Need help please!
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 9, 2012 4:46 PM Last Post By: rodway
Nov 6, 2012 6:26 AM
Need help please!My daughter and I booked Edinburgh 12/21 thru 12/26 & 12/31 thru 1/2. Any suggestions for the other days?
Train? Overnight stays? Car rental? Overnight tours?
Also, how easy is it to see the sights without a car in Edinburgh.
Nov 6, 2012 8:14 AM
1how easy is it to see the sights without a car in Edinburgh
Much easier than with a car. Most sights are within walking distance from each other, and otherwise there's public transport to get you around.
Any suggestions for the other days? Train? Overnight stays? Car rental? Overnight tours?
Not to be flippant, but getting a guidebook for Scotland would be a good start.
Nov 6, 2012 8:31 AM
2Thanks for you quick reply.
I have 3 guide books, fodors, frommers and lonely planet but it seems a lot of tours do not run in the winter months. My son in law went a few years ago in June and he had 2 buddies and they rented a car. Afraid to do that in winter. I definately want to do the West Highland Line. Never traveled by train before. If I get the Brit pass can I hope off and on. How often do the trains run? Haven't pulled up the schedule, looks intimedating. Looking at Rabbies tours also but just wandering how to see as much as possible without a car.
Nov 6, 2012 8:56 AM
You do need to be aware that there will be no public transport on 25/12, almost none on 26/12, and (being Scotland - doesn't apply in England and Wales) almost none on 1/1. Also anticipate just about everything being shut on those days, especially on 25/12. Make sure you book well in advance for any required restaurant meal on 25/12, turn-up-and-eat is very hard to find that day. 2/1 is also a public holiday in Scotland, but a less extreme one, more like a normal Sunday. There is also a risk that major engineering works will be carried on railways over the entire Christmas/NY period, and you might find some main lines not running at all throughout the periods of that, with the indignity of bus replacement services.
Having spent some time in Edinburgh, what I personally would do would be hire a car (need to find out in advance if you can pick one up on 26/12 without large extra charges) and drive up to the west or northwest highlands. I've had a couple of Christmas/New Year stays in that area, once near Acharacle and once at Shiel Bridge (not far from That Castle), and both were lovely. Stay a few days in the same place and get to know it well would be my suggestion for a nice holiday, rather than a moving on tour, which in any case will be difficult with high accommodation occupancies at that time. Book early, hotels fill up at this time.
Nov 6, 2012 9:27 AM
Nov 6, 2012 3:57 PM
5I don't know what country you're from qteepye but I disagree with iviehoff regarding driving in the winter. If you're from a cold country then fine you'll have no problem but otherwise it's worth pointing out that although we don't get a lot of snowfall, just a little bit of snow on the road if you're not used to it can be a little unpleasant to drive in. A small amount of snow wouldn't affect the rail but might affect your driving on the roads. There's rarely snowfall in Edinburgh and Glasgow but if you heading north to higher lands you're more likely to encounter snow. However no one can make a guarantee one way or the other.
Edinburgh - yeah don't drive in Edinburgh. You can easily walk. LRT Buses are £1.40 per trip no matter what distance you travel. £3.50 for a day saver (I think). There's also those tour buses that do the rounds. They leave from Waverly Bridge. And keep your eyes open for the free bus shuttle that goes between the art gallerys and museums.
Nov 7, 2012 12:47 AM
6If you are concerned about a bit of snow, you could check the forecast before hiring a car. Over a period of up to about 5 days, you should be able to get a reasonably good idea from a forecast as to whether there is a material risk of snow in that time period.
As it happens there was quite a lot of snow on both my Highland Christmases. Living in SE England you could hardly say I was very used to it, but I didn't find it a problem. Coast roads in the highlands remained largely free of the stuff even when minor mountain roads were completely closed. Other major roads were soon cleared of it. The scariest drive was a minor mountain road with no snow on it, just a lot of ice from a heavy overnight frost, and that was an entirely optional decision on my part to proceed along that minor mountain road.
Nov 7, 2012 4:07 AM
7If you want to avoid renting a car and want to do the west highland line, you could consider the following (this is mostly assuming you want to see Scottish scenery rather than stay in the big cities):
On the 26th go to Glasgow and spend the night there (no trains, but megabus is running)
on the 27th take the train up to Mallaig (or Ft William depending on what your interests are). There is one leaving around midday, which gives you a decent amount of daylight to see the scenery along the way). You would have to check if you can get accommodation in Mallaig at that time of year though.
28th spend it in Mallaig, there is lots of low level hiking with decent trails around there, great scenery.
29th Take train/bus/boat on to somewhere else you want to see, Skye? Inverness? Oban? and return to Edinburgh on the 31st.
It's very doable without public transport but keep in mind the limited daylight hours and the very changeable weather at that time of year, especially if you go hiking.
Nov 7, 2012 5:08 AM
If you do that, take the train at 0821, otherwise it will be dark for the section between Fort William and Mallaig which is the best bit.
Nov 7, 2012 6:07 AM
Nov 9, 2012 4:13 AM
Trains over rent-a-car is more about your decision, rather than which is actually 'Best'.
I like trains, I also like cars. If I was in Scotland for a few days, I'd hire a car however.
Trains do scenice routes in Scotland. Some of Europe's finest in fact.
A car allows you to go and stop wherever and whenever you like.
Costs.... That wouldn't come into it for me. If I preferone mode of transport over another, I just do it.
It's also much easier to find an overnight stay short notice, if I'm with a car.
But.... It has to be 'Your' choice. People here, including me, are just sharing their preferences.
Hope it all comes together nicely.
Nov 9, 2012 4:46 PM
11Remember it will be dark by 4pm.
I would also recommend the INsight Guide to Edinburgh (5.99) easily available from the TIC. Excellent for walking tours around the city. I used it extensively.
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