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Fell in love with Edinburgh - where to branch out from there in Scotland?

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My brother and I recently completed a trip to Edinburgh (4.5 days) and London (8.5 days). We greatly enjoyed London's iconic attractions (the British Museum is a marvel) - but I was completely beguiled by Edinburgh. Elegant New Town, the busy crowds and sights on the Royal Mile, tranquil Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle, intriguing Gilmerton Cove, Calton Hill, and of course the friendly Scots - as the title says, I fell in love with Edinburgh and Scotland.

After 2 days in Edinburgh, I knew I'd be returning with my husband, who, always amiable in travel matters, is happy to let me select the where and when and how long. I'm hoping a 3-week return visit next spring is in the cards and am beginning to look into various Scottish bases from which to explore the immediate area and do day trips over 4-5 nights.

While Edinburgh will of course be one base, I would love suggestions for other good bases in order to jumpstart and refine my research. My considerations are:

- sites of interest both in the town/city we'll be staying in as well as worthwhile explorations in the surrounding area to undertake as day trips.
- what we're after: characterful cities/towns, natural landscapes and scenery, castles or churches or other ancient structures...i.e. what almost every tourist aims for.
- we won't rent a car to get around as I'm not willing to tackle driving "on the other side" while in the UK. That leaves getting from one base to the next via either bus or train (maybe plane?).
- as of now, I'm aiming to build in time in York for 3 nights and Wales for 4-5 nights. The sequencing of bases is up in the air for now. I may also drop both York and Wales if my research and your suggestions lead me to decide to spend the whole trip in Scotland.

Many thanks in advance,

mirai

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