With so many beautiful landscapes, it’s a challenge to pick one place as the best in Scotland, but with this itinerary, we aim to show you some of our favourite spots.
The tour is a mix of pretty villages, rugged mountains, wild moorland, romantic castles, sandy beaches, and rolling farmland.
We recommend you schedule this Scotland itinerary over 14 days, but it could be condensed to 10 days.
Allow a minimum of 10 days to drive this tour route.
The guide also contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 19+ days
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Guide Updated - 6 January 2023
Approximately 842 miles / 1355 Km
10 to 19 Days
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 leafy 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 an old Inn with lots of history.
The guide also includes options for day trips around the surrounding area by car, bus or train.
The day trips 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 some spectacular castle ruins, a whisky distillery, and lots of pretty villages.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to St Andrews -
Heading north from Edinburgh, you cross into Fife via the impressive new Queensferry bridge and catch a glimpse of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge along the way.
To get to St Andrews, we guide you to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had her favourite palace. Falkland village has also featured in the filming of “Outlander”.
You then have a choice of a direct inland route to St Andrews, or a scenic coastal trail via the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk.
You should have time to spend an afternoon taking in the historical sites and quaint streets of St Andrews. You may even have enough time to squeeze in a game of Golf and our guide suggests some of our favourite pubs for enjoying a drink at the "19th Hole".
Driving Distance: ~56 miles / ~ 85 miles if going via Coastal route
Stopover in the St Andrews area.
St Andrews to Royal Deeside -
The first leg of this drive takes you from St Andrews to Scone Palace, where Scotland’s Kings were crowned on the “Stone of Destiny”. For this route section we provide a choice of a direct drive via Dundee and Perth, or a longer route that takes you to Scotland’s most haunted place, Glamis Castle!
On the drive from Scone to Braemar, you follow the path of an 18th century military road that was built through Glen Shee to ease the deployment of Redcoat troops into the rebellious “Jacobite” territories around Braemar.
In Royal Deeside 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.
Driving Distance: ~101 miles / ~ 120 miles if going via Glamis Castle
Stopover in Royal Deeside area
Royal Deeside to Speyside -
Today you traverse the Cairngorm mountains via one of the highest roads in Scotland. It is not far to drive so you have time to fit in some Speyside distillery visits. The famous distilleries along this route are Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Aberlour and Macallan, but we include directions for exploring many more.
If you want a break from whisky tastings, you may enjoy a visit to Elgin with its magnificent cathedral and cashmere mill. We also give you tips on the best bars for continuing your whisky sampling into the evening.
Driving Distance: ~52 miles
Stopover in Craigellachie / Elgin area
Speyside to Inverness -
A short drive via the Moray coast with options to mix whisky with history. You can explore Cawdor Castle with its curious legends, the spooky burial tombs at Clava Cairns, the imposing defences of Fort George and the windswept battlefield of Culloden Moor, where you can still sense the tragedy of 1746.
The day ends in lively Inverness, the "Capital of the Highlands", or the quieter villages of the nearby Black Isle.
If you visit the Black Isle, we can tell you where to find a bar with over 200 "expressions" of Malt whisky on offer, including some incredibly rare bottlings. If whisky isn't your thing, then you might prefer to explore the charming 18th century village of Cromarty, or take a boat trip to meet the local wild dolphins.
Driving Distance: ~57 miles
Stopover in Inverness area
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:
Stopover in Inverness area
Inverness to Ullapool -
We suggest a fast road that takes you from Inverness to Ullapool with opportunities to stop at dramatic waterfalls before arriving in Ullapool for lunch. Ullapool was established in the late 1700’s to capitalise on the abundant herring stocks of Loch Broom. The bountiful days are past, but Ullapool is still home to a fishing fleet so the catch doesn’t take long to get from the sea to your plate and we’ll tell you the best places to eat.
The drive to Ullapool does not take long so you can schedule time to explore around the dramatic peaks and quiet roads of the nearby Inverpollaidh Nature Reserve. You can choose to end your trip in the Lochinver area or return to Ullapool for an evening in some of the village’s lively pubs.
Driving Distance: ~58 miles
Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver area
Ullapool to Skye -
Heading south from Ullapool, you follow a great scenic road along the Wester Ross coastline where there are beautiful sandy bays and the celebrated botanic gardens at Inverewe.
After the village of Gairloch, you come to the shores of Loch Maree and enter the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve. This is Mike’s favourite part of Scotland and we guide you to some great viewpoints, picnic spots and short hikes.
Leaving Loch Maree, you pass through Glen Torridon and discover a landscape that rates amongst the most beautiful in Scotland. The drive also includes a visit to the very pretty village of Plockton where we’d suggest you pause to enjoy a drink in a waterfront beer garden with an amazing view. Plockton to the Skye bridge is just a short drive, but you may prefer to stay on the mainland near to the iconic Eilean Donan castle.
Driving Distance: ~134 miles
Stopover in Skye & Lochalsh area
Day Trip Options around Skye -
we provide touring suggestions for an extended stay in this area:
Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area
Skye to Oban -
Today we guide you down the spectacular west coast to the lively town of Oban. We would recommend leaving Skye on the Mallaig ferry, but also provide you with directions for taking an inland route via the Skye bridge and Great Glen.
If taking the Mallaig ferry, you can explore the beautiful beaches of the “Silver Sands of Morar” which look Tropical on sunny days. Following the “Road to the Isles”, you arrive at Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army of Jacobites first rallied in 1745. Of course, most people now come here to see the steam train and the railway viaduct made famous by the “Harry Potter” films. We also guide you to some less obvious film locations.
The bridge and ferry routes converge near Glen Coe and you may wish to detour into this famous glen for a photo stop before starting on the last journey leg down the Argyll coast. This is an area with a rich history and our guide gives details of some of its infamous characters and events.
The day ends in the Oban where there is a great choice of seafood restaurants clustered aroun the harbour. We list our top recommendations in the guide so you can make reservations for a meal to remember.
Driving Distance via ferry: ~87 miles (Mallaig ferry to Oban) plus a ~40 minute ferry crossing
Driving Distance via bridge: ~120 miles (Skye Bridge to Oban)
Stopover in Oban Area.
Oban Day Trips -
Using Oban as a touring base, you can do day trips to:
Stopover in Oban Area.
Oban to Inveraray -
This route guides 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 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 still 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. And If you don’t feel energetic, you can spend a leisurely afternoon in nearby museums, gardens, restaurants, pubs, or even a micro-brewery.
Driving Distance: ~61 miles
Stopover in Loch Fyne area
Inveraray to Glasgow / Edinburgh -
We provide a choice of route options for ending the tour in either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
The shorter route options follow the popular tourist trail along the shores of Loch Lomond. This can be a busy road in summer, but you can take a break from the driving to enjoy a join a cruise on Loch Lomond before arriving in Glasgow (~65 miles to Glasgow). If returning to Edinburgh, you can make a small detour to include a visit to Stirling Castle before joining the motorway for the last leg of the trip back to the Capital (~118 miles to Edinburgh).
The alternative route is a meandering and quieter road 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. ~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 from Glasgow.
Stopover in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
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.
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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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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.
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