7 Days in Scotland

I traveled to Scotland with my mother as part of an extended European summer trip. Please enjoy reading our itineraries and travel tips below! Prior to Scotland, we visited Copenhagen. After this trip, I continued on to Iceland with my brother!

12:55pm Arrive in Edinburgh/Travel to City

1:30pm Check into Hotel

2:30pm Museum of Edinburgh

4:00pm National Museum of Scotland (open until 5pm)

6:00pm St. Giles Cathedral (rooftop tour every 30 min)

6:45pm Dinner at Grassmarket

7:30pm Literary Pub Tour (meets at Grassmarket)

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Our first day in Scotland wasn’t overly incredible as things kept seeming to go wrong (our plane was delayed, I have a killer cold, I got something stuck in my eye, my original post for the day disappeared, etc.).

  

However, Edinburgh is a lovely, hidey-hole city with lots of charm (and stairs) that we are definitely excited to explore. On our first day, we were unable to do much due to the delayed arrival, but we did climb over some of the city hills and visit the National Museum.

       

   

For dinner, we stopped at the famous Beehive Inn in posh Grassmarket for a bit of dinner.

  

We also joined a Literary Pub Tour, where we learned a lot about how much Scottish writers like to drink, lol, as well as listened to some recited poetry in the middle of the busy streets. 

   

The most memorable during the tour was the moment that a drunken stag party interrupted our guide’s bit on Sir Walter Scott with slurred language then proceeded to play football with a dead pigeon in front of us – ending in a punt (can’t make this stuff up folks…). Sorry, too shocked to stop for photo. We did almost get a sunset on our late night walk home though!

 

Please read the post immediately following about our second and final day in Edinburgh, which went much better!

7:00am Picnic Breakfast/Arthur’s Seat Hike (3 miles)

9:30am Holyrood Palace

11:00am Edinburgh Castle/Princes Street Gardens

12:30pm Lunch/Scottish National Gallery

4:00pm Edinburgh Dungeon

5:00pm Dinner

7:00pm Mary King’s Close

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On our second, last, and much improved day in Edinburgh, we started very early with a delicious breakfast from our quite nice hotel on St. Andrew’s Square to fuel up for a hike up Arthur’s Seat, a former volcano that dramatically looms over the already dramatic landscape of the city. It was invigorating! 

      

Next we visited Holyrood Palace, official home of the queen in Scotland (no pictures allowed). 

  

 

Next, we walked up the Royal Mile to stop at sites on our way to Edinburgh Castle on the opposite end. We stopped in at the Museum of Edinburgh…

                    

…Writer’s Museum… 

  

…and St. Giles Cathedral (where we stopped for a packed lunch from our hotel – that actually encourages guests to make lunches from the breakfast buffet!). 

  

We reached Edinburgh Castle EXACTLY in time to hear the once daily 13:00 gun fired before we explored the ancient premises and soaked in the charm. 

                              

Next, we visited the National Gallery to view some masterpieces.

                    

We ended our touring with a bit of quirk with a visit to the Edinburgh Dungeon, a “scary” adventure into the dark histories of Scotland. 

 

After all that fun, we were ready for a traditional meal of haggis and shepherds pie before turning in just a bit early. 

  

We hit the road tomorrow to start a tour of the highlands!

5 Day Highlands Tour Highlights:

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We joined a 5 day minibus tour of the highlands today with Ross, an incredibly knowledgeable and considerate guide. 

  

While today was our longest driving day (to get from Edinburgh to the northwest coast), we stopped several times for some views. First we stopped at the Dunkheld Cathedral, one of the first important churches in the 9th century

                    

Next, we visited the falls of Bruar, where we did about  an hour long hike to see various falls. 

                      

We also stopped fairly briefly at Loch Ness, just long enough for Mom to tempt Nessie with her bare toes, before driving through Inverness and onto Ullapool, where we’ll stay the next two nights as we explore the surrounding areas. 

    

The ride was beautiful and edu-taining as our guide provided us with an incredibly diverse amount of information about the area including history, flora, fauna, politics, science, and pop culture. In between info sessions, Ross played Scottish tunes for us as we gazed on the passing beauty. 

    

Once we arrived in Ullapool, we checked into our guest house and headed for the harbor for some grub (and a wee sampler of Scotch Whiskey). 

                                       

To work off our meal, we walked along the harbor front enjoying the serenity of the small town and fjord-like sea loch.

5 Day Highlands Tour Highlights:

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Choosing pictures today was so hard! This morning, I started with a run on the nature trails of Ullapool with views of the sea loch, followed by a traditional Scottish breakfast. 

                    

It was supposed to rain today but never did, giving us fantastic partial sunny views of the incredible landscape of northwest Scotland. We drove north through a geology park, stopping multiple times along the way for photos and mini walks. 

      

Our guide is a photographer, so sees his home country through a lens, always looking for perfect photo ops for us. 

   

About midmorning we stopped in Achiltibuie for some coffee, chocolate Guinness cake, and seaside views.

   

We then continued on towards Lochinver for a lunch of cheese and pickle toasties to fuel up for an afternoon visit to a beautiful silver sand beach where we got to scramble across rocks to get to a second secret beach. 

    

Then we ended the day with a visit to the Ardvreck Castle ruins before heading back to Ullapool for dinner (and a nip of Scotch). 

                                        

More beautiful scenery to come tomorrow! Heading to the Isle of Skye…

5 Day Highlands Tour Highlights:

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So many glorious pictures today! Started with a run up Ullapool Hill, despite overcast sky and wet conditions.

   

Next we packed up and ate a hearty breakfast before moving south with our tour group towards the Isle of Skye. 

 

We stopped so many lovely places today, I’m feeling lazy about naming them all – so just take a peek at my favorite shots from the day. 

             

For you foodies, here’s pictures of our yummies! 

   

We’re in Portree for the next two nights at a B&B a little outside of town. Today was a lot of driving to get here but tomorrow we’ll actually get to do some real hiking, which excites me greatly!

5 Day Highlands Tour Highlights:

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We weren’t sure how well the weather would turn out today since it began with wind and rain, but they say you can get four seasons in a day here and it rings true. After a bit of overcast weather, the sun came out and stayed, allowing us beautiful views of Staffin Bay…

   

…the (literally) breathtaking scenery of Quiraing…

    

…and delightful gallavanting around Faerie Glen. 

     

For lunch we returned to Portree and then split up. Most of the group went to Dunvegan Castle, but 6 of us wanted to hike to the Coral Beach, and our guide was kind enough to accommodate us. 

    

The Highlands and Skye have been like a big playground for me – super happy to be here! For dinner, we didn’t feel like fighting other tourists for a table, so did a little grocery stop on the way back to our just a little too far away from town B&B.

 

5 Day Highlands Tour Highlights:

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We left Portree this morning in the windy rain, which stayed with us a good portion of the day with spots of sun throughout our long ride back to Edinburgh. 

  

We stopped a few times for some photo ops, but the weather prevented us from getting nearly as dramatic pictures as yesterday. Regardless, it was a fairly pleasant ride back with more delightful tales from our Highlander guide in his calming Scottish brogue that I think we’ll all hear in our dreams for the next few nights as we reminisce on all the beauty of Scotland. 

    

Notable stops included the three sisters…

 

…Ben Nevis…

  

…Doune Castle (where Monty Python’s Trojan Rabbit scene was filmed)…

 

…Ft. William (for lunch and a mini-museum)…

    

…and Callendar. 

                      

Once back in Edinburgh we took a taxi to our B&B/hostel west of the city. Our room is really fantastic with an amazing view of the Edinburgh skyline. After we picked up some groceries for dinner, we also saw a FULL RAINBOW outside our window that seemed to spring right out of Arthur’s Seat!!! 

  

Tomorrow mom heads home and I’m on to Iceland for a week with my brother! Looking forward to more amazing scenery!

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  1. […] flew into Reykjavik from a week long trip in Scotland with my mother and my brother was coming from California, so we tried to get flights that arrived […]

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