Island Odyssey

This itinerary takes you touring up the West Coast of Scotland with visits to the Hebridean islands of Mull, Skye, Harris & Lewis.

It is an ideal guide if you want to stay several nights on the islands to really experience their history, culture, wildlife and landscapes.

In addition to famous island attractions, such as the Quiraing on Skye and Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis, we give you ideas for day trips to explore the magnificent landscapes of the Inverpollaidh Nature Reserve near Ullapool, and the many outdoor activities of the Cairngorms National Park.

Allow a minimum of 7 days to drive this tour route.
The guide also contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 17+ days .

PLEASE NOTE: The Guides come in the format of PDF files. After payment, you will receive an automated email that enables you to access your Scotland Tour Itinerary.

Island Odyssey

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 21 January 2024

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 573 miles / 920 Km

Tour Duration:

7 to 17 Days

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Tour Summary

  • Arrive in Glasgow -

    We provide a stopover 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 Fort William -

    Heading west from Glasgow, you soon cross into the “Highlands” and there is a marked change in the scenery when you arrive at the shores of Loch Lomond. You may wish to join a loch cruise or soak up the atmosphere of a haunted coaching inn that has changed little in 300 years. Further north, you enter the wild and timeless landscape of Rannoch Moor on your way to Glen Coe.

    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 as it crosses the viaduct. If you arrive early in Fort Willliam, you might wish to detour into Glen Nevis for a closer view of the mighty Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, or take a hike to a hidden valley with a spectacular waterfall which featured in the filming of the "Harry Potter" movies.

    Driving Distance: ~103 miles

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area (around Fort William)

  • Fort William Day Trips -

    we provide a choice of day trips for an extended stay in this area:

    • The Isle of Mull, this can be done as a day trip, or as another island stopover. The trip starts with a drive through the rugged hills of Morvern & Sunart to join a short ferry crossing to Mull. Mull has the distinctive Duart castle, charming village of Tobermory, a small distillery and opportunities for boat trips to Iona & Staffa. The guide gives you enough information on Mull to let you adapt the tour plan for a 2 (or more) night stopover on the island.
    • Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William is the departure point for the "Hogwarts Express" steam train that travels to Mallaig (May – Oct). This is one of the world's great scenic rail journeys and a must for “Harry Potter” fans.

    Stopover in the Lochaber Area (around Fort William)

  • Fort William to Skye -

    For the journey to Skye, we have proposed 3 options:

    OPTION 1 goes via an inland route to the Skye bridge, so you don’t need to plan your day around a ferry schedule. The iconic Eilean Donan castle is a highlight on this route and we give you tips on where to go for a different shot of this much photographed castle. We also supply directions for a small detour so you can visit one of the best viewpoints in Scotland.
    Driving Distance: ~77 miles from Fort William to Skye Bridge

    OPTION 2 is the shortest route to Skye and involves a short ferry crossing from Mallaig to the southern end of Skye. To get to Mallaig, you follow the “Road to the Isles” which goes past Glenfinnan and the tropical looking beaches of the “Silver Sands of Morar". You are likely to see the Jacobite steam train (AKA “Hogwarts Express”) and may even catch it crossing the famous viaduct.
    Driving Distance: ~43 miles from Fort William to Mallaig ferry plus a ~35 minute ferry crossing

    OPTION 3 provides a quieter route to the Mallaig ferry. It is a longer and slower drive via a meandering road through the wilderness and forests of Sunart and Moidart. The scenery in this area is magnificent and it is all the better for the lack of other tourists.
    Driving Distance: ~70 miles from Glencoe to Mallaig ferry plus 2 ferry crossings of ~10 minutes  and ~35 minutes

    Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area

  • Day Trips around Skye & Lochalsh -

    Skye is a large island with many of the places of interest located along dead end single track roads. As a result, you are limited in how much you can cover in a day and you need to schedule at least a 2 night stopover.

    • Explore Skye - We provide directions for a tour that includes the famous scenic landmarks of Skye as well as Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. More than enough to fill 2 whole days on Skye. Driving Distance: ~138 miles
    • Alternative Day Trip around Loch Alsh & Loch Hourn - Skye can be a very busy place so we also provide directions for a tour around this quieter area where you can take in one of our favourite viewpoints, soak up the atmosphere at mysterious Iron Age Brochs, or enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the remotest tearooms in Scotland. You can return to Skye via a tiny car ferry that operates from Easter – October.

    Stopover on Isle of  Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area

  • Skye to Harris -

    The ferry crossing from Skye to Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris, takes around 2 hours and there is never more that 2 sailings per day. You may have to spend most of the day on Skye before heading for an afternoon ferry, or you may need to make an early start in order to catch the morning service. However, the arrival on Harris makes it all worthwhile as this is arguably the most beautiful of the Scottish islands.

    If you arrive early enough, you can start your exploration of the Western Isles with a drive down to the magnificent beaches on the west coast of Harris. It has often been said that the light in Scotland is special and you can appreciate this when you watch the subtle hues of Scarista Bay changing with the weather that rolls in from the wild Atlantic Ocean.

    2hour ferry crossing from Skye to Harris

    Stopover on Lewis & Harris

  • Day Trips around Harris & Lewis -

    You could fill a week with sightseeing in the Western Isles, but you really shouldn’t consider anything less than one full day to do Harris and another full day to do Lewis.

    We will supply you with a detailed guide for touring the attractions of Lewis (e.g. Callanish standing stones, the Iron Age broch at Dun Carloway, the Black House villages, Butt of Lewis lighthouse, and the fantastic scenery of Uig Bay).

    Harris is the most scenic part of the island so we will give you tips on the "must see" viewpoints in this part of the Western Isles 

    We also include some ideas for short trips that you could do from Stornoway (the capital of Lewis).

    Stopover on Lewis & Harris

  • Lewis to Ullapool -

    The ferry times from Lewis are usually painfully early in the morning or just after lunchtime. If you get the early morning ferry, you arrive in Ullapool early enough to start the drive to the next stopover location in the Cairngorms National Park.

    If you aren’t on a tight schedule, it is more enjoyable to take the early afternoon ferry and then spend a night, or two, in the pretty village of Ullapool, which was established in the late 1700’s to capitalise on the abundant herring stocks of Loch Broom. 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 give you tips on the best places to eat. 

    If you wish to plan a longer stay in Ullapool, you can follow our directions for a back road drive to Lochinver that takes you past the distinctive peaks of Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and Canisp. These mountains emerge like rocky icebergs from the wild moorland of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve. This is an area of true wilderness and we recommend some hikes of varying degrees of exertion.

    ~2 hour ferry crossing

    Optional Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver area.

  • Ullapool to the Cairngorms -

    You could drive from Ullapool to Aviemore, in the Cairngorms, in under 2 hours, but we suggest diversions from the main route so you can take in some attractions and hidden beauty spots. On the drive to Inverness, you can test your courage by crossing a bouncy little footbridge over a 200 foot deep gorge, or relax with a picnic beside a river where you might catch a glimpse of wild salmon as they leap upstream.

    On the approach to Inverness, you can either take a direct drive along the Beauly Firth, or follow a longer route via Loch Ness for a visit to Urquhart Castle and the various “Nessie” attractions.

    After a journey break in Inverness, you pick up the main road for a fast drive down to the Cairngorms National Park where there is a wide range of tourist attractions for all ages and interests. For example, if you time your day right, you could fit in a sheepdog demonstration before heading to your accommodation.

    Driving Distance: ~91 miles

    Stopover in Cairngorms National Park (Aviemore / Grantown on Spey area)

  • Day trip around the Cairngorms -

    To give you the option of an extended stay in the Cairngorms, we provide a route around the many attractions of the National Park and the Rothiemurchus forest. The route has options for woodland walks to beautiful lochs, nostalgic steam train rides, a climb up the Cairngorm mountains in a funicular train (if they get it fixed), entertaining sheepdog demonstrations and lots of energetic outdoor activities.

    Stopover in Cairngorms National Park

  • Cairngorms to Edinburgh -

    From Aviemore, you can either take the fast main road south to Pitlochry, or follow a more scenic back road route that weaves through the Rothiemurchus forest with options for gentle woodland walks, wild swimming in a plunge pool and a visit to Ruthven Barracks where the Jacobite army last rallied after Culloden.

    We break the drive south in the neat 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.

    Continuing from Pitlochry, we guide 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 country retreat. The market cross in Falkand might look familiar to you if you are a fan of the "Outlander" TV show.

    Driving Distance: ~127 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 and lots of pretty villages.

    Stopover in Edinburgh

Tour Gallery


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.

Preview Accommodation Guide

Car Hire - How to Save Money

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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