time

Scotland is safe, for sure, and it’s a wonderful place to travel alone or with someone else.

However, even though Scotland’s great, you still need to buy travel insurance for your vacation. Having an insurance policy is non-negotiable, my friends. 

I mean, let’s say you hurt yourself hiking in the Highlands and need emergency services to come get you. The out of pocket cost would be financially devastating. I’m talking thousands upon thousands of dollars here. That amount would break me, folks. 

Personally, I always use World Nomads for all my international trips. The prices are reasonable, and I’ve never had an issue dealing with them. I’ll continue to use World Nomads into the future, too.

So buy that travel insurance! Right now. Today.  

scotland safety tip: move into a magical castle

Stay Aware of the Weather

Scotland has the most changeable weather ever. Seriously, it changes every fifteen seconds. 

For example, I’ve visited Scotland in the summer twice. Summer is known for having the best weather, since it is peak tourist season, but even so, you might encounter rain and cold. I know I took my windbreaker on and off multiple times throughout the day.

You should check the weather ahead of time. However, it’s also important to wear layers to stay comfortable in any temperature. Seriously, rain can come out of literally nowhere, and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the Highlands feeling like a drowned rat. 

And if you hate the weather? Wait a couple of minutes, and you will be just fine! Haha.

how safe is scotland? perfection
Is Scotland safe? Yes! And gorgeous too!

Learn to Drive on the Left Side of the Road

If you’re coming from the USA or Canada, then you need to be prepared for different driving conditions especially for those of you planning on renting a car and doing your own independent itinerary. 

Most importantly, in Scotland, cars drive on the left side of the road. Yup, the opposite side of the road. Keep that in mind whenever you’re making sudden turns. 

Even if you’re not driving, you should still stay aware of the flow of traffic. I lost count of the number of times that I saw tourists step in front of buses. It’s not good. Look in the proper direction prior to crossing any busy street. 

Lastly, road conditions in Scotland are very different than the open freeways in the United States. Seriously, some of these country roads are super narrow and only have one lane. Conditions are hair raising at times. 

Be respectful of other drivers, and take your time. You don’t want to get hurt in a stupid car accident. (If you truly need to make an emergency call, then call 999. For less threatening issues, you ought to call 101).

is scotland safe to travel? yes, but don't get lost in the highlands
Is Scotland safe? Yes, but use common sense in the Highlands.

Wear Proper Footwear Hiking in the Highlands

Proper footwear is mandatory in Scotland. Meaning don’t act like me in Scotland. 

What happened? I climbed a fence (don’t ask) and turned my ankle. To make matters worse, I was wearing flimsy little ballerina flats to trek through the hills and mud. It was a mess, and I needed to make an emergency pharmacy visit. 

So invest in a quality pair of comfortable hiking boots for your adventure to Scotland. Your feet for love you for the investment. 

Furthermore, you’ll also want appropriate socks. For example, Merino wool endurance socks will prevent blisters. Spend the extra money to be comfortable on your epic hikes. Sorry, but no amount of stunning scenery and fresh air will soothe red blisters throbbing on your ankles.  

scotland safety: wear a jacket to protect yourself from the elements

Know Your Limits

Always know what you’re able to personally handle. Keep your boundaries strong in the face of peer pressure, too, especially when traveling alone in Scotland. 

So why are limits so important? 

Specifically, Scotland has lots of festivals and a pretty big drinking culture much like other parts of the United Kingdom. It’s very common to buy “rounds” in Scotland, where one person orders drinks for everyone with the expectation that everyone else will buy the next round. Two or three pints of heavy beer can be a lot, especially if you’re a smaller woman or not accustomed to drinking lots of alcohol.

At the end of the day, you need to respect your body. Meaning sleep when you want to sleep. Stop drinking when you want to stop. You don’t have to waste all your money at the pubs if you don’t want to. 

Knowing your limits will help keep you safe and happy. 

enjoying an afternoon at loch ness
Make Sure to Wear Layers in Scotland!

Wear Layers

While not necessarily a safety tip, you want to feel comfortable exploring Scotland’s nature. So wear layers even in the summer months. In particular, Scotland’s islands, such as the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye and Orkney, are prone to high winds. 

I remember taking a ferry to Orkney and hearing from one of the locals that sometimes school is canceled due to high winds. 

Pack those layers. You won’t regret it in the slightest. 

how safe is scotland? very but be careful hiking in rural areas

Don’t Be Paranoid About Scams

Unlike other popular destinations, such as Paris and Prague, Scotland’s major cities don’t have as many scams targeted at tourists. Yay!

On both my trips, I didn’t have one person approach me asking for money or trying to swindle me out of my money. For example, as a brand new solo traveler, I wander to Edinburgh Castle on my own and wasn’t bothered a single time to sign a scammy petition, nor did I feel like I had to check my purse a million times.

Yet, if you’re REALLY nervous about scams and pickpockets, then buy an anti-theft bag like this crossbody bag by Travelon. You’ll be able to rest more easily as you do your sightseeing. 

Ultimately, use common sense to protect yourself and your belongings. You don’t have to lose your mind over possibilities, though. 

going out alone in edinburgh is safe if you use precautions. for example, dean village is gorgeous

Is Edinburgh Safe?

Whew! Okay. I’ve talked a lot about Scotland’s gorgeous countryside, but I’m sure you’ll also want to see the cities. I know the most about Edinburgh.

You guys, Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in all of Scotland. I mean, it’s a complete literary gem and makes you feel as if you’re in the pages of Harry Potter. 

Edinburgh is absolutely safe. Edinburgh was my first solo trip, believe it or not. As a wide-eyed 26 year old, I even felt content and secure at the main train station. My advice is for you to behave as you would in any city, and you should honestly be fine.

At night, I think you’re fine walking around and exploring the city. However, I thought that the main tourist areas, such as the Royal Mile, were super quiet at night, and wouldn’t necessary recommend hanging out there without a companion. 

is scotland safe? of course! look at this smile

Will I Be Okay Going to Scotland Alone?

Yes, yes, and triple yes!

Personally, I think Scotland’s a wonderful destinations for first time solo travelers. Now I might be biased, because Scotland was my first solo trip and it changed my life, but come on, what solo traveler wouldn’t absolutely fall in love with Scotland? Have you seen all these gorgeous photos in this post?!

First and foremost, the tourism infrastructure is fantastic throughout the country. Scotland’s used to having visitors. You’ll find highly rated hostels throughout Edinburgh and the Highlands. 

And, like I already said in this post, there are fewer scams specifically targeting visitors in Scotland.

I highly recommend going to Scotland alone on a big and grand adventure. You’ll have a great time. 

scotland safety: most small towns are super safe

So is Scotland safe? I certainly think so! I hope I encouraged you to take your next trip to Scotland. It’s one of my favorite countries and always makes for a beautiful adventure. Have a great time in Scotland. 

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