Say hello to my Scottish Bible, Scotland The Best by Peter Irvine.
If you’re planning a trip to Scotland (or even if you just live in Scotland!) I can’t recommend this book enough. Written by Peter Irvine, a Scot who has continuously travelled this country over the past 20 years, it is chalk full of those hidden gems off the tourist track.
To read about real adventures we’ve had thanks to this book check out any of these Scotland posts:
- Aberdeen to Inverness Roundtrip Road Trip
- Glen Affric + Loch Ness Day Drive
- The West side of Orkney Mainland
- Oban, Scotland
- Glencoe, Scotland
Okay, so there’s a reason that’s almost all of the Scotland trips we’ve done so far are on this list – it’s because it’s that good. Check any of my pages – it’s the number one thing that I refer (way before I had even thought of selling products through my blog) honestly because I do think anyone visiting Scotland should own it.
So to start off – here are the book’s dirty details:
- 406 pages – excluding Maps and Index
- 11 pages of Maps that zoom in on the different regions of Scotland (This is the best part of this book)
- 26 page Index – sounds boring, but honestly a life saver when you can’t remember what page something was on
Section’s of Scotland the Best
- The book is then split up into these Sections:
- Wha’s Like Us – 10 pages
- This is literally Irvine’s choice as the best of best of Scotland. Those things you probably should put on the priority list. Whether because they’re amazing or just because they’re well known, they’re on the list (and don’t worry he tells you what’s actually worth your time).
- Edinburgh – 80 pages
- Info about lodging, restaurants, cafes, pubs, attractions, walks, beaches, views, etc.
- Glasgow – 50 pages
- Same info as Edinburgh
- Regional Hotels/Restaurants – 70 pages
- Essentially follows guidelines of “If you’re in ____ – Best of lodging, food, etc.’
- Particular Places to Eat & Stay – 30 pages
- Boiled down to the unique, best of and ‘most Scottish’ places to eat and lodge in Scotland
- Good Food & Drink – 30 pages
- This takes the restaurants, segregates them into styles (i.e. pubs, vegetarian, fish & chips, tearooms & coffee shops**, distillery tours) and lists the best of the best.
- Outdoor Places** – 40 pages
- A bit self-explanatory, the best outdoor places you should visit, broken down into theme (hikes, glens, waterfalls, etc).
- Historical Places – 30 pages
- Castles, ruins, graveyards, battlegrounds – Scotland is so full of history and these places are so magical.
- Strolls, Walks & Hikes – 20 pages
- Outdoor Activities – 15 pages
- Golf, golf, golf. Just kidding, there is more – swimming, surfing (brr), cycling.
- Consuming Passions – 12 pages
- As eclectic as you might imagine – special shops, harris tweed, and a section titled “Not Just Garden Centres, More A Way of Life.” (You can bet I’ve visited almost everything listed in that last section).
- The Islands – 30 pages
- You may or may not be aware, (previously I was not), that a large part of Scotland is actually made up of stunning islands. This section is specially attributed to them.
- Wha’s Like Us – 10 pages
So Peter (it’s okay if I call him Peter, right?) organizes the book to where each ‘listing’ has a number. Some listings may have two numbers – for instance something may be listed in the “Best of Aberdeenshire Restaurants” Section but also may be listed as a “Very Special Shop.”
As well as a number each listing can contain up to three checkmarks (with increasing number insinuates a higher distinction of the specialness of this spot) as well as a variety of ratings to help you better understand the price point, difficulty or specific draw to this location.
How to Use Scotland the Best
Here is my secret sauce – how to use this book to it’s full potential.
It’s the maps.
As you’re heading out for your trip, open the book and look at the maps. Find the route you’re taking or just the city you’re travelling to and start looking up all the numbers listed. Typically you’ll start finding bits and bobs that hold your interest and then just make a point to stop along the way.
It’s really that easy.
Just don’t get into the mindset of reading the book from cover to cover. It’s overwhelming, slightly boring and really not that useful. Use the maps to guide you and then find those special places either along the way or at your final destination.
A Special Bonus: Extra Listings + Reviews
If you purchase via one of the links below, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your amazon receipt and I’ll send you a PDF with everything I think this guidebook is missing along with notes about my favorite and least favorite listings.
Through our Scottish adventuring we have found incredible cafes, restaurants, farm shops and waterfalls and I have compiled them into an easy list (with corresponding listing numbers) that I am SO excited to share with you!
Wrap it Up
I’m not sure how much more I can say about it. It’s honestly a lovely book and the best guide-book I’ve come across. Whether you’re just visiting or living in Scotland, I can’t recommend it enough.
Below are links to Amazon UK & Amazon US if you choose to read what other reviewers and look a bit more into it. Amazon has been the best price I’ve found for the book so far – please let me know if you find it cheaper elsewhere!
Please note that by purchasing the book by clicking on the links in this post I will make a small commission (with no extra cost to you).