My husband and I will be driving to Scotland to spend a week after spending a week in Wales. We would like to hear your advice on the most beautiful natural areas to visit. We would like to stay in a romantic rental cottage, and we would be willing to stay in one place for a few days and move to another if needed. We will be flying home to the US from Edinburgh. It would be nice to be able to listen to live music somewhere nearby in the evenings.
Where to start??? Scotland is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. A couple of places you could consider are the Isle of Skye and Glencoe. I was awed by the natural beauty of both of these areas. While it's not a romantic cottage, I really enjoyed my stay at the Clachaig Inn which is near the town of Glencoe. I know there are a number of other beautiful places, but those were two of my favorites. Oh, you could also consider some of the Hebridean Islands, I only had a quick one day tour of Iona and Mull, but it was stunning! I can't wait to return and see more of the Hebrides.
Thank you for your thoughtful answer, Rosemary.
Just returned from 3 weeks in Scotland. In my opinion, it's all beautiful. If you want a place to listen to music, then you'll have to be in a town. I would recommend Applecross, or head to Portree on Skye.
Do want mountains or coastal location, or happy by a loch? That would help determine where you should go.
Check into B and B's, just because if you do self catering, you do the shopping and cooking..not my idea of vacation. some B and B's offer dinner for an additional charge.
We hiked the Great Glen Way, so we were in mostly small hamlets.
As Rosemary stated, the islands of Mull and Iona are really beautiful. You could stay in Oban at any of many B & Bs and do a day trip. Or your could actually stay overnight on Iona. Do some google searching on those two islands and see it they have any appeal for you.
As others have said, Scotland is full of natural beauty just about everywhere. Driving from Wales, you could go through Glasgow, over the Erskine Bridge, and pick up the A82 along the western shore of Loch Lomond. Boat trips on the loch are fun (out of Balloch and out of Luss). I can recommend Inveraray as a lovely place to stay for a couple of days, Brambles for lodging and the George Hotel for dinner/pub. Or, continue up the A82 to Glencoe.
Alternatively, at Glasgow cut over to the M9 / A9 and stay somewhere in the Cairngorms.
Wherever you go, I'd recommend spending your last 2-3 nights in Edinburgh as there is lots to see and you will find live music for sure.
We love Thurso and the surrounding areas. We stayed at: http://www.thursobayholidays.co.uk/. Loved every minute there. Thurso is a 15 minute walk from the caravan, and there is a major grocery store across the street.
These are lovely suggestions. They give me a great place to start researching.
Generally speaking, I would suggest that the west coast of Scotland is the more scenic. Of course it helps if you get the weather! But I wouldn't miss the Glencoe/Ben Nevis/Fort William area (I like Fort William, but it's no pretty village) and the trip to Skye, either via ferry from Mallaig, or the drive up to cross by the Skye Bridge, passing the Cluanie Inn and Eilean Donan castle en route.
Hope you have a great trip!
I think the truth is that it would be harder to NOT find natural beauty just about anywhere in Scotland. You should read about different areas in a guide book, or follow Scottish Instagram feeds, to get an idea of which particular area(s) might be of the MOST interest to you. But there are stunning places ALL around.
Kim is spot on with the suggestion to follow an instagram feed. Check out visitscotland's feed, it features some amazing pictures of some fabulous destinations.
I got back just this week from Scotland. I had 4 nights in Edinburgh, at a B&B recommended by Rick Steves on Dalkeith Road, The Gifford House. It was a quick bus ride to town, and even to Rosslyn Chapel. After 4 nights there, I took the train to Oban (changing trains in Glasgow). The train ride was beautiful - it goes across the Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond. Oban was a great little town - stayed at The Manor House on Gallanach Road, and was able to walk from the train and/or ferry. The Manor House was charming - loved the room we stayed in and the food was delicious. We took the ferry/bus/ferry from Oban across to Mull and then to Iona - stayed at the Argyll Hotel on Iona - more rustic than the others but the staff was delightful. The bus ride on Mull was beautiful - waterfalls, mountains lochs, water everywhere. Time flew by on the bus. I wish I had been able to get to Glencoe and Fort Williams - a reason to go back. Catching the train is great too - it was always on time. Hope you enjoy your time.