Best of Scotland East - West

This tour gives a great introduction to the Best of Scotland with a mix of experiences that capture the highlights of the Nation.

It works well as a Scotland itinerary for 10 days at a relaxed pace with lots of different day trip options.

The itinerary features day trips around 5 touring bases; Edinburgh, Cairngorms, North West Highlands, Skye and Fort William.

We give you lots of day trip options for different experiences that let you adapt the tour plan to your interests and schedule.

Allow a minimum of 5 days to drive this tour route.
The guide also contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 3 weeks.

PLEASE NOTE: The Guides come in the format of PDF files. After payment, you will receive an automated email that enables you to access your Scotland Tour Itinerary.

Best of Scotland East - West

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 20 January 2024

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 645 miles / 1040 Km

Tour Duration:

6 to 21 Days

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Tour Summary

  • Explore Edinburgh -

    Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. We provide directions for 3 walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city; a walk down the historical Royal Mile, a leafy riverside path to the tranquil city oasis of the Royal Botanic Gardens and a more energetic hike to Arthur’s Seat with the option to continue to a pub with lots of history.

    The guide also includes options for day trips around the surrounding area by bus or train, as well as day trip options by car (see below for these).

    Stopover in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh Day Trips -

    Continue to explore Edinburgh, or head out of the city with a choice of driving day trips that cover:

    • East Lothian where you can visit some spectacular castle ruins, a whisky distillery, pretty villages and maybe embark on a boat trip around Bass Rock.
    • West Lothian where you can see places that have featured in “Outlander” (e.g. Linlithgow Palace, Blackness castle, Midhope castle and Hopetoun house).
    • The Borders and a tour route around the regions many Abbeys and grand country houses. This day trip also features the famous Rosslyn Chapel.
    • St Andrews , where there is much more than a golf course to discover.  We also guide you to explore the photogenic fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife.

    Stopover in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh to Cairngorms National Park -

    This is a route that is packed with sightseeing opportunities. From Edinburgh, you take a fast route north to Perth, where you might wish to explore Scone Palace, the ancient crowning place of Scotland’s kings.

    Heading north from Perth, you might wish to pause to explore the charming 18th century village of Dunkeld with its ancient cathedral on the banks of the River Tay. Another good place for a journey break is the neat Victorian spa resort of Pitlochry where you find the famous "Salmon Ladder", 2 distilleries and the grand Blair Castle.

    After Pitlochry, you can visit the highest distillery in Scotland, or explore the Highland Folk Museum. The museum will appeal to “Outlander” fans who should recognise the reconstruction of a 1700’s crofting village from its appearances in the TV show.

    The day ends in the Cairngorms National Park where we can guide you to a wide variety of attractions that cater for all interests and ages.

    Driving Distance: ~127 miles

    Stopover in Cairngorms National Park

  • Cairngorm Day Trips -

    we provide you with the following day trip options:

    • Discover the Cairngorms, a route around the many attractions of the Cairngorms. We guide you via the beautiful back roads of the Rothiemurchus forest. The route has options for woodland walks, steam train rides, a climb up the Cairngorm mountains in a funicular train (if they get it fxed), sheepdog demonstrations and lots of outdoor activities.
    • Loch Ness, we give directions for a loop around the famous Loch. You have options to explore lesser known places on the southern shore as well as the famous Urquhart Castle and “Nessie” attractions. 
    • Culloden Battlefield and Moray Coast, Culloden Battlefield marked the end of 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and is still a moving place to visit. On a brighter note, this day trip also features Cawdor castle, Fort George, Elgin Cathedral and some of the prettiest villages (and pubs) of the Moray Coast. A specialist distillery tour is also an option.
    • Speyside Whisky Trail, The River Spey runs through the Cairngorms National Park and this day trip closely follows the course of the river. You have options to visit famous Speyside distilleries such as Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Macallan and some that are less familiar names.

    Stopover in Cairngorms National Park

  • Cairngorms to Gairloch -

    We suggest a fast road to Inverness and then a route that meanders westwards via Loch Ness and the main “Nessie” attractions. Along the route, you can stop at a Victorian Spa village to sample the mineral waters, cross a set of rapids on a bouncy wire bridge, picnic by the shores of our favourite loch and explore some of the best beaches in Scotland. Your day ends in Mike’s favourite place, Gairloch, which is surrounded by the lovely mountain scenery of Wester Ross.

    The guide gives you directions to find a cozy waterside inn with a restaurant where you dine whilst enjoying beautiful sunsets.

    Driving Distance: ~123 miles

    Stopover in the Gairloch / Laide area

  • Gairloch Day trips -

    Gairloch is arguably one of the most beautiful corners of Scotland for beaches and wilderness scenery. We propose a choice of day trips with a relaxed pace.

    • Taking it Easy, Our suggestions for a relaxed day of scenic walks, whale watching boat trips, horse riding, exploring beaches, or visiting the famous Inverewe Botanic Gardens, where sub tropical plants thrive in the mild climate created by a sheltered bay and the Gulf Stream’s warmth.
    • Gone Fishing, The guide supplies details of how to contact a local fisherman to arrange a trip on his boat. You can help him pull up lobster pots and learn about the history of the area from someone whose family has lived here for three centuries.
    • Day Trip to Ullapool and Inverpolly, Heading up the North West coast to the active fishing village of Ullapool. Along the route you can explore some great beaches and test your courage by crossing a 200 foot deep gorge on a bouncy little foot bridge. You can watch the fishing boat activity in Ullapool harbour and then sample the fresh catch in an award winning fish & chip shop. If you want to extend the day, you can follow our directions for a tour around the dramatic mountains and moorland of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve.

    Stopover in the Gairloch / Laide Area

  • Gairloch to Skye -

    We suggest a route through scenery that we think is the best in Scotland, Glen Torridon! If you really want to explore away from the “beaten track”, you can follow an alternative longer route around the remote Applecross Peninsula using a road that was only completed in 1975. The drive includes a visit to the very pretty village of Plockton where we’d recommend you pause to enjoy a drink in a seafront beer garden with a great view. We also provide directions to get to Skye and the iconic Eilean Donan castle.

    Driving Distance: ~77 miles

    Stopover in Skye or Lochalsh area

  • Day Trips around Skye & Lochalsh -

    Skye is a large island with many of the places of interest located along dead end single track roads. As a result, you are limited in how much you can cover in a day and you need to schedule at least a 2 night stopover.

    • Explore Skye - We provide directions for a tour that includes the famous scenic landmarks of Skye as well as Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. More than enough to fill 2 whole days on Skye. Driving Distance: ~138 miles
    • Alternative Day Trip around Loch Alsh & Loch Hourn - Skye can be a very busy place so we also provide directions for a tour around this quieter area where you can take in one of our favourite viewpoints, soak up the atmosphere at mysterious Iron Age Brochs, or enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the remotest tearooms in Scotland. You can return to Skye via a tiny car ferry that operates from Easter – October.

    Stopover in Skye & Lochalsh area

  • Skye to Fort William -

    For the journey to the Fort William / Glen Coe area, we have proposed 2 options:

    OPTION 1 takes you past Eilean Donan castle and through the wilderness of Glen Shiel.  You then follow the Great Glen to Ben Nevis which towers over Fort William. The directions include the option of a detour to visit some timeless Iron Age brochs, but you may prefer to schedule time in Fort William for a cable car ride up a mountain, or a short hike to see the valley where they filmed “Harry Potter’s” Quidditch tournaments.

    Driving Distance: ~77 miles (Skye Bridge to Fort William)

    OPTION 2 involves a drive along the attractive Sleat Peninsula on Skye to then take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. From Mallaig, you follow the “Road to the Isles” through a landscape that is steeped in the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie. You are likely to see the Jacobite steam train (AKA “Hogwarts Express”) and may even catch it crossing the famous viaduct at Glenfinnan.

    Driving Distance: ~55 miles (Mallaig to Fort William) plus a 40 minute ferry crossing from Skye

    If you arrive early in Fort William, you can extend the day with a drive down to the infamous Glen Coe. We also give you directions to find our favourite seafood restaurant.

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area

  • Fort William Day Trips -

    we provide a choice of day trips with varied themes of interest:

    • Day trip to Oban & Standing Stones, head south down the Argyll coast to the busy harbour town of Oban with its distillery and great choice of seafood restaurants. You can choose between wildlife spotting boat trips, a drive to the standing stones of Kilmartin Glen or a longer drive that takes you via Loch Fyne and the lovely old town of Inveraray with its ornate castle.
    • Day trip to the Isle of Mull, the trip starts with a drive through the rugged hills of Morvern & Sunart to join a short ferry crossing to Mull. Mull has distinctive castles, charming villages, a small distillery, wildlife and opportunities for boat trips to Iona & Staffa.
    • Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William is the departure point for the "Hogwarts Express" steam train that travels to Mallaig (April – October). This is one of the world's great scenic rail journeys and a must for “Harry Potter” fans.
    • Day trip to Mallaig via wild Moidart, This day trip takes you through one of the least populated corners of Scotland. You can explore great picnic spots, find a haunted castle and walk along the “Silver Sands of Morar”. This part of Scotland is rich with historical connections to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 Rebellion.
    • Get Active!, Fort William has the title of the “Outdoor Capital of Scotland”. The guide gives you details of options for mountain biking, white water sports, hill-walking, rock climbing etc.

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area

  • Fort William to Edinburgh / Glasgow -

    Heading south from Fort William, we guide you through the dramatic scenery of Glen Coe and across the wild timeless expanses of Rannoch Moor to the village of Crianlarich.

    Crianlarich translates from the Gaelic for “Low Pass”, and it stands at the junction where the roads to Glasgow and Edinburgh divide.

    If going to Glasgow, you travel along the length of Loch Lomond and can stop for a drink in a haunted 18th century inn, or join a cruise on the Loch.

    Driving Distance: ~103 miles to Glasgow 

    If returning to Edinburgh you could schedule journey breaks at Doune castle and Stirling castle. Fans of the "Outlander" TV show will recognise Doune Castle as it was the film location for "Castle Leoch".

    Driving Distance: ~130 miles to Edinburgh

    Stopover in Edinburgh or Glasgow or Loch Lomond Area.

Tour Gallery


To help you book the best places to stay, we offer a guide to Recommended Accommodation along the route of this tour.

We personally visit all the accommodation featured in the guides and only select places where we would wish to stay ourselves. Read More...

When you "Checkout", you will have the option to buy the Accommodation Guide.

Preview Accommodation Guide

Car Hire - How to Save Money

When you buy a Secret Scotland Tour Itinerary you will receive a Discount Code that gets you a 10% reduction on the cost of Car Hire from Arnold Clark Rental.

Simply use the Secret Scotland code when you book via the Arnold Clark website and your car hire discount will automatically apply.


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