Last week I set out on a 5-day trip to Scotland, where I visited Edinburgh and Inverness. I had a great time travelling all by myself for the first time, and with the amazing weather last week I managed to catch that true holiday feeling! I now have lots of pictures and good memories, so today I wanted to share with you the highlights of my Scotland trip.
For live images of my Scotland trip, watch my »April video«.
For this trip I travelled to Edinburgh and Inverness, the latter of which I had never visited before. My trip was short and I tried to spend as little money as possible, so I mainly went for activities that were free or low-budget. I am not going to present a full itinerary of my journey, but I will write about the highlights in a chronological order.
Technically this trip lasted five days, but I spent such long hours on buses travelling between places that you can cut off a day or two. Therefore the next part will focus on three days only.
The Outsider restaurant
On my first morning in Edinburgh I signed up for a free tour, figuring it would show me the most culturally significant parts of the city, and it would also be a good opportunity to meet other travellers. This was a great idea because I did indeed meet new people!
After the tour two fellow travellers and I went for lunch at a restaurant called The Outsider, which was delicious! Their menu is a little on the expensive side for dinner, but for lunch this place was absolutely perfect. The three of us all had the hand-made gnocchi and enjoyed it very, very much.
Originally my plan was to go up to Arthur’s Seat, something which unfortunately I couldn’t do when I last visited Edinburgh because I had bruised ribs at the time (it was extremely painful). However, while I was planning this trip, I found that I wasn’t going to have very much time to hike up the big hill.
So instead, my friend Jeffrey recommended Calton Hill. This was a great tip. My (new!) friend Anna and I went up there after lunch and walked around for a bit. Calton Hill offers amazing views over the city and is very easy to reach as it’s right in the city centre – I actually can’t believe I never noticed it when I visited before!
Princes Street Gardens
By the early afternoon I had done a lot of walking already, so as my legs started to grow tired, Anna and I headed down Princes Street for a while and just slowly walked and talked. Eventually we strolled into the Princes Street Gardens, where we found the beautiful Ross Fountain in front of an impressive view of Edinburgh Castle. We got dinner from a food joint in the park and sat in the sun for a while. That was probably the most peaceful moment I had in Edinburgh.
Coach to Inverness
On Monday morning I got on the coach to Inverness, a 3.5 hour ride away from Edinburgh. The main reason I chose to travel by bus was simply because it’s a lot cheaper – but oh my, did this turn out to be a great choice! I travelled with Citylink Gold, a service that gets you there a little faster, and also in much better comfort. But most importantly, I got to see the beautiful Scottish countryside from up close. I don’t think it would have been the same if I’d taken the train. It really was a wonderful journey.
My first exploration of Inverness led me to the Ness Islands a little down the river. Honestly, I think these are made out to be a lot more than they actually are, but it was still quite a lovely sight. It was also the first time I felt sorry I didn’t have a friend with me to take my picture. The Ness Islands are a bunch of islands in the Ness river, connected by cute bridges and decorated with lights and well-placed benches. It is a sweet spot for a moment of rest, without having to get away from convenient city facilities!
For all the book lovers out there: you will ADORE this place! Leakey’s Bookshop is situated in an old church and really has a lot to offer. Think Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (but without the insane opening times and the conspiracies… so really, just a cool bookstore).
I think you can do a good bit of wandering around here, except I didn’t do that much because I couldn’t risk being tempted into buying a whole bunch of books. I enjoyed this place nonetheless. Leakey’s has a wide variety of antique prints on offer too, so there is lots to see.
Loch Ness forest trail
The following day I had Loch Ness scheduled in my calendar. I have to admit – most people go on a tour or a day trip to the lake, which is probably a much better way to explore – but because I wanted to save money, I ventured out on my own and it was probably not as great. Public transport buses only travel there about four times a day and there are huge gaps in the schedule. Waiting two hours for a bus did get a little boring at some point.
However, I still generally enjoyed this trip. My friend Nikki that I’d just met in the hostel recommended taking the forest trail on the right side of the beach. This led to (you guessed it) a peaceful forest, with views over the lake and beautiful sounds of hundreds of birds chirping in the background. It was sublime. The serenity of the forest on my right and the still lake on my left really calmed me down, and I just had a great time all by myself.
Unfortunately I’d forgotten to put my camera battery back into the camera, so I couldn’t take any proper pictures. I tried my best with my phone, though!
PERK Coffee & Doughnuts
In the late afternoon I treated myself to a fresh doughnut at a café called PERK. This place really stands out with its bright yellow accents and cute modern décor. The service and the doughnut were great too, so this certainly made for a lovely sit-down.
Travelling on my own
When I am at home I usually spend a lot of time by myself and, since I am an extrovert, it is not good for me. I have noticed I can become really crabby when I don’t interact with others for a while, so for this trip I was a little worried the same would happen. It didn’t though – travelling by yourself is so very different from sitting at home by yourself. My mind remained at peace while I was on the move, whereas at home I would 100% go crazy.
Though I would prefer having travel buddies in the future, I would definitely not say no to another holiday on my own. All the worries I had about solo travelling, like how I would spend my evenings, completely vanished during this trip. Turns out I can perfectly entertain myself abroad!
Meeting new people
One of the reasons why travelling on my own wasn’t so bad was that I met quite a few new people on the way. Staying in hostels can be really helpful for this – you meet all kinds of travellers from all around the world. It is fun to build up new connections with people abroad because you can share travelling tips, and in the process find guides for places you might visit!
What I would change
There are a few things I would do differently if I did this trip again. For one, I would change my schedule somewhat. I was left with too much time in Inverness, where there isn’t that much to see inside the city, so I got quite bored. I would have preferred to have an extra day in Edinburgh so maybe I could have hiked up Arthur’s Seat or visited the Botanical Gardens.
I stayed in the cheapest hostels possible because I wanted to do this low-budget, but it wasn’t all worth it. On the one hand it was good for meeting new people, but on the other hand I did have to sacrifice a lot of comfort. The hostel in Inverness especially was incredibly gross and basically falling apart. If I were to travel on my own again, I don’t think I would avoid hostels altogether, but I would certainly be a little more critical of what I want and make sure I’m willing to spend more money for comfort.
Scotland has been my favourite country to visit for years and there is still so much left for me to explore. If I got to arrange a proper Scotland trip, I would skip Loch Ness and revisit Loch Lomond instead. I also dream of visiting the Isle of Skye, but that is a trip best worth taking by car. Hopefully I will get to do that in the near future!
More travel tips
If you’re interested in travelling the UK, you might like these posts:
Other than that, I would love to know if you’ve got any travel tips? Please do share!