a VirtualTourist member from Thornhill
Hi, we are planning a three week trip to Scotland. Thanks to the helpful people here we are well on our way to setting up an itinerary. For one of our weeks, we are thinking of exploring Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling. Can anyone suggest a good place to base ourselves that would work well for exploring these areas? We are hoping for a self-catering place, if possible as there are four of us (two adults, two kids ages 4 and 12).
Hi! We are going to Scotland in a few months time, and like you, I wanted an apartment. I found the site WIMDU, and have booked an apartment at Edinburgh for what I think is a good price. I will give you the website to have a look at. It gives prices, shows location, photo of the owner and what the apartment looks like. http://www.wimdu.com/scotland
As you are thinking of exploring, I imagine that means by car? While Edinburgh is fine, Edinburgh with a car is not. Nor is Glasgow. I would suggest you look for places outside either of the three places (any of which would make a good hub), so that you either have good transport into the city (if you want to visit) or can reach a park and ride easily. I would suggest Stirling as the better base. It has good connections to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Of course, this exploring you mention is apparently only for one of your three weeks. It would be helpful to know where you are planning to go for the other weeks, as that would facilitate pointing you to a hub, without placing you in a location that you have already covered. There are loads of sites which offer self-catering - just google. For a starter, visitscotland and also the National Trust for Scotland have places, the latter being expensive bu the former will give you a good range.
I would also second Stirling as a place to stay while you explore the two other cities. Stirling is rather a small place with good xport to Edinburgh and Glasgow as Hawkhead mentioned. As already stated it can be hell trying to find a parking space in the two cities, but both places have park and ride car parks outside the perimeter where you can leave your car and catch a bus or train.
Hi [VT member 6f818] and davijo Thanks [VT member 6f818] your suggestions. We were planning on having a car for the full three weeks but it may make sense to drop off the car before spending the week in the cities, Stirling and Fife. I'm not sure though how expensive or easy it will be to travel between these sites without a car for four of us. Does anyone know? As for where else we are going, we have not decided yet but are thinking of spending a week in the eastern highlands and a week in the western/northern highlands as well. We are also hoping to see Skye as well as one or two other islands if we can fit it in. If you have any suggestions for good bases for either of these regions, I would love to hear them. We really want to be able to do some hiking but need to be mindful of the fact that our youngest is only four. Our kids are really interested in seeing castles so we want to accomodate that as well. I know we can't fit in everything and I guess I am still in those early stages of trying to pick and choose what we can fit in and what will have to wait for another time.
Ease of travelling between cities - very. There are frequent trains and buses. For both you can obtain a family travel card, or a 'group card' - look at the websites for Scotrail and for the bus company, the name of which escapes me (too early in the morning!). Your 4 year old will be able to travel free on the city buses. If you want to go into Fife, as in the East Neuk, St Andrews, then transport is more complicated. Certainly for the East Neuk, a car is desirable. You don't want to be doing too much driving with a wee one, or even with any age. Distances that look small on the map can take ages in reality, especially if you are stuck behind a bus, caravan, truck, frightened tourist! Castles - Edinburgh and Stirling, of course - the one in Stirling is far better than the one in Edinburgh. On the way to Skye you will pass by the romantically-situated Eilean Donan. Falkirk, with its Wheel, Falkland Palace, are within easy reach of both Glasgow and Edinburgh. I, personally, would concentrate on the Western Highlands, rather than the Eastern - I wouldn't do both in so short a time. You might also consider a few days on Arran, off the west coast, easily reachable from Ayr. Arran is called Scotland in miniature and as such, offers in a nutshell all that Scotland has to offer - amazing scenery, good and safe and easy walks, good climbing, Brodick Castle, ruined castles, nice beaches - going round using the buses would be an adventure for the children!
If the box in which to write an answer wasn't obscuring your post, I could do a much better fist of replying! One of the many "improvements" of VT that is ridiculous and ill-conceived. I have probably repeated myself over the posts but cannot find a way to ascertain that without losing this reply.
There are some greta places along the Fife Coastline such as Culross, Lime Kilns, Anstruther and Piitweenen, and you can continue to St. Andrews. Visit Falkland Palace too. The Highlands are full of beautiful villages and great for hiking. Try Rannoch area outside Pitlochry, Aviemore is worth a visit, but one of my favourite roads is the one that goes up the east side of Loch Ness, small road and spectacular views. Ullapool is interesting, been there a few times but not in the last 20 years so it may have changed. I am sure wherever you choose to stay in the highlands there will be plenty of walking trails, after all that is what attracts many tourists.
For your interest in castles, have a look at a family pass with Historic Scotland. Then check out the places you intend visiting it often works out cheaper with the yearly family pass. The yearly Historic Scotland ticket also gives you a discount in the shop at the attractions an to the best of my memory also in the cafe.
A visit to Orkney would be in my top to do list. I try to visit every year.