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I don't drive-How to get around Scotland

I'd like to spend 2 weeks in Scotland in September but don't want to rent a car and drive.

  1. Does anyone have a recommendation for a driver/guide that's not too expensive for 2-4 people?
  2. If I can't afford a private driver, will I be able to bus it everywhere to see highlights of Scotland?

Thanks!

Posted by
4153 posts

You might consider a Rabbie's tour for part of your time in Scotland. They have a very good reputation, though I don't have personal experience with them. I'd suggest spending a few days on your own in Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, where you won't need any driving, then take a tour into the highlands or elsewhere.

Posted by
2297 posts

We took the 1 day Rabbies tour of the Highlands from Glasgow and enjoyed it so much that we're now scheduled on a 5 day Rabbies tour of some areas of England that are difficult to get to by train.

Posted by
16590 posts

You can get to a lot of places by public transportation; the difficulty is, what do you do once you're in Oban, Portree (Skye), etc.? West Coast Motors runs 2- and 3-island day-trips out of Oban (ferry-bus-ferry). There's at least one company running bus tours on Skye, and there's some public-bus service. The challenge is the weather, which is very changeable and tends to be rainy. A lot of the transportation needs to be pre-booked at least a bit in advance, and some things well ahead of time. Therefore, you don't have a lot of flexibility to use a nice-weather day for outdoor activities away from your base and a bad-weather day to see the inside of a castle. I have no idea what happens on a multi-day tour like those Rabbies offers if the weather is pouring down one day. Do they proceed with the original plan, or do they tweak it? How much outdoor time is planned on those tours, anyway: Are you given enough time to walk to places like the Fairy Pools and the Fairy Glen on Skye?

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and St. Andrews can be easily visited without a car. I based in the first three. I went to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh by public bus on a nice day and to St. Andrews from Dundee, also by bus, on another nice day. Stirling Castle can be seen from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. So I'd recommend a few days seeing the urban areas of interest to you and a tour (Rabbies or other; Rabbies does have a great reputation here) for the rest of your time.

Posted by
65 posts

Hello,
Edinburgh might be a good hub for you.
You can use the tram system directly from the airport to navigate around the city. There are several buses systems from Edinburgh bus station. Also two train stations in the city for adventures beyond Edinburgh.

We use Rabies all the time in Ireland, Scotland, England, etc. Rabies has tours out is Edinburgh leading throughout Scotland but also down into England. Of all the tour companies, we find they have the best trained guides who are safe drivers as well as safe vehicles.

Although I drive in the USA and Canada, I don’t in other countries. I’d rather enjoy the scenery. I usually book travel and stays to align to public transport. Edinburgh makes this really easy. There are a lot of options for you. Hope this is helpful. Have fun!

Posted by
16 posts

I spent a week in Scotland and never drove. I traveled between Glasgow (the little subway clean and easy to use), took the train to Stirling (easy to walk around), and a train to Edinburgh. The bus system in Edinburgh took me everywhere I needed to go. Granted, I'm a regular bus rider in the US, so I had no problem transferring between bus lines to visit multiple sites in a day (like Gilmerton Cove and Rosslyn Chapel). If you do plan on using the bus system in Edinburgh, I'd recommend downloading their app, which makes it super easy to pay and find your way around so you don't have to fumble with change. Lothian is the major bus operator in and around the city and runs relatively frequent 7x week. (10-20 minutes usually)

That said, I'm coming back and intending to visit the Highlands and some of the islands (Orkneys, Skye, etc). I realize I may need to rent a car for some of it, but looking into tours as an option as well. Best of luck!

Posted by
69 posts

There is a company called
scottishhighlandtaxisdotcom.
they will shuttle from oban. they are expensive and sometimes difficult to get hold of.
For example, a one way trip from oban (avoiding the long busride) to inverness is £190.00

Posted by
65 posts

Joe makes a great point.

Downloading apps for the Scottish public transport (excepting tram - - - that has updates at stops and is amazingly consistent) is a really smart tool.
Thank you Joe for pointing that out.