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Ireland/Scotland Trip: Itinerary Help Needed!

First solo trip, early May 2017
All by public transportation, no car rentals
I know it is very full and very planned out, but that's what I enjoy
Suggestions would be appreciated!

Day 1:
• Depart Chicago O’hare Airport
Day 2:
• Morning: Arrive in Shannon, Ireland, eat lunch
• 3:30pm: Arrive in Doolin
• 4:30pm: Arrive at hotel and check-in
• 5:00pm: Depart for Cliffs of Moher by bike rental
• 8:00pm: Dinner
Day 3:
• 10:00am: Wild Burren Kayak Tour
• 2:00pm: Return to Doolin, lunch, and relax
• 5:15pm: Cliffs of Moher Ferry Tour
• 6:15pm: Return from tour
• 6:30pm: Dinner
Day 4:
• 8:35am: Depart for Galway
• 10:30am: Arrive in Galway
• 12:00pm: Depart by train for Dublin
• 3:00pm: Arrive in Dublin, check into hotel
• 4:00pm: Guinness Storehouse Tour (1.5 hours)
• 6:00pm: Dinner
Day 5:
• 8:45am: Depart for Kilkenny Day Tour (Collins Day Tours)
o Glendalough
o Kilkenny Castle
• 6:00pm: Arrive Back in Dublin
• 7:00pm: Dinner
Day 6:
• 8:00am: Celtic Boyne Valley Tour
o Loughcrew
o Trim Castle
o Hill of Tara
o Monasterboice
o Drogheda
• 6:00pm: Arrive in Dublin
• 6:30pm: Dinner
Day 7:
• 9 am: Irish National Stud (1.5 hours)
• 12:30pm: Return to Dublin, eat lunch
• 1:30pm: Kilmainham Gaol (1.5 hours)
• 3:00pm: Return to hotel, collect bags, head to train station
• 4:15pm: Depart for Belfast
• 7:05pm: Arrive in Belfast, dinner
• 8:30pm: Check into hotel
Day 8:
o Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
o Dunluce Castle
o Giants Causeway
o Carnlough
• 6:00pm: Return to Belfast
• 7:00pm: Dinner
Day 9:
• 9:00am: Titanic Belfast Museum (2 hours)
• 11:00am: Collect bags, head to airport
• 12:00pm: Arrive at airport, lunch
• 2:00pm: Fly to Edinburgh
• 3:00pm: Arrive in Edinburgh, collect bags
• 4:00pm: Check-in to hotel
• 5:00pm: Dinner, explore Edinburgh
Day 10:
• 9:30am: Edinburgh Castle (3 hours)
• 12:30pm: Lunch
• 1:30pm: National Museum of Scotland (3 hours)
• 4:30pm: Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat (3 hours)
• 7:30pm: Dinner
Day 11:
• 6:15am: Depart for Aberdeen (bus)
• 9:10am: Arrive in Aberdeen
• 10:00am: Check into hotel, drop bags
• 11:20am: Dunnottar Castle (2 hours), lunch
• 3:00pm: Aberdeen Maritime Museum (2 hours)
• 5:30pm: Dinner, walk and explore
Day 12:
• 7:15am: Depart for Inverness
• 9:35am: Arrive in Inverness
• 10:30am: Check into hotel, drop bags
• 1:00pm: Jacobite Cruise (2 hours)
o Loch Ness
o Urquhart Castle
• 4:00pm: Rent bike and ride to Culloden Battlefield
• 5:00pm: Arrive at Culloden Battlefield (2 hours)
• 7:00pm: Leave for Inverness
• 8:00pm: Arrive in Inverness and dinner
Day 13:
• 8:45am: Depart for Fort William (bus)
• 10:45am: Arrive in Fort William
• 11:00am: Bus to Glencoe
• 11:30am: Arrive at hotel, check in, drop bags, lunch
• 1:00pm: Glencoe, Lost Valley Walk (5 hours)
• 6:00pm: Dinner
Day 14: Jacobite Steam Train and Travel to Skye
• 9:00am: Arrive in Fort William, walk to train station
• 10:15am: Jacobite Steam Train to Mallaig
• 12:25pm: Arrive in Mallaig, lunch
• 4:00pm: Ferry to Armadale, Skye
• 4:30pm: Arrive in Armadale
• 5:20pm: Bus to Broadford
• 5:45pm: Arrive in Broadford
• 6:00pm: Check into hotel, dinner
Day 15:
• Morning: Isle of Skye Seaplane Tour (~70 minutes)
• 12:00pm: Lunch, collect bags
• 3:45pm: Depart for Portree (bus)
• 4:30pm: Arrive in Portree
• 5:00pm: Check-in to hotel (Cruinn Bheinn), drop bags
• 6:00pm: Dinner, explore Portree
Day 16:
• 9:30am: Skye Bus Tour Departs
o Fairy Glen
o Kilt Rock
o Fairy Pools
o Quiraing
o Neist Point
o Dunvegan Castle or Neist Point Lighthouse
o Old Man of Storr
o Cuillin Mountains
• 7:00pm: Arrive back in Portree, dinner
Day 17:
• 7:45am: Depart for Glasgow by bus
• 2:00pm: Arrive in Glasgow, lunch
• 3:00pm: Check into hotel
• 3:30pm: Kelvingrove Art Gallery (1.5 hours)
• 5:00pm: Dinner
Day 18:
• Return Flight to Chicago

Posted by
4867 posts

A brave trip pace if relying on public transport! What happens if a bus is cancelled or you miss a connection?

In May, Culloden closes at 5.30 and last entry will therefore probably be 4.30 as it takes an hour to walk round with the audio guides. Doing this without the guide is pointless, as it is just a field. You are planning to be there too late. Be careful if cycling as this is a busy road with lots of bends. It is illegal to cycle on footpaths here.

You are too optimistic with your timing at Edinburgh airport by an hour. Most hotels will not let you check in before late afternoon, so you will have to check that you can bag drop.

Well researched.

Posted by
5 posts

The way I've built my schedule, I don't ever attempt to travel to a remote destination with few buses in the evening. I do those connections in the morning to account for the uncontrollable circumstances. In the event of a bus being cancelled:
A) I'd catch the next one
B) Take a train to my next location (quicker usually, but a little more expensive)
C) Take a taxi to the next town over to better position myself
Also my schedule is built so if I have something expensive scheduled for that day (day tours, kayaking, etc.) I am always in my location the day before to insure that I won't miss something I've spent a lot of money on.

If I get delayed while traveling, I'll cut out a site for that day that I was least excited to see.

Currently Culloden didn't have their summer hours posted, so thank you for that information. I'm still adjusting those days.

If you look at the day I fly into Edinburgh, I have nothing scheduled but dinner and walk/explore, which leaves a lot of room to deal with airport delays.

Please keep in mind, I am travelling May 2017, a year and a half away. It will be at least 8 months before I book anything. I am simply working on my itinerary to get an idea of what I want to do and a rough estimate of how much it will cost, so I can start saving accordingly.

Posted by
453 posts

Last year we visited Ft. William and the Isle of Skye and many of the places you mentioned. We had a car so I can't address your public transport plans. The car we rented (at Edinburgh) got us to numerous locations and freed us to manage time on our own but it was the source of a lot of stress for me, the USA driver in the UK.

We went to Glen Coe and hiked up the lost valley trail. There may be more than one "lost valley" walk but here is a link to the one we did in Glen Coe in October of 2014.

We loved the hike! I am a bit concerned that your travels on Skye will not give you much hiking/viewing time at the various sites you mention. We visited all of the ones you mentioned but did it over three days. I guess it just depends on how far you want to dip into each location. All of your choices were places we loved, I hope you get enuff time at each location to soak in the beauty!! I hope the walkinghiglands web site is helpful, I used it in all my planning for hikes & locations on Skye and in the Highlands and it is a great resource. I envy your trip!!

Posted by
5563 posts

FYI there is a public bus to Culloden that is easy to catch and take. I did on a recent trip. The TI can sort you out with where to catch. I think it's max 20 minutes out to the battlefield, but double check.


Posted by
3225 posts

I have done the Lost Valley walk, it is very nice and 2-3 hours will do it. If you are inspired you could race up to the top of the nearby mountain Bidean nam Bian (steep with some snow even in July, how can there be snow at such a low elevation, 3000 ft, in July? How cold are April, May, and June?) since Lost Valley is the first part of the trail. However how are you going to get to the trailhead? It is several miles south, 3 or 4, of Glencoe.

As to Edinburgh, I don't think it is possible to see the castle, the National Museum, and climb Arthur's Seat in one day (!).

Posted by
5078 posts

We rode bikes to the Cliffs of Moher in mid-June 2011. From Doolin, there are a couple of short, stiff climbs, then it's a long grind up to the Cliffs. With bicycles, we didn't have to pay for parking. Afterwards, it was an exhilarating, fast descent, coasting back down the road from the Cliffs!

For your outdoor activities in both Ireland and Scotland, be prepared for the very real possibility for rain and chill, and potential the need to warm up/dry out afterwards! I came down from Arthur's Seat years ago in the pouring rain, and had visited the castle earlier in the day, but wouldn't have had time to tour the museum that same day.

Posted by
27 posts

Roger, anything is possible. But I would caution you that being on the go for almost three weeks can be a bit daunting. I'm sure you are aware of that but just a friendly note nonetheless. We were recently looking at a 2 week Scotland only trip and we decided to scale that back so we could truly enjoy evertything. If you can, I would take in an extra pint or two in Ireland and then just add a whiskey highway trip in Scotland and leave most of Scotland for a future trip.