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Where to go/what to do? 5 days in Scotland

Finally realising a long had dream to visit Scotland. So first week of may next year me and my friend are flying to Edinburgh and staying 5 nights (wed-mon). We were thinking of staying the first two nights in Edinburgh, getting at least a full day in the city to explore, but then we want to go of and see some more, as much as possible. What are the "must see:s" that will be possible to make in the time we have? We will be using public transportation (bus/train).

We are on a somewhat tight budget, though. We like views, good food, whisky, nature, music, having a few beers and a good laugh. We are not extremely sporty but we don't mind walking/hiking a bit, boats or even riding. Any tips?

We were also wondering if it pays of buying a rail pass like the "spirit of Scotland" when it's just a few days or if it's cheaper just buying tickets as you go? 


  • VisitScotlandLiamVisitScotlandLiam Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @therése, we're glad you're making the journey we can't wait to welcome you!  I would recommend going to see St. Andrews and Glencoe!  Our public transport expert, @Horizons, will be able to give you some suggestions based on transport.

    Let us know how you get on!
    Lead vocalist & rhythm guitarist for The Bright SkiesSpotify, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube.
  • VisitScotlandAmandaVisitScotlandAmanda Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited September 2018
    Another option is making your way to Arran if you'd like to see one of our Islands! You could combine it with spending some time in Glasgow first (1 hour on the train from Edinburgh) then catching public transport across to Arran to explore the island. Here's a link to more information: and as you can see it has a little bit of everything for you! Whisky, landscapes, wildlife, etc

    Kiwi gal, relocated to Scotland. 
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Hey @Therése, so happy to hear that you'll be visiting the bonnie country of Scotland next year. I have a few targeted recommendations of places you could visit by public transport and also some tips on getting the most out of Edinburgh's excellent bus system.
    • A day trip to Perthshire would be a good fit for your interests. It is a wee town at the very start of the Highlands, has good public transport connectivity, one of Scotland's best distillery tours (Edradour), tearooms (Hetties) and a number of good restaurants and only a short bus / train ride away from more iconic views. My experience.

    • Alternatively, if you are more attracted to coastal walks and views combined with excellent seafood, why not make a daytrip to Stonehaven with a stopover at Dundee. Highlights of such a daytrip would include (with a little bit of mostly flat walking) Dunnottar Castle, Scotland's best fish & chips Bay Fish and Chip shop and the stunning new V&A museum. My experience. Other daytrip recommendations at the bottom half of this page.

    • You are much better off not buying the travel pass, your financial case for buying that pass isn't quite strong (see thread). Daytrips are best served by buying "Off-peak day return" tickets. Also consider visiting one of these castles accessible by public transport close to Edinburgh, Linlithgow Palace & Stirling Castles are my faves.

    • There are so many excellent pubs in Edinburgh to get your beer and music fix all documented in this thread.

    • Within Edinburgh, outside of the always popular paid attractions such as the Edinburgh Castle, there are so many free / low cost places to visit such as the museums and galleries (esp if it is a rainy day), Calton Hill, Arthurs seat and Royal Botanical Gardens. Do buy a day ticket on the local Lothian bus system if your accommodation is a bit off the city centre and you want to explore more than the central core of the city by public transport. I provide a guide here.
    Feel free to ask follow ups are you plan your trip, happy to help.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • Thank you for all your great tips!
    I should clarify that we don't mind spending the rest of our nights somewhere else, returning our last day to Edinburgh again in order to fly home. So it doesn't have to be only shorter day trips.

    And when it comes to food, it doesn't have to be fancy, not at all, our budget isn't the largest. But we do like seafood, as you did recommend some good locations for, and we'd love to try som good hearty local dishes. 

    Great tips on transportation! We are definitely looking in to both Arran (would love to visit one of the islands, I really want to see Skye one day but think it will be a bit to far of this time) and Glencoe. We have also been lookin at Loch Lomond (better see it before Flamingo Land gets hold of it.. :-/ ).

    We are soooo looking forward to this trip -our biggest problem is that we follow Visit Scotlands Instagram account which is constantly posting the most beautiful pictures and sceneries making it close to impossible deciding where to go and what to see :-) :smile:
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