I am going to spend 2 weeks in Edinburgh next month and am trying to plan some day trips outside of the city (perhaps to Pitlochry, North Berwick, Stirling, Fife, Bonnyrigg for falconry). I have been looking at the (many) bus web sites but it is terribly confusing (I don't know if they will hit the places I want to go, if it's hop-on or if I need to book ahead of time). I'm starting to think that renting a car for outside the city would be easier because we would have the freedom to go where we want, stop to explore or take pictures, etc without worrying about whether we're getting on the wrong bus, paying fare again when we get back on or wasting time with many stops.
Would you recommend car rentals in the area? We would NOT be attempting to drive around Edinburgh, just into the surrounding areas and countryside. I know driving in the city proper is difficult, but I think car rentals for the small towns and day roadtrips might alleviate some stress.
And if you believe that buses are the better option, can you please shed some light on how it works? There are so many web sites for the different bus providers and different passes that I'm overwhelmed.