Hello, I am traveling to Scotland in early June with a friend. We're flying in and out of Edinburgh. We are figuring out our itinerary. We're thinking of two nights in Edinburgh, two nights in Skye. Not sure what else....we're thinking of visiting Inverness, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis. We are not visiting Glasgow on this trip. We want to do some hiking/ walking in the hills, a castle or two (Stirling?). We'll probably visit Talisker "just because" as whisky / drinking isn't really our thing. We'll have a car. The plan is to pick up the car when we arrive in Edinburgh and head out of town and see Edinburgh at the end of our trip. Any suggestions on which way to head and other places to visit? Thanks.
We found Stirling to be a great place to spend a night. We liked the Stirling castle better than Edinburgh. Regarding Skye, if you haven't booked a place for June you may find that you can't find anywhere to stay. My experience with Skye is that it books up months in advance. An alternative is Mull, with day trips to Iona and Staffa, both beautiful and interesting.
Upon arrival you'll probably be tired, sleepy, and jet lagged. If you think that will be the case, you might not want to drive on the left side of the road right away. It doesn't bother some people, but I would be an accident waiting to happen. Don't mean to rain on your parade, just offering food for thought.
First things first. You have left it extremely late to be booking accommodation on Skye for this June. Two nights would give you one full day on the island, which most people would find insufficient, especially if you want to fit in a tour of the distillery and some hiking. You may still be able to find accommodation via a Facebook group called Skye Rooms that was set up to match accommodation providers with potential guests. It's a closed group, so just request membership and then you'll be able to post details of what you are looking for. You may well find a self-catering property works out well if you are able to stay for 3 nights or more (most self catering places won't rent for really short stays), whereas most of the good B&Bs will certainly be booked up by now.
A classic circle route from Edinburgh would be to head north on the A9, maybe stopping one night in Pitlochry (it's not that far from Edinburgh and you certainly don't want to drive far when jet lagged), then onwards to Inverness (IMO only worth one night and then only if you want to see Culloden battlefield, Clava Cairns and/or Loch Ness), then across to Skye (I'd suggest a min of 3 nights), then south maybe leaving via the Armadale to Mallaig ferry and taking in the wonderful drive to Fort William (including the Glenfinnan monument and the famous railway viaduct), then maybe use Fort William as a base for 1 night to explore the Ben Nevis range (you can take a gondola trip up into the mountains) and Glencoe & Glen Etive, for more hiking. Then south spending your 2 nights in Edinburgh.
If you want/need to cut anything then personally I would cut Inverness, as I realise I've included 8 nights in the above! It really does depend to a great extent on your interests. But honestly Skye is a long way to come for only 1 or 2 nights. And it's a big island with slow roads.
I realize it is late....YIKES...BUT the opportunity came up to go and I had to take it! Luckily I have never suffered from jet lag going to Europe. My first sleep in Scotland will be A+. I have driven on the other side of the road in Ireland, so I am familiar with driving. At any rate, I hope there will be an espresso or coffee shop in the airport. :)
What do you think of counter clockwise from Edinburgh? Perhaps spending my first night in the Glen Coe area and then on to Skye?
Thank you for the Skye FB tip! Very handy! Then go on to either Inverness or maybe skip that town altogether and go to....?
Start with 2 nights in Edinburgh then hire a car. You may not think you are jet lagged, but everybody is to a certain extent. It’s only fair to other road users.
You have probably left it too late for any decent accommodation on Skye, but there is plenty of other fantastic scenery to be seen.
Whisky isn’t my thing, which is why I haven’t visited a distillery in any of my trips to Scotland. Why waste valuable time doing something you aren’t interested in? Plus one of you can’t drink if driving.
After Edinburgh, I would head via Stirling to stay in Oban for 2 nights. It’s about 4 hours of driving through The Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Your full day in Oban could be spent on Mull.
Drive to Glencoe for 3 nights via Castle Stalker if their opening dates fit with your schedule.
From Glencoe, spend a day walking Ben Nevis (you need proper equipment and a good Ordnance Survey map). Have another day driving the stunning Ardnamurchan peninsula, climbing the lighthouse and walking around the lochs (access via the Corran ferry). If your flight back is early, you would have to split your nights in Edinburgh, as it’s a 3.5 hour drive back to Edinburgh.
Yes of course you can do this in the other direction - whatever works best for you.
There will still be some decent accommodation out there, but it will be via folks who do not use the 'big boys' like booking.com and Airbnb to advertise. That's why I recommended the Facebook group. I look at it every day and am always amazed at the beautiful places that still have some space.
As for jet lag - well you might not feel jet lagged, but after a long flight you're certainly not going to be on tip top form for driving (even if you feel fine) and it would certainly be fairer on other road users not to drive too far on day 1.
On whisky and distilleries - I don't drink whisky either, but I find the process of making it interesting, although they all do it in exactly the same way, so you probably only need to visit one distillery if the process interests you.
7 nights is not a lot of time. But Hey - take what you can get! An option is spend an extra night in Edinburgh and take the Rabbie's day trip to Stirling Castle. (A couple of other sights are included as well.). We spent almost a full week in Edinburgh and took 2 Rabbie's day-trips. It was time and money well spent. We got to relax while our driver took us around; didn't rent a car; got to see some extra sights we would have missed on our own.
Rabbie's offers many trip options. Be sure to look them up online. Even if you choose not to use Rabbie's - you can copy a Rabbie's itinerary. (Why reinvent the wheel?)
SkyeGirl - Thank you for the Skye FB page. I got a place! This kind of info makes these forums irreplaceable.
I have seen many posts about Rabbies so good to know about this option.
Post Skye - any town other than Inverness that would be a good option for a Highland visit/ one night stay over?
I'm really glad you found somewhere on Skye. I'd also recommend Pitlochry if you're heading east back towards Edinburgh. A very pretty town with great scenery thereabouts.
Thanks Skyegirl for the Facebook info! Another idea for a longer driving trip: if you don't want to plan everything ahead is to ask your current hosts to refer you to one of their fellow hosts in your next destination (they know each other from being in associations, etc.); you can then phone ahead and book (they like to help each other out).
I can only speak from personal experience, but while I know other B&B owners here on Skye, I don't know any B&B owners anywhere else. I think that's because most of us now use the big booking platforms and are less and less involved in the small trade associations.
If you didn't want to spend precious time on Skye at a distillery, you could visit Dalwhinnie. It is right on the A89, just up the road from Pitlochry.