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Advice for Scotland Vacation - 7/13/17 - 7/23/17

It has always been my dream to go to Scotland and finally we have something booked with my wife and son (10 yrs old). I was hoping someone could give me some advice on below. We will be staying in Edinbugh at the Mariott Glasshouse - 2 Greenside Ln, Edinburgh EH1 3AA, UK.

  1. Should we rent a car? We would like to see other cities and the highlands. We are from the US. I can drive a stick.
  2. Is it affordable to hire a car driver to take us to other cities?
  3. We would like to hire a tour guide for 1 day so do you have any recommendations? We are interested in history.
  4. Can you recommend some places we should definitely visit?
  5. Can you recommend some restaurants?
  6. What will the temp be like and what type of clothing should we bring?

thanks,

Posted by
503 posts

Given your questions, I recommend you grab a good guidebook like Rick Steves and do some reading to determine what exactly it is you'd like to see/do in Scotland.
To see the highlands, you've got two options DIY or take an organized tour - there are a number of companies that do this. Personally, I haven't taken any so unfortunately don't have any recommendations for you.
Should you decide to DIY, you will need a car.
As to the weather, that's the question! The weather is Scotland is highly variable - you could get some nice sunny days and some cool and rainy ones - and probably both! As to what type of clothing to bring, it depends upon what you plan to do.

Posted by
2774 posts

I agree you should buy the RS guidebook (or some other good guidebook) and decide what most interests you.

My preference is renting a car because of the flexibility it offers. I always get an automatic even though I'm capable of driving a stick, because driving on the "wrong" side of the road is challenging enough without having to shift with the left hand. The Secret Scotland site suggests some realistic driving itineraries according to how many days you have https://www.secret-scotland.com/

Temperatures and rain will vary not only within a day (4 seasons in an hour, they say) but from sea level to mountainous areas. Dress in layers and be prepared for rain. Also, in July, there are likely to be midges -- find an insect repellent that works for you.

One hotel with restaurant I would recommend for a family is Dornie Hotel, walking distance from Eilean Donan Castle near the bridge to the Isle of Skye. It is affordable, nothing fancy but clean with helpful staff and good food in the restaurant/pub.

Posted by
2516 posts
  1. not whilst in Edinburgh a car is as much good as a chocolate fire guard.Hire a car for the days you want to travel away from the city.

2.Should be there depends on the add on you may need, automatic cars are more expensive, there is a Hertz rental place just across from the hotel.

3.can't help but loads of guides in the city.

4.again so much, get a guide book and decide what you want to do, you are a fairly short walk from all the main sights in Edinburgh.

5.Where you are staying you have around 100 restaurants of every style and ethnic variation within a 10 minute walk.the Omni centre which the hotel is attached to has several chain restaurants and pubs.

6.who now but it is Scottish summer time so temps can vary from around 50-80f (higher if we are really lucky) no need for heavy jackets but a warm layer and a waterproof jacket is recommended.

Posted by
160 posts

We were in Scotland about 7 years ago and loved it!. We did do a 2 day tour with Helen Fraser, http://www.afternoonteatours.co.uk/tours/index.html , which was fabulous and very reasonably priced. She and her husband offer a wide variety of tours, from a single afternoon to several days, in Edinburgh as well as out into the country. She is passionate about Scotlad and well-versed in its history and we found the information she shared really added to our enjoyment. I have included her homepage and her reviews on TA. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g186525-d1575422-Reviews-Afternoon_Tea_Tours-Edinburgh_Scotland.html .

Contact with her was easy and she listened carefully to what we hoped for so our trip was a delight. Other than being a delighted client I have no connection with her or her tours.

Posted by
697 posts

My 2 cents -

Should we rent a car? We would like to see other cities and the highlands. We are from the US. I can drive a stick.

We were only in Edinburgh for 5 nights so we didn't need or want a car. We did take a day trip out of the city with
Highland Adventure Tours, to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond & Glengoyne Distillery.

Can you recommend some places we should definitely visit?
Edinburgh Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Royal Mile, The Royal Yacht Britannia were highlights. We also enjoyed Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond very much.

Can you recommend some restaurants?
The Witchery by the Castle & The Royal Mile Pub in Edinburgh were both good.

What will the temp be like and what type of clothing should we bring?
Layers with a rain jacket should work for that time of year.

Have a great time!

Posted by
823 posts

Don't bother with a car - Edinburgh is a very walkable city and has outstanding public transportation. Google Edinburgh Tram and Edinburgh Airlink for details of how to get to your hotel from the airport.

Google 'tours in Scotland' to find information on guided/escorted tours. With less than a week in Scotland, I would stick to Edinburgh and the easily reached surrounding areas. There's more than enough to keep you occupied for that amount of time.

Stirling (Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument) is easily reached by commuter train from Edinburgh and makes a wonderful self-guided day trip.

Your son might get a kick out of the Falkirk Wheel which is also easily reachable using public transportation.

You can join a day-trip tour of the Loch and near-Highlands areas. There are many options ranging from big coach to small group to private driver tours. Just google or go to Viator or Rabbies Tours to get some ideas.

Good luck and have some fun.

Posted by
279 posts

We visited Edinburgh and the Highlands a few years ago. We did not use a car in Edinburgh. We drove from Edinburgh to Inverness and explored the area around Inverness and then drove to the highlands for trout fishing. Driving was a piece of cake in this area. The roads are relatively wide and they are bordered with shoulders not stonewalls as in Wales. The traffic is pretty light. Outside the big cities a car is the ideal way to explore Scotland. It is a good area to become familiar with driving on the left side of the road.