Classic Castles

Castles are an intrinsic element of the Scottish experience and this tour plan visits the best castles in Scotland.

We guide you on a castle trail through the centuries; from the ancient hill forts of “Iron Age” Kings to grand country houses that are still occupied by wealthy Dukes.

This is an itinerary packed with ghost stories, romantic legends and atmospheric places where you can touch the past,

Allow a minimum of 7 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 16+ 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.

Classic Castles

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 24 December 2023

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 550 miles / 880 Km

Tour Duration:

7 to 16 Days

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Tour Summary

  • Discover Edinburgh -

    Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. So we provide directions for 3 walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city;

    • a walk down the historical Royal Mile where you can explore pubs, museums and lots of shops selling kilts, whisky and typical tourist tat, 
    • a meandering riverside path to the romantic Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life,
    • a more energetic hike to Arthur’s Seat for a city view followed by the option to continue to an old Inn with lots of history.

    Stopover in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh Day Trips -

    In case you wish to use Edinburgh as a touring base for several nights, we provide details of interesting places that you can visit within, and beyond, the city by using buses & trains.  We also provide a choice of day trips by car that let you explore :

    • East Lothian where you can visit spectacular castle ruins on an exposed cliff top, a whisky distillery, lots of pretty villages and maybe embark on a boat trip 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 a 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.

    Moving on from Stirling, you follow a fast road to Perth where you can discover Huntingtower castle and  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 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 cover the grand Blair castle as well as several lesser-known places such as a deserted Blackhouse village and a stone circle that most tourists miss.

  • 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.

    Along 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.

    From Braemar, you can 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 here.

    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 Inverness -

    We guide you on a route that starts with a climb, via one of the highest passes in Scotland, to cross the open plateau of the Cairngorm Mountains. You then descend to the fertile Spey Valley, which is famous for its plethora of whisky distilleries and we suggest a small detour to experience one of them.

    Traveling north from Speyside, you head towards Culloden Battlefield where the tragedy of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion still echoes from the bleak moorland. There are lots of interesting historical sites in this area and we give you directions to Cawdor Castle rich in legends, the mysterious Clava Cairns and the impressive military stronghold at Fort George.

    The drive can end in Inverness, the bustling "Capital of the Highlands", or you can seek out somewhere more tranquil on the nearby Black Isle.

    Driving Distance ~80 miles

    Stopover in Inverness

  • Day Trips from Inverness -

    Inverness is a great touring base for exploring the Highlands and we supply you with directions for a range of day trips:

    • Black Isle - A short tour of the Black Isle where you can visit a carefully preserved 18th century village and embark on boat trips to see wild dolphins.
    • Moray Coast - A historical tour of Moray with its historical attractions and scenic coastline. This day trip features the highlights of Culloden, Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle and Elgin Cathedral.
    • Glen Affric - A scenic drive into Glen Affric where you can see the last remains of the Ancient Caledonian Forest. This route includes options to explore a Neolithic burial chamber, a forgotten Clan burial ground and a 150 foot high waterfall in a lovely woodland setting.
    • Loch Ness – We guide you past Loch Ness on the drive to Oban, but this day trip does a complete circular tour of the loch with time to take a cruise, visit the “Nessie” exhibitions and wander the ruins of Urquhart castle.
    • Dunrobin Castle - A day trip up the coast to the spectacular Dunrobin Castle, which has all the opulence of a French chateau. From Dunrobin, you can follow a longer return route that includes a visit to a cascade where you might see salmon leaping upstream if you visit during late summer / autumn.

    Stopover in Inverness area

  • Inverness to Oban -

    Today we guide you along the length of the “Great Glen” that runs from Inverness to Fort William. The first section of the drive takes you past the “Nessie” attractions and Urquhart Castle before turning west for a drive through the wilderness of Glen Shiel. After passing below the mountains called the “Five Sisters of Kintail”, you arrive at the shores of Loch Duich where the iconic Eilean Donan castle stands. If you wish to keep the driving time down, you can bypass the journey leg to Eilean Donan.

    From Eilean Donan, we give you the option of a small detour to visit one of the prettiest villages in the Highlands. You may wish to get lunch here before embarking on the next leg which takes you back through Glen Shiel to rejoin the Great Glen.

    If you wish, you can extend the day to include a visit to Glenfinnan, or take a more direct route to allow more time around the Fort William area. After a photo stop at Glen Coe, you pick up a great coastal road that takes you through the lovely scenery of Argyll to your stopover in the Oban area. Oban is a vibrant seaside town with a great choice of seafood restaurants clustered around its harbour.

    Driving Distance:  ~180 miles if visiting Eilean Donan / ~110 miles if Bypassing Eilean Donan

    Stopover in Oban area

  • Oban to Inveraray -

    The route directions guide you along a road that we rate as one of the best scenic drives in Scotland. History fans will enjoy the ancient standing stones and burial chambers of Kilmartin Glen. At the Iron Age remains of Dunadd Fort, you can truly walk in the footsteps of kings when you stand on the “Stone of Fealty” where the monarchs of Dalriada were crowned.

    The second leg of this drive, takes you north along the shores of Loch Fyne to the pretty 18th century village of Inveraray and the ornate Inveraray castle which is home to the Duke of Argyll. If you have the energy, you can follow our directions to a spectacular hilltop viewpoint that overlooks the castle and most of Loch Fyne.

    Driving Distance ~61 miles

    Stopover in Loch Fyne area

  • Inveraray to Glasgow / Edinburgh -

    We provide 2 route options for the drive back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.

    • The shorter route option follows the popular tourist trail along the shores of Loch Lomond. This can be a busy road in summer, but we suggest places for journey breaks where you can enjoy a drink in a haunted 18th century inn, or join a cruise on Loch Lomond. Driving Distance ~65 miles
    • The longer option is a meandering and quieter route via the Argyll Forest Park and Benmore Botanic Gardens. You leave the Highlands by means of a short ferry crossing over the Clyde and then have a drive along the Clyde Coast to arrive in Glasgow. Driving Distance ~72 miles (plus a ~20 minute ferry crossing)

    The day ends in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, with its vibrant night life and strong sense of identity.

    Don’t worry if you need to get back to Edinburgh as it is just a 1 hour / 54 mile drive away.

    Stopover in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

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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.

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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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