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5 Days in Scotland

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Hello! My parents and I (ages 30 and mid-50s) are traveling to the UK for 23 days in April-May. It's our first time in Scotland so I have some questions. We are renting a car to see the Cotswolds region of England for 5 days. Then, we're planning to return the car, and taking the train to Edinburgh. We'll be in Scotland for 5 full days (traveling from London the day before, and flying to Ireland the next day). We'll be staying in Edinburgh, and doing day-trips from there to see more highlights. I love Harry Potter, so I'm debating the Jacobite train and seeing Fort William and Culloden (through a day-tour). All of the reviews I've read say the train is amazing, but it will be somewhat of a hassle because it is overnight and we'll have to go back to Edinburgh afterward for a couple of nights. Is this something you'd recommend for a first-time trip to Scotland, or would those two days best be spent elsewhere?

I'm looking at some Rabbie's tours like the basic "General Highlands" and "West Highland Lochs and Castles". We usually just do our own things in the cities because I throughly research, but for the Highlands (especially since we're not experts on Scottish history--unless you count reading six Outlander books, plus the TV series), we think a tour guide will help us hit highlights and inform us of where we're visiting. I also want to see Melrose Abbey and Alnwick, which is offered as another day-trip. We are in the antiques business, so we love art, history, and museums. Also, I studied English Literature and the Humanities in college. We would love to see castles and historic sites.

If we did three days of day-trips, the other two would be spend in Edinburgh. While I do know we are only going to see the highlights, we are ready to see all that we can in these 5 days. I just want to ensure these 5 days are giving us the best overview of this magnificent country.

Thanks in advance for any advice and tips.

PS: Another option would be to just keep our car and spend 3 days driving around Scotland on our own (not a car in Edinburgh, of course). Is that good for first-timers, though, or should we stick to day-trips through small, highly-rated tour companies. For some reason, it seems like doing these would be more efficient, but am I wrong?

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