4+ day Scotland Itinerary? Best tour co?

Hey all my husband and I will be in Scotland for just over 4 days in June. I have two questions- is my itinerary good? and what tour company do you recommend? We get into Glasgow at 2 pm on a Tuesday. Stay either there that night or go on to Edinburgh. We will spend 2 days in Edinburgh, then I wanted to take a 2 day Highlands tour. I was thinking just a one day tour, but I really want to go to Culloden Moor- at least I think that I do. But I am also now contemplating two different one day tours- just can't decide. The remaining time, either one or two half days would be in Glasgow. I leave at 2 pm on Sunday. Not sure yet the order of any of this, since it will depend on which tour company I pick what days the tours are offered. I love to see how people lived- so castle tours or that type of museum would be interesting to me. I also love gardens. I like natural beauty and hiking, but I don't feel the need to hike a ton in Scotland, where I live in Arkansas has lots of great hiking- I want to appreciate the different history and culture as much or more than the scenery. So- what do you recommend for us? Is what I've tentatively planned good? Any do not miss sights? And which tour or tour company do you recommend? Definitely do not want to drive- just want to enjoy the scenery together and not worry about driving or navigating. Plus I usually appreciate the narrative provided on a tour. But I would prefer a smaller group, a mini-bus not a full size one. Thanks!

Posted by Betsey
New England
269 posts

Hi Jessica, Glasgow airport to Edinburgh doesn't take long. If you web search - glasgow airport to edinburgh - you'll get good links. I've taken a couple tours with Rabbies, but don't see a 2 day tour that visits Culloden. Another company that I've had recommended by a person with a lot of UK travel knowledge is Timberbush Tours, which does have a 2-day Loch Ness, Inverness & The Highlands tour listing Culloden in its description. Timberbush has departures from both Edinburgh and Glasgow (you're returned to where you depart). You could almost just stay the entire time in Glasgow. Arrive 2pm, go to accommodation and see some things in Glasgow, take the train to Edinburgh next morning for the day. The Timberbush tour leaves Thurs morn (leave luggage at hotel and take just overnight items). You're back in Glasgow Friday night and Saturday can be look around Glasgow or whatever. If you go to Edinburgh on Tue, you save the train time on Wed to seeing Edinburgh sights. It's still a Thur/Fri trip with Timberbush. You're in Edinburgh for Sat and can leave Sun morn for the time needed to get to the airport (3 hours before flight time probably required?). For how people lived in Edinburgh, I love The People's Story, http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/The-People-s-Story .. It's a required visit for me when visiting Edinburgh. If it's open, do go to the video room at the very top!

Posted by Betsey
New England
269 posts

con't The Georgian House, http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Georgian-House/, is 18th century New Town living. Gladstone's Land, http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Gladstones-Land/, for 17th century. I enjoyed visits to each of those. The people who volunteer/work in costume are great to get into conversation. I visited Inverness on a June visit and the length of the day was amazing. You may need to keep the shades pulled to keep out the light to sleep. Somewhere, do visit a grocery store for local in season raspberries - delish!

Posted by Maureen
Dallas
14 posts

We spent Christmas in Edinburgh last year and really loved it. We did not use any tour guides, just our travel books and feet. What an incredibly well-preseved town it is. You will be amazed how all of the architecture and streets are still intact. It is definitely small and friendly enough to navigate on your own, if you want to save the money and the hassle. Enjoy!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3298 posts

Jessica, I would definitely recommend you head straight to Edinburgh. I've come in on a transatlantic flight arriving Glasgow at 10 AM and been in my hotel in Edinburgh by lunch time. You can take the bus from the airport straight to the railway station. There are trains on the half hour. Really easy! In Edinburgh, I want to second that you visit the Georgian House. It does an excellent job of portraying life in Georgian Edinburgh. Another museum would be Gladstone's Land which shows what it was like in medieval Edinburgh. You really should go to the Castle too. : ) The history, the view, the stories are all worth it. Here are some other ideas. If you want to do a short walk that will give you a taste of walking in the hills of Scotland, take the train to Dunkeld. There isn't a left luggage office, so I would ask the Tourist office for help. The office can also sell you a trail map. They are short, but very beautiful. And different than Arkansas. :) You can go for a walk in Birnam Wood. Further up the rail line is Blair Castle, which offers a great tour. Also, there is the Highland Folk Museum in Kingussie. Culloden is a very evocative place. The visitor center is very good. There is a brief tour of the battlefield. You can also walk over to Clava Cairns. Fort George is fascinating with beautiful views. Cawdor Castle is good with great gardens. You might want to think about renting a car for your venture north. It really does allow you to stop and see more. Pam

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
192 posts

I have had positive experiences with Rabbie's last Summer. You really don't have a lot of time, so I think you are smart about keeping the hiking in Arkansas and experiencing Scotland's history more. You can take 2 one-day tours. I did this with my family and we enjoyed it just fine. Given your limited time, I would spend time elsewhere than Inverness. Inverness is pleasant for those with more time. In my opinion, Loch Ness is pleasant - but not a must-see. Culloden Battlefield is interesting with the museum of military history. The battlefield is just that - a field. It is marked with flags, etc. and includes an audiotour. However, with your amount of time - I would skip this as well. I think your time would be better spent seeing Edinburgh and Stirling Castle area. Stirling is important to Scotland's history. I took a Rabbie's trip to Stirling and it included Loch Lommond which is as beautiful as Loch Ness. Look into a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. It may save you money because Rabbie's does not cover admission fees. (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/explorer) There are different passes available. Bring a good raincoat with a hood that packs up into a small pouch.
Have a great Trip!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3298 posts

Some people find Culloden Field to be a very moving place to visit. You could also say that Yorktown is just another field, or that Concord is just another bridge or that Normandy is just another beach. The importance of and reaction to visit a place as steeped in history as Culloden really depends on what you bring as person to that place.

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
192 posts

Pam makes a good point about Culloden. I would look-up the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie, King George II, Fort George and learn about Culloden a bit first. The military clash is rather complicated as Bonnie Prince Charlie (descendent of Mary Queen of Scots - Stuart line) and the Highlands Clans rebelled against the government of Scotland. (English King George II had sovereignty over Scotland) It's a struggle between two family dynasties for the crown. In many ways, it was a civil "war" and a great tragedy. If this interests you, go for it. With only 4 days though, you have limited time and may not be able to get to Inverness.

Posted by Jessica
Conway, AR, USA
2 posts

Hey all- thanks so much for your tips so far. I will definitely check out the recommended Edinburgh sites. I am very conflicted on what to do for the 2 day tour. It sounds like a lot of sitting on the bus. There are two tours that start going through Dunkeld and up to Culloden, with an overnight in Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. Then down to Ft. William through Glen Coe and back to Edinburgh. The difference between the two is one offers stops for a Loch Ness boat ride and Uruquart castle and the other instead takes the Jacobite Steam Train for lunch at Maillag. These are booked through Highland Tours, looks like they are run by Highland Exeperience Tours. The other two options are basically in the reverse, starting out going through Glen Coe and up along Loch Ness. Overnight in Inverness. 2nd day is Culloden, Ruthven barracks, Hermitage and back home. They are run by 1. Timberbush and 2. Real Scottish Journeys.