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Scotland and Ireland 16 day Itinerary

Hello! Here is the first draft - first time to Scotland and Ireland. We will be renting a car for most of the trip. What do you think??
Day 1
Flight from JFK

Day 2
Land in Edinburgh
Old Town Edinburgh
The Royal Mile
Edinburgh Castle
Hiking Arthurs Seat

Day 3

Pentland Hills Hike
The Scottish Whiskey Experience
Ghost Tour

Day 4
Rent car and drive to Glencoe
Stop in Stirling
Stirling Castle

Day 5


Day 6
Drive to Inverness
Old Inverlochy Castle Fort Williams
Stop at Glen Etive
Ben Nervis

Day 7
Day at Isle of Skye
Seven Sisters of Kintail and Eilean Donan Castle
Fairy pools
Lunch in Portree

Day 8


Day 9
To Inverness airport – fly to Belfast
Rent car and drive to Annaghmore

Day 10
Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, Caves, Rope bridge tour – all day

Day 11

Train to Dublin
Guinness Brewery

Day 12

Dublin Doors
Temple Bar

Day 13
Drive to Dingle

Day 14
Ring of Kerry, Skellig Ring, Skellig Michael

Day 15
Head to Doolin – Conor Pass
Cliffs of Moher Hike

Day 16

Trip to Galway

Day 17
Shannon airport

Posted by
3122 posts

Frankly I think you are cramming too much into too few days. Just your Day 2 in Edinburgh already has me out of breath. I suggest you re-evaluate your priorities and decide what to forgo on this trip. You can always come back another time.

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks for your reply - I will go back to the drawing board - what do you suggest chopping off or consolidating ? We like to be active - golf, hiking, etc.

Posted by
3122 posts

Yes, I can see you like to be active -- more power to you!

I don't know as much about Ireland as Scotland, so I'll focus on the latter. If you don't like cities as much as the countryside, then spend one day in Edinburgh as you've planned, but be flexible and don't get bent out of shape if you don't hit all the destinations on your Edinburgh list. Days 3-4-5, I would say choose either Pentland Hills or Glencoe, not both.

Day 6 you've got both Inverness and Fort William listed, but they are not near each other. I would forgo Fort William -- Old Inverlochy Castle is an OK castle ruin, but not a big deal -- more fun to visit Urquhart Castle on the north shore of Loch Ness, near Inverness.

The Isle of Skye is very popular, so book lodging well ahead. I can recommend the Dornie Hotel, on the mainland about 10 min from Kyle of Lochalsh bridge and walking distance to Eilean Donan Castle.

Flying out of Inverness, make sure to give yourself a very generous time cushion to drive from Skye. You never know about road closures, car trouble, other circumstances beyond your control that could make it awfully stressful to get to the airport.

Obviously your priorities and preferences may be different. Just realize that the roads are narrow, mountainous, windy so it takes longer to get from point A to point B than you'd think from the map. And you want time out of the car to see & do stuff.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you for the suggestions! We would love to stay away from the tourists as much as possible, so opinions of people who have actually been to Scotland and seen things is very valuable.

Posted by
3122 posts

OK if you want to stay away from tourists, the Isle of Skye may not be your best bet. See another thread on this forum "Highlands Overrun?" Eilean Donan Castle, in particular, seems a magnet for large bus tours. Also, Fort William (especially w/Jacobite Steam Train) and Inverness are kind of crossroads for tourists seeing the highlands.

There's no shortage of awe-inspiring scenery and points of interest all around Scotland. As just one example, half an hour east of Inverness is the town of Nairn, which has golf courses and whale watching, and doesn't attract all that many tourists. Since you are into golf and hiking, you could venture out into less traveled areas and probably have a fabulous trip. If you do that, just be aware that the tourism infrastructure in the more remote areas will be less robust. There's always a tradeoff.

Posted by
49 posts

This is great - we will look into Nairn- this is what we love about the forum!
Any other hideaway towns around this route. Should we skip Skye all together and stay venture into the national park near Inverness?

Posted by
1469 posts

If you go to Nairn you are not that fair from Brodie Castle which is worth a visit. We went there when the Laird was still there and he met us in the entry in full kilt dress! It was very evocative of the Victorian aristocratic lifestyle.

Posted by
3122 posts

If by the national park near Inverness you mean the Cairngorms National Park, sure, it seems ideal for your outdoorsy style of travel. There are many, many out-of-the-way places within, say, half an hour's drive of the A9 that offer spectacular mountain scenery and hiking ("walking") opportunities. The village of Aviemore, for example, is a popular base for outdoors enthusiasts without being overrun by bus tours. See

Posted by
1225 posts

I would stick to one country if you can as they are both worth their own trip. I have not been to Ireland so I'll stick to Scotland. I love castles and Dunnottar, Tantallon, and Dirleton were some of my faves. I would also recommend getting up to Orkney. So cool! And for out of the way places look at the Undiscovered Scotland website. In addition to sites they also have walks/hikes, natural areas, and driving route suggestions with links to websites to help you plan.

Posted by
2 posts

in Ireland driving to Dingle from Dublin will be a long day with stops (ie: Adare) on the way. then I guess you'll have the night in Dingle town. (include Dick Macks on your pub list as well as O'Sullivans for music) Although the ring of Kerry and seeing the Skelligs is do-able from Dingle as a LONG day trip, you aren't seeing much of Dingle except Connor Pass....(which is spectacular)
I spent 6 wonderful days in a cottage near Ballyferriter where the new Star Wars movie was filmed. Check out Sybil head and the 3 sisters. You would enjoy a lot of hiking in Dingle... also the ferry to the Blasket Islands (on a clear day... see the Skelligs).. , Galarus Oratory,... etc. When leaving Dingle via Connor Pass, take Tarbet ferry up to Doolin via Lahinch (Golf) and the Cliffs. Gus O'Connor will always have music but also check out McGanns and McDermotts. Half door B and B is great and next to McGanns. I've been to Ireland 8 times.... signed on here to plan Scotland and Northern Ireland for next May...