Categories > Guides and Tips

Scotland vs. Ireland Which is a better vacation spot

Scotland vs. Ireland: Which is a better vacation spot?

When it comes between Scotland and Ireland for your dream vacation, let’s put aside any preconceived notions and delve into what truly sets your wanderlust on fire. As a local, I can guide you through essential details to help you make the perfect choice.

If you seek a vacation spot with dramatic and varied landscapes, Scotland might be your ideal choice, while those craving rich cultural experiences and vibrant entertainment should consider Ireland. 

Curious about our reasoning? Well, let’s explore the details as we contrast Scotland and Ireland for your vacation, considering elements such as scenic landscapes, cultural richness, festivals, and more.

Where are Scotland and Ireland?

Where are Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: Vacation Selector 

Scotland is located in the northern part of the UK, and Ireland refers to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, located to the west of Great Britain.

Scotland, the northern jewel of the United Kingdom, shares the British Isles with its counterparts: England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But, what truly sets Scotland apart is its 800 captivating islands, including 93 inhabited gems awaiting your exploration.

Now, let’s turn our gaze to the “Emerald Isle” – Ireland. It’s a story of two countries: Northern Ireland, a part of the UK with Belfast as its heart, and the Republic of Ireland, where Dublin reigns as the vibrant capital.

As locals, we invite you to delve into this spirited rivalry between two extraordinary destinations.

Scotland is renowned for its significant influence on popular culture, primarily through iconic figures. These include Sir Sean Connery, the original James Bond, and the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

One of the most famous mysteries in the world, the Loch Ness Monster, or “Nessie,” is a creature believed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. 

Ireland is celebrated for its rich musical heritage, which has produced globally renowned artists like U2, Enya, Sinead O’Connor, and The Cranberries. 

Ireland’s Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland, has transcended its religious origins to become a worldwide celebration of Irish culture. 

How do I get to Scotland and Ireland?

How do I get to Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: Free Vector Art

By Plane – Soaring Through the Skies

Scotland and Ireland are well-connected via international airports, making air travel a popular choice for globetrotters. 

For Scotland, touch down at Edinburgh or Glasgow, with direct flights from North America and Europe. If you’re coming from North America, you’re in luck with non-stop flights from cities like Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Toronto. 

Europe offers direct flights from major cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, and Reykjavík. For international travelers, connecting flights through hubs like London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, or Amsterdam are common.

In Ireland, arrivals usually land at Dublin, Belfast International, or Cork airports. The U.S. provides non-stop flights from major cities, while over 120 European cities offer direct flights to Dublin.

By Train – The Scenic Route

Scotland boasts the famous West Highland Line, showcasing breathtaking scenery. Ireland’s rail system connects major cities, providing a relaxed way to explore the green landscapes.

By Ferry – Nautical Adventures

For those with a love for the sea, ferries are an option – travel to Ireland from Spain, France, or nearby ports in England, Scotland, or Wales. Scotland, being part of the UK, typically requires passage through England for European ferry travel.

By Road – Embarking on a Road Trip

Drive your way to Scotland and Ireland via road trips from England or other parts of the UK. The road networks are well-maintained and offer fantastic routes, with stunning scenery to accompany your journey.

Scotland and Ireland are known for their unpredictable weather. Be sure to pack layers and waterproof clothing, and don’t forget a sturdy pair of comfortable walking shoes.

How can I get around Scotland and Ireland?

How can I get around Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: Freepik

Exploring the enchanting landscapes of Scotland and Ireland is a journey worth taking, but how exactly can you traverse these captivating terrains? We’ve got you covered with some insider tips:

Car Rentals

For the ultimate freedom and flexibility, consider renting a car. Self-drive tours are a popular choice, allowing you to set your own pace and make spontaneous stops along the way. 

Emerald Isle locals recommend Irish Car Rentals and while Scottish fellas prefer Avis or Europcar.

Guided Tours

If you prefer someone else to take the wheel, small group tours in Scotland or Ireland offer expert local guides who lead the way while sharing the magic of each country. 

Alternatively, go all-in for a private tour, providing a personalized guided experience tailored to your preferences.

Public Transport

Both Scotland and Ireland offer an excellent public transportation network to connect major cities and popular attractions. Trains, buses, and ferries often provide economical options for getting around, allowing you to spend more on local cuisine and activities.

Remember, part of the adventure is connecting with the locals. Strike up conversations with fellow travellers and residents; they may share invaluable tips and hidden gems that can’t be found in guidebooks.

What is the weather like in Scotland and Ireland?

What is the weather like in Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: DerbyshireLive

The weather in Scotland and Ireland is generally characterised by mild, wet, and unpredictable conditions. Scotland has cooler temperatures and occasional snow in the winter while Ireland is milder but also quite wet, especially in the west.

Scotland and Ireland, sitting on the Atlantic’s edge, often come with a reputation for their capricious skies. While some days may live up to the “wet and windswept” reputation, the weather here has a charmingly unpredictable nature.

However, it’s essential to note that the weather varies across different regions in both countries. 

The west coast of Ireland and Scotland sees its fair share of rainfall, which gracefully enhances the moody and mysterious ambiance of these areas. On the other hand, places like Scotland’s Firth of Forth enjoy a notably drier climate.

When preparing for your adventure, keep in mind the local saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.” So, be sure to pack those layers, as you’re in for a mix of sunshine, showers, and a sprinkle of unpredictability. 

When is the best time to visit Scotland and Ireland?

When is the best time to visit Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: IrishCentral

The best times to visit Scotland and Ireland are spring for blooming landscapes and summer for mild weather and longer daylight. Autumn is quieter with changing foliage, and winter offers snow-dusted mountains and pub evenings.

If you adore blooming landscapes and quieter tourist attractions, spring, particularly April and May, is your season. During this time, you’ll encounter a burst of colour as the cities and countryside in both places with bluebells, daffodils, and cherry blossoms.

For those seeking the mildest weather and the most extended daylight hours, summer is the prime season, spanning from June through mid-September. You can explore well into the evening while soaking up the stunning landscapes.

As autumn approaches from mid-September to November, Scotland and Ireland transition to a quieter, more serene atmosphere. The lush greenery transforms into fiery red and orange hues, and the temperatures begin to cool as winter draws near.

Speaking of winter, from November to March, the weather becomes more changeable. However, it’s a beautiful time to visit, especially if you’re drawn to the allure of snow-dusted mountain peaks and cosy evenings in traditional pubs. 

Must-See Holidays and Festivals in Scotland:
Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August): The world’s largest arts festival takes over the streets of Edinburgh, showcasing an array of performances, from theatre to comedy.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August): Held against the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, this military spectacle features bands, cultural performances, and fireworks.

Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve): Scotland’s New Year’s celebration in Edinburgh is legendary, with street parties, concerts, and the famous Torchlight Procession.

Must-See Holidays and Festivals in Ireland:
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17): Experience vibrant parades, music, and dancing across Ireland during the national holiday.

Galway International Arts Festival (July): This cultural event transforms Galway into a hub of creative performances, from theatre to live music.

Belfast International Arts Festival (October): Belfast hosts a diverse arts festival featuring theatre, dance, music, and visual arts.

What are the best sceneries in Scotland and Ireland?

What are the best sceneries in Scotland and Ireland

Image Source: PlanetWare

The best sceneries in Scotland include mountains, glens, cities, and beaches. Ireland’s picturesque landscapes feature endless hills and majestic cliffs.

Scotland’s charm lies in its towering mountains, captivating glens, and pristine beaches that can rival any worldwide. Vacationers could explore the grandeur of Edinburgh and Glasgow for an exceptional urban experience.

Conversely, Ireland, aptly named the ‘Emerald Isle,’ boasts endless rolling green hills, illuminated by the sun’s touch. While it may not have Scotland’s mountains, you’ll encounter towering natural wonders like the Cliffs of Moher and Slieve League Cliffs.

For Scotland’s natural splendours, do hike the dramatic landscapes of the Isle of Skye, and don’t miss the serene beaches of the Outer Hebrides. 

In Ireland, you could explore the Ring of Kerry’s coastal beauty and the lush landscapes of County Kerry. 
What are the best places to visit in Scotland

Image Source: Travel2Next

In Scotland, Edinburgh is a must-visit, offering history, culture, and stunning architecture. The Scottish Highlands are another essential destination, known for their breathtaking landscapes, such as Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.


Image Source: Visit Scotland

We recommend you start in Edinburgh, a city brimming with history and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Plan your visit for August, and you’ll be in the midst of the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe.

Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye

Image Source:

We suggest venturing into the majestic Scottish Highlands and islands – at Loch Ness, keep a keen eye out for the elusive Loch Ness Monster. 

For those who love awe-inspiring sea vistas, we recommend the Isle of Skye, where charming villages and rugged pinnacles await.

Of course, Scotland’s treasure trove of castles is not to be missed. Explorers should definitely visit the ancient ruins, royal estates, and formidable fortresses that whisper tales of centuries gone by. 

What are the best places to visit in Ireland

Image Source: PlanetWare

In Ireland, Dublin is a vibrant and historic city with attractions like Trinity College and Temple Bar. The Cliffs of Moher, on the country’s west coast, offer awe-inspiring natural beauty and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.


Image Source: Ordnance Survey Ireland

Let’s kick off your Irish adventure in Dublin, where the city’s historic and contemporary charms harmoniously blend. You should enjoy a pint of Guinness at the iconic Guinness Storehouse or take a leisurely walk in the picturesque Phoenix Park.

Cliffs of Moher

Image Source: Cliffs of Moher

In Ireland, nature’s wonders are equally enchanting. Lovers of nature can make their way to the Cliffs of Moher, where towering rock faces plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle – perfect for the gram!

What is the local cuisine in Scotland

Image Source: Mackays Hotel

One iconic dish is haggis, a savoury pudding crafted from minced sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with oats, onions, and spices. Often served with neeps and tatties, haggis is a beloved symbol of Scottish culinary heritage. 

Fish and chips, featuring deep-fried cod or haddock and thick-cut chips, are another staple that can be found throughout Scotland, particularly in coastal towns.

For dinner recommendations, you can check out our lists of the best dinner spots in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

What is the local cuisine in Ireland

Image Source: Costcutter Ireland

Ireland boasts a culinary heritage that reflects its history and access to fresh ingredients. One of its most iconic dishes is Irish stew, a hearty meal made with tender lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions, all slow-cooked to perfection. 

Boxty is another beloved Irish dish – a type of potato pancake, made with grated potatoes, flour, baking powder, and buttermilk. It’s typically fried until golden brown and served with a variety of toppings, making it a versatile and delicious Irish staple.

Scotland vs. Ireland: How They Stack Up

As locals, we appreciate the striking contrast between Scotland’s dramatic mountains and the rolling emerald hills of Ireland. 

Scotland’s rugged beauty is alluring, from its historic castles perched on hilltops to pristine Loch Ness. 

On the other hand, Ireland’s charm lies in its enchanting countryside, lively cities, and cosy pubs that beckon with laughter and live music.

Choosing between these two exquisite destinations depends on your taste for adventure. Scotland promises daring escapades amid untamed wilderness, while Ireland invites you to explore its peaceful and picturesque landscapes. 

Whether you yearn for the mysteries of Scotland or the warmth of Irish hospitality, both offer remarkable journeys. So, with a local perspective in mind, let your heart lead you to your preferred adventure in these captivating lands.

Contemplating a move to Scotland or Ireland? Check out which one is a better place to live here.

Related topics