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Suggestions for a Post-Conference Trip in Scotland

Hello, my husband will be attending a conference in central Scotland (Pershire region) in mid June for 5 days. I am fortunate enough to be able to tag along! The day before the conference begins, the group will take a day trip to Loch Lomond National Park and Glasgow. Afternoons during the conference will be free for touring and the conference has arranged for excursions to the Scone Palace, Stirling and Doane Castles, the Famous Grouse Distillery, Drummond Castle Gardens, Falkland Village and Palace, as well as the option for a driver to take us off-road driving through Perthshire or go fishing. We plan to travel on our own for 6 days after the conference ends. We would appreciate any suggestions for how best to use our time to see as much of the regions of Scotland as possible. I'm not sure if we will rent a car though- my husband is a bit nervous to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, lol.

We are thinking of flying into Edinburgh as opposed to Glasgow and spend two days in Edinburgh before the conference begins. As mentioned above, the day before the conference begins, the group will go to Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Since we will be in central Scotland during the conference and will visit plenty of sites there, I'm thinking of heading north after the conference and using the Rick Steves Scotland tour as a rough guide. My husband isn't a golfer and isn't sure it's worth going to St. Andrews and surrounding area- any thoughts on that?

We definitely want to see the Highlands- so Inverness, perhaps Loch Ness and Culloden. I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on Glencoe and Oban, and the Isle of Iona. Hotel suggestions are desired.

Thank you!

Posted by
931 posts

Hi, TravelMom,

First of all, please tell your husband that after an hour or so, driving on the left side of the road is not a problem. If he has some trepidation about driving, a lot of that can be assuaged by renting a car with automatic transmission. You can still get to most places by public transportation, but having a car gives you so much more freedom to go where and when you like. To quote the old Southwest Air slogan, "You are now free to move about the country."

Secondly, purchase or borrow (from your local library) a copy of the 2018 Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland. The RS guide is acceptable, but tends to concentrate in specific areas. Some wonderful parts of Scotland don't get covered at all. The Lonely Planet Guide covers Scotland from top to bottom, and even St. Kilda. It provides some excellent itineraries based on the amount of time that you have to explore Scotland.

You'll have seen enough castles, based on your post, so you don't need to see any more. You need to figure out where your interests are. If you enjoy hiking, then Scotland has a multitude of options. If you enjoy beautiful scenery, Scotland has that in spades.

Most visitors to Scotland, once they've visited Edinburgh, travel north and west. You've mentioned Mull and Iona, which will take you the better part of two days if you want to savor it. You have so many options at this point, but if you're going in June, you should solidify your plans as soon as you can, as accommodation is filling up quickly.

Hope that's a start.

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you for the suggestions, Mike. I will definitely look into getting that Lonely Planet book. My husband wants me to do the planning as he'll like anything I decide. I guess I'd better get cracking!

Cheryl

Posted by
931 posts

Hi once again, Cheryl,

Given the fact that you have six days, you'd have time to visit Mull (for Iona), or Skye, but you don't have enough time to do justice to both. Skye is a bit more scenic, and dramatic, but accommodation is going to be really difficult in June. There's still some available, but the major tourist destinations of Portree and Broadford are pretty well booked up. But don't give up on Skye, if you decide to go there.

If you base yourselves in Inverness for a couple of nights, you could take the A82 through Glencoe, and up the west bank of Loch Ness to Inverness. Then, in addition to visiting Culloden, you could take a day trip out to one of the towns on the West Coast, like Gairloch or Ullapool, which are now easily reached due to the widening of the roads. Those would give you a better feeling for the Highlands. If you go from Oban to Inverness, you could take a side trip to Glencoe on the way.

On the way back to Edinburgh , you could visit towns like Aviemore, Pitlochry, and Dunkeld. If you have a car, it makes the journey so much more enjoyable, especially somewhere like Mull, where the bus service is great, butnot frequent enough. Plus you'd be taking your luggage with you, so it's much easier to throw it in the boot each morning, and not have to carry it around.

Before you go over, and if your husband agrees to drive, have a look at some of the videos on the internet about driving on the left, what to do when approaching a roundabout, and driving on single track roads with passing places. If you hire your car from Edinburgh Airport, you never have to go in to the city. Just get on the A8 and make your way away from town.

Best wishes!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
4559 posts

There are many options, but one thing that I would recommend is to not try to cover half of Scotland in your time and to allow enough flexibility in your itinerary to stop and take photos or short walks.

I would imagine that you are going to struggle to find accommodation on Skye for June - it’s a popular time to visit and many places get booked up a year in advance. This will be a particular issue if you are reliant on public transport.

I have driven in Europe and in the USA, which is all on the “wrong” side of the road. It isn’t difficult to get used to, after the first few minutes. It would give you far more flexibility if you had a car. Whatever, you won’t be able to cover as much ground as an organised tour.

Staying in Glencoe (with a car) would allow you to see Oban, the stunning Ardnamurchan, Ben Nevis and the mountains. You could then drive to Nairn or Grantown-on- Spey /Boat of Garten/Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms and explore Culloden, Cawdor Castle etc.

There are many more picturesque lochs than Loch Ness, which is tacky and Disneyfied.

If you want something different, from Glasgow head to Dumfries and Galloway. It’s a stunning area, with far fewer tourists than say Skye or Glencoe. We had a great 2 week stay here, deer spotting on the hillsides, climbing up lighthouses, walking the coastal areas, finding some great tea shops and taking in the stunning scenery. You would need a car.

Posted by
492 posts

Hello TravelMom
Skye is likely to be pretty busy in June, so perhaps you might enjoy one of Scotland's island groups?

The Orkney Islands are just off the north coast of mainland Scotland. You could fly into Kirkwall, pick up a car (driving is easy across Orkney and traffic is relatively light), then head off to explore the natural beauty and extensive prehistoric remains, as well as the Italian Chapel built by prisoners of war during WW2. https://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/orkney-p238301

Alternatively how about the Outer Hebrides? Lewis & Harris (two islands but most visitors wouldn't notice that as they are actually joined together) would be a good place to start. You could fly to Stornoway and pick up a rental car. Again the roads are uncongested and driving is simple. You will find prehistoric remains such as the stone circles at Calanaish/Callanish (depending whether you prefer the Gaelic spelling), pristine white sand beaches, a lively little main town (Stornoway) with a good arts centre and theatre. At Tarbert on Harris you will find the excellent Harris distillery which makes some of the best gin I've ever tasted. I am a particularly fan of Uig bay on Lewis which is simply gorgeous and at if you ask around you will be directed to the harbour at Miavaig where you can buy freshly landed seafood (such as scallops, langoustine, oysters etc) and pay by leaving your money in the honesty box. https://www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/lewis-harris-stornoway/

Either of these options would give you something completely different from what you have already seen.
Best wishes
Skyegirl (Jacqui)