Reflection of the colorfull fall mountains in the lake beneath. Clear blue sky above the mountains.
Road Trips,  Scotland

The Perfect Scotland Road Trip Itinerary in 10 Days

A Scotland road trip starting in Edinburgh is a dream come true. A lot of people dream about visiting Scotland. Seeing the castles, experiencing the Highlands is what most people want. So when someone asks why visit Scotland? Then it’s indeed because of the castles, the cute towns, the lochs, the whisky and the beautiful nature. Even when it’s raining the whole trip, like it was when we visited, it’s still worth it. We drove this road trip back in September of 2008.

Scotland Road Trip

Where should I go on a road trip in Scotland? Well read on to see our itinerary.

Day 1: Arrive at Edinburgh, drive to Callander (100 kilometers/62 miles, almost 2 hours).

Day 2: Visit Stirling Castle, Balloch and Luss.

Day 3: Drive from Callander to Tomintoul (238 kilometers/148 miles, about 3 hours and 15 minutes).

Day 4: Visit Culloden and Loch Ness.

Day 5: Drive from Tomintoul to Melvich (330 kilometers/205 miles, about 5 hours).

Day 6: Drive from Melvich to Ullapool (196 kilometers/122 miles, about 3 and a half hours).

Day 7: Drive from Ullapool to Edinbane (306 kilometers/190 miles, about 5 hours).

Day 8: Explore the Isle of Skye.

Day 9: Drive from Edinbane to Inveraray (317 kilometers/197 miles, about 4 hours and 45 minutes).

Day 10: Drive from Inveraray to Edinburgh Airport (163 kilometers/101 miles, about 2 hours and 10 minutes).

Day to Day Itinerary

Read on to see all the highlights on this road trip around Scotland.

Day 1: Edinburgh

This Scotland road trip starts in Edinburgh and ends there again.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. There’s plenty to see and do in this beautiful medieval city. Most of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. Depending on when your flight arrives you’ll have a whole or half day here. There’s enough to do in Edinburgh for 3 to 4 days. However you’ll only have this one day here.

Edinburgh Castle, partly seen from below the castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh as seen from the castle
Edinburgh as seen from the castle

Don’t miss Edinburgh castle and the Royal Mile. The castle houses the Scottish crown jewels. The Royal Mile is a historical road, that leads you through the middle of Old Town. It connects Edinburgh castle with the Palace of Hollyroodhouse, another top attraction in Edinburgh.

St. Giles Cathedral, a cathedral seen from the front. People standing on the square in front of the cathedral. Overcast sky
St. Giles Cathedral

If you love ghost stories, then don’t miss Auld Reekie. It’s the old city of Edinburgh, that’s now below the new city. We visited St. Giles Cathedral with the Thistle Chapel, which is free to visit. These are just a few of the many things to do in Edinburgh.

At the end of the afternoon drive to Callander, where you’ll stay 2 nights.

Day 2: Stirling Castle + Loch Lomond

Scotland is the land of castles, so don’t be surprised that there’s a second castle on the itinerary already. More will follow.

Stirling Castle, as seen from a bit further away. It perches on top of a rock. Trees and grass in front of it
Stirling Castle
You can see far away from the castle walls, pastures, a town, mountains and a tower covered with clouds, an overcast sky
You can see far away from the castle walls

Stirling castle is situated at the river Forth, at the meeting point between the Lowlands and Highlands. The origins of the castle lie in ancient times. The castle has impressive architecture and imposing position, making it a top attraction in Scotland.

Inside the castle is the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum. This museum tells the story of the regiment. Which is fascinating and rich.

Cosette on the boat on Loch Lomond, Cosette is sitting on a bench, to her right you see half of another person. The lake behind her, and in the back mountains. An overcast sky.
Cosette on the boat on Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond, a still lake, with mountains rising up in the back.
Loch Lomond

From the town of Balloch you can make a scenic boat tour on Loch Lomond. One of the many lakes on Scotland.

Luss, cottages in a row. Overcast sky. The cottages are small and low. With plants in front of them and a street
Luss

Afterwards stroll around Luss, another town situated on Loch Lomond. It has quaint 19th century cottages and a Parish church.

Scenery on Duke's Pass, overcast sky above hills and mountains covered in  green trees
Scenery on Duke’s Pass
Loch Katrine, mountains rising high above it. An overcast sky. Trees covering the mountains
Loch Katrine

On your way back to your hotel take Duke’s Pass scenic drive, that takes you along Loch Katrine.

Day 3: Perth + Pitlochry

St. John's Kirk, overcast sky, the church tower is at the back
St. John’s Kirk

Stop in Perth to admire the St. John’s Kirk, a beautiful church with stained glass windows, or one of the other attractions in this city.

Blair Athol Distillery, the distillery entrance, walls covered in green
Blair Athol Distillery

You can do a bit of shopping in Pitlochry. But that isn’t the main attraction. We had our first visit to a whisky distillery here, and we loved it. The Blair Athol Distillery is situated in Pitlochry. Do a tour and sample the whisky and buy some. That’s at least what we did.

Blair castle, seen from the front/. An all white plastered castle
Blair castle

Then onto Blair Castle & Gardens. Wander through the gardens and visit the castle or admire it’s façade.

When you’re done exploring drive to Tomintoul, where you will stay 2 nights.

Day 4: Culloden + Loch Ness

Culloden, the open grass plain, a path running through it, people walking on it. It's drizziling.
Culloden

Visit Culloden Battlefield, it’s an open field and museum, so take a tour and see the battle come alive.

Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness in the back, the castle are ruins. There are clouds hanging low
Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness in the back

Afterwards try to spot Nessie at Loch Ness. Visit the Loch Ness centre to learn more about Nessie and the lake. Don’t miss the ruins of Urquhart Castle. You’ll have a splendid view on Loch Ness from amidst the ruins.

Day 5: North East Scotland

Tain museum, in a church building, seen from the outside
Tain museum

In Tain there’s the Tain & District museum, a small museum, which is nice to visit. Paul and I are historians and love visiting museums, so skipping a museum rarely happens.

Big Burn Walk, trees with a small river running in between
Big Burn Walk
Dunrobin Castle, seen from a bit further away, looking down, from the front. Overcast sky
Dunrobin Castle

Then on to Golspie to hike the Big Burn Walk, with the Golspie Burn Waterfall & Gorge as a highlight. Another attraction in Golspie is Dunrobin Castle & Gardens. Admire the gardens, visit the museum inside and watch a falconry show.

Clynelish Distillery, seen from the outside, a bit further away, a grass field in front
Clynelish Distillery

Brora has the Clynelish Distillery, which you can tour and taste the delicious whisky.

Duncansby stacks, big rocks jutting out from the see, near a cliff
Duncansby stacks

On Duncansby Head go for a hike and admire the Stacks of Duncansby Head Lighthouse.

Drive to Melvich for your hotel.

Day 6: North West Scotland

Strathy Point Lighthouse, a white plastered lighthouse, with yellow, seen from a bit further away. Stairs leading to the lighthouse
Strathy Point Lighthouse
Kyle of Tongue, the bay with an peninsula right in front of the picture
Kyle of Tongue
The way to Smoo Cave, a bay
The way to Smoo Cave

On this day explore the North of Scotland further. Visit Strathy Point Lighthouse, we always love visiting lighthouses. Admire the Kyle of Tongue. Then make the hike to the waterfall in Smoo Cave.

Just somewhere in the Northwest of Scotland, marsh with a road over it, and a forest behind it
Just somewhere in the Northwest of Scotland
The small boat that took us out on Loch Glencoul, docked on a lake
The small boat that took us out on Loch Glencoul
Seals on the shore, on a moss covered shore in red and green colors
Seals on the shore

After the hike drive to Loch Glencoul, to take a boat tour on the lake to spot seals. You’ll see them and maybe even get to steer the ship, like I got to do. Then drive on and visit the Allt Chranaidh Waterfall. The walk to the falls is short, but challenging. If you love waterfalls as much as I do check out this Iceland itinerary.

Ardvreck Castle, a small ruin on a hilly and grassy cliff on a lake
Ardvreck Castle

The last attraction on the itinerary for day 6 are the Ardvreck Castle ruins. They’re castle ruins in a beautiful spot. It looks desolate and remote.

Drive to Ullapool for your hotel and to end your visit to the North of Scotland.

Day 7: Western Fjords

Falls of Measach, , a waterfall towering down in a small gorge, trees on both sides
Falls of Measach

Start your day with a hike in the Corrieshalloch Gorge to the Falls of Measach.

Little Gruinard, bay seen from above, an overview of the bay, with houses on the other side
Little Gruinard

Then drive to Little Gruinard to admire Gruinard Beach and Bay. Several viewpoints give excellent views on this bay.

Woodland trail view, a lake below, visible between the trees, mountains on the other side and low hanging clouds
Woodland trail view

At Beinn Eighe hike the Woodland trail and visit the Summit of Beinn Eighe.

Eilean Donan Castle, a few rays of sunshine shining down on the lake and the castle. The castle connected to the main land by a bridge
Eilean Donan Castle

At last on this day visit Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most famous castles in Scotland. It’s one of Scotland’s iconic landmarks and well worth your time.

Drive to Edinbane on the Isle of Skye, where we’ll be the next 2 nights.

Day 8: Isle of Skye

Waterfall on the Isle of Skye, falling down a cliff into the sea. A rugged landscape
Waterfall on the Isle of Skye
Skye Museum of Island Life, small houses from before
Skye Museum of Island Life

The Isle of Skye is beautiful and one day is actually not enough. We drove the A87 and A855 and stopped at its many highlights, such as Eas a’ Bhradain (waterfall), Old Man of Storr (a hill with rugged peaks and green grass), Mealt Falls and the Skye Museum of Island Life and Kilmuir Cemetery.

Day 9: Glenfinnan Viaduct + Ben Nevis

Today we say goodbye to the Isle of Skye. There are two very famous attractions on the itinerary today, namely the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Ben Nevis.

The first is a famous train viaduct with a bend in it. It was already famous, but the Harry Potter movies made it even more famous.

Ben Nevis, overcast sky, windy and cold on the summit. Cosette standing in the middle on a paved part
Ben Nevis

The second is the highest mountain in Scotland. Drive partly up the mountain and take a hike for the views.

Day 10: Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle, as seen from the front, the entrance with the square in front. Two turrets are visible on the sides
Inveraray Castle

Visit Inveraray Castle before you drive to Edinburgh Airport. Located just outside Inveraray is this fairytale castle. It’s an 18th century Neo Gothic castle with turrets.

Where to Eat

We had breakfast at our hotel each morning. We had dinner mostly at pubs or at our hotel/inn. Since it was in 2008 I can’t find where we ate back then.

Where to Stay

Since our trip was in 2008, I’ve only been able to find two of the 6 hotels we stayed at. I sadly can’t find the other 4 names of the hotels. We had a mix of hotels, inns and b&b’s.

The first two nights we stayed in Callander. In Tomintoul we stayed 2 nights at The Glenavon Hotel. You can still stay at this simple, but clean hotel. It’s a 1-star hotel.

Then we had one night in Melvich and one near Ullapool. In Edinbane on the Isle of Skye we stayed 2 nights at The Lodge Hotel Edinbane. It’s now called Edinbane Lodge and it has a restaurant. It’s a 5-star hotel.

When to Visit

Our road trip took place in the month of September. We had a lot of rain. Overcast skies and only on our last day we had a beautiful day. On a couple of days we couldn’t go on hikes, since it was pouring down, that was a bummer. We missed out on some beautiful hikes and natural landmarks. However despite the gloomy weather, we loved Scotland. We had the same weather problem on our Switzerland road trip.

Normally June, July and August are the warmest months. May and September usually also still have Summer like weather. However from October till April the weather is unpredictable. Snowfall, freezing temperatures and gale-force winds are not uncommon in those months. The months from September till January are the wettest months. Think 50 percent chance of rain on a daily base.

Hiring a Car and Airport

We hired a car at the Edinburgh Airport. We have excellent experiences with Hertz, Stern and Alamo.

The road trip starts and ends at Edinburgh Airport. It’s an international airport and the largest airport in Scotland.

Tips

Sign when you leave the airport, drive on the left in several languages on a sign
Sign when you leave the airport
  • When wondering which side of the road does Scotland drive on? In Scotland they drive on the left. If you’re used to driving on the right, like us, it takes a while to get used too. For the one driving as well as the one on the passenger seat. So when asking is it easy to drive around Scotland? Yes and no, if you have a car with the steering wheel on the correct side of the car and you’ve had your first roundabout then you’re ready to drive around Scotland.
  • On a Scotland road trip packing list there should be rain gear, such as raincoat and umbrella, you’ll need it.
  • For on the hikes take either rainboots or covers for over your hiking boots and pants with you. The grass was wet almost the whole time on our hikes.

That’s Everything You Need to Know for Your Scotland Road Trip

Enjoy Scotland on a road trip through the highlands!

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17 Comments

  • Anja

    Great post! Edinburgh is so easy to fly to, although the airport is older it’s efficient and has the best local transport and good car hire optons! We are going there ourselves soon, and I am really looking forward to our Scotland trip (we are going to the Western Isles but drive/ferry from Edinburgh)

    • San

      Perfect Itinerary for Travelers. Your Perfect Scotland Road Trip is an absolute masterpiece! The thoughtful route, diverse attractions, and practical tips make it clear you’ve poured genuine passion and expertise into this guide. It’s not just an itinerary; it’s a captivating journey through Scotland’s beauty and culture. Anyone planning a road trip would be fortunate to stumble upon your well-crafted suggestions. Bravo on creating such a comprehensive and inspiring travel resource!

  • Sonia

    We are planning a Scotland trip in August this year. I hope that there is a bit less rain than you experienced in September. We had good luck in May on our last visit.

  • Josy A

    What an epic epic trip!! You may not have had the best weather, but even on misty moody days the Scottish scenery is gorgeous! I love seeing your photos of the Duncansby stacks, Western Fjords and the Isle of Skye – it just keeps getting more beautiful!

  • Annie

    I did one road trip around Scotland, and swore I’d never travel like that again. Of course, back in the early 1980s we didn’t have such easy access to information as we have now, especially via the internet. It does make planning so much simpler especially when it comes to finding places to stay! Anyway, this looks like a pretty good selection of sites, and the only one I’d add is the Falls of Clyde, for both its beautiful scenery and its historic value. Thank you.

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea

    We have been to a few of these placed, but would love to explore Scotland more. I’d especially like to go to the Isle of Skye! Sounds like you had a great adventure!

  • Emily

    Fabulous post! So informative. Scotland’s scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and Edinburgh has been on my cities bucket list for ages. Looks like a road trip is definitely the way to go. Thanks for this!

  • Bri

    Really love those guide!!! We got a lot of these on our 2 week trip for my graduation and I cannot wait to get back to Scotland 🙂

  • Yasser Moosa

    Hey! Your Scotland road trip itinerary is pure wanderlust fuel! From Edinburgh’s historic charm to the rugged beauty of the Highlands, you’ve crafted the ultimate adventure. The detailed day-by-day breakdown is super helpful, and the hidden gems like Eilean Donan Castle add that extra touch of magic. The cozy B&B suggestions are noted for the perfect Scottish experience. Thanks for sharing this fantastic 10-day journey – I’m already mentally packing my bags!

  • Holly Giordani

    I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland and I’ve never known how to see it all and where to start, this guide was SO helpful! Planning to follow this to a T! Thanks!

  • Taylor

    I have been interested in visiting Scotland for a while! The green hills, hiking opportunities, charming cities and towns, and the Scottish Highland cows, haha, all draw me in. This is a great itinerary!

  • Katie

    This is so helpful! Thank you! My parents are going to Scotland in September and I was trying to help find them things to do/see. I know they love “off the beaten” path experiences and hiking. Falls of Measach will be perfect for them

  • Marga

    After reading your post I want to go back! I didn a short trip to Edinburgh and the highlands before but the west fjords look stunning. And the Isle of Skye… wow! Thanks for the inspiration!

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