Hi, planning on a Fall trip to Scotland--first visit there, about 9 days...could be longer. Husband and I both like cities, but also want to see some of the Highlands/small towns. Was thinking 3 nights in Edinburg, train to Glasgow, 2-3 nights there. Take a 3 day "tour" to Portree/Isle of Skye..... We drove while in Ireland, doable, but stressful, so may be avoiding that with this trip---or is driving Scotland a bit easier? Ha! Would love your thoughts on itinerary, things to NOT miss, etc. Thanks so much!! Karen
Last June we based ourselves in Edinburgh for a week and did a couple of day trips via Rabbies. We then rented a car and headed for Inverness and then to the Isle of Mull before ending up for 3 days in Glasgow which included a day trip via train to Stirling Castle.
Yes, driving can be stressful and if you go to Skye you'll likely encounter some single track roads , but I found the most stressful driving day to be from Inverness to Oban. It was a single lane each way, but very curvy and narrow. For me Stirling Castle was the highlight of the trip and a can't-miss. Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle near Inverness were also outstanding. Mull was also beautiful, but we had personal reasons to choose it over Skye for this trip. Like you, I like cities and both Edinburgh and Glasgow are worthy of multi-night stays.
If you don't mind doing some reading, here is my trip report from last year. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-scotland-the-search-for-jamie-fraser
You won't need a car in either Edinburgh or Glasgow as it is very easy to get around by public transport.
Once away from the major cities, roads are slow, can be busy and some can be narrow. The driver often ends upo concentrating on the road so misses out on the scenery. Taking a three day tour makes a lot of sense. Check out companies like Rabies and Timberbush who all get good reviews.
We drove around Scotland for a month last summer. To me it was WAY easier than driving around Ireland -- probably because Scotland has loads of pullouts on the single track roads. Many of the roads between the cities are multiple lanes, or at least very nice country highways. There are stretches, though, depending on where you're going that are single lanes, but all the drivers in each direction were extremely courteous. The locals were obvious because they knew the roads. Again, I NEVER felt threatened as I did in Ireland.
As one poster said, though, no need for cards in the big cities.
FYI we did a day trip from Inverness to Aboyne, through the Caringorms National Park. We went to see Highlands Games in Aboyne. Now, that burgh is out of the actual highlands -- but the drive to and from was fantastic... And when we got to Aboyne we were sorry we didn't schedule a night or two in that area. It was lovely...