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Scotland 16 Nights Itineary HELP

Hi All-

I am really hoping to have some feedback if possible for the itinerary my husband and I have nailed out over this past week for Scotland June 6-23 2017. We have spent months planning another trip we were supposed to take next summer to have our teen who was to travel with us tell us that she no longer wished to spend several weeks traveling with her parents in Europe. Shocking. That being said after much deliberation we are leaving her with grandparents and will take our own holiday. I am sure she will regret it. Maybe...

We have chosen Scotland for many reasons one is my husbands heritage.. we are Stewart's and the other that I am a Outlander fan. We have done Barcelona, Germany, and Italy and felt it was time to head to Scotland. We are hikers and adventure seekers. We love rural towns and landscapes but do like to some options for dining. We love people. I have read two books on Scotland and combed these boards this past week and have come up with the itinerary below. We have decided on skipping Glasgow as well as the Oban. I know to some this is horrible but after reading the chapters on these places about it three times we feel our hearts called elsewhere. We have a extra night that I am unsure where to use. For the moment I have it placed on June 12. I am unsure if we should just go straight to Inverness that day for three nights and add a night to another location such as Stirling, Skye, or Glencoe or just spend four nights in Inverness. If you have another suggestion send it my way. We are open to changes! I would love your feed back and suggestions before I start booking B & B's though. Thank you in advance.

June 5 2017- Over night flight into EDI
June 6,7,8 Edinburgh 3 nights
June 9 Pick up car hire
June 9,10 Stirling 2 Nights- I wanted to see Stirling Castle and visit Doune Castle as well. My husband has a interest in the Falkirk wheel. Do you think we need more time here? Should we stay in town or out?
June 11 We have thought about driving north along the A-9 and visiting Perth and Dunkeld with a night in Pitlochry. Any feed back on this rout? -Pitlochry 1 Night
June 12-Aviemore or Inverness? 1 Night- We would like to visit the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore this day as well as possibly visit Laults working sheep dog farm if we can time it right. After that I wasn't sure if we should spend the night in Aviemore or drive up to Inverness. What do you think?
June 13,14,15 Inverness - 3 Nights -Culloden, Clava Cairns, Possibly Ft. Augustus. We have very little interest in Loch Ness. We have heard it is horrible touristy. We live in Orlando and have enough of that for sure. Are we missing something? Is this too much time here?
June 16,17,18,19 Isle of Skye Portree 4 nights- Driving from Inverness on June 15. We were thinking of taking the bridge there and back or the bridge over and the ferry back. We want to see Eilean Donan Castle for sure. Should we spend two nights in one location and another two on another part of Skye? It looks huge. We have thought about staying in Pitlochry.
June 20,21 Gelncoe- 2-Nights - June 20 will be the drive from Skye.. Would like to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct -Hiking and exploring June 21
June 22- Drive back towards Edinburgh -1 Night Airport
June 23 Home

Unfortunately I don't have anything to add, but am interested to hear what other people say. We (my husband, 6 year old son and I) are planning a trip to Scotland for these exact dates!

Posted by
1837 posts

We have visited Scotland several times. On our most recent trip (June, 2015) , we visited almost everything on your list. We spent 14 days in Scotland, but didn't visit Edinburgh this time. Here is the itinerary I created, after two years of research:

Day 1 - we drove from the Lakes District to Glencoe with a two hour stop in Stirling to see the castle. We didn't visit Doune this time, but I think it is on the way to Glencoe.
Days 1-2-3: Glencoe. Don't short your time there - it is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. You can do a loop trip one day to Kilchurn Castle and Kilmartin Glen.
Days 4-5: We spent two nights in Mull, mainly so we could see Iona.
Days 6-7-8: Skye - we stayed in Broadford this time (Skye Picture House). Broadford is convenient if you want to visit Eileen Donan and Plockton as well as Skye. Skye involves a lot of driving, but it is really beautiful so you probably won't mind a lot of driving.

Days 9-10-11-12 We drove Ullapool, Thurso, and then ferry to Orkney for two nights. We were curious about the top of Scotland, since we had never been there. I wouldn't bother doing this unless you are wanting to visit Orkney (for Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Maes Howe.)
Something else you could do here instead: add one more night to Skye. Then do two nights on Lewis, which is quite different from other parts of Scotland. The ferry goes there from Uig which is out on the tip of Skye.

Day 13 We stayed at the Glenmorriston Hotel which is on the shores of Loch Ness. Loch Ness is very interesting, especially Urquhart Castle. Yes, there are lots of tourists visiting that castle - that's because it is worth visiting!

Day 14: We drove back through Glencoe and overnighted at Aberfeldy. From there it was only two hours to the Edinburgh airport where we turned in our car, took a cab to the train station, and four hours on a train to London.

Other suggestions: If you aren't interested in Orkney, you could drive back from Skye, up the Great Glen, stop for Urquhart Castle, and head to Inverness to see Culloden and Clava Cairns. That drive will take you through much-disparaged by RS Fort William. Fort William is a good place to stop for some shopping.
In Inverness, you can take a (very long) day-trip to Orkney.

From Inverness, it is an easy drive back to Edinburgh. Or you can start by visiting Edinburgh and do the entire circuit in the opposite direction from the way I have described it.

Posted by
5060 posts

Since you " rural towns and landscapes..." consider a night or two in Kennmore rather than Pitlochry. Not many options for dining, but absolutely beautiful scenery. Google it and see what you think.

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you Cynthia I will look into your suggestions. I don't think we will go much farther north but it is something to think about. Your detail was amazingly helpful.

TC- Oh another pretty place to visit. Why did you do that?!? Lol I will check it out. So much to see and so little time!

Have either of you done Drummond Castle?

Posted by
244 posts

Your trip looks amazing. We spent three weeks in Scotland last year and visited all the places on your list, but we added the north coast! If you are interested in seeing Scotland I recommend this route North Coast 500 . Here is another article about the route Scotland's Route 66 It is very rugged, scenic, and the drive was beautiful! Most of the time you are on one-track roads. And are they fun to drive! We only did half of the drive, I'd love to go back and finish the other half. Just an idea for you. We loved the Isle of Skye, we stayed in the small town, Carbost. We stayed at a beautiful B&B , Wilmar B&B. We stayed 3 nights there, lovely place! I loved the location. We also stayed in Pitlochry for 2 nights at Craigatin House great place, delicious breakfast, loved it!

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you Pfresh3 for your suggestions. Did you enjoy breaking up your trip on the Isle of Skye and did you like having five nights there? I have a extra night that I can place somewhere and I am struggling where to put it. Isle of Sky looks pretty big.. Did you find that by staying in two separate locations you were able to concentrate on certain areas more? I would love your feed back. Thank you.

Posted by
1341 posts

We were i Scotland at exactly those dates this year and I will give you some comments :-)

I would choose Glasgow over Edinburgh - Edinburgh is very narrow from a tourist POV not much outside the castle. But of course Edinburgh castle is interesting enough for one day and the trip to Arthurs Seat is enough for a morning. Other people speak highly of Dynamic Earth, but we missed it :-(

Inverness - I think three nights there are a lot, but if you are taking day trips it's probably OK.

IMO Loch Ness is not "touristy" - but Drumnadrochit definitely is.
If you visit Fort Augustus you can take a nice relaxing trip on the lake - or a very exiting one in a speed boat :-)
And the locks in Fort Augustus are interesting in themselves and gives you a feeling of the importance of the canals.

Posted by
244 posts

We stayed all 3 nights in Carbost on the Isle of Skye. The location was close enough for us to travel all over Skye. With 3 nights we had two full days. I would have loved another day on the Isle of Skye. One day we drove the Trotternish peninsula, the next day we drove from Carbost to Neist Point light house. Our B&B suggested stops along the way including a silver jewelry studio and local weaver! My favorite day! We did not do any hikes due to the weather but we would have loved another day to hike! We stopped at Eilean Donan Castle on our drive from Inverness to Skye. We loved it!
If you need another day, think about Glasgow. We were surprised how much we enjoyed it.
We spent 2 nights in Pitlochry. We took some hikes, drove up to Queen's View, absolutely amazing views!

We spent a night in Fort Augustus and enjoyed the locks on the Caledonian Canal. We enjoyed a lovely sunny day, boat and people watching.

We stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, definitely worth the stop.
We did stay in Oban, I agree that unless you plan on going on to Iona it is not worth it. Others may disagree.
On our drive back to Glasgow we stopped at Inveraray Castle. Beautiful! I am a Downton Abbey fan. This castle was the filming site for a Christmas show. I love Outlander too! Wish we had stopped at Doune Castle. Next trip!

Posted by
191 posts

Hi Pfresh30 Thank you for your suggestions. Did you stay in Ft. Augustus in between Skye and Inverness? Trying to figure out the route. I wasn't sure if we should shave a night off Inverness see Loch Ness and Urquart spend the night somewhere and head to the Isle of Skye in the morning with a stop at Eilean Donan on the way before going over the bridge. If you or anyone has a opinion on this let me know! Thanks!

Posted by
244 posts

Yes, we stayed in Fort Augustus after leaving Ullapool. But you can easily leave Inverness, stop at Loch Ness and Urquart Castle. Urquart castle was one of my favorites, I have many favorites. Then continue on and stay in Fort Augustus. We left Fort Augustus the next day and stopped at Eileen Donan Castle on the way to Skye.

On our trip we left Pitlochry and stopped at Culloden and Clava Cairns before arriving in Inverness. If you did this you could shave a day off Inverness. We stayed 2 nights in Inverness and took a boat tour of Loch Ness.
Do you already have your flights? If not, have you considered flying home out of Glasgow? We rented our car in Edinburgh and returned it in Glasgow. We really liked Glasgow. Wish we had more time there.

Posted by
459 posts

We stayed on Skye in the Carbost area for four nights and stayed in Fort William three nights. Skye offers many options and I was not disappointed when I realized I had to slim down my ambitions for seeing the whole island. From Carbost you are within striking distance of wonderous sites and hikes, more than you can imagine. Use this link from a hiking site and when you choose a hike/site you want to see (Quiraing, Fairy Pools, Neist Point etc) you can click on the hike link and then enter your B&B location and plan your driving per the map route. It will be slower than you plan but it will be rewarding. You can use the site for other locations in Scotland as you will see.,

We also did the viaduct hike and watched the train roll thru, it was really cool and the hike was a nice break from heavy hiking we had done in Glencoe. Glencoe is easily accessible from Ft. William and we found great restaurants and taxing awesome hikes in Glencoe and around Fort William. We found great local music at Ft. William at the foot of Ben Nevis, a real plus I had not planned for. We also got some great music at the pub up near the Talisker distiller, at the Old Inn.

I like to hunker down at one B&B as opposed to changing every couple of days but that plan might open up some options on Skye that we could not do from our Carbost location. The views while driving are pretty awesome but can be daunting until you adjust to the narrow roads and the left side driving. Get a small car!

You will not regret the time you devote to Skye and around Ft. Williams/Glencoe IMO. We visited Donan Castle as well but missed the ferry to Loch Coruisk due to bad weather. We spent 3 nights in Edinburgh and had a great B&B but I enjoyed the highlands tremendously compared to the city visit. Hit me up on a private message if you want info on the B&B's we used. I will say our trip was in October, not the summer time.

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you jarrardd for all the information. The website will help for sure. I did send you a PM earlier today.

What is everyone's thought on car size? I was worried with all the hills that a smaller car might have a hard time. We drive a all wheel drive normally when we are in hilly regions. Thanks!

Posted by
93 posts

We're(two 60ish)travellers there the week after you(last two weeks of June)and have a similar itinerary; we're going counterclockwise to what seems the majority's clockwise route. You might see something in our notes that catches your interest...Lots of hiking (or walks as they're called: As pointed out in a previous post, WalkHighlands is an excellent resource)in the Highlands; starts with 4 nights in Edinburgh; a photography tour the first full day, day trip to Melrose abbey/Roslyn abbey/hadrian's wall the 2nd and visiting Edinburgh & Craigmillar castles the 3rd. Renting a car and heading northeast through Dunkeld(Hermitage walk)to a B&b on Loch Ness. Inverness Tours for Diana Gabaldon Outlander day tour and a walk to the Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie and visit to Cawdor Castle on our own. The Outlander tour does cover such things as Culloden, Clava Cairns & Beauly.
Quick stop at Urquhart castle and across to Applecross Pass(hopefully acclimatized to the driving by now!!!) and down to Eilean Donan castle before crossing to Skye. We're staying in Portree (3 nights)and from there doing the Fairy Pools, Neist Point lighthouse, Dunvegan Castle, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, Scorrybreac walk around Portree.
Down the coast through Glencoe and then several small ferries to get across to Isle of Mull. Turus Mara boat tour to Staffa(Fingal's cave) and Lunga to see puffins. We're staying in the interior of Mull, so a trip up to Tobermory and Calgary Bay.
Ferry to Oban and a hike at Pucks Glen before heading over to Loch Lomond in the Trossachs. Across to Sterling(the castle of course and Wallace monument)and from there a day trip up to Doune castle and an expedition to find Rob Roy's grave. Then back to the airport to drop our car(Celtic Legend/Arnold Clark).
Probably missed a few things here, as I tend to OVERplan and we usually end up adapting to fit the circumstances, but we like going in with a framework to start with.
We're planning on bringing good waterproof jackets, waterproof hiking boots and quick dry hiking pants and picking up some Smidge at an outdoor store in Edinburgh just in case.
Oh, and the camera!
ENJOY your trip! I'm sure we will ours!

Posted by
93 posts

Just noticed that you have an extra night to you are "hikers" my suggestion is that you do what we did when confronted with the wild beauty of Skye and allocate the night there! One thing that we were unable to squeeze in that you might be interested in is hiking The Quirang, or even sea kayaking(see under Activities.

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you Douglas44. It was my husbands idea to do it "counter clock wise" . I think he was thinking that ending the vacation hiking would be more relaxing. :) Your trip looks amazing. I will be checking out all you have mentioned for sure. Thank you again for sharing!

Posted by
5678 posts

BTW there are some hikes at the end of the Balquhidder Glen. Rob Roy is buried in the church yard at the beginning of the Glen. Go up the Glen and at the end is a parking lot. There were walks from here, but I can't seem to find anything out about them. The Monachyle Mhor Hotel mentions one here. I had a nice lunch there.

Posted by
93 posts

hey Pamela,
good tip on the link to walks going from Monachyle Mhor; the owner/chef Tom Lewis is quite the culinary rock-star too! I'm not surprised your meal was excellent.

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you Pamela for the hiking suggestion Balquhidder Glen.. We will check it out!

Posted by
40 posts

I leave for Scotland in just a couple of weeks for my 3rd visit. This, like last year's is a solo journey! I did not drive, but took the trains:

-Landed in Glasgow, took train to Edinburgh. Spent 3 nights in the Grassmarket District. Took a day trip on Rabbie's to the Western Highlands- Visited Doune Castle on my 50th Birthday! (yes, another Outlander fan). That particular excursion also went to Kilchurn Castle (AMAZING Ruin!), Loch Lomond, Inverarry. We just saw Stirling Castle from the roadway (this trip I am spending a day in Stirling)

I disagree with another post, Edinburgh is amazing with so much to do. If you like historical/ghost walking tours, Edinburgh is your city! This year I am again basing myself in Edinburgh's Grassmarket District (airbnb 5 nights) and taking the train to Stirling and Glasgow.

-I then took the train to Aberdeen (2 hour trip) and spent 2 nights. My Grandmother was a Keith, so this is the region where my ancestors were from. If you love castles, then you must go to Dunnottar!! Unbelievable- sits right on the North Sea. Views are unforgettable. Aberdeen is a great base for numerous castles in the area, including Fraser Castle and Balmoral. Jay's Guest House in Aberdeen is wonderful, the owners George & Alice Jennings make you feel like family.

-From Aberdeen, I took the train to Inverness, and spent 3 nights. I had wanted to see Loch Ness since I was a child, and it did not disappoint! I stayed in an amazing B/B called Oak Villas. Margo, the owner, was a sweetheart! I took a full day trip on Jacobite Tours--the boat from Urquhart Castle back to Inverness is etched in my heart forever. I also took the bus from Inverness city center to Culloden Battlefield, where my ancestor James Keith fought, and was later banished to the colonies as an indentured servant. I fear that this solemn, historical site is going to be overrun with Outlander fans who think Jamie Fraser was a real person and do not respect that hallowed ground.

-I then flew from Inverness to Dublin to visit friends. This year I am again flying into Glasgow, taking the train to Edinburgh. 5 nights there, with day trips to Stirling and Glasgow (then flying to Belfast!)

-I would suggest flying into Glasgow, as there are many more available flights from the US. Everything I tried last year flew me from the US to Heathrow, and then to EDI. The train from Glasgow to Edinburgh is only about 45 minutes.

-I've always visited in Sept/Oct, so I do not know how bad the crowds are in the summer.

You will LOVE it!

Posted by
191 posts

Thank you again for all your thoughtful itinerary suggestions and feedback from your trips. I can already see that we will need to return someday as we will not have enough time to see everything you all have mentioned. We have changed a few things due to your feedback and have settled on a itinerary based on our interest and your feedback! I am sure you all will hear from me again with additional questions as the time draws near. Airline tickets, car hire, and most B&B stays are booked so now we just have to research a bit more and WAIT!! Thanks again.