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6 hours in Edinburgh - how to make the most of it?

We have a very short visit to Scotland and London (for a wedding) in July. Here's our itinerary:

Day 1: arrive in Inverness around noon. Relax and maybe do some local sightseeing.
Day 2: An all day trip to Skye run by a tour company, including Loch Ness, Eilean Donan castle, Portree, and several other places.
Day 3: Early train to Edinburgh, arriving around 10:15 am. We need to catch a 5:40 flight to London from Edinburgh.
Day 4, 5, and 6 in London. We must arrive in London on day 3.

Originally, we were going to fly directly to London from Inverness, but later thought we'd stop to see Edinburgh. So the question is should we spend those 6 hours on the Royal Mile including Edinburgh Castle, or would it be better to make a trip to see Sterling Castle, or? We're not much into art galleries or museums. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Posted by
595 posts

If your flight is at 5:40, you won't have 6 hours, as you'll need time to get to the airport and check in. I would guess you'll have around 4 hours. I would spend it on the Royal Mile, you'll really just have time to sightsee from the outside. Stirling wouldn't be feasible, since it is outside the city quite a way. I would walk one end of the Royal Mile to the other, seeing the palace, the castle and St. Giles from the outside, and that's probably about all the time you'll have. I would really consider whether this is worth it to you rather than sticking with your original plan of flying to London from Inverness.

Posted by
2430 posts

Stirling castle is in Stirling at least an hour by train from Edinburgh unless you plan stopping there on the train from Inverness (can't remember if it actually stops there). 6 hours on the Royal Mile and castle will let you see a good bit with time to stop for a decent lunch.Bear in mind you need to be at the airport about 90 minutes before your flight and it takes at least 30 minutes to get there from central Edinburgh by bus or tram.

Posted by
142 posts

Ok, so we'll walk the Royal Mile, and leave for the airport by 3:45 for the 5:40 flight. The train fare from Inverness to Edinburgh is only $12, and my understanding is that in some parts it is a scenic ride, so we said let's go via Edinburgh, there's nothing to lose and more to gain!

Day 3 plans can still be changed. Is there a different route (other than going via Edinburgh) that we should consider? I know there are many attractions in Scotland, but are we missing a "must see" place in Scotland with our current plan?

We could stop at Stirling, train arrives @ 9:42 am. How much time should we allow @ Stirling before catching a train to Edinburgh?

Posted by
142 posts

There are only a handful tickets available for $12 on very early trains from Inverness.

Posted by
2430 posts

well done if you got them I would expect them to be about 3 or 4 times that price

Posted by
595 posts

Yeah, with such cheap tickets, I would be tempted to do the same! You will already get a taste of the countryside with your day trip from Inverness, so if it were me I would stick with your plan to head to Edinburgh and spend a few hours there. I think it's a really unique city, and kind of condensed so you can see a lot in that one mile. Hope you have fun!

Posted by
80 posts
  • If your final destination is somewhere outside central London then flying is probably the best option, but if you're actually heading to central London then taking the train from Edinburgh maybe a better option.

  • Have you considered the overnight sleeper train to london (www.sleeper.scot)? - iIt'll get you London just after 7am and give you the evening in Edinburgh (where it's light till after 10pm at that time of year)

  • The cheap train tickets don't permit you to break your journey, you'd need to buy a ticket Inverness to Stirling and a separate one Stirling to Edinburgh. Given the choice I'd go with Edinburgh over Stirling tbh.

  • I'd also ask what you'll do with your luggage whilst your sightseeing? - I think there's left luggage facilities in Edinburgh waverley station, but I'm not sure there's any in Stirling.

  • For a totally different day 3, to see a lot more of the Highlands, you could take a bus (www.citylink.co.uk) from Inverness to ft William and then connect onto the bus from there to Glasgow, which goes through glencoe and Loch lomond. If you connect onto the 1400 bus from ft William this takes you direct to Glasgow airport forecourt (arr. 1651) so you could pick up a flight there, say any time after 1900, or just stay on the bus into the city centre and catch a train from Glasgow Central that evening or overnight.

  • You could also instead connect onto the W Highland line train at Ft William to Glasgow - this is a famous scenic rail line through the west Highlands (https://www.seat61.com/WestHighlandLine.htm). You then catch a flight or train from glasgow onwards to london.

Posted by
142 posts

Thanks for suggesting alternatives, outshined78! After thinking about it, we decided to just keep it simple, see Edinburgh and then fly to London. We have a LondonWalks tour on day 4 in London, so just wanted to get settled in our London hotel the evening of day 3.

Re: luggage storage, we plan to use stasher.com, which has many places around Edinburgh station that can store our luggage.