11 day Scotland itinerary

Old Aug 13th, 2018, 09:27 PM
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11 day Scotland itinerary

Hi friends,
Wife and I are planning a sort of last minute 11 day trip to Scotland in September. We will be flying into Edinburgh and plan on staying 2 nights. We are renting a car and would like to highlight Skye (maybe a 3 night stay), Glencoe and possibly NC 500. Is that too much for 11 days? FYI... Interested in hikes, maybe stay at a castle along the way, off the beaten track places. If anyone can help out with recommended places to rent a car, lodging, anything... that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much. Cheers!
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Old Aug 13th, 2018, 11:44 PM
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>>We will be flying into Edinburgh and plan on staying 2 nights. We are renting a car and would like to highlight Skye (maybe a 3 night stay), Glencoe and possibly NC 500. Is that too much for 11 days? <<

Is the whole trip 11 days - home to home (which would net 8.5 days free)? Or is is a 13 day trip with 11 days on the ground? Makes quite a bit of difference. Places like Skye and the 500 are very slow going -- like 30-35mph slow. And I assume you have to return to EDI to fly out.

Are you flying in long haul -- and therefore likely jetlagged? just 2 nights in Edinburgh only gives you 1 full day in the city - so that is pretty much a throwaway - The Castle, Royal Mile and Holyrood would take pretty much a whole day, which is OK if the city doesn't interest you much. But you wouldn't have time for Arthur's Seat, or the National Museum of Scotland, or exploring the New Town, etc.

There are WONDERFUL places all over that are hundreds of miles less driving and hours closer to Edinburgh that the NC500 (which is really just a marketing scheme) The NC500 alone is a minimum 4 day drive and that is pretty rushed.

sooooo -- clarify do you have 11 full days on the ground or is it 8.5 days?
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 08:09 AM
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Hi Janis,
Thank you for the reply. To be clear.... taking non-stop red eye from East coast U.S. arriving in Edinburgh Wed 9 a.m.... Will be leaving on a Sat at 5 pm. Correct assumption that we're not crazy about the city but have heard that Edinburgh deserves some time. Looking for great hikes, scenery and cool people. I've heard that isn't hard to find in Scotland 😉 I will definitely consider the 500 for another time if it is too much. Thank you again, Janis.
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 09:03 AM
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I think the NC500 is too much much. The hiking/scenery bits are quite literally found in every corner of Scotland.

So it looks like you have 9 full days plus part of a jet lagged day at the front end and maybe half a day at the end. How important is visiting Skye to you? To give you an idea, Edinburgh to Portree visiting Glencoe en route is 7 hour drive plus stops (at least two hours in Glencoe if you want to walk any at all, and about an hour at Glenfinnan). So a 10+ hour travel day. The same on the way back (one would usually take the ferry on direction and the bridge the other and drive times/attractions are about the same). In real life at least one or the other would be a two day drive. So with 3 nights on Skye and say 3 travel days . . . Skye is a huge time investment. Not that Skye isn't fabulous - but how fabulous would you think it is if you spend two days getting there and it is raining sideways the whole time you are on the island?

Not saying you should skip Skye - but there are other wonderful areas to hike etc. Mull for instance, or St Abbs Head, or the Trossachs, or Argyll, Aberdeenshire, or or or. When in September? I'm not sure I'd commit to any island as a major focus after about the beginning of the month. Weather could be great or awful . . . or both. But I wouldn't want to be on an island if it tends toward awful.
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 09:07 AM
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My posts do sound a bit negative -- Don't mean it that way. Scotland is my favorite place on Earth. It is just the logistics that are an issue. If you had three weeks then sure, Skye and the 500 and a couple of other regions. You just need to decide how much time you are willing to spend driving on narrow, winding, slow roads.
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 09:16 AM
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ps: If Skye really is still a must and I haven't scared you off you can do Edinburgh (3 nights) Glencoe 1 night, Skye 3 nights, then use the 3 nights you have left either in 1) Argyll/Kilmartin/the general Trossachs area (Callander to EDI is only a little over a one hour drive so easy on the Saturday)

. . . or 2) spend the 3 nights exploring Aberdeenshire/Fife. St Andrews to EDI is about 1.5 to 2 hours from EDI

Last edited by janisj; Aug 14th, 2018 at 09:18 AM.
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 09:43 AM
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I'll offer a route I've proposed before for other posters. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/uXaSBbJwst52

This skips Skye but substitutes the Isle of Mull for the Inner Hebrides part of the trip. The reason for this is that it's closer and has many of the same attributes as Skye, in terms of scenery, history and variety.

A rough timetable would go like this: Callendar one night, Glencoe one night, Mull three nights, Inverary one night, totaling six nights. A seventh night, if available, could be spent at Glencoe, or on Mull, or someplace on Loch Lomond, say Luss. If you stayed an extra night in Glencoe, an easy day trip could be made out to Glenfinnan on the Road to the Isles, and back that night. Or, you could add a day to Edinburgh at the outset, with a day trip to the East Neuk fishing villages in Fife plus St. Andrews, or else head east from Edinburgh to some of the coastal villages on the North Sea, such as St. Abbs or Dunbar.

Use Undiscovered Scotland - https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/ - to research these and other places.

In my view a more southerly (Mull instead of Skye) itinerary would allow more time seeing things rather than just driving to them.
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 11:17 AM
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I don't think it's too much for Edinburgh, Glencoe, & Skye.
We had only 7 full days in Scotland , our itinerary was as follows:
Day 1: Travel/ arrival from Overseas; overnight Edinburgh
Day2-3 Edinburgh
Day 4 Stirling & Glencoe; overnight near Fort William
Days 5-6 Skye
Day 7-8 Gleneagles Hotel
Day 9 Departure
It was packed, but we had a great time and enjoyed every minute. It gave us a nice "taste" of Scotland. Seeing as you have 2 more days than we did, I would definitely do Skye. Skye was stunning and I would definitely return ( There aren't too many places I feel that way about). While I found Edinburgh charming enough, the highlights of Scotland (for me) were most definitely the countryside.

Our favorite hikes in Scotland were the Quirang & Loch Coruisk on Skye & Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate with our hiking plans in Glencoe, but I'm sure the hikes there are stunning as well.

We had 2 full days in Edinburgh and they were jam packed, but we felt as though we "saw" everything we wanted to see.

Car rentals are easy at EDI. You don't need a car in Edinburgh, so just take a cab or bus into town while you are there, then a cab back out to the airport (which is outside of town and on the way anyway) to rent your car to drive to Skye.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 01:43 PM
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>>I don't think it's too much for Edinburgh, Glencoe, & Skye. <<

Don't think anyone said Edinburgh/Glencoe/Skye was too much . . . it was the NC500 that mostly throws a spanner in the works.

Gardyloo's map would be a totally doable itinerary (and hundreds of miles less driving than Skye and the far north)
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 07:09 PM
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You all are so awesome. Thanks a bunch for the helpful replies.

Janis... FYI. Arriving on morning of 9/18 and leaving late afternoon 9/29. As far as Skye and 500 is concerned..... a friend took a 5 week trip to Scotland last summer and gave glowing reviews of those two amongst many other sites but I've come to realize that 500 would be just too much moving around for our allotted time so I guess we'll save that for another trip. Negative or positive, your replies are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Gardyloo and Havetwins… Will definitely consider the itineraries you shared. So much to dispense. Will definitely look at the first 2 nites in EDI then cab back to airport then trek from there. Thanks. Another question for any of you good people.... On the map Skye doesn't appear to be too far from Mull as the crow flies (which probably means nothing). Approximately how much farther of a drive is it?
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Old Aug 14th, 2018, 07:52 PM
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>>a friend took a 5 week trip to Scotland<<

Ah -- but the difference is 5 weeks vs. 9 days . Easy fix - add 4 weeks to your trip

>>On the map Skye doesn't appear to be too far from Mull as the crow flies (which probably means nothing). Approximately how much farther of a drive is it?<<

Essentiall a whole day's drive. Fionnphort to Portree via either of the two fastest/most scenic routes are 7 hour behind-the-wheel drives, on VERY narrow roads, with two ferries. That is without a single stop and there are hundreds of possible photo op stops. The 'fast' route via Oban would actually take a little longer. Then it would be an entire drive back from Skye to EDI -- so no matter how you cut it - to get 2 days ON Skye will eat up more than 4 full days.
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Old Aug 15th, 2018, 06:54 PM
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While I really like your "easy fix", Janis, my boss isn't too keen on it. LOL. OK... now that it's clear that Skye is quite the haul, would an itinerary with a couple of overnites along the way make much sense rather than driving straight there? My intentions were to stay in 3 or 4 different places. Would that work?
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 07:12 PM
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You could definitely do Skye with your 11 days. If you arrive in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning you can take the tram into the city (extremely easy to do). Check into your hotel and check out Edinburgh the first day and have an early night. Spend Thursday night in Edinburgh so you can do more exploring on Thursday. Take tram back to airport to get car on Friday morning and drive to Glencoe and stay Friday and Saturday night (great hiking there if the weather cooperates). Drive to Skye for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday night (go see Fairy Glen, hike the Quaraing, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock). Wednesday morning get up early and take the 2 ferries to Mull (it is an absolutely beautiful drive). Stay on Mull Wednesday and Thursday night. Friday morning drive to Stirling (explore the castle and whatever else you want to see along the way). Saturday drive back to airport, drop off car and return home (Stirling is not too far from the airport and it is a very easy drive.) We did this last September and it was a great trip (we had a few more days and also checked out Speyside).

We had originally thought of doing the NC500 too, but with guidance from this board I pared down our itinerary. That will have to happen another day. We did do a lot of driving but it was well worth it as that is why we went to Scotland, to see the scenery.

Tip - bring rain pants and waterproof shoes! We had raincoats but not rain pants and we got soaked on a few hikes (it does rain in September). The heather was gorgeous!!!



The heather.


Kilt Rock on Skye
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 07:56 PM
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I concur with Sberg and havetwinswilltravel that you can do the Isle of Skye with 11 days. We have exactly the same number of travel days...left Wednesday and came back the following Saturday. Arrived early (8:00am) on Thursday at Edinburgh, we had nearly a full day to explore the city. Friday, we continued our tour of the city. Saturday, we did a full day Outlander Tour (a fan). Sunday, more Edinburgh including Carlton Hill. Monday, tram to airport to pick the car, then drove to Glencoe, stopping at Stirling Castle for an hour or so. Overnight in Glencoe. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday to Isle of Skye. Friday to Pitlochry with a stop at Eilean Donan Castle. We overnighted at Pitlochry to break up the drive. Saturday drove to Edinburgh airport for the flight home.
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