Best Gifts and Souvenirs to Buy from Scotland
Let’s say you take a trip to Scotland, one of my favorite countries in the world.
You wander around, you visit the sites, you have the best time of your life.
You then return home, and your family eagerly quiz you on all the exciting gifts and souvenirs you’ve brought back for them. But you forgot to buy them any! And now they hate you and tell you they wish you’d never been born.
Bleak, depressing, and harrowing, that’s not a situation you want to be in.
So in this article, I’ve brought you the best 24 souvenirs to buy from Scotland. They’ll keep you happy, your family happy, and the country of Scotland happy. Read on!
Indulgent buttery cookies, shortbread are massively popular in the UK, but they’re most popular in Scotland. Usually made up of around one part sugar, two parts butter, and three or four parts flour (and not much else), the best ones are always homemade.
So if you can find homemade shortbread, buy it. The best places to look are farmer’s markets, delis, and little artisanal shops and bakeries.
If you can’t find homemade stuff, make sure you buy shortbread where all of the fat content comes from butter. In some of the mass-produced stuff, the butter is partially replaced by oil, so it tastes nowhere near as good.
2. Scottish Tablet
No, not a tartan-colored iPad.
Scottish tablet is different from the tablet you might be reading this on.
Instead, it’s another Scottish gift you can put in your big fat mouth.
Sort of like fudge, but harder, grainier, and more brittle, Scottish tablet is ridiculously tasty. Usually made from butter, sugar, whole milk, and condensed milk, it looks like fudge, but it tastes better and has a more satisfying texture.
Again, make sure you get the real stuff, where none of the butter has been replaced with oil. Just like with shortbread, you’ll find the best stuff in local cafes, delis, and farmer’s markets. Tourist stores often have some pretty good stuff too.
3. Irn Bru
Does it taste like ginger? Berries? Metal? Lemons? Similar to Dr. Pepper? Who knows!
No one can quite work out what Irn Bru tastes like. But this bright-orange soda is Scotland’s unofficial national drink. Within the nation, it’s a bigger seller than Coca Cola, and it’s a proper local legend.
Fun fact: apparently only three people on the planet know the secret recipe.
Pronounced “Iron Brew,” that’s what the stuff was called until sometime in the 1950s, when some of the letters were removed.
Anyway, it’s unique, local, and totally iconic, and makes for a cheap and tasty souvenir. You’ll find it in basically any store that sells drinks of any description, whether it’s a supermarket, corner shop, cafe, train station, or anywhere else.
Pro tip: when you ask for some Irn Bru, remember that fizzy drinks in the UK (especially in Scotland) are called ‘pop,’ not ‘soda.’
4. Oor Wullie
No, I haven’t spelled that wrong. Rather than a random assemblage of misplaced letters, ‘Oor Wullie’ is a Scottish legend.
A lovable little cartoon boy, imagine if Dennis the Menace was Scottish, monochrome, and spoke in an unintelligible accent. That’s ‘Oor Wullie, ’ and he was introduced to the pages of Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post back in 1936. After proving surprisingly popular, he’s still there, more than 80 years later.
Every Sunday, a new newspaper is published, with a new Oor Wullie comic strip inside. Every strip is written in Scottish dialect, so don’t be surprised if you haven’t got any idea what’s going on.
In book shops throughout Scotland or online (such as here), you can buy Oor Wullie compilations, which make for a massively unique gift (much better and easier than snipping endless pages out of a newspaper).
Every Christmas, when I was little, I used to receive these compilations as gifts. How nostalgic.
5. The Broons
Just like Oor Wullie, and originally drawn by the same artist (Dudley D. Watkins, in case you’re curious), The Broons were also introduced to The Sunday Post back in 1936. And just like their cheeky compatriot, new strips are still published every week.
While Oor Wullie mainly focuses on a boy, his parents, and a couple of other characters, The Broons is about a massive family made up of a married couple with 8 kids.
Again, the strips are written in Scottish slang, and again, it’s best to buy a compilation.
It’s usually pretty easy to find a compilation that includes both Oor Wullie and The Broons, for a double dose of classic-comic fun. You’ll find these compilations in most bookstores throughout Scotland, and sometimes even in larger corner shops.
Regardless of the clichéd notions you might have, not everyone in Scotland wears tartan all the time.
But you can buy it everywhere (especially in Edinburgh), because tourists seem to love the stuff.
Because of that, you can find ridiculous numbers of tartan things in the tourist-heavy parts of Scotland. Clothes, hats, umbrellas, socks, underwear, pens, gloves, whatever. If you can imagine an item, then imagine that item covered in tartan, someone in Scotland probably already has. And they’ve probably also made it, put it in a shop, and bumped up the price by triple.
7. Clan Tartan
Tartan, but bespoke. Also probably made up.
Clan tartan, allegedly, is a unique tartan. In some of Scotland’s tartan stores (especially in Edinburgh, where they love ripping off tourists), you can tell the staff your surname (or the surname of the person you’re buying for), and they’ll show you the tartan pattern traditionally belonging to that family name (or in Scotland, that ‘clan name’).
But here’s a disclaimer: loads of people reckon all the clan tartan stuff is just made up. So spend your money on clan tartan if you want, but I wouldn’t. Yeah, some real clan tartans do exist, but it’s not very likely your Great Aunt from Texas has a clan tartan specific to her surname. No matter what the people in the store might tell you.
8. Greyfriars Bobby Stuff
Greyfriars Bobby is a Scottish legend.
In Edinburgh, there’s a statue of a Skye Terrier dog. Its nose is all worn away, because people rub it for luck. That statue is Greyfriars Bobby.
But before he was a statue, he was a real-life dog.
In the 1850s, gardener John Gray moved to Edinburgh. Unable to find a gardening job, he became a night watchman and bought a dog to help him with his through-the-night duties.
For years, the two patrolled the streets together, until John Gray died in 1958. For the fourteen years that followed, Greyfriars Bobby sat at his master’s grave, only leaving to eat and drink. And so he became a local legend, a local symbol of loyalty and good luck, and the reason I’m crying as I’m typing this.
So if you want a good Scottish souvenir, you can buy some Greyfriars Bobby memorabilia. Throughout Scotland, you’ll find keychains, statues, badges, fridge magnets and loads more.
You can find many books and movies about Greyfriars Bobby online, you can check them up for more information and stories.
9. Loch Ness Monster Stuff
The Loch Ness Monster is also a local legend—and you can also buy loads of mugs, keychains, fridge magnets, t-shirts, and endless other items that feature its face. So if you’re looking for a cheap, tacky, and playful Scottish souvenir, that’s your best option.
You’ll find this stuff in tourist stores all over Scotland, but most of them are in Edinburgh and (unsurprisingly!) in and around Loch Ness.
I’ve got no idea why some actual adults genuinely believe that there’s some sort of prehistoric monster living in a lake. But they do.
10. Harris Tweed
Apparently, the only garment in the world protected by its own parliamentary act, Harris Tweed hasn’t lost its roots. Most of the world’s clothes now are machine-made and mass-produced, but every single piece of Harris Tweed clothing is still made by hand. And it’s all carefully crafted in the Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands off Scotland’s west coast.
You can get bags, clothes, scarves, and plenty more, all made from Harris Tweed. Perfect for the attire aficionado in your life!
When you buy Harris Tweed, be careful. The real garments are all made in the Outer Hebrides, but lots of imitation stuff is churned out throughout the world. So check the labels before you buy!
You’ll find Harris Tweed in most of Scotland’s biggest towns and cities (especially the ones with lots of tourists), but buy it in the Outer Hebrides for bragging rights.
11. One of Those Vaguely Racist Hat Things
Tam o’Shanters are traditional Scottish bonnets (hats) that take their name from a Robert Burns poem of the same name. People still wear them for events, and traditional ceremonies, and all those sorts of things.
But now, joke stores and souvenirs stores also sell them, with fake ginger hair spilling out the sides. So if you have a friend who might want to put one on their head, and do a really bad Scottish accent and say things like “Och aye the noo” and pretend to play the bagpipes or whatever, it’s the perfect souvenir for you.
Apparently the joke is that all Scottish people are ginger or something. In the joke’s defense, most of them are.
12. Robert Burns Poetry
Speaking of Robert Burns, he’s one of Scotland’s most famous writers. The national poet of Scotland, he penned lots of the nation’s most famous and iconic poems. ‘Tam o’Shanter’ is probably the most famous, but other floor-filling classics include ‘To a Mouse’ and ‘Address to a Haggis’.
(Yes, the Scottish celebration of Burns Night is named after Robert Burns and his work).
Anyway, if you have a friend who likes poems, buy them a compilation of some of his stuff.
The best place to get Robert Burns souvenirs is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (just outside of Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland), but you’ll find his work in loads of book stores and souvenir stores throughout the nation or online such as the two books below (click on the images). For the right person, this is a really unique Scottish gift!
For a traditional gift, buy a kilt.
You’ll find them in most of Scotland’s big cities and towns, and anyone else where tourists go. If you just want any old kilt, buy one anywhere. But if you’re looking for something top-quality, go to a place with good reviews and a good reputation. I’ve never bought a kilt, so I can’t help you out there.
For much more information on Scottish clothes, check out our bumper guide to Scottish dress here.
If your gift-getter already has a kilt, get them a sporran to go with it.
A weird little pouch that hangs over the front of a kilt, these are worn to replace pockets. Because kilts don’t have pockets, you can put your stuff in your sporran instead.
The most simple usually look like small handbags, but some of the most ornate have hair, tassels, insignias, engravings, metal decorations and more. If you want to get one, you’re probably buying it for someone who’s serious about Scotland—so go to a quality clothes store.
15. Tunnock’s Teacakes
One of the tastiest treats in the world, Tunnock’s Teacakes are the sort of thing you get from your Grandma’s house.
(Well, I get them from my Grandma’s house. I don’t know about anyone else).
Anyway, Tunnock’s Teacakes are a soft half-ball of marshmallows, coated in chocolate and finished off with a biscuit base. They’re ridiculously tasty, ridiculously cheap, and a good low-cost Scottish souvenir. And you can find them in the vast majority of Scottish supermarkets and candy stores, so you don’t need to go far to get some.
Fun fact: Tunnocks Teacakes are banned from British Air Force craft because the marshmallow expands at high altitudes.
16. Edinburgh Rock
Not actually a piece of rock, but a sweet little treat that (to be honest) looks pretty unappealing.
Imagine a big dusty piece of pastel-colored chalk that you put in your mouth.
That’s Edinburgh Rock, but it tastes much better than it looks.
Soft and crumbly, pieces of Edinburgh Rock are sort of similar to after-dinner mints, but they’re also not similar at all (that’s just the best comparison I can think of). They have endless different flavors (including orange, berry, mint, and whatever else you can imagine), but the flavors are pretty mild. The big appeal here is the unusual texture.
Rock candies are pretty popular throughout the UK (especially in seaside towns), but Edinburgh’s is different from them all, so it’s a nice unique Scottish souvenir. You’ll find it in all tourist stores in Edinburgh.
17. Heather Honey
Good Scottish honey is outrageously tasty.
But this particular type is made from bees who collect heather pollen. And it’s the tastiest Scottish honey of all.
It has a floral, pungent flavor, and it’s really viscous. The test of good heather honey is this: if the jar is opened up and placed on its side, it should be minutes before the honey even touches the table it’s resting on. See—viscous!
Anyway, if you’ve only ever bought cheap, generic honey, this is genuinely on a different level in terms of flavor, appearance, consistency, and everything else. For me, it’s definitely one of the best souvenirs you can buy from Scotland.
The best place to find heather honey is in farmer’s markets throughout Scotland. That’s where you’ll get the healthiest, tastiest and freshest stuff. And it’s usually all made from Scottish heather!
You can also order some from here and taste it before you go to Scotland.
18. Highland Toffee
Another Scottish souvenir, another sweet treat.
One of Scotland’s most famous retro candy bars, Highland Toffee isn’t like normal toffee. Instead, it’s a thin, long candy bar that is much easier to chew than standard toffee. Made from sugar, condensed milk, and glucose syrup, they’ve been selling since sometime in the 1920s.
Because the stuff is nowhere near as popular as it once was, and because it’s now made by a different company, you’ll have to seek out a retro candy store to get it—and don’t be surprised if you can’t find it anywhere at all. But for a retro nostalgia-fest of a souvenir, this is a great idea.
Fun fact: the company responsible for Highland Toffee Bars (McCowan’s, in case you’re wondering) also used to make Irn Bru Bars. Neither are popular anymore, but Irn Bru Bars are even harder to hunt down.
A horrendously tuneless drone-fest of an instrument, anyone who says they like bagpipes is just pretending.
Anyway, if you have a music lover in your life (who’s also deaf), and if you don’t mind spending lots of money on a Scottish souvenir, this might just be the perfect gift.
If you don’t want to buy a full set of real bagpipes, you could instead buy a miniature set, or something else made in the shape of them, like a keychain or a fridge magnet.
And speaking of fridge magnets…
20. Fridge Magnets
The old classic. Everywhere in Scotland, you’ll find fridge magnets with pictures of Highland cows, or Loch Ness, or Edinburgh Castle, or whatever.
If you don’t want to spend much money and you don’t really like the person you’re buying for, a fridge magnet is a classic Scottish souvenir.
You’ll find them in any and all tourist attractions, tourist hotspots, and souvenir stores.
Not a Scottish quiche. Instead, a traditional bowl-style cup to drink from. The word derives from the Gaelic term ‘cuach’, which means ‘cup’. A so-called ‘cup of friendship,’ quaichs were traditionally used at family gatherings and clan meetings.
Some are made from metal, while others are made from glass, plastic, or wood. Some are made from various combinations of these materials and more.
Pretty niche, these are probably only a good Scottish souvenir if the person you’re buying for has any interest in Scottish history and heritage. Or a particular interest in drinking things out of weird cups.
You can find plenty variations online as well. Click here to check all the products and their prices.
22. Scottish Cashmere
Scottish cashmere is some of the world’s best cashmere.
A material made from the hair of specific types of goats, it’s one of the planet’s most famous materials. Wearing cashmere is like saying ‘I think I’m amazing and rich’ without having to actually say it.
Hawico and Brora are two of the most famous Scottish cashmere manufacturers, and they both make brilliant garments. So you can either go to their stores or buy their stuff from other stores in Scotland.
If you’re shopping on a budget, instead wander over to the Edinburgh Woolen Mill, a relatively affordable chain store that sells cheaper stuff. You’ll find branches of Edinburgh Woolen Mill all over Scotland.
23. Scottish Tea
People in the UK love tea, and that includes Scotland.
So if you’ve got a tea lover in your life, buy them some of Scotland’s finest.
If you want to buy some top-quality Scottish tea, there are lots of stores in Scotland. Some of the most famous are the Wee Tea Company and Pekoetea, but you’ll find various tasty tea blends in farmer’s markets, artisanal food stores, and delicatessens.
24. Harry Potter Stuff
Because JK Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter books in Edinburgh, people associate the place with the franchise.
So now, in loads of Edinburgh’s shops, you can find lots of Potter-themed stuff. There are even specific stores that sell loads of well-themed merchandise for kids (and adults who like books for kids). The most famous is Diagon House, but you can find lots of stuff throughout the city (and in some other parts of Scotland).
If you want similar merchandise and souvenirs at much lower prices, go to the main Primark in Edinburgh. Yeah, it’s not quite as exciting, but they sell lots of the same stuff.
There you are — all the best souvenirs you can buy from Scotland. Thanks for reading!
If you want to know anything else about traveling in the nation, we have loads more guides and articles on our site. Check out things you shouldn’t do in Scotland, the things you shouldn’t say in Scotland, what is Scotland famous for, and all the reasons why you should visit the country.
Whatever you want to know about Scotland, we have it right here on our site. See you next time!
Being a Digital Nomad: Tips, Tricks and Places
Do you want to be a digital nomad?
If you do, maybe you don’t know where you might want to live. Or how to live there. Or whether you need a visa. Or how to make friends in the scary sprawl of a brand-new city. Or how to stay productive while you travel. Or how to find an apartment. Or whether this lifestyle really is for you. Or… I’m sure you get the idea.
But with some insight and experience, it’s not as difficult as you think. So in this book, I’ve gathered my 6 years of digital-nomadding experience… and I’ve used it to answer all your questions, soothe all your fears, and get you on your way. After reading this, you’ll realise being a digital nomad is much easier (and much more possible!) than you think.