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The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain.(The Treaty of Union was agreed in 1706 and enacted by the twin Acts of Union 1707, passed by the Parliaments of both kingdoms, despite popular opposition and anti-union riots in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and elsewhere.)The union also created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. (In 1801, Great Britain itself entered into a political union with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Parliament of Ireland merging with that of Great Britain to form the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Since the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the United Kingdom has comprised Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Whether your plane actually lands at Glasgow airport or in Edinburgh, hardly matters because the cities and their airports lie so closely together and are so well-connected by bus, that it is easy to start your trip around Scotland in the one city even if you land in the other. To save your some driving on your way up to the Highlands I recommend to base yourself in Glasgow for the first night. If you have some daylight left, who not hop on board the City Sightseeing Bus to get an overview of the city, and then head for dinner and drinks in town for get a feel for the city.
Favourite restaurants in town are Paesano (Auber-hip pizza place), Sarti (traditional Italian), Nippon’s Kitchen (sushi) and Babu Bombay Street Kitchen (Indian), but for more traditional Scottish food try The Two Fat Ladies in the City or Gandolfi Fish(sea food).
It’s not hard to stumble across a bar or pub in Glasgow’s city centre – they are everywhere. But if I had to chose my top two, I’d go for The Pot Still for its incredible whisky selection and Sloan’s because it’s one of the cities’s oldest pubs and has some beautiful architecture!
Leave Glasgow right after breakfast to make your way up north. You will be happy to have the entire day at your disposal, because even if the drive from Glasgow to Fort William theoretically takes less than 3 hours, the scenic stops along the way and the windy roads will slow you down significantly
Loch Lomond is Scotland’s largest lake (or loch, as the Scots call them) and it’s southernmost end lies only 45 minutes drive from Glasgow. Most tour busses will stop either in Balloch or in Luss, but I personally prefer the scenic points further north along the Loch, particularly the car park in Inveruglas. Either way, wherever you stop along Loch Lomond, make sure to take in the stunning views. Maybe you can even spare some time for a little cruise starting in Tarbet
Glen Coe is the kind of place that dreams are made of – or James Bond films. You chose which one you prefer. Driving through Glen Coe is like traveling back in time; there are so many stories to be told about it. It is one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks, a valley surrounded by some of the country’s roughest peaks and most popular hikes, such as the Three Sisters, the ridge of AonachEagach or BuachailleEtiveMòr. Earn some plus points if you manage to pronounce these!
Anyway, pressed for time you won’t manage to actually climb any of these, but a quick stroll to Scotland’s most photographed cottage, Lagangarbh Hut at the foot of BuachailleEtivMor, is the least you could fit in.
Fort William is less exciting as a town, but even more so for its surroundings. This is where the famous West Highland Way ends (key: plenty of outdoor equipment shops) and the highest mountain range of the UK begins: the Ben Nevis Range. It takes only 15 minutes to drive from Fort William to the car park of the Nevis Range Mountain Resort from where a gondola brings you further up the mountain AonachMor, right beside Ben Nevis. With too little time for the strenuous hike up Ben Nevis (this is not a tourist trail!) this is the next best alternative to climbing the UK’s highest peak.
If you fancy fish and chips I can only recommend the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum (between Loch Lomon and Glen Coe) or Clachaig Inn at the entrance of Glen Coe for traditional Scottish pub food.
This road is a highlight, not only for Harry Potter fans. Although, if you are already here, head to the tourist office in Fort William to find out at what times the famous Jacobite Steam Train will be crossing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and plan your road trip accordingly.
The Road to the Isles is one of the favourites and the views you get from the passenger seat are absolutely stunning! Make sure to visit the Glenfinnan Monument and climb to its top for even better views of Loch Shiel. Once you have arrived in Mallaig get your ferry ticket sorted (ideally you’d book this in advance, especially during the busy summer months) and kill some time with a takeaway of fresh fish & chips – but beware of the sea gulls at the harbour!
The ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye only takes around half an hour but offers a stunning vista of Skye and the Small Isles, namely Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck.
Once on Skye make your way to the south-west of the island, the area around Glenbrittle, Carbost and Talisker. This is were you will find the famour Fairy Pools which offer themselves for a stunning hike below the Cuillin Mountain Range. Alternatively (or if it rains) visit the Talisker Whisky Distillery in Carbost to learn everything about Scottish Single Malt Whisky and get a taster too!
The Isle of Skye requires all your attention, especially if you want to visit such iconic places as the Old Man of Storr, Dunvegan Castle or the lighthouse at Neist Point. The earlier you can start your day, the better – it will be a long one.
There are actually more than one stop at the Trotternish Peninsula because this is where some of Skye’s most popular landmarks are located. The Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the Quiraing are all situated on this peninsula and of course also all worth a stop!
While this castle is often left out of traditional Skye itineraries, I think it is an absolute staple, especially if you are into landscape gardening and wildlife watching. 2 reasons: seeing the beautiful castle gardens in full bloom; and taking a boat trip to the local seal colony!
Scottish lighthouses are there to impress (well, and to guide boats obviously) and Neist Point is no exception. While I haven’t been lucky to see this lighthouse on a clear and dry day yet, I will keep trying and so should you!
Leaving Skye behind early in the morning you come past the gorgeous castle of EileanDonan Castle – how could you nt stop for a few photos? Then you make your way east to one of Scotland’s most legendary places: Loch Ness. Hardly any other place has had scientists and wannabe-scientists wonder about the contents of its water as much as this lake – and who could resist the myth of Nessie. I like to picture her as a friendly dinosaur-like creature that hides away until this world is finally friendly enough to welcome people/animals/creatures that are different. Until then, the myth lives on!
Option for the two (!) Nessie museums in Drumnadrochit, What we would suggest is visit the castle ruins of Urquhardt Castle from where the views over the loch are particularly beautiful. Final stop for the day is the town if Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Base yourself here for the night, for a pole position for your way back south on the next day.
Although I didn’t spend much time in Inverness myself, I loved our meal at the Castle Tavern where they dish up traditional Scottish cuisine.
The drive from Inverness back down to Edinburgh takes around 3-3.5 hours, but how boring would it be not to stop anywhere on the way?!
The forest and gardens surrounding Blair Castle are worth the ticket and make for a great pit stop to stretch your feet after a couple of hours in the car.- Only for the one who would like to visit a Castle
Picturesque as anything, Pitlochry is a very popular weekend getaway for many Scots. A highlight is the Edradour Whisky Distillery, one of Scotland’s smallest, which alone makes this town worth the stop.
One final stop before you arrive in Edinburgh: South Queensferry, from where you get a great view of the iconic Forth Railway Bridge!
There are so many restaurants in Edinburgh’s Old Town, it can be quite tricky to tell the gems from the tourist traps. I recommend Civerinos, The Edinburgh Larder or Ox184.
Some of my favourite pubs in the Old Town are Whistlebinkies and the Halfway House, one of Edinburgh smallest pubs!
There is much to see in Edinburgh, but luckily everything is close by, so that you can easily get a good glimpse of it all in one day. Note that if you want to visit multiple museums, the castle and other attractions you should consider adding one or two full days to your itinerary. Here are some suggestions of how to fill your day in Edinburgh:
Lovecrumbs right behind, and Hula Juice Bar just before the Grassmarket.For really nice falafel head to Palmyra Pizza close to the National Museum of Scotland.
Time to branch out and head to The Kings Wark in Leith, right by the shore of Leith Water!
Cocktail time! The ultimate cocktail bar in Edinburgh is called Panda & Sons, a little speakeasy bar covered up as a gent’s barber shop!
After an eventful week it is time to say goodbye again and make your way back to the airport.
Return Home with Happy Memories of Your Tour!!!
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