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Scotland in 4-5 Days?

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Aug 30th, 2013, 01:59 PM
  #1
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Scotland in 4-5 Days?

I'll be honeymooning in Ireland and Scotland from October 17-October 29. We were planning on spending about a week in Ireland and remainder of the time in Scotland. We are trying to avoid renting a car, and for the amount of time we'll be there it doesn't seem we'll save much, if any, buying a railpass.

If we take the ferry to Scotland from Ireland...where should we go from there? We're flying out of Edinburgh on the 29th. We're interested in seeing castles and natural beauty, love to hike, bike, etc. However, we would also like to be in a decent sized town to offer options for dining, drinking, music, etc. in the evenings. We'd also be interested in any festivals or sporting events.

We've considered going to Glasgow then Aberdeen and finally Edinburgh. Are those interesting places? There seems to be no middle ground between big city and vacant land in Scotland! We're trying to stray from the ultra touristy areas - but again, looking for more entertainment than countryside might offer in the evenings! Any advice would help tremendously!
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Aug 30th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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We've considered going to Glasgow then Aberdeen and finally Edinburgh. Are those interesting places?

All are interesting (Aberdeen in its own way) but it would be ill advised to try and do all three in 4-5 days.

Of those three, I would spend 2 days in Glasgow and then 2-3 days in Edinburgh. Aberdeen is cool if you like gray buildings and Polish oil workers, which I happen to enjoy.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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We're trying to stray from the ultra touristy areas

Skip Edinburgh then. Or at least all the things that people go there to visit.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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Sparkchaser,
if we based our travels out of Glasgow or Edinburgh are there any day trips that we could take get us off the beaten path a bit?
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Aug 30th, 2013, 02:40 PM
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You won't see many castles or find good hiking trails in the cities. If you stay in Edinburgh there is always the chance of taking a day trip to Loch Lomond by bus, though.

Railpasses don't make sense for the amount of time you are there, but fares are generally lower the farther in advance that you purchase them so you might get a good deal there.

Right now it looks like you might want to focus your time in Edinburgh and Glasgow, skip Aberdeen because it is relatively far from the other two cities.

Finally, you might want to consider Edinburgh and Inverness. At least in Inverness you have the chance to take the city bus to Culloden Moor (about 10-15 minutes away), Clava Cairns are only a half mile hike from there, and of course Inverness is close to Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart. If you go by bus you might have a chance to stop off at the Blair Athol whiskey distillery and see Blair Castle on your way up. And Inverness is a nice small town with a great live music scene. We love going there.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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if we based our travels out of Glasgow or Edinburgh are there any day trips that we could take get us off the beaten path a bit?

It's hard to go "off the beaten patch" when you're relying on public transportation. That being said, Loch Lomond would be a good day trip from Glasgow but since we always rent a car when we visit, I don't know how you'd get there with the bus or how long it would take.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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'Aberdeen is cool if you like gray buildings and Polish oil workers, which I happen to enjoy.'

Quote of the year
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Aug 30th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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I'd base in Glasgow, but you could do Edinburgh. Ferry from Larne to Troon. Glasgow and/or Edinburgh will give you your evening options. Edinburgh has a castle, Glasgow does not. You might be interested in a small group tour. Rabbies www.rabbies.com and Timberbush Tours www.timberbush-tours.co.uk offer 1, 2 and 3 day tours. Both are excellent companies and will give you a taste of Scottish countryside, castles etc. IMO this might be the best and easiest way to see Scotland without renting a car.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 03:42 PM
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First, you're far better off traversing Scotland by a rented car than by relying on public transport if you want to go off the beaten path. Dunno how a path would not be well-beaten if trod over by public transport.

Second, this statement -- "You won't see many castles or find good hiking trails in the cities" is at minimum 50% ridiculous. At last check, Edinburgh has both a castle and palace of some note. Stirling has a castle worth a view, and Perth has a palace worth a look. The walk to Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh would be a decent hike.

Third, this statement is just mind-boggling: "There seems to be no middle ground between big city and vacant land in Scotland!"

SERIOUSLY? There is no big city in Scotland. Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, has a population smaller than Nashville. Edinburgh has fewer than 500,000 residents. Thinking that Pitlochry, Elgin, Perth, Sterling and others would not deem themselves a "city" of any size.
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Aug 30th, 2013, 07:24 PM
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Not having been there, I am hardly an expert and old timers on this board will probably roll their eyes that I'm even venturing suggestions. But I've spent a looooong time researching in prep for my 15 days in Scotland next summer and have read every post and trip report on these boards here. I suggest you do as well. They are incredibly helpful. But since you've asked...

I agree with Big Russ that Edinburgh would make a great base. You have a very limited amount of time and while Edinburgh is much loved by tourists, it's for good reason. Loaded with character, history, beauty. And there's no shortage of lovely walks. Arthur's Seat, as Big Russ suggested. You could take the river walk out to Leith. Rabbie's day trips, as History Traveller suggested, offer a great range of very small group van tours to give you a taste of Scotland in a day. Stirling. St. Andrews.

Best of luck and have a great trip!
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Aug 31st, 2013, 12:50 PM
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First of all be aware that there are no ferries between Ireland and Scotland.
You can go from Northern Ireland (Belfast or Larne) to Scotland and that will find you in Cairnryan or Stranraer, the Larne to Troon service stops in October.
Depending on the travel to Belfast and the crossing to Ayrshire you´ll probably loose a day before you get to Glasgow.
If you are relying on public transport see if you can get a point-to-point ticket from Northern Ireland to Glasgow.
There is a train that connects with the ferry from Stranraer that will take you to Glasgow Central in roughly an hour and a half and also buses to Glasgow but they are obviously slower.
If you have enough travel left in you I´d suggest taking a train to Stirling and use that as a base.
You´ll have scenery and hiking in the Trossachs, Stirling and Doune castle, Cambuskenneth abbey, Dunblane church etc. to keep you busy and it is convenient for both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Aberdeen is a fine city with much going for it (quite a lot going for it according to sparkchaser) but given the limited time you have should maybe be saved for a future trip.
That is unless you really, really like Polish oil workers of course.

If you traveling by train keep note that there are "peak" and "off-peak" prices.
If you travel after 9:30 PM you pay a lot less compared to the rush hour prices so make sure you check the time you want to travel.

As an aside, the bit you call "vacant land" is often vacant for reason and quite often the most attractive.
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Aug 31st, 2013, 12:57 PM
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That should be travel after 9:30AM of course not PM.
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