15 Unspoken Rules About Scotland That All The Locals Know

List Rules
Scottish locals: vote up the rules that all tourists should know before they visit.

There are local rules in Scotland you need to follow and some Scotland tourist tips that will come in handy if you plan to visit. The locals are more than willing to share their secrets, as long as it helps you learn what not to do in Scotland.


  • 1
    121 VOTES

    Lower Your Voice In Public

    From a Redditor:

    Just come and be a decent, good-humored person. No one worth knowing is going to get upset by anything on these lists. The only thing which I've been aware of, as an American trait that rubs people here the wrong way, is talking quite loudly in public. But don't worry about it too much.

  • 2
    102 VOTES

    Pay Attention To Traffic

    From Redditor u/sandy1241:

    Scotland is a safe and welcoming nation with a famously warm level of hospitality. Like the rest of the UK, people in Scotland drive on the left. However, there are also single-track roads in the more rural areas, with passing places for cars to cross. Pay attention to oncoming traffic and if you are closest to a passing place, wait there. And don’t forget to wave a thank you if someone stops for you. Also, travel tips to Scotland would not be complete without mentioning the unmentionable Scottish midge. In summer when the wind drops below 5mph, and the sun is hidden behind clouds, these tiny biting flies may appear as if by dark magic. Fortunately, they do not enter buildings, but if you are caught outside unprepared they can be really difficult. Various repellents are available; some work for some people, others work for others. A local traditional herb, bog myrtle, is said to help ward the midge off or, if things are particularly bad, a head net may be needed. If you are camping, the smoke from a campfire will also deter them.

  • 3
    227 VOTES

    Watch Their Language

    From a former Redditor:

    If you're 1/64 Scottish, then you're not Scottish.

    It's whisky, not whiskey.

    American students are notorious for being complete f*cking lightweights when it comes to drinking.

    There are a number of ways of pronouncing "Edinburgh" depending on the local dialect. "Edin-burrow" is not one of them.

    Anything that's Scottish is Scottish, not Scotch. Scotch can sometimes refer to whisky.

    It's Scotland, not England. Don't call Scotland "England", you're bound to upset someone.

    "C*nt" is an all-purpose noun, "to f*ck" is an all-purpose verb. These are also interchangeable. If someone calls you a c*nt, you'll need the context to work out whether they're going to glass you or hug you.

  • 4
    188 VOTES

    Pay Attention To The Accent

    From Redditor u/keegtraw:

    Don't: act like an American stereotype

    Do: be prepared to have difficulty understanding some people, mostly old people, and some cab drivers. It gets better with time.

    If you need to catch a bus, you must flag the bus to stop, or else they will just drive past.

    Have wet-weather gear. Waterproof shoes and a jacket are a must pretty much year-round.

    Not much else comes to mind. A lot of little differences, but it really isn't difficult to adjust to once you're here.

  • 5
    182 VOTES

    Don't Mention Your Ancestors

    From Redditor u/joykin:

    When people ask where you are from, start with saying America, and then the state/city. People here find it really obnoxious when Americans say e.g. "Idaho" instead of the country.

    Also, if your great-great-grandparents came from here don't tell everyone that you're "Scotch", it doesn't wash with anyone.

    Edinburgh is a beautiful, safe city with lots of nationalities living there. You will have the time of your life! The best thing about Scotland is that everything is so close to each other, so you can visit Glasgow/Aberdeen/Inverness/Isle of Skye at weekends. Public transport is so cheap here too.

  • 6
    156 VOTES

    Visit The Country Side

    From Redditor u/DentalATT:

    Do not mention if you are Catholic or Protestant, nor should you express any preference to either.

    Do not mention your opinion on Ireland or any preference towards either side.

    Don't call soccer, soccer. It's football here. The football you are familiar with is termed 'American Football'.

    You don't need to tip as much here as you do in the US, but it's always appreciated still.

    American Football is decently popular here, most unis will have teams/people interested in it, a good way to make friends initially. There are also games at Wembley occasionally if you feel homesick.

    Don't mention an interest in Baseball unless you want to be laughed at for liking a girl's sport.

    Women will love your accent, you know what to do. If you are female, ditto on guys.

    Try Irn Bru, at least once, real Irn Bru is banned in the US.

    Try real haggis at least once, again, it's banned in the US.

    Unless you drink European beer regularly, be prepared that they are FAR stronger in general. So stick to cider, or lower your amount consumed initially or you will regret it (there's a reason Yanks are considered lightweights).

    British chocolate is much richer than American chocolate.

    Visit the countryside!