What to buy in Scotland? – Souvenirs Scotland 2024

What is worth buying in Scotland and Edinburgh, what are the best souvenirs of Scottish craftsmanship to take home after our trip to this wonderful country in the United Kingdom ? During your tour, it will not be uncommon to come across markets , which offer the best of Scottish craftsmanship and the fruit of the country’s history and the influences that have come here, but also vast shopping streets and small artisan shops . So let’s find out together what to buy during your trip to Scotland, bringing home an authentic souvenir, for yourself or for a special person.

Scottish Craftsmanship

Local craftsmanship has ancient origins, which are rooted in the history of Scotland and its traditions, characterized by numerous products. Among the most popular products, still today among the things that are worth buying in Scotland and during your trip to Edinburgh , we find the tartan fabric : colorful checks and symbol of the country’s clans , with an ancient history. The kilt , a typical men’s skirt, but also jewelery with designs inspired by the Celtic period and nature, high quality leather goods in cow, deer or sheep. Furthermore, ornamental ceramics are also very popular souvenirs from Scotland.

But, among the things that are absolutely worth buying in Scotland, for enthusiasts and to bring home a unique gift, we find the most popular cereal distillate: whisky , the national drink dating back to the 15th century . Among other Scottish handicraft products, we also recommend musical instruments, including bagpipes . Furthermore, Scottish craftsmanship has its roots in prehistoric times , with the production of the first metal, stone and bone artefacts. With the advent of Christianity, the processing of precious metals began and, in the Middle Ages, the production of textiles , especially wool , spreading tartan from the 16th century.

So let’s see what is worth buying in Scotland and the best Scottish souvenirs to take home from your trip!

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Read also: History of Scotland in Brief; Guide 2024

Top 10 – What to buy in Scotland

There is a huge choice of souvenirs that are worth buying in Scotland and Edinburgh, coming from local craftsmen. Thanks to its tradition, the art and the quality of the materials present, you will find unique objects, generated by the various influences and history of this country. It won’t be difficult to find what is worth buying, bringing home a unique souvenir from your trip to Scotland . This way, you can remember your experience forever or give a gift to a special person. So, what to buy in Scotland and Edinburgh?

Here are our recommendations on the 10 best Scottish souvenirs from its craftsmanship!

1. Kilt

Among the most popular men’s clothing in Scotland and absolutely among the Scottish craft products that are worth buying in Edinburgh, we find the famous kilt! Similar to a skirt , it was originally made with a fabric long enough to allow a flap to be placed on the shoulder , often including the head. Its history has its roots in the 18th century , when the entrepreneur Thomas Rawlinson invented it. After his move to the Highlands , he simplified the clothing of the workers who worked at his Inverness brickyard , making it easier.

Although considered ancient, in fact, the kilt is modern clothing, but already present in 1692 on the coats of arms of some clans . Therefore typical of the Highlands, where we can buy it, but also in Edinburgh, it is made of tartan and accompanied by the sporran : a small leather bag. Furthermore, according to tradition, this Scottish artisan garment should be worn without underwear and today it is a ceremonial dress . Furthermore, the kilt is closed by leather laces and has a buckle, as well as a pin called a kilt pin which serves to add weight to the fabric. Through the color and design of the kilt, historically, it is also possible to define the family to which it belongs.

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2. Whisky

Among the things that are worth buying in Scotland and Edinburgh during your trip, ideal for enthusiasts or to make a unique gift, we find Scottish whisky. Considered the traditional drink to be the result of ancient Scottish craftsmanship, its origins are still unknown today. Historical evidence, however, shows that distillation was born in China, in 2000 BC, then spreading throughout the world. Distillation, starting with barley , arrived in the British Isles around the 12th century , also spreading to Ireland. However, Irish whiskey is very different from Scottish whiskey, both in taste and in the production process.

The Scottish one has only two phases , while the Irish one has three. Scotch whiskey has a peatier , robust and complex flavor and is called scotch whisky , protected since 1988 . Made with malted barley, it must be macerated in the distillery and with a volume of less than 98.4%. Furthermore, the maturation takes place in oak barrels no larger than 700 l for a minimum of 3 years . According to the Scotch Whiskey Act 1988, only this whiskey can be produced in Scotland. The most popular distilleries in Scotland, where it is best to buy Scotch Whisky, are the islands, the Highlands and Lowlands, finding a total of over 90 distilleries .

Whisky Single Malt The Balvenie
Whisky Single Malt The Balvenie

3. Shortbread

Among the most loved confectionery products of Scottish craftsmanship, we find shortbread: the typical Scottish biscuit and popular souvenir. Among the things that are worth buying in Edinburgh, and in Scotland in general, shortbread, crumbly and buttery biscuits, are among our recommendations. Prepared with one part sugar, three parts flour and two parts butter , they are sold in three formats: fingers , the oldest, rounds , round, and petticoat tails , a large biscuit which is then cut. Originally from Scotland, they are now also widespread in America, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark, but the Scottish ones remain the most popular.

Sold and exported mainly by Walkers Shortbread, this biscuit also represented the United Kingdom in Sweet Europe in 2006 . Traditionally associated with Christmas and Hogmanay , a celebration parallel to our New Year. Probably born around the 12th century , their birth is also due to French influence in the Auld Alliance and they were often associated with Mary of Scots . The first time their recipe appeared in books was 1736 . Absolutely among the things that are worth buying in Edinburgh in dedicated shops and in general in Scotland.

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4. Lana Shetland

Among the highest quality textile products from Scottish craftsmanship, we find Shetland wool. Probably coming from the Scandinavian tradition , it was brought to the islands following the Viking invasion , who subsequently settled here. This tartan fabric, popular for being super soft and warm , has a full appearance and is ideal for creating extremely fine hats, scarves and jackets. Furthermore, clothing made from this material is famous for being long-lasting , thanks to the coarse fiber and fibers of various lengths joined together. In fact, the Shetland sheep , from which the yarn is obtained, are used to living in the cold climate of northern Scotland and their fleece has infinite colors and shades.

With a total of 30 shades , from black to silver grey, this wool is often not even dyed, keeping the fabric even softer and more natural. Already in the 19th century in the Shetland Islands, sailors’ wives created very warm sweaters by hand, to protect their husbands from the cold and humidity. King Edward VIII , in 1921, wore this sweater, thus making it popular. Furthermore, to best maintain this natural fabric, hand washing is always recommended . Among the souvenirs from Scotland and Scottish crafts that are worth buying, also sold in Edinburgh.

lana shetland
Fine Shetland wool

5. Spurs

To be combined with the kilt , the sporran is an unmissable souvenir from Scotland if you want to complete your Scottish look with a typical product of its craftsmanship. This handbag is an essential part of traditional men’s Highland dress, allowing for pockets for the kilt. Made mainly of leather , it has different decorations also based on the type of kilt worn, accompanied by a leather strap or chain and is positioned on the groin . Historically, the sporran is an evolution of the medieval pouch and is located under the belt buckle. For a more casual look, especially when dancing or playing, the sporran is placed on the waist, to the side.

There are various types, including daytime ones , simple and with a pair of leather tassels and embossed Celtic knots. We also find the dress sporran , much larger and richly decorated, the full- dress sporran , ideal for more formal ceremonies, accompanied by fur and more tassels. A unique sporran is the one we can observe worn by bagpipers , made of horsehair and with a silver headstock. Furthermore, there are very strict rules for wearing the sporran correctly during various occasions, such as regarding production materials, controlling the use and trade of protected and endangered species.

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Sporran sul kilt

6. Bagpipes

Scottish craftsmanship also has a rich tradition of musical instruments , especially bagpipes. Absolutely among the things that are worth buying in Scotland and Edinburgh, this tank , or bag, aerophone musical instrument is very present in the country’s tradition. the Scottish bagpipe is known as the Great Highland Bagpipe and there are 4 different types. This instrument began to spread across the territory descending from the Border Pipes in the 11th century. Scottish clans used this tool in warfare in 1314 , such as during the Battle of Bannockburn . Furthermore, the birth of this instrument is still surrounded by many legends today.

From the 18th century the Scottish bagpipe was introduced into the Scottish regiments of the British Army, unique to that regiment and not officially recognized until 1852 . Today, piper bands are widespread and loved all over the world, inheriting their compositions from military tradition, incorporating elements of local folk music . Symbol of Scotland, absolutely among the things that should be bought in an instrument shop in Edinburgh.

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7. Tam ‘o’ shanter

Traditional Scottish headdress , the result of local craftsmanship, the tam o’shanter is among the things that are worth buying in Scotland and Edinburgh. Named after Robert Burns1790 work of Scottish literature , it has a similar shape to the beret and is made of wool . The most popular variety of this hat is the one with tartan patterns and a pompom placed in the center. Today, as well as being a souvenir from Scotland and a very popular accessory, it is also used in the military field in the Royal Regiment of Scotland . Furthermore, it is present in the collective imagination as it is used in the Commonwealth, by the Scottish division in the Canadian military regiments as well.

With a typical flat shape, it was originally worked by hand and subsequently felted. In 1599 , there were five different guilds in Scotland for the production of this headdress and, in the 16th century , they were a real fashion for all men. From the 19th century , this hat was also made in synthetic colors and materials, always in plain or tartan, differentiating the women’s model with the name tammy . An unmissable souvenir from your trip to Scotland for a touch of unique style!

Tam O' Shanter
Tam O’ Shanter

8. Black Knife

An accessory always accompanied by the kilt , the sgian-dubh is a small single-edged knife that completes the traditional Highland dress. Originally, this was used for cutting bread and cheese, as well as for personal protection. Today, it is worn to complete the typical Scottish dress, tucking it into the jacket or socks , on the same side as the dominant hand. A unique souvenir of Scottish craftsmanship, this dagger was originally worn under the armpit during the 17th century . According to etiquette, furthermore, when entering someone’s house this weapon must be revealed , keeping it in the garter of the stocking.

Featured in many 19th century portraits , many of these knives are also on display in the National Museum of Scottish Antiquities . When worn as part of traditional dress, sgian-dubh is legal in Scotland , but may however be banned in zero tolerance areas, such as in schools . To carry it as a souvenir, it is mandatory to place it in your checked baggage . Absolutely among the things that are worth buying in Edinburgh, Scotland, for enthusiasts, collectors and to make a unique gift coming from local tradition.

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A black knife

9. Quack

Among the things that are worth buying in Scotland and that you will find in shops in the sector in Edinburgh, we find the quaich. Special shallow Scottish bowl with two handles, it was used in the past for drinking whiskey or other drinks. This object of Scottish craftsmanship is part of its heritage and belongs to the profession of the Quaich-maker . Today, this unique mug is mostly used for special events , such as anniversaries and weddings, and there are various competitions for the best commemorative quaich. Originally, this item was made from a block of wood and only the upper classes had these cups with silver handles, engraving the clan ‘s initials on them. Nowadays we can find them mainly in metal and more precious in silver.

At the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh we can observe their evolution through many specimens. Incorrectly known as the friendship cup , this was used instead during violent clashes between clans , when families met to settle scores or fight. Whiskey was poured into this bowl, where the leaders drank, thus proving that no poison was present and then passing it on to all the guests. Even further back in time, the quaich was used by the Druids , where they placed the blood of animals used during sacrifices.

Quaich - Scottish handicraft souvenirs what is best to buy in Scotland and Edinburgh

10. Fudge

If you want something sweet and very Scottish , even to bring home as a souvenir from your trip to Scotland, don’t miss fudge among the things to buy in Edinburgh. Typical dessert from the town’s pastry shops. A soft crunchy biscuit , characterized by a mixture based on caramel, sugar and butter. The original recipe for fudge, many producers say, comes directly from America , where this dessert was actually born, still following the original recipe from 1880 today . In Scotland this recipe then took shape using local production methods and techniques, as well as other ingredients, creating a delicious dark dessert .

Furthermore, many factories make this traditional Scottish craft product by hand. Excellent ingredients are used , thus creating an ideal product to take home as a souvenir and among the things that are absolutely worth buying in Scotland, such as in Edinburgh, to make the sweet tooth happy . To make it even more special, it is often packaged in very pretty boxes . Not exactly a dietary product, but a real delight to indulge in for a moment of sweetness. Furthermore, the recipe still today involves the use only of milk, butter, sugar and a few other ingredients to give the different flavours.

Fudge scozzese

What to buy in Scotland, the advice of Arché Travel

The main advice we want to give you if you want to make your purchases in Scotland is to go to Edinburgh , where you can find the best souvenirs at affordable prices. The main shopping street here is Princes Street : a street in the historic center with many shops and near a park, from which you can also see the castle . Also in Edinburgh, if you are looking for Scottish craftsmanship and typical products of its cuisine , go to the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market . If you are looking for the best whiskey to buy in Scotland, don’t miss the Speyside Way Whiskey Trail : an itinerary among the most important distilleries in the region. To buy the best quality wool, however, as we have seen you have to go to the Shetland Islands .

How to Visit Scotland?

After having an idea of ​​what is best to buy in Scotland and Edinburgh and having remembered to leave space for your Scottish souvenirs in your suitcase, you are ready for this wonderful trip!

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