Crucial tips Driving rental vehicle Edinburgh

Are you planning a Scottish vacation? Are you confident about driving in Scotland? Do you know the Greenways speed limit and priority rules? More details here to ensure a smoother driving experience for you and all your passengers.

If you are picking up a rental car from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport then watch my videos at the end of the post demonstrating easy car driving routes into these cities. Edinburgh is dual carriageway, Glasgow to the city is motorway.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Lou Armor@ Shutterstock

Edinburgh Greenways is a traffic control system giving priority to Buses, Bikes and Black taxi during the peak rush hours. Vehicles/car drivers/rental cars cannot use bus lanes from 7.30 – 9.30am & 4pm- 6.30pm Monday to Friday. The bus lanes do not apply at the weekend.

Edinburgh Greenways bus lanes
Greenways bus lanes@shutterstock

If car drivers/rental car drivers are caught in a bus lane during peak times the fine is £60 which is around $74.78 US dollars. Plus a transaction fee from your hire car company to process… consider hiring a car when you are leaving Edinburgh city.

Seat belts must be worn for front and back seat passengers. Children aged 3-12 or smaller than 135cm require an approved child restraint. Advise your car rental company in advance.

Speed Limit in Edinburgh city centre are 20mph. Cars cannot drive the length of Princes street and should not be using Bus lanes. Car drivers can drive part way and across intersections.

Road signs No entry for cars Edinburgh
Princes street@shutterstock

What are the legal requirements for foreign drivers from Europe? A valid licence allows you to drive any type of vehicle listed on your license in Scotland.
What are the legal requirements for foreign drivers from outside the EU including States? Drivers will require a valid licence from your own country, you can drive any small vehicle in the UK for up to 12 months. You will also need proof of your I.D. such as a passport. Some car rental companies will also require proof of flights & hotel reservations. if your license is not in English you may require a IDP.
Do I need an IDP? An International Driving Permit is required for non EU Drivers whose licence is not in English. It is used alongside a drivers licence. An IDP identifies you and allows police and people in authority who may not speak your language to communicate with you.

RENTAL CARS

Rental car age restrictions: Drivers must be 21 years old and have a valid drivers license for 3 years with no endorsements. Many rental car companies will not allow drivers under the age of 23 or 25. A young drivers surcharge rate may be applied which costs as much as £30 extra a day.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Car rental tips in Edinburgh Scotland

First time drivers in Edinburgh from the States. An automatic car will be easier and a built in sat nav rather than a stick shift. The rate for GPS is around £13 day extra. If you have children they will also require booster seats which cost around £12 a day to rent in addition to car rental fees. Also if driving the NC500 in the Scottish Highlands buy a road map and keep in the boot. It will be useful. Many hire rental companies are now issuing wrist bands to remind drivers which side of the road to stay on. Other drivers put signs on their dashboards. It is easy to forget in a panic situation, so use any tools that may help you.

Rental car deposits – Credit cards are accepted. Cash is not allowed and often debit cards are not accepted on premium cars or SUV. The car rental company will require a security deposit of around £200 on a credit card, this rate may vary from individual companies.

Car Hire rental in Edinburgh uk
Car Hire rental in Edinburgh uk

What is the excess damage on insurance? This is the amount of money that you will pay for any damage incurred to the rental vehicle before the insurance kicks in. Eg. Excess of £200 means that any insurance claim does not include the first £200.

Some rental companies offer extra roadside protection which costs more and includes lost keys, cracked windscreen, tyre repair etc. Each rental company policy is different. Shop around and read the small print.

  1. Fuel – All rental cars have the type of fuel required to fill up the tank on the fuel cap. Check whether your rental car requires a full tank before returning as they charge extra to take it for refuelling.
  2. Drink Driving- Scotland has different driving laws to the rest of the UK. The limit is Scotland is lower. It is 22 micrograms per 100 ml. Do not drink and drive. The penalty is a fine, a possible prison sentence and points on your licence.
Don't Drink & Drive
Don’t Drink & Drive@shutterstock
  1. Never park on double yellow lines in Edinburgh. Your car is at risk of being towed away. This includes in the middle of the night especially if your car is blocking the road/junction/traffic. If your car is missing call the Police on 101 to ask if it has been towed. To release your vehicle you will need to pay a fee of £180 and provide proof of your ID and drivers licence. The compound is in Leith and is open from 8am – 6.45 Monday to Saturday and Sunday 8.45 -11.30am
Cycle lanes and Bus lanes Edinburgh
Lou Armor@shutterstock

Do not stop your car inside a Red cycle box at traffic junctions in Edinburgh. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid if there is a traffic jam or ambulance etc but anticipate the space ahead. This is for cyclists to move off safely at traffic lights.

  1. Traffic lights – never turn on a red light. Red means stop. If you drive through a red light and are caught on camera it is an automatic £100 fine and 3 points.
  2. Mobile Phones – Hands free mounted phones are permitted but you cannot send text messages while driving in Scotland or use a hand held mobile phone. See below for a list of rental car companies.
  3. Parking in Edinburgh is very expensive. Read the meter carefully as some streets only allow 2/3 hours parking maximum.

There is a Ringo app for parking which requires registration of a credit card or you can feed the meter – eg.’ use coins.’ The benefit of the app is that it reminds you when your car parking is about to expire and gives you the opportunity to top it up from your location without having to rush back to your car.

Edinburgh parking app
Edinburgh parking app

Remember to ensure that you have entered the correct code for the street that you are parked on. The app remembers your last parked location and will usually assume that is where you have parked. Type in your new location code as seen below to avoid a parking ticket. It is very simple and easy to use and one of my favourite apps.

Reduced speeds in scottish cities.
Lou Armor@shutterstock

Three new bus lane cameras are now operational in Edinburgh as of June 2019. Liberton Road – Commercial Street & South Gyle Broadway.

Unsure of roundabouts, one way roads and driving on the left? I have recorded these journeys to help you navigate Scottish roads and motorways. click below

Follow me driving from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre click here:

Follow me in my car from Glasgow airport to Glasgow city click here:

For full details of the highway code please refer to highwaycodeuk.co.uk
Speed Limits

Built-up areas mph(km/h) Single carriageways mph (km/h) Dual carriageways mph (km/h) Motorways mph (km/h)
Cars, motorcycles, car derived vans 30mph (48) & 20mph (32) 60mph (96) 70mph (112) Dual carriageway signs are green 70mph (112) Motorway signs Blue

Rental Car companies – Final advice.

Please check the small print for damage waiver/ damage excess and if you are booking through a travel company check the reviews of the car company they use in the UK.

In Scotland these can be checked on Tripadvisor or Reviewcentre.com

Before driving off your car hire vehicle: Take your own photo of damage internally or externally before you drive your car hire away. Show these to the booking desk and agree that they have not been caused by you before driving off.

Car rental companies in UK include Alamo, Budget rental car, Arnold Clark, Enterprise, Avon, Europcar and Hertz.

Edinburgh city council have currently released a consultation paper for the end of free city centre Sunday parking. No details are yet confirmed. I will update if the situation changes.

If I have completely put you off driving in Edinburgh rest assured the tram, local buses and taxi are very good and we have Uber. Personally I prefer the bus or walking, it is a small city and easy walk around, unlike Glasgow a large sprawling city. I hope this information helps and To download any of my photo check out my portfolio on shutterstock. Click here.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your time.

Lou A. – Edinburghcitymom

Glasgow Itinerary 48 hrs

Glasgow is a sprawling city Port on the River Clyde which has its own airport, 15 mins from the city centre and two railway stations, Queen street and Central station. It is a fantastic city to explore, steeped in history from Victorian Tall ships to the National Piping centre to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

George square Glasgow city centre
George square Glasgow city @shutterstock

Glasgow is fondly known as ‘Glesga’ by the locals and you will find that they are indeed the friendliest people you will come across.  Many people ask me whether they should visit Edinburgh or Glasgow on their UK tours and I say, “Do both”.  Today I am concentrating on the fabulous places to visit in Glasgow.

Glasgow has the most spectacular Cathedral also known as St Mungo. It stands proudly beside the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery in Glasgow which has attracted lots of attention with the filming of the New Batman movie. The Cathedral is a must see and has a lower level which includes the Crypt. The interior is spectacular and I can’t decide if it perhaps just beats St Giles in Edinburgh for awesomeness. The Cathedral can be found at Castle street and entry is free but donations are welcome to Historic Environment Scotland. There is a mass at 11am on Sunday mornings and a choral evensong on Sunday in the Nave at 4pm.  This is a 15 min walk from Queen street station and beside the tenants Brewery which is a great tour, also has some fabulous cookery classes, worth booking.

interior of Glasgow Cathedral
interior of Glasgow Cathedral

Arriving at Glasgow Queen street station from Edinburgh, (45) mins, our first stop was to check into the Radisson Red on the River Clyde.  Radisson Red is currently the only hotel in Glasgow with a roof top bar and it has cracking views down the famous River Clyde.  

Radisson Red Hotel Glasgow
Radisson Red Hotel Glasgow@shutterstock

Radisson Red, uber trendy aimed at the Millennials, is ideally situated near the Scottish Exhibition Centre and is close to many Riverside attractions.  The check in desks are computer terminals that offer guests a minimal fuss check in.

Our bedroom was small and compact with a really comfortable bed and fun wall art. We didn’t linger long in the hotel as we had so much to see and headed out for lunch to the famous alley known as Ashton Lane. This is a cobbled backstreet in Glasgow West End, beside the Glasgow subway stop, Hillhead which has restaurants, pubs and a licensed cinema.

Biel, famous for its Moules and Fondue nights caught our eye, and it catered for coeliacs. (The other great restaurant in Glasgow for gluten and Coeliac is Cote Brasserie. One for my favourite places.)

There are plenty of places to eat in Ashton Lane including traditional pubs such as  Jinty McGuinty’s and the famous Ubiquitous Chip, fondly known as the ‘Chip”.  I would recommend pre booking the ‘Chip’ as it is a Glasgow favourite and very popular all year round. Gardeners, Grosvenor Cafe, the Lane Vinyl Bar are other eating venues.

Did you know the famous chef Gordon Ramsay is a Glaswegian as well as Billy Connelly, Sharleen Spiteri, Deacon Blue, John Barrowman and a long list of musicians and sportsmen?

Ashton Lane, cobbled street Glasgow
Ashton Lane, cobbled street Glasgow@shutterstock

Recharged and refreshed after lunch, we headed off to walk to Kelvingrove Museum to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition lent by Her Majesty the Queen. The complete  tour of drawings around the UK, (144) scattered over several cities are a rare opportunity to see. Full details of the locations and drawings can be found on the Royal Collection trust, http://www.rct.uk.

The exhibition is in Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow until May.  Further exhibits will be available in Edinburgh in November 2019.  Kelvingrove is an amazing treasure trove of paintings, artefact and exhibitions, some from the Burrell Collection. More details on museums@glasgowlife.org.uk.  I would allocate a minimum of 2 hours here.  There is a cafe and restaurant onsite. Favourites include Christ St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali, the Mark 21 Spitfire that flew with the 602 squadron over Glasgow and now hangs suspended from the ceiling, and the many stunning paintings including Constable, Lawrence Steven Lowry and Rembrandt, ‘A Man in Armour’.

photo credit Lou Armor@shutterstock

A short walk from Kelvingrove will bring you to Glasgow University, and its famous Cloisters which are rumoured to have inspired JK Rowling… the University, itself a stunning building and home to the Hunterian museum is Scotlands oldest public museum and is free.

The Cloisters below have featured in Outlander and Cloud Atlas. Self guided tours and available around the University or you can book a guided tour on gla.ac.uk. We were happy to wander around the grounds and admire the stunning architecture.

Glasgow University Cloisters
Glasgow University Cloisters

Glasgwegians or Weegies, are famous for their sense of humour and there are plenty of opportunities to watch a stand up comedy show.  The Glasgow comedy festival runs through March and our next destination was the State Bar. Glasgow Comedy Nights can be found on websites like Chortle.co.uk/glasgow or http://www.rotundacomedy.club. For the comedy club dates 2020 check out Glasgowcomedyfestival.com

The bar we were looking for was pretty close to another famous Glasgow Institution. Miss Cranston Tearooms, fully restored to their former glory and now called, ‘Mackintosh by the Willows’.  On the corner of Hope street and Bath street, the newly refurbished tearooms  have an exhibition centre and tours are available to book or enjoy the delights from the all day food menu.  Breakfast, lunch, Afternoon tea or High tea. http://www.Glasgowmackintosh.com.

For fans of Rennie Mackintosh there is an exhibition in Kelvingrove Museum and in House for An Art Lover in Dumbreck Road and of course the famous Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane. If you are travelling to Bellahouston Park to see the Mackintosh exhibition and rooms for an Art lover, it opens at 10am and the park also has  sculptures and garden art. (For full details of tearooms see end of post).

Rennie Mackintosh tearooms in Glasgow
Rennie Mackintosh tearooms in Glasgow

It is amazing what you can pack into one day in Glasgow.  The shops close at 6pm on a Saturday so there was just enough time to pop into Buchanan Street Galleries, a famous shopping complex with over 80 stores. This is open until 7pm and closes at 6pm on a Sunday.

Our evening meal was a new restaurant in Glasgow called the Lychee Oriental. Tucked away behind Mitchell Lane, this Chinese restaurant was a welcome break from the walking.  Popular Glasgow street artists murals are on display next to the restaurant and if you would like to see more street art there is a fabulous trail on Glasgow with a map of all of the locations,  http://www.citycentremural trail.co.uk.  Some of my favourites include ‘Fellow Glasgow residents’ and ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’.

Glasgow city street mural trail.
Glasgow city street mural trail.

Back at our hotel we decided to explore the rooftop cocktail bar only to discover that tables must be pre booked. Bookings are not accepted after 10pm. Good to know for next time as the Radisson Red rooftop bar is also open to the public and if there is an event on at the SEC, you can bet this place will be busy.

Day 2

Up bright and early to discover a damp and grey city, we decided to try and stay dry as much as possible. Our wonderful plans to walk the Riverside were restricted by the downpours but at around 10 am we took a chance and headed out to the Clydeside Distillery, a 10 min walk from our hotel.

Glasgow River Clyde
Glasgow River Clyde@shutterstock

This new visitor centre and Distillery is amazing, it has a fabulous 2 min film set in the Glasgow docklands that give you a real feel for the city and the challenges facing the dockside workers. The distillery tour is different to other distilleries as it has a purpose built visitor centre and a cafe. The tours include the Clydeside tour, the Managers tour and my favourite , the Chocolate and Whisky tour.  A great souvenir,  create your own personalised hand written Whisky label for the whisky of your choice or surprise a loved one with a fabulous Scottish gift. Thanks to Mr Darroch for our wonderful tour.

Clydeside Distillery Glasgow
Clydeside Distillery Glasgow

We eventually had to head back out into the rain and toyed with the idea of downloading the cycle app and taking one of the bikes to our next location, The Transport Museum now called the Riverside Museum.  We decided to walk as it was not far enough to justify hiring the bike for an hour. The app is nextbike, and you can hire a bike for the day or hourly. When dry it would be a great way to see the River Clyde.

Glasgow Riverside Museum Glasgow Scotland.
Interior Riverside Museum@shutterstock

The Riverside Museum was pretty stunning inside. It has over 3000 objects on display and these include full size trams, boats, buses, trains, cars, bikes, skateboards, its amazing inside. Kids will love it and there is a vintage street with shops that people can go inside and see how they looked in bygone days. Spent a couple of hours in here and then headed back into the rain to check out of The Radisson Red.

We couldn’t leave Glasgow without enjoying a roof top cocktail and the sharing cheese board, very tasty. Gave us a chance to dry out too. Expect changeable weather in Glasgow, pack an umbrella or cagoule in your bag, you just never know when its going to rain!

Radisson Red rooftop bar Glasgow city centre. Scotland.
Radisson Red rooftop bar Glasgow city.

Finally it would be impossible to leave Glasgow without having a quick look at the Lighthouse Museum. Hidden away in Mitchell lane, it is easy to miss. If you find Princes street square then you are minutes away. This is Scotlands centre for design and architecture. I had the best intention of climbing to the top for the amazing 360 degree views over Glasgow city centre but alas my dodgy knee was having none of it. Another time. To view my Glasgow video of all the attractions click here:

Anyone visiting Glasgow in July don’t forget the Merchant City Festival. July 25th – Sunday July 28th 2019.

The other major festival is a 4 day piping celebration cumulating in the final day competition with highlands games, highland dancing and drum majors.

World Pipe & Drum championships 2019
World Pipe & Drum championships 2019

The fabulous World Pipe band Championships are on Glasgow Green on Friday 16th and 17th August 2019.click here to experience a few hours at the Worlds. 

I hope that you have been inspired to spend some of your holiday time in Glasgow. There is plenty more to see including the Botanical Gardens, The famous Glasgow Cathedral, the City chambers, Pollock House and of course Glasgow Necropolis. A Victorian cemetery to the East of Glasgow Cathedral.

If you fancy trying something completely different book yourself into a cookery class at Tennents Training Academy, it is a great venue and plenty of free cider and beer. Up to 40 different classes on offer. Book a tour of the brewery for £12.50 and enjoy a free pint. http://www.tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk

My other favourite is Chaopyra Masterclass taught by Thai chefs  and cooked by yourself,  enjoy a tasty 3 course Thai meal. Details on 0141 332 0041 or try the cocktail masterclass. Chaophyra.co.uk/experience.

If you are a fan of Charles Rennie Mackintosh there are two tearooms, Mackintosh at the Willows is stunning inside and worth pre booking for afternoon tea. The address is 217  Sauchiehall Street. Tel:44 (0)141 204 1903. Email: booking@mackintoshatthewillow.com

The other tearoom is smaller and is accessed from a flight of stairs, this can be found at 97, Buchanan street. Tel: 44 0 141-204-5242.

Opening hours -Mon to Sat 9am-6.30pm,
Sun 10.00am-5.30pm

Thanks for reading, all of my photo are available to buy on Shutterstock just click on this link for my portfolio. louarmor@shutterstock

I hope you enjoy exploring out scottish cities. Video of my travels are available on youtube

Edinburgh Military Tattoo seating guide August 2021.

 The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is essentially an evening of live military performances from Regiments and Military bands that include the massed pipes and drums, dancers, performers, singers, military displays, special lighting effects and the Lone Piper. 2021 dates are the 6th to 28th August and it will be celebrating its 70th year.  

For anyone who transferred their tickets from 2020, the booking lines for 2021 are open from Monday 5th October at 10am (2020) until midnight of the 9th October 2020. 

Tickets for 2021 are on sale on Monday 19th October.  Tickets can be purchased from 10am. There will be a limited capacity arena for the year 2021. You can buy up to 8 tickets on one transaction, however the seating is limited to 4 seats together.

Cheaper priced tickets – In 2021, the off Peak tickets will be available on the 11th, 18th and 25th August 2021. 

 Tickets can be bought from the office in Cockburn street or online. The phone lines are open Mon/Tues/Thurs and Friday 10am-4.30pm.

Wednesday 11.am – 4.30pm. (British Mean Time)

Booking lines –  Tel no:+44 [0] 131 225 1188. 

For the best selection of seats that suit your budget the earlier the better.  Weekdays the performances are Monday to Friday at 9:00pm and on Saturday at 6.30pm and 10:30pm.  There is no tattoo on any Sunday in August.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

I have been attending The Edinburgh Military Tattoo for several years sitting in  various locations on the Castle Esplanade, (the large space directly in front of Edinburgh Castle).

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
Lou Armor@shutterstock

A temporary stand is erected here and the seats are outside with no cover or protection from the elements unless you are in the Royal Gallery.   These seats are of course very expensive and can be found in the purple section.

Seating Plan for the 2019Edinburgh Military tattoo
Seating Plan for the 2019 Edinburgh Military tattoo @ Edintattoo.co.uk

These are the factors I would consider when booking.

PRICE – the more you pay the better the seat.  A rough guide to the prices are sections 1/16 & 17 (dark blue and green) are the cheapest found nearest the castle and sections 8 and 9 (pink & purple) are the most expensive.

The only downside to the cheapest seats is that you may have slightly more awkward visibility to the fireworks display.

The other seats for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo range from £50 to £78.  I have sat very high up once but my aunt struggled to get down the stairs, (metal and quite steep) I now much prefer sitting in the middle sections 3/4 or 13/14/15  lower down.

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
View of seating layout@shutterstock

The Light blue section offers excellent views and is reflected in slightly higher prices in these sections. Blue Sections 2-5 and 12-15, the tickets are  priced between £53.00 to £68.00 each.  Tickets are priced dynamically, therefore, these seat prices may change subject to demand and availability. Order as early as possible before demand increases so much that the price does too!

The seats for the tattoo start at rows A & B, these are allocated for disabled. The seats are then categorised through the alphabet as  /C/D/E/F/G  – there is no row I.

Once the alphabet has been completed the highest seats in the arena are allocated as AA, BB, CC UP TO FF. . . see short video here. 

Brown section: Sections 6/7, 10/11 brown colours are regarded as having good views and as such the price rises Fridays and Saturdays. There are no Tattoo performances on a Sunday.

Tattoo Cheap Tickets : If you apply for the preview ticket before the official opening ceremony these are cheaper and there will be off peak tickets on the 11th/18th and 25th Aug.  

To view seats and performer highlights click here

Things to consider when buying tickets: If you wish to leave early for a train or cruise ship I would sit lower down. It gets very busy at the end of the night and leaving quickly if you are way up in the Gods is not going to happen, as the steps down from the arena are steep and people move slowly.

Some cruise ships offer transport to and from the Tattoo and given the volume of traffic it may be wise to take the ship transfer if it is Rosyth. For the Port of Leith you can jump a taxi or take a local bus.

cruise ship at Port of Leith Edinburgh
cruise ship at Port of Leith @shutterstock

The Military Tattoo has toilets at the bottom of the arena and it means a long walk down if you are high up. If you need to frequent the toilet or you suffer from Vertigo then I would recommend  a seat lower down. There is a disabled area which I will discuss later as it seems to generate lots of questions and worries.

For people who have walking issues/ambulent disabled, the front 7 rows in the arena are reserved upon request rows C/D/E/F/G/H and J.

Ambulent disabled includes a wide range of disabilities and the term is used for people who can move around and are not regular wheelchair users. eg suffering from diabetes, cancer, epilepsy etc.

These tickets cannot be booked online and must be in person or by telephone. There are also seats for wheelchair users in the front rows. The box office is open from for all accessibility bookings on Mon/Tues/Thurs &  Friday 10.00am- 4.30pm and Wednesday  11.00am-4.30pm – +44 (0) 131 225 1188.

The Best view?

I have compiled a short video of some of the seat views, click here to view:

Everyone gets a really good view. People think that they have to sit high up to see but this is simply not the case. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is planned and orchestrated to enable everyone to see. The Regiments may enter from Edinburgh Castle but often other performers will enter from the centre of the arena.

All performers face the Royal Boxes initially (purple/pink sections 8/9) but then will move round the large esplanade.

Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photo Credit: Sold out Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo 

Edinburgh Military Tattoo packages

There are many packages, some include 4 course meal, champagne, or toast to the haggis. It is quite an extensive list and these can all be found on the official edintattoo.co.uk website. The Royal Gallery and VIP Dining experience ranges from £510 – £580.  The Jacobite experience, Scottish dining in the Castle is between £320 – £375.

The Bruce package, The Amber Package and the Wallace package are cheaper but the meal is not served in Edinburgh Castle but at the top of the Royal Mile in the Scotch Whisky Experience. A few minutes from the Castle esplanade. Full details on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo website. 

Some packages require dress code and some offer seats outdoors and others let you choose your seat.  Be sure to check what you are buying. You may love the idea of enjoying a 3 course meal with wine and Champagne, while watching a private recital from cast members but did you pack a suit and formal dress? Something to consider.

Scotch whisky experience beside Edinburgh Castle.

Scotch whisky experience Wallace package
Scotch Whisky Experience@shutterstock

For example the Wallace package includes:

  • A pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • A private viewing the Scotch Whisky collection
  • A Whisky cocktail/ soft drink with canapés in the McIntyre Gallery
  •  Mingle with members of the Tattoo cast
  • A host to escort you to the Castle Esplanade
  • A centrally located seat in Section 4 of the outdoor arena and a tattoo programme.
  • there is no dress code for this package, however on chatting to the staff at the Scotch Whisky Exp. they advised me that it is optional but many guests did arrive in suits/dresses, especially for the Wallace or Bruce Package. The package does ask, “that guests avoid short trousers and sports shoes’.

Disabled Access: If you have booked disabled/wheelchair seating –  you may be able to request a vehicle pass that will allow access to the Esplanade by car, taxi or ambulance. They are subject to availability and are not available for the preview evening or for any Saturday.  

Currently (October 2020) the Edinburgh Tattoo office are not committing to vehicle passes due to the ongoing covid pandemic. I would keep referring to the ticket office nearer the time. The Military Tattoo does not provide wheelchairs but they can be hired from various companies in Edinburgh if you book ahead and check availability. eg. Invictusactive.com

If you do have a vehicle pass then you will go on convoy onto Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Be aware if you are in a taxi you may be waiting for some period of time, pre agree a set fare, many taxi or private chauffeur will help with this.

Large coaches are not allowed to join the convoy.

Wheelchair seating is along the front rows of sections 1-4 and 12-17 as well as at the top of  Section 10 at ground level and Section 10 facing Edinburgh Castle. These spaces allows for an attendant’s seat.  

There are medical services on the esplanade if required and help can be given to push wheelchairs up the cobbled street. There is lift access to the wheelchair area at the top of Section 10 and there are accessible toilets within the arena and grab rails at the end of each section.

Please remember that the convoy arrives before everyone is seated which means a longer evening. If it is cool be prepared and bring a blanket, there are people to help and medics on site if required. Hot drinks are also available to buy on the esplanade and seat cushions and poncho’s.

Other points to consider: No umbrellas, no flash photography, no alcohol and no glass bottles are permitted. Only small bags or rucksacks under 25 litres are permitted. All bags are searched. No smoking or vaping allowed in the tattoo arena. You will also need ID with your ticket entry as security is very tight.

What to wear to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo?

It may be warm, it may be cold. This is Scotland after all.

I always wear layers and buy the £1 padded seat cushion at the event. I take a warm jumper over a top. Warm coat with hood, remember, no umbrellas if it rains, comfortable shoes for walking up the cobbled Royal Mile and gloves in my pocket as a back up. I have never actually worn them or needed to put my hood up but it reassures me. The temp does drop significantly around 9.30/10pm and the later Saturday night 10.30 show will be significantly colder.

Queue to enter Edinburgh Military Tattoo?  Everyone has allocated seating. It is a very long queue down Johnson Terrace and it’s uphill all the way back to the Castle.

ticket Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Tattoo – all seats allocated.

There is no pre show acts. The  commentator is the only warm up before the Tattoo starts.  You  may wish to be seated and enjoy the atmosphere but I usually just walk up 20 mins before the show starts. The entrance to the castle is narrow and cobbled and does bottle neck. If you don’t like crowds wait till nearer show time.

Edinburgh Grassmarket Festival Fringe
Lou Armor@shutterstock

There are plenty of restaurants around the Royal mile and the Grassmarket offering something for everyone purse. As I mentioned earlier it gets really busy as the festival is also taking place around the Royal Mile etc.

Book your restaurants when you book your Tattoo tickets.  Some of the popular nearby restaurants include, Devils Advocate, Witchery – can’t get much closer to the Tattoo – The Tower restaurant, 5 min walk, Castle Terrace Restaurant, Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky experience- beside Tattoo, Vittorio on the bridge and the lovely Divino Enoteca Italian restaurant. There are local chain restaurants very near including Pizza Express.

Witchery Restaurant, Edinburgh
Witchery Restaurant. Lou Armor@shutterstock

The Grassmarket is 5 mins away and has many great pubs that serve food and often free festival shows that ask for a donation at the end. (Check out my festival guide for cheap tips and insider guide). see here to experience it. Edinburgh Fringe in 24hrs

And finally: Please buy your tickets  directly from the Tattoo’s official website at www.edintattoo.co.uk or by calling +44 0 131 225 1188. People have been caught out in the past buying from other sites and remember in Scotland our dates are Day first, then month. eg. 12th August 2021- 12/08/2021.

The box office is a good 10 min walk away from the Castle and near the day has lengthy queues.  Give yourself plenty of time to collect your tickets or print them off at home before you arrive.  The address is 1-3 Cockburn Street, along from Waverley train station, the back entrance and opposite the Edinburgh Dungeons.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo office
Tattoo office@LouArmor

TRANSPORT HOME

Trains can also be an issue if you are staying for the 10.30 late Saturday night performance which finishes at midnight.  The last Scotrail train to Glasgow from Edinburgh  is usually 11.45.  In this event I would book the 6.30 show. Admittedly its not dark at this time of night but it would get you back to Glasgow easily.

City link buses run through the night from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The bus station is beside St Andrews Square.

There are extended train services during the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for Perth, Dundee, Fife and North Berwick. I have no details at the moment and I would continue to check with Scotrail.co.uk   The Edinburgh Military Tattoo show lasts one hour and 40 mins.

Edinburgh Buses and Trams

There are buses and trams around the city to the airport.  This may be a good option if you are worried about parking. Consider leaving your car at the ‘Park and Ride’ near Edinburgh airport and take the tram in and out.

Edinburgh tram
Edinburgh tram@shutterstock

Edinburgh Trams have in the past operated an overnight service through the night to 5.30 am during the festival and tattoo making it easier to move around the city and return to your accommodation. We do have Uber taxi but they tend to be on surge charge with the volume of people. 

The nearest tram stop from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is on Princes street and this will take a brisk 10 min walk to reach but realistically with the crowds more like 20 mins. Walk down the Royal mile then turn right down the Mound to connect with the tram.

Crowds on the Royal Mile during the edinburg Tattoo
Royal Mile@shutterstock

Lothian buses have an excellent website and run a night bus till 4.30am. For details and to plan your route home check out Lothianbuses.com. They have an excellent app and remember an all day bus pass costs £4.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.  The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a non for profit organisation, to help support the many Royal military charities and veterans.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you time. The blog does contain affiliates links to pay for WordPress blog tools.   My portfolio is available on Pond5 and shutterstock. Click if curious.

I have mades some facemasks on Red bubble, click here to see more of my images. 

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo has its own fireworks at the end of the weekend performances but the locals of Edinburgh know that the best show is always at the end of the Festivals. It is usually on the Monday night and here are the highlights from 2019. 

Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019
Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019

If you love the pipes and drums don’t miss Glasgow annual World pipe band competition sadly cancelled for 2020 but will be back in 2021.  It is an amazing day out and of course Glasgow is a fabulous city, famous for Rennie Mackintosh,  don’t miss the famous Willow tearooms, the Clydeside single malt whisky distillery, stunning architecture that inspired film locations for Batman, Fast and furious, Outlander and Cloud Atlas. 

To experience a few hours click here: Glasgow pipe band worlds

Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship
Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship

If you fancy a jaunt through to the fabulous city of Glasgow click here for ideas. You can take the train from Edinburgh or bus and disembark at Queen street station. Train is  only 45 mins long.

If you cannot make the Worlds then the next big bagpipe event will be the Cowal Games in Dunoon.

The other major Highland gathering usually attended by the Queen is the Braemar . If you cant make any of these events but really would like to attend a Scottish Highland games then check this website. Scotlandwelcomesyou.com for a list of all Highland games from May until Sept around Scotland, Skye and the highlands.

Thank you to Edinburgh Tattoo office for supplying seating plan and information on tickets.

Lou A.

 To shop face masks for kids and adults take a look here.

  • Military boots face mask

Edinburgh fringe visitor tips, transport, tickets, provisional dates 2021.

The Fringe, also known as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest Arts and Culture Festival in the world and anyone can take part in 2021.

Different to the Edinburgh International Festival which runs during the same weeks in Edinburgh, the International festival is by invitation from the Festival Director and showcases top class performers of classical music, theatre, opera and dance. Sadly due to the Covid 19 outbreak, the 2020 festival and fringe festival and royal military tattoo have been cancelled. The provisonal dates for 2021 are 6-30th August 2021.

Edinburgh fringe 2019
Edinburgh fringe Royal Mile

Follow tweets on @edfringe. There is a very good Q&A page for anyone who has booked tickets or for performers who are unsure of the next step. Artists will have the opportunist for a full refund or roll over their ticket to 2021. click here for more details.

Planning your trip 2021.

August in Scotland is mad, crazy busy. Accommodation is at a premium as the performers are staying in the city plus camera crews. The Military Tattoo starts in August (dates for 2021 are 6th -28th), and did I mention the Book Festival? This tented village caters for over 1000 authors, in over 800 events for all ages. 

Edinburgh Book Festival 2019
Edinburgh Book Festival

TICKETS Edinburgh Fringe – Which show?

The first thing you need is a copy of the brochure. They are available in book shops, cafes and at the Edinburgh Fringe official store on the Royal Mile. It is impossible to scroll through over 3,000 shows without some sort of guidance. It is easier to narrow your search by comedy/music/theatre or children’s category.

The National newspapers post daily reviews, check out the Scotsman, the Stage or ask the staff at the booking offices.
Fringe App – one of the best apps to help explore the Edinburgh Fringe. This easy to download app, allows you to find shows nearby, buy tickets, it indicates your nearest ticket collection point and shows you what’s available that day at the Virgin half price hut.

It is very easy to use and you can select your show by genre – suitability, accessibility and of course find out the price. Years ago the Fringe cost around £5 a show, now with big circuit names like Al Murray, expect to buy up to £19. There is also a booking fee for tickets. I love the Inspiration machine at Edfringe, more details below.

Quick look at the Edinburgh fringe in 24 hrs click this link.

Performers on the Royal Mile
lou armor@shutterstock

Tickets must be pre booked as you cannot buy tickets at the shows. If the show is at a large venue there may be a box office onsite but some are unmanned and do not have booking facilities – only ticket collection points. To be on the safe side prebook online or go to one of the larger booking office sites and pay and collect tickets in advance.

Cheap Tickets Prices & Free shows @Edinburgh fringe 

Edinburgh has a free Fringe  and last year offered a record breaking 9,237 performances including comedy, cabaret, theatre, music and children shows. Details for these shows can be found at freefringe there is usually a hat passed around at the end of the show for donations.

Try and get your hands on the Wee Blue Book which will give you a list of all the free shows. They are often handed out on the Royal Mile by performers.

Some of the free shows are on licensed premises which means that under 18 are not allowed. Under 18 are permitted with a responsible adult before 9pm at select venue. Check the programme first. If you wish to tip a show online or from your phone you can now do so using the bar code at the back of the wee blue book. Freefringe.org.uk

The popularity of these has grown enormously and as such first come first served. You will have to give yourself some time to queue for the more popular free shows.

If you are on a budget here are some other tips to navigate the fringe cheaply.

1.Visiting the preview shows. These are offered at discounted prices usually at the start of August while performers test the water. However, remember that student and OAP are offered concessions on full price tickets only.

2. The Virgin half price hut is a must and can be found at the bottom of the Mound on Princes street. Unsold tickets are available here for same day shows and usually a good selection of shows for the next morning.

CSC_1295
photo@shutterstock

3. The fringe has an app which also offers 2 for 1 tickets on selected shows or join the friends of the fringe and you get 2 for 1 deals.

You may think how much to join? However the Canny Scott shares the expense with a friend and you both get to try lots of different shows.

There are free shows daily on the Royal Mile and it is a great place to soak up the festival atmosphere. Many people are confused if they find themselves on the Canongate or High street or Castlehill or the Lawnmarket, these are the sections that make up the Royal Mile. The free shows tend to be on the section of St Giles Cathedral, one block down from Edinburgh Castle.

There are box offices across the city and you can collect your tickets from any of these locations. You can collect your tickets from Edinburgh Airport, card machine only and Waverley train station.

Photo credit: lou armor@shutterstock

Navigating the Shows – Timing is everything.

Okay on a map you might think, we have plenty of time to get to the Pleasance or the Underbelly. Please, do not under estimate how much longer it takes when there are thousands of people milling through the streets of Edinburgh.

It can be over whelming at times and I would urge you not to travel by car in the city centre. Parking is already at a premium and unless you have £4.20 an hour to spare for parking, then walk. The local buses hardly move with the volume of traffic at the weekends and often Uber will be on surcharge. The local taxi have many ranks throughout the city.

Show times: The late shows go on until 3am and they can be really good fun if you are a night owl. These events tend to be at the Pleasance which is a fabulous venue, part of the University with outdoor bars, seating areas, food, good atmosphere and plenty of shows on offer. The other popular venue is the Gilded Balloon Teviot, also part of Edinburgh University and a great location with lots of outdoor bars, and great taster shows and fun street performers.

Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
Edinburgh Fringe@shutterstock

HOW MANY SHOWS IN A DAY? How big is your wallet? How many people are travelling with you and what are the age groups? Buggies and wheelchairs can be difficult to navigate through the huge crowds especially at the weekends. Children are usually early to rise, just get up and do early shows. Children will not want to spend all day traipsing through huge crowds so you will have to introduce some family ‘run about time’.

I would recommend Inverleith Park next to the Botanical gardens, then stroll into Stockbridge, plenty of cafe. Princes street gardens is undergoing extensive renovation work but the far end of Princes street, near the Waldorf Astoria has a great climbing frame, swings etc, outdoor cafe and the the newly renovated Ross Fountain.

Singletons and older people, it really depends on your preferences and fitness levels. Edinburgh is on a steep hill. There is considerable walking up and down hills. Navigating crowds and finding food & drink spots.

Free street shows and small children: These can be found on the Royal Mile and at the bottom of the Mound, please be aware that the crowds are huge and children can get lost. I recommend agreeing a meeting place in the event of getting separated. (My daughter and I always do this on London Underground).

Edinburgh Fringe Circus Hub 2019
Edinburgh Fringe Circus Hub 

During the day, many families enjoy the space and safety of George Square gardens and the meadows which has the Circus Hub. Previous years  shows  included – Earths Dinosaur Zoo, the Mister men show and Don’t mess with the Dummies. Details on underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

Choosing a show???

It is a minefield, take the easy option and go see a collection of performers, such as comedians. They have shows called the Best of Irish comedy or the Best Comedy new comers. This way if someone humour does not resonate with you, the next act might. There are usually 3 performers and you are bound to like one of them. Remember to check the app as some shows are not suitable for under 14. The best of the festival is a great show usually towards the end of August and the best shows compete for the overall winner. These tickets sell out quickly as its a guaranteed good night. Keep an eye out for the brochure.
Edfringe Inspiration Machine – The fringe has a machine that is free that will suggest three shows. You can do it online and a roulette wheel spins and chooses a show, some of these have short clips, its really good fun and easy way to pick a show. Edfringe.com

Pace yourself, plan ahead, make a schedule, work out your nearest ticket collection point or just fly by the seat of your pants.

I would normally only do 3/4 shows in a day due to the walking and crowds. Many of the fringe venues are in basements, small rooms and halls, they can get real hot due to lack of air conditioning so take this into consideration. Nights are cooler in some of these venues.

Dress attire/ safety. Wear comfortable clothes, good walking shoes, bring a cagoule, it will rain on and off. Bring a rucksack as you will be inundated with flyers from shows on the royal Mile or any big venue. Do not put wallets/purses near the top of a rucksack, make sure they are down at the bottom in case of ‘light fingers’ in the crowds.

TRANSPORT – A normal journey into Edinburgh will take longer. If going or returning to the airport, consider the tram. It is not affected by roadworks, crowds or traffic accidents. It takes about 30 mins and has many stops throughout the city centre.

There is a Airlink bus direct from the airport and two train stations include Haymarket in the West End and the main station Waverley, beside Princes street gardens and Princes street.

Witchery Restaurant, Edinburgh
Witchery Restaurant@shutterstock

Cant find a Restaurant? This is an unexpected annoyance of having so many festivals at the same time. If you get no joy from calling the restaurants then try Opentable.co.uk or 5pm.co.uk – they have a very easy booking system.

DRIVING IN EDINBURGH – Edinburgh has green priority transport lanes for buses and taxi. Cars cannot drive on these at peak times, tourists be aware – you may be fined. Speed limit in the city centre is 20mph. To see my transport video with traffic tips on how to reach edinburgh city from the airport by car click here.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Lou Armor@shutterstock

For driving tips and understanding the Greenways read this post: 

I hope this gives you a few starting points and things to consider. It really is a fantastic month. Soak up the atmosphere, try a random show, change your usual genre, try something completely different.

Where to stay?

Accommodation Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Edinburgh is very popular for AIR BB as many families leave the city during the festival and let our their homes. Edinburgh University and others have empty halls of residence that are available to rent. Check out Universityrooms.com, accommodation.ed.ac.uk

Youth hostels are a great cheap option: St Christophers’s Inn or SYHA.ORG.UK or Euro-hostels.co.uk/edinburgh or hostel world.com/hostels/edinburgh. Their are camp sites and caravan sites http://www.caravanclub.co.uk .

Cheap hotels: Travelodge, Ibis, Premier Inn, local guest houses and bed/breakfast. Luxury hotels in city centre include: Waldorf Astoria, Principle George Hotel, Carlton Highland, Hilton group, G&V Hotel, Witchery Hotel Royal Mile, Balmoral Hotel, Kimpton Charlotte Square.

P.S If you have a favourite restaurant then book at least 3/4 weeks in advance. Watch my youtube video of my favourite places to see in Edinburgh. Half of them are completely free. Click on this link below. For your seating guide to the Military Tattoo, click here

For a list of free things and fun activities in Edinburgh click here.

Best of luck and thanks for your time. I appreciate it. to buy tickets click on edfringe.com

Lou A.

SKYE TRAVEL ROUTE (Scotland)

The Isle of Skye is a popular road trip in Scotland and there are several routes that travellers can take to reach this magical island. Our route to Skye started from Edinburgh and then we headed across to Glasgow on the M8 as I wanted to drive up the banks of Loch Lomond. If you drive from Edinburgh via Stirling you skim the top of Loch Lomond which does not always give the best views. If you are unsure of driving on single lane roads then click here for the etiquette. Remember that some people are doctors and midwives and it is good etiquette in Scotland to make allowances and allow cars to move forward on single track roads.

Loch Lomond road trip to Skye
Loch Lomond road trip to Skye

Blue skies and a bright sun lightened our mood as we snaked our way North on our Skye road trip. Our first stop was at the Ardlui Hotel, which has stunning views across Loch Lomond,  a good size car park and outdoor seating area. Popular with dog walkers and locals.

 

Ardlui Hotel, Loch Lomond
Ardlui Hotel, Loch Lomond. Lou Armor@shutterstock

Loch Lomond is part of the Trossachs National park, which is free and is a fresh water Loch. It is the largest stretch of inland water by surface area in Great Britain. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in water activities or explore the beautiful local walking trails but we wanted to reach Glenfinnan by dinner time so we had to keep moving North after our rather expensive bowls of soup…..

Road to Skye Driving Tips and Car Hire.

If hiring a car to self drive to Skye or for touring the NC500 I would advise you to  hire a small vehicle with a satnav.  The satnav  will work most of the time but occasionally in the more remote locations, it will take you on the wrong route.  I say choose a smaller vehicle as you may struggle to manoeuvre a large car  on some of the single track roads if trying to pass  buses etc. There are plenty of garages to refuel on the way to Skye, every main town has one and there are more than 6 electric car charging points on Skye.  Check out zap-map.com

Skye road trip Scotland
Map reading Skye road trip

I recommend that you buy a UK road map. The bigger maps list caravan and camping sites and advise on routes, road markings and traffic signs which may be unfamiliar to you. They will also illustrate the names of the  mountains you are passing and allow you to plot your route based on the category of road. (Eg. Dual carriageway, A roads, B roads and M for motorway etc.) Looking at a map in the UK, the green coloured roads are good driving roads.
The A82 is an A road, which is known as a primary route. It will be a good driving road to take you from Glasgow to Inverness. (Photo 1). The 2nd photo is from Skye and is an example of a some of the roads that you will experience which are also categorised as A Road but these roads can be single track road with passing points most of the way.  B roads are minor roads connecting villages.  (Details on drink driving laws and mobile phone laws in Scotland at the end of blog post).

Must See on the road to Skye. 

Glencoe is famous for the massacre in 1692 following the Jacobite uprising. Thirty eight members of the clan McDonald were killed by the government forces and between 40-100 men died of exposure.  This makes Glencoe a hauntingly sad place in stark contrast to the majesty and beauty of the area.  There are a few free places to stop and take photo’s and most of the big tourist buses move on after 15/20 mins. It can get real busy in the summer but it is worth trying to park here or at the Visitor centre further along.

We sadly missed the turning for the Glencoe visitor centre but from past experience it is run by the National trust and Members of The Trust have free entrance to the paid exhibition. Many tourists also stop to use the gift shop, toilets, take the woodland walk and grab a cuppa. (The exhibition is optional).

Skye road trip through Glencoe, Scotland
Glencoe, Scotland – Lou armor@shutterstock

Our next destination was the fantastic Eilean Donan Castle which is at the Kyles of Lochalsh on a tidal island, connected by a footbridge. It is often described as the most beautiful castle in Scotland and you can get married here. Sadly, you are not allowed to take any photographs inside.

The castle was a ruin and the ancestors of the MacRae family rebuilt Eilean Donan and opened it to the public. The castle is filled with family heirlooms, hence the “no photo policy”.  There is a well stocked gift shop and cafe and I suggest you park on the right for this view. The walk across is only 5 minutes and you can purchase tickets at the bridge.  All details on the website below and information on their self catering apartments.
eileandonancastle.com

Eilean Donna castle Scotland
Eilean Donnan castle – Lou Armor@shutterstock

The Banqueting Hall is stunning. The rooms are easy to access but the corridors are narrow with stone steps. It can get very busy and at times difficult to pass people. During the summer months the Scottish midge can be a problem and for some reason the Scottish midges seem to object to the Avon cream and it is a popular deterrent. I strongly suggest that if travelling in the months of June-Sept that you purchase some Avon midge repellent.

We stopped here for about 45 mins and then headed off to Fort William en route to Glenfinan on the Shores of Loch Shiel. At Fort William take the A830 to Glenfinan. This was a good road with stunning views across Loch Eil to Glen Garden. This leg takes about 25 mins and the car park at Glenfinan was full and we parked on the hill outside the Catholic church about 2 mins past the car park.

The visitor centre again has toilets, refreshments and gift shop. This centre is run by the National Trust for Scotland. Behind the visitor centre is a short free walk to view the twenty one arch Glenfinan viaduct made famous in the Harry Potter films.

church at Glenfinan monument @shutterstock
church at Glenfinan monument. Lou Armor@shutterstock

The steam train that crosses the bridge is called The Jacobite train, which goes to Mallaig and details can be found on jacobitetrain.com

The wall around the monument tells the story of the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the Royal standard initiating the Jacobite uprising. The walk to the monument is free and the guided tour costs money. You can book the guided tour to climb the  monument at the Glenfinnan visitor centre. www.nts.org.uk

Way behind schedule now we raced on towards the Skye bridge. (My fault for taking so many photographs of the amazing scenery).  Our overnight deluxe stay was at the fabulous Three Chimneys and their small boutique hotel, ‘The House Over By’. The Three chimneys was the UK restaurant of the Year in the Good Food Guide, and I can see why.  This is also where the sat nav goes mad and takes you to the middle of Colbost, when it is nearer to the start of the town.

Three Chimneys restaurant on Skye@shutterstock
Three Chimneys restaurant on Skye@shutterstock

Refreshed and recharged after our stunning 7 course taster dinner and beautiful fresh breakfast, we were ready to take in all the free sights Skye has to offer.  I woke up early to drive to Neist Point Lighthouse.  Like many of the roads on Skye it is pretty badly pot holed and single track with passing points. It does improve for the last 5 mins and there is a free car park just before the walkway.

The walk to the lighouse is described as a 20 min walk. If, like me you have dodgy knees, it may take a bit longer.  The path is steep and uneven but use the hand rail and go at your own pace. The scenery is like another world, its very Jurassic and moody.  Young people and keen walkers will take this walk easily in their stride. Some people just sit here and have a picnic and do not go to the lighthouse. Its your holiday, see how you feel on the day.

Neist Point, road trip to Skye, Scotland
Neist Point, Lou Armor@shutterstock

Next stop was the small but beautiful, Dunvegan Castle.  I was told that the seal trips from here are very good and give amazing views of the castle from the water.   It is quite expensive to visit the castle and for that reason I took my photo’s from further up the coast, looking back.

Back in the car, we followed the A850 to the Fairy Glen in UIG. I was a little confused as to why the Fairy Glen is regarded by many as a Must see location? We were very disappointed.  If heading North on the A87 from Portree turn right on the road just before the Uig Hotel. It is a very difficult road to navigate and there are quite a few blind bends and in all honesty, I would not go back.

It is a series of small hillocks and someone has placed a circle of stones. The locals laughed when we said we were looking for the Fairy Glen! The Fairy pools at Glenbrittle on Skye may be a better option. If you have travelled to this area then pop into the lovely pottery studio at Uig Bay and have a snack at the cafe on the harbour, next to the ferry port, the views are superb. There is also a small brewery here, famous for its Red and Black Cuillin beers.

Fairy Glen free attraction Skye
Fairy Glen free attraction Skye

I would suggest that a drive around the headland to the Quiring IS a Free Must see. This area is famous for dinosaur tracks, which have been discovered the size of car tyres, at Brothers Point or Rubha nam Brathairean. Ref: (Guardiannewspaper).

Kilt Rock, free tourist attraction on Skye, Scotland
Kilt Rock, free tourist attraction on Skye, Scotland

Admire the spectacular scenery and drive on to Kilt rock/Mealt Falls and admire the free waterfalls. Complete the drive and stop off at The Storr. There is parking here and a walk which highlights the wonderful scenery. Listen carefully to the strange sounds which swirl around these mesmerising cliffs.

Most of the places on Skye are driving locations and if you love the outdoors, walking fishing, photography and nature, then this is the place for you. If you are looking for luxury hotels with spa and jacuzzi, then Skye is not for you.

We ended up stopping for a lovely burger at a very cool burger van before heading on to Portree for a late lunch.

Edinburghcitymom road trip to Skye Hebrides Scotland.
Edinburghcitymom Road trip to Skye, Hebrides, Scotland.

This was in April, if you are travelling from May onwards I recommend you pre book restaurants or pubs. There are plenty of places to eat in Portree the main town and the visitor centre is here with a good size car park.

Portree, road trip to Skye
Portree. Lou Armor@shutterstock

Golfing on Skye – Skye is an island and accommodation must be pre booked during the High season. There is a golf course on the island called Sconser and again if you wish to play contact the club and ask about availability.

Accomodation on Skye – Insider tip – There is a Facebook page for accommodation on Skye, which may be useful. Its called skyerooms and a new hostel called Skye basecamp who also hire out bikes from Skye cycles. There are some great reviews and photo here and may be useful for  last minute bookings.

When to Visit Skye on your road trip. Choose your time to visit wisely.  The summer months in Scotland are very busy. The midge season in Scotland starts early June until Sept. Only the female midge bites and midges are most active in the early morning and evening times.

Hillwalkers and fishing fans may wish to buy a protective midge head net. My daughter does a walking award scheme in the highlands and will not hike in the Highlands without her net.

Don’t forget your travel adaptors for the UK.

https://rcm-eu.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=2&p=48&l=ur1&category=ce&banner=0NMM69180HDZTAHXRQG2&f=ifr&linkID=3c8a744a2137f6289eb7ac1198df6097&t=edinburghcity-21&tracking_id=edinburghcity-21

Top Attractions on Skye Road Trip we missed

We did not reach the Talisker Distillery malts.com or the Gardens at Armadale. The former home of the McDonalds, with beautiful woodland walks. 40 acres of gardens surround Armadale Castle. These would definitely be on my list of to do.  I was also recommended the Bella Jane Aqua Explore tours to see Whales, Dolphins, Puffins and basking sharks.
Bellajane.co.uk  

We headed off the island, through the most fabulous scenery, on our way to Torridon, Inverness and Dornoch. Details of this trip will be on my next blog post as it covers part of the NC500, details of this amazing place on my next journey. Watch my road trip video here to inspire and help you plot your scottish bucket list.

Click here: Road Trip must see Scotland

I hope you have enjoyed the first leg of our Scottish Highland tour. The next drive is breath taking. Details of the link at the end of this post.

Dunrobin castle, Golspie Scotland
Dunrobin fairy tale castle in Scotland in village of Golspie.

Skye Bus Tours alternative to a Road trip

If I have completely put you off driving to Skye there are many tours that will take you. These include, The Highland Explorer Tours, The wee red Bus, Haggis Adventures and Rabbies. If travelling by Rail, then take the train to Inverness and on to the Kyles of Lochalsh. For Broadford (south) take the Stagecoach bus and for Portree (main town) take the Citylink bus.  There are fuel stations with shops along the route in most of the towns. The language is in English with Gaelic subtitles. Tourist signs are coloured brown on the roads.

Legal requirements for your road trip to Skye.

The drink driving laws in Scotland are different to England and I recommend that the driver abstains. (The current allowance is 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood). If visiting any whisky distilleries they will bottle your free samples for later.  Seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers in Scotland and only hands free phone are allowed. You will be fined on the spot for using a hand held mobile. You will not always get advanced warning of speed camera’s.

Driving Tip on the Road to Skye – If on a road with passing points it is polite to pull in to the nearest large space. Don’t charge through aggressively. Take these roads slowly and always look ahead to the next passing point.  The person rushing through may be the local midwife or emergency worker. On The isle of Skye some of the livestock are not fenced in, be especially careful if heading to Neist Point.

What to wear? Be prepared for many seasons in one day. Bring a cagoule and warm layers if hiking, good waterproof walking boots are essential. When hiking in the Scottish mountains always carry a small whistle, have a torch and some emergency rations and plenty of fluid in the event of getting lost or needing assistance. The number in Scotland for assistance is 999 or 112.  Scottish insects: To avoid Ticks, cover your legs and tuck your socks into your boots for protection. Full details on dealing with ticks here. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/

If you want to avoid the crowds then September until June are your best months.  In winter the landscape is different, snow capped mountains, orange moss and strange heathers and gorse. It’s the most stunning scenery and worth the drive.

If you are visiting Scotland and do decide to start your trip from Edinburgh via Stirling, which is a motorway route, these are my top 3 must see locations nearby. https://youtu.be/3aBeYhAHyc0

Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.  If you have any other Skye tips, please let me know below. Details for the 2nd leg of my road trip around Scotland can be found here: click on this link – Travel around Scotland part 2.

Film clips available on Pond5 and iStock

lou Armor.

 

This page has amazon affiliate links which earn me some commission. All personal details submitted will remain confidential and not submitted to 3rd parties