Planning May trip to Edinburgh

Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:41 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Planning May trip to Edinburgh

I'm planning my third trip to Europe and once again, I need your expert advice. Hubby and I are spending 6 days in Edinburgh mid May. We are staying in a serviced apartment 5 mins. south of the castle and relying on bus and train transportation. The rough outline of the trip is: two days exploring Old Town (this includes our day of arrival - early nite, grocery shopping); one day exploring New Town, Leith and the museums; one day on an organized tour of Loch Ness, Highlands, and Urquardt (sp) Castle; 1 unplanned day to roam off the beaten path and perhaps visit a Museum, the Botanic Gardens, shopping; and one day to . .
My list of possiblilites include a vist to Stirling, the Borders, St. Andrews, Linlithgow. Please advise!

Also, I understand that whisky is cheaper at the duty free shop at the airport, but will they have brands that are not readily available in the U.S.? Any suggestions for gifts for friends and family that are scotch drinkers?

Thanks again!
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:51 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If the weathr is good I would definitely visit the Botanic Gardens. And Don't forget Edinburgh Castle! Not that you could miss the thing. Down at the other end of the Royal Mile is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, also a very neat place to visit.

All of the day trips you indicate as possibilites are great options, best that you research each one and decide which one to choose. I think I'd put Stirling at the top of the list, but then I am a castle junkie. There are many tour operators offering many day trip options from Edinburgh that you could choose from, find several tour offices on the Royal Mile and the Scottish Tourist Board at Waverley Station on the steps.

Whiskey may be a bit cheaper at the airport shop, plus you don't have to carry it around and worry about breaking (or opening) the bottle during your travels. I bought Glenmorangie for my SIL and he was quite pleased. Got it at the World duty free at Heathrow airport for £26, that was in 2004 so prices may have changed since then.
Daisy54 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:00 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For booze try the local supermarkets they might have specials

Agree with going to the botanic gardens, not too sure about visiting Loch Ness & Urquhart castle as they are basically tourist traps. Leith isn't exactly the most exciting place on earth - Britannia and - em, but you can get a bus to the gardens. Get yourself a bus map from http://www.lothianbuses.co.uk/
alanRow is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:04 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Daisy54. The castle, Holyroodhouse, not to mention numerous pubs, are definately on the list! I was hoping to plan a day trip on my own (should have made this clearer) instead of joining an organized tour. Could I fit in Stirling and the Borders in one day? Or perhaps 1/2 day trips to each on different days?
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 06:30 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,237
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
just a few comments:

Loch Ness and Urquhart are not tourist traps (the Nessie exhibits definitely are though). But The Loch is far from the lovliest in Scotland, and the castle isn't worth a special trip all the way from Edinburgh.

I personally would not spend the time nor money on an a tour to Loch Ness. If you want to see the Highlands -- leave Edinburgh for a couple of days ad SEE them.

No - you can't do the Borders and Stirling in one day. Stirling is 40 miles NW of Edinburgh and the Borders are 40 miles SE.

The Borders are not a 1/2 day destination. It is a large area full of things to explore and if you allowed 1/2 a day it would basically be a drive south, rush through a couple of Abbeys and a drive north.

Stirling Castle itself takes a minimum of 2 or 3 hours just to visit. Plus travel time back and forth. You certainly could do Stirling as a day trip by train from Edinburgh though.

Linlithgow is an easy 1/2 day trip - train from Edinburgh, an hour or 2 at the Palace and train back into the city.

St Andrews should be a full day - train to Leuchers, bus or taxi to St Andrews, wander the city and then back the same way. If you can - plan St Andrews for a Sunday. There is no Sunday play on the Old Course so it becomes a vast city park and you can walk the whole place - or at least step into Hell Bunker, see the Road hole and cross the Bridge at 18.

If it were me - I's definitely skip the Loch Ness tour, visit either Stirling or Linlithgow, and take a full day to St Andrews. Spend the rest of your time in Edinburgh.
janisj is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:03 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the input Janisj. I was hoping to see a bit of the highlands and a loch as this may be our only trip to Scotland. Since we are only there a week, it makes sense to stay close to home and not spend too much time driving around on a bus. Time to rethink the agenda once again
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:21 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 375
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What about the island of Skye? Any comments on this or any of the other islands.
parisnow is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:38 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
if you're going to Loch Ness and Urquardt (i enjoyed both) you may want to try and do Inverness. the people there are lovely and it's a great little town with loads of day trips. the tourist center is full of information and the folks there are very helpful.
have fun and try a Scotch based liquor called Galyva, it's devine.
gmunnee is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 02:42 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think it is possible to visit both Stirling and Linlithgow.

The train to Stirling from Edinburgh also stops at Linlithgow, so depending on what you want to see at Stirling, you can:
1. Make it a day trip, stopping by Linlithgow before catching the train to Stirling
2. Stay overnight at Stirling

In my opinion, the Wallace Monument (you need to take a bus there) and the Stirling Castle is worth visiting. You can get quite a nice view from the top of the Wallace Monument.
zhhoo is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 06:13 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,237
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
noprob: There is a way to see some lovely lochs/scenery (though not Loch Ness) as a day trip. It would mean renting a car for the day - picking up the car the evening before so you can get an early start.

Early in the a.m. drive out of Edinburgh to Callander, then up the A84 to the A84 through Comrie/Crieff, south to Stirling and back to edinburgh. Along this route you would see wonderful Trossach scenery, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Earn, Glenturret distillery, Drummond Castle Garden and Stirling Castle. It would be a long day but the first half (up to Glenturret) is sceneray so opening hours aren't an issue. Leaving Edinburgh by 8 a.m. you could easily be to Crieff by 10:30 or 11:00 - giving you 6+ hours for Drummond Castle Garden and Stirling Castle.

BTW - if renting a car for a day appeals - going to St Andrews is better by car than by train/bus. W/ a car you could see St Andrews and then drive back along the coast road through all teh fishing villages and maybe even squeeze in Falkland Palace too. A really great day trip.
janisj is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 06:16 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,611
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tours to Loch Ness make a very long day, most of it sitting in a vehicle.

I did a tour last year that might appeal to you. It is with Timberbush (their office is at the base of the castle) and visited Rosslyn Chapel, the Borders, and Glenkinchie Distillery.

Glenkinche has a nice tour, and during the free tasting at the end they also let you sample whisky from other distilleries. My guide was glad to share his comments on the other products and pointed out ones that he believed were not available outside Scotland.

I don't believe that the £8.5 tour at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh is worth it. It had 3 brief movies in different rooms, and a ride through local whisky history in barrel shaped cars. It was mostly about getting you to their gift shop and bar. The free tasting the day I was there was Dewers White Label - hardly something unique or special.

Stirling is well worth a visit.

You might consider taking the bus out to South Queensferry where you will have a wonderful view of the Forth Bridges, a walk through the nice old town and can catch a ferry to Inchcolm Island and its 12th Century abbey. You will see lots of nesting birds and may even see dolphins of whales.

I'm not sure about the prices at the duty free shop, when I was passing through the airport, the saleswoman was so pushy that she drove me out of the store.

My photos from the trip are at http://www.mightymac.org/05scotland01.htm

Keith
Keith is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 07:53 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,289
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with much that has been said. I would also recommend South Queensferry, as mentioned. Holyrood house and Stirling Castle would be at the top of my list. The islands are a little too far on your time budget. I wasnt over keen on the Border area so its not somewhere I would go when short on time. St Andrews and many of the other coastal resorts near there are fabulous. Despite what was posted earlier, Leith is a great little place at night for its fish restaurants especially 'Skippers'. Have a geat time.
stevelyon is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 08:04 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. There are so many options and I don't want to miss a thing! I would like to explore on our own but renting a car is not an option - unless I'm feeling especially brave The Lochs do look beautiful - guess I have to decide if I want to spend a day riding around on a bus.
Keith - thank you so much for the beautiful pictures. The Inchcolm Island trip sounds interesting.
Decisions, decisions . . .
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 08:19 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,472
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would imagine that you could find a day tour out of Edinburgh that would go to the Trossachs or some other/closer combination of loch and scenery.

Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart would be fine if you were closer and not trying to do it on a day trip, but neither would make my 'best of' list. Peter Irvine (Scotland the Best guidebook) does not list Urquhart castle on his list of the 27 best castles in Scotland. On the other hand, Stirling and Edinburgh castles top his list, each earning three check marks.

Similar story with the lochs. Loch Ness is very long, and very famous, but not particularly convenient for you. Many of the smaller lochs are much more beautiful, and much closer.

If you can't locate a day tour, maybe a driver/guide for a day would be effective.
noe847 is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 08:35 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks noe847 - I did not have my heart set on Loch Ness but I did want to at least see one Loch. Hiring a guide for a day seems appealing if the budget will allow. Will also look into some day trips closer to town. I think Stirling has made the must see list.
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 11:58 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,784
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rossyln Chapel is south of Edinburgh and can easy be accessed through public transportation. (Bus 15A) Get a weekly bus pass. It will quickly pay for its self.

I wholeheartedly think you should visit Fife. St. Andrew's is the most popular town, but all of the Fife coast is pretty in May.

What do you like to read? If you like mysteries, stock up on Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine before you go. You will get a feel for Edinburgh before you get there.

You are wise to keep an unplanned day. Enjoy a picnic, visit a boot-sale or just take it easy.

palmettoprincess is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 01:29 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 566
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In my experience, it is cheaper to buy good whisky at most liquor stores in the States than it is to buy it anywhere in Scotland. Choice at the duty free is often quite limited.
almcd is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 02:16 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
palmettoprincess - never heard of a boot-sale. Is it like a flea market?

almcd - Yes, most anything can be purchased here now or over the internet. Maybe just one bottle to toast our return.
noprob is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 02:29 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You could watch Trainspotting or Shallow Grave to get some idea of Edinburgh
alanRow is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 03:45 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, a boot sale is pretty much the same as a flea market - refers to the boot (trunk) of the cars, from whence the merchandise is proffered. There is, or at least used to be, a large boot sale held in the parking structure behind Waverley train station every Sunday (thought they removed the wares from the car boots and set it up on tables). However I've read that area is in line for remodeling so I'm not sure the Sunday boot sale is still being done, you should ask when you get to Edinburgh if it's still in business.
Daisy54 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:28 AM.