My friend and I are traveling to Scotland and Ireland in May. We will be spending 3 nights on Iona toward the end of our 2 week trip as we each want to have a private retreat there. That is what stimulated our entire trip. I'd like suggestions on do-able itinerary for flying into Edinburgh on May 10 and flying out of Glasgow on the 19th. As noted above, we will be on Iona May 15,16,17 nights. We will have to rent a car to sightsee from Edinburgh (not while IN Edinburgh) to the ferry and then after Iona and back to Glasgow. We like history ,castles, scenery, small towns. We'd like to stay in B and B's. I know we want to spend the first 1-2 days in Edinburgh -probably 2 nights. We plan to concentrate on the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Holyrood Palace there. Appreciate any help you can give to us newbie Scotland travelers!
From Edinburgh you could do easy day trips out to Tantallon and Dirleton Castles. Both ruined and both worth exploring, but then again I like ruined castles. Better than not ruined ones actually. Also in Edinburgh you could do the Mary King's Close tour, and visit Craigmiller Castle which is still within the confines of Edinburgh but 3 miles from the city center with a nice view of Edinburgh. You could also go to Roslyn Chapel. Have a great time!
On your way from Iona to Glasgow, I can recommend Brambles, a charming guest house in Inveraray. The walls were freshly painted, carpet and bedding appeared brand new, heat and hot water worked great. Staff very pleasant. They serve breakfast and lunch in their tearoom. Dinner can be had at the George Hotel just down the street.
Depending which route you take from Oban to Inveraray, you can pass through Kilmartin Glen, described as Scotland's richest prehistoric landscape. If you are interested in cairns and stone circles, Kilmartin Glen is well worth a stop. Don't neglect to buy the map from the small museum / info centre in Kilmartin village, otherwise you'll have trouble finding them. The church in the village also has a wealth of stone carvings.
Inveraray Castle is also worth a visit, contrary to Rick's guide, which calls it boring on the inside. The gardens are spectacular. We were there last May and were bowled over by the different rhododendrons, carpets of bluebells, and other beautiful blooms. You have to pay the full entry fee to see the gardens, so you may as well go inside. The entry hall is architecturally significant (highest ceiling in Britain or something like that) and has an awesome display of arms & armor. If you watched the Downton Abbey episode when they go to Duneagle Castle (just before Lady Mary has her baby), you saw this castle inside and out.
Driving from Inveraray to Glasgow, you follow the western shore of Loch Lomond for some miles. At Duck Bay is a hotel & restaurant with a great view of the loch.
At Glasgow Airport the Holiday Inn Express is literally walking distance from the terminal -- it even has a covered sidewalk so you can wheel your luggage along rain or shine. The only drawback there is that we found the bed to be uncomfortable, with an old saggy mattress. There are at least a couple of other hotels right on the airport "campus" and they might have better mattresses, I don't know!