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How to split up a week to see Scotland & Ireland

I have 7 full days, 2 travel days and want to see Scotland and Ireland. We have three "kids" - ages 20, 18 and 14. We have been all over Europe (blessed) because we have family that are British and live in France. We will be coming off one week on a goolet in turkey and doing a camper van week in San Sabastian, Spain. What do you recommend as 'musts' and would you spend 4 days in Ireland or 4 days in Scotland? Will it possibly be "boring" for the teens. (We don't drink - so pubs/scotch and whiskey won't be things that float our boat!)

Would appreciate any and all opinions!

Best,
Marni

Posted by
102 posts

My first thought would be at 3 to 4 days is very limited time to see much of Scotland. I'm not an exponent of must sees, it's all down to people's interests and one person's must-see is another person's snoozefest, however there are maybe 8 or 9 well known locations/areas that come up regularly on here and other similar forums (although there are dozens of other less well-known Scenic spots/points of interest) . With three to four days you only have time to spend meaningful time in maybe a couple of these locations. Scotland looks small on a map, but outside the more populous Central Belt many roads are narrow and twisty and it can take a long time to travel between two places that look close on a map. As a result if you want to cover much ground in such a short time independently it involves a lot of driving and seeing places virtually by driving past them!

I'm not an expert on Ireland but I would suggest that much of what I said above about Scotland applies equally to Ireland. As a result it may be worth reconsidering and focusing your full seven days on one of either Scotland are Ireland on its own. 7 days would allow you to get a good impression of either country - and obviously because this is a Scotland forum I would say you should pick Scotland! Scotland does have more in the way of cities and larger towns, so perhaps this might provide more interest for the younger members of the group.

I don't think you need to worry about boredom. Scotland is far more than just pubs and distilleries - indeed I would suspect most foreign visitors probably don't visit a distillery. We have cities, shopping, museums, art/Modern Art, culture countryside, mountains and Lakes, hiking, cycling, extreme sports and more!

It would be helpful if you could outline what things your party is interested in so as to give better recommendations. However with such a short time the best plan would probably be to stay in either Glasgow or Edinburgh for your 3 or 4 days, look around, do a day trip to the other City by train one day and perhaps on another day take a day trip somewhere like Loch Lomond, Stirling or St Andrews by train. Companies like rabbies and discover Scotland offer day tours on small buses to the Highlands from Glasgow and Edinburgh. These get good reviews but given the distance they are very much whistle-stop tours with a lot of driving/sitting in a bus

Alternatively if you want a countryside focussed itinerary id probably fly to Glasgow, get a car and drive straight to somewhere like Loch Lomond, Oban or Glencoe/Fort William then tour around the Highlands for 3 days. Bear in mind that skye and the far north are a really a bit too far to travel in that time. I guess it epends on your interests and preferences.

Can I also ask where in Turkey youre starting from and how you plan to get from there to Scotland/Ireland, how you're traveling between Scotland and Ireland and how you plan to get to Spain? Availability of fights and routings may influence your choices.

Posted by
16883 posts

With only three days in a country, Rick's schedule recommendations rarely have you leaving the major city into which you flew. However, if you don't want to go to Ireland and only see Dublin, then look at flying to Shannon airport, closer to some iconic west-coast destinations. We recommend a rental car for your group, and indeed most travelers to the west of Ireland or north of Scotland. I agree that either country has more than enough variety for one week and would not try to include both in this trip.

Posted by
6487 posts

Personally I can't see the point in splitting the week between them unless you just plan to stay in the major cities, Edinburgh and Dublin (3-4 nights in each with day trips to nearby sights). I would just pick one and see a bit more of the country.

Posted by
236 posts

I understand the dilemma - so much wonderful in too little time. We're splitting between Scotland and Ireland as well and I wish I had 3x the time in each. Having said that, I believe I would look at solely Edinburgh (with possible day trips to St. Andrews or another place of interest) and then fly into Shannon and visit the southwestern portion of Ireland....Ring of Kerry, Dingle peninsula, Kinsale, etc. You're going to need a rental car, but sounds like you're up to that!

Posted by
5556 posts

I agree with Nancy. Trying to split such a short time between two countries would be frustrating and a pointless waste of time unless you are just ticking a list. Even a week in each would be rushed. Pick whichever gives you the best flight options. Visit the other on another occasion. I wouldn't have appreciated either destination when I was a teenager, as both focus on rural travel. Not what most teenagers appreciate!

I hope that you all get on well, as a week for 5 people in a European sized campervan (do you mean motorhome?) will be very cosy!

Posted by
569 posts

I would have to say, having been to both places for at least three weeks each, that I would never try to do both in one trip. There's just too much ground to cover. If you were to base yourself in Edinburgh you could spend two to three days just seeing the sights in the city, then do day trips to places like Loch Lomond, Sterling Castle, places in the highlands, Hadrian's wall, Rosslyn Chapel etc. For Ireland, if you base yourself in Dublin you could again spend two or three days seeing the sights in the city then do day trips to places like Newgrange, Kilkenny, Glendalough, Cashel, Belfast and many other options. You would actually get to see more instead of having to worry about packing up and moving on. If I absolutely had to split up the time then I would spend three in Edinburgh, and four in Dublin.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks so much for all of your replies! We are thinking of adding on a few days to go to both countries, however as we dive into it, it is looking like alot of driving.

Will present options to teens and see if it is stimulating enough :)

Thanks. May be back for more!

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks so much for all of your replies! We are thinking of adding on a few days to go to both countries, however as we dive into it, it is looking like alot of driving.

Will present options to teens and see if it is stimulating enough :)

Thanks. May be back for more!

Posted by
5669 posts

Both countries are heavy on the driving. You can do a bit of Scotland though without driving.

Fly to Edinburgh. Spend at least one day exploring the city. Then do one or two day trips to either Stirling, Glasgow or both. Then rent a car and spend a couple of days driving exploring Perthshire, the Trossachs and west, or up to Aberdeenshire. You can do B&Bs. In Perthshire, its' stunning scenery, and walks--along the Tay or in the hills a bit. In the Trossachs it would be walks or take the Steamboat on Loch Katrine, and then west to Argyle--this might take another day. In Aberdeenshire it's all about the castles.

PAm