How much should you budget for a trip to Scotland?


I was reading a question recently that someone asked in a Scotland travel-related group on facebook. They were asking how much should they budget for 2 weeks in Scotland. The person was making a guess at around $5000 USD total for the full 2 weeks excluding flights, which would work out at just under $350 USD per day including accommodation costs. At first this seemed somewhat high, but then I started to think and it really depended on how much luxury they wanted to travel in. For example, will they be staying in 5-star hotels or budget b&bs? What type of car will they hire or will they not hire a car at all? Will they be investing in premium gifts/souvenirs such as whisky and cashmere or not at all? The list is endless in determining what one person’s budget might be versus another’s. To help everyone reading this blog to determine how much money to bring I thought I’d give you a list of what some of the main things cost over in Scotland generally. That way you can work out how much you’d need to budget roughly for a trip here.

Also, before we start – below are the 3 types of bank notes that ATMs in Scotland will print out.

Bank of Scotland £20 Note
Clydesdale Bank £20 Note
RBS £20 Bank Note

You can use all of the above in Scotland as well as the Bank of England notes. However, sometimes in England they are funny about taking the Scottish bank notes so I’d try to spend them before you get to England if you are travelling to England after. You can of course use card payment (particularly Visa and Mastercard) almost everywhere and also please note, that some of the notes look a bit different if they’re newly issued notes or old ones. That and it’s different colours depending on the amount, e.g. a £20 note is purple, a £5 note is blue etc.

How much do things actually cost in Scotland?

The price of hotels/accommodation

Accommodation is always the hardest price to advise people on because it depends on what kind of budget you’re on, what time of the year you’re travelling and what location in Scotland you are booking. This is because where and when you’re travelling can change price drastically. For example, if you booked peak season during the Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh you can expect to pay at least 3x as much for your accommodation than if you booked any other time of year. If you’re staying in a village somewhere up in the highlands during February though, you’ll probably find it a lot cheaper. According to an article in the Telegraph though, the average price of a hotel in Edinburgh for example is £133 ($170 USD) per night. However, it did not say if this included Edinburgh Festival prices when making up this average, so you might find it’s a bit cheaper if you’re travelling out with the month of August to Edinburgh specifically. In the Isle of Skye however, the average price of a 4 star hotel per night according to was $162 USD). Again, you will no doubt find accommodation both cheaper and more expensive than this depending on your budget. This is just an average.

The price of transport in Scotland

Hiring a car = According the the average price of hiring a car in Scotland is £27.50 ($35 USD) per day during peak season.

Taking the train = If you’re taking the train up north or between Scotland’s major cities, an adult single between Glasgow and Edinburgh is around £15 ($19 USD). Between Edinburgh and Inverness an adult single is around £47.50 ($61 USD).

Flying to the north of Scotland = If you’re flying from say Edinburgh to say Stornoway during peak season, you’re likely to pay around £95 ($122 USD) one-way per person booking at the time of writing.

Taking the bus = You can get buses from Edinburgh to Inverness for around £15 ($19 USD) per person although I’d personally only recommend this route if you’re on a really strict budget! It is not the most comfortable way of travelling long-distance in Scotland.

The price of a meal out in Scotland and the question of how much to tip

Most places I eat out in Scotland range from around £12 to £22 (ish) ($15 to $28) for a main in a restaurant depending on what you order and where – unless you’re somewhere that has a particular deal on. However, I don’t eat in Michelin star restaurants. I’m just an average person who eats in pretty normal places so you may spend more if you’re eating somewhere like that.

As far as tipping goes – In places like the USA there is a tipping culture that there is not in Scotland. I know lots of people in Scotland who regularly don’t tip. The main reason is because the hourly rate of pay in the UK (in general) is much more for waiters/waitresses than in the USA. However, this does not mean your server earns a lot! They may still be working on what is minimum wage in the UK (or not much more) which isn’t a lot considering the cost of living here. They will still appreciate a tip and especially if service has been good I would definitely tip personally. I normally tip something between 10% to 20% depending on how good service has been if that helps.

Drinks – The average price of a pint of beer in a city pub is around £4 to £6 depending on what pub you’re in.

Accommodation, transport and food are your main expenditure while in Scotland apart from tours and souvenir shopping. Unfortunately, the price varies so much with the latter two I’d really need to know exactly what you want to purchase in order to give you a basic price. Hopefully though the above has helped give you a basic gauge on how much a trip to Scotland will cost. If there is anything I have missed that you would like to know general prices on though, please do let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Margit C Lawsonreply
3rd March 2020 at 4:00 am

I was that person who asked the question. Your information included herein was exactly what I was looking for – I can do the math. We would most likely come during shoulder months to avoid crowds; typically eat normal food (2 meals a day) not fine dining; and like to be comfortable but not expecting 5 star by any stretch. My go to hotel in US is Holiday Inn Express but I suspect we would plan on B&B’s and the like because we want to enjoy the culture and meet and be with regular everyday folks. We will also spend more time in rural areas than cities though I do believe we will end up with three nights in Edinburgh 2 on front end and 1 on back end as well as 2 nights somewhere around Inverness. And yes plan on car rental but not sure if for entire trip or part using the public trains for the rest of trip. Still very early in planning. So I was trying to get a very ballpark guesstimate based on others’ experiences which as you said can vary so much to be of little value because of all of the factors you named. But I feel that with your insight and others’ comments I was able to achieve the answer I sought. I believe $5000 should be sufficient to cover the everyday expenses. And if high, I will have leftover for the next trip. But if short, it won’t be so much as to break the bank. So thank you for your help and insight. I will try and locate your blog and follow it as I am gathering as much information as I can to make best use of our time.

3rd March 2020 at 9:05 am
– In reply to: Margit C Lawson

Thank you Margit and glad I could be of some help 🙂

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