I went to lots of the castles (Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart). When I was there in 2004 there was something called Friends of Historic Scotland that you could join and it ended up being cheaper because you then got free admission to lots of the historic sites. So look into that if you intend to tour castles. http://members.historic-scotland.gov...e.aspx?pid=212 We also went to the Falkirk Wheel and took the boat ride to the top and back. From Inverness we rode the bus to Drumnadrochit and toured one of the cheesy Loch Ness Monster attractions You can walk to Urquhart Castle easily from there, and pass a riding school on the way that might offer hacking.
If you are driving from Inverness to Edinburgh, stop to see Glamis Castle. My family went to the island that has Talisker, don't remember the name, and enjoyed the drive over from Inverness. Driving around N. Scotland is just cool, too.
Best time of my life was living a year in St Andrews... and travelling around with just an itty bitty backpack to all these hostels http://scotlandstophostels.com/
Love the highlands, and the Isle of Skye. Aberdeen IMO is also fantastic, love the granite and how the buildings match the sky. I am Scottish, love everything about Scotland. Get off the beaten path and have fun!
My great grandparents came from Scotland and I have always wanted to visit there. I had a Highland Pony, so my recommendation would be to check out the incredible Highland Ponies that are native to Scotland. They are amazing. I hope you will have a great trip.
I, personally, would spend more time in the Highlands. The scenery is stunning, the people are friendly, and there are a lot of castles to look at. When I was there we stayed in B&Bs, and the owners were a great source of info for things worth doing/seeing.
There are a lot of great places mentioned in this thread already. Near Oban are the island of Mull, the island Iona, and the island of Staffa, all of which can be visited on a one day tour - very nice. Skye, of course, if a good destination. My daughter has just been visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow where she attended graduate school. It really is a wonderful place to visit.
My great friend, and fellow horsewoman, is from Scotland and her sister still lives there in Badachro (incredibly gorgeous, I've seen pictures), a small west-coast village. If you decide to go, feel free to PM me and I'll put you in touch with her.
I know it was on the obvious list, but Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world. I spent a month in England / Scotland and had to go to Edinburgh twice, I liked it so much...small enough to be very walk-able, but so much to see...
I am absolutely SMITTEN with Scotland. We've been several times, and the moment I leave I am counting the minutes until I get back.
We have spent most of our time in the Scottish Borders, and also "mid" Scotland, and haven't made it really up to the Highlands yet.
Of course there is no end to castles and exciting places to explore, but my favorite place (so far) is the small town of Peebles, which lies along the River Tweed. It is just so beautiful. There is a walking path along the river that takes you down through a park, past a beautiful castle, down over an old railroad bridge, across it and back up the other side of the river. I've rarely enjoyed myself as much as that simple walk. It is so beautiful. I love it there.
I found that we have enjoyed the places that are a bit less touristy. For instance, I did not enjoy Edinburgh Castle at all -- too commercial and "touristy" feeling. Ditto with Urquart, though we did enjoy a boat ride on Loch Ness (I didn't know the loch was root beer colored!!)
Also, one of my favorite places was Linlithgow Palace. It's in a beautiful location, it's big and really interesting. It also has the most amazing fountain in the courtyard, and I'm certain several Disney characters were formed from that fountain!
Most of the places you visit will be owned by Historic Scotland or the National Trust, but one that is privately owned is Traquair House (in the Borders) and is is a super interesting place to visit. It is the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland and it has a very interesting history, as well as fascinating displays. I just wish they would let me read some of the books in their library! So interesting! It's good for at least half a day of enjoyment. You could visit Linlithgow and Traquair in the same nice, full day, I think.
Another fabulous place, which sort of near Aberdeen (a bit north, I think), is Fraser Castle. The castle is absolutely beautiful, and also has a beautiful walled garden. We went twice last time we were up that way. It was really fun.
Make sure you don't plan every minute, because as you drive around you will find places to see and things to do, and it's nice to have time in your schedule to enjoy the unplanned.
I can't think of a more fun trip to plan, however!!!!
You've gotten plenty of great recommendations. I've been to Scotland 6 times for business and absolutely love it and its people. Just wanted to say - you are going to have a great time no matter what you do!!! Enjoy!!!
If you have the chance, take "the road to the isles" by train.
Glasgow to Fort William to Mallaig (opposite the Isle of Skye). Beautiful, and full of tragic Jacobite history. You can even take a steam train from Ft William to Mallaig, and I believe this route was used in filmong Harry Potter.
Alternatively, the road along Loch Lomond, and then along Loch Tay, to Pitlochry and Perth is also gorgeous.
If you have any interest in Scottish history, it is worth going to Scone Palace, to see the original site of the Stone of Scone (pronounced Scoon), before it was stolen by Edward I. They have a replica there, and the so-called original is in Edinburgh Castle.
If you like to see Castles restored to their full, colorful state, as opposed ot a bunch of gray stones, visit Sterling Castle.
If you like your ruins unimproved, see the Abbey on Inchcolm Island, in the middle of the Firth of Forth. We saw a production of Macbeth there, and it was AMAZING.
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).