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5 Days in Scotland - What to do???

We are taking a trip mid-May for 2 weeks to Ireland and Scotland with our 2 adult sons and 2 granddaughters. I posted on the Ireland Forum for our itinerary but don't really know what all to see in Scotland. We are a party of six ages 66, 64, 38, 32, 8 and 3. So far this is what we have planned/booked:

Day 1 & 2: Stay at private condo in Edinburgh; day 2 the guys are golfing at St. Andrews while I entertain the 2 granddaughters.
Day 3 & 4: Staying at private home by the sea in Inverness.
Day 5: We will have the day to sightsee but are taking an evening flight back to Dublin, staying at an airport hotel then flying home the next morning.

Short of the golf excursion, we have nothing specific planned. We have a mini-van rented and we thought about going to Loch Ness, possibly some of the Highlands area, the Moray Firth?. Very open for suggestions of what to see. Our itinerary in Ireland is pretty full but not so much for Scotland. This will probably be our only trip to this region so we are wanting to see many things and need to decide what is most important. Not really into a lot of hiking due to some limited mobility issues for my husband, but we do enjoy scenery and are pretty open to just about anything. I really appreciate your comments and thoughts. Thanks!

Posted by
1167 posts

Hi -

Well of course you'll want to spent part of a day having a look at Loch Ness, which is an impressive body of water. Drumnadrochit is 'Loch Ness Monster Central' and will only be worth visiting if you are curious about the legend and/or have a penchant for 'Nessie' tat of all kinds!

One of the days you are based at Inverness you could take the A835 out of Inverness towards Garve and then turn off for Torridon. You reach Torridon on a single track road with passing places but the scenery is magnificent, passing some really huge mountains, Ben Eighe, Liathach and Ben Alligin to name but three, on the way to the tiny village (general stores there has a coffee shop or if you continue round the end of the loch via Arrant, there's a large hotel that does meals). Retracing your route head onwards to Gairloch via Loch Maree - the large mountain opposite on the far side of the loch is Slioch. The coffee shop in Gairloch does the biggest scones known to man and has an interesting book shop in the back! Follow the road round towards Ullapool and turn right on reaching the A835 again to return to Inverness.

Some of the route is on the infamously narrow single track roads with passing places. If there's somebody behind you in a hurry - mountain rescue or the poor sod that does the Tesco home deliveries! - just pull into a passing place and let them get past so you can continue in a more leisurely manner. The area is wild and rugged and spectacular and worth visiting for a true taste of the Highlands.

You can reach the Moray Firth from the centre of Inverness by locating the Caledonian Canal and following it to where it meets the sea, a short, relatively flat and straightforward walk. I'm sure there will be somewhere to pick up a map of central Inverness to show you the way - Tourist Information perhaps?

Hope you have a great trip!


Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for those suggestions Ian. I will be anxious to research your suggestions online tonight when I get home from work!!

Posted by
24 posts

Can you please share how you found the private condo in Edinburgh and perhaps the listing? We’re going in September and prefer to have a small kitchen for breakfast and light dinners. Thank you.

Posted by
8 posts

We are staying at a condo in the center of Edinburgh called "The Penthouse". Website is

Posted by
28 posts

On day 5, are you flying out of Edinburgh or Glasgow?

In Edinburgh, my son loves the National Museum of Scotland, Surgeon's Hall (might be a bit much for the 3 year old) and the zoo.

Inverness, Culloden is a must. There is also a botanical garden that the kids might like.

If you are flying out of Glasgow, they would enjoy the transport museum.

Have fun!

Posted by
359 posts

Lots of nice Airbnb homes in Nairn (small town on the seaside near Inverness). That is where we are staying next week with my 2.5 year old son. I would look soon though because they are going quickly.

Posted by
723 posts

You have such a short amount of time it will be best to keep your sightseeing to places that are fairly close to where you are staying so that you don't spend a lot of time in the car just to see one thing. Edinburgh Castle will appeal to everyone, especially the kids, and that could take up half of a day in Edinburgh. Go in the morning when it first opens if you can. On day two is everyone going to St. Andrews or just the golfers? There is a castle in St. Andrew's, but it is a smaller ruin and will only take about an hour to wander around. St. Andrew's itself is quite small. If you are staying in Edinburgh with the kids on day two the there is Holyrood at the bottom of the Royal Mile, and just wandering up the Royal Mile there are other places to see that could easily fill a day. Camera Obscura might appeal to the kids. Edinburgh is built on hills so the little ones might get tired and it may be a good idea to make use of the hop on hop off bus. The Royal Yacht Britannia was an interesting tour. For things to do from Inverness the ones that are close will be the Clava Cairns and Culloden battle field and visitor center, and Cawdor castle Personally, I drove right by Loch Ness without stopping. It is a big lake, but there are far more attractive ones in Scotland, and with so little time I think you might want to try seeing some things you can't see back home.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, Marsha,

The youngsters would really enjoy the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. The older folks would enjoy it as well! It's on the Royal Mile.

You don't have much time. I'm thinking of the 3 year old. Here's a few places in Edinburgh - castle, St. Gile's, Holyrood Palace, zoo, Brittania ship,
INVERNESS is on a river and near lakes. Not sure how far it is from ocean. Culloden museum and battlefield. Relaxing Boat ride on Loch Ness.