Have been reading this forum, Trip Advisor forums, guide books, websites, and studying my ginormous Michelin map for some time, and just now pulling all the bits together. My husband (who has no interest in trip planning, but loves to travel :) and I will start our trip in Norway, visiting family. We'll arrive in EDI just in time to catch the last 1.5 days of the Fringe Festival, and last day of the International Festival. We have a total of 26 nights in Scotland. I’m still uncertain about how many nights in Inverness area and Glasgow, still pondering those bits.
We are in our 60’s, and love hiking, cycling, photography, and exploring new places. We strongly prefer the self-catering style of travel, and have done many private home/apartment rentals in Europe and the US, so are accustomed to using airbnb, Home Away, etc. We'd prefer to avoid one night stays, in favor of a couple of longer stays where we can slow down and relax a bit, but still do lots of exploration.
I had originally planned to drive Inverness - Orkney, then through Durness, Lochinver, to Ullapool, and ultimately to Skye. But in the end, decided that adds up to quite a bit of driving, and perhaps we’d be better off saving that for a future trip (along with more Islands visits, and Knoydart Peninsula). My husband is from Norway, and we're very interested in the Viking history of the Islands, so I do think we'll be back to explore these areas on a future trip.
Here is the rough outline - some of it is firm, as we’ve booked accommodations. Would appreciate any feedback you might have.
5 nights EDI (airbnb booked in Stockbridge): Enjoy last day of Fringe Festival, and EDI International Festival (have tix for London Symphony at Usher Hall). Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Royal Botanic Garden, Britannia, Leith Walk, Stockbridge Farmer’s Market, Stirling Castle, Roslyn Chapel, museums, etc. Pick up car at airport for drive to Highlands.
2 nights Ballater (Osborne House B&B booked): Braemar Gathering (have tickets), hiking and exploring Royal Deeside area.
2 nights Aberlour (airbnb booked): Whiskey Trail and hiking.
5 -6 nights Inverness area (accommodation not yet booked): Day trip (very long day, we know!) to Orkney, Glen Affric hiking, Dunrobin Castle via train, Blas Music Festival, Kyle Line, etc.
4 nights near Portree (have found place on airbnb, have not yet booked). Drive to Skye via Applecross. Hiking and exploring Skye.
4 nights Lochearnhead cabin (have found place on airbnb, have not yet booked) in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park: Boat and cycling at Loch Katrine, Taybank for music and meal, Mhor 84 Motel for dinner, lots of hiking and photography.
2 -3 nights Glasgow (accommodation not yet booked): Return car at airport on the way into town. New Lanark, Macintosh sites, museums. We’re also interested in the new Borders Rail Line, which I’ve read will begin service around September 6th.
1 night near EDI airport for early flight home.
Many thanks for your time - I'm so impressed by the great commentary on this site!