My wife and I are planning a trip to Scotland in 2018 and we're not quite certain where to begin. I'll note several places we would like to visit and a few other logistic matters and leave it up to those who know Scotland to provide basic building blocks.
We want to visit (in any order) Edinburg, Glasgow, Inverness, The Isle of Skye, and while not in Scotland, Durham
Duration of visit:
Two full weeks (in Scotland/Durham)
We’re retired so we can visit anytime. We’d prefer to visit with lesser crowds (in museums/lodging, etc.) but most important we want to visit when we have the “best chance” for sunny days, temperature not as important as sun.
Mode of Travel:
We enjoy traveling via train as we’ve met many interesting people on the train, but we’re thinking a rental car may be preferable for the Highlands and Lake District. We would even be open to taking a local “cruise” (we use the word broadly) if such would visit most of the places we want to visit.
We would like to change lodging as little as possible during the two weeks, preferring to make day-trips (from a limited number (maybe 2, maximum of 3) “gateways”. We’d like to spend at least one night (not included in the 2/3 above) in the Highlands at some kind of “special” place, we’ve heard of Kinloch Lodge that we think would qualify as such a “special” place. Otherwise, we’d prefer to stay in small hotels, or B+B’s that would be appropriate for a multi-day/night stay. We are not interested in “franchise” type lodging. Where should our "gateways" be? (Any suggestions for specific lodging?)
Depending on the time of year with best chances of sun, what type clothing to pack (we don’t mind doing our laundry during the visit) and we plan to do some “serious” (for us) walking in the Highlands. We will not pack anything "dressy or formal".
We prefer to fly out of Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte (?). We’d like to avoid NYC airports and Atlanta. We prefer so called “premium economy” air travel. We assume we’ll likely change plans in London, Amsterdam, Dublin (or elsewhere) to get to Edinburg, Glasgow (maybe Newcastle). Suggestions?
We are not “night people” and rather enjoy museums, orchestral music, historic architecture/gardens, and, of course (for Scotland) the natural landscape. "Not to be missed" in/near places we've noted?
We do not have a budget as such but would like to keep the overall cost as modest as possible, renting a “stick shift” small car without AC is not a problem, and we prefer casual, local cuisine for meals. We would like to have en suite bath for all lodging.