Before you go, you can get information and maps from the British Tourist Authority (Visit Britain; www.visitbritain.com). The office in New York has closed, but visitors can email queries or brochure requests to firstname.lastname@example.org, or else search www.visitbritain.us.
Offices in other countries include the following. In Canada: 5915 Airport Rd., Mississauga, ON L4V 1T1 (tel. 888/VISIT-UK [847-4885]; fax 905/405-1835 in Toronto). In Australia: Level 2, 15 Blue St., North Sydney NSW 2060 (tel. 02/9021-4400; fax 02/9021-4499). In New Zealand: Fay Richwite Boulevard, 17 Floor, 151 Queen St., Auckland 1 (tel. 09/309-1899; fax 09/377-6965).
You can no longer visit the Scottish Tourist Board in London because Visit Scotland closed its office there in an effort to drive visitors to www.visitscotland.com. Once you're in Scotland, though, you can stop by the Edinburgh & Scotland Information Centre, Princes Mall, 3 Princes St., Edinburgh EH2 2QP (tel. 0131/473-3800; www.edinburgh.org; bus: 3, 7, 14, 31, or 69). July and August, it's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 8pm and Sunday 10am to 8pm. May, June, and September, hours are Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm and Sunday 10am to 7pm. From October to April, hours are Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
There are more than 170 tourist centers in Scotland, all well signposted in their cities or towns; some are closed in winter, however.
Websites -- The most useful site was created by a very knowledgeable source, the British Tourist Authority itself, with U.S. visitors targeted. A wealth of information is tapped at www.travelbritain.com, which lets you order brochures online, provides trip-planning hints, and even allows e-mail questions for prompt answers. All of Great Britain is covered.
If you're surfing the Web for accommodations, a good site to browse is www.visitscotland.com (site of the Scotland Tourist Board).
A lot of individual tourist board websites are helpful. The best of these include information on the Borders at www.scot-borders.co.uk; on the Highlands at www.visithighlands.com; on Ayrshire and Arran at www.ayrshire-arran.com; on Argyll and the Isles, Lock Lomond, Stirling, and the Trossachs at www.visitscottishheartlands.com; on Perthshire at www.perthshire.co.uk; on Angus and Dundee at www.angusanddundee.co.uk; on Glasgow at www.seeglasgow.com; and on Aberdeen and the Grampian region at www.aberdeen-grampian.com.
Travel information for the whole of Scotland is offered on Visit Scotland's national telephone hot line, available for inquiries from the U.K. and overseas. Travel advisors are available to help you book accommodations throughout Scotland -- hotels, guesthouses, or bed-and-breakfasts -- or find out about special offers, events, and attractions to visit. You can order brochures as well. Advisors are available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 5:30pm (U.K. time). In the U.K., call tel. 0845/225-5121; from overseas, call tel. 011-44-845/225-5121 or go online to www.visitscotland.com.
Budgeting Adventure -- If you're going to be visiting a large number of Scotland's historic properties, your best bet is the Explorer Pass (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/places/explorer.htm). It gives you savings on 75 of Scotland's most visited historic attractions, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart castles. There are three types of passes. The first is good for 3 days within a 5-day period and costs £21 for adults, £16 for seniors and children 5 to 15. The second pass is available for 7 days within a 14-day period and costs £27 for adults, £16 for seniors, and £11 for children. For those who are uncertain of when they'll be traveling, the third pass, which allows 7 days in a 14-day period, is a good choice. However, it is the most expensive alternative, costing £30 for adults, £23 for seniors, and £16 for children. The pass is available at all of Scotland's historical sites, tourist information centers, and on the Web at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk. For more information call tel. 0131/668-8600.
Another good choice for visitors on a budget is The Great Britain Heritage Pass, which is accepted all over Great Britain. The pass will allow you free entry to more than 600 tourist attractions in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England, including Stonehenge, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, and the Roman Baths. In addition to the free entry, pass holders also get a 40-page guidebook and a map of Great Britain. The 4-day pass costs £32. For 7 days, it's £45 and for 15 days it's £60. The month-long pass costs £80. You must use the pass on consecutive days. It can be purchased at a tourist office or online at www.britishheritagepass.com. For more information call tel. 0870/242-9988.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.