Castles are an intrinsic element of the Scottish experience and this tour plan visits the best castles in Scotland. We guide you on a journey through the centuries; from the ancient hill forts of “Iron Age” Kings to grand country houses that are still occupied by wealthy Dukes.
Allow a minimum of 7 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 16+ days
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Approximately 550 miles / 880 Km
7 to 16 Days
Discover Edinburgh -
Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. So we provide directions for 3 walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city;
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Day Trips -
In case you wish to use Edinburgh as a touring base for several nights, we provide details of interesting places that you can visit within, and beyond, the city by using buses & trains. We also provide a choice of day trips by car that let you explore :
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Pitlochry via Stirling Castle -
With a pivotal role in Scotland’s Wars of Independence, Stirling castle has to be featured in this tour plan. On the way to the castle, we guide you via Bannockburn Battlefield where the visitor centre uses clever technology to bring history to life. Speeding on from Stirling, you follow a fast road to Perth where you can discover Huntingtower castle and Scone Palace, Scotland’s ancient capital and the sacred crowning place of Kings. A back road route then takes you to Dunkeld cathedral and onto Pitlochry where you could end the day with a distillery tour or a gentle woodland walk in Scotland’s “Big Tree” country.
Stopover in the Pitlochry / Aberfeldy area.
Short tours around Pitlochry: If you arrive early, or you wish a longer stay in the Pitlochry area, you will enjoy the 2 short tour options supplied in this guide. These tours cover the grand Blair castle as well as several lesser known places such as a deserted Blackhouse village and a stone circle that most tourists miss.
Pitlochry to Royal Deeside -
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.
Stopover in Royal Deeside area
Royal Deeside Day Trips -
We give you two day trip options for exploring the region at a leisurely pace.
Stopover in Royal Deeside area
Royal Deeside to Inverness -
We guide you on a route that starts with a climb, via one of the highest passes in Scotland, to cross the open plateau of the Cairngorm Mountains. You then descend to the fertile Spey Valley, which is famous for its plethora of whisky distilleries and we suggest a small detour to experience one of them.
Traveling north from Speyside, you head towards Culloden Battlefield where the tragedy of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion still echoes from the bleak moorland. There are lots of interesting historical sites in this area and we give you directions to Cawdor Castle rich in legends, the mysterious Clava Cairns and the impressive military stronghold at Fort George.
The drive can end in Inverness, the bustling "Capital of the Highlands", or you can seek out somewhere more tranquil on the nearby Black Isle.
Stopover in Inverness
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 Oban -
Today we guide you along the length of the “Great Glen” that runs from Inverness to Fort William. The first section of the drive takes you past the “Nessie” attractions and Urquhart Castle before turning west for a drive through the wilderness of Glen Shiel. After passing below the mountains called the “Five Sisters of Kintail”, you arrive at the shores of Loch Duich where the iconic Eilean Donan castle stands. If you wish to keep the driving time down, you can bypass the journey leg to Eilean Donan.
From Eilean Donan, we give you the option of a small detour to visit one of the prettiest villages in the Highlands. You may wish to get lunch here before embarking on the next leg which takes you back through Glen Shiel to rejoin the Great Glen.
If you wish, you can extend the day to include a visit to Glenfinnan, or take a more direct route to allow more time around the Fort William area. After a photo stop at Glen Coe, you pick up a great coastal road that takes you through the lovely scenery of Argyll to your stopover in the Oban area. Oban is a vibrant seaside town with a great choice of seafood restaurants clustered around its harbour.
~180 miles if visiting Eilean Donan / ~110 miles if Bypassing Eilean Donan
Stopover in Oban area
Oban to Inveraray -
The route directions guide 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 truly 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 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.
Stopover in Loch Fyne area
Inveraray to Glasgow / Edinburgh -
We provide 2 route options for the drive back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
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 away.
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!
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