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8 days in Scotland - Reasonable or Exhausting?!

Hello! We are planning a trip to Scotland in June 2020. This will be our first visit. Of course, we are very excited to see as much as is reasonable, but we want to enjoy it also! We’d appreciate any advice on what we have so far. We will be a group of 4, early 60’s, self-driving. We have considered taking a break and doing a one day tour with Rabbies if that makes sense.

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh around noon (we will be flying over from Ireland), visit Royal mile, Holyrood, etc.

Day 2: Continue sight-seeing in Edinburgh
Day 3: Pick up a car, drive to Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, Willow Tea Rooms, Sleep in Oban.
Day 4: Go on 8 hour tour to Isle of Mull and Iona. Sleep in Oban.
Day 5: Drive to Isle of Skye, take coast route including Mallaig-Armadale Ferry. Sleep in Portree
Day 6: Isle of Skye drives/hikes. Sleep in Portree
Day 7: Drive to Inverness, Eileen Donan castle, Loch Ness, Culloden. Sleep in Inverness (this may be an optional day)
Day 8: Drive to Stirling, tour castle, see the Kelpies in Falkirk, Sleep in Edinburgh
Day 9: Depart Edinburgh

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
9856 posts

This draft itinerary falls on the exhausting side.

Distances in Scotland might not sound like much, but it always to me seems to take longer than one would think to get between places.

I don’t see how you are going to see several places in Glasgow and then make it on to Oban to sleep at night.

The Glasgow School of Art burned (again!) in 2018 and is not visitable.

Posted by
1386 posts

Hi, lisakay56

First of all, have you made lodging accommodations anywhere along your route? Are you all individuals, or are you two married couples? I ask because if you're travelling as four separate people, you're probably going to need two twin bedded rooms, unless someone in your group has a need for privacy, in which case it might be one twin and two singles. Twin bedded rooms are a bit harder to come by, especially on Skye.

If this is your first visit, then you need to determine who will be doing the driving, and if that person is comfortable driving a car with standard transmission. You can hire a car with automatic transmission to make things a little bit easier. It will cost just a little bit more. Also, if you're planning to do a lot in Glasgow, and then drive on to Oban, you need to get a really early start out of Edinburgh.

On your visit to Glasgow, please make sure that you have plenty of one and two pound coins for the parking meters, if you decide to street park. I don't remember whether the parking meters take credit cards. I don't know which part of the Glasgow School of Art you're planning to visit, but some of the main buildings were badly damaged by fire in 2014 and 2018, and are not yet open. You may want to check that out before you pay to park nearby. There are several parking garages in central Glasgow - there should be ones close to your destinations. Best to check that out before you go. Glasgow is fairly easy to negotiate by car, but you have to watch out for bus lanes and bike lanes.

Just a warning - the Kelvingrove Art Gallery is huge! Plan on spending three to four hours minimum, especially if you're planning to tour the new Linda McCartney exhibit.

Oban is about a three hour drive from the west end of Glasgow. Make sure to give yourselves enough time for a leisurely drive.

Oban to Mallaig can conceivably be done in three hours, but that would be no fun for anyone. The A830 is one of the most scenic main roads in Scotland. Best to give yourselves four to 4 1/2 hours, especially as you have to be at the ferry slip at least 30 minutes prior to sailing. Be sure to make reservations for the Mallaig to Armadale ferry, and for your lodging on Skye.

Day seven is going to involve a lot of driving, but Eilean Donan and part of Loch Ness are on your way to Inverness. You're probably going to be stopping for sightseeing and photos along the way, so don't try to make Culloden by the end of the day if you're going to be exhausted. The visitor centre closes at 7 p.m. in June, although you can still wander the battlefield until dusk. You really need a good two hours to get an appreciation for the site, especially if you're planning to see the exhibits in the visitor centre.

Unless you have a pressing need to get back to Edinburgh at an early hour on day 8, you could visit Culloden on the morning of that day. Inverness to Stirling is the better part of three hours, longer if you stop on the way. The Kelpies don't necessarily have to take a long time to visit, and Falkirk is very close to Edinburgh.

Your itinerary is busy, but not frantic! As it's your first time over, you're going to want to see as much as possible. But if it gets to be too much, cut back where you can, and save the rest for your next visit. And there will be a next visit. Holidays in Scotland are like potato chips - you can't have just one! If more than one of you is willing to drive, that would make it a bit easier for everyone. I'd advise against doing a Rabbie's tour, as it doesn't appear that it would work with the way you have arranged your route.

Best wishes for your travels. You'll have plenty of daylight in June!


Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
3355 posts

Yikes! We did a very similar itinerary, but in 12 days.....IMHO, this is way too much driving! Skip the Isle of Skye, you don’t have time.

On day 4-try to do the 3 island tour that includes Staffa-puffins were wonderful! Also, basalt columns.
Make reservations for the ferry, it can book up in summer months.

Posted by
3059 posts

First, purchase RSE Scotland guidebook. You can download an electronic version from his app.
Sleep in Edinburgh (ED’n-burah) for two nights before driving to East Neuk. Sleep in St. Andrews for two nights.
Drive to Culloden Battlefield, but sleep in Inverness for two nights.
From Inverness, drive to Oban and sleep there for three nights. This is also a good location to drop off your car.
Take direct train to Glasgow and spend two nights. Depart from Glasgow.

I do believe you itinerary is packed to the limit! Maybe skip the optional day, so you can spread the rest a little.

Posted by
7 posts

We are two couples traveling together. I have all my lodgings picked out, but hesitating to book until we’ve got our itinerary set. Thanks for everyone’s helpful comments!

Posted by
103 posts

Day 3 doesn't work, way too much! Also do you really want to pick up a hire car and then drive immediately into the centre of Scotland's largest city? Quite stressful imo.

I'd suggest instead, on the evening of day 2 catch the train to Glasgow (runs every 15mins, 45min journey time, about £12per person. You just turn up and go, no booking required. Trains run till about 11pm). Stay that night in Glasgow. See Kelvingrove and the willow tea rooms (and anything else you want to see there), then stay the night and pick up a car early on the morning of day 4 (preferably from the airport to save driving in town) and drive to oban. The car hire offices open at 6 or 7 am, so you can get an early start. (You take a cab or the airport bus to the airport.)

If you absolutely must reach Oban by the night of day 3 then you could do Kelvingrove in the morning (but probably not the willow tea rooms too - they're in a different area of the city - and note also that Kelvingrove doesn't open till 10am.) and get the car in the afternoon, but this is rushing Glasgow and rushing the (pretty scenic) drive to oban - you'll want to stop along the way, but if you're rushing it you won't have time to do so!

I'd also drop Skye tbh, unless you can spend a minimum of 2 full days on the island it's perhaps not worth the distance.

I'd maybe look to sleep somewhere else other than Inverness itself, although it's perfectly pleasant.

Posted by
5678 posts

So, first of all do not get the car until after Glasgow. You can take the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow—about an hour—and drop off your bags at the B&B or hotel and then go on your sight seeing.

Think your 8 hour tour of Mull and Iona with a Glasgow departure is not feasible. I suggest that you choose Mull or Skye and are more leisurely in your travels. It will take time to get the car and drive north.

You are cramming a lot into days 7 and 8. Have you mapped this on google maps? You need to add 50% more at a minimum to the time to adjust for touring traffic etc.

Posted by
1213 posts

Gosh this looks like a very hectic dash around Scotland to me.

Day 3 is way too crammed. You simply won't fit it all in as others have said.

Personally, unless you have a desperate need to see Loch Ness and Culloden I would scrap your day 7 plan, and add another day in either Mull or Skye. You can get an early start and then drive directly from Skye to Stirling, taking in Eilean Donan castle on the way (it is far better from the outside than the inside). If you time it right you should be able to visit Stirling castle and then visit the Kelpies in the dusk when they will be lit up beautifully. I also wouldn't go all the way back in to Edinburgh city centre to sleep if you have a morning flight. You could stay near Edinburgh on the right side for the airport and it would make things more straightforward for dropping the car off again. There is a Hilton Doubletree overlooking the 3 Forth Bridges (great views), which is only about a 15 minute drive from the airport.

Hope this helps
Jacqui (Skyegirl)