If you’re travelling from Central Europe, a flight to Edinburgh will cost you about €30. How about starting your trip with a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour around the city? The ticket is about €20 and will get you to 14 different stops, where you can get on or off the bus as you like. The ticket is valid for 24 hours.
If you’re interested in history, we would recommend visiting Edinburgh Castle and/or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, this palace includes the Great Gallery, where many balls have been held over the centuries. You can also find the abbey ruins and the beautiful gardens next to the palace.
Back in the city, you can take part in a zombie apocalypse game, which will take you all over Edinburgh. You can gather supplies and find shelter in different locations – just make sure that no zombie catches you! Alternatively, you can play the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Game. This guided tour takes place at night and lets you explore the dark alleys and streets of Edinburgh. Be ready to get goosebumps from all the spooky stories your guide will tell you.
Now would also be a good time to hire a car, so that you can both explore the surrounding area and prepare for the rest of your trip. A short drive will take you to Dunbar, about 40 km east of Edinburgh. Nearby, you can visit Foxlake, where you can try out cable wakeboarding or make your way through a rope course with only water beneath you. On the way back, you can stop at one of the many fish restaurants along the coast and enjoy their tasty food. Your bed in Edinburgh is already waiting for you. A night in a 12 bed dorm will cost you about €18.
After about a three-hour drive, you will reach Glencoe, the gateway to the highlands. The beautiful valley became tragically famous when more than 30 people were murdered there in 1692. Back then, government soldiers betrayed and killed many members of the MacDonalds clan, after enjoying their hospitality and playing cards with them just the night before. This event horrified people, especially because hospitality is considered sacred in Scotland. Even today, you can find a small sign saying “No lawyers, no Campbells”. Despite this gruesome history, Glencoe is a great place for outdoor sports. Hiking through the whole valley will take you around three to four days. Make sure you don’t leave out Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, with about 1,345 metres. You can stock up on food in one of Fort William’s many supermarkets. By driving westwards on the A830, you will get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was featured in the Harry Potter movies and has accordingly become very popular. A little bit further on is the Glenfinnan Monument, which commemorates the victims of the Jacobite uprisings. After this exciting day, we recommend staying in a hostel near Glencoe, where you can share a six bed dorm for approximately €16 per night.
A further two hours in the car will take you into the middle of the Highlands and to Loch Ness. You can visit different places along the legendary lake, which is among the deepest and largest ones in Britain. Why not take one of the boat tours that are on offer all around the lake? The monster that allegedly lives in the lake and that hundreds of people have already seen is said to emerge from the loch’s depths from time to time. Maybe you can spot the ripples on the water’s surface where the monster has dived back under again.
We also highly recommend driving along the Great Glen, which has some great views of other lochs. Also located near Loch Ness are Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, two places that are perfect for a short trip or a lunch break. You can also visit Nessieland or the Loch Ness Centre, where you can learn more about the legends surrounding this mythical creature. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, horse riding, sailing, and cycling. The choice is yours! There are several hostels available along Loch Ness, where you can stay for about €25 a night.
It only takes about 30 minutes by car from Loch Ness to Inverness. Welcome to the capital of the Highlands! The city is located in a small bay called Moray Firth. There are a few beautiful castles in the area, including the one in Inverness. It is situated on a picturesque hill above the city, just next to the river Ness. Both the lookout tower and the park are open to the public. Inverness Castle is also an important literary location – it’s the place where Macbeth kills Duncan, King of Scotland. The Old High Church in Inverness is also well worth a visit. Its pulpit is in between the two entrances. Outside, in the church cemetery, you can visit some damaged gravestones. According to local legend, these headstones belong to people who did wrong while they were alive and were never punished for it. For dinner, we recommend trying out one of the many fantastic pubs in Inverness, some of which even have live music! Afterwards, you can stay at one of the city’s hostels, where a bed in a dorm with five other people will cost you about €21.
This small town is only about 40 minutes by car from Inverness. It’s located on the banks of the river Spey and is part of the Cairngorms National Park. In the park, there are many different trails for walking and mountain biking. You can also visit the Cairngorm Brewery to learn more about the beer making process. Of course, you’ll also have the chance have a pint afterwards!
Make sure to ride the steam train, which will take you through the Highlands all the way from Aviemore to Broomhill and back again. You can also visit the Highland Wildlife Park or watch reindeers at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. At Landmark Forest Adventure Park, there are many different attractions for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic views of Cairn Gorm or just go hiking in one of the surrounding forests. There are endless possibilities for spending your time in the Cairngorms National Park. Prices for a bed in one of the nearby hostels start at €20.
The last stop on your trip is Glasgow, which is about another three hours by car. It’s the cultural capital of Scotland and has a lot to offer, especially for young people. How about a whiskey tasting at the Clydeside distillery? Because it only opened in 2017, it doesn’t have a wide range of whiskeys yet – the whole process can take over ten years –, but it’s still well worth a visit. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a great place for a more rainy day. The Glasgow Necropolis is a famous cemetery with many beautiful statues and tombs. In case you feel like taking a break from all the sightseeing, just relax in one of the city’s many parks. One of our favourite places is Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens, where beautiful marble statues, magnificent flowers, and palm trees are waiting for you.
In the West End’s Ashton Lane, you can find great restaurants that serve haggis, the Scottish national dish. If you’d rather have something sweet, there are of course also a lot of places to have a traditional afternoon tea. In the evening, you should go to the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall. This theatre is more than a hundred years old and has seen many famous performers, among them, for example, Cary Grant. Nowadays, you can experience magic shows, silent film nights, and other events here. Glasgow’s Style Mile, on the other hand, is the perfect spot to go shopping, as it offers just about anything your heart could desire. Glasgow has also often been a shooting location for different movies and TV shows, such as Outlander. If you’ve seen the show, you might sport some familiar buildings! Finally, you can return your car in Glasgow and find a bed for the night, which will cost you about €19.
After 14 unforgettable days in Scotland, it’s already time to go home. You can fly from either Glasgow or Edinburgh or take the train south.