Famous for its whisky, dramatic mountain ranges and elusive monsters, Scotland is a great place to explore by car. Whether you’ve got a long weekend to fill or a week away from work, we’ve found a Scottish road trip that will tickle your fancy.
Scotland’s cities are fun for a weekend away, but it’s the in-between that will capture your heart. Towering mountains, delicate glens and staggering coastlines will all conspire to make you fall in love with this Celtic land.
Scotland’s road network is well maintained and covers more than 34,000 miles. Around half of the roads are smaller minor roads that can feel a little narrow at times. The cheapest place to fill up before you head off on your Scottish road trip is just north of Glasgow in East Dunbartonshire.
A Scottish road trip through the highlands
If you’re dreaming of a highland fling, this four-day road trip is just the thing! Starting in Edinburgh, you’ll wind your way west through Stirling to Glencoe, before heading north-east. Make sure to stop at Stirling to take in the historic fortress and then again, just outside of Stirling to explore Doune Castle.
The drive from Stirling to Glencoe takes around two hours, but that doesn’t account for stops to capture the beautiful scenery on film as you move higher into the mountains. On reaching Glencoe, make sure to leave time for a short hike through the Lost Valley before putting your feet up in your comfortable B&B or castle accommodation.
On Day Two of this highland tour, you’ll drive on to Loch Ness and pass the shadow of Ben Nevis – Britain’s tallest mountain. Make time to visit Urquhart or Aldourie Castle – or both – before getting comfortable in Inverness for the evening. You can take a boat from Inverness in the summer months to explore the North Sea. If you do, there’s a chance you’ll be lucky enough to be greeted by dolphins.
Day Three of this Scottish road trip adventure cuts across from Inverness to Aviemore and the northwestern side of the Cairngorms National Park. Ben Macdui sits in the centre of the park offering commanding views of the surrounds from the 1,309 metre peak. Cairngorms National Park spans 4,528 square kilometres, so make some time to stretch your legs to explore.
The final day of the highlands road trip swings down and around the southern boundary of the park. You’ll pass through Killiecrankie where you can stop to bungee jump from a bridge spanning the Killiecrankie Pass! After getting your feet back on terra firma, it’s a two-hour journey to Edinburgh.
The Northern coastline
The famous North Coast 500 is a Scottish road trip known as the country’s answer to America’s Route 66. The iconic driving route begins at Inverness Castle and sweeps around the north tip of Scotland to end in John O’Groats – the northernmost point of the UK.
No directions are necessary, simply stay on the North Coast 500 and stop along the way to explore. The 120-mile journey takes in some of Scotland’s most stunning untouched wildernesses.
Expect dazzling white sand beaches that seem to have never been marred by human footprints, jagged coastline dotted with wet bogs, towering cliffs, and tiny crofting villages.
This two-day Scottish road trip can be extended to seven days by taking it a little easier and looping around the northern end of Scotland, through Durness, Ullapool and back to Inverness. With plenty of stops along the way, of course!
The Isle of Skye
If you are looking for an Instagram-able Scottish road trip, it’s hard to beat the Isle of Skye. The best time to visit this beautiful spot is in late August when most of the tourists are heading back to their daily lives.
You’ll need to give yourself a full five days to make the most of this idyllic gem, although a three-day road trip is also worthwhile. It’s a six-hour drive from Edinburgh to Broadford, the island’s second-largest settlement and where your picturesque journey really begins. Stop for some sustenance and drive on to Portree, or try some sea kayaking, biking or fishing.
Just past Portree is a scenic walk around Old Man of Storr. The track around the rock pinnacle is a great way to stretch your legs after the long drive. Two nearby locations, Kilt Rock and Loch Mealt will give you plenty of images to share on your socials.
After filling your phone with gorgeous snaps, make your way to the northernmost tip of the island, a place called Duntulm Castle. The castle is in ruins and free to wander around.
From Duntulm, sweep down and along the north coast to Dunvegan. You’ll pass by Skye’s Museum of Island Life and a small town named Uig which has a great pub for traditional lunches. You’ll also find the Fairy Glen here and the standing stones of Eyre, both worth stopping to explore.
Dunvegan has a castle that’s home to the MacLeod Clan and a great bakery for some sweet treats. From Dunvegan, head south again through Dun Beag Broch and Talisker and onto Glamaig.
Dun Beag Broch has ruins of an iron age tower that dates back 2000 – 2500 years. Talisker is home to a spectacular bay and a distillery that is open for tours and a wee dram to warm your cockles. Glamaig is the starting point for a tough walk to some of the highest points on Skye that offer amazing views of the whole island.
The Scottish road trip around Skye can be done in just three days, but a more leisurely five days will allow for more stops, walks and exploring along the way. The island has a range of accommodation from youth hostels to more luxurious B&Bs and cute thatched cottages.
If Scotland is a little far for you to venture this year, why not try one of our recommended English road trips instead?