My husband and I will be going Scotland to visit with our daughter who is studying abroad. We are trying to figure out what to include,we only have about 9-10 days. We thought we would rent a car, spend 3 days in Edinburgh, and make day trips. Then go to York or Kestwick in the lakes district. We also thought about at the end of the trip going to Dublin for a couple of days and leaving for the US from there. That maybe too much, so should we just stick to Scotland? Don't know if we should go drive into England or should we skip Ireland? thanks for any input.
If you fly into London, stay there 2 nights. Take train to York, spend 1 night. Take train to Edinburgh and spend 1 or 2 nights. Take train to Inverness and stay 4 or nights. Do day trips out of Inverness- lots of really good ones are available including a LONG one to Orkney- but it is worth it. You could stay 1 or 2 nights in Aviemore between Edinburgh and Inverness. It is a really cool village with lots of things to do. We love the UK and have been more than 40 times. Don't rent a car, trains are easier and really more convinient. contact me if you have questions or want more specific ideas.
The best part of this advice is that it is individual. I too love the UK, each country for its own great people and history. Scotland has plenty to fill your time and mind. If you are up at Loch Ness jump over to Culloden Battlefield. I've done the run from place to place (always in a car BTW) and I'm growing to appreciate doing a better job of experiencing the places over just seeing them. I think you could easily fill your days in Scotland but if you don't know that you'll be back doing No. England is worth it. There's Hadrian's wall, York and/or the Lake district. The country looks small, but it is packed! If you had 2 weeks I might recommend 1 in Scotland, 1 in Ireland, but I don't think you want to spread yourself so thin, especially if you are trying to spend time with your daughter. I can't wait until my son studies abroad and I "have to" visit him ;-)
I think you would probably have time to head down to the Lake District for a couple of nights. However, I wo would avoid having a car when you in Edinburgh - parking is a nightmare here and parking tickets are expensive. Your best would probably be to rent a car only for the trip to England (or up to the Highlands if you are so inspired) - pick it up and return it at the Airport. Otherwise, trains and buses will get you anywhere you need in Scotland.
If you want a nice short trip in the early fall or late spring/summer, try the Isle of Mull. When my parents visited me here, we spent 4 days there - you have to drive as it's only accessed by ferry, but it has the most gorgeous white sand beaches.
If you are here between mid October and mid March, you'll want to stick near Edinburgh as the days are quite short (think 6 hours or less of real daylight). Among the great day trips by public transport from Edinburgh are Stirling, North Berwick, Glasgow and Roslin.
Thank you so much for the great insights. It is so difficult to decide. I think we have decided to pass on Ireland (just not enough time)and stick to Scotland and England. We are probably still going to rent a car in Edinburgh. Some of the B& B's in Rick Steves book indicate there is free on street parking, and we can make day trips out,or up to the highlands for a night. Then we can drive back drive back down to leave from London, stopping along the way for a night or two somewhere. Any recommendations for must see?
stay in the lake district Keswick if it is not raining and drive in countryside. also do not miss Cotswolds on your way to London. enjoy
I would not trust the guidebooks as they are likely to be out of date, even after a year....
In the last year they have DRAMATICALLY expanded the area in Edinburgh which is metered/permit parking. Which generally means 2 hour metered parking during the day and you must move after the 2 hours, and either no or limited parking at night. Which means you couldn't park until after 5 or 6pm and have to move your car by 8am to avoid a £60 ticket.
Almost all the B&Bs in or near the center of town are now within the controlled parking region and few have more than a few off street spaces.
The parking attendants are notorious and make NO exceptions, plus there are a lot of roadworks around now so more than the usual number of traffic snarls.
Thus I strongly discourage having a car in town. You do not need it at all for day trips - train and bus go everywhere you need. Just get the car at the airport when you are leaving town.
My husband and I were in England and Scotland this past March/April and loved it. We had a rental car but did not drive it into Edinburgh. We actually stayed in a wonderful hotel in Linlithgow, just outside of Edinburgh and took the train in for our city tours, it was the best option. Linlithgow has a wonderful Palace that Mary, Queen of Scots was born in, it would make a great side trip. We were in York last summer and loved it. On that trip we were not driving, taking trains every where but the train station was quite easy to navigate. York Minister was just beautiful, I loved the town and all the shops and pubs but our favorite thing had to be The Castle Museum. We took my best friend and her 7 year old daughter with us and probably stayed 3-4 hours. It's one of the better museums we've ever been into. The Lake District is also beautiful and if you ever get the chance go to Chatsworth, it was just beautiful. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.
Thanks again for all the good information. I will check into the Linlithgow area, and also with the specific B&B's about their current parking situation. I appreciate the advance warning about the changing parking situation.
You really don't want a car in Edinburgh. The city is an ongoing road repair puzzle. I've been there so many times I stopped counting. I usually stay at B&Bs or small hotels within the city and now with new freinds. I usually walk and sometimes take a bus. There are many day trips and even train trips. I even take the train over to Glasgow tour the city and return to Edinburg. There is so much to see in Scotland. If you must rent a car, wait until you get to Inverness and head for the Isle of Skye. If you plan to visit York on your way to London, take the train. Don't even think about a car in London. No matter what you decide have a safe and happy trip.
Beannachd leat (Goodby)
We are also planning a trip to Scotland, July 2009 (for the British Open). We have a minor problem. We found a place that does not take credit/debit cards for deposit. She said just send her 50 pounds. Well, my bank will not provide a cashiers check in pounds and AAA will only do travelers checks in Euros. I suppose I could just send her a 50 pound note in the mail (from AAA). Any ideas?
PS: We love the freedom of driving in England, last June in the south coast area.
I would not recommend sending a 50 GBP in the mail.
Maybe try a bigger bank, one that has a connection to the UK. I know Bank of America supposedly has a connection with Barclays. Or try GBP travelers check to mail over...at least they could be replaced if lost.
Also thanks for the word on the car. My husband is pretty insistant on trying a car, and since we are so short on time...it will be difficult coordinating travel. Also the B&B we have reserved has assured us they have free parking avialable. We do not plan to use the car in Edinburgh, but will need it for traveling down through the countryside to London.
thanks to all...I can't wait to go!
Thanks, I can order a traveler's check from AmEx online. Also, You need this book, Driving In Britain:
A North American's guide to the ins and outs and roundabouts of driving over there, at www.roundabout.net/DIBhome.html. Very helpful, especially with roundabouts. And the the British AA has a great route planner, at www.theaa.com/.
If you really want to see Scotland you need to move beyond Edinburgh. Edinburgh is wonderful and I agree with other poster that you don't want a car while you're there. But there is much more to Scotland. You can do an easy day trip to Stirling, which is well worth it, but consider a trip to Perthshire to see some of the highlands. You don't need to go all the way to Inverness to get a flavor of the north. You can go to Aberfeldy or Dunkeld and see stunning scenery and explore lochs. In Dunkeld go to the Music Bar toward the end of the week and hear fiddle music. You can then go south to the borders and explore Melrose or Jedburgh and down through the debatable lands to England and the border country where the Reivers once ruled. It's easy to get from there to the Lake district. Nothing is far. Consider flying into Glasgow rather than Heathrow. It's a much smaller and friendlier airport.