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Sanity check and input for 4 day trip to Scotland

I will be traveling to Scotland the very end of July/beginning of August. There are four of us and we will have already spent 9 days in Norwich (we are part of a choir that will be in residence at the Cathedral), however due to our schedule we won't have much time to get out of Norwich so we'll be ready to do some serious exploring. We will arrive by train in Edinburgh mid-afternoon Monday and fly out on Saturday morning from Edinburgh. We've rented an AirBnB a couple of miles outside Kinross and will rent a car at the train station (which we'll return to the airport).

I've been doing a ton of research and of course have aspirations that go well beyond what can reasonably be done in 4 full days (Stornoway, one of my late father's favorite places sadly seems well out of reach). I wanted to float a couple of ideas past the Scotland fans/experts on this forum and see if I'm on track or overestimating how far and how much we can do in one day. (Just FYI I grew up in England and come back frequently so I understand that what looks close on the map may take far longer than you think to get to :-) )

All of our group want to visit St. Andrews and also Dundee to see the new V&A. Can we reasonably do both of them in one day. If so, should we do V&A in the morning and have lunch in Dundee or vice versa? For some reason I'm feeling like St. Andrew's in the morning might be a better choice as the V&A doesn't open until 10 but is open until 5. It looks like I should allow and hour to get from Kinross to St. Andrews and then about 45 minutes to get from St. Andrews to Dundee.

Another day I'm thinking about, and this is the one I'm wondering if I'm too ambitious would be to visit the Falkirk Wheel and ride the boat, Doune Castle and Loch Katrine for a boat ride. It looks like it's about 45 mins from Kinross to the wheel, then about 40 minutes to the castle and then another 40 minutes to Loch Katrine. If that's a doable day should we go out to Katrine and work our way back or start in Falkirk and save the long drive for the trip back? My concern here is that the earliest start at either Katrine or Falkirk is 10:30 or so and the latest start is 4ish. The castle is also 9:30 to 5.

We have tickets for the Tattoo on Friday night, the first night, so that might end up being our Edinburgh day. Maybe start at the castle at 9:30 and then take our time walking down to Holyroodhouse (visiting things along the way), anything we shouldn't miss on the Royal Mile. We have to be back at the castle at 6:15 for our dinner package. It will be a long day but we fly the next day so we can rest then. One other question, seeing as we'll be there pretty late (I'm guessing after 11 as the Tattoo starts at 9pm, should we drive to a train station and take the train in (do they run that late to get back?) or just bite the bullet and pay for all day parking in Edinburgh, or another option I don't know about.

We still have another day to plan. Maybe Perth/Scone Castle, Pitlochry and a drive into the Cairngorms. Another option is a day in Glasgow. At least a couple of us will want to taste some whisky, so any distilleries we should see? What would you do with one day and Kinross as your starting point. I always love things that are unusual, off the beaten path, behind the scenes so would love to hear any ideas about that.

Also - just how crowded will some of these places be? I've honestly never spent time in the UK during the summer, I always come off season. I imagine Edinburgh will be a zoo but will the other places I've listed be mobbed too?

Thanks so much for reading this far - I'm excited to hear what other ideas I haven't stumbled across yet and to hear your feedback on my planning so far.

Posted by
2566 posts

I'll try to address your first "in one day" question. Geographically, sure, you can hit St Andrews and Dundee in one day. Whether you can see both and do what you want to do there really depends on your interests. If you just want to pop in at the British Golf Museum, it opens at 9:30 and you can probably see most of the exhibits in about an hour, maybe 90 minutes with time for a cup of tea in the cafe (which has a glass wall overlooking the Old Course 1st-18th hole). If, OTOH, you want to take an Old Course walking tour, then you'll be committed to not leaving St Andrews until around 12:30 or 1:00. Or is golf not the focus of interest? As for Dundee, it's a pretty big city. I haven't been to the new V&A but I'm sure it could fill up a day, or you might feel that 2 or 3 hours there is plenty.

I guess overall, if it were my trip I'd want at least one full day of unstructured time to decompress after a week of choir in residence. But that's just me.