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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Northern Scotland

Amar River Viewpoint, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Neither Expensive Nor Cheap

Type Of Travel

Traveling to Northern Scotland means being on a Road Trip. Do not be mistaken nonetheless, this is not an Odyssey that you plan as you drive, following your inspiration, at least not in the summer (July & August): you should book accommodation at least 1 month in advance, and ideally between 3 and 6 months, especially if you have clear expectations on accommodation. The far north of Scotland (North Coast 500) comparatively sees few visitors (far fewer than lower Scotland), but also offers less options while on the road. Keep that in mind when planning your trip!

We stayed at AirBNBs throughout our stay, as this is the only option that can be booked online and offering a complete overview of possibilities. This was a great option with a baby, and we stayed mostly at very pleasant places, where we could cook our diners and hence be more flexible.

Scotland was our third trip with an infant (at the time of travel, Jules was 13 months old), and we kept on choosing a reasonable level of comfort, so that we would have everything we wanted / needed and relax after quite long hours on those windy roads (we spent 4 to 5 hours a day on the road on average).

All this definitely means significant extra-costs! But if you are not into camping (and I hardly can imagine camping in Scotland with the rain and the cold weather), your options to reduce costs are quite limited.

Itinerary & Time Of The Visit

Organizing this trip to Scotland turned out to be a real challenge, one of the most difficult trips I had to organize so far. It might sound very, very surprising, for such a touristy destination in Europe… But building an itinerary was actually a real headache…

So just keep one thing in mind when organizing your trip to Northern Scotland: it is a Road-Trip, and the Journey is the Destination! You will not want anything particularly, just discovering the country at a slow pace.

We altogether decided to skip the lower parts of Scotland, which are horribly touristy in the summer, and focused on the North Coast 500 and the Isle of Skye (also extremely touristy).

Add to this that we wanted to attend Highland Games (we chose Oban, which was simply amazing), and you our itinerary fell in place quite quickly.

Head straight to Inverness, and then follow the coast anti-clockwise until Fort William. You will discover some of the more remote and beautiful parts of Scotland. Leave the main roads and follow those wee, windy, single lane roads, to soak in the sheer beauty of the region. Beware that these are no roads for beginners! I drove on some of the most challenging roads I experienced so far, partly more challenging than what I encountered in Africa or Asia…

We traveled two weeks in the middle of August, and that was the minimum for our undertaking. If you want to add some of the islands or the lower parts of Scotland, calculate some extra time.

Global Budget

Scotland is an expensive destination altogether, but not especially expensive for Europe. You will need a car in Northern Scotland. And accommodation is expensive, except if you go camping. We could have saved a lot on food, but just wanted to enjoy Scottish Cuisine… And yes, we really had some superb food!

Costs per Person per Day in € 2019
Long Distances’ Transport € 26,20
Short Distances’ Transport € 0,00
Total Transport € 26,20
Hotels € 55,60
Restaurants & Food € 37,90
Every Day Life € 2,40
Total Living € 95,90
Visits & Tours € 3,90
Activities € 0,00
Total Tours & Activities € 3,90
Total Country: € 126,00

Hostels & Hotels

We only stayed at AirBnB as indicated above, and that was a great choice, a pricey one though…Accommodation was definitely a big chunk of our budget…

City Hostel / Hotel
Name
Type of
Accommodation
Price
per Night (€)
Duration
(Nights)
Evaluation
(1 to 5 Stars)
Edimbourg Holiday Inn Express Dunfermline Hotel 71 1 ***
Ullapool Cruach Fodair – Straw Bale Home AirBNB 90 2 ****
Thurso Scotland Far North Coast B&B AirBNB 86 2 ***
Torridon Achnasheen – Corry1 AirBNB 110 2 ****
Skye AirBNB Harrapool AirBNB 143 3 ****
Oban AirBNB – Oban Argyll AirBNB 129 2 ****
Fort William AirBNB – Achnasheen AirBNB 113 2 ****
Total Ecosse 111 14  

Restaurants & Food

We could have saved a lot on food, but wanted to enjoy the trip and some pleasant times at small local restaurants and pub, enjoyed Lobster, Crab and other superb food. That had a price, of course…

City Restaurant
Name
Type of Meal Type of
Restaurant
Price
Food (€)
Evaluation
(1 to 5 Stars)
Cawdor Castle Cawdor Tavern Lunch Pub 26 ****
Ullapool Seafood Truck Diner Food Stall 16 *****
Lochinver Peet’s Restaurant Lunch Restaurant 20 ***
Lochinver Lochinver Larder Diner Take Away 15 ****
Durness Cocoa Mountain Lunch Café 13 ****
Thurso Y Not Bar & Grill Lunch Restaurant 15 **
Thurso Strathy Inn Diner Restaurant 17 *****
Falls of Shin Mac & Wild at the Falls of Shin Lunch Restaurant 12 ****
Applecross Applecross Inn Lunch Restaurant 45 ****
Plockton Plockton Stores Lunch Restaurant 25 ***
Portree Red Brick Cafe Lunch Restaurant 13 ***
Fort William The Crannog Restaurant Lunch Restaurant 38 ****
Oban Poppies Garden center Brunch Restaurant 15 ****
Arisaig The Old Library & Lodge Lunch Restaurant 16 ****
Mallaig The Cornerstone Lunch Restaurant 24 ***
Total Ecosse 21  

Transport

You will definitely need a car for Northern Scotland, as this is a Road-Trip. But once again, beware that these are no roads for beginners!

Splurge At Reasonable Costs?

If you want to enjoy some of the very special accommodations Scotland has to offer, book way in advance! I would recommend at least 3 months, and in July and August 6 months would be even better.

Food is superb, and if you are ready to spend a little more, you will actually find an amazing price / quality ratio…

Reduce Costs?

If you are into camping, then you can save a significant part of our budget… But beware of the rain and the cold… Else, it will be an expensive trip, no matter how you take it!

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