Warriors & Whisky, Golf & Ghosts, Monsters & Mountains, Haggis and Hairy coos. Scotland is a country that conjures up a host of iconic images and this tour plan lets you experience them all.
We recommend this tour plan for a road trip based on 12 days in Scotland, but there are lots of day trip options so you can extend your itinerary to 2 weeks or longer.
Allow a minimum of 10 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 16+ days
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Guide Updated - 30 November 2023
Approximately 680 miles / 1100 Km
10 to 16 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 leafy riverside path to the tranquil oasis of the Botanic Gardens 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 or bus / train.
The day trips by car take you to:
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Stirling “Wallace & Bruce” -
The driving tour starts with a short hop to Stirling where you can learn about the heroes and events of the famous battles at Bannockburn and Falkirk Bridge. Stirling Castle is, of course, the main attraction and we recommend you allow ~2 hours for the full castle tour.
For the afternoon, we provide directions for visits to the Wallace Monument and Doune Castle, with the option to follow a circular tour through the Trossachs National Park where you could embark on a loch cruise.
Driving Distance: ~37 miles (Edinburgh to Stirling Castle)
Stopover in the Stirling area.
Stirling to St Andrews “Home of Golf” -
Heading east along the foot of the Ochil Hills, the route passes below Castle Campbell which is worth a visit for the commanding views from its rooftop walkway. We then 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”.
On the way to St Andrews, you have a choice of a direct inland route, or a scenic coastal trail via the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife.
You should have time to spend an afternoon taking in the historical sites and charming 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: ~63 miles / ~ 92 miles
Stopover in the St Andrews area.
St Andrews to Pitlochry “Land of Kings” -
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 castle, Glamis!
From Scone to Pitlochry, we suggest a quiet back road route that visits the romantic ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral in a pretty village that has retained most of its 18th century houses. The day ends in the neat Victorian spa town of Pitlochry where you could take a whisky tasting tour at a local distillery, or head to the dam to look for activity in the famous “Salmon ladder”.
If you arrive early in the Pitlochry area, you can follow a short circular tour option which features the grand Blair castle and beautiful Falls of Bruar, as well as less well known places such as a deserted Blackhouse village.
Driving Distance: ~73 miles / ~ 89 miles
Stopover in the Pitlochry / Aberfeldy area.
Pitlochry to Royal Deeside “Castle Country” -
You could start this day with a visit to nearby Blair Castle as the drive to Braemar and Royal Deeside does not take very long. On the way to Braemar, you follow the path of an 18th century military road that was built through Glen Shee to enable the deployment of Redcoat troops into the “Jacobite” heartlands.
From Braemar, 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 here.
Driving Distance: ~56 miles
Stopover in Royal Deeside area
Aberdeenshire Castle and Standing Stones – You can extend your time in Royal Deeside with this day trip option. Aberdeenshire has some of the most interesting and complete castles in Scotland, but it is also home to a large number of stone circles in secluded corners. We guide you on a trail that includes the castles of Crathes, Drum, Fraser & Craigievar, whilst also steering you to discover atmospheric Neolithic sites where time stands still.
Driving Distance: ~70 miles
Royal Deeside to Speyside “Whisky Galore” -
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 “Ghosts & Jacobites” -
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 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.
Driving Distance: ~57 miles
Stopover in Inverness area .
Inverness to Skye “Monsters & Mountains” -
We provide 2 route options for this journey leg:
The longer route takes a more northerly path across the Highlands, but it starts with a visit to Urquhart castle on the shores of Loch Ness. You then join the road that takes you across the Highlands to the mountains of Wester Ross. A scenic highlight of this route is the drive through Glen Torridon where you can see mountains formed from the oldest rocks on earth. This drive includes some sections of the “North Coast 500”.
Driving Distance: ~130 miles
A more direct route that also goes via Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle to pick up the road that takes you west through the wilderness of Glen Shiel to the mountains of Kintail. The route passes the distinctive Eilean Donan castle on the way to the Skye Bridge, but you may wish to fit in a detour to see a very pretty fishing village before crossing into Skye.
Driving Distance: ~80 miles
Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby 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 “In the Movies” -
Today we guide you down the 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.
If taking the Mallaig ferry, you can explore the beautiful beaches of the “Silver Sands of Morar”. Some of the views might seem familiar if you’ve seen the film “Local Hero”. Following the “Road to the Isles” you can visit Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army first rallied in 1745. Of course, most people now come here to see the railway viaduct made famous by the “Harry Potter” films. We also guide you to some less obvious film locations.
Both routes converge near Glen Coe and you may wish to detour into the 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. We list our top recommendations in the guide so you can make reservations for a meal to remember.
Driving Distance (via ferry): ~87 miles (plus a ~40 minute ferry crossing) – Mallaig to Oban
Driving Distance (via bridge): ~120 miles – Skye Bridge to Oban
Stopover in Oban Area.
Oban to Glasgow / Edinburgh -
We provide 2 route options for the drive back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
If heading to Glasgow, you travel down the length of Loch Lomond with opportunities for a loch cruise and a visit to a 300 yr old Inn where you might meet aone of the resident ghosts who has a favourite seat in the bar.
Driving Distances: Direct ~90 miles / Via Glen Coe ~118 miles to Glasgow
If returning to Edinburgh, you drive through the Trossachs National Park with opportunities for a photo stop at the Falls of Dochart and / or a visit to the grave of "Rob Roy". You continue back towards Stirling and then join the motorway for a fast drive back to the Capital.
Driving Distances: Direct ~117 miles / Via Glen Coe ~145 miles to Edinburgh
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...
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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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