If you only have 4 days in Scotland and want to see the most famous Scottish places, you need this itinerary.
It is a packed tour plan that delivers all the big name attractions; Edinburgh, Stirling Castle, Culloden, Loch Ness, Skye, Eilean Donan, Glen Coe and Loch Lomond.
We would always recommend that you schedule more days for this road trip, but the route can be driven in 3 days.
Allow a minimum of 3 - 4 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 7+ days
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Guide Updated - 5 June 2023
Approximately 530 miles / 850 Km
3 to 7 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 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 car or bus / train.
The day trips from Edinburgh by car take you to West Lothian where you can visit many of the sites used in the filming of “Outlander” and to East Lothian where you can visit spectacular castle ruins, a whisky distillery, pretty villages and maybe embark on a boat trip to see Bass Rock up close.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Inverness -
The road trip starts with a drive that is packed with sightseeing opportunities. The route passes through Stirling, where you can visit the Castle & Wallace Monument, before travelling into Perthshire. North of Perth, you might wish to take a journey break in the village of Dunkeld with its Cathedral ruins and quaint 18th century houses.
From Dunkeld, you have a short drive to the neat Victorian spa resort of Pitlochry where you find the “Salmon Ladder”, two whisky distilleries and the grand Blair Castle. You have a good chance of seeing hairy Highland cows in the grounds of Blair Castle, and a piper plays at regular intervals on the steps of the castle entrance.
After Pitlochry, we provide the choice of a direct route to Inverness, or a scenic driving route via the Rothiemurchus forest. If time allows, you can visit the historical and hauntingly sad battlefield of Culloden Moor.
If you wish to extend your stay in Inverness, we provide directions for a short drive around the Black Isle, where you can find Dolphin spotting cruises.
Driving Distance: ~185 miles
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Skye -
Starting with a drive along the shores of Loch Ness, with options for a loch cruise and visit to Urquhart Castle, you then turn westwards to the wilderness of Wester Ross and the mountains of Kintail. The route passes the distinctive Eilean Donan castle and then we guide you to the Skye Bridge, but you may wish to fit in a detour to see a very pretty fishing village before crossing into Skye.
Explore Skye - We provide directions for an Isle of Skye road trip that includes the famous scenic landmarks of Skye plus Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. However, you really need a full day (preferably more) for sightseeing on Skye.
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
Stopover on Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area
Skye to Edinburgh or Glasgow -
Today’s drive takes you through Glen Shiel, where you might see wild deer, and then rejoins the Great Glen to take you towards Ben Nevis and Fort William. If time allows, you can take a round trip detour to Glenfinnan and maybe see the Jacobite steam train (runs mid April – October) as it crosses the famous viaduct.
Heading south from Fort William, we guide you inland through the dramatic valley of Glen Coe and across the wild empty expanses of Rannoch Moor.
For the last leg of this self drive tour, we provide directions for returning to either Edinburgh or Glasgow. If heading to Glasgow, you travel down the shores of Loch Lomond and may wish to stop for a short cruise on the loch. The return route to Edinburgh takes you through the Trossachs with the opportunity to visit Doune Castle (“Castle Leoch” to “Outlander” fans) & Stirling Castle.
Driving Distance (if going to Glasgow): ~175 miles
Driving Distance (if going to Edinburgh): ~200 miles
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!