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16 Secret And Fun Hacks That Will Let You Visit Scotland For Free

Fancy staying at a posh Highland estate or a fancy Edinburgh flat for free? Read this.

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Or anywhere in Scotland, for that matter. The free-to-use Couchsurfing website matches people who need a place to crash for a few nights with local hosts who are willing to offer up their sofa or spare room for free. Reviews help make it a safe system, so make sure you read all the host feedback before you book.

The RSPB have hundreds of wild bird reserves across Scotland, usually in stunning locations. One of the most epic reserves they have is at Forsinard, a vast peatland in the far north of Scotland. They take whole groups of friends, colleagues, or family members helpers, and let you stay in their fancy new field centre in return.


This quirky, independent, hand-built eight-bed roundhouse is set in the fields of a working farm overlooking the Spey valley in the Cairngorms. The bunkhouse is split into a mezzanine, a four-person room, and loft. The owner (the guy with the goatee) lets people stay for free in return for help on the farm.

These isolated, beautiful, but basic cottages and shelters are completely free to stay in, and they're maintained by hikers and volunteers. There's a handy book called The Bothy Bible that lists all of them, but if you decide to stay in one make sure you follow the Bothy Code, and leave it as you found it.


This guest house in the Highlands has a resident dog called Macduff, who loves to meet new people. The owners lets friendly, helpful travellers stay for free in return for help making breakfast for guests, and tidying rooms. You'll only be expected to help for (at most) five hours a day, so you can explore or walk the dog the rest of the time.

This beautiful little organic smallholding is situated in a quiet glen in the Lochalsh area of the Highlands, not far from Skye. They grow organic vegetables, as well as selling coffee and snacks from a vintage Showman's wagon. Visitors take turns running the wee coffee shop in return for free accommodation and plenty of food.


In Scotland, you're allowed to pitch a tent almost anywhere, and you don't have to pay anything unless you choose an official campsite. Wild camping is a great way to explore remote areas, but make sure you follow the guidelines in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and take plenty of supplies.

The owner of this pretty stretch of Galloway forest is in the process of turning it into a nature and wildlife reserve, and needs a bit of help with woodwork and various building tasks for a few hours a day. The cosy treehouse is fitted with a wood burner to keep you snug, and it sleeps two people.


House sitting is a great way to see an area (like the scenic coastal villages of Fife, pictured) for free, all you have to do is sign up to a vetting site like Trusted Housesitters or Mind My House. A lot of these owners also need pet sitters too, so if you like dogs and cats, this could be a great option for you.

This extremely highly-rated holiday and wedding venue in the Cairngorms is looking for help with either a bit of day-to-day gardening and maintenance in return for free accommodation. Ex-helpers say it's a wonderful, friendly place where you can go loch swimming, camping, hiking, or just sit and relax by the woodland fire pit.


Lismore is a small but perfectly-formed island not far from Mull off the west coast of Scotland. This fab eco-bunkhouse is on Airbnb for £20 a night, but helpers can stay for free. In return for a bit of animal care and tree planting you can enjoy spectacular views and scenery, and on a clear day you can even see Ben Nevis.

There are more deer than people on the remote, wild, and beautiful isle of Jura, and the keepers of Ardlussa Estate need a hand with maintaining paths and vehicles, feeding the deer, and processing venison (sorry, this one probably isn't vegetarian-friendly). You also get to ride their horses on the beach, bonus.


This unique and scenic patch of the Isle of Skye is home to Rubha Phoil, a "forest garden" and eco-friendly permaculture campsite. It's by the sea, surrounded by otters and seals, and if you're lucky, you might even see some dolphins or whales. You can help with various garden projects and tasks in return for a free stay.

This amazing, Downton Abbey-esque 187-acre estate and stately home in the Scottish Borders is home to an organic garden and is run as a retreat and education centre. Visitors can stay for free in return for help with cooking, dry stone walling, and tree planting. Plus they have a yurt, what more can you ask for?


The Shetland Islands are the northernmost inhabited place in Britain, so they're not that easy to get to. But once you're there, you can stay for free in this frankly amazing old house. You'll lend a hand in the kitchen for a few hours, and in the afternoon you've got free time to go hiking, kayaking, or even swimming (if you're brave).

This gorgeous house and country estate has a huge garden that's open to the public, plus four holiday cottages. If you help out the owners, you get a cottage of your own like the one pictured, lifts to the local shops, and a free bike to use. You'll feel like you're living the high life without breaking the bank. Perfect.