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5 days in [Edinburgh]--where to go? (updated)

(Updated--see below)
I'm looking to take a side trip to the UK from Dublin in the 5-6 day range. (This is my third trip to Ireland and I'm there for just over 2 weeks). Hoping for advice as to where to go. I've never visited the UK outside of Northern Ireland.

If I were to choose one country, I'm more inclined toward Scotland than England or Wales. Definitely want at least a day or two in Edinburgh. I've toyed with the idea of taking the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, then going by train up to Edinburgh. This has the advantage of involving my two favorite forms of transportation, but the disadvantage of eating a huge amount of my limited travel time. I'm a city gal, but I also love exploring the countryside and enjoy a bit of hiking. Also, I'm a rather obsessive knitter, so bonus points for any suggestions involving sheep or wool. :)

I'll have about 5 days to play with, although I have flexibility. 39 yr-old female traveling solo. And if the whole "planning this now though I leave for Dublin in 4 days" bit didn't clue you in, I tend to be more of a seat-of-the-pants than a strict-itinerary traveler. I'm fairly comfortable winging it, particularly in English-speaking countries. If it makes a difference, I'm thinking Sunday or Monday (8/7 or 8) through Friday or Saturday (8/12 or 13).

I know that this is festival season in Scotland, but it does appear that I can still book AirBnb listings no problem. So what do you think, savvy travelers? Should I focus on the cities and split it up between Edinburgh and London? Focus on just Scotland for this trip? Any places I simply must see? Thanks!

Posted by
2562 posts

Just focus on Scotland - fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow (or even Inverness).

If you're thinking about Edinburgh for this August you must get your accommodation sorted ASAP. Even now it may be too late or too expensive. If not, go to Glasgow then see if you can get to Skye - that's about it with the time you have. At this late stage accommodation is your biggest challenge.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to ramblin's tip, I went ahead and booked my accomodations in Edinburgh. So that's going to be my home base for the duration--flying in mid-afternoon on Monday, 8/8 and leaving in the evening of Friday, 8/12. Still not much time, but this should allow me to really enjoy the area.

So, that said: anything you'd consider a must-do/must-see, either within Edinburgh or as a day trip?

Posted by
308 posts

If you wanted to spend a day outside Edinburgh you could do a day trip to Stirling via train.

Posted by
5678 posts

You can also easily get to Glasgow for the day. They have great museums and a very old cathedral.

If you want to get a wee bit of the countryside without doing one of the all day long bus tours of the highlands, think about taking the train to Perthshire. I would recommend Dunkeld, particularly if you'd like to walk in the hills. Dunkeld/Birnam are a couple of hours north on the train from Edinburgh. The town is lovely and has an old cathedral--Dunkeld was once the center of the church. There are lots of paths. You can explore Hermitage Trail or take a walk along the Tay through Birnam Wood. There is sweet little Beatrice Potter garden in Birnam. The train goes to Birnam and you walk across a great bridge over the Tay to get to Dunkeld. Dunkeld has a great pub too, The Taybank.

Another day trip can be St. Andrews. You take the train and then change to a bus or taxi to the last few miles.

There is the new Borders Railway that you can use to see a bit of that area.

There are tons of day tours that the TI can tell you about.


Posted by
908 posts

I spent 6 days in Edinburgh and had no trouble filling them all. I did a day trip down to Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's wall. You can easily get to Glasgow on the train, or do day trip to Spirling Castle and Loch Lomond. There's lots to see in the city, too, so I don't think you will be sorry spending your entire time base in Edinburgh. You would waste too much time trying to get down to London, and you wouldn't do it justice with just two or three days.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks so much for all of the suggestions and recommendations (and keep them coming)!

Something like a plan is starting to take shape. I've arranged to meet up with a group of local knitters as soon as I arrive, so that will be a lovely, low-key introduction. I plan to spend at least two solid days exploring Edinburgh and I was able to snag a ticket to the Tattoo for one of my evenings. I think I'm going to take an all-day Highlands tour, although I'm going to stick with one that stays relatively close (Loch Lomond, Stirling, and Glen Goyne distillery). I would love to get to Inverness, but just don't have enough time on this trip to do it justice and don't really want to sit through a Loch Ness-focused Highlands tour. And for my last day, I'll either take Pamela's suggestion of Birnam and Dunkeld, a friend's recommendation to check out Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven, or just spend more time in Edinburgh.

Now if only I knew the itinerary for my time in Ireland... Fortunately, I've been there several times and am staying with a Dublin-based friend, so it's an altogether lower-key affair.

Posted by
4175 posts

As you've already seen, there's lots to do in Edinburgh and nearby. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hairy Coo tour -- I was too late to get on the free one, so I took one that included hairy coos, Stirling Castle and more. I see on the website today that the tours are a bit different from what they were when I went in May.