We designed this road trip itinerary as a 7 day introduction to Scotland, but it can be adapted to suit tour durations from 6 to 11 days. It guides you clockwise around the country with stopovers in Glasgow, Oban, Skye, Inverness, Pitlochry and Edinburgh.
Each journey leg has a choice of route options so you can follow the popular tourist trails or explore off the beaten track with our alternative routes.
Allow a minimum of 6 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 11+ days
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Approximately 560 miles / 900 Km
6 to 11 Days
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 Oban -
We provide 2 route options for the drive to Oban.
The Shorter route follows the popular tourist trail along the shores of Loch Lomond. This can be a busy road in summer, but we suggest places for journey breaks where you can join a cruise on Loch Lomond, enjoy a drink in a haunted 18th century inn, or walk to the impressive ruins of Kilchurn castle beside the shores of Loch Awe, Scotland’s longest loch.
The alternative Longer route takes you into the Highlands via a short ferry crossing over the Firth of Clyde. We then guide you on a quiet road that meanders through the beautiful scenery of the Argyll Forest Park before arriving at the charming 18th century village of Inveraray, which is well worth exploring. Highlights on this route are the Benmore Botanic Gardens, Inveraray castle and Kilchurn Castle.
~111 miles (plus a ~20 minute ferry crossing)
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.
Stopover in Oban.
Oban to Skye -
You start with a drive north to Loch Leven where you may wish to detour into Glen Coe for a photo of this dark and moody valley.
From Loch Leven to Skye we provide 3 different journey options to get to Skye by either the bridge or the ferry.
Option 1 - The Shortest route to the Skye ferry involves a drive via Fort William and the “Road to the Isles”, which will take you past Glenfinnan and the Silver Sands of Morar. You have a good chance of seeing the Jacobite steam train (Apr – Oct) as the railway closely follows the path of the road.
~87 miles (plus a ~40 minute ferry crossing) – Oban to Mallaig ferry
Option 2 - The Alternative route to the Skye ferry is a longer drive via a road that wanders through the rugged wilderness and native forests of Sunart and Moidart. The scenery in this area is magnificent and it is all the better for the lack of other tourists.
~98 miles (plus a ~40 minute ferry crossing) – Oban to Mallaig ferry
Option 3 - The Skye bridge route has the advantage that you don’t need to plan your day around a ferry timetable, so you might wish to schedule a morning around Fort William and go for a cable car ride, or a short hike in Glen Nevis. Before crossing the Skye Bridge, you can fit in a tour of Eilean Donan castle which is a highlight on this route. We also supply directions for a small detour to one of our favourite viewpoints in Scotland.
~120 miles – Oban to Skye Bridge
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. ~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 in Skye & Lochalsh area
Skye to Inverness -
We provide 2 route options for this journey leg:
The more direct route takes you past Eilean Donan and we give you tips on where to go for a different photo shot of this iconic castle. We also suggest a small detour so that you can visit Plockton, arguably the prettiest village in Scotland. Travelling east, you come to Loch Ness and can choose between a drive past Urquhart Castle and the various “Nessie” attractions, OR a scenic road that passes along the quieter southern side of Loch Ness.
The longer route features some sections of the “North Coast 500” and takes a more northerly path across the Highlands. A scenic highlight of this route is the drive through Glen Torridon where you can see mountains formed from the oldest rocks on earth. On the last leg of the journey, we guide you south to meet the shores of Loch Ness, near Urquhart Castle, before heading into Inverness.
For an extended stay in Inverness, or if you arrive early in the afternoon, we supply a short touring route around the Black Isle where you find pretty villages and dolphin spotting boat trips.
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Pitlochry -
Whilst everyone else is blindly following the busy main road south, we guide you on a scenic journey via the Rothiemurchus forest and 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 battlefield, Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle and the Highland Folk Museum. But there’s even more to be discovered in our guides.
The drive ends in the neat Victorian town of Pitlochry, where you can visit the famous “Salmon Ladder” and a Distillery (or two). Also nearby is the grand Blair castle which boasts its own private army, the Atholl Highlanders.
Stopover in Pitlochry / Aberfeldy Area
Pitlochry to Edinburgh -
Two route options are provided for this drive:
The longer route takes you west, towards Loch Tay with opportunities to visit standing stones, a 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. Fans of “Outlander” should recognise Doune castle from its appearances in the TV show.
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 has all been featured in the filming of the "Outlander" TV show.
Stopover in Edinburgh.
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 verdant 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 has details of the train / bus timetables that you can take for day trips to St Andrews or Stirling.
The guide also includes some options for driving day trips that cover:
Stopover in 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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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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