I hate to write a heading with a slightly negative tone, but I actually think there are some people who could benefit from this wee mini guide – so below is a small list of things you shouldn’t do when you arrive in Scotland plus some common misconceptions that irk me a wee bit haha.
Rule Number 1 – Don’t call a kilt a skirt
Pretty much the first rule of coming to Scotland, but the first one most tourists actually break when they come here, is calling our beloved kilt a skirt! If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard a first-time visitor call a kilt a skirt I’d be a rich lady. In Scotland we see a kilt a bit like an entity of its own. In the same way shorts are different to trousers or a dress – a kilt is different to a skirt. Even if you disagree, I wouldn’t be too vocal about it in Scotland, especially somewhere like Glasgow. I’m helping you out here. Trust me.
2 – Try not to talk about Scottish Independence unless you’re actually informed
Scotland’s Independence from the UK has been a topic of conversation since the build up to the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014. Scotland narrowly voted to stay in the UK. However, given how narrow the result was and particularly since Britain voted to leave the EU – and the fact that the majority of Scots voted to stay in Europe – there has been a lot of talk about another Scottish Independence Referendum happening. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is a very brief explanation as to why Scotland seeking independence from the UK is still very much a topic in British/Scottish politics.
If you want to get in on the chat though, Scottish people are more than happy to talk about it usually, but please do read up a bit on why people voted both for and against Scottish independence before you do. The worst thing you can do is try have a debate without having a clue about any of the information or making assumptions that are easy-to-make but wrong. Also, expect views to be passionate!
3 – Please don’t just visit Edinburgh then leave! There’s so much more to Scotland…
One problem in Scotland for tourism seems to be that people either visit Edinburgh then leave or visit Edinburgh followed a really short visit to the Scottish Highlands then leave! If you only have a few days I get it. There’s only so much someone can see or do in that time frame. If you have a bit longer though, I’d urge you not to stay solely in our country’s capital as beautiful as it may be! There is so much more to Scotland! Also, the Scottish Highlands covers such a vast amount of places and landscapes, a weekend is not going to show you much of what there is to offer! For example, if you’re driving up from England to Scotland, why not make a stop off in the Scottish Borders or Dumfies & Galloway– much underrated parts of Scotland that everyone skips in order to go straight to Edinburgh, Glasgow or the Scottish Highlands… but that contain so much beauty! Alternatively, if you are heading north in the mainland, why not head far north and go to Sutherland & Caithness region? This part of Scotland has some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country yet often people miss it to go to the Isle of Skye. Skye I should add is exceptionally stunning, but it also gets particularly busy during peak season and other parts of Scotland are also incredible yet much less busy if you’re looking to experience tranquillity!
We don’t all live on deep fried mars bars!
Contrary to what you might have heard, we don’t all live off of deep-fried food in Scotland! In particular, there is a myth surrounding the deep fried Mars Bar! The truth is the deep fried Mars Bar is a tourist thing. I genuinely don’t know anyone who eats them that is a local. It’s only tourists. In addition, we actually have some amazing restaurants all around the country, but particularly in our bigger cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow they’re designed for foodies. Check out the foodie section of my things to do indoors in Glasgow when it’s raining post for a few ideas there of where to eat in Glasgow. In the restaurant section of my first time visitor’s guide to Edinburgh there are a few suggestions to on where to eat in the city. I’ll be detailing some more amazing Scottish restaurants in the future though, but those are enough to get you started!
We don’t all walk around in kilts. You can wear trousers!!
In the past when I was blogging over at RunawayJane.com, a lot of people realised I was Scottish and sent me emails about travel in Scotland. I always loved replying to people about travel in my country, but I have to admit, a few did make me laugh. I genuinely had some emails from people asking whether they could get away without wearing a kilt in Scotland as though Scots only wear kilts? One email in particular that sprung to mind was a man asking whether there was somewhere at the airport he could get a kilt because he wouldn’t have time to order one to the USA before his trip and he was worried about looking different from the locals! He never got back to me when I told him we were like every western country in that most people just wear normal attire like jeans or other trousers. For the purposes of making it clear therefore – we don’t all walk about in kilts! Kilts are typically only worn for special occasions like weddings or big events like national football games.
We don’t all hate the English (even if we are for Scottish independence)
I’ve brushed upon the subject of Scottish independence already, but just to be clear (particularly to any English people reading) we don’t all hate the English. We will joke about it for sure and laugh as we tell you we’ll support any team but England at the football, but in reality a lot of this ‘Scots hating the English’ rubbish has been hyped up by the press. Most Scots who voted for independence did so for political reasons or because we dislike the British government – not the British people! Just don’t refer to us as English if you’re coming from abroad. I know in certain parts of the world it’s common to refer to the whole of the UK as England, but over here we don’t. Again, you’ll just need to trust me.
– Hopefully this wee guide of don’ts and common misconceptions helps you avoid some common faux-pas should you venture over to Scotland!