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8 Days - Edinburgh/Highlands - Probably too much

I am hoping to be traveling to Scotland for 8 days in late July or early August. Planning on renting a car and sightseeing at our own pace. This is the plan I came up with, but I’m assuming all will say it is too much. Any thoughts? Especially about day 3? I mostly have loose plans but tried to work on timing on days I thought I might be trying too much.

I’m also interested in Loch Lomond Park area. Thought maybe to do that instead of my current day 3 plan on way to Glencoe? That just seemed more overwhelming. I appreciate any suggestions! I’m hoping to start booking things within a month. Thanks!

Arriving Edinburgh airport day 1 morning after overnight flight

1 - Rest in morning
National Museum Scotland?
St. Giles?
Ghost walk
(Overnight Edinburgh)

2- Edinburgh
Royal Mile/castle/Holyrood touring
(Overnight Edinburgh)

3 - Leave Edinburgh around 8 for day of scenic/sightseeing driving.

(Drive 1hr) to
Culross (9-11)
(Drive 30min) to
Stirling Castle (1130-230 including lunch)
(Drive 15min) to
Deanston Distillery (245-400)
(Drive 15min) to
Doune Castle (415-530)
Drive to Glencoe 1hr 45min
(Dinner and overnight Glencoe)

4 - Morning hiking in Glencoe.

Leave 1pm to take scenic drive
Suggested in Rick Steves guide to
Mallaig, and then 4pm ferry to Isle of
(Dinner and overnight in Portree)

5 - Isle of Skye all day exploring.
(Overnight in Portree)

6 - Drive to Loch Ness. (Caledonian canal)

Lunch and afternoon exploring Loch Ness
Area. (Urquhart Castle, Fort Augustus,
Short boat ride?)
(Dinner and overnight in Inverness)

7 - Day exploring in around Inverness
(Culloden, Inverness Castle, Clava
(Overnight in Inverness)

8- Fly out of Inverness AM

Posted by
2949 posts

Um, yes, I'll say you have too many destinations and activities to fit into so few days. This is a very common problem in Scotland planning and I have friends who've come back from holidays in Scotland regretting that they rushed from one place to the next instead of focusing on fewer places. It takes longer to drive distances in Scotland than we are used to in the US.

Only you can decide what your top priorities are, but I'd urge you to examine a good guidebook and trim down your itinerary. With 8 days, you should aim to stay overnight in no more than 4 places, preferably 3.

Posted by
2216 posts

I'm impressed with your detailed itinerary! Times even!
You already know this is a lot.........remember you have to eat! Stop to take photos! Sleep etc.

You could spend the whole day in the Museum of Scotland and not see everything.
On the days you are driving, you will spend much of your time getting to your destination and will not have a lot of time for attractions. I agree with epltd.

However, maybe you like whirlwind and are young!

Posted by
6 posts

It’s hard to not want to get everything in! Haha. It’s a kid free trip for my husband and I, and keep thinking who knows when we’d ever get back with so many other places in the world left to go :)

I’m not concerned too much with the actual plans for days in the same area. We’re very go with the flow, so if we can’t fit something in on the plan for the day I’m good with that. To me that’s a benefit of a driving tour by ourselves. Choose to do as little or as much as we want by way of activities each day.

If you had to skip one area to simplify what would it be?
(An insight into us, we both have history degrees, but we’re much more into the feel of historical sights/atmosphere vs. museums. And I’m dying to see the highland scenery.)
- day 3 activities?
-Glencoe? (I’m very attached to the idea of a day of hiking with so much other car sightseeing days)
-Loch Ness/Inverness (Id really like to go here, but in theory it could be done on a different trip that includes other sights on the east coast someday.)

I’m leaning toward cutting Loch Ness/Inverness though it feels wrong for some reason haha.

Thanks again! It helps bring you back down to reality to get other opinions from people who have been there.

Posted by
2949 posts

If you're leaning toward cutting Loch Ness and Inverness, that sounds like a good decision. Many commenters say Loch Ness is overrated. I personally enjoyed Urquhart Castle, but not to where I'd call it a "must." You seem to be more keen on the highland scenery around Glencoe and the Isle of Skye, and it is indeed awe-inspiring.

Since Inverness is a fairly easy air travel destination (witness your homebound flight), you could always go there another time and visit Culloden and Clava Cairns -- and Cawdor Castle, which you didn't list -- along with some of Scotland's more eastern and northern regions.