We will be with family south of London in late October and then have one week to drive up to Scotland (COVID permitting). We will tour around Edinburgh for about 3 days and then would like to go to the Highlands and stay at a smaller centre to experience some lovely rural culture and sites to give us a broader feel for Scotland. Any suggestions for which centre to stay in the Highlands as well as what we should see in Edinburgh?
It's basically a full day's drive from London to Edinburgh. I'm guessing you'll already have a rental car since you're visiting relatives outside London, but the train can transport you from London to Edinburgh in as little as 4 hr. 20 min. You won't need a car while you're sightseeing in Edinburgh, and parking one in the city may be costly.
Edited to add: Rick's list of what he considers the top sights in Edinburgh is generously available right on this website: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/scotland/edinburgh. Click on "At a Glance".
His suggested Highlands highlights are also available: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/scotland/highlands.
There's much more information in his guidebooks.
I would suggest that you look at Perthshire. Look at Aberfleldy, Dunkeld and other similar small towns. Have you found Undiscovered Scotland? Here's a link to Dunkeld.
Thanks to both. I will follow up these ideas. Any suggestions for an interesting small centre to visit while near Edinburgh?
I didn't rent a car in Scotland, so my options were a bit limited. The smaller towns I visited were not in the vicinity of Edinburgh with the exception of Roslin. I took a public bus there from Edinburgh to see Rosslyn Chapel, which I found quite interesting. But I don't think that's the sort of place you're looking for.
The Undiscovered Scotland website is fantastic and I use it to plan all my trips to Scotland. The pictures give a really good impression of what the smaller towns are like. Start with the map page for the area you are interested in and follow the links.
As well as Aberfeldy and Dunkeld already mentioned, there is also Pitlochry, Blair Atholl or Callender. Check them out on Undiscovered Scotland and see what they look like.
For a small centre near Edinburgh, check out St Andrews, Cupar or Culross
At the end of October, clocks may have gone back an hour and you will have restricted hours of daylight - the further north you go, the shorter the day.
British Summertime (like daylight savings time) goes away this year on Halloween. Europe too, on the same day FWIW.
Smaller places near Edinburgh -
Kelso - a pretty town in the Borders.
North Berwick - pretty seaside town.
Haddington - just inland from North Berwick. Town walks and good cafes.
Pentland Hills - walking
Melrose - home of Rugby Sevens. Upmarket place with an abbey.
You can easily fill 3 days in Edinburgh itself.
Highlands - I would stay around North Ballachulish near Glencoe. Have a day driving the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Awesome. Don’t attempt to walk Ben Nevis unless you have the correct equipment and clothing. There are less taxing walks around Glencoe.
Don’t attempt any of the islands in late October - the seas could be choppy.
Driving from London to Scotland is a miserable, long drive. I would take the train. Driving back to south London from Glencoe is probably the best part of 12 hours driving without stopping, so realistically, it’s a 2 day trip back.
I agree with that the train is the better option between London and Edinburgh. If you really feel that you need to drive, at least take the train halfway or so (York is a popular place) and rent the car there.