On May 12, my husband and I will be flying into Edinburgh for 3 days. We will pick up a rental car on Friday, May 15 and have 2 days to see some Scottish countryside before we need to check into our airbnb for 5 nights in St. Andrews, as hubby is an avid golfer. I'm wondering where and how we should spend our time Friday-Sunday. I considered just poking around the harbor towns on our way up the coast of Fife to St. Andrews, but am not sure that warrants that much time. We may want to visit Falkirk Wheel, and the Kelpies, as well as Stirling Castle. We could stay in Stirling, but since it is only an hour from Edinburgh, would it be better to drive further up into the Highlands? And if we continue north of Stirling, how easy is it then to circle east to St. Andrews? The distances seem doable, but not being familiar with the roads nor driving in the area, it's a little hard to know. I am interested in both Pitlochry and Balmoral, but perhaps one or both could be a day trip from St. Andrews later in the week? Thanks for any feedback.
First of all, if you rent your car in & out of Edinburgh airport, know that the airport has good access to the Motorways so you won't have to deal with city traffic and (ahem) historic streets. However, there are roundabouts on your way out of the airport campus, and the signage may not be self-explanatory, so it's worth asking the rental car agent (the one who puts you into your car in the parking lot) which signs to follow to get onto your desired Motorway in your desired direction.
Now, where to go? You have from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. If you want a taste of highland scenery without spending too many hours confined to your car, I'd say overnight in Pitlochry or someplace a little further north around Blair Atholl would be good. You can take a back road via Blairgowrie to Glamis Castle, which has wonderful gardens to wander as well as a very informative indoors tour and plenty of good food available in the tea shop. Another popular town not too far is Coupar Angus. If you're interested in distilleries, Dalwhinnie is just off the A9.
Alternatively, you could choose Stirling. I haven't been, but by all accounts it's lovely.
IMO trying to drive all the way to Balmoral and back in such a short time would not be worth it.