Hey Everyone! I'm planning a trip to Scotland with my daughter for her high school graduation. First time out of the U.S. and am feeling clueless where to begin. Did I mention this is on a budget? Really into hiking, beautiful scenery etc. Hostels are fine or B&Bs. Would really appreciate any good tips!!! Also is it worth going to London for a few days?
Definitely see London for a few days, plus it'll probably be the cheapest air destination from the US. I have a Scottish friend who got married a few years ago and I went to the wedding in Glasgow. I took 2 weeks and went to London, Canterbury, Bath, a castle in Wales, Glasgow outskirts for the wedding, Edinburgh and then back to London for the flight home. The castle in Wales with the medieval dinner was the most interesting but the hardest to get to (2 train changes, a couple buses and a long walk had me crying by the end because I never thought I was going to make it). I loved Canterbury for its quaintness. Bath spa history was interesting. Wales scenery was so beautiful and GREEN. The B&B I stayed in Glasgow had a long trail through beautiful trees that ended on a set of grassy hills with flocks of sheep roaming on them. I made and prepaid all my hotel reservations online. Just get a bunch of travel books and do alot of Googling! Have fun!
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 10, 2008, at 8:50 PM by laurim ]
London is definitely worth it. You'll end up flying into London anyway as it's definitely cheaper than flying into Glasgow. All the sightseeing you want to do depends on how much time you really have. Edinburgh & Glasgow are must see places. Many people head to the higlands and the lochs as they are quintessentially Scottish
Hello from Malcolm in Scotland.
If you are on a budget - stick to it. Do not let the spending creep up "because you're there", etc.
If you fly into London, then ok, explore for a day but it will put the cost up overall, with accommodation etc. Try to focus on doing a small number of specific things and do them well and in depth - like hiking up the highest peak, Ben Nevis (a bit over 4,000 feet high, by Fort William). Or a hike through the Cairngorm National Park. Awesome. I'd be tempted to save London mostly for when your daughter is a year or two older and travels independently.
You may well find cheaper flights into London but when you add on the travel up to Scotland, the time and the accommodation, etc, it is often cheaper to get either a direct flight (say to Glasgow) or a transfer. Pay special attention to your arrival and departure times ... as this will impact on your ability to enjoy a place that day, and may well necessitate accommodation nearby ... and suddenly prices rocket up.
We have relatives in the USA and do it both ways. Also note you can get the cheapest flight deal to Edinburgh or Aberdeen too.
Hostels are important to keep you on budget - mainly because of the ability to cook your own food (expensive in UK and eating out is very costly, if you want decent food - be warned!) So, stay in hostels and make use of the kitchens, for evening meal and breakfast - and make pack lunches. You can always "break the rules" and eat out but will have things to fill you and thus you can order less, share a meal etc.
Is it just the 2 of you? Where in US do you live / fly from?
For hostels in Scotland check out:
For the best scenery, head north of a line between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Depend upon how much time you have but there are many fantastic walks, at different grades, depending upon your fitness.
For more info write to me - ie specific hikes and places to stay, etc
The cheapest way to travel from London to Glasgow or Edinburgh is by Megabus. They have a website which you can book on line www.megabus.com (or co.uk)
If you had to choose between Glasgow or Edinburgh I would choose Edinburgh because Princes Street has shops on one side and a park on the other. You look up towards the castle and there are lots of old housing on the Royal Mile.
In August Edinburgh has a Festival and there are lots of street entertainers and lots to see and do.
There are hostels just off Princes Street in Edinburgh and Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.
On the Edinburgh side you could take the train to St. Andrews, on the Fife coast and you would cross the Forth rail bridge and see the Forth Road Bridge or you could take the Megabus to Aberdeen or Inverness.
Aberdeen and Inverness are smaller cities but I am not sure if they hostels to stay in. Travel Lodge is a budget hotel group in UK. The rooms are clean, basic and have en-suite facilities. They are often in the centre of a city or close to the centre.
Glasgow has good shopping but many of the older buildings have been demolished so it does not have the same atmosphere as Edinburgh. From Glasgow you can take the Megabus to Perth, Stirling, Inverness, Aberdeen etc. at the Buchanan Street Bus Station.
You can go by bus or train to Oban, Fort William, Loch Ness etc. which are on the west side of Scotland. From Oban you can take ferries to the islands off the mainland.
Do not hesitate to ask people for help because most Scots people are friendly and would go out of their way to assist you. Any of the Tourist Information shops will give you leaflets and information you will need about the town or city where you are visiting.
I hope you enjoy your trip.
Scotland is a blast! You'll have a great time.
I think London for a couple days is a good idea since you'll be so "close" anyway. As one poster mentioned however, London is expensive. Try looking at some of the B&B's near Pimlico, (usually fairly reasonable), within walking distance to Victoria Station, Buckingham Palace and Parliament. Try website http://www.bedandbreakfasts.co.uk/propertysearch.asp?location=Pimlico for a variety of options on B&Bs. You can take a boat on the Thames from Westminster and head to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Also, in both Scotland and England think of "Pub Grub" for meals as dinner in formal restaurants may be very expensive.
All great advice on Scotland. You will find tons of things to do. As for Glasgow, I would recommend The Kirklee House, www.kirkleehotel.co.uk/ which is walking distance to Byres Road yet tucked away on a quiet, green, leafy street.
LadyMacWilly ^..^ ~
While it doesn't have all the deets on every place, I've found Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring to be quite helpful so far, especially with logistics and such - you might want to give it a look over Also, as I've recently been to London I would say you can get a good general overview in a couple of days. I did a lot of stuff just walking around and looking and really kept to a decent budget by not going into most things, but still experiencing a lot. It all depends on what interests you most, what you really "want" out of the trip, and how much time you have. If you don't have a lot of time, than just concentrate Scotland, but if you have a bit more time a few days in London might be fun as well. Hope this is a little bit of help
For a start log into and browse the Scottish Youth Hostel Association web site,loads of information on Scotland and their accommodation; please note the name is very old, the SYHA was probably one of the first budget holiday organisations, Now the SYHA takes all ages and has hostels all over Scotland mostly planned origingally to be one days hike between hostles ...... the web site is www.syha.org.uk
The Scottish tourist board site is http://www.visitscotland.com and has lots of information including accommodation.
For the highland regions see www.visithighlands.com
You can consider spending a few days in the English Lake District just over the southern border; look at the YHA web site www.yha.org.uk, again there is loads of information for the tourist. From Kendal you can take a long distance bus to London keeping your budget costs low.
Other web sites to browse can be found by searching 'Scotland' on your browser.
If you want more guidance or help please get back to me or any of the other advisors listed.
Thanks everyone, you all are better than a travel guide !!! Keep it coming, it dosen't seem so overwhelming now. I am a little nervous about the hostels, not so much for me as for my daughter. Never having been out of the states, it's such an alien concept, seems a bit dangerous but that's just paranoia on my part. Thanks again to everyone for your great tips!!!
As I've stated in previous posts, I really don't rate london, but each to their own I suppose.
It is worth checking flights into London Gatwick & London Stansted (instead of just London Heathrow) as they may work out cheaper.
Megabus or megatrain will probably be the cheapest way to get to Scotland.
It's also probably worth checking budget airlines such as easyjet, ryanair, jet2, hlx and others to see if they can give cheap deals to Edinburgh / Glasgow.
As for must see's - I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne (North East England) and think it is a great city with fabulous architecture and of course hadrians wall. You can then travel north into Northumberland (county) and the hikes there are simply stunning.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city and would tend to recommend that over Glasgow.
Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle are two not-to-be-missed.
You may also want to check out the small border village of Gretna (where the young'uns from yesteryear ran away to get married in secret).
Enjoy your trip!
If you want any more info on Newcastle / North East England just give me a shout!