We have an airline voucher requiring travel initiated before March 22, 2020. We need some opinions regarding visiting Scotland mid-month for 12 days. We are mid-70s, healthy, non-demanding, public transportation, inexpensive lodgings, "go with the flow" sort of people who enjoy moderate walking, museums, pubs, and people watching. We handle winter just fine and know that gray days, wind, rain and snow are likely, but wonder about hours of daylight, transportation schedules and hours for establishments that we might visit. Suggestions for itineraries and websites appreciated.
mid March is Springtime, might get some frosty mornings and evenings but can be quite warm (well for Scotland)during the day , might be snow , might be rain,you just never know. you will get approx.12 hours of daylight that time of year.
The Wikipedia entries for most European cities of note contain climate-summary charts. I think they're helpful for things like hours of sunlight and precipitation. I don't like them for temperature, because they just show monthly average highs and lows, and the time period on which those are based cuts off in 2010.
Here's Edinburgh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh
Here's Glasgow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow
As you can see, Glasgow is likely to be wetter and have less sunlight. The western islands seem to have weather that is closer to Glasgow's than to Edinburgh's.
There are lots of indoor attractions in both Edinburg and Glasgow. I don't know how much transportation to smaller towns and the islands varies with the calendar. I'd guess some of the smaller lodgings may not be open in March.
Having spent 26 days in Scotland in July 2019, I'd urge you to plan your wardrobe carefully. I was very happy to have a layer of merino wool long johns to wear under my 97% nylon pants. The latter were not waterproof (though I'd take waterproof pants if I had to go to Scotland in March), but they were pretty good at shedding water. I'd be miserable walking around in wet clothes in March temperatures, but you may be made of hardier stock.
I would definitely take waterproof shoes, but understand that unless you go with boots that extend up under your pants, your feet will get wet as rain finds its way onto your socks.
Check for sunrise and sunset times for Edinburgh here.
The later in the month, slightly longer days. Who knows what the weather will be like - it could be warm and sunny, wet and miserable or there may even be snow...
Easter is late next year - April 17th. You may find some tourist attractions don’t open until Easter, or have restricted opening times. Major tourist attractions, including museums should be open, although smaller ones may not, or else have restricted hours. You would need to check. National Trust for Scotland properties may not be open.
Smaller B&Bs may not have opened then. Most larger towns will have a Travelodge or Premier Inn which offer good cheap accommodation and will be open. You can often get good deals booking well in advance - but watch out about getting tied to a non refundable deal.
Public transport will be running and trains are a good way to travel between the main towns and cities. Bus services in towns are usually good but rural bus services can be sparse and more geared up to getting people to work or children to school.
If you are wanting ideas for itineraries, have a look at the ideas on the Secret Scotland website. Although these are designed for self drive, they could be adapted to public transport.
My preferred guide book is DK Eyewitness Scotland which has lots of pictures and enough information to wet the appetite.
The best website for ideas is Undiscovered Scotland. Start with the relevant map page and click on the links for more information and pictures. I use this to plan all my trips.
For rail schedules: nationalrail.co.uk
For buses: https://travelinescotland.com/
Travelines integrates train and bus schedules, but during my planning (early 2019) I encountered some differences in the rail schedules displayed on those two websites. I decided it was best to depend on NationalRail for my train schedules, and it worked out fine. I still don't know why the displayed schedules weren't 100% consistent.
A lot of the trains in the UK are quite expensive on a per-mile basis if you don't snag tickets early enough to catch a promo fare. Of course, in the current environment it's rather risky to buy an unchangeable ticket very far in advance.
Each of you would qualify for the Senior Railcard, or you could buy the Two Together Railcard. You'd only need one Two Together card, so that would be cheaper, but it seems to have rush-hour restrictions that don't apply to the Senior Railcard. You'd also need to be sure you wouldn't be traveling separately during the trip. Once you have a decent idea of your itinerary, you can determine whether one of the cards will be worthwhile.
I believe there's a bus pass for Scotland and perhaps a combo bus/rail pass for at least part of the country. My travel mate and I decided on Senior Travelcards. Even though we took quite a lot of buses, the bus pass didn't pencil out for us.
If you anticipate spending all your time in the immediate environs of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, I suspect paying full fare will be the way to go.
If you want to see more of the countryside than can be readily arranged efficiently via bus or train, you might check on what tours Rabbies is offering during you timeframe. I haven't taken a Rabbies tour, but they draw very positive comments here.
I recommend checking the websites of the attractions most important to you before you finalize your itinerary. It's possible some will not be open at all in March, and others might only be open on or around the weekend. That sort of information might be critical for determining how many nights to spend at each destination. Then you should check back in the month before your trip for the latest information. We can all hope the trajectory of recovery from the pandemic will be consistently upward from here, but it may not play out that way. The most reliable source of information about operating hours is going to be the website of the attraction itself.
March is when the sites tend to reopen if they close for the winter so it is worth checking with the various bodies you may wish to visit. Weather wise it can be freezing or bright and sunny, it really is pot luck what happens. I've had to scrape snow off the car in March, and also had to whack the air con on full blast in March.
Given it is March however, you are likely to get better accomodation cheaper than two or three months down the line because it is just opening up.
At that time of year I'd probably focus on the cities, so perhaps divide days between Edinburgh, Stirling, and Glasgow. There's plenty to see and do in all three. One particular recommendation: the National Museum in Edinburgh is really spacious so if you start to feel like you need a break from the rain, just to be able to be dry and walk around without a coat, it's great -- and has a variety of exhibits for all interests.