My sister and I will be in Sweden for a family reunion next June and would like to stop in Scotland for a few days on the way home. My sister would love to explore around the highlands and Loch Ness. Any advice for how to get ourselves there (from major airport, probably Edinburgh) and transportation and the area? we've never been to Scotland before and will only have a few days so we realize this is just a taste and a dip into all the places there would be to see.
Look at the Visit Scotland web site for info on the Highlands and Trains. A few days in Scotland would be just enough time to go to Loch Ness and Back but not enough to get a Taste of Scotland. Other than a sighting of Nessie the Loch scenery isn't the most spectacular scenery ( Urquhart Castle is Cool!) in Scotland and I would spend the time near Edinburgh visiting Castles and Palaces. Maybe go as far as Glen Coe and Oban or the Trossachs.
I agree with Kathleen, if I only had a few days Loch Ness would not be the place I would go. I actually drove right past it without stopping. If you haven’t been to Edinburgh or Glasgow before they are both good places to base yourself for a few days and do guided day trips from. Edinburgh is one of my favourite places. Lots to see and do in the city, and lots of options for day trips. When you have limited time available it is usually better to base yourself in one location and do day trips than spending a lot of time on transit getting somewhere and only have time to see a couple of things. So, if you are only going to have three or four days then just stay in one place. You will see more this way.
In July we took a 2 day bus tour into the Highlands from Heart of Scotland tours. We loved it, it was a great way to see a little bit of a lot of things, enough for us to know where we would like to dive deeper on a future trip. If you only have 4 days, I would recommend flying to Edinburgh, spending 2 days exploring Edinburgh, and the 2 day bus tour to get a taste of the Highlands.
You might find a cheap flight from Sweden to Inverness, which would put you right in the highlands and next door to Loch Ness. From there you could either take a train or rent a car, and return the car at the airport in either Glasgow or Edinburgh for your flight back to the USA. Both airports have hotels right near the terminals so you would not have stress getting there from a distance on the morning of your flight. And of course both airports are also well served by public transportation, if you choose that option.
If you do find that flight into Inverness, you could do a day trip with an organized company to Loch Ness, then take the bus down Loch Ness to Fort William, where you could catch the West Highland Line or the Jacobite Steam Train west to Glenfinnan and Mallaig. Take the train back to Ft William and Glasgow to fly out of Glasgow to come home.
Another vote for flying into Inverness if you can. You might then be able to make it across to Skye, driving through dramatic scenery en route and taking in both Urquhart and Eileen Donnan castles. Alternatively fly into Edinburgh, staying in Stirling (fantastic castle, nice town) and doing a day trip to the Trossachs or Pitlochry area.
Fly into Inverness, stay two nights
Take a bus along Loch Ness to Fort Agustus, stay one night. Take a boat trip on Loch Ness and watch the boats going through the locks
Continue to Fort Williams, stay one night, Try to be there when the band plays.
Go to Oban, stay two nights and take a boat trip
Go to Glasgow, stay three nights. Take the HOHO bus