I'm so excited to be going on the RS Tour of Scotland this summer. I've arranged for a couple of extra days on either end and I would like to know from other RS Tour members what they would suggest I explore on my own. I've read the tour itinerary carefully and have my guidebook, but I'd like some personal opinions. I'm happy to stay in Edinburgh, but would also be open to doing a day tour somewhere. Thanks -- love the Forum!
Edinburgh is indeed wonderful, and it’s good that you’re giving it additional time. If you’re also looking for a relatively quick side trip, you might want to go to Falkirk (1/2 hour train ride) to see the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.
I haven’t been on this tour, but if it were me, I would spend 2 days in Glasgow and 2 days in Edinburgh. My friends love Glasgow and Edinburgh as well.
This tour is on my short list and that’s what I would do.
Things we enjoyed in Edinburgh that were NOT on the RS tour:
The Scottish National Art Gallery. It sits right between Old and New towns and has a wealth of fabulous art for its small size. Be sure to look at the Eames painting of the dog when you first enter.
The Georgian House in New Town. Loved this tour. It is part of the National Trust and there is a reciprocal relationship with such things stateside. If you have a national parks pass or similar, bring it along.
Gladstone Land in Old Town. Probably better to see this before the Georgian House, as it is a “before and after” of how the merchant class lived. Another Trust site.
Also in Old Town is The Real Mary King’s Close. This is an unabashed tourist site, but is actually quite interesting and demonstrates how the poorer population lived.
We didn’t make it to Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile, but understand it is interesting. The castle at the other end of the Mile will be on the tour.
If you like whiskey, the whiskey experience right outside the castle is one thing I missed - figured it was a tourist trap - that I wish I had done. I heard great things about it afterwards.
Enjoy! We loved Edinburgh and the whole tour.
I'd be inclined to spend the pre-trip days in Edinburgh and the post-trip days in Glasgow. I made my first trip to Scotland this summer and was in each city for 7 nights, with one day-trip from each. I found lots to enjoy, but I am a fan of art museums, contemporary crafts and Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture (the latter in Glasgow), so I spent a good bit of time catering to those particular interests.
Rosslyn Chapel (in the town of Roslin) is easy to reach from Edinburgh by public bus and a short walk. I found it very interesting. That trip would take about a half day; the bus ride is something like 45 minutes each way, I think.
RS has detailed information about both cities in his guide book.