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Edinburgh as our base

We plan on using Edinburgh as our base for 7 days exploring Scotland basically on our own using day tours and public transportation. Our visit will be the first week of September, 2020. We will be flying out of Glasgow to the states on Iceland Air. I have a few questions needing input:
- should we break up the time and spend a couple days in Glasgow (we would at lest spend one night in Glasgow prior to our flight,)
- Is it doable to take a day trip from Edinburgh to St. Andrews as we want to take a tour of The Old Course
- tour operator recommendations - have noted some in other posts .

Our interests primarily lean towards seeing the country side, wondering around quaint towns, etc., less so in Castles and Museums. We frequently use the Hop on Hop off tours to get a lay of the land on the first day of a visit to a new city and then explore on our own
Appreciate any input, thanks
Fred

Posted by
9638 posts

Check out Rabbies Tours for day trips.

The HOHO bus in Edinburgh is good.

I would suggest spending more than one night in Glasgow.

Posted by
18746 posts

Glasgow is a somewhat more convenient base for the Highlands than Edinburgh, so I think you need to decide what places you want to see and consider the logistics.

You can day-trip from Edinburgh to St. Andrews. It's less than 90 minutes each way. You take a train to Leuchars and then a (frequent) bus over to St. Andrews. I think the town of St. Andrews will appeal to you, even aside from the golf course.

Posted by
2732 posts

An easy day tour from Edinburgh is Roslyn Chapel, if that interests you. It's been on tourist itineraries since the days of Queen Victoria -- long before The Da Vinci Code -- but the latter made it enormously popular so now there's a sizeable visitor centre with a cafe & gift shop as well as interactive exhibits, and guides inside the chapel to answer your questions.

We went from Edinburgh on the regular Lothian bus with a day pass, which enabled us to use the buses again later the same day to go out to dinner etc. I would say even if you have a lot of interest in the chapel, you can visit there in about half a day and be back in Edinburgh in midafternoon.

Of course there are lots of other small towns to visit as day trips from Edinburgh on public transportation. But if you only have 7 days total, you'll have to scrutinize your priorities.

Posted by
18746 posts

My experience with Roslyn Chapel was similar to elptd's. I wouldn't normally take a trip out of town to see just one small building, but the chapel was very interesting.

For planning side-trips by public transportation, I suggest using nationalrail.co.uk for train schedules and travelinescotland.com for inter-city buses. TravelineScotland supposedly covers trains (and ferries) as well as buses, but I found disconnects between its train information and what I encountered on the NationalRail website last winter. I don't know what was going on, but I had more confidence in NationalRail as far as trains were concerned.

Posted by
1881 posts

We took a day trip to St. Andrews and it was fantastic. Stopped for an hour at a fishing village on the way there had three hours in St. Andrews and a one hour stop in a charming village on the way back. sixteen passenger bus and a great guide. One of the best things we did. We also enjoyed a morning at the Royal Yacht and a tour of Mary Kings Close.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks everyoe for the excellent input. We will add some time in Glasgow as we have not booked our return flights. And Gail, do you recall the name of the tour operator on your day trip to St. Andrews?

Thanks,
Fred

Posted by
1881 posts

Sorry Fred can't remember but will try to find out because it was a true highlight of this trip. Will let you know soon.

Posted by
18746 posts

Note the trade-off involved with that bus tour: You'll only have 3 hours in St. Andrews, which may not be adequate for seeing both the golf course/museum and the town. You certainly won't have time to sit down for a meal there. It may be worth it, of course. I had more time than you will, and I spent one day in St. Andrews while staying in Dundee, then the next day I took public buses from Dundee through the St. Andrews and East Neuk villages to Edinburgh. It was an attractive ride, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself even though I was trailing a wheeled suitcase behind me. I'm guessing that might be the route taken by the tour bus.

For reference, here's the schedule for Stagecoach Bus 95 from St. Andrews to Leven by way of Crail and Anstruther. And here's the schedule for Bus X60 from St. Andrews to Edinburgh via Anstruther and Leven. The full trip (not getting off to walk around anywhere and not seeing Crail) would take 2 hr. 50 min. on the X60. Combining the 95 and the X60 would take almost 4 hours, again without taking time to walk around any of the little towns. I'm not suggesting that you do that on the same day you travel up from Edinburgh and visit St. Andrews, but perhaps this information will be of use to someone with an extra day.

Posted by
36 posts

We rented a car in Edinburgh and drove to St. Andrews to spend the night. It is a magical place. Don't miss it! We also used the 24 hour plan on the HOHO bus in Edinburgh, so our first day there we started on the bus about 3 PM, then could ride all the next day until 3 PM. It was a great way to break it up. We used it to go back and forth from New Town to Old Town repeatedly.