Scotland Travel Itinerary Questions

Hi everyone,
My wife and I are planning a week-long trip to Scotland in May, and I had a couple of questions about our itinerary, and potential lodging. Here's a basic rundown of what we're doing: Edinburgh (we're flying in and out of Glasgow, but wanted to start with Edinburgh since we can hit Glasgow on the return leg), Aberdeen (we wanted to make a full loop of the country, and Aberdeen seemed a logical place to go along the East Coast), Inverness, Portree/Kyleakin (I'd welcome any ideas here for lodging in one of these towns or a different one on the Isle of Skye), Glencoe, Glasgow.

My questions to you all are these: Are there any cities or towns we're missing here that you think we have to see? We're going to do some wandering in between stops and in the Highlands, so if there's somewhere you think we should go, please feel free to add it. Also, is Aberdeen worth stopping and staying in, or should we just pass through on our way to Inverness? Any advice you all have would be welcome, thanks a ton!

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
483 posts

I can't comment on Aberdeen, because I have not been there. I do know that Aberdeen and Portree/Isle of Skye are on opposite coasts. You may want to choose either East Coast OR West Coast for a one week trip. East Side: Consider Edinburgh, Pitlochry, St. Andrew's and Fife, Aberdeen (Balmoral Castle). (Note: I have never been to East side of Scotland.) West Side: Start with Edinburgh, Stirling, Trossachs (Loch Lommond), Oban (Boat trips to Iona/Mull/Staffa), Glencoe, Portree/Isle of Skye. Pick your sights based on interests and location. One week is nice, but not enough time to drive all over the place. You may be able to take day trips from Inverness to Aberdeen and Isle of Skye. (I cannot say for certain, because I have not done this.)

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4382 posts

I think a week is too short for what you're proposing. You could do it, but you're not going to have to time see much. Have you plotted out the travel on Via Michelin? Its three hours to Aberdeen from Edinburgh with no stops. And that's without the 25% add on time. And that's going up the coast and not through the Castle Country.

The way I would want to go would be, after a day in Edinburgh, I'd drive up toward Balmoral and stay in Ballater. I wouldn't do the coast. It's a scenic drive, there a couple of ways you could do it. One way would be to go via Dundee and stop off to see Glamis Castle, the original home of the late Queen Mum. Or if you would rather get out and do a little walking go via Dunkeld and walk in Birnam Wood or to the Hermitage. Have lunch at the Taybank. BTW either way as you pass Balmoral, and instead of heading east immediately, turn left and head immediately up hill to a wonderful gallery. This will be a long day.

Day three go to one of the many castles in the area. Castle Fraser would be a good choice, but there are many others. Then head east and spend the night in Inverness.

Day four If you are interested in history, go out see Culloden Field just outside of town. Spend the day driving to Isle of Skye. It's a beautiful drive. You'll want to stop by Loch Ness, Castle Urquhart, and the glens and lochs of the drive west. If you want to stay in Portree, bear in mind that it will take you about an hour once you're on the island to get to Portree.

Day five if you want to see a bit of Skye, then you can't get all the way to Oban, so I would say explore Skye and then catch the ferry to Mallaig.

Day six, you're off to Glasgow via Glencoe. It's a long driving day, but it will be very scenic. The drive from Mallaig to Fort William is absolutely wonderful.

Day seven is Glasgow. I hope you are leaving the next day. :)

It's not a trip I would do as you are changing hotels every night. A shorter trip might be to spend a couple of nights in Edinburgh, drive up to inverness spend the night. (There are some things you could see on the way up.) Drive to Portree the next day checking out Loch Ness, and spend a couple of nights on Skye. Then take your time driving back to Glasgow either stopping somewhere on the way down or planning on two nights in Glasgow.

Others will no doubt have more suggestions.