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2 weeks early May itinerary - include London?

My wife and I (early 30s) are planning a 2 week trip to Scotland in early May. We are considering spending the first 4 nights in London, or spending all our time in Scotland. We appreciate nature/landscapes, history & culture, some easy/moderate hiking, & foods (but not meat, poultry, or shellfish). We also like a diverse mix of city/rural exploration throughout our trips.

Thought #1: Scottish Highlands

  • 3 nights Glasgow
  • 2 nights Highlands, either near Fort Williams or Oban
  • 3 nights Isle of Skye
  • 2 nights Highlands, near Cairngorms?
  • 4 nights Edinburgh

Thought #2: London + Scotland

  • 4 nights in London (on last day, train to Glasgow)
  • 2 nights in Glasgow (on last day, pick up car)
  • 3 nights on Isle of Skye
  • 1 nights in Highlands (near Loch Ness?)
  • 4 nights Edinburgh

Appreciate any feedback on our itinerary options and whether including London is feasible (can fly direct to/from Edinburgh or London). If we include London, any preference to tack it on the beginning or end of our trip? If we don't include London, are we seeing the right mix of Scottish sights or should we explore other parts?

Posted by
7603 posts

Well, I'll make a comment on something that you didn't ask about, lol. I'm vegan and found Scotland to be easier than I thought to find suitable meals. If you eat dairy and eggs you'll have no problem at all. One of my best meals was in a restaurant in Edinburgh called Loudons on Fountainbridge Rd. I got vegan haggis and it was delicious! Vegan desserts were excellent.

Posted by
2290 posts

If you've never been to London, I would definitely go there. It's my #2 favorite European city(next to Florence). The British Museum is a trip through history.

Posted by
16567 posts

I love London and I wouldn't try to include it along with Scotland with only 14 nights available.

The weather in (especially) western Scotland is problematic. I know May is, statistically, a bit drier than July (the time of my trip), but still Portree (Skye) has 13.8 rainy days on average during the month of May. The way to minimize the risk that unlucky weather will mess up your trip is to allow plenty of time in the places where you plan outdoor activities and have a car at your disposal so you can react appropriately to the weather each day.

Rain will probably affect you less in Glasgow and Edinburgh (and it's less frequent in Edinburgh as well), so I wouldn't feel the need to pad the schedule so much at those stops. They are both interesting cities, though.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi there! My husband and I (mid-thirties) took a very similar trip two years ago, but over 9 days rather than two full weeks. With the two weeks, you could fit in London, but I cannot imagine cutting out the Fort Williams/Oban area, so I would suggest that — if you expect you will be able to return to London (which we also love, and spent a full 8 days in this past fall) — then immerse yourself entirely in Scotland! We are returning to Scotland this year to focus on Skye (which we did not see on our prior trip) and other areas we did not see enough of, so I think you will find yourself quite busy. Also - I am a vegan and can confirm that I was able to find wonderful vegan/vegetarian options throughout. This may be too much information, but our itinerary is below, in case it might be helpful:

We took overnight flight to Edinburgh, then train Edinburgh to Glasgow, which was very simple and efficient.

Night 1 & 2, Glasgow - Principal Blythswood Square (I would not recommend this hotel, as we found it impersonal and the location was not ideal). Last day we rented from Enterprise rent-a-car. I don’t know that you would need more than two nights in Glasgow - we felt the two nights was an appropriate amount of time for us to explore, visit museums, and enjoy the area, but others, I am sure, would have a different opinion.

Night 3 & 4, Kilmartin Glen - we stayed at an incredible AirBnB castle which was a one in a lifetime experience (https://abnb.me/ycIb8GY5b4) - We explored the area and spent a memorable evening in a local pub where we witnessed a local bagpipe competition. It was something we will never forget.

Night 4 & 5, We stayed in Glencoe House and used this as a base to explore the Oban, Fort Williams, and Mallaig areas (including taking the Jacobite (“Harry Potter”) train one way, which was great fun. I highly recommend Glencoe House - we had an incredible experience here, and is one of those places I fantasize about while having a stressful day at work. We also visited
Dunstaffnage Castle while here.

Night 6, we stayed at a farmstead in Aviemore in the Cairngorms after visiting the Culliden battlefield, which was stunning and impactful - must visit. We are at The Cairngorm Hotel, which surprisingly had great food, including vegetarian options. We spent the next morning in Inverness, and definitely wished we had more time here, charming little city.

Night 7, 8, and 9 we spent in Edinburgh. Before we dropped our car rental we visited Stirling Castle, which I found to be wonderful - interesting exhibits, beautiful setting, and easily accessed en route. Once we arrived in Edinburgh, we absolutely fell in love with this city - we are returning this fall. We hired a private guide for a six hour walking tour the first day through Local Eyes Tours - this was well worth the money and time, as it helped put everything we had learned in our prior sites into context and framed it for what we were to learn in Edinburgh. Highly recommended. We visited the Castle, which is NOT a tourist trap - it is extremely well put together and interesting - one can spend hours there. Another day we enjoyed afternoon tea (vegan!!) at Colonnades at the Signet Library - I had never been able to enjoy afternoon tea before because of my dietary restrictions, so this was amazing.

In summary :) I think you could fit London in (again - love London), but I think if you can enjoy more of Scotland, I would do it! Let me know if you have any questions - obviously I am happy to share any additional details.

Posted by
8 posts

@Pam - Thanks for the assurance on dietary accomodations, and for the vegan haggis recommendation - we will definitely try it!

@acraven - the regional weather tips are a huge help for planning how long to stay in each locale.

@dbochnea -Thank you so much for the detailed itinerary. The castle airb&b looks incredible, and your other recommendations & activities all look like things we love to do when travelling. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and I will definitely let you know if I have more questions.

Posted by
439 posts

As Skye features in both options I will focus a bit on the food scene here.

You can great wonderful veggie and vegan food across the island, but at the fine dining end you will want to let them know when you make your reservation (and you will need reservations for most places on Skye or you won't get fed) so they can set up something special for you.

The 4 best restaurants on Skye are:
Lochbay (Michelin star without the fancy service, in a wonderful setting by the sea),
Edinbane Lodge (renovated 16/17th century hunting lodge, with tasting menu, run by brilliant, young, local chef)
Three Chimneys (very famous Skye institution with great cooking if somewhat patchy service)
Kinloch Lodge (tucked away in the south of the island, great cooking in the more traditional French style)

I would also heartily recommend the Red Roof in Glendale. This amazing little place is usually open Tuesday to Friday in summer only and only at lunchtime. It is an entirely vegetarian menu with some vegan dishes. It is a 'tea house' so that is Petra's speciality and her cakes and bakes are sublime, but there are also 3 lunch options, a soup, a stew and a 'lunchplate', which is a mix of small dishes, served with salad. Her homemade bread is divine. Very small place with limited number of seats so best to phone ahead. It is on the way to Neist Point, which most visitors to Skye want to see.

Hope this helps
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
128 posts

My immediate thought is that Itinerary 2 is short changing Scotland. You will be spending most of it in three major cities, and not allowing yourselves much time for nature/landscape and hiking.

Leave London for another trip when you can concentrate on England. There is a lot of good countryside there too!

If you are planning on May this year? If so, get your accommodation booked on Skye asap. Many places will already be fully booked for this year.

Posted by
590 posts

I’d be tempted to give yourself a fourth night on Skye. It’s truly incredible scenery there and so many things to see and do. I think your option one sounds like a wonderful trip. :)