Ideally, you should give yourself longer to drive this route and we suggest several day trip options for exploring Edinburgh and the Highlands at a slower pace.
This itinerary follows a similar route to the Express Explorer, but with the addition of a stopover in the Pitlochry area. The extra stopover allows alternative route options, additional attractions and a more relaxed pace of travel from Edinburgh to Inverness.
Allow a minimum of 4 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 9+ days
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Guide Updated - 1 October 2022
Approximately 520 miles / 840 Km
4 to 9 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 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.
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 distillery, pretty villages and embark on boat trips to Bass Rock.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Pitlochry -
Two route options are provided for this drive:
The longer route takes you west, via Stirling castle, and then into the Trossachs National Park. Fans of “Outlander” can stop to explore Doune Castle (“Castle Leoch” in the TV show), and further along the route we guide you to some quiet stone circles where you can try to travel through time. After a photo stop at the “Falls of Dochart”, you travel along the shores of Loch Tay towards Aberfeldy and Pitlochry. Both of these villages have distilleries so you may wish to end the day with a whisky tour.
Driving Distance: ~111 miles
The shorter route allows you time to spend a full afternoon in Pitlochry. Heading north from Edinburgh, you cross the Forth estuary with views of the famous Forth Rail Bridge. You then speed north to Perth, but can extend the drive with a visit to the pretty village of Falkland where you can explore its Royal Palace and walk the same corridors of Mary Queen of Scots. Falkland village has also starred as a film location in the "Outlander" TV show. From Perth to Pitlochry, we suggest a back road route that visits the ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings and the romantic ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral.
Driving Distance: ~81 miles
Short Road Trips around Pitlochry: If you arrive early in Pitlochry, or wish to stay for several nights, you will enjoy the 2 short touring options supplied in this guide. These tours cover the grand Blair castle and Loch Tummel as well as some lesser known places such as a deserted Blackhouse village.
Stopover in Pitlochry / Aberfeldy Area.
Pitlochry to Inverness -
Whilst everyone else is blindly following the busy main road north to Inverness, we guide you on a more scenic journey via the Rothiemurchus forest in the Cairngorms National Park. Pack a picnic as this is a day where we’ll show you lots of idyllic places to chill out beside a loch or river.
The main tourist attractions on this driving route are the Highland Folk Museum, Cawdor Castle, Clava Cairns, and Culloden battlefield. But there is even more to be discovered in our guides.
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
You can extend your stay in Inverness with our directions for a short day trip around the Black Isle, where you can find historical villages and Dolphin spotting cruises.
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Skye -
Starting with a drive along the shores of Loch Ness towards Urquhart Castle (where you may wish to join a loch cruise), you then turn westwards to the wilderness of Wester Ross and the mountains of Kintail. The route passes the distinctive Eilean Donan castle on the way to the Skye Bridge, but you may wish to include a detour to see one of Scotland’s prettiest villages before crossing into Skye.
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
Explore Skye - We provide directions for a road trip around Skye that includes all the famous scenic landmarks. The guide also gives you lots of suggestions for wet weather activities and you can spend a day exploring Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and a variety of walks. Please note that you really need a full day (preferably more) on Skye.
Stopover on Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area
Skye to Edinburgh or Glasgow -
Today’s drive takes you back through Glen Shiel, site of a tragic Jacobite defeat in 1719, and then joins the Great Glen which you follow south towards Ben Nevis and Fort William. If time allows, you can take a detour to Glenfinnan and maybe see the Jacobite steam train along the way.
Heading south from Fort William, we guide you inland through the dramatic scenery of Glen Coe and across the wild timeless expanses of Rannoch Moor. For the last leg of this road trip, 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.
Driving Distance: ~175 miles (if going to Glasgow)
The return route to Edinburgh takes you through the Trossachs with the opportunity to visit Doune Castle & Stirling Castle.
Driving Distance: ~200 miles (if going to Edinburgh)
Stopover in Edinburgh or Glasgow & 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.
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