7 Days road trip to Scottish Highlands

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We travel to Scotland once a year and it has now become a family ritual . The ritual is established because we fell head over heels in love with Scotland back in 2009. And I doubt there is anyone who has visited Scotland once and never went back.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of queries for sample itinerary/suggestions/recommendations for Scotland travel. So I took this as an opportunity to write a couple of blog post to help people planning their epic road trip to Scotland.

We are a big fan of road trips, and feel self drive makes your journey memorable and gives you more time to explore different places. If you are one of those who stay in Scotland or closer to Scotland border, well I envy you 🙂 For those who stay a bit far like us, let’s get started 🙂

Trip to Scotland include Scottish highlands by default. So if you are driving from far, I will recommend you to break your journey at Edinburgh for couple of days.

  1. Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh:

  1. Edinburgh Castle – Worth a visit and will take half of your day.
  2. Walk on the Royal Mile Road – We have done it several times, and still enjoy this walk exploring different pubs, street shows, restaurants.
  3. Camera Obscura – It is a world of illusions, mirror maze etc and if you are travelling with kids they will enjoy it too.
  4. A stroll in Holyrood park and a gorgeous hike to Arthur Seat giving you panoramic view of Edinburgh.
  5. A small hike via steps to Calton Hill and a gorgeous view of old & new Edinburgh from the top. There is an unfinished monument at the top, a beautiful photo spot.
  6. Dynamic Earth – another interesting attraction to know more about earth and sciences.

2. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Afterwards you can start your journey towards Scottish highlands. Drive to Loch Lomond & The Troassachs National Park and stop over in various villages of the national park. Take a cruise from one of these villages: Luss Village , Balloch or Tarbet.

Even a simple stroll is beautiful & quaint in these villages. To read more, check out our blog post on Luss(Herb) Village Walk, Argyll

3. Inverary, Argyll

This little beautiful coastal town is home to Live Inveraray Jail, Inveraray Castle, Loch and beautiful cottages. You can easily spend a day or two here.

To read more, check out our blog post – Beautiful Inveraray, Argyll

4. Glencoe

Driving in the valleys of Glencoe is awe-inspiring. It is majestically beautiful yet quietly boasting different mountain ranges in it’s vicinity. We can spend weeks here and still not get bored of it. But if you have only a week, stay over a night , go for a hill walk and in night lie down outside for star gazing. Believe me it will not get any more beautiful.

5. Fort Williams

Town of fort Williams is no far from Glencoe and it is home to the highest mountain of the UK – Ben Nevis. If you are fit and up for a hike, do the hike to Ben Nevis. It is challenging but views all the way is a reward to the eyes & soul. More about the hike on this post Hike to Ben Nevis- Britain’s Highest Mountain

Do not worry, those who want to take it a bit easy. You can still get to the top of Nevis Range by visiting Nevis Range Gondola Centre 

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If you have interests in gems, fossils & crystals, a visit to Treasures of Earth will be worth it. May be bookmark it for a rainy Scottish day . More of it on the post Treasures of the Earth

Shout out for Whisky lovers, a must visit to Ben Nevis Distillery, you can take a guided tour and at the end of the tour treat yourself with real Scottish whisky while sitting in Scotland 🙂

6. Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

Not far from Fort Williams is a little hamlet of Glenfinnan.

Shout out for Harry Potter fans, the very famous The Hogwarts Express rides over the Glenfinnan Viaduct Bridge, which is closely visible by a long walk from here or you can see it from far distant from station museum.

Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series. To read more, check out our blog post Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

So this was our list for 7 days in Scotland. You can customize the number of days you would like to spend in each place. Hopefully it gives you an overall idea on what can you do for 7 days in the beautiful highlands.

 

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Iceland Road Trip – Tips on Planning

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What is Iceland for us? Iceland is for us is like entering to into another planet. It is far by the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and I am sure it will always remain no1 on my favourites list. The beautiful landscapes, magnificent mountains, amazing waterfalls and so much more. If you love being around nature, believe me you will not find a perfect setting like this.

So in this post I am going to delve into a bit of tips on planning your trip. If you are coming to Iceland just to visit Reykjavik, then planning is quite straight forward but if you are planning to drive around island then there are few things which you might want to consider or plan well ahead.

When to Visit Iceland

I have visited Iceland in Summers and Winters, and frankly I will not be able to pick my favourite time. It displays a different landscape in both the seasons, and some options for you to choose. Summers will give you the opportunity to see midnight sun as it never really gets dark and winters will show you the amazing Northern Lights. So if you have a bucket list with both of these items, I will suggest to make two trips to Iceland to see the beauty it offers.

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Iceland in Winters

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Iceland in Summers

To give you an idea on weather, here is what I read and saw for myself.

May to June – It is spring time, it will be cold, less crowd, snow still at some places and might be inaccessible as well.

July to August – Summers time, tourist season, pleasant weather and almost all of the country accessible.

September to October – Autumn time, a shoulder time with still pleasant weather and winters coming up. Few parts of the country might start to get accessible only by mountain vehicles and 4wd cars.

November to April – Winters time, snow snow snow and chance to see Northern Lights.

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What Must/Should go in a Packing List

When in Iceland, you could see a lot of variation in weather in a single day. When you went out it might be sunny, but within few hours its heavy rains, strong winds and by evening it could be again calm. So be prepared and bring layers with you to dress up accordingly.

Clothes – You must bring a a thermal vest, rain jacket & water proof trousers, along with a cap and gloves. Rest of the list I will leave for you to decide 🙂

Navigation – It is always helpful to have a Sat-Nav or Tom-Tom with you. Driving in Iceland is easy as there is no complicated road network. But it always added an advantage to your journey, for an instance to look for the nearest gas station or a grocery shop.

Road Map – If possible, get an Iceland road map. Sometimes Sat Nav will try to take you to the shortest route or fastest route via a impassable route or a route fit for only large vehicle. At those times, basic knowledge of ideas will come to great help.

Phones – Download a couple of useful apps on your phone to get to know the weather and road conditions while you are driving across Iceland.

  1. 112 – This is the official app for emergency service in Iceland. With this app, you can send an SMS to Icelandic emergency services while using the GPS location before dialing 112.
  2. Vedur – Best Icelandic weather app. It helped us a lot in planning our day in both of our visits.
  3. Iceland Road Guide – Gives you a very good ideas on the roads in Iceland.

 

Money/Credit Cards – Get some Icelandic currency as well as enable your cards for foreign transactions. If you are out of cash, one can always use a credit card even in remote parts of this island.

Camera Equipment – I am sure you will not forget it, but should go in the list anyways. Carry all your favourite lenses as well as tripod to capture the beauty of the place and bring it with you back home. A pack of extra battery may be 🙂

Where to Stay in Iceland

If you are touring around the island then you will be driving every other day to a new place. Around Reyjkavik , you will not fall short of options. But as you start moving away from the capital, options are a little lesser. But locations of most of the places is awesome. During our stay, we stayed in hotel, hostels as well as Air BnB in some of the awestruck settings.  If you want to stay close to the nature, I will advise you to book well in advance, as accommodations like the ones below does really get booked fast.

  1. Foss Hotel, Nupar Near Skaftafell
  2. Berunes Hostel
  3. Mjonaes Accomodation, Egilsstadir
  4. Akureryi Air BnB options
  5. Hvammstangi Seaside Cottage
  6. Bryggjukafi Hostel or Sima Hostel, Flateryi
  7. A seaside cottage, Talknafjordur

 

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Food/Grocery Shopping & Fuel

Like any other country, Iceland does not fall in the options of restaurants and grocery shop. But eating out everyday on a long trip might burn a hole in your pocket.If you are travelling on budget ( like us ) and having a self catered stay, I have listed out few super market names for your grocery shopping.

  1. Bonus – Cheapest Option
  2. Netto
  3. Kronan

Fuel – No problem in finding a fuel station in Iceland, they accept foreign cards as well as cash. When you are driving away from Reykjavik, be vary of the fact that sometimes the distance between fuel stations can go upto 100KM, so just keep an eye on the fuel tank and keep tanking it up.

Things To Do

Iceland is like Santa’s Christmas Sack which never falls short of options 🙂 There is something for everyone, whether you choose organised tours or self planned trip. And if you love hiking/walking, it will be a paradise for you. Nevertheless, I have mentioned few activites below:

  1. Hiking/Walking
  2. River Rafting
  3. Helicopter Tours
  4. Glacier Hike
  5. Rock Climbing
  6. Cave Tours
  7. Ice Climbing
  8. Horseback Riding
  9. ATV Tours
  10. Northern Lights in Winters

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Beautiful Inveraray, Argyll

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Source- Internet

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During our trip to Scotland, we took an unexpected turn on to the Inveraray, on the way to Oban. On my google search on what to do in Oban- I found a link to Live Inveraray Jail and thought it might be interesting. I told Asho, let’s take a little diversion and check out this place.

It was an accidental visit, and I am glad that happened. As soon as we reached Inverary, my first reaction was “Wow”. Am In a wonderland 🙂 The castle, the loch front, cottages, bridges, everything looked beautiful.

Inveraray is a small town in Argyll and Bute, on the shore of Loch Fyne. Duke of Argyll founded this town, alongside his Inveraray Castle. The town was designed and built by the Edinburgh-born architect Robert Mylne between 1772 and 1800.

Whether you are looking for a day picnic, adventures or just a sun soaked afternoon (rare are such days 🙂 ) near the Loch, it is definitely a place to be. Quaint and quiet in its own way. Breath-taking views sweeping across a wide landscapes & seascapes, it is a treat to eyes.

Few pictures from the trip, taken on my iPhone so might come dark at few places. We had a good day, a mixture of thick clouds and few sunny intervals. I am glad it did not rain 🙂

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Koh Samui,Thailand- Guest Post

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This is a post from my friend- Kimberly, who does not blog, but she chose my blog to share her travel tale of Bangkok-Thailand visit.

My Visit To Koh Samui, Thailand

My first impression of Thailand was a stop-over at Bangkok Airport and Thai food… The first was a bit frightening and the second one was overwhelming… I must say the saying ‘a straight path to men’s heart is through his stomach’ in this case proved to be right, Thai food is still my favourite food. Then I decided to have a proper holiday in Thailand, and it was a holiday of my dreams, I booked a villa and flew to Koh Samui for a week. It was a like living in a Paradiseor as close to it as it can be.

I flew to Bangkok International Airport for like 13 hours, and arrived at a busy Terminal fool of shops and bright colors, especially yellow, red and green. Lots of Buddhist souvenirs and really gentle, smiling people and that could be a main epithet I would use for Thailand and Thai people: smiling and friendly. Today when we are a lot more familiar with their spiritual tradition we know why, Buddhism is proving to be a ‘way of life’ for a modern inhabitant of this planet. Further hour or so I spent on a plane flying to Koh Samui and felt like going to the oasis that will help me recharge my ‘batteries’. You may find this funny but it really did so.

The taxi ride to my hotel didn’t last long, 20 minutes or so, but when I got out and went to the reception I felt ‘at home’. It was made all out of wood with lots of plants and incense sticks burning giving the place such relaxing atmosphere. The receptionist was a beautiful Thai girl with the flower in her hair and the most welcoming smile on her face, I bet she is going to live until she is 100 year old! And then the path to my bungalow surrounded by palm trees and shrubbery the greenest of the specter. Finally my room with a beautiful big, again wooden bed and ‘white chocolate’ linen with matching thick towels, I refreshed at that point.

It was still light at 8pm so I decided to go to the pool which was quiet and illuminated at the bottom. Around the pool were scattered cushy and comfortable chairs with small mahogany wood tables and scented candles burning inside the burners. The whole ambience was enriched with the sound of water falling, there was an artificial waterfall built within the pool. I know it might sound like a cliché but “living in a paradise” really described the scene, at that point I made a decision to move to Koh Samui. All I needed to do is find a place like this simply coz I couldn’t live in a hotel permanently.

For the rest of my stay I read about 4 books I brought with me, one of them was Dalai Lama’s interview, I ate only Thai food prepared ‘wok style’ with lots and lots of seafood, I drank lots of mango juice and spent most of my time on the beach. Well must admit I did a bit of shopping went to the local market where the local produce and souvenirs can be purchased, and hand dyed batik fabric garments were really beautiful so I bought quite a few of those as presents for my friends.

The trip back home was somewhat sad but plans for another trip to Koh Samui were in their embryonic stage at that flight back to Europe

Koh Samui - an exotic beach

The colorful Bangkok

The amazing nature of Koh Samui