Please share suggestions for destinations, B & Bs, restaurants during a short trip in early September. We plan to stay 2 nights in Edinburgh and then 3 nights in the countryside. Thanks John
Personally, I would spend all five nights in Edinburgh and just do a couple day trips up to the highlands or down to Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's wall or even over to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomand. There are many companies doing guided day trips out of Edinburgh, and with so few days you would waste too much time relocating yourself. There is enough to see just in Edinburgh that you could spend all your time there. I spent half a day just at the castle. A whole day could be spent starting at Hollyrood House, then walk the royal mile and make a few stops on the way up to the castle and spend the rest of the day there. Climb up Calton Hill for great views, do the same with the Walter Scott memorial downtown. Tour Victoria house, walk the park, visit the art museum and then just wander around the base of the castle mount and get a little lost. There are lots of B&Bs close to downtown. I found one just behind Calton Hill and from there it only took me about ten minutes to walk to downtown.
I would definitely go for a few nights outside of Edinburgh. You do get a different perspective outside of the capital. There are lots of places that you could base yourself. Will you have a car or be traveling by train?
First, let's look at train only. And, these are my favorites. Others will have west coast suggestions. For example, someone will surely suggest that you go to Oban and take the tours of Mull. :) A lot of people here like Oban. I like Mull which requires a car in my view.
- Pitlochry--this is on the main train line and has lots of B&B's. In town there is the Explorer's Garden, Blair Athol Distillery, and the Festival Theatre. You can also walk along the river, or walk to Edradour Distillery, the smallest one per Rick Steves, although new ones may have overtaken, (or is that undertaken?) it. You can take the train to Blair Castle, or to Kingussie, or to Aviemore, or even to Inverness.
- Dunkeld/Birnam--you have to walk over the Tay River Telford Bridge to get from Birnam to Dunkeld. In Dunkeld there is the Cathedral--Dunkeld was the home of the Church in Scotland prior to the move to St. Andrews--the lovely town square, my favorite pub The Taybank where you can hear traditional music, and lots of walks in the hills. In Birnam is a wee Beatrice Potter Garden that will take you two minutes to visit, but you can also walk in Birnam Wood or along the Tay or up to the Hermitage. You can also reach the train sites discussed above, but you are a stop further south.
If you have a car, you can consider places like:
- Aberfeldy--here you can take drives up to Glen Lyon and over the mountain to Lochs Rannoch Tummel and out to Queensview. You can do the Birk's of Aberfeldy walk, go to the Cranog Centre, or down to Killin to see the rapids.
- The Trossachs---This is a lovely area to the East of Loch Lomond and north of Stirling. You could stay in Callander. I took the steamboat ride on Loch Katrine and really enjoyed my day. I also went to Balquhiddar where Rob Roy MacGregor is buried. Drive further out the Glen to enjoy walks and beautiful scenery.
Pam's ideas are spot on and I highly recommend her selections depending on your mode of transportation.
We had a car and visited the Cranog Center, which was one of the highlights of our trip. Skirted around Dunkeld as we were on our way to Stonhaven, but Aberfeldy looked like an interesting town. The entire area gives one a nice comforting feeling - perhaps because it is so green.
On our way back we stayed past Balquhiddar at Mohachyle Mhor, saw the tomb of Rob Roy MacGregor, drove through Glencoe and the Rannochs prior but took note on the way back to EDI that Callander seemed like the place to stay in that area.
In Edinburgh on our trip last August, we enjoyed fabulous pulled-pork (also with haggis, if you like) sandwiches at Oink, which has two locations - the original Edinburgh Grassmarket location mentioned in Rick Steves' guidebook and the newest location on the Royal Mile close to the Scottish Parliament building.
Much pricier but an outstanding meal, we had lunch at Michelin-starred 21212 (www.21212restaurant.co.uk) .
For great Indian food, next door to a small but great Scottish music pub The Royal Oak, we really enjoyed Mother India Cafe at 3-5 Infirmary Street.
We were in Edinburgh last May. We really enjoyed the Whiski Bar on the Royal Mile. It was surprising kinda "local" even though it was in the middle of everything. The food was GREAT and very fresh! They even got local breads that were baked daily brought in for the burgers! My husband was also very impressed with the scotch selection!
Arthur's seat is also pretty amazing. I would recommend a dry day b/c some of the rocks on the top can get a little slippery. The hike is not really advanced, but the top does get a bit harder.
We did a ghost tour one night, it wasn't as scary as I wanted, but it was pretty neat to see all the underground crypts. I don't remember the name of the company , but it met in the middle of the royal mile.
We loved our time there, you will too!!
Mercat Tours are the big name for the ghost tours. There is also Mary King's Close beneath the City Chambers.
My suggestion for the three nights is either follow Pam's suggestions in Perthshire, which is where the Highlands start, or south into the Borders.
Thanks for all the feedback - it really helps - I see that Edinburgh is having the International Festival which we may buy a ticket to a performance - are any venues better than others. John
If you are overlapping with the festival at all look into booking your accommodation quickly. Edinburgh can fill up or at least have reduced options.