First Trip to Scotland

Old Oct 16th, 2015, 10:31 AM
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First Trip to Scotland

Working on my bucket list of places to see before..... I've done pretty extensive research (relatively easy thanks to the excellent historic record keeping in the UK) of my Scottish ancestors. My grandfather was born/raised in Glasgow and grandmother was born/raised in Edinburgh. I've obtained copies of city maps from the late 1800's and have been able to pin point their of course I have to see for myself and do more research.

I want to spend some time in Glas and Edin but we are also interested in experiencing and visiting more than just the "big cities". My husband (who is not the adventurous type and probably just going along with my "dream") and I are torn between taking a tour (Rick Steves) or going it on our own.

There are other destinations on my bucket list, so this may be my only trip to "the motherland." Given this info, what recommendations do the seasoned travelers have for me?
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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There are many local based tours of various lengths and destinations that could be more tailored to what you want to see. Rabbies tours are given outstanding marks by some Fodor Scottish experts - several other companies as well.

go to Edinburgh and Glasgow on your own and other easy places like Stirling and its great castle, etc but for the Highlands and rural places take a local tour like Rabbies.
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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Well some obvious questions need answering first, such as how long do you have or want to visit Scotland, what time of year, etc.

Without knowing anything about your traveling styles, budget, specific interests (scenery, food, history...) my inclination is to suggest you rent a car for at least part of your trip and use it to get into the countryside - Highlands and Islands, the Borders, Grampians and Deeside...

There's enormous variety in Scotland, but we'd just be guessing absent more input from you.
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 11:53 AM
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I suppose more info would be helpful LOL. More than likely traveling in September (to avoid the summer family travelers) for about 10 days.

Other than family research in G & E, I'm open to suggestions as to destinations (i.e., highlands, islands, etc.) as I am just beginning to gather information. At this point, I'm open to suggestions and recommendations which I will research as they appeal to me.

Our travel style is pretty laid back although when it comes to accommodations, a private bathroom is a must (I've heard that some lodgings have "community" bathrooms).

Bottom line is pros and cons of a beginning to end tour vacation vs. creating our own itinerary.
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 12:25 PM
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I've got recent(ish) trip reports to Glasgow, Edinburgh and, a little further back, the highlands, which might be helpful to you (photos, accomodation and food recs as well as the sights). Never let it be said I missed an opportunity to pimp them
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 01:42 PM
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When you have time and transport, I fully agree with Gardyloo: touring the western coast with the islands and central Scotland can't fail to charm you (and the dear husband).
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 01:58 PM
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Unfortunately, if you only have 10 days and Edinburgh and Glasgow are musts you won't have time for much else (2.5 days are spent just traveling to/from the UK)

So 2 or 3 days in Glasgow, 3 full days in Edinburgh and a Rabbies 1 or 2 day tour and you are set.

Rabbies are great (Funny that PQ recommends them -- it took about 25 threads to convince him Rabbies are good ) They us small vans - usually 12- ish passengers. You definitely do NOT want to take a large coach tour -- you will get almost no free time to explore your own musts/wants.
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Old Oct 16th, 2015, 05:58 PM
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Agree with janisj ( surprise ) with just 10 days and spending most of that in Glasgow and Edinburgh, you simply won't have enough time for more than a one/two day tour with Rabbies. I have traveled with them. They're great. Their website is Have a look at their offerings.
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 09:23 AM
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Since you are not sure where else you want to go, one idea is to look at some of the itineraries on the Rabbies website to see what sounds appealing. Then you can choose to do things on your own if you like.

Driving would certainly be the first choice if you are willing, but Rabbies is a good compromise between driving and a "big" tour bus. I descibed my recent first Rabbies tour here:
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 09:46 AM
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Sept good, is 10 days all you want to give to this project?

Rabbies might be a good idea, but I'd like to propose that you include a look at the islands for a very different Scotland to the middle-belt of Edinburgh/Glasgow.

The west coast isles is where most tourists go and the writers on this site will give you great Skye or Jura but I'd like you fly to Orkney. Have a read of this old thread of mine.

this offers you the chance to see 5000 year old structures, some of the oldest places in Europe still extant and meet the descendants of Vikings living on the edge of Europe.
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 09:58 AM
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Wonderful places -- however how would one squeeze them into ten days and include time in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

But yes, IF we can get you to stretch (maybe double ) the length of your trip then we can recommend a TON of lovely places to explore.

Do realize, 10 days travel is only 8.5 days on-the-ground in Scotland. So any extra you could tack on would be a definite/major plus.
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 02:15 PM
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Hi Grandmax2

I live in Glasgow. You have possibly got some of your visit here already planned out but if you need any help with logistics, city transport options, local information etc. let me know.

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