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9 day solo trip to Scotland-itinerary

I am having some trouble altering the suggested 2 week itinerary to a 9 day one. I really want to see Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Stirling, with a trip through the highlands in there somewhere. I don't mind leaving out the Isle of Skye and Eastern Scotland for now.
Does anybody have a suggested itinerary for 9 days? Should I stick to the recommendations and then instead of driving through Glencoe to the Isle of Skye go to Inverness instead? How is the drive from Glencoe to Inverness? And should I still end in Sterling?

Posted by
3 posts

I'm thinking:
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)
Day 2: Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)
Day 3: Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)
Day 4: Train to Glasgow (sleep in Glasgow)
Day 5: Glasgow (sleep in Glasgow)
Day 6: Pick up car, drive to Oban (sleep in Oban)
Day 7: Drive through Glencoe to Fort William and land in Inverness (sleep in Inverness)
Day 8: Inverness and side trip to Culloden (sleep in Inverness)
Day 9: Drop off car in Stirling (sleep in Stirling)
Day 10: Arrive in Edinburgh for flight home

Posted by
10238 posts

I'm going to make a suggestion that does not include driving at all. (The scenery in Scotland is amazing and better to see it than have to watch the road.)

Think of making a circle route. Nine days will be tight. Does that include arrival and departure day?

Here's what I would do.

First, look into Rabbie's Tours. They have everything from one day to multi-day tours with departures out of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. I have taken a few and they have all been excellent. The driver guides knew their stuff and the van is limited to 16 people.

Spend a couple of days in Edinburgh. Perhaps a one day trip, by train, to Stirling Castle. Then an early morning train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Spend the rest of the day touring Glasgow. You could spend a day with Rabbie's visiting Glencoe, Loch Lomond, etc.

From Glasgow take the train to either Fort William or Mallaig. It is one of the most beautiful train rides in the British Isles. If you only go as far as Fort Willam, switch to a bus to Inverness. If you go to Mallaig, spend the night and the next day head to Inverness. On your first free day in Inverness, take Rabbie's tour of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. It's amazing.

From Inverness, take the high speed train back to Edinburgh. Or if you are connecting in London, catch a flight from Inverness to London.

Posted by
2771 posts

I love Frank’s suggestion and itinerary.

Posted by
931 posts

I think Frank's recommendation to see the amazing scenery instead of watching the road is worth keeping in mind in other amazing locations. Thank you.

Posted by
271 posts

Listen to Frank. Really you don’t want to miss one vista in Scotland and you would do that driving.

Posted by
5571 posts

Okay, someone has to speak for those of us who love to drive in Scotland! (Pick up the book Raw Spirit by Iain Banks to read about some lovely roads. First of all, do you think you'll get back to Scotland someday or is this to be your dream one and only trip to Scotland? I've managed to go back many times and the idea that you CAN go back is quite freeing.

If what you want is to see beautiful scenery then there are so many choices. There is a. very interesting mapping site called ViaMichelin that makes it easy to intermediate stops to a route. I love Perthshire and driving in the center of Scotland. So, I went to Via Michelin, put Edinburgh as my starting point and Inverness as my endpoint and then added places. I first added Callander which is north of Stirling. It get you off the A9 and into the countryside. I then put in Aberelfdy as that takes you to beautiful Loch Tay. And you can side trip down Glen Lyon if you want. I send you up the single track road and over the mountain to Kinloch Rannoch. This series of lochs are the Road to the Isles of song. I added Queensview as it beautiful view back on lochs. I let you go on the A9 up to Kingussie, but take you off again to see the Ruthven Barracks and keep you off it on windy road north toward Aviemore. This is an example of how you can drive through Scottish Scenery. Via Michelin says that this is five hours of driving, but I would expect it to take at least 25% longer for many reasons. First, you want to remember that if you have your own car you can stop and enjoy the views. I tended to stop a lot and take pictures. Second, you are likely new to Scottish roads and driving on the left. Aberfeldy would be a good place to break it.

But you should play with the map your self. This route is a combination of some drives I've taken. On my last trip I went all the way out to the Ranoch Moor Railway station where I had soup and scones for lunch on a very wet day. I stopped on the way back and wind was so strong and stirring up big waves and I was almost blown away from my car!

If you want more suggestions along this line let me know.

Posted by
2801 posts

Agreeing with Pamela that driving shouldn't be rejected out of hand. It depends whether you enjoy driving alone, and how comfortable you are driving on the left on narrow, winding mountain roads. The advice to book an automatic transmission is always good unless you're really keen to shift with your left hand. In early September the days are still reasonably long (but not that long) so you shouldn't have to find your way in the dark.

Personally I tend to get motion sickness, so I'd rather drive than take a tour in a bus or van. OTOH a good tour guide will point out many interesting things that you'd be unaware of on your own.

Regarding itinerary, with only 9 days I think you're wise to omit Skye and the further out regions of the eastern highlands (and western, for that matter). Clearly you're interested in the cities, so Glencoe makes sense as just one highland location to experience. Instead of Inverness itself, I highly recommend Nairn, about half an hour to the east. It's a non-touristy but pleasant town with a nice marina. There are many B&Bs; we stayed at Tali Ayer and would do so again any time. On the drive from Inverness to Edinburgh you'll pass through spectacular highland scenery without having to leave the Motorway (although of course you can branch off if you have your own rental car).

Hope this helps!