Hi posters--Quick question for you regarding Scotland: my mom and I are planning a trip to Scotland for around 8 days in May...we definitely want to spend a few nights in Edinburgh with some planned day trips but we're looking for a cute area to stay in the Highlands area for a couple nights...we are not planning to rent a car so we'd be traveling probably by train or bus...any suggestions on must-sees in this region? Thanks!
Aviemore is a nice, not too long, train ride from Edinburgh. It is in the Caringorm Moutains. You can also do some good day trips from there by train or bus (Blair castle and Blair Atholl village is just one- and lots of whisky distilleries can be reached by bus or tain, too). There's a restored steam train that does nice roundtrips along the Spey River, a funicular up Mt. Caringorm, a Heather Center, Reindeer preserve, and other things. We like to stay at the Caringorm Hotel- across the street from the train station. It looks like a miniture castle outside and a Scottish hunting lodge inside. Small, family run and their restaurant/pub serves THE BEST food.
I stayed briefly in Aviemore, and it was beautiful. It was 20+ years ago, so I'll defer to Toni for more recent details. It seemed like a lot of the attractions were only reachable by car, and our budget was too tight for taxis. We did take a long walk around the area. The highlight was a horseback ride through the hills and glens. One of the best things I've ever done.
I would definitely choose Pitlochery over Aviemore. It is much more central to other sights to the west. Drive up to Aviemore. Oh, I said "drive" which increases your ability to see the area so much. Unless neither of you drives, I would strongly suggest that you reconsider. Driving on the left is adapted to easily. You can reserve an automatic transmission car which makes actual driving easier.
I too like Pitlochry. There are two Distilleries, there is the Explorer's Garden, and the Festival Theatre. You can also catch a quick train trip to Blair Castle or down to Dunkeld. Or you could take the train up to Inverness and visit Culloden. I would recommend checking out what is happening at the Festival Theatre during your visit. If there is something that interests you, stay in Pitlochry. Pam
Thank you all for the suggestions...I'm going to check them out! David--I agree with you about the rental car...I've been to Ireland a few times and always rent a car to drive around the countryside, little towns, etc. My mom, however, has anxiety about car travel (even here in the States) and would prefer to avoid them...I have a few months to work on that one!
On the car front, one argument you should be able to put forth is that in May Scotland is not packed with tourists and so there will be mostly locals on the road. And the further north you get, the fewer people / cars. I not found it hard to drive on the right. You just have to concentrate, particularly when turning. Pam
I would suggest you check out Oban. You can get there by train and then take the ferry to the island of mull - very picturesque. The western isles are lovely. Oban itself is an interesting town and has good seafood restaurants if you like that cuisine!
I agree with the Oban suggestion. The train ride from Edinburgh (change in Glasgow) is gorgeous. The ferry/bus trip to Mull and Iona is wonderful as well. I did it the end of April/beginning of May and the weather there was the best of the entire trip. It was beautiful that time of year.