For anyone contemplating a solo trip abroad, allow me to recommend Ireland and Scotland. It was my first solo trip and it was super easy to do! Both Ireland and Scotland are very tourist friendly countries, and there was no language barrier (one of the reasons I chose them since I didn’t want to have to navigate the language on my own). Keep reading to see how the trip went and what I did in each country!
I’m happy to report that my packing list was a success! I used my packing hacks to fit everything into my carryon and backpack and wore everything but one item; plus I was super comfortable (not too hot or cold).
Days 1 and 2: Edinburgh
I flew to Edinburgh via Condor business class (my attending upgrade). Immediately upon dropping my stuff off, I went to get food and drinks (it happened to be my birthday). My hotel, Stay Central, was in a great location…just a couple of streets over from the Royal Mile (where Edinburgh castle is). I booked online through their site directly and got a free welcome bottle of champagne!
In Edinburgh, I walked the entirety of the Royal Mile, saw the castle, hiked through Holyrood Park up to Arthur’s seat (a lookout point), and then wandered over to the Princess gardens and saw Scott Monument.
Some shopping (whiskey flavored fudge and tea!) and then a tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience. I’m not a scotch or whiskey person, but I tried it there and I gotta say…it was delicious.
Made new friends while walking around!
Edinburgh restaurants I recommend–>Hula, The Table, Wanderlust Café, Brunch, Biddy Mulligans
Day 3: Glasgow
Stayed at the Z hotel. Wandered through George Square, shopping on Buchanan street (spent waaaay too much money), took the subway to Byres road to see the Botanic gardens and walked the river walk, roamed around the Kelvingrove Art and History Museum and Gallery of Modern Art.
Glasgow restaurants I recommend–>Jamie’s (as in Jamie Oliver of 15-minute meals and Hello Fresh), Willow Tea Room, Grill on the Corner
Travel between Ireland and Scotland
Given that Ireland and Scotland are so close to each other, and many people will see both in one trip, there are several options available for you to go from one to the other. I flew, but you can also take the train or drive. In addition, some tour companies will provide transportation between Ireland and Scotland and include sightseeing in both countries as part of a package deal.
Day 4: Dublin
Stayed at the Harding Hotel. Dublin is super easy to see all in one day. Just around the corner was the Temple Bar neighborhood, on to Grafton Street, St. Patrick’s green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral. All of these are located in a circle, with my hotel at the top of that circle. Visited the Guinness Storehouse! By far the best Guinness I’ve had. Ever.
Day 5: Cliffs of Moher
Took a day trip via bus (about a 3-hour drive) to the Cliffs and Galway city. I booked this ahead of time through Viator. The cliffs are beautiful and very scenic. On the way to Galway, however, there was an issue with traffic. The huge charter buses only fit one at a time on the narrow country roads. We got stuck in a situation where there were two and we were trying to pass each other without causing an accident. As a result, there was a delay in getting to Galway and then we barely had time there. From what I did see though, the city is adorable and understandably famous amongst travelers.
Dublin restaurants–> Accents café, Quay restaurant in temple bar
Traveling alone can teach you a lot about yourself, how you travel, what you prefer, and really makes you immerse yourself in the country you’re visiting. Ireland and Scotland were two super easy countries to visit and learn from. I’m so happy I chose them for my first solo trip experience abroad. To round it off, here are some words of wisdom I found on the trip: