Scotland in 2019

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markmow
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:35 am

Scotland in 2019

Post by markmow » Tue May 29, 2018 8:38 am

There are four of us looking to travel to Scotland in the spring of 2019; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Isle of Skye. Is two to three nights in each place practical in terms of cost and time vs what you can see or experience?

Edinburgh: Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood-House, National Parliament, etc. There seems to many interesting places to see and walk about in Edinburgh. Spend 3-4 nights.

Glasgow: ? I can't see a reason to go.

Inverness: Probably a good spot to anchor for three or four days to allow time to travel to the Isle of Skye. Would like to see Culloden, no interest in Loch Ness. Should we allow for an overnight stay in the Isle of Skye?

We will probably travel by coach or rail. We are flexible with our time and duration. The difficult part is determining how much time to spend in each place. There isn't a great deal of interest other than myself for hiking akin to Ben Nevis or the area although everyone wants to go on local walks.

I'd like the board's input.
Hope springs eternal- Alexander Pope

oxothuk
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:35 pm

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by oxothuk » Tue May 29, 2018 8:49 am

Once you leave Edinburgh you will really want a car IMHO.

No point going to Skye UNLESS you spend one or more nights there.

Check out the “walkhighlands” web site for hiking recommendations. There are options for all levels.

Loch Ness is just a lake, but Urquhart Castle on the banks of LN is quite interesting.

vniceguy
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:33 am

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by vniceguy » Tue May 29, 2018 9:09 am

From my personal experience, you will be wasting a lot of time if you travel by train or public transport. I would highly recommend a rental car for your trip. Look for a discounted rate, try Arnold clark or something local instead of standard US rental car companies.

We flew in to glasgow, did not stay, drove to Isle of Skye and then drove back all the way to Edinburgh, stopping at Stirling. Here is my personal opinion of these places..
Glasgow: I din't find a reason to stay or even spend a few hours
Glen coe: Absolutely beautiful, stayed for 2 days on the way to Isle of Skye, but I think 1 is enough.
Ben Nevis: did not do
Isle of Skye: Stayed here for 3 days, I think 4 or 5 days would have been about right. There is plenty to do in Isle of Skye, we did an entire circle around the Isle. Old man of Storr, Quiraing, Neist Point, Dunvegan, Talisker, boat trips from Elgol. Nearby Eilean Donan Castle
Inverness: Stopped at Loch ness, no reason to stay
Striling: Stopped for a night to see the castle
Edinburg: Stayed for 2 days, but can easily spend 3 or 4 here.

Have fun!

adamthesmythe
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue May 29, 2018 10:43 am

> Palace of Holyrood-House

Make sure the Queen is not in residence, probably not a problem in the spring though. (Unless you can arrange a royal invitation, that is).

> Glasgow: ? I can't see a reason to go.

If you have an interest in Charles Rennie Mackintosh it might be worth a stop. I found Glasgow to be a pleasant last stop, although admittedly with less to see than Edinburgh.

> Once you leave Edinburgh you will really want a car IMHO.

NEXT time I go (probably next year) I will get a car. It will help enormously seeing things outside of the towns.

> There isn't a great deal of interest other than myself for hiking akin to Ben Nevis

Too bad, as Ben Nevis is a nice walk, with (last I visited) a very pleasant inn at the base. The only distillery in Ft. Williams was a disappointment.

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danielrhall
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Location: Raymond, NH USA

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by danielrhall » Tue May 29, 2018 11:05 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 10:43 am
> Glasgow: ? I can't see a reason to go.

If you have an interest in Charles Rennie Mackintosh it might be worth a stop. I found Glasgow to be a pleasant last stop, although admittedly with less to see than Edinburgh.
I agree that Glasgow is not as interesting a tourist destination as Edinburgh. However, it's a good base if one wants to get out to the Arran or other isles, or to Ayr if a fan of Robert Burns.

I had the occasion once to drop off a colleague at the airport in Glasgow for a very early morning flight, and afterwards found myself exploring in the Glasgow Necropolis in the wee hours all by myself, with mist and fog all around. That was a memorable experience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Necropolis

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by Cyclesafe » Tue May 29, 2018 11:05 am

I highly recommend that you check out the self-guided walks from Sherpa Expeditions. They arrange for both lodging and transport for your luggage. All you need to do is walk. I've been on many trips with them and they have always had my luggage waiting for me upon arrival. Relatively cheap too!

They offer 5 different trips in Scotland alone.

http://www.sherpaexpeditions.com/

markmow
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:35 am

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by markmow » Tue May 29, 2018 11:59 am

Thanks for the advice and insight. I may have to look at Isle of Skye a bit more.
Hope springs eternal- Alexander Pope

minimalistmarc
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by minimalistmarc » Tue May 29, 2018 12:05 pm

Glaswegian boglehead here!

Agree Glasgow not great for tourists.

I’m currently on holiday on the Isle of Arran and my personal view is it is far nicer than Skye and easier to get to.

Avienore is another favourite near Inverness

ag1
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Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:22 pm

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by ag1 » Tue May 29, 2018 12:29 pm

If you interested in single malts - look at area of Speyside , not too far from Inverness. It is a beautiful area to do daily hikes and combine it with distillery tours. I was there earlier this year - and had a great time with friends.

RagnarRahl
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by RagnarRahl » Tue May 29, 2018 1:04 pm

I went to Scotland about 12 years ago. I highly recommend Stirling. The castle is smaller, but I found it more interesting than the bigger ones. There are famous battlefields nearby and the Wallace Monument that are worth seeing as well.
I concur with the consensus about skipping Glasgow.

adamthesmythe
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Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue May 29, 2018 1:20 pm

Since this is Bogleheads we should ask what the Poet had to say about money

Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o' a' my woe and grief!
For lack o' thee I've lost my lass!
For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass!
...

Long out of copyright, by the way.

Deats1980
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by Deats1980 » Tue May 29, 2018 11:47 pm

You need a car. I have no idea how you plan to visit Skye without a car. You will spend your whole day waiting for what little public transport there is. We picked up hitchhikers, stood miserably waiting in the rain for the non-existent public transport. Also, hiring a car will be cheaper than each person paying for public transport (by some way).

Skye is amazing - but in spring you may want to check the weather... I went in summer and it still got chilly and rainy. Can't imagine the weather in spring... if it is rainy and foggy, it won't be nice. You will be at the mercy of the gods.

Skip Glasgow - unless you like football, then it is well worth a stop to experience the atmosphere at Rangers or Celtic.

Edinburgh deserves 3-4 days. Stirling and Glencoe are very nice.

If you only have a week I can't see there being much time left if you just did Edinburgh and Skye (the drive will eat up a day each way) Inverness is NOT a base to visit Skye on a day trip - it's a 5 hour return journey by private car.

killjoy2012
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by killjoy2012 » Wed May 30, 2018 12:00 am

I've vacationed in Scotland 4-5x over the past 15 years, the last time being October 2017. Some of the previous posters have alluded to it, but IMHO, you really need to decide why you're going there - what do you want to see? Are you there for visiting castles? Scotch distillery tours/tastings? Golf? Hiking? Driving through the rugged countryside? I think you really need to decide this first - what's your goal(s), well before trying to plan what cities to home base out of and for how long.
markmow wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 8:38 am
There are four of us looking to travel to Scotland in the spring of 2019; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Isle of Skye. Is two to three nights in each place practical in terms of cost and time vs what you can see or experience?
I'd require an answer to my question above to properly advise. I would NOT just go book 2-3 nights at each of these cities now, and then put off developing a daily itinerary later... closer to the trip date.

Edinburgh: The city proper is worth 2 full days IMO, assuming you aren't going in August for the theatre festival. I would highly advise staying on Royal Mile - I've stayed in that Radisson Blu Hotel on High Steet, highly recommended for location, and a Starbucks right next door for a quick breakfast or mid-day coffee. Digressing, you also need to decide if your Edinburgh time will need to cover the other things to do in the general area (Stirling, William Wallace monument, etc.) or if you're going to spend time in Stirling and cover while there. I HIGHLY recommend Stirling... I really like that castle even compared to Edinburgh Castle, and the old town has a pretty cool vibe. Maybe plan 2 nights, or 1 full day for Stirling.

Glasgow: Skip it. I was just there in October for a concert and while people are nice, and it was good to visit for a day to say I've seen it, there's very little there for a tourist... esp compared to the other alternatives in the area. If you're a peated whisky drinker, Islay is only a short drive/ferry or flight from Glasgow. Highly, highly recommend The Islay Hotel if you visit... literally walking (stumbling!) distance to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. Good food there too. You'd want to spend at least 1 full day on the island doing tastings.

Inverness: Inverness is a good place to fly into and rent a car for your journey elsewhere into the highlands. I personally wouldn't go out of my way to stay there, unless your schedule forces it.

From here, you can drive East an hour or so to Speyside where some of the most well known whiskies are produced - The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and so on. Considered the heart of Scotland's whisky country. There's also some really cool castles, like Dunnotar Castle (must see!), just East of Speyside.

Otherwise, you could venture West from Inverness towards Eilean Donan Castle (another must see!), then further West to the Isle of Skye. Skye is certainly worth a couple days - at least 2 nights there w/ 1 full day driving around the island, assuming no time out for hiking and such. It's absolutely beautiful rugged countryside... but beware of the single lane roads (read up on how to drive single lane roads that handle bi-directional traffic before leaving!), and be very careful going around blind turns or cresting hills, as there is often sheep all over the road. Lots of rain too, so if you want to see Skye with some sun, then you may need to plan for a couple days. Honestly, not a lot to do here if you aren't into hiking... Talisker distillery, Dunvegan castle. We did the 2 night, 1 day driving the perimeter of the island, and it was enough for me. But you could spend weeks here if you're into hiking. If you do visit Skye by way of the A87 from Inverness (most common), when leaving Skye, consider taking the Armadale to Mallaig ferry, then either take a Jacobite train trip (the "Harry Potter train"), or alternatively, just drive the A830 to Glenfinnan (known for the 1980's Highlander movies), stop to see the Glenfinnan monument on the shores of Loch Shiel, and you can watch the Jacobite train pass over the famous bridge. Need to plan/time it right though since the train only runs a couple times per day.

Or from Inverness, you can head North, which really takes you into the highlands... not a lot up there though - even more remote.

Or directly South of Inverness, you have Loch ness (worth driving by, maybe stopping for 5 minutes), the remains of Urquhart Castle which is in the shore of Loch Ness. You would usually do this southern path on your way down to the Fort William / Ben Nevis / Glencoe area.

In all cases, I wouldn't stay in Inverness - instead pick your direction and stay there. It's too much driving to home base in Inverness.


Other thoughts:
- Plan on renting a car and driving everywhere except for your time in Edinburgh (or Glasgow, but I'd skip it all together). Read / plan for driving on the left, different rules of the road, and how to properly drive (passing etiquette) on single lane bi-directional roads. Watch for sheep in the road in the highlands, esp on Skye. Make sure you take pictures of the rental car at the lot before you pick it up, and make sure the shots make it evident they were taken before leaving the lot. Roads over there can be tight, and I've found the rental agencies to be VERY particular when turning your car in -- trying to charge for past damage, minor rash on low profile rims, etc. These pictures have saved me 2x on rentals in Scotland.
- Consider flying into Inverness and starting your Scotland vacation up in the highlands, slowly making your way to end in Edinburgh. Why? Flying into Inverness Airport is an experience. It's easier - way less stressful - for an American getting used to driving on the left up there, vs. baptism by fire by starting in Edinburgh - a big, modern city. I've driven over 3k miles in the UK and I still prefer flying into Inverness to get re-accustomed to the driving. Flying into Inverness also works out great if you want your international flight to land in, say, London... see London for a few days while getting rid of the jet lag, then fly one of the cheap regional carriers to Inverness (e.g. Easyjet and the like). Drive from Inverness down eventually to Edinburgh, and fly home from EDI.
- If you're going to do Scotch tastings, you need to carefully plan your itinerary to avoid drunk driving. Speyside has some buses/tours to help with that. Otherwise, you need to kinda plan your hotel to be close to the distilleries you want to visit, and it time it accordingly. If you have a DD - great. Most of my trips have either been solo, or with another drinker... so there's some logistics that need to be worked out. No Uber or Lyft in the highlands, unfortunately.

Blackrat
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Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by Blackrat » Wed May 30, 2018 7:00 am

Glasgow not worth visiting for tourists.

Edinburgh is a magical city like walking around in a parallel universe on a Summers night.

With limited time available, I would stick to Edinburgh and you will never regret it.

carolc
Posts: 214
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:45 am
Location: New Hampshire seacoast

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by carolc » Wed May 30, 2018 7:36 am

It was many years ago, but I particularly enjoyed Iona off the isle of Mull. I wanted to go up to the northern islands too but ran out of time. Next trip.

carolc

markmow
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:35 am

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by markmow » Wed May 30, 2018 8:46 am

killjoy2012 wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 12:00 am
I've vacationed in Scotland 4-5x over the past 15 years, the last time being October 2017. Some of the previous posters have alluded to it, but IMHO, you really need to decide why you're going there - what do you want to see? Are you there for visiting castles? Scotch distillery tours/tastings? Golf? Hiking? Driving through the rugged countryside? I think you really need to decide this first - what's your goal(s), well before trying to plan what cities to home base out of and for how long.
markmow wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 8:38 am
There are four of us looking to travel to Scotland in the spring of 2019; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Isle of Skye. Is two to three nights in each place practical in terms of cost and time vs what you can see or experience?
I'd require an answer to my question above to properly advise. I would NOT just go book 2-3 nights at each of these cities now, and then put off developing a daily itinerary later... closer to the trip date.

Edinburgh: The city proper is worth 2 full days IMO, assuming you aren't going in August for the theatre festival. I would highly advise staying on Royal Mile - I've stayed in that Radisson Blu Hotel on High Steet, highly recommended for location, and a Starbucks right next door for a quick breakfast or mid-day coffee. Digressing, you also need to decide if your Edinburgh time will need to cover the other things to do in the general area (Stirling, William Wallace monument, etc.) or if you're going to spend time in Stirling and cover while there. I HIGHLY recommend Stirling... I really like that castle even compared to Edinburgh Castle, and the old town has a pretty cool vibe. Maybe plan 2 nights, or 1 full day for Stirling.

Glasgow: Skip it. I was just there in October for a concert and while people are nice, and it was good to visit for a day to say I've seen it, there's very little there for a tourist... esp compared to the other alternatives in the area. If you're a peated whisky drinker, Islay is only a short drive/ferry or flight from Glasgow. Highly, highly recommend The Islay Hotel if you visit... literally walking (stumbling!) distance to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. Good food there too. You'd want to spend at least 1 full day on the island doing tastings.

Inverness: Inverness is a good place to fly into and rent a car for your journey elsewhere into the highlands. I personally wouldn't go out of my way to stay there, unless your schedule forces it.

From here, you can drive East an hour or so to Speyside where some of the most well known whiskies are produced - The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and so on. Considered the heart of Scotland's whisky country. There's also some really cool castles, like Dunnotar Castle (must see!), just East of Speyside.

Otherwise, you could venture West from Inverness towards Eilean Donan Castle (another must see!), then further West to the Isle of Skye. Skye is certainly worth a couple days - at least 2 nights there w/ 1 full day driving around the island, assuming no time out for hiking and such. It's absolutely beautiful rugged countryside... but beware of the single lane roads (read up on how to drive single lane roads that handle bi-directional traffic before leaving!), and be very careful going around blind turns or cresting hills, as there is often sheep all over the road. Lots of rain too, so if you want to see Skye with some sun, then you may need to plan for a couple days. Honestly, not a lot to do here if you aren't into hiking... Talisker distillery, Dunvegan castle. We did the 2 night, 1 day driving the perimeter of the island, and it was enough for me. But you could spend weeks here if you're into hiking. If you do visit Skye by way of the A87 from Inverness (most common), when leaving Skye, consider taking the Armadale to Mallaig ferry, then either take a Jacobite train trip (the "Harry Potter train"), or alternatively, just drive the A830 to Glenfinnan (known for the 1980's Highlander movies), stop to see the Glenfinnan monument on the shores of Loch Shiel, and you can watch the Jacobite train pass over the famous bridge. Need to plan/time it right though since the train only runs a couple times per day.

Or from Inverness, you can head North, which really takes you into the highlands... not a lot up there though - even more remote.

Or directly South of Inverness, you have Loch ness (worth driving by, maybe stopping for 5 minutes), the remains of Urquhart Castle which is in the shore of Loch Ness. You would usually do this southern path on your way down to the Fort William / Ben Nevis / Glencoe area.

In all cases, I wouldn't stay in Inverness - instead pick your direction and stay there. It's too much driving to home base in Inverness.


Other thoughts:
- Plan on renting a car and driving everywhere except for your time in Edinburgh (or Glasgow, but I'd skip it all together). Read / plan for driving on the left, different rules of the road, and how to properly drive (passing etiquette) on single lane bi-directional roads. Watch for sheep in the road in the highlands, esp on Skye. Make sure you take pictures of the rental car at the lot before you pick it up, and make sure the shots make it evident they were taken before leaving the lot. Roads over there can be tight, and I've found the rental agencies to be VERY particular when turning your car in -- trying to charge for past damage, minor rash on low profile rims, etc. These pictures have saved me 2x on rentals in Scotland.
- Consider flying into Inverness and starting your Scotland vacation up in the highlands, slowly making your way to end in Edinburgh. Why? Flying into Inverness Airport is an experience. It's easier - way less stressful - for an American getting used to driving on the left up there, vs. baptism by fire by starting in Edinburgh - a big, modern city. I've driven over 3k miles in the UK and I still prefer flying into Inverness to get re-accustomed to the driving. Flying into Inverness also works out great if you want your international flight to land in, say, London... see London for a few days while getting rid of the jet lag, then fly one of the cheap regional carriers to Inverness (e.g. Easyjet and the like). Drive from Inverness down eventually to Edinburgh, and fly home from EDI.
- If you're going to do Scotch tastings, you need to carefully plan your itinerary to avoid drunk driving. Speyside has some buses/tours to help with that. Otherwise, you need to kinda plan your hotel to be close to the distilleries you want to visit, and it time it accordingly. If you have a DD - great. Most of my trips have either been solo, or with another drinker... so there's some logistics that need to be worked out. No Uber or Lyft in the highlands, unfortunately.
Thanks for your detail and insight. Only one of us has driven in the U.K.(not me) and I like your idea of starting in Inverness especially for the driving bit and working our way back. The four of us are meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss our travels. We are planning on being there the end of April or May timeframe and probably spending about 3-4 weeks or longer in the U.K. All of us seem to want our start to be Scotland, I know this seems counter intuitive by starting north and heading south.
Hope springs eternal- Alexander Pope

killjoy2012
Posts: 1046
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: Scotland in 2019

Post by killjoy2012 » Wed May 30, 2018 9:27 pm

markmow wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 8:46 am
Thanks for your detail and insight. Only one of us has driven in the U.K.(not me) and I like your idea of starting in Inverness especially for the driving bit and working our way back. The four of us are meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss our travels. We are planning on being there the end of April or May timeframe and probably spending about 3-4 weeks or longer in the U.K. All of us seem to want our start to be Scotland, I know this seems counter intuitive by starting north and heading south.
That time frame works - later the better in terms of daylight length and temp, especially in the highlands. If you have 3-4 weeks for covering the UK and no one has been there much before, I'd definitely suggest no less than a full week in London - tons to do there, and many possible day trips via train. If castles are a top to-do, and visiting Wales is in the plan, you definitely need to check out the Edward I castles in the Snowdonia area. If you don't believe me, go google pictures of Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Harlech Castle. These Welsh castles dwarf those found in Scotland, but they're all interesting/cool in their own way. You're probably going to want a week in London, ~10 days in Scotland (more if at a slow pace, or losing days golfing), and fill in the rest with Wales or other parts of northern England. If N Ireland is in the cards, there's a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead that drops you very close to the Welsh Edward I castles. Lots to do/see over there, just a matter of prioritizing.

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