Castle Explorer

This tour tells the story of Scotland through its castles. From battered ruins that echo the terror of turbulent times, to the ostentatious stately homes of wealthy Dukes.

The itinerary also includes options for exploring distilleries, stone circles, fishing villages and famous places.

Allow a minimum of 4 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 11+ days

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.

Castle Explorer

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 23 December 2023

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 416 miles / 670 Km

Tour Duration:

4 to 11 Days

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Tour Summary

  • Discover 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 riverside path to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life and a more energetic hike to Arthur’s Seat with the option to continue to a pub with lots of history.

    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.

    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 on a cliff top, a whisky distillery, pretty villages and embark on boat trips to Bass Rock.
    • West Lothian where you can visit Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House and some of the other sites used in the filming of “Outlander”.
    • The Borders and a tour route around the regions many historic Abbeys and grand Country houses. This route also includes the famous Rosslyn Chapel.

    Stopover in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh to Pitlochry via Stirling Castle -

    With its pivotal role in Scotland’s Wars of Independence, Stirling castle has to be featured in this tour plan. On the way to the castle, we guide you via Bannockburn Battlefield where the visitor centre uses clever technology to bring history to life. Travelling north from Stirling, you have a short drive to Perth where you can discover Scone Palace, Scotland’s ancient capital and the sacred crowning place of Kings. A back road route then takes you to Dunkeld cathedral and onto Pitlochry where you could end the day with a distillery tour, a visit to the famous "Salmon Ladder", or a gentle woodland walk in Scotland’s “Big Tree” country.

    Driving Distance: ~109 miles

    Stopover in the Pitlochry / Aberfeldy area.

    Short tours around Pitlochry: If you arrive early, or you wish a longer stay in the Pitlochry area, you will enjoy the 2 short tour options supplied in this guide. These tours feature the grand Blair castle and beautiful Loch Tummel, as well as less obvious places such as a deserted Blackhouse village and a stone circle that is easily missed.

  • Pitlochry to Royal Deeside -

    You could start this day with a visit to nearby Blair Castle as the drive to Braemar and Royal Deeside does not take very long. On the way to Braemar, you follow the path of an 18th century military road that was built through Glen Shee to enable the deployment of Redcoat troops into the “Jacobite” heartlands.

    After a visit to Braemar, you can continue explore the quaint villages, verdant woodlands and wild mountains that Queen Victoria fell in love with. Balmoral castle is one of the attractions that you can visit in this area, but there are many more great castles to be discovered in this region.

    Driving Distance: ~56 miles

    Stopover in Royal Deeside area

  • Royal Deeside Day Trips -

    We give you two day trip options for exploring the region at a leisurely pace.

    • Aberdeenshire Castles and Standing Stones – this area has some of the most interesting and complete castles in Scotland, but it is also home to a large number of stone circles in secluded corners. We guide you on a trail that includes the castles of Crathes, Drum, Fraser & Craigievar. All of these castle have ghost stories and something strange has even been caught on camera at Drum Castle. We can't guarantee you'll find ghosts, but we can guide you to discover hidden stone circles with a sense of time stood still. Driving Distance: ~70 miles
    • Speyside Whisky Trail – Follow a road that climbs over the Cairngorms to reach the famous Speyside region where the landscape is populated with whisky distilleries and names that will be familiar to any lover of Malt Whisky. The route passes several distilleries (e.g. Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Macallan) and we will guide you to the ones with the most interesting tours and generous tasting sessions. Driving Distance: ~115 miles

    Stopover in Royal Deeside area

  • Royal Deeside to St Andrews -

    Travel east to meet the coast at Dunnottar castle which stands on a rocky promontory pounded by the North Sea. The stones of these windswept ruins have seen horrors that you can still sense. From Dunnottar, we guide you on a fast route south to Dundee and the Tay Bridge to Fife. You can break the journey with the suggested detour options which include Glamis Castle, but we must warn you that this is Scotland’s most haunted castle.

    The day ends in St Andrews where there is much more than a golf course to be seen.

    Driving Distance: ~125 miles

    Stopover in St Andrews area

  • St Andrews to Edinburgh -

    We provides 2 sets of route directions:

    • An Inland route which is a much shorter drive to give you time to enjoy the atmosphere of St Andrews where you can visit the Cathedral and the Castle with its unusual feature of a siege tunnel that you can explore.
    • A Scenic Coastal route via the many charming fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife. The quaint houses and narrow lanes of these colourful villages will keep you busy with your camera.

    Both routes include the option to visit the historical Falkland Palace, which was the luxurious country residence of Mary Queen of Scots. The village centre will look familiar to fans of the “Outlander” TV show.

    Driving Distance: ~56 miles / ~85 miles

    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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