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I will be spending some 4 to 6 days in Scotland with my wife in about 2 weeks. We plan on driving around and seeing some of the beautiful sightings and places in the Highlands (and islands, maybe?).

We're from Brazil, but we'll be coming in from Belfast by the Stena Line ferry. My plan is to get a car in Stranraer and then drive around, probably travelling around the Highlands from Glasgow to Edinburgh. We've been to Edinburgh before, but not Glasgow.

Problem is, we weren't able to book everything in advance this time, so the real questions would be:

  1. Is it possible for me to just get to Stranraer and rent a car?

  2. Given that nothing at all is booked right now, is it too crazy to just drive around the highlands (guidebooks and GPS in hand) and try to find B&Bs, hostels and the like around?

  3. If that is possible, what towns would be recommended to stop for sleeping and sightseeing? I know about Inverness because of Loch Ness, but... Well, that's pretty much all I know!

Sorry about the kind-of-open-ended question, I will provide more details if someone asks.

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Would this work better as two distinct questions? 1) and 2) are strongly related and so work in the same question, but 3) might work better as its own question with more detail about what you want to see. –  Casebash Mar 14 '12 at 23:02
    
Aggreed. Having difficulties now as to which answer to choose, since I used suggestions from pretty much all of them... –  malvim Apr 19 '12 at 14:41
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We ended up flying from Belfast to Edinburgh and getting our car there, it seemed easier this way. Went to Inverness, Loch Ness, Skye, Fort William... Did Doune and Stirling castles (Monty Python fans should NOT miss Doune Castle!), it was GREAT! Got great weather (a bit cold, but lots of sun), stunning views of the lochs and mountains, our fair share of seeing sheep and highland cows ;), great beer and whisky... All in all an amazing experience, I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn't done it before. –  malvim Apr 19 '12 at 15:28
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you have already 'done' Edinburgh, a useful route could be Glasgow (is just like any other city- good museums and art) up past Loch Lomond, west at Crianlarich to head via Glencoe up to Fort William. From there you could head north west to Skye or up to he Great Glen to Inverness. If you are a whisky fan visit one or more Speyside distilleries, then travel south back towards Edinburgh.

In general, this time of year availability should be good in most places, in fact I often like to drive and see where I end up.

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We did the "drive and see where we end up" thing and it was amazing! Got great weather, went to Inverness, Skye, Fort William –  malvim Apr 19 '12 at 15:21
    
Couldn't edit my other comment, so here's what it was supposed to look like: "We did the 'drive and see where we end up' thing and it was amazing! I commented on my question about the experience. Thanks for your help!" –  malvim Apr 19 '12 at 15:31
    
Excellent! Glad you had a good experience. –  Rory Alsop Apr 19 '12 at 16:23
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1) The hire car.

On the car rental side, you probably want to book ahead online by a couple of days as you usually save about £50 with a company like Hertz (who happen to have an office attached to the ferry terminal where you land) and you can avoid missing out. With hire cars in small towns make sure you are picking up Monday to Friday in business hours otherwise you will likely get stung with after hours charge or you will show up to find the office closed. If you can't make it there during the week do call the company and get confirmation they open weekends.

2) Maps, GPS, guidebooks, hostels and B&B's are all good things to use when travelling.

3) Here are the links from the research I have done for my trip later this year, There are no details on destination on the east coast, Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Whisky in the Speyside: Glen farclas, Glen Fiddich (free), Glen Livet (free), MacALLAN, Aberlour

Whisky on the isle of Skye: Talisker

Castles:

In the UK they have a tendency to call stately homes or fortified houses, castles and Scotland is no different. I was disappointed last year to find out the castle at Blair Atholl was a stately home with two cannons out the front (lack of planning). I think a castle should look imposing and be able to hold off a medieval army, so the ones below should meet that expectation, I have also left out ruins.

Lakes:

Power Stations: There are a string of 5 hydro electric power stations along the Tummel river, Its interesting to see one if you haven't before. It's free and takes no longer than an hour.

Pitlochry has one of the hydro-stations near by as well as a hostel and several pub and restaurants (based on memory when I drove through last august to see the power station)

Accommodation: SYHA is the Scottish youth hostel association, which is who I'm using as a starting point for planning my trip.

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  1. Though you can get a hire car in Stranraer, it may be more economical to take the direct train to Glasgow Airport (actually Paisley) where large hire car offices are to be found. In addition, if your not interesting in visiting Galloway and Ayrshire anyway, then you'll save yourself 200 miles of the hire car bill.

  2. It is quite easy to drive around the highlands and just find a B&B were you end up, except during July and August when things can be busy. Make use of the Tourist Information offices in each village as they will have lists of available B&B places and can arrange your say for you even at short notice.

  3. Don't bother too much with Inverness and Lochness. They may be famous but they aren't that great. You'll have to drive past allot of better sights to get there form Glasgow. I suggest you aim for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Loch Tay, Argyll, Glen Coe and the Southern Hebrides like Arran, Bute or maybe Isle or Mull. A travel plan for just such a journey can be found here: Scotland in one week: What to see and do?

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