Ireland vs. Scotland Travel: Where Should You Study Abroad?

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Semester in Edinburgh

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College Study Abroad

When you think of Ireland and Scotland, you might be imagining two very similar countries – lots of greenery, the U.K., cafés, and packed, early histories. And although there are some resemblances between the two, we’re here to set the record straight – Ireland vs. Scotland travel varies, with each country offering a unique and exciting study abroad experience.  

Read on to find out which country makes the most sense as a study abroad destination for you!

Quick Overview: Ireland vs. Scotland Travel Abroad  

Studying abroad in Ireland or Scotland guarantees an adventure. There’s no wrong choice here.  


When we think of Scotland, we immediately go to the country’s stunning landscapes, interesting culture, and affordable living.  

Scotland features some of the most beautiful lochs, rugged highlands, expansive coastlines, and towns that look directly out of fairytales. How would we describe the culture? While it’s much more complex than this, in a few words: Kilts, bagpipes, friendly, and warm. Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two main cities for CIEE study abroad in Scotland, are relatively affordable, with low transportation and food costs. Meat pudding, anyone?  

Photo for blog post EAT, DRINK, EXPLORE: EDINBURGH

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in Scotland


Affectionately dubbed the Emerald Isle, Ireland is also known for its beautiful natural landscapes, fascinating history, unique heritage, and diverse student populations.  

We think of Ireland’s rolling hills and archaeological wonders like the Burren, centuries-old castles, pubs, burial grounds, jails, and even libraries. Ireland’s heritage is packed with folklore, literature, music, and dance, and the people can be fondly summed up as lively, fun, and generous. Plus, tens of thousands of international students can be found throughout Ireland, so you’ll meet people from all over the world during a study abroad trip to the Emerald Isle.  

rainbow in ireland by the water and mountains

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in Ireland

Scotland vs. Ireland

Both countries sound fabulous, right? When comparing Ireland vs. Scotland travel, like any country, Scottish and Irish cultures vary. Although they’re both beautiful, Scotland is primarily covered by high mountains, while Ireland has more rural countryside. Plus, the Emerald Isle is actually an island, while Scotland is attached to Great Britain.  

And of course, the histories of these countries are different. Northern Ireland is a part of the U.K., while the rest of Ireland is called the Republic of Ireland. On the other hand, Scotland is entirely part of the U.K. You’ll notice some other basic differences in our fast facts below.  

Fast Facts about Ireland Study Abroad  

Let’s look at some fast facts about Ireland!  

  • Population: A little more than five million
  • Climate: Mild, temperate climate with warm summers and moderate winters; winter temperatures average 39 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and summer temperatures range from 55 to 60. It is relatively rainy.  
  • Location: Ireland is an island west of the U.K., in the Atlantic Ocean  
  • Currency: The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro, while Northern Ireland uses the Pound sterling (the same as the U.K.)  
  • Language: Most of Ireland speaks English and Irish, often called Gaelic  
  • Airport: There are quite a few airports in Ireland, with five international ones, including Dublin Airport, Kerry Airport, Shannon Airport, Knock Airport, and Cork Airport  
  • Local Attraction: There are a ton in the Emerald Isle, but one of the most famous is the Cliffs of Moher
  • Bonus Fact: Halloween originated in Ireland

Read More: What Does Craic Mean? Your Guide to Irish Slang

Ireland Travel Tips  

When you embark on your study abroad trip to Ireland, save some of these Ireland travel tips:

  • Bring a rain jacket – while temperatures are mild, Ireland is pretty damp year-round  
  • Convert cash to both the Euro and the Pound sterling  
  • Go beyond Dublin! While there’s much to discover in the capital, Ireland has hidden gems throughout the rest of the country  
  • Read up on Irish slang and familiarize yourself with some common phrases ahead of your travels  
  • Get to the Cliffs of Moher early in the morning if possible – it gets crowded fast  


dublin ireland pub students

Ireland Travel Blog  

If you’re looking for even more information on studying abroad in Ireland, check out our Ireland travel blog – we cover it all from Irish slang, the steps to a CIEE program, personal student accounts of their time in the Emerald Isle, and of course, key reasons why studying abroad in Ireland might be the perfect choice for you.  

Fast Facts about Scotland Study Abroad  

We’re still weighing Ireland vs. Scotland travel abroad, so let’s dive into Scotland!  

  • Population: About 5.4 million people, so a slightly bigger population than Ireland
  • Climate: Scotland also has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, with winter temperatures averaging around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and summer temperatures averaging about 63 degrees. Scotland is also pretty rainy.  
  • Location: Scotland is in the northernmost part of the U.K., with the North Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west  
  • Currency: The Pound sterling  
  • Language: Most of Scotland speaks English, with some speaking Scots and Scottish Gaelic
  • Airport: Scotland features several airports with the main international airports including Aberdeen International Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Glasgow Airport, and Glasgow Prestwick Airport  
  • Local Attraction: There’s a ton of fascinating attractions throughout Scotland, but one of the most popular is the Edinburgh Castle, located in the country’s capital  
  • Bonus Fact: The modern game of golf was invented in Scotland

Read More: Your Guide to Scottish Slang: Top 10 Phrases You Should Know  

Scotland Travel Tips  

As you prepare for a Scotland study abroad adventure, note some of our Scotland travel tips:  

  • Explore outside of the big cities like Edinburgh or Glasgow, and try to get to places like Cluanie, The Kelpies, and more  
  • Bring a rain jacket! Like Ireland, Scotland is pretty wet year-round  
  • You must try a full Scottish breakfast during your stay
  • Customary tipping in a bar or restaurant is about 10 percent of the bill  
  • Bring a reusable water bottle – most Scots are passionate about sustainability and the environment  


edinburgh scotland overlook students

Scotland Travel Blog  

If you haven’t yet, check out our blogs on all things Scotland. From Scottish slang, comparing Glasgow vs. Edinburgh, top Scottish eats and drinks, and more, you’ll learn all about what a Scotland study abroad trip entails!  

Take Your Studies Global

Now that we’ve covered Ireland vs. Scotland travel abroad, you’re all set to explore which CIEE study abroad program makes the most sense for you in either of these incredible locations!