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Starting to plan 3 weeks in Scotland - question about safety


I am very excited to be planning a three week trip to Scotland.  I would like to spend at least one week on Islay with the remaining time to still be determined.  Wondering as I begin the planning if there are any areas I should avoid as I will be a single woman from the United States in my 30's traveling alone.  I've heard that Scotland is very safe but would love to hear from residents or those who have traveled to Scotland what your advice would be.  I am a true lover of single malt scotch so a lot of my plans will include distilleries and I'm not much for clubs so it is unlikely I'll be in the rowdy parts of the bigger cities.  Thank you very much in advance for any time you are able to share with me!  This is a dream trip for me that I'm no longer willing to put off.




  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Hey Cara,

    Let me try to address some of your concerns as being someone who is both a resident and backpacked solo across Scotland for 4 weeks.

    TL;DR Rural Scotland in particular is very safe (from personal experiences). You'll meet a number of other travellers from the US so won't feel far from home. Most distilleries are deep in rural Scotland in some beautiful and safe areas. Getting around: Public transport may need some planning / driving on single track roads will need some practice.

    Rural Scotland in particular is possibly one of the safest places in the world IMO. The people are very friendly, warm & welcoming (to all nationalities, I was the only non-Caucasian traveller many locals say they'd met the whole year). I was flummoxed to see the same thing in all the villages I went to, everyone (ie locals) knows everyone else (this is true on Islay too) and that makes the community feel very safe. Grab a seat at the local pub, you'll likely mingle with a bunch of locals & have a good time :smile:

    Secondly, you probably won't feel far from home. You'll meet a number of American travellers (like yourself) and specifically from your demographic (20-40 Solo F). I met Harry Potter fans, castle/Outlander fans & even Gaelic language learners from your demographic on my trip. They all were very happy they made the trip.

    Final tip: Most distilleries are very remote. To truly enjoy them, using public transport is the best choice (my trip was solely based on public transport). However options are very limited & you must stick to timetables to make it a success (some days you'll have only 1 option for going in & coming back). On the plus side, you can taste to your heart's content. If you're driving, read up on single track driving.

    Hope you have a trip of a lifetime. Feel free to ask me anymore follow up questions, I'll try to be terse.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • FofomaFofoma Member ✭✭✭
    My sister doesn't drive and she goes everywhere by public transport on her own and she has never had any issues. Take sensible precautions as you would back home. If you decide to drive, remember that the drink drive limit in Scotland is quite low so perhaps as suggested use the bus when visiting distilleries. 
  • CaraLynnCaraLynn Member
    Thank you very much for the information!  I really appreciate it. 
  • Hi Cara, you will have an amazing time and find that even our cities are welcoming and safe. Be aware, you are likely to be over legal driving limit after sampling one dram. Most Scottish people I know don't drink a drop before driving, since the law changed. Join a tour or drive and camp near distilleries. Or ask for a miniature to take home instead of sampling at the distillery. 
  • Bruce_BoogieBruce_Boogie Member ✭✭
    A week on Islay would be a great start.
    I would recommend staying in Bowmore as you are more central for everywhere else.
    We stayed in Port Charlotte, lovely, but Bowmore was easier.
    The NC500 is not Route66, it is fabulous and well worth it.
    I love Lewis & Harris (one island) wonderful scenery, standing stones, ancient geology and peaceful.
    You ought to see Edinburgh and Glasgow.
    You can do all this, but you will need to do a fair bit of planning ~ which is fun.
    Hace a W O N D E R F U L time.
    It is a wonderfully safe place out in the wilds and E & G are probably safer than most cities.
    E N J O Y
    Bruce Boogie
    Playing the music that created teenagers
  • We run a B & B in the Highlands and regularly have single female guests coming to stay. All have said they have been made to feel very welcome wherever they have been and all have felt safe. Enjoy your trip!
  • teddypdxteddypdx Member
    As an American woman traveling solo in Scotland, I felt safer there than back in the US.
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