My wife and I are planning on visiting Scotland for 7 days in June 2019. We will be flying into Edinburgh. Fly out of there as well. Probably stay there for two nights and then branch out. I realize we will be just scratching the surface. Looking for suggestions for great scenery but just as important to interact with the Scots. We like B&B's. I will rent a car to get around. Small towns are just fine with us.
For great scenery the highlands can’t be beat! However, 4/5 hours to get to Inverness area. Get the RS Scotland book, it was very helpful in my planning a 12 night trip this past July. In Inverness, we stayed at Moyness House B&B and loved it. Close enough to walk to town center.
In addition to the RS guide, get a copy of the 2017 Lonely Planet guide. It contains some one week driving itineraries, as well as lots of information not included in the RS book. The two guides complement one another. RS concentrates on specific areas, while LP covers the entire country.
You say that you'll have seven days. Is your day of arrival included in those seven days? If so, then your first day will be spent recovering from your overseas flight, and you probably will want to make it an early night. Also, if your departure day is included in the seven days, you'll have at most a half day for touring. Will you have seven full days on the ground in Scotland? If that's the case, then we'll have a better idea of recommendations.
Best wishes for your holiday!
p.s.: You don't have to buy the guides. Your local library will be able to order them through interlibrary loan. You can then take notes, and you'll save enough money for a good meal in Auld Reekie.
Actually I do have both guide books. I will be coming from Ireland so I will have seven complete days. I can add a day if necessary since I have not made my flight reservations as yet. I am always looking for the personal opinions rather the guide books. Sometimes it nice not following the crowds.
Hi again, Steve,
If you spend two days in Edinburgh, you'll have five full days to enjoy the rest of Scotland. The best scenery is in the Northwest and West, just as it is in Ireland. But the Northeast and the Borders also have some amazing scenery. You need to determine some sort of loop tour that will bring you back to Edinburgh.
Skye is beautiful and wild, but it's the second most popular tourist destination in Scotland, after Edinburgh, so you'll be competing for accommodation, and you'll also be encountering many tourists. Given five full days, you may want to consider heading up to the Moray coast, cutting across through Inverness, then heading up to Ullapool or Lochinver. From there, you can make your way down the West Coast to Kyle, then back inland to Invergarry and Fort William, and down through Glencoe. From Glencoe, you can head back to Edinburgh by way of Loch Tay and then Stirling.
That's just one option. You could head over to Arran, spend a day there, then take the Lochranza ferry to Kintyre, then up through Kilmartin to Oban. From Oban, you could visit Mull, then head over to Moidart and back to Fort William via Glenfinnan.
You could also skip both of those routes and head up to Aberdeenshire via Arbroath and Montrose, drive up to the charming villages along the Moray Coast, then return via the Cairngorms, Pitlochry, and Stirling.
The possibilities are endless, but the final decision is yours. Whatever you decide, you'll see some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth, and meet some of the friendliest people on Earth. As you're traveling in June, make sure that you have most of your accommodation arranged by no later than Easter.
Best wishes for your plans.
You might also look at the Secret Scotland website to get ideas of driving itineraries and realistic drive times. It takes longer than you think to get from one place to another, because most roads in Scotland are rather narrow (and bordered by rough stone walls, the better to scrape the sides of your car) and often wind up and down steep grades with hairpin curves. One good thing about traveling in June, though, its that you'll have many hours of daylight.
All great ideas and information. Thanks. It seems like all paths head north. Does anyone travel to the south of Edinburgh. In reading the Lonely Planet guidebook it appears to have some very pretty areas. Although for a first trip it sounds like a northern loop of some nature would be best. I just want to be sure I get a flavor of Scotland and not spend all the time behind a windshield.
Thanks again for all your inputs.
Hi again, Steve,
Yes, people do travel to the area south of Edinburgh. It's not as heavily traveled because it doesn't get the publicity that the Highlands and Islands do. The Borders area is particularly attractive, with the farm towns/cattle droving towns of Melrose, Selkirk, Moffat, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Kelso, and Peebles settled among lovely rolling hills. Dumfries, too, with the river Nith running through it, is a charming town, and has an historic association with Robert Burns.
There is great history in the Borders as well, with centuries of conflict between the Scots and the English. The Border Reivers (mainly cattle raiders) are celebrated each year by Common Ridings in many of the Border towns. The Ridings commemorate the attempts of the farmers and townspeople to defend against the activities of the Reivers. Many of the events of this time period featured in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, whose home at Abbotsford is worth a visit.
"When I die, bury me low,
Where I can hear the bonnie Tweed flow.
A sweeter place I never did know,
Than the rolling hills o' the Borders."
We stayed at a very nice B&B on the outskirts of Edinburgh. In fact this B&B is not far from the airport and an easy drive after getting off a long flight. You can even take the #44 bus into the city. It runs very frequently and takes around 20 mins. The bus stop is right by the B&B. https://www.justbedinburgh.com/ another B&B we enjoyed was Whitehouse B&B in Fort Augustus (loch Ness) . Both places were modern and clean. Hosts were wonderful. I used Booking.com but you can always contact directly.
I used this web site to help with planning my Scotland trip. We based much of our trip around hikes and natural beauty, of course there is a ton of it up there. If you take some time to click around on this site you can find directions, great locations, and other cool stuff. We used it for hiking and sightseeing in areas around Glen Coe, Fort William, Glenfinnan (train bridge from Harry Potter fame, nice short hike there), Edinburgh, and out to Skye. It is a great resource and the forum is very helpful.. Don't discount it if you are not a hiker, it has many useful suggestions. https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ Dave
All paths certainly don’t just head north or north west from Edinburgh, although that seems to be where most on this forum head!
It takes time to cover Scotland as in some parts, such as Skye, the roads are single track with passing places. You have 5 days, so be realistic about how much ground you can cover. If using Google maps, add 25% to their timings.
You can’t go far wrong whichever direction you head in. The Border towns are worth exploring and you could slip south of Berwick into England to see the unique Holy Island.
I also like Dumfries and Galloway, which is very rural, but with a different landscape to the Highlands. The Cairngorms are stunning as is the north coast around Dunnet Head.
I had dreadful weather and very low clouds which completely obscured the hills when I went to Skye in late June.
The N500 driving route promoted by the tourist board has become a victim of its own success means certain areas are over run.