This 3 day Scotland itinerary is designed to give first-time visitors a taste of what Scotland has to offer.
It is a packed tour plan for a road trip 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 try to allow more time for seeing Scotland, but this itinerary will show you the famous sights in 3 – 4 days.
Allow a minimum of 3 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 - 4 November 2021
Approximately 530 miles / 850 Km
3 to 7 Days
Arrive in Glasgow -
We provide a sightseeing guide to Glasgow’s main attractions and recommended restaurants. The guide also includes directions for a short drive west from Glasgow to Loch Lomond, so you can choose between staying in the vibrant city, or in a scenic rural location in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.
Stopover in Glasgow / Loch Lomond Area
Glasgow to Skye -
On the first leg of this 3 day tour from Glasgow, you drive west to the shores of Loch Lomond where you cross the geological boundary that delineates the start of the “Highlands”.
When you get to Loch Lomond, you may wish to join a loch cruise, or take a journey break at a haunted coaching inn that has changed little in the last 300 years. Heading north, you enter the wild and barren landscape of Rannoch Moor on your way to Glen Coe.
After Glen Coe, it is just a short hop to Fort William, but we also supply a longer route option that lets you visit Glenfinnan where you can see the viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter movies.
From Fort William, you travel past Ben Nevis and through the Great Glen where sightings of a strange creature have been seen in Loch Lochy. We can’t promise any monster sightings, but we will give you the option of a detour to one of the best viewpoints in Scotland.
On the drive to the Skye bridge, you pass the iconic Eilean Donan castle and we will give you tips on where to go for a good photo.
Explore Skye - We provide directions for a road trip around the Isle of Skye 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: ~175 miles
Stopover in Skye & Lochalsh area
Skye to Inverness -
This is a relatively short drive so you can spend a morning exploring Skye, or leave early and spend the afternoon exploring around Loch Ness and Inverness.
The drive to Inverness takes you back past Eilean Donan castle, but we also suggest a small detour so that you can visit Plockton, which is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. Travelling east, you come to Loch Ness and a choice of routes to Inverness. You can either follow the more direct road past Urquhart Castle and the various “Nessie” attractions, OR you can follow an arguably more scenic drive that passes along the quieter southern side of Loch Ness.
The day ends in the vibrant town of Inverness, “Capital of the Highlands”. Our guide gives you recommendations on where to eat and where to find live music.
For an extended stay in Inverness, or if you arrive early in the afternoon, we supply some short touring routes by car that explore;
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Edinburgh -
This is a route that is packed with sightseeing opportunities.
For the first journey leg, from Inverness to Pitlochry, we supply the option of a direct route, or a longer scenic drive that travels via Grantown on Spey and the Rothiemurchus Forest. Both routes include the option of a visit to the historical battlefield of Culloden Moor.
We recommend you take a break from the driving and schedule a stop at the quaint Victorian Spa town of Pitlochry where you can visit the Salmon Ladder and a Whisky Distillery (or two). Also nearby is the grand Blair castle which boasts its own private army, the Atholl Highlanders, and is a good place to see hairy Highland coos.
The second journey leg takes you to Stirling, where you can visit the Castle & Wallace Monument, before joining the motorway for a fast drive to Edinburgh.
Driving Distance: ~185 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 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 some options for day trips around the surrounding area by car or bus / train.
The driving day trips from Edinburgh 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 some spectacular castle ruins, a distillery, pretty villages and embark on boat trips to see the Bass Rock.
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!
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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!