Day 50 - 51
The small Isle of Mull is hilly and lush. It is easy to drive around and explore this island on the few roads (mostly single-track). The island is also a good location for a day trip to the islands of Staffa & Iona.
Day 46 - 49
A pristine landscape of green hills and mountains with great hiking and lots of roads to explore.
Day 44 - 45
As the capital of the Scottish Highlands and very near Loch Ness, this larger city in northern Scotland is a good hub for exploring castles, lochs and scenery in the Highlands.
Day 41 - 43
A charming city on the eastern coast of Scotland, which is home to the oldest and most prestigious University in Scotland. The city is best known as the home of golf. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club was founded in 1754, and the famed Old Course and Club has been host to many British Open Golf Championships.
St Andrews was named for Saint Andrew the Apostle, and the cities history is filled with religious strife and turmoil.
Be sure to visit the fantastic St Andrews city website for additional details and links to the top things to do and see on your visit.
The castle was originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 14th century. The castle was home to the bishops (and archbishops) and was the location of many historical events that shaped Scottish history.
The impressive remains of the St Andrews Cathedral stand out on the coastal point of the town. Set amongst a vast graveyard, the Cathedral was built / re-built on 3 different occasions. During the Scottish Reformation, the impressive church was destroyed and appeared much as it does today. Free admission to explore the church grounds. Worth the price of admission to climb to the top of St Rules Tower for the great views over St Andrews. St Rules Tower, pre-dates the cathedral as the first church built in town.
A couple hour detour that provides the detailed history and evolution of golf. Outlines the initiation of golf in Scotland in the 16th century, the evolution of clubs/balls, and the spread of golf beyond Scotland in the late 19th century. Be sure to print a 2 for 1 admissions coupon from the museum’s website.
A three mile sandy beach near the Old Course that is best know as the filming location of the running on the beach scene in Chariots of Fire.
The surviving city gate that was rebuilt in 1589. The gate is at the entrance of the city on South Street (at Bridge Street).
Located on South Street, this is a small bit of remains of a chapel from the 16th century.
A paved path that stretches the length of the Fife coast. Exploration can be made from St Andrews via the path. The path follows along the coast, and within the city limits will take you from the West Sands Beach on the north (across from the Old Course), by the British Golf Museum, St Andrews University, The Castle, and The Cathedral.
For a nominal fee (~2 GBP) one can play a round of miniature golf on the St Andrews Ladies Putting Green, which is located next to the Old Course. Unfortunately, due to the Women’s British Open being hosted at the Old Course during our stay, the greens were closed.
*Be sure to check out the Scotland Explorer Pass. Covers admission costs to a number of sights across Scotland. Comes in 3 day pass (within 5 days) and a 7 day (within 14 days). Might save you a few GBP!
Serves up a two course lunch (until 5p) and early dinner (5-7) for a fixed price. Lovely location on North Street, featuring modern Italian fare.
Serves up a two course lunch (until 5p) and early dinner (5-7) for a fixed price. Located on Church Street, the restaurant specializes in Scottish and French fare. We had a delicious meal followed by a sticky toffee pudding (with vanilla ice cream) that was absolutely scrumptious.
St Andrews is home to a host of different bed and breakfasts. Visit the St Andrews B&B website to view local B&Bs.
Approximately 3 miles outside of St Andrews, makes a good location exploring the area as long as you have a car. The town has a handful of B&Bs and is home to the Strathkennis Tavern. We had a nice 3 night stay at the Hawthorne House on Main Street.
Day 38 - 40 & Day 52 - 56
Edinburgh is home to the Royal Mile. The city center is best explored on foot. It is a popular tourist destination and offers a lot of different options including: hiking, gardens, castles, palaces, monuments, cathedrals, whiskey, and restaurants.
Any trip to Edinburgh should include a walk along the royal mile. Situated at one end is the Edinburgh Castle. One of the top tourist attractions, the castle is swarming with people. Purchase the Scotland Explorer Pass or alternatively purchase tickets online, to avoid the queue. (It is one of the priciest attractions in Scotland.) We would recommend an audio guide to help provide additional history and detail on the castle.
A well done audio guide is included in the entrance fee. The audio guide will take you on an hour and a half tour of the palace (room by room), and provide you with some details on Scottish history and the royalty. Be sure to visit the gardens.
Wonderful hikes with views back on the city center. One of the most popular is the hike to Arthur’s Seat. The hiking paths can be crowded on weekends when the weather is favorable. If headed towards Arthur’s Seat, follow the path to the left that curves up around the mountain (much easier ascend than the one that goes right towards Salisbury Crags). Pick up a map from the little hut across the street from the Holyrood Palace. For a less crowded experience, hike along the top of Salisbury Crags.
Scotland and scotch are synonymous. No trip is complete without a scotch tasting. If your time in Scotland is limited to Edinburgh city center, this might be a good option for you. Reservations can be made in advance online. (Must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.) Or just stop by to take the tour. We did not have a chance to do while in town, due to the line, but it was recommended by a friend (and on TripAdvisor).
Located right off of Princess Street, these gardens are beautifully maintained and offer some great views back up on the Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy a picnic or just a moments rest.
The National Gallery is located off of Princess Street (next to the Princess Street Gardens). The Gallery features paintings by Scottish artist, along with some impressive more well known European artists. Entrance to the gallery is free.
There are many day trip options from Edinburgh. We elected to stay in the city center for a few nights to explore the sites on foot. We then rented a car to explore the country-side, but found that we could make a base in Edinburgh (outside the city center where parking was available and free) and explore some of the nearby sights and towns as day trips. Note: We purchased the 7 day Explore Scotland Pass, and thus we utilized it as a basis to determine which sights to see (There may be other sights worth seeing that are not included in our list.) We saved a lot of money (and saw more sights that we would have) by purchasing the pass. It covers sights such as the Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Melrose Abby, Iona Abbey and the St. Andrews Castle & Catherdral. Visit the Historic Scotland website for additional details.
The home of golf is located about an hour Northeast of Edinburgh. Although we elected to stay in the area for a couple of days, this sights could be easily be done on a day trip from Edinburgh. See the St Andrews destination summary for additional details.
Located about an hour northwest of Edinburgh are the cities of Stirling & Doune. Both cities are home to a historic castle that is worth the a visit. The cities are also between Glencoe & Edinburgh, and can be paired with the scenic drive down A82 into Glencoe. Or alternatively, can be visited on the return (to Glasgow or Edinburgh) from the western islands of Skye and Mull.
Located about an hour southeast of Edinburgh are the towns of Melrose, Dryburgh, & Jedburgh. Each is home to a historic Abbey. Entrance and a free audio guide is covered by the Scotland Explorer Pass.
There are countless pubs and restaurants in Edinburgh. The Grass Market area has a wide selection of options. Here are a few other options we encountered during our stay.
A specialty burger place located just outside of city center. (Located halfway between city center in the Alba House B&B.) We tried the Pioneer burger (rosemary mushrooms, bacon, and Swiss cheese) and the Bohemian burger(chili Gouda, sliced turkey, rocket and prosciutto). Served some of the tastiest burgers we had while in the UK (and Ireland), and sweet potato fries! Also offer up a good selection of Scottish beers on tap.
This restaurant is located downstairs from the Whiskey Experience on the royal mile. We enjoyed a late (light) lunch here one afternoon…and watched a rain shower pass.
A terrific bed and breakfast located near the center of Edinburgh. The rooms were spacious, clean, and had a dependable wireless internet connection. Our host was wonderful and very helpful. We also enjoyed the morning feasts. We would definitely recommend!
Located outside of the city center, the Dalmahoy has a fantastic fitness center and free parking. It was the perfect location to base ourselves in order to do day trips around Edinburgh. There is also a park and ride a few miles away, which offers service into the Edinburgh city center. Outside of the hotel, golf course/fitness center, and couple of onsite restaurants, there is not a lot of other services located close by.