Making plans to travel to Scotland? If so I highly recommend renting a car in Scotland, it’s much easier to get around in the Highlands areas with a car instead of trying to arrange tours or transport. Yes, you do drive on the left side of the road but if you can swing that you’ll be fine. It really wasn’t bad but we drive all over and aren’t intimidated by driving. You can see where we drove in my Scotland Itinerary post.
First thing if your wanting to rent a car is to start with price comparisons. If you purchase the Secret Scotland guide they offer a 10% discount at one of the rental car places. I checked that, used a few comparison sites (travelocity, priceline, etc) and then I also checked the USAA rental car discounts. I was able to find the best rate for us using the USAA discount at Budget rental cars. I was able to get a 4 door standard size (so we wouldn’t be squished) for 4 days for $188.49 with unlimited miles, this was a manual, but keep reading…
While I was making the reservation I had the option to sign up for the Free Fastbrake program which allows you to skip the lines at pick up and returns. We were able to quickly get our car in less than 5 minutes and get headed out on our adventure! When we asked at the desk about upgrading to an automatic we were told that since we were signed up with Fastbreak it was a free upgrade and we ended up with an Audi A3 that was an automatic and had in car navigation! We’d brought our GPS but didn’t even need to use it with the upgrade. So whatever company you end up using I’d recommend signing up for their free membership or rewards programs before you arrive!
When you land at the Edinburgh Airport you’ll exit the terminal and then make a 5 min walk outside to the rental car area. It was raining of course by part of the walk way was covered so it wasn’t horrible, and our kids are older so we had help hauling our few bags. There are also restrooms in the rental car building as well in case anyone wants to make a stop before heading off on your driving adventure.
While you do drive on the left side I do have to say that we did live in Japan for 3 years where we drove on the left side, however it’s been 8 years since we lived there so it did take a few minutes for Mr. B to get back into the hang of it and he did scare me a few times when I thought he may drive off the edge of the road on my side (the right) but we survived with no major issues. I will say that it was MUCH easier with an automatic than trying to do it with manual. When we first went to the UK from Iceland back in 2004 we had a manual and that was a hot mess for awhile, so luckily we got to skip that this time.
The car got great gas milage and for the whole trip we only spent $104 on gas which included filling it before return and we drove all over the Highlands areas, about 4 hours from Edinburgh at the furthest point! We only used 1 1/4 tank for the whole trip and we even took the scenic routes and stayed off the main roads for a good portion of the trip and this was over a 4 day period.
Totals for the rental car for pick up on Tuesday at 1 pm & returning on Saturday at 11 am.
Rental car – $188.49
Gas – $104
Total – $292.49
And it also saved us a ton of money because we were able to stop at grocery stores along the way and buy snacks & lunches to cut down on gas costs as well. Parking was super easy everywhere we went, even out in the the middle of no where they are areas to pull off and park, as well as free restrooms all over, that was a change from Germany!
If your up for the adventure and wanting to stay away from the flocks of tourists renting a car in Scotland is a great way to do that! We found lots of off the beaten path sights and pretty much had the roads to ourselves!