This tour of Scotland in a week is just one of many possible itineraries and there are more route planning suggestions on this site. Take a look on the right-hand column, a little below, for the links to all the other tour descriptions. But the touri here is a starting point to give you an idea of how much ground you could cover in a week in Scotland.
OK, so you have arrived in Edinburgh and find yourself, in the morning, blinking in the sunshine somewhere on Princes Street, wondering what to do first. See that castle on the skyline…..?
Now over to your guide…….
This most famous of Scottish castles has a complex history and today houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Scone (the crowning seat of the Scottish monarchy), the famous 15th-century gun Mons Meg, the One o' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
Edinburgh's Old Town features the atmospheric skyline of an ancient settlement running from the Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Alleys (known as closes) run like ribs off the backbone of the main through-route - the Royal Mile. They recall the days when the crowded tenements housed ordinary people and aristocrats all living close together in the same building.For some of the most interesting shops and a good choice of food and drink, explore the Grassmarket via Victoria Street (downhill from the Hotel Missoni).
Edinburgh New Town, looking north to Fife on the horizon.
By the middle of the 18th century Edinburgh was still confined within
its defensive wall and was very crowded with very high tenements -
early skyscrapers! But it had a plan. The civic authorities announced a
competition to plan a New Town. The winner was a young architect, James
Craig, whose symmetrical plan had its axis on today's George Street - a
street whose width was intended to be just wide enough for a coach and
horses to do a U-turn! Today, George Street is one of the premier
shopping streets in Scotland.
Linking Old Town and New today is the Mound, built from the foundations dug out to build he first New Town. At the foot of the Mound stand two important art galleries - the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland. Another Edinburgh must see: The Royal Yacht Britannia, docked at Ocean Terminal - in Leith (Edinburgh's historic port). This magnificent ship was the cruising home to the British royal family. The self-guided tour covers five of Britannia's magnificent decks, by way of the sumptuous state apartments, the crew's quarters, and ending in the gleaming engine room.
More Edinburgh must sees here.
Edinburgh dining suggestions for Day 1
The Kitchin. Awarded its first Michelin star in 2007, Tom Kitchin is the youngest ever Scottish Chef proprietor to receive one. Amazing cooking, fantastic service. 78 Commercial Quay, Leith.
Howies. Imaginative simple Scottish cooking plus a well-priced menu. We like the one in Victoria Street in the Old Town (but there is also one in Waterloo Place.)
Overnight: The Balmoral Hotel
The Rocco Forte Collection's Balmoral is a five-star property in the
heart of Edinburgh. Located on Princes Street, in Edinburgh's main
shopping area and next to Waverley Station, The Balmoral is close to the
leading luxury department stores and within walking distance of many
Edinburgh attractions. The Albyn Townhouse Guest House in Hartington Gardens is a super 4 star guest house in a suburb not far from the city centre.
Head north to Fife, to St Andrews - miles of golden sands, the oldest university in Scotland, a ruined cathedral that was once a place of pilgrimage, and of course, the Home of Golf. St Andrews also gives non-golfing visitors plenty to see and do and is a fascinating town to explore. The main shopping areas are around Market Street and South Street, with Bell Street and Church Street connecting the two principal streets.
More St Andrews information here.
The six golf courses at the Links, which include the Old Course, are open to all, as are the golf practice centre and the two clubhouses. The St Andrews Links Trust Golf Practice Centre (The new Golf Academy) offers state of art golf technology.
In this Fife excursion, also visit the pretty villages of the East Neuk of Fife such as Anstruther, Crail and Pittenweem.
Anstruther seafront, from the harbour
Overnight in and near St Andrews. The Old Course Hotel. Golf Resort and Spa or The Peat Inn (by Cupar) - 5 star Restaurant with Rooms - internationally acclaimed and great for foodies.
A seven day tour Scotland leaves plenty of time for fine Highland scenery. After breakfast - head north to the Scottish Highlands (via Perth and main road north the A9) visiting the little resort town of Pitlochry and Edradour Distillery - the smallest whisky distillery in Scotland.
Also take in Blair Castle, seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, Scotland's most visited historic house. An extensive castle tour takes in some 30 rooms, including an impressive ballroom with 175 pairs of antlers, the China Room, displaying 1700 individual pieces, and an ornamental armoury with includes targes (Highlanders' shields) and muskets used at the Battle of Culloden. Nice gift shop here plus small cafe.
Then continue north to Aviemore. Options here include: The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. See Scotland's only herd of reindeer, free ranging in the Cairngorm Mountains. Tame and friendly, there are around 130 reindeer,in two seprate locations. There is a daily guided visit to the reindeer, weather permitting, departing from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
Rothiemurchus Highland Estate Rothiemurchus Estate has beautiful landscape, natural history and lots of activities - walk or cycle around marked paths, or enjoy fishing, pony trekking and mountain biking.
Later, head north to Inverness - "the Capital of the Highlands" and Overnight - Rocpool Reserve Hotel. An exclusive hideaway in the centre of the little city - a discreet and exclusive boutique hotel, bar and restaurant. An Grianan - Bed & Breakfast in Inverness offers a less expensive but very comfortable alternative.
In the morning, visit Culloden Battlefield - near Inverness. No seven day tour Scotland is complete without a visit to the excellent visitor centre and exhibition that explains the site and the significance of the famous 1746 battle that signalled the breakdown of the Highland clan system and the continuation of large-scale emigration from the Highlands. (Pic right- a poignant memorial stone marking the spot where Macdonalds fell during the battle.)
In the afternoon, take a boat trip on Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle with Jacobite Cruises.
Then drive south down the Great Glen towards Fort William (the town at foot of Ben Nevis, highest mountain in Britain.) Overnight: Inverlochy Castle Hotel - simply one of Scotland's finest hotels. On a smaller budget? Consider The Lime Tree Hotel, Restaurant and Art Gallery in Fort William.
In the morning, continue on your seven day tour Scotland by heading south on the main A82 through Glencoe - there is dramatic scenery here. Stop at the National Trust for Scotland's Glencoe Visitor Centre - to learn the history (about the infamous Massacre of Glencoe), geology and wildlife of this famous glen. There is a cafe and nice shop at this centre. Later, continue south via Rannoch Moor for Crianlarich and Loch Lomond. (See below, Ben Lomond from Tarbert.)
If you want more information on the loch, for example if you want to know how deep Loch Lomond is, then follow that link.
Overnight: Malmaison 278 West George Street. Glasgow.
A seven day tour of Scotland gives time for the two largest cities in Scotland. Head south to explore Glasgow - one of Europe's most exciting destinations. It is sometimes described as 'Britain's finest Victorian city. But Victorian architectural exuberance sits comfortably with the sensuous Art Nouveau of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the glass and steel of the contemporary city. Glasgow has more than twenty museums and galleries - many of them free - including the stunning Mackintosh House, the Gallery of Modern Art and the new Riverside Museum, Scotland's Museum of Transport and Travel.
Glasgow is also one of the top shopping destinations in the UK. Typical high street malls such as the ultra modern Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre are close to the more exclusive Italian Centre and Princes Square as well as the speciality shops of the Merchant City. The lanes of the city's bohemian West-End are worth a look for antiques and rare books while works by both up-and-coming and established artists are in the galleries of West Regent Street.
Gallery of Modern Art(GOMA)
GoMA is the second most visited contemporary art gallery outside London, offering a thought-provoking programme of temporary exhibitions and workshops.
The Merchant City
Seconds from the bustle of Glasgow's busy shopping precincts, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, lies the Merchant City; One of the older parts of Glasgow and the cultural heart of the city.
In the heart of Glasgow's shopping district, Princes Square is a beautifully restored listed building dating from 1841, and now Scotland's leading specialty leisure centre.
The Golden Z - the main shopping area of Glasgow consists of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street - gives the city its impressive retail statistics.
The Willow Tearooms
217 Sauchiehall Street - Charles Rennie Mackintosh had control over every aspect of the design of this tearoom - not only the exterior but also the interior details, right down to the teaspoons and even the waitresses' dresses! The Willow name comes from its address in Sauchiehall Street, from old Scots, 'saughie haugh' - where sauchies are willows and a haugh is a low-lying ground. The willow theme recurs throughout the building. Nice food here, good for lunch or tea and a scone.
Continue south to Ayrshire and Burns Country to see The Birthplace of Scotland's National Poet. Burns Cottage was built in 1757 by Robert Burns' father, William Burnes. On January 25, 1759,Robert Burns was born here. It is now part of the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
Continue south to Culzean Castle (pronounced "Kull-ane") on its dramatic coastal clifftop site. Built between 1777 and 1792 for David Kennedy, the 10th Earl of Cassillis, Culzean is probably the finest Georgian castle in Scotland. Suite of rooms at the top of Culzean Castle were gifted to General, later President Eisenhower, for his use during his lifetime, by a grateful nation via the National Trust for Scotland.
Overnight: The wonderful Glenapp Castle at Ballantrae or The Sorn Inn (in Sorn). Gastropub in a lovely part of Ayrshire. Contemporary touches. Good chef. Comfy rooms.
Lots more Scotland tour ideas above in the right-hand column. Or follow this link for some romantic hotels.
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Scotland in Three Days