Best towns to stay in for extended periods

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Scotland
1. Posted by mrb430 (Respected Member 23 posts) 4w 1 Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

My husband and I are thinking of spending July and August in Scotland this year. We are in our 50's, retired, and traveling slow. We do not want to rent a car except for a few days here or there when necessary. We plan to travel by train and bus between stops. We are looking for recommendations of towns/cities to stay in for a week or longer at a time. Other than Edinburgh and Glasgow, what do you recommend?

Our criteria:
1. Enough lodging options to make a low cost option available (primarily book AirBnB type lodging)
2. Many sights within day trip access by public transport (we like castles, cultural sights, gardens and walks more than active adventures like hiking)
3. Primarily interested in Western Isles, Orkney, and Highlands
4. Enough activity in the town itself to make hanging out over coffee and the paper a nice thing to do
5. Representative of its surrounding area (aka the quintessential fishing village, a typical highland village)
6. Historical over modern

Thanks in advance for any ideas.

Marcy

2. Posted by mikeyBoab (Travel Guru 5078 posts) 4w 1 Star this if you like it!

Fort William or Inverness are in beautiful locations, plenty to see and do, remote yet accessible and with all the modern conveniences of a town.

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4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1477 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

As Mikey said Fort William or maybe Inverness, or Oban.

But the things in Scotland are on a scale where you really need a car to explore. Eg with a car based in Fort William you can tootle about just needing short drives to see Glencoe, Glen Nevis, Glen Roy, the great glen, Glenfinnan, the road to the isles, Ardnamurchan, Nevis range, Kinlochleven and the Mamores. Doing it without a car is making life difficult for yourself as the public transport just won't get you the last few miles to the things worth seeing.

Mostly this is true for the islands too - Orkney or Skye or Mull you need a car. Best bets without a car are daytrips to islands on the ferries from Oban or Mallaig to the Small Isles, Iona, Staffa, Lismore and Kerrera.

5. Posted by katieshevlin62 (Budding Member 13 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I have just come back from Shetland and it is absolutely stunning! But like others have said, you would really need a car. There is a beautiful quaint village called Plockton that would be nice to spend a few days in. My friend lived there and I would quite often take the train up to visit her from Glasgow. Its a beautiful train journey too. Maybe have a look? It is small but you can go for nice walks and take a boat trip! On the boat trip if you dont spot a seal you get a refund! :) There are also nice bars that play traditional music and a couple of good restaurants. Its perfect if you want to go slow! Have fun!

6. Posted by katieshevlin62 (Budding Member 13 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Sorry meant to say Plockton is a typical highland village!

7. Posted by IainT (Respected Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

For several places in W Isles (eg Mull) you can get Calmac ferries from Oban or Mallaig, both of which are on the railway network. Loganair has an extensive network of flights to W Isles, mostly from Glasgow. It also flies to Orkney. Believe you can get the train to Thurso and then ferry to Orkney from Scrabster.
A car is an advantage on the islands, as bus services are less regular than on the mainland, but you can hire one on arrival even on small islands - but book well ahead - they may only have 2 or 3 cars. A car is also good shelter if the weather is "Scottish".
Accommodation is very limited especially in those two summer months, so again, book well ahead (ie now).
You can get to Skye by train and bus. Train to Kyle of Lochalsh via Inverness, then local bus.

8. Posted by IainT (Respected Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Oh, Calmac does a great day trip from Oban - ferry to Mull, then bus & ferry to Iona and a boat trip out to Staffa.

Arran & Bute are other island possibilities getting train then ferry from Glasgow. Arran has a good bus service for getting around the island.

Islay is popular for tours of distilleries - 5 or 6 of them. Flights from Glasgow.

9. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1050 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

To find train and bus stations, you'll need towns, not cute little villages. Two towns we enjoyed were Inverness and Pitlochry. You could leave Edinburgh and go to Pitlochry for a while and then move on north to Inverness for a while. Honestly, we have never been to a spot in Scotland that wasn't picturesque. I went just to see the Highlands but we spent time in the lowlands too and I ended up loving it. Plockton, mentioned above, is beautiful, but I'm not sure there is a train station there . . . perhaps a bus.

You may want to rent a car for a few days here and there just to get out to visit some of the gorgeous gardens Scotland has. You can probably take a bus to Skye but you can certainly drive there and it's lovely. Highly recommend a car for that.

Whatever you decide, have a wonderful trip.

10. Posted by Stefmuts (Respected Member 149 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I would really recommend hiring a car for a few days, the best part of Scotland is the highlands and best to explore those is off the beaten track