One of The Traveling Professor's most popular tours is his small group tour to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. Here is an itinerary that is perfect for the first-time visitor to Scotland.
Day 1: Welcome to Scotland
After a long overseas flight, we recommend taking it easy the first day. The best place to stay in Edinburgh is in the Grassmarket area and we like the Apex Grassmarket Hotel. Purchase a Edinburgh City Pass for the hop-on hop-off bus and admission to 23 attractions in and around the city. Stroll around or do a loop on the HoHo bus, stop for a wee dram, and pick out a place for dinner. Let us help you out – Howie’s or The Mussel and Steak Bar.
Day 2: Edinburgh
The best way to explore Edinburgh is on foot and HoHo bus. The city is one of the world's finest capital cities, teeming with cultural diversity and impressive history. It’s not a bad idea to hire a professional guide to tell about the history, traditions, and architecture of this 1,000-year-old city. Visit the Royal Mile, Princess Street Gardens, Calton Hill and more. Edinburgh Castle Rock dominates over the city and is of immense historical significance to Scotland. This World Heritage city with stunning views over the city.
Day 3: Edinburgh
The Royal Yacht Britannia (you’ve seen it on the Netflix series, The Crown) and Palace of Holyroodhouse are just two stops on the Hop-on, Hop-off bus. See this and much more at your leisure on this free day in Edinburgh.
Day 4: St. Andrews
Take a trip from Edinburgh up to St. Andrews. The way to do it is to take a bus or the train with scenic stops along the way. St. Andrews is the home of golf, but there is so, so much more to this town. If there on a Sunday, anyone can walk the most famous golf course in the world, the Old Course. The beach where “Chariots of Fire” is adjacent to the golf course.
Day 5: St. Andrews
The Professor suggests a licensed, professional guide to tour the University of St. Andrews and the ancient cathedral. It's a delightful half-day walk full of stories, legends, history and the characters that make St. Andrews what it is. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and lovely neighborhoods in one of the best small cities in Europe.
Day 6: Dundee and Inverness
We like to take the train to Inverness from St. Andrews via Dundee. To do that, first take a taxi or bus down to Dundee. While stopping over in Dundee, take a quick visit to the brand-new Victoria & Albert Museum, right across the street from the train station. A spectacular train ride to the capital of the Scottish Highlands is delightful. In Inverness, we prefer the authentic Royal Highlands Hotel. If you have time, hire a professional guide for a walking tour of the town and hear the stories of rebellions, witchcraft, prophecies, clans, Jacobite curses and yes, the Beatles.
Day 7: Loch Ness, Urquart Castle, Culloden Battlefield
The finest way to see Loch Ness is with a luxury cruise. We like the Loch Ness by Jacobite cruise line There are indoor and outdoor viewing areas for your pleasure. The ship is sonar-equipped to detect any mysterious underwater activity and after visiting the fully stocked bar on-board, there is a guaranteed sighting of the Loch Ness monster! Nothing says "castle" like famous Urquart Castle and a visit can be included with your cruise. It has seen great conflict in its 500-year history as it passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. It is a beautiful spot for a photo as it looks over the great Loch Ness. Finish the day by traveling to the site of the 1746 Battle of Culloden between the Jacobites and British armies that marked the dismantlement of Highland Society. This one-hour battle changed Scotland's history forever.
Day 8: Kyle of Lochalsh and Isle of Skye
This might be the most scenic train ride you have ever been on. Depart Inverness and roll through stunning landscape to Kyle of Lochalsh. Have a driver meet you at the train station to journey through the dramatic Isle of Skye including Kilt Rock. Take the train back to Inverness or better yet, have a driver take you back with a scenic stop at the famous Eilean Donan castle.
Day 9: Inverness
Take a free day in Inverness. There is plenty to see and do like visit old bookstores, bike along the canal, stroll the Victorian Market. Maybe an optional trip to Dunrobin Castle is in your future.
Day 10: Glasgow
It's another scenic train ride down to the exciting city of Glasgow. Take a stroll about town and relax.
Day 11: Glasgow
One of the most exciting cities in Europe with a mix of old history and new visions, the best way to see it is on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus. There are sites like the Glasgow Cathedral, Barras Weekend Market, Riverside Museum, Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and more. All of these attractions are free of charge and are open 7 days a week.
Join The Traveling Professor on a small group tour to Scotland.