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12 days London and Scotland

We are planning our first international trip to London and Scotland and looking for feedback that our itinerary is reasonable. We will be traveling the end of June/first week of July. Here is what we have so far:

Day 1 - Arrive London in AM / PM Sightseeing
Day 2 - London Sightseeing
Day 3 - London Sightseeing
Day 4 - Day Trip from London TBD (Bath? etc?)
Day 5 - London Sightseeing / Caledonian Sleeper Train to Edinburgh
Day 6 - Edinburgh Sightseeing, overnight in Edinburgh
Day 7 - Pick up rental car AM travel to Pitlochry with Sightseeing enroute (Sterling Castle, Doune Casle?, Drummond Gardens). Overnight in Pitlochry
Day 8 - Travel to Inverness with sightseeing enroute (Balmmoral Castle?, Colloden). Overnight in Inverness
Day 9 - Travel to Isle of Sky with sightseeing enroute (Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Portree). Overnight in Uig
Day 10 - Travel to Glencoe with sightseeing enroute (Isle of Sky circle, Glefinnen Viaduct, Fort William). Overnight in Glencoe
Day 11 - Travel to Glasgow with sightseeing enroute (Glen Etive, Loch Lomond). Late PM flight back to London
Day 12 - Windsor Sightseeing AM / International Flight Departs PM

Based on map routes, this amounts to about 3 or 4 hours of driving between overnight stops, which I am thinking should give us plenty of time for the sightseeing along the journey.

Appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions on sights to include/exclude along the way.

Posted by
1225 posts

This is a very ambitious programme, which wildly underestimates the driving time. You will need to allow 5 hours from Inverness to Uig in June/July when the roads are busy with tourists. Likewise Uig to Glencoe is 4.5 hours without stopping and outside the busy tourism period. You will have day light on your side, but it certainly won't be a relaxing holiday. Basically days 7 to 11 would normally need at least a week. You will be seeing Scotland from a car window. I'd suggest choosing between either the east side (Stirling etc up to Inverness) and the west side, Skye, Glencoe, Loch Lomond.

Posted by
8879 posts

Wholeheartedly agree with Skyegirl. Far too much driving.

You are underestimating distances, adjusting to driving on the “ other “ side of the road, and summer traffic with hordes of tourists and locals doing the same thing.

Slow down.

Posted by
27427 posts

There's a great deal to see in Scotland, and your plans are very rushed. Scheduling basically one day for Skye is not really a good idea. In addition, weather in the west is iffy, which could also slow you down whether driving or sightseeing.

To maximize the time available for Scotland on this trip, I would drop all thought of a side trip from London and leave London for Scotland a day earlier. It's easy to return to London, and to places near London that are day-trippable.

Posted by
6722 posts

You could gain 2 more days by dropping Edinburgh and Pitlochry and taking the Caledonian Sleeper direct to Inverness

Posted by
275 posts

It was a dozen years ago or so but I took my wife and kids on a driving tour of Scotland and found driving 3 or 4 hours a day with typically one night stops very enjoyable. Very active days like the ones you describe above too.

I can see this forum crowd disagrees but then I found driving in Scotland to be very scenic and not a burden.

I hope you have a great trip-- we loved ours!

Posted by
2397 posts

I am assuming you already have your tickets but to me it is worth calling the airline and find out the cost of changing tickets so you can fly home from.Scotland. Considering the cost and time to go from London by train to Scotland Then fly back to London it is worth a call. When booking originally it is called multi city flights. We just did something similar in September by flying into Edinburgh for seven days then early train to London for a week. We then took train to Paris and then home.

Posted by
1225 posts

A 'dozen years ago' the traffic was much lighter and Skye had not been 'discovered' as a destination by global travellers. Since the pandemic it has gone crazy here with demand for accommodation far outstripping supply, people sleeping in cars and the traffic is insane at certain times of year. That's not to say you can't have a peaceful holiday in the Highlands and Skye, but traffic volumes and times to get between places has increased unbelievably.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for all the good feedback. We will look at reworking a bit.

Posted by
907 posts

I would definitely consider dropping Edinburgh and flying home from Glasgow in order to have some time on Skye. Otherwise, there is really no point in driving all that distance if you don’t have at least one full day to spen on the island.

Posted by
275 posts

A common refrain on this forum is a variation of there is no point going to X unless you have Y time. This is just bad advice. If you are confident that you'll be able to take multiple trips to whatever Z is the topic at hand, then, yeah, sure I suppose. I personally enjoy the journey. I loved driving from Inverness to Skye. The scenery along the way was spectacular. I wish I had more time and could have happily spent days there. But alas my time budget at the time did not allow it. And I would have deeply regretted going to Scotland and missing Skye. Now I understand others don't mind missing things in order to have a more leisurely trip. That's great! Many trips I take are slow paced and there is nothing wrong with that-- indeed there is much right with that,

But I would caution folks there are always tradeoffs. And there is no wrong answer if you either way you're in Scotland! What a fine place!

Posted by
4 posts

All great feedback, and much appreciated. Taking this all into consideration we've made some slight revisions. Our nights in London were already solid, but we worked it so we can get to Edinburgh a day earlier and move the rest of the itinerary up to allow us two days on Isle of Sky. Realizing this is still a lot of driving, adding in the extra day in the middle will help, but we do also want to see as much as possible, as we never know if/when we will get back. I did also look at flying home from Glasgow rather than London, but it didn't really seem to buy us any additional time due to layovers, etc.

Any additional feedback on the new itinerary and sites to include/exclude along the way would be appreciated.

Day 1 - Arrive London in AM / PM Sightseeing
Day 2 - London Sightseeing
Day 3 - London Sightseeing
Day 4 - London Sightseeing
Day 5 - Early morning flight or train to Edinburgh, Edinburgh Sightseeing, overnight in Edinburgh
Day 6 - Pick up rental car AM travel to Pitlochry with Sightseeing enroute (Sterling Castle, Doune Casle?, Drummond Gardens). Overnight in Pitlochry
Day 7 - Travel to Inverness with sightseeing enroute (Balmmoral Castle?, Colloden). Overnight in Inverness
Day 8 - Travel to Isle of Sky with sightseeing enroute (Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Portree). Overnight in Uig
Day 9 - Isle of Sky sightseeing. Overnight in Uig (or other sky town?)
Day 10 - Travel to Glencoe with sightseeing enroute (Isle of Sky circle, Glefinnen Viaduct, Fort William). Overnight in Glencoe
Day 11 - Travel to Glasgow with sightseeing enroute (Glen Etive, Loch Lomond). Late PM flight back to London
Day 12 - Windsor Sightseeing AM / International Flight Departs PM

Thanks!

Posted by
1225 posts

I would strongly suggest basing yourself in Portree for your two nights in Skye (note the 'e'). There is a much wider choice of accommodation and dining options. It would also enable you to do one day in the north of the island and the other day perhaps in the south or south west of the island.

Posted by
4 posts

We would prefer, and have been looking in Portree, but there does not seem to be much available for the dates we are there. Any insider tips on finding places would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
1225 posts

You could try this place - a lovely B&B in Penifiler - just outside Portree but with stunning views back across the bay and of the Old Man of Storr. Penifiler Air BnB - continental breakfast is provided and she has three rooms.

Or this very nice cabin with sea view and walkable to the centre of Portree and almost opposite Skye Candles, which has a great pizza restaurant.

Posted by
1 posts

We too are doing an England/Scotland trip April 26-May 11th.
Our itineraries seem similar in the sense we are trying to balance never being there and seeing as much as possible with not overdoing it and ensuring some periods of not driving.
I'll provide our itinerary for fun and comparison. We decided to take a day away from London thinking more likely we'll be able to incorporate time back there in the future and are flying out of Edinburgh to add a day there, also skipping Glasgow.
Have a wonderful trip!

Day 1 - arrive AM in London spend day sightseeing
Day 2- sightseeing London
Day 3- early AM train to Southampton and p/u car - drive to Stonehenge, Glastonbury, night stay in Bath
Day 4-drive from Bath to York, late afternoon sightseeing in York
Day 5-day sightsee in York
Day 6- early AM drive from York to Doune- stopping at Holy Island and Stirling Castle (night in Doune)
Day 7-early AM drive to Dufftown -Glenfiddich Distillery tour, stay overnight in Dufftown
Day 8-early AM drive to Inverness
Day 9-Inverness all day/night
Day 10- early AM drive to Scrabster, ferry to Orkney (Stromness) see Skara Brae, Stennes, etc - stay overnight
Day 11- ferry back to Scrabster and drive to Isle of Skye - staying in Portree (long day drive)
Day 12-Portree/Isle of Skye (staying in Portree)
Day 13-drive to Edinburgh Eilen Donan castle on the way - drop off car & stay in Edinburgh
Day 14- Edinburgh
Day 15- Edinburgh
Day 16- fly home in AM from Edinburgh

A bit of a whirlwind but we tried to include a variety of not just 1 night but a couple 2 night stays through out the trip. We understand there is driving, but here in the US we are used to driving long distances and days to get to destinations.
Any recommendations of restaruants at these destinations are much appreciated!