Arriving in Scotland
Tourist offices – called Tourist Information Centres (TICs) – can be found in most Scottish towns. Their addresses, phone numbers and opening hours are listed in the relevant sections of this book. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, and many of the smaller offices are closed during the winter months. All tourist offices provide information on accommodation, public transport, local attractions and restaurants, as well as selling books, local guides, maps and souvenirs. Many also have free street plans and leaflets describing local walks. They can also book accommodation for you for a small fee.
Museums, galleries & monuments
Most of Scotland’s tourist attractions, apart from the large museums and art galleries in the main cities, are open only from Easter to October. Full details of opening hours, sights>opening hours and admission charges, sights>admission charges are given in the relevant sections of this guide.
Over 100 of the country’s most prestigious sights, and 185,000 acres of beautiful countryside, are cared for by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), 26-31 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4ET, Tel: 0131-2439300, www.nts.org.uk National Trust properties are indicated in this guide as ‘NTS’, and entry charges and opening hours are given for each property. If you’re going to be visiting several sights during your stay, then it’s worth taking annual membership. This costs £28, £12 if you’re aged under 26 and £47 for a family, and gives free access to all NTS and NT properties. The National Trust Touring Pass costs £18 per adult and £28 for a family, and gives free admission to its properties for seven days. A 14-day pass costs £26 and £44 respectively. YHA and HI members and student-card holders get 50% discount on NTS admission charges.
Historic Scotland (HS), Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh EH9 1SH, Tel: 0131-6688800, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk, manages more than 330 of Scotland’s most important castles, monuments and other historic sites. Historic Scotland properties are indicated as ‘HS’, and admission charges and opening hours are also given in this guide. Historic Scotland offer an Explorer Ticket which allows free entry to 70 of their properties including Edinburgh and Stirling castles. It costs £17 per adult and £35 for a family for seven days, and £22/£42 for 14 days. It can save a lot of money, as entry to Edinburgh Castle alone is £7.50 per adult.
Many other historic buildings are owned by local authorities, and admission is cheap, or in many cases free. Most municipal art galleries museums are free, as well as most state-owned museums, including those in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Most fee-paying attractions give a discount or concession for senior citizens, the unemployed, full-time students and children under 16 (those under five are admitted free everywhere). Proof of age or status must be shown. Many of Scotland’s stately homes are still owned and occupied by the landed gentry, and admission charges are usually between £4 and £6.