Travelling in Scotland with children

May 8th, 2007, 11:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Travelling in Scotland with children

My husband is being sent to Glasgow, Scotland for 4 days in late June and lucky us we get to come along for the ride. The "us" in question is 2 more adults (Grandma and Mom) and 3 boys, aged 7, 5 and 2.

We plan on flying in to Edinburgh 4 days before his conference and will stay 7 days after. We will leave from Edinburgh.

This will be our first time in Scotland, but not our first time travelling in the British Isles. We need lots of help and recommendations on what to do, where to stay and any helpful tidbits. I have just started looking at guide books and am struck with how many great things there are to do. I am having a hard time triming down the list. We are interested in historical sites, castles, knights, monsters, ghosts and nature. You know, boy stuff. As you can imagine my 2 yr old is not a great hiker and thus we are limited on the amount of walking/hiking we can do.

Last but not least, do we need a car in Edinburgh? Thanks for all you help.
rkf is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 05:08 AM
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Not wanting to be unhelpful, but you do really need to study your guidebook some more & come up with at least a provisional idea of where you want to go - then we can help !

You seem to be talking about 8 days in Edinburgh, then 7 days after that - touring countryside by car ? 8 days in Edinburgh is quite a lot. If Dad won't feel too left out, I'd say one full day here for you all to relax before the conference, then the rest of you can visit attractions while he's at the conference - 4 days is plenty really. Then you could make it 10 days touring afterwards.

You definitely do *not* want a car in Edinburgh.

If you are planning to drive after Edinburgh, please bear in mind that driving here is very likely much slower than you are used to, so try not to plan to do too much. Try checking possible routes on - then add at least 1/3 on to their timings.

There's a book called 'Edinburgh for the Under Fives' which may help, although I realise 2 of yours aren't.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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I'll assume you already have your flights booked so you can't follow caroline's excellent suggestion to back load more days.

If you are booked into EDI 4 days before the conference - then I'd rent a car for 3 days right off the plane and head south into the Borders (or NE into Fife) In the Borders, you can see castles and abbeys and watch tartan being woven at woolen mills - all good things for kids. (or in Fife, Falkland Palace, St Andrews and fishing villages)

Then you have 5 days in Edinburgh.

Followed by your add'l week. And this bit is the catch. There are quite literally hundreds of places you could go. In general you'll probably want to go north and west - but w/ only 7 days you obviously can't see the whole country.

A couple of other comments - in June it will be daylight until about 11:00 p.m. and even later in the far north. And light again by 0400. So might be an issue re getting the kids to bed.

And, needing car seats and space for luggage for 6 means you will have to get quite a large vehicle. You will have to pack light even then.

I might consider renting a cottage for a week and use it as a base to tour around. That way you aren't schlepping the luggage from place to place and the car won't be so crowded.

A well located cottage near Inverness or Ft William (not IN either town) would be good as a base for Loch Ness/Urquhart castle, Glencoe, Skye, Ft George, Culloden, the Trossachs, whiskey distilleries, etc.

You would have a kitchen (in case any of the kids are real picky) and a washer dryer that would make packing light a lot easier. Plus you'd have a "home" to come back to every night.

What day does the converence end? Many cottage rentals run Sat to Sat but some are Fri to Fri and a few can start any day.
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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oh - meant to add - IF you haven't bought the tix yet - then do what caroline suggests. Fly in to EDO just a day or 2 prior to the conference. For the 10 days afterwards, rent a cottage as a base for a week and use the extra 3 days to travel to another area. Say a week near Inverness and 3 days touring around Fife. Or A week near Ft William and 3 days in Ayrshire and the SW. Something like that.
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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When I took my nephews to Scotland, they enjoyed the wildlife park near Kinggussie (near Loch Ness). They have a collection of endangered animals, animals that are more common over there but we do not see in the States, and some that are being raised to be reintroduced into Scotland. There is quite a bit of walking but I recall seeing strollers for rent. We took a walk with one of the rangers who told us many fascinating bitds about the animals.

The animals are in large enclosures so they have a more natural setting. There was a nice cafe for ice cream, sandwiches, etc. Also there was a picnic area if you brought your own food.

There are castles all over so narrow down your area of "settlement" and you will likely find a dozen castles within easy driving.

We took the ferry to Mull and spent two nights there, but did some hiking which you can't do with wee ones. But there are two castles there and a small steam train that runs between them that might be fun for the kids.

Have fun!
teacher33 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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oops - in my post that should be EDI -- Edinburgh airport

(EDO is in Turkey )
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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I think some of you didn't notice that the conferance is in Glasgow, not Edinburgh!

I need to re-read this, but it sounds like you have a lot of time to work with.
amelie is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:17 AM
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Oh Sheesh of course.

OK, start over . . .

4 days in Edinburgh (really more than you need BTW), the conference in Glasgow, and then a week after the conference.

But my suggestions for what to do after the conference wouldn't change.
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Maybe they can take day trips from Glasgow while he's at the conference? Because what would someone do IN Glasgow for four days? I don't know, I've only been to their airport.

We went to the aquarium just outside the city centre of Edinburgh once. I myself didn't think it was that spectacular (not compared to Sydney's), but your boys would probably LOVE it. I think it's called Deep Sea World. Also, the science museum IN Edinburgh.

I'd go with what Janis said for after Edinburgh.

We will be in Scotland the same time as you actually. We are staying at the Knights Residence Apartment Hotel ( in Edinburgh (Old Town). We got a two-bedroom, perhaps there is some configuration that would work for your family. It's getting such great reviews on tripadvisor at the moment, and the staff have been SO helpful in emails.

Good luck planning.

amelie is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:31 AM
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There is plenty to do in Glasgow. Huge parks, great museums, etc. But w/ 4 days the rest of the family can take short train trips to places like Ayr, or to Ardrossan and then the ferry to Arran for the day, or to Balloch on Loch Lomond. Or to Milngavie for the country park/castles.
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 06:36 AM
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Yes, I noticed that some of you didn't catch that the conference was in Glasgow. If you want to be in Glasgow during his conference there are several day trips or 1 night trips within the area, to the north, NW, and south, or NE. A map can give you some ideas. Then, after the conference you can all drive, with your husband, further afield...oban area, sterling, loch ness(for the boys!?),...well,you have received some good ideas. The Falkland wheel might be interesting to your family. Mileage is short from place to place in Scotland, but it DOES take a little longer.
We have had a car twice in Edinburgh and did fine, but not necessary at all. Depends on where you'll be staying. Public transportation is good, but you have quite a "gang" of people.
Even while in Edinburgh, after perhaps taking an all inclusive tour, you might want to drive over to St. Andrews for a night., and down the Fife Coast.
Lots of walking and mobility is something to think about...especially with a 2 yr. old and a Grandma. A car is great in would probably need to rent a van. I don't know the child car seat restrictions.
The idea of a base in a house in the highlands, or around Callendar or other similar places sounds good, you can "work" out from one base.
Well, it IS overwhelming , but fun, to plan. Late June will have more tourists....and accommodations will be filling up , if not already.
I do think that tourism might be down a little this year...with the bad exchange of the dollar/pound. Who knows, however,...
Your trip sounds wonderful!
mari5 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:46 AM
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I noticed the conference was in Glasgow but thought rkf implied they were staying in Edinburgh during it -rkf ?

"Because what would someone do IN Glasgow for four days?" Indeed, there is loads to do in Glagow ! Some would say more than in Edinburgh. I was there last Saturday and will be there again another three times this month.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Really? Interesting, I will have to look into that. I've always wanted to go to Glasgow but my husband has his pride and never really wants to go.

Maybe next trip.
amelie is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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I have no idea of the company, but when I was a kid, the highlight of a trip to Scotland was an evening ghost tour in Edinburgh. It was part walking and part bus. They also, I think, took us to the Firth of Forth, where we had dinner (chicken tenders- we liked them, my parents were disappointed) at a "haunted" inn.

We were a bit older, so this may be too scary for your little ones, but my sister and I remember it as a blast.
BlueSwimmer is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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My favorite guide to Scotland, Scotland the Best by Peter Irvine, has a whole section devoted to family sights and activities, including family friendly restaurants. You can get the current edition from

I would do Stirling as a day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh. It's a short train ride, which your boys should enjoy. There is a hop on hop off bus which will make getting up the steep hill to the castle much easier. The castle is wonderful for all ages.

In Glasgow be sure to go to the Kelvingrove Museum. It has been newly rebuilt and is great for families. Sir Roger the elephant is a perennial favorite with children, along with lots more natural history displays. Even the galleries devoted to art have been designed with young visitors in mind. Some of the paintings are hung at their eye level, and there are lots of interactive displays to make the art come alive.

The Peoples Palace/Glasgow Green would make another nice outing for the variety of ages you have.
noe847 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:38 PM
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Amelie, thanks for the pointer on where to stay in Edinburgh. It looks just right.

We will be staying 4 days in Edinburgh, and 4 1/2 days around Glasgow. We plan on taking lots of day trips after the first day or two. Sterling does sound good and Perth possibly.

After that we have 6 days to get a feel for the rest of Scotland. It seems like I could easily spend years and not see everything I would want to see. So instead of running around and making us all cranky and crazy, I would like 2 bases from which we can get a sense of the highlands and the lowlands. None of us golf so we are not dying to go to St. Andrews. We also are not into whiskey as we are with the kids. What bases would you suggest? What sights would be your absolute favorite? Skye seems great, but is it too hard to get to? Loch Ness seems like a must for the kids, but beyond that...

Thanks for your help.
rkf is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:49 PM
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As I explained above - traveling from place to place w/ 6 of you and all the luggage/car seats etc will be a huge hassle. I really recommend you pick ONE base, completely unpack/unload the car and tour around on day trips from that base.

A cottage near Ft William or Inverness will put w/i easy drives of all the things you want to see.
janisj is online now  
May 14th, 2007, 12:17 AM
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<<< Falkland wheel >>> Falkirk Wheel
<<< We went to the aquarium just outside the city centre of Edinburgh once >>> It's 13 miles - plus a trip over the Forth Road Bridge. Mind you the view of the Forth Rail Bridge from North Queensferry is pretty spectacular
alanRow is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 04:33 AM
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More than enough to do in both cities!!! Its well worth getting out to Loch Lomond or even taking the West Highland Rail service up to Oban or Fort William as a day trip - if (bif "if")the weather is kind then you will see some great scenery. Also worth checking out - it has free walking maps for both cities plus a kind of mini guide full of suggestions. For Glasgow its worth getting a Glasgow Card - it will save you a fortune on entry fees, restaurants cafes etc

Whatever you do you will have a great time.
dublinborn is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 05:32 AM
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If you are considering any train travel MAY help you save a bit of money

But don't buy it until you've checked train prices both with & without the railcard
alanRow is offline  

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