This itinerary is suitable for a 5 day Scotland road trip.
Starting from Glasgow, the tour route covers the famous landmarks of Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis, Skye, Eilean Donan, Loch Ness, Culloden, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh.
The Highland Explorer itinerary features a stopover in the pretty Victorian spa resort of Pitlochry. This journey break, between Inverness and Edinburgh, gives you opportunities to explore back roads, castles, standing stones and other hidden places.
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 - 22 December 2023
Approximately 520 miles / 840 Km
4 to 9 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 to the villages around Loch Lomond, so you can choose between staying in the vibrant city, or in a scenic rural location.
Glasgow to Skye -
We start your road trip from Glasgow to the Highlands by guiding you west towards the shores of Loch Lomond. There is a marked change in the scenery when you arrive at the shores of Loch Lomond and you may wish to absorb the Highland landscape by joining a loch cruise.
After driving along the shores of Loch Lomond, we would recommend you schedule a journey break to soak up the atmosphere of a haunted coaching inn that has changed little in the last 300 years.
Continuing the drive north, you enter the wild and timeless landscape of Rannoch Moor on your way to Glen Coe. Of course, Glen Coe is infamous for the Massacre of the MacDonalds, but other grim events took place here and we will guide you to discover some of Glen Coe's other legends.
Fort William is just a short hop from Glen Coe, but we also supply a longer route option that lets you visit Glenfinnan where you might see the Jacobite steam train (April – Oct).
Moving on from Fort William, you come to Loch Lochy where a strange creature has been sighted in its still dark waters. We can’t promise you’ll see a monster, but we can guide you to one of the best viewpoints in Scotland.
On the way 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.
Driving Distance: ~175 miles
Stopover in Skye & Lochalsh area.
Explore Skye - We provide directions for a road trip on Skye that features all the famous scenic landmarks plus Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. However, you really need a full day (preferably more) for sightseeing on Skye.
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, arguably the prettiest village in Scotland. Traveling east, you come to Loch Ness and a choice of routes to Inverness. You can follow the more direct drive past Urquhart Castle and the various “Nessie” attractions, OR you can take a scenic road 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, drink and find live music.
For an extended stay in Inverness, or if you arrive early in the afternoon, we supply some short touring routes that explore;
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Pitlochry -
Whilst everyone else is blindly following the busy main road south, we guide you on a more scenic drive through 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 route are Culloden, Cawdor Castle, the Cairngorm National Park and the Highland Folk Museum. But there is a lot more to be discovered and we give directions for exploring away from the mainstream tourist trail.
The drive ends in the neat Victorian 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.
Driving Distance: ~115 miles
Stopover in Pitlochry / Aberfeldy Area
Pitlochry to Edinburgh -
Two route options are provided for this last leg of your road trip around Scotland:
The longer route takes you west, towards Loch Tay with opportunities to visit standing stones, a whisky distillery and a haunted castle. You then drive through the Trossachs where you can take a small detour for a loch cruise on an old steam yacht. Famous castles covered on this day are Stirling Castle and Doune Castle. You might recognise Doune castle from its appearances in the “Outlander” TV show.
Driving Distance: ~111 miles
The shorter route guides you to Perth via back roads with visits to Dunkeld, a charming 18th century village, and Scone palace, the ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings. From Perth, you speed south to Edinburgh, but can extend the drive with a visit to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had a favourite palace. Falkland village also featured in the filming of "Outlander".
Driving Distance: ~81 miles
Stopover in Edinburgh.
Explore Edinburgh -
Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. We provide directions for three walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city; a walk down the historical Royal Mile, a leafy 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 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.
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!
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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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