This week long tour plan visits the iconic places that embody the essence of Scotland. Some of the famous places covered in this itinerary are Edinburgh castle, St Andrews, Blair castle, Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, Eilean Donan castle, the Isle of Skye, Glen Coe and Loch Lomond.
Allow a minimum of 7 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 669 miles / 1077 Km
7 to 11 Days
Discover 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 path to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life 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, bus or 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 cliff top castle ruins, a whisky distillery, pretty villages and embark on boat trips to Bass Rock.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Pitlochry via St Andrews -
Heading north from Edinburgh, you cross into Fife via the impressive new Queensferry bridge. On the way to St Andrews, we guide you to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had her favourite palace.
You then have a choice of a direct inland route to St Andrews that allows more time for exploring the town, or a scenic coastal trail via the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife.
We would suggest that you stay in St Andrews for lunch and our guide suggests some good restaurants in the town. Moving on, you follow a fast route to Perth where you could stop for a visit to Scone Palace before continuing via back roads to the 1700’s conservation village of Dunkeld which is just a short drive from Pitlochry.
The journey concludes in the pretty Victorian Spa town of Pitlochry where you could end the day with a distillery tour or walk to the famous "Salmon Ladder" at Pitlochry dam..
Short tours around Pitlochry: If you wish a longer stay in the Pitlochry area, you will enjoy the 2 short tour options supplied in this guide. These tours feature the grand Blair castle and the beautiful Loch Tummel, as well as some less well known places such as a deserted Blackhouse village and a stone circle that is easily missed.
Stopover in the Pitlochry / Aberfeldy area.
Pitlochry to Inverness -
Whilst everyone else is blindly following the busy main road north to Inverness, we guide you on a more scenic journey via the Rothiemurchus forest and the Cairngorms National Park. You might like to pack a picnic as this is a day where we’ll show you lots of idyllic places to relax beside a loch or river. The main tourist attractions on this route are the Highland Folk Museum, Strathspey Steam Railway, Cawdor Castle, Clava Cairns and Culloden battlefield. But our guide will show you that there is much more to be experienced.
You can extend your stay in Inverness with our directions for a short day trip around the Black Isle, where you can find historical villages and Dolphin spotting cruises.
Stopover in Inverness Area.
Inverness to Skye -
We provide a direct route 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.
Before arriving on Skye, we give you the options of a detour to a stunning mountain viewpoint, or a small diversion to visit a very pretty fishing village where you can enjoy a drink in the beer garden of a lochside pub.
Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area
Explore Skye -
We provide directions for a tour of the island that includes the famous scenic landmarks of Skye plus Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. However, you really need a full day (preferably more) for sightseeing on Skye.
Alternative Day Trip around Loch Alsh & Loch Hourn -
Skye can be a very busy place so we also provide directions for a tour around a 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 and most charming little tearooms in Scotland. If staying on Skye, you can return to the island via a tiny car ferry, but it only operates from Easter – October.
Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area
Skye to Oban -
We guide you down the spectacular 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 Morar coast where the white sands can look Tropical on sunny days. Following the “Road to the Isles”, you travel via Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army first rallied in 1745. Nowadays, most people come to Glenfinnan to see the railway viaduct featured in the “Harry Potter” movies, but 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 lively fishing town of 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.
~87 miles – Mallaig ferry to Oban (plus a ~40 minute ferry crossing)
~120 miles – Skye Bridge to Oban
Stopover in Oban Area.
Oban to Glasgow / Edinburgh -
We provide 3 route options for the drive back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
1. The Glencoe Route - There are more direct routes for returning to Glasgow, but it would be a shame to miss the drive through Glen Coe with its dramatic scenery and tragic history of the massacre of the MacDonalds. After Glen Coe, you cross the wild and timeless expanse of Rannoch Moor on your way back to Loch Lomond. For the last leg of the tour, we supply a choice of routes so you can either travel the length of Loch Lomond or take a longer drive that passes through the heart of the Trossachs via Loch Katrine and Aberfoyle.
~118 miles to Glasgow
2. The Direct route option guides you inland past Loch Awe, Scotland longest loch, and then southwards along the shores of Loch Lomond. Along the route you can visit Kilchurn Castle, take a cruise on Loch Lomond and sample the atmosphere of a 300yr old coaching inn that claims to have several ghosts.
~89 miles to Glasgow
3. The Alternative route option takes you via the pretty 18th century village of Inveraray where you may wish to visit the Duke of Argyll’s ornate castle. Travelling onwards from Inveraray, you follow a quiet road via the Argyll Forest Park. where you could stop at Benmore Botanic Gardens before taking a short ferry crossing over the Clyde to get to Glasgow.
~111 miles (plus a ~20 minute ferry crossing) to Glasgow
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.
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