Happy Hump Day! This marks my first week back to work (boooooo!), so I’m pretty pumped that it’s halfway over! Last week, I shared my travel guide for London, and today I’m going to be sharing my travel guide for Scotland.
We spent 3 days in Scotland and actually got to see quite a fair bit. We flew into Edinburgh and spent a day there, then the next 2 days were spent driving around the Highlands and visiting various locations. When visiting Scotland, I would definitely recommend renting a car. The larger cities (ie., Edinburgh, Glasgow) have public transport, but it’s definitely not as convenient as it is in London. And definitely spring for the upgrade and get a GPS – it’s a lifesaver. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the weather considering how far north we went. I would periodically check on the weather back home and Indiana had far more snow, plus wickedly low wind chills. For the most part it was mid 30’s – low 40’s while we were there and I was pretty comfortable walking around in a coat, scarf, and hat.
As I mentioned, we spent our first day/night in Edinburgh. We stayed at the Apex City Hotel (if you read my London recap, you’ll recognize this as the same chain of hotels we stayed at in London) in the Grassmarket area and it ended up being a great location. It was very near to a good selection of restaurants and shops, and it’s not a far walk to the Edinburgh Castle. If you visit this area, be sure to stop by The Red Door Gallery. It’s an adorable art boutique, and the perfect place to grab a souvenir! I grabbed this lovely print that showcases some of the business in the Grassmarket area:
After we left Edinburgh, we drove up to the Inverness area and we stayed at a B&B that was actually a recommendation from our pediatrician. And it did not disappoint! It’s called Antfield House and it was absolutely adorable! The owners were so friendly – we were the only ones staying there at the time (they actually opened up early for us; they’re normally closed from January until March!), and they were so accommodating. They upgraded us to a nicer room, cooked us an awesome breakfast spread, and gave us recommendations of places to eat and things to do. It’s a ways off the beaten path, but it’s in the most quaint setting. I SO wish we would have been there in the spring because I can’t imagine how gorgeous it would be with everything blooming!
You’ll find just as many pubs (if not more) in Scotland as in London. Our favorite was actually a recommendation from the owner of the B&B we stayed at. It was called The Dores Inn and it sits right on Loch Ness. Of course Jordan had to try haggis, a traditional Scottish dish, while we were there – if you don’t know what it is, well, I’m not going to be the one to tell you. I tried a little bite; it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. When we were in Edinburgh, we actually found a super tasty Mexican restaurant (like I said before, you can only eat fish n’ chips so many times) called Mariachi. It was a nice change of pace, for sure.
Edinburgh Castle – A must-see in Edinburgh. Also, this was the coldest I was during our entire trip. The castle is set up on a hill and it was windy as all get out, so if you’re going anytime but summer, dress warm! It was 16 pounds/person to get in (~$24), and that gets you access to the castle, which also has the National War Museum and Regimental Museums inside.
Scott Monument – If you’re a lover of gothic architecture, this is the monument for you. There are also platforms you can climb up to that give you great views of the city.
Royal Mile – This is basically the Main Street of Edinburgh and it’s a mile full of a restaurants and shops. If you’re looking to pick up some souvenirs, there are plenty of opportunities. Cashmere and wool are big exports in Scotland, so there’s lots of shops with scarves, hats, and suits. And, of course, there are plenty of places to pick yourself up a kilt. And they sell baby kilts! I was 5 seconds away from buying one for Roarke, but I couldn’t justify spending the money for something he would wear basically just to make me laugh and swoon. He makes me do that anyway.
Loch Ness – Obviously, you can’t go to Scotland without visiting Nessie. We stopped by the Loch Ness museum and they tried to explain it all away with science, but I’m not fooled. I know she’s out there. #ibelieve
There’s actually a guy that lives on the beach and has dedicated his whole life to hunting Nessie. I’m sure he’s not crazy at all.
Urquhart Castle – This castle is situated right on Loch Ness and has some pretty breathtaking views. I think tickets were about 10 pounds/person (~$15)
Highlands – Obviously, this is pretty vague because it encompasses a huge chunk of northern Scotland, but in general the area is breathtakingly beautiful. On our way back down to Edinurgh, we drove the A82 which essentially goes from Inverness down to Glasgow. The mountains, the lakes, the snow…it was all just gorgeous.
I didn’t edit that picture at all. I imagine it would be just as amazing in the summer, too. I would definitely recommend driving up north and taking in all the beauty!
That recaps all the things we saw in Scotland, overall it had a much more relaxed vibe than London so it was a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of our trip. One thing to note, though, if you’re visiting both countries in the same trip. While both countries use the pound, the Brits and Scots each print their own (with their own respective political/royal figures and such), so there is a difference. We made an ATM withdrawal in Scotland and got a bunch of Scottish pounds and then when we went back to London, we discovered there was a difference. Luckily, most places took them (the only problem we encountered was the automated ticket machines in The Underground), but usually the business owners would give us a strange look like we had just handed them Monopoly money. So just be aware of that.
I loved our visit to the UK – there really was so much to see and do, and I feel like not having a language barrier really brought our stress levels down compared to other international travel we’ve done. Got specific questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail!