Help me plan my Scotland trip!
April 18, 2022 1:09 PM   Subscribe

My father-in-law has generously offered to pay for a family reunion in Edinburgh in July. While he's footing the bill for the flights and accommodations in Edinburgh, we thought we would try to extend the trip on either end and wanted some advice about how to make this all work.

This is mostly an issue with how much anxiety I experience about trying to plan travel!

Our trip is essentially two weeks, however, the mandatory Edinburgh time is right in the middle. Depending on flights, I think we have about 5 days to do whatever, then 5-6 days in Edinburgh (slightly negotiable), and then three days after to again do whatever. I would kind of like to go to Glasgow, and I enjoy train rides, but otherwise we don't have any firm desires about where to go and what to see. We are flying from the US but can potentially fly into and out of any recommended airport.

In addition to general itinerary, tips about specific things to do and see are highly welcome! We are two adults and a teenager.
posted by Missense Mutation to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There are a fair few previous threads on the Scotland tag with great ideas for this - in this thread, I remember thinking rd45's itinerary sounded good and you can probably adapt it. There are plenty of great train rides available - up the west coast to Mallaig, or even just from Edinburgh up to Inverness - both have some spectacular views (for the latter, make sure you sit on the left-hand side).

If you like trains, it's also pretty special to get a train across the Forth Bridge - it's quite a pleasant day trip (or half day) to go from Waverley (the main station in Edinburgh) to somewhere like Aberdour in Fife, potter around the harbour or go to Room with a View for a seafood lunch, and train back again for a second trip over the bridge. It's maybe made more special if you've seen the bridge from ground level first to fully appreciate its majesty. For that, you want to be in South Queensferry (just outside Edinburgh). You can get there by regular bus, or take a tour bus from the city centre which also combines a boat trip on the Forth.

Or - there's no station in South Queensferry, but if you don't mind some walking, you could take the short train trip from Waverley to Dalmeny, walk to South Queensferry to see the bridge from the bottom, then walk back to Dalmeny and jump on the train over the bridge. I think it's only about half a mile each way, though uphill on the way back.

Edinburgh and Glasgow both have bus tours available, which can be expensive, but I think are a great way to get the lie of the land in a new city, and then decide which attractions you want to go back and see in more detail subsequently.
posted by penguin pie at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

When my wife and I went to Edinburgh, we flew Aer Lingus, which allowed us to tack a trip to Dublin on to the end of it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:08 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just got home from a visit, my 10th or so. I’m a slow traveler, and I prefer to just park in one place and really get to know it. This is partly temperamental and partly a strategy to manage my own travel planning anxiety. (I feel like I have to Travel Like a Pro! See All the Things! Etc etc, and staying in one spot allows me to think of a trip as a chance to live in a new place for a time, as opposed to visit it or, worse, consume it.) If that’s you at all, I can certainly assure you that you could spend two whole weeks in Edinburgh and not run out of wonderful things to see and do. Day trips to Glasgow (there are dozens of trains a day making the short trip), into the Lowlands, and even as far as Fort William are also pretty easy.

Also, Edinburgh has one of my favorite pubs on Earth (Kay’s on Jamaica Street ) and small museums (Gladstones Land in Old Town).
posted by minervous at 6:43 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just came back from a week in Oban and can highly recommend it as an option for your initial five-day span. It's a four-hour train journey from Edinburgh (including an easy change at Glasgow), but the scenery on the way is glorious, taking you along the Clyde, Loch Long and Loch Lomond, up over the hills and down along Loch Awe.

The town itself is small but perfectly formed, with some great local walks, and you can take an hour's ferry over to the isle of Lismore for ruined castles and great views over the nearby hills and islands, or walk or taxi the two miles down to the tiny 12-person two-minute ferry over to Kerrera, which is a lovely little almost-deserted island you can walk all the way round in a day, with even more spectacular views. If you're feeling adventurous you can hire a car or bikes and take the ferry over to Mull for a day trip.

Seconding the rail trip over the Forth; for other day trips from Edinburgh, North Berwick is a sweet coastal village with a Law (big hill) to climb and boat trips round the harbour or out to the massive gannet nest that is Bass Rock. In Edinburgh itself, aside from the obvious Arthur's Seat, Braid Hermitage and Colinton Dell are great for nature-type walks; you can get to the latter from the centre by walking out along the canal, then hop a train back from Slateford or jump on a bus!
posted by aihal at 6:13 AM on April 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you like walking at all, I cannot recommend the Fife Coastal Path enough. Basically any section is great, but I have a particular fondness for the Elie to Cambo Sands section, particularly Elie to Anstruther.
posted by alby at 8:14 AM on April 19, 2022

Go out to Inverness and Loch Ness. You won’t regret it.
posted by oywiththepoodles at 4:32 AM on April 20, 2022

« Older How to discuss a title change/promotion and raise?   |   What can you do with salmon fish trimmings? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments