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Scotland & Greece in late August - Islands? Heat? Fringe?

I'm planning a last minute, first time trip to Scotland (Edinburgh and a Rabbies tour (Highland Explorer: Skye & Far North 5 days - this starts on either a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday) and Greece (Athens, Santorini, and not sure where else - help!) in August/September and I'm hoping to get everything booked asap but need some advice on a few things. You all have been so helpful for previous trips!

I would have loved to go in September but it looks like the only time that really works for us is August and our trip dates would be August 17 or 18th (arrive)-September 5th or 6th (fly home). From reading the forum and looking at prices online, I know that August is not ideal because of high hotel prices, limited hotel options since we're running out of time, heat in Greece during August, and the crowds at Fringe festival, but this seems to be the dates that would work best for us.

For reference in case it's helpful, I'll be going with my husband, we're 28 and 30, and we love sightseeing, history, walking tours, eating, drinking, and relaxing at the beach/pool. Renting a scooter in Greece sounds fun! We've been to Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, San Sebastian, Paris, and Amsterdam and our favorites were Paris, San Sebastian, and Venice.

Here's what I'm wondering:
1) Based on our dates, which would be better to put first, Greece or Scotland?
If we put Greece first, I'm a bit worried about the heat. I have looked online and it looks like we could expect an average of 85F, which doesn't sound terrible but I'm sure it's the sun that makes it hotter? Would going to Greece from August 27th through September 6th make much of a difference with the heat vs. going August 17th through 27th?

If we put Scotland first, are the crowds unbearable in Edinburgh for Fringe festival? I don't foresee us going to any shows (besides possibly a comedy show). If we went to Scotland second, would the crowds have dissipated by August 28th?

2) I have not yet planned out exactly what we'll be doing in Edinburgh, but I'm thinking 2-4 days spent there. Any thoughts? I would be okay with taking a day or so from there to add to Greece if needed.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give! Here's a rough itinerary for each option:

Scotland then Greece

Aug 18 Sunday JFK to EDI arrives 7:55 AM
Aug 19 Monday Edinburgh
Aug 20 Tuesday Edinburgh
Aug 21 Wednesday Edinburgh
Aug 22 Thursday Rabbies tour pickup in Edinburgh
Aug 23 Friday Rabbies tour
Aug 24 Saturday Rabbies tour
Aug 25 Sunday Rabbies tour
Aug 26 Monday Rabbies tour ends - last night spent in Edinburgh
Aug 27 Tuesday Travel to Greece
Aug 28 Wednesday

Aug 29 Thursday

Aug 30 Friday

Aug 31 Saturday

Sept 1 Sunday

Sept 2 Monday

Sept 3 Tuesday
Sept 4 Wednesday

Sept 5 Thursday

Sept 6 Friday fly home

Greece then Scotland

Aug 17 Saturday JFK to Athens arrives 4:30pm
Aug 18 Sunday

Aug 19 Monday

Aug 20 Tuesday
Aug 21 Wednesday

Aug 22 Thursday

Aug 23 Friday

Aug 24 Saturday

Aug 25 Sunday

Aug 26 Monday

Aug 27 Tuesday
Aug 28 Wednesday Edinburgh
Aug 29 Thursday Edinburgh
Aug 30 Friday Edinburgh
Aug 31 Saturday Rabbies tour
Sept 1 Sunday Rabbies tour
Sept 2 Monday Rabbies tour
Sept 3 Tuesday Rabbies tour
Sept 4 Wednesday Rabbies tour - last night spent
Sept 5 Thurs Fly home

Posted by
5926 posts

I don't know what a "Rabbies tour" is, but personally I would not go to Greece in August. Just way to hot for me. Scotland would be a better choice in the full heat of summer IMHO. Would you consider spending all your time there in Scotland? There's certainly plenty to see.

BTW, posting the same thing in more than one forum is frowned on. Best to keep just one thread going.

Posted by
65 posts

Is there a way to tag both places in one thread though? I was hoping to do that but didn't see the option and also hoping people who have been to both places could give insight as well.

Posted by
5971 posts

If you are hoping to travel with just hand luggage, trying to pack light for Scotland and Greece will be difficult, as you will need two completely different wardrobes with the climates being so different.

Greece will be hot throughout your proposed stay, but hotter in August and as it will still be school holidays for much of Europe, many places will already have been booked. Athens is hideous in August and early September.

The Edinburgh Fringe runs through to 26 August and finding accommodation during this time will be difficult and expensive, as many places get booked a year ahead. It will be very busy.

In answer to your question, there isn’t a best way to combine these locations, as both will be better from mid September, when it’s cooler and the school children are back at school.

Personally, I would try to combine two destinations that are closer bed fellows than Scotland and Greece.

Posted by
5926 posts

Not the end of the world. I think generally, if you're asking about more than one country, it may be best to post in "General Europe". Don't worry, plenty of people will see it either way. I'm sure you'll get plenty of input.

Posted by
5754 posts

Hi - sounds like it will be a great trip! As you mentioned, Greece might be a tad cooler if you saved it for the end. The Festival Fringe, though is popular for a reason, and it’s so quintessentially Edinburgh that you should go, and take advantage of being able to attend while it’s going on, even if only for a day or two. Three years ago, we actually caught a stand-up act at the Fringe from a long-time New York comic, a Henny Youngman-type of guy. Join the crowd and enjoy!

Other thoughts: climb Arthur’s Seat, a hill with a great view of the city, catch some music at the Royal Oak pub, and visit the queen’s former Royal Yacht Britannia, complete with a Rolls-Royce onboard. But be prepared for rain, which you might well experience in August.

Looks like you added your same posting to the Greece section of this forum, so by monitoring both, you should get responses for both parts of your trip.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks everyone! When does the heat start going back down in September? I was thinking August 27th might be okay, and I could be wrong but are the islands a bit cooler than Athens? I was thinking we'd be in Santorini Aug 27-30th. And ending with Athens somewhere around September 3rd.

We technically could do September 8th (arrive 5:30 pm) and leave September 25th but I was trying to avoid this for a few reasons:
We would only be able to go 18 days instead of 20 and wouldn't have the potential to add a few days if needed to Greece
We'd have to leave a wedding 3 hours early to catch our flight on the 7th and miss a wedding on the 8th (that wouldn't be the end of the world)
September is a busier time at work than August
I have a trip booked to Salt Lake City, Utah from Sept 26-29th and have to be there by 4pm on the 26th. So a lot packed in there!

So my question is.... would it make that big of a difference in the heat and our experience in these two countries to push the trip out by a few weeks, going to Greece September 17th vs. August 27th? Considering the items above and having to shorten the trip by a few days?

Posted by
5754 posts

Hi kbmtravel - since you’ve posted in both Greece and Scotland sections now, you might want to keep your Greece questions to the Greece part. I haven’t been there that time of year, but I bet 3 weeks won’t make a huge difference in temperature variations.

Posted by
11294 posts

The biggest problem will be getting accommodations in Edinburgh during the Festival. See what you can do to get these nailed down now, or you may have to skip Edinburgh and see other parts of Scotland.

I don't know if Glasgow accommodations get full (or fuller than usual) during the Edinburgh Festival. If not, that's the first place I'd look if you can't get a place in Edinburgh. If you stay in Glasgow's city centre, you can take an easy bus or train ride to Edinburgh (the reason I fear these hotels may be fuller than usual).

Posted by
103 posts

I've never been to Greece so I can't really advise on that particularly - although I do suspect it could quite easily be punishingly hot there in Aug (100F+ possibly). It might be a bit cooler early sept, but I'm not sure it would make that much difference tbh.

It certainly won't be 100F in Edinburgh;-) - but what it will be is very busy - literally crowded, with crowds of people on the streets in the main tourist area. As you may have seen, accommodation is also scarce and can be eye wateringly expensive. People talk about a festival "atmosphere" and if you're interested in theatre etc then obviously you'd want to visit during the festival - but if you're not into that particularly then I'm not sure I'd look to visit then as the festival itself will be of limited interest and the crowds may become rather waring.

Doing it the other way round is technically just after the festival, but you'll still probably catch a lot of visitors still there (and the heat in Greece!). Visiting later in September will miss the festival so the crowds will have died down - however the reality is that Edinburgh is very touristy and sept is still fairly peak season so you certainly won't have the city to yourself!

I guess it's up to you and what your priorities are.

I think Harold gives a good suggestion - if you really want to visit Edinburgh at that time, but avoid the expensive prices and have some respite from the crowds then you can stay outside Edinburgh and just travel in for the day. Glasgow is the best bet as it's Scotlands largest city and as such has a vast range of hotels and accommodation to choose from - and it should be much cheaper than Edinburgh at that time (you might find flights landing there are cheaper too). Indeed, you may well find things of interest in Glasgow itself - theres plenty to see there too.

The train service between the cities is incredibly frequent (I make it about 10-11 trains per hour via 3 different routings). The fastest express service (via the Falkirk High route) runs every 15mins from Queen Street station in Glasgow city centre to Haymarket and Waverley stations in central Edinburgh, with a journey time around 45-50mins. The last scheduled train from Edinburgh in the evening is 11:30pm, so it's feasible to stay in Edinburgh late. I believe ScotRail sometimes schedule extra/later trains on the route during the festival too. An off-peak day return is about £13.30 per person (This applies if you travel after 09.15 and not between 16:42 and 18:15).

There's also a very regular bus service running every 15mins (and iirc through the night!). It's a deal cheaper than the train but the journey time can be near double that of the train.

Many of the other towns that you could travel into Edinburgh from don't have much for the tourist or don't have a great deal of accomodation. The only other one I'd maybe consider is Stirling. It's a nice town with the castle etc - it's nowhere near as big as Glasgow but does have a few hotels. The journey time by train to Edinburgh is about 50mins and an off-peak day return is about £10.

See for train info and for busses. Note the train services mentioned don't need to (indeed iirc can't) be booked in advance - you just turn up and go. You can do the same for the bus (although you can book if you want, sometimes for cheaper tickets).