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Itinerary by Request

Someone PM’d me recently after reading my Pre-Trip report from last Fall https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/a-pre-trip-report-an-anatomy-of-our-planning-for-our-upcoming-trip-to-scotland and asked if I ever finalized an itinerary and what it was. After reading so many other itineraries on this Forum, I’ve been curious what people would think of mine, so here goes;

Scotland, first two weeks of June;

Day 1
Land in Glasgow and make our way to Edinburgh for a 6 night stay at the Fraser Suites.
First day we tend to just wander, take a nap then wander some more. We’ve found it works for us on past European adventures. I never have trouble sleeping while I’m there, but once I get home it takes me a week or two to recover from jet lag.

Day 2
Royal Mile Tour with Mercat Tours. We love history and always hope to find a guide that can bring the sites to life.
Then Edinburgh Castle on our own. Bought the Scottish Explorer Pass. We estimate with the sites we want to see on this trip it will likely pay for itself. We bought the 1 year membership instead of the 14 day pass. It only costs about £10 more and we’re heading to London and York in the Fall and the pass can be used at some sites in England.
We typically don’t research restaurants and just find something once we get to a location, but we’re always open to suggestions.

Day 3
Outlander day trip with Rabbies. A bucket list item for my wife. If she finds Jamie Fraser I’m probably heading home alone…

Day 4
Rabbies day tour to Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey. I honestly haven’t researched either that much yet, my wife wanted to go and I’m following along.

Day 5
Stirling Castle, on our own. *New for 2020, it requires a timed entry unless you have a pass.

Day 6
National Museum and Laundry day. The hotel has self laundry facilities as well as a service, hoping my wife chooses the service so we’re not stuck for a few hours at the hotel. Possibly a ghost tour in the evening, will likely leave that to the last minute.

Day 7
Check out of hotel, pick up rental car at 10am (I’ve driven on the other side of the road before). Meander to Inverness. First place we need to be is the Leault Working Sheepdog demonstration at 4:00-if there is a chance to see and pet dogs, I'm in. Thinking about stopping at the Highland Folk Museum nearby first. Check in at the Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness.

Day 8
Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Cawdor Castle.

Day 9
Leave Inverness and head to Oban. Probably stop at Urquhart Castle on the way. Possibly a side trip to Eilean Donan Castle. Can’t decide if the 1 hour there and 1-hour back side trip is worth it on this trip or save it for another time when we’ll come back to see Skye. Check in to Barcaldine Castle. This is a bucket list item to stay at a haunted castle, hopefully the ghost isn’t just a marketing ploy…

Day 10
On the 9:50 ferry to Mull. Stop at Duart Castle, drive to Calgary Beach-bucket list item, my hometown was named after it and I’ve always wanted to go-just because. Short hike to the Kilmore Standing Stones. 2-night stay at the Harbour View B & B in Tobermory.

Day 11
Up early and drive to Fionnphort and take the first ferry to Iona. Probably also take a tour to Staffa.

Day 12
9:55 ferry back to Oban, drive to Glasgow via the A82 past Loch Lomond. Nothing in particular booked this day. Want to arrive in Glasgow and drop off car before 4:00. Check into Motel One in Glasgow.

Day 13
Kelvingrove Art Museum probably find a restaurant in Ashton lane that evening.

Day 14
Last full day, Riverside Museum, aimless wandering. Maybe find a walking tour.

Day 15
Flight home from Glasgow at 9:30.

Posted by
7606 posts

Looks good to me.

One suggestion - Day 3 - If your wife finds Jamie, this is your chance to head to London, lol!!

The National Museum has a really good shop - lots of small items by Scottish artists so some very nice things. Be sure to have picture ID if you want to use a credit card. My spending was hampered by not having my passport with me (and really, I ALWAYS carry it!) so had to just limit it to the amount of cash I had on hand. That was probably fortuitous and I'm not really a shopper.

From the museum, be sure to pop across the road to Greyfriars Kirk (walking past the statue of Greyfriars Bobby) and walk thru the graveyard. It is said that JK Rowling got some of her character names from the tombstones. She wrote some of her early books at The Elephant House which you'll walk past on your way from your hotel to the Museum across George IV bridge.

Posted by
4 posts

"Outlander day trip with Rabbies. A bucket list item for my wife. If she finds Jamie Fraser I’m probably heading home alone…"

If she finds Jaime Fraser she would be a very lucky lady. As a huge Outlander fan I totally get it. This really made me laugh!

Posted by
609 posts

Looks lovely. I hope you are able to go. I am scheduled to begin my trip toward the end of June. I emailed my first b&b host, offering to cancel - she didn’t take me up on it and said they are just playing it month by month right now. Everything is cancelled through April and will see about May soon.

Posted by
924 posts

Travelmon, we haven't cancelled anything yet either but we're not optimistic, once our flight is officially cancelled I plan to jump on the hotels and tours that we've booked. We've already decided to try and book the same 2 weeks next year. If the airline will take reservations that far in advance then we'll just ask the hotels to rebook for those dates.

Posted by
62 posts

Your itinerary was fun to read because it reminded me of my trip to Scotland in August 2016. I rented a car in Glasgow and drove to Mull and Skye and Inverness. So, I did many similar things to your plan. Absolutely go to Iona and take this awesome wooden boat that does tours to Staffa. I stayed at the St Columba hotel on Iona for 1 night which I'm so glad I did. It was much more peaceful in the evening. I had fantastic weather, got a suntan, which is crazy for Scotland!! I also stayed 2 nights in Tobermory and love that town and the Isle of Mull. There is another castle above Tobermory that is a hotel (too expensive for me), but also has a cafe you can get lunch at; I had a burger (yes, made with hairy coos) that was excellent. I think it's called Glenngorm. You can also walk around the grounds and there are standing stones there, too. When I drove from Glasgow to Mull, I didn't stay in Oban, but stayed in a little town called Kilmartin. There are amazing standing stones out in a field here as well as a museum that I was hoping to go into but was late arriving. It was about 1 hour from Oban and a really nice drive from there to Glasgow as well (I think about 2 hours). Worth checking into if you have the time. I love Outlander, too, and luckily was there before it got real crazy with the tourists. I think you can't even get to the "Fraser" stone at Culloden because of so many people stopping there thinking Jamie was a real person or something! When I was there, it had more flowers at it than the other memorials but I think it's over the top now. Culloden is worth a visit as well as the Clava Cairns. If you like dolphins and beer, I also recommend looking at the little town of Avoch outside of Inverness. I was able to go on a small boat (about 12 people) to see the dolphins and they swam around us and dived under us - it was amazing (but I LOVE dolphins). Then, I visited a local organic brewery, Black Isle Brewery, which was fun just to drive to it - not a big place, but very good beer! Hope you get to go to Scotland and I know you'll enjoy it.

Posted by
3079 posts

We planned to visit Scotland this summer, leaving the USA on the 4th of July. Not expecting any fireworks celebrating the American Independence Day - at least not with our connection in London, but waiting to see if our visit is still possible. And then the trip continuing on to Scandinavia is still in question. It would be fabulous, on many levels, if your June trip is viable and happens!

An Eilean Donan comment: If you’re going to visit Skye on a future trip (definitely go!!!), save that castle to see on the way. Our trip a few years ago, driving from Inverness to Skye, included a planned visit to the castle. What with the tour buses and other cars in the parking lot, we got the absolute LAST spot in the parking lot, at the very back. We could see platoons of people making the long trek to the castle, looked at each other, and decided together that joining the horde wasn’t going to be a worthwhile visit - and we’ve been part of a gang of tourists at other places. So we drove around to the “back” side, across the lake, and snapped a couple of more-scenic photos, without a crowded car park in the picture, and ventured onward to Skye. Make a special 2-hour round trip for a possibly overcrowded sight? Don’t do it! Stop by when it’s on the way to your ultimate destination? Do it then, but be ready for a mob scene. Happy and safe travels - hope we all get to see Scotland this summer, and that the damned virus gets ended, with no more illness and death. Hope the curve for the world apexes and we all can have brighter times very soon.

Posted by
924 posts

Thanks for your opinion about Eilean Donan Cyn. The more I think about it the more I realize my main motivation for that castle is a photo moment like you suggested. In a perfect world we could be there early morning or later in the evening to get the best sunlight reflected off the water and the castle, but that's not worth driving out of our way for. It will likely be a last minute decision and if we're out of Inverness at 5 or 6am, we may do it, but if we have a later start to our day, then it will wait for another trip.