Best of Scotland West - East

This tour plan gives you our selection of the best things to do in Scotland.

The itinerary features day trips around 5 touring bases; Fort William, Skye, Gairloch, the Cairngorms National Park and Edinburgh.

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

If you are in a hurry, you could drive this route in 5 days, but we recommend you schedule for at least 10 days in Scotland so you can use the day trip options to explore the best of Scotland.

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 West - East

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 20 January 2024

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 626 miles / 1010 Km

Tour Duration:

6 to 21 Days

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Tour Summary

  • Arrive in Glasgow -

    We provide a stopover guide to Glasgow’s main attractions and selected restaurants. The guide also includes directions for a short drive to the villages around Loch Lomond, so you can choose between staying in the vibrant city, or in a scenic rural location.

  • Glasgow to Fort William -

    Heading west from Glasgow, you soon cross into the “Highlands” and there is a marked change in the scenery when you arrive at the shores of Loch Lomond. You may wish to join a loch cruise or soak up the atmosphere of a haunted coaching inn that has changed little in the last 300 years. Further north, you enter the wild and timeless landscape of Rannoch Moor on your way to Glen Coe.

    Fort William is just a short hop from Glen Coe, but we also supply a longer route option that lets you visit Glenfinnan where you might see the steam train as it crosses the viaduct. If you arrive early in Fort Willliam, you may wish to detour into Glen Nevis for a closer view of the mighty Ben Nevis, or take a hike into a hidden valley with a spectacular waterfall that should look familiar to "Harry Potter" fans.

    Driving Distance: ~103 miles

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area (around Fort William)

  • 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 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, cable car rides etc.

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area (around Fort William)

  • Fort William to Skye -

    For the journey to Skye, we have proposed 3 options:

    OPTION 1 goes via an inland route to the Skye bridge, so you don’t need to plan your day around a ferry timetable. The iconic Eilean Donan castle is a highlight on this route and we give you tips on where to go for a different shot of this much photographed castle. We also supply directions for a small detour so you can take pictures at one of the best viewpoints in Scotland.
    Driving Distance: ~77 miles from Fort William to Skye Bridge

    OPTION 2 is the fastest route to Skye and involves a short ferry crossing from Mallaig to the southern end of Skye. To get to Mallaig, you follow the “Road to the Isles” which goes past Glenfinnan and the Silver Sands of Morar, where you find beaches that look almost tropical. The road runs close to the West Coast railway so you are likely to see the Jacobite steam train (AKA “Hogwarts Express”) and may even catch it crossing the famous viaduct.
    Driving Distance: ~43 miles from Fort William to Mallaig ferry plus a ~35 minute ferry crossing

    OPTION 3 provides a more “off track” route to the Mallaig ferry. It is a longer and slower drive via a meandering road through the wilderness and native woodlands of Sunart and Moidart. The scenery in this area is magnificent and it is all the better for the lack of other tourists.
    Driving Distance: ~70 miles from Glencoe to Mallaig ferry plus a ~35 minute ferry crossing

    Stopover in Skye & 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 visit Eilean Donan castle, 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 Bridge to Gairloch -

    We guide you on 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 and the famous botanic gardens at Inverewe. Despite lying further north than Moscow, the mild west coast climate enables all sorts of sub tropical plants to thrive in this Highland oasis.

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

    Driving Distance: ~77 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, horse riding, whale spotting boat trips, 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 feet 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 the Cairngorms -

    The day starts with a very scenic drive back past Loch Maree and we give you directions for a short hike to a great viewpoint above one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland. Our route gives you options to explore picnic spots beside a river where you might get lucky and spot a wild salmon leaping upstream (late summer / autumn).

    On the approach to Inverness, you can either take a direct drive along the Beauly Firth, or follow a longer route via the ancient Caledonian forest of Glen Affric and then down to Loch Ness for a visit to Urquhart Castle and the various “Nessie” attractions.

    After a journey break in Inverness, you pick up the main road for a fast drive down to the Cairngorms National Park where there is a wide range of tourist attractions for all ages and interests.

    Driving Distance: ~104 miles

    Stopover in Cairngorms National Park (Aviemore / Grantown on Spey area)

  • 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 fixed), sheepdog demonstrations and lots of outdoor activities.
    • Loch Ness, we give directions for a full 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 tragically 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 Edinburgh -

    From Aviemore, you can either take the fast main road south to Pitlochry, or follow a more scenic back road route that weaves through the Rothiemurchus forest with options for gentle woodland walks, wild swimming in a plunge pool, or a visit to Ruthven Barracks where the Jacobite army last rallied after Culloden.

    We break the drive south in the neat Victorian Spa town of Pitlochry, where you can visit the famous Salmon Ladder and a Distillery (or two). Also nearby is the grand Blair castle which boasts its own private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

    Continuing from Pitlochry, we guide you to Perth via back roads with visits to Dunkeld, a charming 18th century village, and Scone Palace, the ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings. From Perth, you speed south to Edinburgh, but can extend the drive with a visit to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had a favourite palace. If you are a fan of the "Outlander" TV show, you should recognise some of the streets and buildings in Falkland. 

    Driving Distance: ~127 miles

    Stopover in Edinburgh

  • 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 verdant riverside walk to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life and a more energetic walk to Arthur’s Seat with a good pub at the end.

    Edinburgh boasts a great range of atmospheric old pubs and we steer you to a selection of our favourites.

    The guide also includes options for day trips around the surrounding area by bus or train.

    In case you prefer to do day trips with a car, we supply the following options for driving tours from Edinburgh:

    • 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

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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