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Scotland 7 day Itinerary question

My husband and I will be going to Scotland in late June/early July for seven nights. We are planning on renting a car and driving. Does the itinerary below look doable? We don't want to spend our entire time in a car, but we also want to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Day 1: arrive 7 am Edinburgh. We want to rent a car and drive and stay at Stirling or possibly Perth. Is there a better choice between the two? It should be noted that we will arrive in Edinburgh on a Sunday.
Day 2: At some point during the day, head towards the Inverness area.

Day 3: Inverness area
Day 4: Drive to Isle of Skye
Day 5: Isle of Skye area
Day 6: Edinburgh - return car
Day 7: Edinburgh
Day 8: Depart Edinburgh at 9am.

Is this driving itinerary possible or should we modify? Maybe we should spend less time in one area to make sure we have more time in another? Should we bypass the Isles all together? Maybe leave them for the next trip?

Thank you so much for your help.

Posted by
5561 posts

This is doable. Day 6 is a long day. It's over a four hour drive probably five when you go the fastest route. Here's a link to the Viamichelin map. I think that you'd probably want to drive through the west, though and that route would take close to six hours. You can play with the Via Michelin router by entering different intermediate towns I got to six hours by entering Fort William as the middle town. This route takes you through Glencoe.

What you might do is get up to Perthshire the first day. I would recommend staying in Dunkeld. It is right off the A9, and is small enough that you would enjoy it on your first day. Here's the route. If you were feeling energetic you could stop off at Scone Palace using this route. I think I would go straight to Dunkeld. Have a lovely lunch in town either at the Tay Bank or the Royal Dunkeld. Then I would check out the Cathedral followed by a walk in the hills or along the Tay in the Birnam Wood. You can pick up the trail map in the TI in the square.

If you want to see Stirling and the castle, you could end day six in Stirling. You probably can ditch the car there and take the train to Edinburgh the next day. It's open from 9:30-6 so if you really want to see it, try to get to Stirling by mid afternoon. That should give you time to ditch the car and see the castle. You'll need at least an hour at the castle and two hours is better.

Pam

Posted by
1291 posts

Echoing Pam, day six does seem a long day, but not impossible. For the choice between Perth and Stirling, Perth is on the route to Inverness if that is your choice. Possibly dropping Skye in favour of the Ft William area or Stirling may be worth a consideration. Remember the distances can be deceptive in the Highlands, even Inverness to Portree can be a heafty slog if the traffic is against you.

In each is there something specific you wish to see or do? This could help with suggestions of places to go.

Posted by
5 posts

The only things on our "must-see" list are Edinburgh and Eilean Donan Castle. The rest of our trip we are just going to see what happens and enjoy being in Scotland. We might do as you both suggest and take out Skye. We both like to stop and enjoy the scenery around us. We are so excited!! Thank you so much for your help. I have been reading other travel forum questions, and I was hoping the two of you would respond. :)

Posted by
1291 posts

Your welcome, the revised must sees give different suggestions,.

Eileann Donan is best seen seaward, coming from the bridge to Skye. This is the ur example of the Scottish romantic castle view. It is touristy, but it is touristy because it is good. Eileann Donan is meant to be seen from seaward because that is where the threats were coming from. Because of that I would potentially add Skye back onto the table. I would look at a two possibly three centre list, splitting the time Edinburgh and Ft William/Skye. In Edinburgh you are probably best without the car, and car do day trips out to Linlithgow, Stirling, Glasgow, easily by public transport. Edinburgh is also a pain to park in for locals.

I would probavly front load the holiday to Skye first, a night at Fort William, for Glencoe, Glenfinnan and taking the ferry from Mallaig. I would keep the initial night in Stirling area, just to acclimatise to driving on the correct side and jet lag.

If you want to see Eileann Donan and don't go to Skye unless you really don't want to go to Skye, it is like going to Dallas and not seeing Dealy Plaza, the book depository and the grassy knoll! You are in the neighbourhood.

A few days in that area and come back, and dump the car at the airport. The remaining nights I would then spend in Edinburgh, car free.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you so much for your replies!

I did a little adjusting to our itinerary, and I think I have it kind of narrowed down. Pamela, thank you so much for the viamichelin link it helps me understand the driving lengths a little better.

I think we are going to head to the Dunkeld area, then Skye, then Ft. William area, then onto Edinburgh. Getting extremely excited!!

Thank you again!

Posted by
5561 posts

Just remember that viamichelin does not include photo stops. :)

Also, if you decide that you can be flexible in your travels and not book everything out in advance, then you can "follow" the weather a bit. It can be very different on different sides of this small country. If you don't need the cutest, most wonderful B&B, but can go a bit with the flow you can sometimes see more. TI's have the book a bed ahead feature. Or you can have your own list of B&Bs for potential places and call ahead. Since you' are traveling in June, you won't have as many crowds. And since you're a couple most accommodations will suit you. We singles sometimes struggle.

Posted by
453 posts

I like Pam's Dunkeld suggestions and want to add some walking guidance. visit www.walkhighlands.com for ideas on walks, what you will see on the walks and how difficult the walks will be. Once you get to the website locate the Dunkeld, Blairgowrie and Glen Shee area page and then look at the bottom of the page and click on the map view. It will open up over the Dunkeld area and will offer links to walks...green is easy, yellow more difficult, you know the drill. As you click on the walks you will see what other folks suggest and will be able to view a walking map, photos, and a roadmap offering directions on the road to the spot where the hikes begin. You can do a similar thing in over at Fort William, down in Glen Coe and of course out on Skye. Be sure to allow more time to travel than you are used to doing because the roads are narrow and often lined by curbs and stone fences. Rent a small car, I repeat, rent a small car, you'll thank me later. Learn road etiquette for single lane roads and roads that narrow often to one lane. I wish I was heading back today!! MC is also right on with suggestions according to my experience, we got the car at the airport and went west immediately, you can later take the tram, taxi, or bus into Edi!

Posted by
5 posts

Due to other events, it looks like our Scotland journey is getting shortened by 1 1/2 days. Sad, but true. Because of this, I'm wondering what we should scrap in order to have the most enjoyable, relaxing trip. It will be my husband and I's first trip without our toddlers so we are looking forward to a nice leisurely trip. Our original itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in EDI and drive to Dunkeld
Day 2: Drive to Portree
Day 3: Portree
Day 4: Ft. William
Day 5: Stirling
Day 6: EDI
Day 7: EDI

Should we go ahead and scrap Portree and just drive to Eilean Donan Castle from our base at Ft. William (or would Ft. Augustus be better?) Should we just stick to EDI, Stirling, Dunkeld, and maybe Glasgow?

Maybe:
Day 1: Arrive in EDI and drive to Dunkeld
Day 2: Drive to Ft. William (or Ft. Augustus) and from there see Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle
Day 3: Drive to Stirling (a must see on my husband's list)
Day 4: EDI
Day 5: EDI
Day 6: EDI early departure

Thank you for your guidance!

Posted by
4974 posts

Too bad that more time isn't available, but there's plenty to see and do with the time you will have. Skye is worth several days, if you have the time, and we stayed out west near Dunvegan, but visited Portree for part of one day last summer. From Skye, we headed to Fort William for a couple of days, and from there on our last full day before flying home (we'd started with several days in Edinburgh), we headed towards Edinburgh by way of Stirling. MC mentions times when the traffic can be against you, and we encountered two days driving in complete downpours (Inverness towards Skye and Fort William towards Stirling), so the weather can sometimes make the traffic even slower.

Didn't make it to Glasgow that trip, so it'll have to wait for another time.

Posted by
1291 posts

Fort Augustus is a more central place to stay if you want to see Loch Ness, Eilean Donan etc. Fort William can be out of the way as a base for them. Fort Augustus has the advantage as well as being in the centre of the Great Glen rather than off one end.