If there's one thing that that turns a trip north across the border into a proper holiday, it's trying to hunt down those cheap flights to Scotland. Jumping on a plane not only makes things a whole lot quicker, especially for those heading from the south of the country, it makes your holiday official. And let's face it, with its heather-tanged hills, lively cosmopolitan cities, snow-clad mountains and wild wave-tossed islands, Scotland as a destination is in a class of its own. There's magic in those glens, re-imagined docksides and castle-studded hills. Glasgow (GLA) and Edinburgh (EDI) Airports are the obvious choices for Lowland urban culture, while Inverness Airport lives up to its reputation as the gateway to the Highlands.
As with most destinations around the world, timing plays a huge part in finding flight bargains to Scotland. But with an off-season that runs throughout the winter, from November to March, bargain hunters will need to be packing their woollies, rather than their shorts. The airlines do often throw in some great promotional deals during those long dark months, so stick with it if you want a cheap ticket to Scotland. If you want to snap up that ultimate deal, aim for weekly flights and book well in advance.
There's no getting away from it – choosing the best time to hop over the border is heavily coloured by the season. The weather way up north swings wildly from day to day, as well as season to season, especially in the Highlands. That said, the winters aren't so bad in Scotland's cities, so those on city breaks shouldn't fret too much. Though, of course, severe winters are exactly what you'll want if you’re heading to the Cairngorms to carve the snow with ski or snowboard. August can be lovely and is a great time for culture vultures, as a storm of grins break out for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But do expect higher ticket prices in those warmer months.
There's no shortage of airlines clamouring for the chance to whisk you off on a Scottish adventure, and pretty much every airport south of the border has a roster of flights heading northwards. Ryanair offers some eye-wateringly good deals on the well-travelled routes from Stansted (STN, but budget carriers like easyJet, Monarch and Flybe operate out of most London and Midlands airports. And if you're heading as far north as Scotland goes, low-cost Flybe might shave a few pounds off your trip to Orkney Kirkwell.
The holiday you get after stepping off your flight really does depend on which airport you've landed at. Edinburgh offers up the crème de la crème of Scottish high culture and rich history, but Glasgow throws in some working-class Scottish grit. The Granite City, Aberdeen, isn't just the Scottish capital of oil – you'll be gleefully swinging those boutique shopping bags after a trip around its world-class shopping districts. Head further north into the Highlands and the weather gets wilder. An endless procession of mountains, lochs and burns call out for adventure.
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