Europe Trip Planning

Scotland and Ireland Trip Planning

In Our Scotland and Ireland Adventure I explained how our Spring Break trip came about. After the initial booking, different questions formed our planning:

Where can we stay?
The B&B options available that week would start to narrow down where we could stay. We needed to wait for about a week for the vouchers to arrive. We were concerned about having enough time to book, but we needn’t have worried. In Scotland, we made our choices through Circle Hotels. We had a great pick of nice places without having to “upgrade” to a higher level. We were able to ask questions before we booked and did so via e-mail.

In Ireland, we used a website to book and again had no issues.  In each country we stayed at 2 different B&Bs. Confirming our selections was easy and painless. In both countries there were way more options than we had anticipated, so this didn’t help us narrow down our locations. This brought us to the next question…

What do we want to see and do?

Since our lodging options allowed us to stay anywhere in the country, the next step was to decide what we wanted to see and do. Sport and Bean’s only requirement was to have tea. Again, this didn’t help us narrow it down.

In Scotland, my husband found the Scotland Explorer Pass. We purchased a three day family pass that included admission to 77 attractions, including fast track admission to Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle. Total cost was 62 pounds. We had three or four sites on our list to visit, but ended up only making it to the two castles. Even so, we saved over buying admission individually. It was also nice to skip the ticket line!

With 77 sites, the Explorer Pass was not helping us narrow it down further. However, we put these on our “to-do” list:
Stirling Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Inchmahome Priory
Dumbarton Castle

Not on the pass but still added to the itinerary were Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and  the National Gallery of Scotland.

With three and a half days in Scotland, this doesn’t sound like much. Although we didn’t make it to Inchmahome Priory (we went twice but they weren’t running tours due to weather) and Dumbarton Castle (seemed too far once we got into our day), we had other great finds that made for very full days.

For Ireland, our best bet seemed to be to stay somewhat close to Dublin. A deeper tour would have to wait for a longer trip. We had only two full days. Also, we were landing on Good Friday. It seemed much would be closed that day, so our only plan for Friday night was to land and find our B&B and a place to eat.

We had some great recommendations from a friend with Irish experience. On our site-seeing list:

Wicklow National Park/Sally Gap
The Viking Tour
Eat in an Irish pub
Easter Mass
Malahide Castle

How are we fitting it all in?

Once we mapped out our sites, it was easy to pinpoint the B&Bs with a combination of location and recommendation. Our Scotland B&B picks were Ta Nigh Crich in Lochearnhead and Pearl View in Edinburgh. In Ireland, we selected Mount Usher View in County Wicklow and Hillview House in County Dublin.

A lot of trip planning for a trip that the week before we worried about even taking place (more on that later). In the end, the debating and deciding was more than worth it. We had a wonderful time and were able to squeeze in some unplanned adventures that were highlights of the trip.

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