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Scotland Explorer Pass

We will be traveling to Scotland from the US in mid July. After figuring out our itinerary we have decided to get the Scotland Explorer Pass. My question is, do we need to purchase these now online before we go and then print out and carry with us or, I think I read somewhere, that you can just purchase them at the first property that you visit. Is this true and which way would you all suggest? Thanks!

Posted by
15 posts

We purchased at the first place we went, which in our case, was Linlithgow. The lady selling the tickets suggested it, and it was accepted at most of the venues we visited. I'd wait and just buy it when you get there. There are usually plenty of things to do before you leave, anyway!

Posted by
3421 posts

Not certain about Scotland, but we got a discount for buying the Wales pass online before going over. Passes arrived within 2 weeks in the mail after we already left for the trip, but we were given temporary passes that worked the same at the first place we stopped. Check the Scotland Explorer site to check out your options.

Posted by
23 posts

Is the pass you are asking about this one from Historic Scotland?

I got the 5-Day Pass before leaving. The kind that I got you put in the date you believe you would start using it and it was valid for those 5 consecutive days. It says that on a pop-up your pass will activate on your first site visit but not sure about that still (since you need to put in a date) or if its just valid for the days the pass says (maybe others can help). It was e-mailed and I printed it at home.

All sites listed are paid for, no need to think about the budget midway.
It allowed for skip the ticket line at the sites I went to (not security you still needed to go there), saved a lot of time for Edinburgh Castle, even though I went early

If something happens and your schedule gets off I am not sure you can just ask for a change in date at a venue, if indeed its only valid on those dates.

Posted by
360 posts

I bought the Explorer Pass online and didn't have any issues. If your first stop will be something fairly slow/remote, then I can't see a downside to buying it in-person (unless they post a discount to buy online?). I think we bought the seven day pass (at the time) but actually had 14 days to use it, as it allowed us the greatest flexibility given that we didn't have a site to visit everyday with our itinerary. Probably the main place where it really helped with the lines was Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, as the ticket line was a nightmare.

Posted by
51 posts

Will the ticket lines for Edinburgh & Stirling castles likely be awful in mid-September? They are the only two destinations on the Explorer Pass that we are likely to use, so the value of the pass, for our group, would only be to skip a line. (Plus two in our group are seniors, so would benefit from the reduced fare). OR, would it be better to pre-purchase a timed entry perhaps 24 hours in advance?

Posted by
2 posts

Yes, that IS the pass I'm talking about. I too wondered about the dates as I read that it started at your first stop but, if that is true, then why do you have to enter a start date? Would love if someone could answer that! I "think" I know for sure what day we'll be at the first stop (Edinburgh Castle) but we all know how flexible we have to be so I hate to lock myself in. Especially since our last site, if all goes as planned would allow us to get the 5 day instead of the 7 day. But if we get delayed by even one day then that last stop wouldn't be paid for!

Posted by
19 posts

I recently bought the pass online and it was seamless. Now I'll be ready to go when I land. Why wait to buy? It doesn't make sense to me. Just get it taken care of before you go.

Posted by
33 posts

I'm curious why more people don't purchase a membership, rather than a pass? I mean, the length of your trip may make the duration of the pass work fine, but if you'll be visiting longer than 5 days, or longer than 14 days, it seems a good deal.

For my situation, 2 adults plus 2 children, a membership costs $7.92/month or $95.22/year by debit, or a bit more if paying by credit card. The beauty is that this is good for as long as you're a member, not just for a 5- or 14- day block. If I were to purchase a pass for the same adults/children, it would be $91 or $117 (depending on the block). So you save a bit of money, but also you're time frame isn't limited, or dictated, by the pass.

Posted by
23 posts


Its all about days and cost. I was only in Scotland/Edinburgh for 7 days (including landing and departure) so the difference between Membership and the 5 day pass was enough not to do a membership.

I have done membership in other travels when it did make sense. While in London I got the membership that allowed me to go to the Historic Royal Palaces. I did the math and knew I would be able to see all of those that were in London area for the time I was there.

Edit - Its also just me not a family so the I saved on the 5 day pass (£58 (credit card) vs. £35)