Scotland Itinerary Advice

We will be in Scotland for three days in June. Can those of you with travel experience let me know if this looks like a good plan and whether or not we may have time to see "extra" sites. I have no idea how long the Castle Tour and National Museum take to visit.

Saturday June 7th - Arrive Edinburgh 7:45 AM, check into Hotel, Royal Mile, walk the labyrinth at University/George Square Garden, something else? Castle in Evening? http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/labyrinth/walking

Our goal is to hit the ground running on that first day and just walk to shake off the jet lag. Do you think with getting to our B&B and touring the Royal Mile and the Labyrinth that we may have time to do another site?

Sunday June 8th Edinburgh (Castle, National Museum of Scotland), stay in Edinburgh
Monday June 9th Highlands tour 8 AM, return 10 PM, stay in Edinburgh
Tuesday June 10th morning (10 AM) train to London King’s Cross, sites in London based on time, stay in London

Thoughts? Must sees in Edinburgh that are missing for a first timer? The days are not flexible. What we do within a day is.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

You'll want to go to a couple of pubs, obviously.

You'll probably be too pooped to do the castle at night and no need to do it twice. If you have the energy do a walking ghost tour or something.

The castle and the museum in one day is a lot of time on your feet and a lot of time, period. The museum is expansive, get your bearings and maybe eliminate what's not of interest or non-Scotland specific (the natural history stuff?). The prehistoric exhibits are in, down, and to the right - - hard to find, but good and all pertaining to Scotland.

Posted by Kristen
Chicago
591 posts

If you like to hike, the walk up Arthur's Seat is very nice and you get great views. I also thought the Britannia was very interesting. A note on the Highlands tour- I did a full day Highlands tour. And I saw beautiful scenery and did a Loch Ness tour. However, the vast majority of the time was spent on the bus, well over 50%. Most of the scenery was a blur driving by. It is not the way I would choose to see that part of Scotland. Of course, you can't really know unless you do it for yourself. But I would consider just spending all of the time in Edinburgh. Have a great trip!

Posted by gone
2081 posts

klecser,

with re to the castle tour, i didnt take it so i have no idea on how long it took.

But i did the castle when they opened and after that, walked the Royal Mile and back. Didnt do the Holyrood Palace at the end and spent time in the shopping mall next to Scotts Monument and had a light late lunch there overlooking the monument and snapping a few pictures. I also raided the chocolate shop on one of the floors.

I went to the National Museum the first thing the next day.

I think could do it depending on the length of the castle tour.

just a comment. If you have a chance, check out the Surgeons Hall museum.

ALso, try to hear the 1 o clock gun. I kept on forgetting it or was occupied in some museum.

happy trails.

Posted by klecser
Omaha, NE USA
67 posts

Thanks for the responses. Has anyone here taken a Rabbies tour? They are highly rated and I wonder if we skip the one that includes Loch Ness and did another one if we would spend less time on the bus. There are tons of options.

My wife really wants to see Coastal inlets and I want to see Moors. Is there any option at this link that would satisfy both of us? We are both nature lovers mostly, but part of me wants to go to Glencoe as my ancestors were MacDonalds and I work with a Campbell right now. ;P

http://www.rabbies.com/one_day_tours_scotland_ed.asp?lng=en

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

I left the tour idea alone the first time around so as not to bust your bubble.

You've got the classic problem in that you allotted your days based on something other than how long it takes to do something. It's time to bite the bullet and start parsing. Looking at all the tours on your link, they're nothing but bus time. Look at a map: Edinburgh to Glencoe is at least three hours, to Inverness closer to four.

Something has to go. You have to decide, not a committee with individual anecdotes.

In response to your last question:

  1. Moors are everywhere. The Great Moor starts about fifty miles southeast of the Caledonian and continues until you're out of land.

  2. Inlets are, well, along the coast. Close in, the north side of the firth is pretty good.

Where it I, what I'd do is crunch Edinburg into that first day. For the second two days, I'd snag a car and pick any two points, effectively making a triangular drive with legs of not more than three hours, fitting in what I could along the way.

Posted by klecser
Omaha, NE USA
67 posts

Edinburgh sites are more important to me than the Highlands. I understand your point about the reality of the distances. Still, if I were to spend just one day driving or training to a picturesque/mountainy place in the lower highlands, what single destination would people drive to?

Pilochry?
Loch Lomond/Trossachs?
Fort William?

I've heard that Fort William is very scenic, but the distance is probably stretching it for just a day.

Glencoe is a 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh and seems to have a lot of what we like to see, Lochs and other scenic places...

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs have the best scenery, but that almost has to be a drive.

Pitlochry is a shorter drive by a little, but you can get there by train in about the same time with no stops. It gives you a small town that's worth a few hours and the station is just a couple blocks from the main drag. At least two (McKays and Old Mill) of the pubs have music, and one (Auld Smiddy) has really great grub - - if you want both, make it McKays. . If you drive, you can scoot into the Cairngorms using the A98 for some spectacular scenery.

Fort William has good scenery, but it's mostly out to the west or along the loch to the south. It's a good three-hour drive and I don't know what the public transportation connections are. Most of the urban stuff is along the one pedestrian street. The town is more of a lunch stop or a late-in-the-day-stop-and-spend-the-night place.

My usual caveat: Wait for what Pam might have to say. We tromp the same areas but have vastly different perspectives.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

klecser,

with re to a tour.

I did a tour to Loch Ness. It was an all day trip. I did it since i didnt want to drive. But the tour bus stopped a several places along with way. One stop was along a road to view Glencoe. There were a couple other stops with lunch/dinner. But most of it was on the road.

happy trails.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4214 posts

Here's another suggestion for your taste of the highlands. Go to Dunkeld. There are lovely walks in that area. You can travel by train from Edinburgh and stay either in Dunkeld or Birnam. Dunkeld is lovely little town with a great pub, the Tay Bank. Try to go later in the week or on the weekend and there will be music sessions. It's beautiful, rural, Perthshire scenery and a real change from Edinburgh.

Pitlochry is indeed another option. They have a distillery that you can visit. You can go for a walk along the Tay--less rural than Dunkeld--you can check out the Explorer's Garden, and maybe attend an event at the Festival Theatre. Again, completely accessible by train.

My favorite thing to do when I first arrive in Scotland is after checking in, picking up some Scottish books at Waterstones, I have lunch and then head to the Castle. The views are wonderful, I catch one of their tours and wander around. I have a late afternoon tea and then walk down the Royal Mile. I try to have dinner around 6:30 and then stay away until 9 PM. It helps me to kill the jet lag. You'll notice that there is a lot of walking, but it gets interspersed with sitting. :)

The Museum of Scotland is wonderful. But plan on some down time if you can and be sure to get over to New Town....maybe lunch at the Mussel Inn. Or drinks at one of the pubs on Rose Lane.

Pam