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.
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Guide Updated - 20 January 2024
Approximately 645 miles / 1040 Km
6 to 21 Days
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
I convinced my other half to get the Scenic Tour 4-5 Days guide (even though he very much wanted to do it all himself), and it was the best experience ever. In fact, ever since this trip, we're trying to re-create the experience. Of course, Scotland can hardly let anyone down, but this guide truly made it an adventure. We found so many hidden and not so hidden gems, and everything was perfectly laid out for us so that all we had to do was decide how much time we had and what we wanted to see next. I can't recommend it enough and wish more guides like this existed!
Excellent! We thought the information provided was fantastic and allowed us to see things I am sure we would have missed. Mike was very helpful in sending the itinerary through again for us when we had trouble with our downloads. Would definitely recommend this site. We have been travelling for a number of years and normally would just rely on the internet and books but decided to give this a go. So glad we did.
Secret Scotland is EXCEPTIONAL in providing guidance for itinerary planning and accommodation referrals for those wanting a self guided driving vacation in Scotland.... Simple to use. Thorough in suggesting ‘must see’ venues. Complete - sites, restaurants, pubs and experiences.” That is how I would describe what they do and provide. Exceptional accommodation recommendations. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
The itinerary Secret Scotland provided was a trip saver. We loved the suggestions for sight seeing, eating, and places to stay, but the best part was the detailed driving directions. Driving on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car was a little easier without having to worry about how to get there! We will definitely use this service the next time we visit Scotland!
Secret Scotland's itineraries, accommodations guides, and other resources are incredible value with great attention to detail. Their owners, Mike and Aury, are experienced and honest, and they helped us so much as we attempted to narrow down a very long list of things we hoped to do during our time in Scotland. I feel so much more prepared for our trip and can now just look forward to our approaching vacation!
We have just got back from an EXCELLENT holiday following the Borders to Orkney route suggestions.
We can't say enough about how much the detailed information enhanced our experience in Scotland. We had a wonderful time seeing so many interesting sites that we would have passed by without your guide.
Thank you so much.
These guys really are the best. We used Mike's Flexi Days East to West itinerary last July and it was truly indispensable. His itinerary is full of detail, including driving directions and options. Mike is also very responsive if you have any questions. We had such a wonderful time we are going back again this year, and we will be using his itineraries again for our planning. I would also recommend his accommodations guide.
Just like pictures of Scotland can’t do justice to the magnificence of the actual landscape, words can’t do justice to the brilliance and sheer volume of work you put in your guide. The level of detail provided on each stopover sheet, in all the different itinerary options and on all the B&B features exceeded even my most crazy expectations.
Mike and Aurey from Secret Scotland prepared a fantastic itinerary for us. It was a huge ingredient in the success and huge enjoyment that we got from our trip. It was absolutely worth every penny and there is no way we could have seen so much and so well without their itinerary. We felt like we belonged in Scotland, we knew what we were doing and what it all meant at every step. We recommend their services wholeheartedly. Scotland is such a marvelous place. Thank you Mike and Aurey... and we will be back!