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London, Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh Itinerary, please review, thank you!

Hello, my husband and I have a 10 day trip planned for early May. We have an overnight flight from Miami to London, staying 3 nights (hotel is in Leicester Square), then taking the overnight sleeper train to Inverness, Scotland, where we will stay 3 nights in a guest house. From Inverness we will take the train to Edinburgh for two nights (hotel at Hunter Square near the Royal Mile), then fly home from Edinburgh.

We splurged on highly recommended tours and centrally located lodging, so we are going to skip expensive meals...would appreciate any recommendations for some great cheap eats, pub meals or somewhere to eat tikka masala!
The itinerary we planned looks pretty ambitious on paper, but it seems to be at about the same pace as some of the multi-day guided tours we have taken in the past. Any recommendations would be much appreciated!

About us: We're pretty sturdy, we travel light with just carry-ons, and we both can only spend about two hours max in a museum.
My husband has never been to the UK, so his must-do list (Stonehenge, driving on the left, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace) is pretty much based on National Lampoon's European Vacation. I am an Outlander book fan, thus Cullodon Battlefield, etc.

Arrive at Heathrow at 10:20am (hopefully semi-refreshed from an ambian-induced sleep), purchase Oyster cards, take the Underground to Leicester Square station, leave luggage at the hotel until check-in. Grab lunch..
2pm - two hour guided tour of the British Museum (booked)
Try to make it to bed early to get our internal clocks on track.

All day walking tour (reserved w/ Strawberry Tours), walking past Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Sq, Churchill War Rooms, St James Palace & Park, 10 Downing, National Gallery, stop for lunch at a pub, Tower of London, St Paul's, Leadenhall Market, Bank of England, Tower Bridge, Temple Church. Tour ends around Buckingham palace.
7:30pm - show Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theater (booked)

All day tour Stonehenge & Bath (booked w/ The English Bus tour company)

Check out of hotel, storing bags there until evening. Go back and visit Tower of London (as soon as they open), Westminster Abbey, V&A.
Towards evening have dinner, collect our luggage and board the Caledonian Sleeper train from Euston Station (booked)

Arrive in Inverness at 8:20am, rent a car so my husband tick off driving on the left side of the road. Car doubles as a storage facility for our bags until check-in time at our Guest House. Possibly do a day trip, driving to Glencoe. Or, possibly just toodle around Inverness area.

9am full day tour (booked w/ Happy Tours) of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns, Beauly Priory, Glen Ord Distillery, Clootie Well, Moray Firth

8am full day tour to Isle of Skye (also booked w/ Happy Tours)

9:40am train to Edinburgh (was able to purchase two first class tickets for $28 US), arriving around 1:30. Check in at hotel and go visit Royal Yacht Britannia before they close at 4:30.

Evening - explore The Royal Mile and have dinner.

10am - 2.5 walking tour of Edinburgh (Sandman's)
Afternoon - Visit Edinburgh Castle, possibly visit The Real Mary King's Close?

10am flight home

Posted by
3111 posts

On Saturday, will you have time to go back to your hotel and take a short "power nap" before the 7:30 show? Because if you don't, I'm willing to bet you'll be nodding off during the show. Jetlag lasts several days and your all-day walking tour will get you nice and loosened up and tired.

I understand the wish to tick off driving on the left, but you're paying for a rental car and then paying for tours on the subsequent days to go places you could easily drive yourself at your own pace. Fine if you don't mind the extra expense, and of course tours can be fun and more informative than just finding one's own way from one destination to the next.

A drive from Inverness that doesn't duplicate what you'll see on your Wed & Thurs day tours could be south into the Cairngorms, or east out to the North Sea beyond Elgin, or (as you suggest) west to Glencoe. If your Wednesday tour doesn't include Cawdor Castle, that would be a convenient destination for part of your day. Or, you could go north to Sutherland and Dunrobin Castle though that's a fairly long drive. Personally I would not waste the rental car day toodling around Inverness.

Posted by
14117 posts

You do realize that Chicken Tikka Masala is not an authentic Indian dish? It was created in the UK. You can find it everywhere.

And, I'm exhuasted after reading your itinerary. I have a feeling you will be too.

Posted by
3 posts

Squeezing in a power nap before the show is a great suggestion, thanks. Yes, we should have time. And also good point about the rental car in Inverness. We decided to rent it for just one one day, and drive to Glencoe. We really shouldn't need the car after the first day since the meeting spot for the tours is only a 15 minute walk from our guest house.

Thank you for explaining the origins of chicken tikka masala. That was the point, though, we wanted to try it in the UK since that is where it was invented.

Posted by
13194 posts

Here are my thoughts, and they may not matter if you’ve already paid for your tours.

Friday- If you haven’t paid for this tour I’d re-think. Besides, British Museum on top of jet lag would not work for me. I do better being outside.

Saturday- If these are all viewed from the outside, I’d do it on my own and pick 2 big things to see.

Monday - you may wind up striking off V&A. If you do decide to go, I’d take a good look at their website and choose one area for focus, then do a precision strike so to speak. For Westminster Abbey, download the audio guide to your smartphone ahead of time.

Posted by
103 posts

Hi, blueskies8792,
We were in Edinburgh for a week in November 2017 and had a marvelous time. I can't speak to your London itinerary, since we were only there tor transfer Heathrow to the train. We were amazed at how quickly we managed to get off the plane, meet our friends, and get to the train.

We also took an overnight tour through the Highlands and loved it! Can't wait to go back and hike.

Are you set on visiting the Britannia? It is out quite a way, probably farther than you want to walk. And as an Outlander fan myself, I found Holyrood Palace much more interesting than the yacht. (Though I did enjoy the it!) When we were there, we could amble around at will, but the guides told us that in the spring and summer months it can be packed. Of course, it's likely there will be crowds everywhere.

After a several hour train ride, I think we'd be inclined to walk down the Royal Mile in the afternoon to Holyrood and the Scottish Parliament Building (a really interesting contrast to one another.), them mosey back up to find dinner along the way .There are lots of great pubs along the Royal Mile with hearty and relatively inexpensive fare. You can check them out on this site: We did notice that on the weekends, places tended to fill around dinnertime and without reservations we found ourselves 'exploring' more than we wished on empty stomachs. So start your dinner hunt early or plan to eat late.

Also, head over to Grassmarket via Victoria Street. Charming and more pubs!

If It rains, I'd head to the National Museum for a couple hours. It's HUGE and very well done. There's a great Culloden display, as I recall, and it was light and airy even on a gray and rainy November day.

Hope this is helpful. Have a great trip!

Posted by
35 posts

Glad to see you are going inside Westminster Abbey. I recommend buying your ticket online before you go to avoid the long lines.
Not sure where you are staying in Leicester Square, but Punjab is an 8 minute walk from the square and is supposed to have good
Chicken Tikka Masala. If I am wrong, I'm sure someone will let you know as I haven't actually eaten there.

The Botanical Garden in Edinburgh is lovely as is Dean Village and the walk along the Water of Leith. Some restaurants I enjoyed in Edinburgh were Deacon Brodies Tavern, The Bon Vivant, Dishoom, and the café inside Scottish National Gallery.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
11056 posts

We love Punjab! Eat there every trip. Very reasonable prices, but you might want to book a table.