6 days: 2 days in Edinburgh + 1 day of stopovers of your choice + 3 days Glasgow and Highlands
Edinburgh to Culross (approx. 50 min by car/1.5 hrs by public transport)
Culross to Stirling (approx. 35 min by car/1.5 hrs by public transport)
Stirling to Glasgow (approx. 40 min by car/30 min by train)
Edinburgh to Falkirk (approx. 50 min by car/1.5 hrs by public transport)
Falkirk to Stirling (approx. 30 min by car/approx. 15 min by train)
Stirling to Glasgow (approx. 40 min by car/30 min by train)
Something to get you in the mood and guide you on your way: in the Tour Guide Tales Podcast, Scottish tour guides tell tales of attractions, film locations and ghost stories from their home country (available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts).
Please check the current travel regulations in your state/country.
By the way, our flexible rebooking options mean you still have plenty of possibilities even if your plans change at short notice!
Stop 1 - Edinburgh
Finding your way around Edinburgh is pretty simple, as the city centre is handily split in two halves: the New Town and Old Town – divided by Princes Street Gardens. Both Motel One locations are in the city centre and all attractions – in the Old Town and New Town alike – are within walking distance.
Centuries-old buildings, narrow streets and none other than medieval Edinburgh Castle itself, perched atop an extinct volcano overlooking the city: in the Old Town, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto a film set. Little wonder, then, that Edinburgh’s historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site... just like its New Town!
Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’ was planned in the 18th century to take the strain off the overpopulated Old Town. Today, you can stroll among its elegant Georgian buildings and discover the delights of Edinburgh’s shopping streets.
WALKING THROUGH HISTORY
Explore the depths: On a guided tour of The Real Mary Kings Close, you’ll discover Edinburgh’s creative approach to its population boom – and the many different layers to its Old Town: where once, in 1600, this part of the city centre was still in the open air, its rooms and alleyways now lie underground.
The real deal: Free walking tours with a variety of different themes (from a castle walk to an exploration of the city’s dark side) begin several times a day at a designated meeting point, led by locals who are on hand to provide entertainment and fascinating facts throughout the tour. At the end of the tour, you pay what you think the experience was worth. Programme and bookings available here.
Enchanting: The Potter Trail – If you visit Edinburgh, you can’t miss Harry Potter. This free walking tour takes you to the places that inspired the stories and where J.K. Rowling put pen to paper. Click here to book your spot.
A village in the city: Take a trip back in time in the heart of the city on the Dean Village Walk along the Water of Leith (starting point: Stockbridge). In the valley, carved out by the river over millennia, you’ll pass picture-postcard buildings and such sights as Dean Gardens, St Bernard’s Well and Dean Bridge on your way to Dean Village, which dates back to the 12th century. Mills once stood in this leafy, peaceful little spot in the city – and you can still see their remains today.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions – An attraction with a long history! Founded in 1835, this is Scotland’s oldest attraction, especially designed for visitors: check out the roof terrace with 360-degree panoramic views of Edinburgh and five storeys of interactive optical illusions, including a mirror maze. Click here.
Royal Botanic Gardens: Celebrating their 350th anniversary in 2020, the botanic gardens also offer a fantastic view of the city skyline. There are over 100,000 plants and 10 glasshouses spread over 70 acres to discover. Advance booking is currently required.
Arthur’s Seat: At 251 metres above sea level, the highest of Edinburgh’s seven hills is nestled in Holyrood Park. It is also the remains of a volcano that was active here around 350 million years ago. The starting point for this mini hike: Holyrood Palace or the car park at Dunsapie Loch.
Pentland Hills Regional Park: A miniature version of the Highlands on Edinburgh’s doorstep, with a 100-kilometre network of walking and hiking trails. You’ll find recommended routes and a map to download here (approx. 50 min by car/1 hr by bus)
A DETOUR TO...
North Berwick: Stop by charming cafés, visit art galleries, find out about local bird life at the Scottish Seabird Centre, stroll along Seacliff Beach or explore the clifftop ruins of Tantallon Castle – North Berwick is more than worth a visit! (approx. 45 min by car and train)
St Andrews: This little coastal town is home to the ancient university where Prince William and Kate Middleton first met – but that’s not all it has to offer. Here, you’ll also find the world’s oldest golf course, where you can tee off for a hefty price, impressive cathedral ruins dating back to the 12th century, and the delightful sandy beach at West Sands, with bathing temperatures up to a whopping 14 degrees Celsius (!) in summer – perfect for a dip... (approx. 1.5 hrs by car/2 hrs by train)
Dundee: History, culture, creative genius, innovative cuisine – and known as the sunniest city in Scotland! Dundee is an up-and-coming little city and the ideal destination for a day trip from the often rather cloudy Edinburgh. (approx. 1.5 hrs by car and train)
Stopovers from Colinton to Stirling
You can reach Glasgow directly from Edinburgh by car or train in about an hour. You can also make a couple of interesting stops along the way if you fancy. Here are a few tips:
The Colinton Tunnel: This 140-metre-long railway tunnel, abandoned since 1967 and dating back to the 19th century, is home to the biggest mural of its kind in Scotland. (approx. 20 min by car/40 min by public transport)
Carlingnose Point: Wildlife Reserve offers a whole world of rare flora and fauna to discover, as well as stunning views of the Forth Bridge. This railway bridge, which opened in 1890, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and you can even travel across it by train from Edinburgh (approx. 20 min by train/40 min by car).
Culross: This picture-postcard Scottish village Culross was a filming location for the TV series Outlander. The village was an important port on the river Forth in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the heart of the village, you can visit Culross Palace and its gardens, where you can buy fruit and vegetables or stroll through the enchanting village streets, where you feel as if you’re in a living museum (approx. 50 min by car/1.5 hrs by public transport).
Falkirk: North-west of Edinburgh, in the Forth Valley, you’ll find the oft-overlooked town of Falkirk, which actually has a lot to offer – especially for fans of modern engineering. This is where you’ll find The Kelpies, two gigantic (30-metre-high, 300-tonne) steel horses created by sculptor Andy Scott. Kelpies are aquatic spirits from Celtic mythology – but the sculptures also pay tribute to the workhorses that drew cargo barges along the canal during the Industrial Revolution. Another impressive sight is the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s biggest boat lift – and its only rotating one. It’s a bit like a Ferris wheel for boats (approx. 50 min by car/1.5 hrs by public transport).
Tip for castle enthusiasts: you can also travel straight to Falkirk from Edinburgh and skip the stops mentioned above. Along the way, you’ll find Linlithgow Palace – the Stuarts’ lakeside summer residence – and coastal Blackness Castle with its unique ship-shaped layout.
Known as the Gateway to the Highlands, Stirling was once Scotland’s capital city and a trade and farming hub. Today, this little city is most famous for its medieval castle, Stirling Castle, perched on a hill, one of the main residences of Scottish kings until 1685. Nearby, you’ll also find the Wallace Monument: the tower overlooks the fields where national hero William Wallace – the real-life Braveheart – led his troops to victory in the Battle of Stirling Bridge (approx. 1 hr by car/2 hrs by train)
Stop 2 - Glasgow
Scotland’s largest city still has a reputation for being a working-class town. But its vibrant creative and cultural scene, leafy parks and handy location for the Highlands make Glasgow a must-do city break.
City Centre Mural Trail: This walking trail doesn’t just take you through the entire city centre. It also takes you on a tour of Glasgow’s creative street art scene. The first of the murals was created in 2008. The trail now takes in 29 works of art, with subjects including everything from crocodiles and bunny rabbits to astronauts and flying taxis, in styles ranging from photorealistic to abstract.
Pollok Country Park: The name Glasgow comes from Gaelic and means ‘dear green place’ – more than 90 parks and gardens are available for the public to relax in. Pollok Country Park has won several awards and is the biggest park in Glasgow, boasting a wildlife garden with Scottish Highland cows!
FREE AND FASCINATING
The city has more than 20 museums and galleries, many of which have free admission – such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which contains one of Europe’s largest art collections, the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow’s St Mungo’s Cathedral and the Botanic Gardens. Glasgow also offers daily free walking tours focusing on local architecture and history. Click here to book your spot.
Finnieston, in the west of the city, is Glasgow’s designated foodie district. There, you’ll find young and trendy spots, craft beer and gin bars, and award-winning gourmet restaurants. And that’s not all: Glasgow is also the UK’s most vegan-friendly city!
You’ll find The Dockyard Social here, too – a vibrant street food market with live DJs from Friday to Sunday. You currently need to book a time slot (free of charge).
YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
The West Highland Line is one of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys. The line begins at Glasgow Queen Street Station and travels right through the stunning Highlands to Mallaig (journey time approx. 5 hrs). It also crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct and offers breathtaking views of Loch Shiel, Loch Eilt and Ben Nevis – locations you may recognise from such films as Harry Potter, James Bond and Braveheart. The journey continues through the Trossachs National Park to the Atlantic Ocean and the last stop on the journey, Mallaig, which was once Europe’s biggest herring port.
For those with less time at their disposal, the train splits off at Crianlarich, so instead of heading all the way to Mallaig, you can ‘just’ go to Oban (approx. 3 hrs). The route follows the river Clyde through the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, passing mountains and fjords. At Fort William, you can also switch to the Jacobite Steam and take the old steam train to Mallaig.
By the way, you can find pictures of the journey all over the Motel One Glasgow!
A word on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park: Loch Lomond, Scotland’s biggest lake – or ‘loch’ in the local parlance – is only about an hour away and is ideal for all kinds of watersports. The National Park also offers plenty of hiking trails to choose from (approx. 45 min by car/1 hr by train).
This Gaelic toast will come in useful when you find yourself in one of Scotland’s pubs or whisky distilleries. After all, whisky is the national drink, so it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s in your glass – and how they make it!
Scotland is split into five different whisky regions. Glasgow is in the lowlands. The local climate and landscape are perfect for growing barley, making this the ideal place to make whisky. The region is famous for its light, traditionally non-peat whiskies, with sweet, grassy notes and a smooth flavour.
Here are a few distilleries to check out – please note that owing to COVID-19 restrictions, distilleries may be closed to visitors, or visiting times may vary:
The Glasgow Distillery: situated in the city itself (approx. 10 min by car/30 min by public transport).
Auchentoshan Distillery: perhaps one of the most famous Scottish whisky brands (approx. 20 min by car/50 min by train and bus).
Glengoyne Distillery: a small distillery in an idyllic spot on the Highlands’ doorstep (approx. 30 min by car/1 hr by train and bus).