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itinerary for Scotland in July

I've learned a lot from the other postings but am hoping for some more advice! We're a family of 3 - mom, dad, & 14 yr old daughter - on first family trip to Scotland. We're planning on 15 - 20 days in total, flying in and out of Glasgow. Recognizing that we're probably being overly ambitious, we would like to spend a couple of days in Glasgow and 3 days in Edinburgh, with the rest of the time driving and ideally covering Orkneys for Skara Brae, Stirling, Glencoe, Inverness area, Iona, Skye, and possibly Harris & Lewis. Our interests focus on history, landscape, wildlife, walking, food, culture, and a little shopping.

We'd love to be able to rent self-catering accommodation and do day trips where possible, but we're not sure if having a home base for a longer stretch of time is feasible, or if the touring around approach is better. Any advice welcome!

Posted by
2928 posts

The "touring around" approach is what you'll need if you're to visit all/most of the places you've listed. Otherwise you'd be spending an inordinate amount of time retracing the same roads to "commute" from your home base. That said, I wholeheartedly appreciate the RS principle of avoiding one-night stays. It's much more relaxing and you'll sleep better if you can plan 2-3 nights at a time in each location.

The website Secret Scotland may give you some ideas of realistic driving itineraries. Scotland is one of those places where Americans typically look at a map and think they can drive from A to B in about half as much time as it actually takes. https://www.secret-scotland.com/

Posted by
278 posts

With your interests, Orkney definitely deserves several days! FYI, driving there from Inverness takes at about three hours without any stops to see things, which was much longer than I thought looking at the map. However, I would recommend stopping at Dunrobin Castle, an hour from Inverness on the main road north--it was a really delightful manor house to see (and we were getting bored with them by that point of our trip!), with a wonderful garden and a terrific falconry exhibition. Not big and sprawling like most of the grand castles, but compact and just really well laid out.

For any trip planning for Scotland, I really recommend the Undiscovered Scotland website, which is really comprehensive with their maps and links for every possible point of interest in the entire country. I found out about the castle there, as well as the best route to drive around Glencoe and nearby, including the side trip through Glen Etive, which was my favorite drive of the entire time in Britain!

Posted by
1241 posts

Other sites are Visit Scotland and Historic Scotland (I went for the Castles) which has admission passes that may save you money. I found that linear traveling to be the most effective way to travel for site seeing. It certainly saves a lot of time. It is probably easier to find a self catering accommodation away from Glasgow or Edinburgh. Check camping: some have cabins which are excellent in and near the National Parks. Small hotels or B & Bs are usually pretty nice and not that expensive in near universities. While the Islands are an attractive destination, Skye especially is very popular...so you will have to make arrangements far in advance. The lunar scenery is spectacular and wet. Birding seems to be a big deal...check the Scottish Bird Sighting Clubs.

Posted by
556 posts

The problem you are going to have is getting to the outer islands without wasting a whole lot of time. Both Scara Brae and Lewis were on my list of things to do with 21 days, but after researching getting there I ended up dropping both due to how much time it was going to take away from seeing other places. Some day I will go back just to see these places. You don't have to fly in and out of Glasgow, I flew into Edinburgh, rented the car there, and returned it in Glasgow where I finished my trip. I spent the first six nights in Edinburgh, toured the city, did a couple of day tours, then had the car for 10 days, and finished in Glasgow for the last four doing another day tour and visiting a lot of museums and shopping.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, these were great suggestions (and a good reality check!) I think this will help us nail down our itinerary and probably make this the first of hopefully more trips!

Posted by
74 posts

We're going in June of this year and using 13 nights to visit Edinburgh/Inverness/Skye/Mull/Stirling. With the exception of Edinburgh and Skye all are 2 night stays only, leaving us only one full day in the Inverness/Mull/Stirling areas. That is our one regret! If you can manage it with the extra days, I would certainly recommend a minimum of 3 nights in each area to get you the 2 full days.

Posted by
74 posts

And at the risk of sounding like I own shares in the company, check Celtic Legends Car Rentals(using Arnold Clark rentals)website. That's who we booked our car through and as mentioned, you're not tied down to picking up and dropping off at the same location and they have a very friendly, straightforward setup.