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Itinerary help for 8 Days in Scotland

Hello, I need help making decisions for Scotland. I am coming from Cambridge England. My husband and I will have eight days including travel and will need to fly back to the States out of Heathrow on day 9.
I would like to see Edinburgh, Oban and Isle of Skye. Things that I would like to see and do.
1. Beautiful scenery
2. At least one castle
3. Wildlife/animals but not in a zoo
4. Distillery
5. A little shopping.
6. A lovely garden
I would appreciate some help planning this. We are fine driving in the U.K.

Thank you
Kelli

Posted by
1224 posts

On Skye Dunvegan is a nice castle with great gardens and woodland walks. On the mainland Eilan Donan Castle is worth a stop. For ruined castles Dunstaffnag near Oban is neat, especially if you know your King Robert the Bruce history, and when we were there sheep were running around their enclosure.

Posted by
7 posts

Since my days are limited should we fly up or take the train. Start in Edinburgh? Would 2 days in, Eniburgh, 2 Oban, 2 in Skye work?
Thank you

Posted by
6113 posts

You don't say when you are travelling. If you are travelling in August, this is Festival season in Edinburgh, which means that accommodation prices rocket and most rooms have already been taken.

Take the train to Edinburgh, as this is as quick as flying based on door to door times.

You need at least one full day in Edinburgh, preferably two. You don't need a car whilst in Edinburgh.

Why Oban? It's an average Scottish town/port, but nothing special and it will take an hour or so to walk round, including stopping for a cup of tea. I would trim Oban to one night and add another to Skye, as Skye takes time to get round, even though it's not that big - plenty single track roads with passing places means you can't speed.

Posted by
9870 posts

Not to mention that Skye takes time to get TO! (As I realized when planning a trip for August where I ultimately sadly had to delete Skye, as much as we wanted to go there).

Posted by
3122 posts

Assuming you don't run into problems with the Edinburgh Festival, car rental pickup and dropoff at Edinburgh Airport should be pretty simple. Taxi ride airport-city centre is about 30 min without traffic. There will be plenty of shopping in Edinburgh.

If you drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye, you'll see beautiful highland scenery for sure. Especially along the A87 to Dornie it is really majestic. BTW, Dornie Hotel is good for lodging or just for a meal.

If you go up the A9 you'll pass right by Blair Castle. Dalwhinnie distillery will also be on your route. Dalwhinnie is the scotch whisky that impressed us most.

I agree that Dunvegan Castle on the northwest coast of Isle of Skye is lovely. It also has gorgeous gardens. So does Inveraray Castle, which could be on your route to or from Oban. (I think Rick Steves guidebook undersells Inveraray Castle -- I find it beautiful and fascinating inside and I've been there twice.) Eilean Donan Castle is fun, but keep in mind it was rebuilt from a ruin during the 1912-1932 period. It's often rented out for weddings, at which times it's closed to other visitors.

Wildlife, animals . . . well, if you plan a few hours of walking on the Isle of Skye you may get to see some.

Posted by
1469 posts

Skye has become very popular because of the "Outlander" featuring it's surreal scenery. You probably will need to make reservations. Check the Historic Scotland site for Castles and Churches. Prince Street in Edinburgh has shopping for Tartans. Edinburgh Castle has a lot of historical displays. There are many Distillery tours north of Edinburgh. If you are driving from Cambridge don't miss York, Durham and the Borders Abbeys. Chatsworth is worth a side trip; it also has a great garden. I would allow 2-3 days for the drive up.

Posted by
7 posts

i can scratch Oban from the list. How long should we give ourselves to drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye? What is a good town to stay in near Skye? Many places are booked so we may have to sleep in our car if we are unlucky. This is a last minute trip so I can't be too picky.
Thank you
Kelli

Posted by
3122 posts

Near Skye, the Dornie Hotel worked out great for us. We stayed 2 nights and spent the intervening day driving to Dunvegan Castle & back.

We did a full castle visit but didn't walk the gardens (it was raining pretty hard), and returned to Dornie in time to visit Eilean Donan Castle later that same afternoon. We didn't do any walking on Skye, though, so you'll want more time if you include that.

Drive Edinburgh to Dornie would be a full day. If you want to stop off at a castle and/or a distillery or two, then stay overnight in some place midway like Pitlochry. (Especially considering very strict Scottish DWI laws.)