Scotland Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Scotland

Edinburgh and Glasgow vie for the title of Scotland’s best shopping destination, but Glasgow probably has the edge over its easterly rival. Glaswegians are stylish and love to look good, and there’s a first-rate assortment of both well-known names and independent boutiques to sate their retail requirements. It has been known to rain in Glasgow, so thankfully there are plenty of indoor shopping opportunities: among these, Buchanan Galleries houses top high-street names, Princes Square is an upmarket alternative and the Argyll Arcade is the place to hunt for some bling. Back outside, Ingram Street is the place to head for designer labels. For something different and quirky, try Byres Road in the West End.

That said, Edinburgh is fast catching up with Glasgow in terms of shopping status. George Street is home to a whole host of classy and trendy brands, from Hobbs and Jaeger to Hollister and Jack Wills. Though no longer independent, Edinburgh’s oldest department store Jenners is worth a browse – the food hall stocks some scrumptious Scottish specialities. Harvey Nichols and adjacent Multrees Walk keep high-end shoppers kitted out in Armani, Louis Vuitton and other designer brands. Fill your bags with delectable fresh local produce at the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market.

Aberdeen is giving its southern cousins a run for their money with the flashy Union Square shopping centre, which contains 60 shops, restaurants, a cinema and a hotel.

The less trodden high streets of country villages have handmade items for sale in small shops. Examples of traditional Scottish crafts are everywhere, including woven tartans, tweed, wool sweaters, jewellery and paintings. Jams, meat pies and whiskies are also local specialities.

Shopping Note

Visitors from outside the EU can claim back VAT on purchases from stores participating in the VAT Retail Export Scheme. See for further information.

Shopping hours

Shops are generally open from 0900-1730. Unlike in England, larger stores can stay open all day on Sundays. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen all have late-night shopping on Thursdays until 2000. Some small towns have a half-day when shops close at lunchtime, often on Wednesday. Shops may be closed on Sundays in smaller places and will almost certainly be closed in the Western Isles.

Nightlife in Scotland

Edinburgh has a vibrant nightlife, with many bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues to discover. See new theatre at the Traverse Theatre and classical shows at the Festival and Playhouse Theatres, while classical music fans should head for the Usher Hall. During August, the city is a magnet for worldwide talent as the annual Edinburgh Festival attracts global audiences.

Glasgow claims to have 700 pubs and clubs, ranging from the original to the bizarre, with much focused around the West End. The Citizens Theatre is famous for its cutting-edge productions, while the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre) is a popular concert arena for live bands.

Aberdeen has some cosy pubs, ideal for a pint, or a wee dram (small whisky) on a cold winter's evening. A night out in the compact riverside city of Inverness is also likely to focus on pubs, where you might find some Gaelic music being played. Try the local Black Isle beers.

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