This itinerary starts in Inverness and follows a circular driving route that explores the best places to visit in the Scottish Highlands. This road trip features Inverness, Skye, Gairloch and Ullapool, with a choice of day trips from each of these stopover locations.
Allow a minimum of 5 days to drive this tour route.
The guide contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 10 days
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Approximately 410 miles / 660 Km
5 to 10 Days
Arrive in Inverness -
We provide a stopover guide that covers attractions, scenic spots, activities and restaurants in Inverness and the surrounding areas.
Inverness Day Trips – We provide a choice of day trip options from Inverness that cover.
Stopover in Inverness Area
Inverness to Skye -
You start this day with a drive along the shores of Loch Ness where you have oppotunities to take a cruise on the loch and / or a tour of Urquhart Castle. You then turn westwards to the wilderness of Wester Ross and the mountains of Kintail. The route passes the distinctive Eilean Donan castle on the way to the Skye Bridge, but we also include detour suggestions for exploring Iron Age Brochs or taking a photo stop in one of the prettiest villages in Scotland before crossing onto the Isle of Skye.
Stopover on Skye or in 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.
Stopover in Skye & Lochalsh area
Skye to Gairloch -
Today you drive through some of the most magnificent scenery in Scotland and follow sections of the well publicised “North Coast 500”. If you are a confident driver, you may want to follow the “Alternative” route that takes you over the Bealach na Ba pass and around the Applecross Peninsula. There are some great seafood restaurants along this route so allow time for a special lunch.
The drive ends in the Gairloch Area where we have suggested a variety of hikes and outdoor activities, including details of a local fisherman who will take you out on his boat to pull up lobster creels.
~76 miles / 102 miles
Stopover in Gairloch Area
Gairloch to Ullapool -
Inverewe Gardens are near Gairloch and you might wish to start the day with a gentle walk around these lovely gardens where sub-tropical plants thrive.
The drive to Ullapool is only 55 miles, but there are lots of great beaches and viewpoints so you need to schedule time for photo stops and maybe a picnic too. Along the route, you can test your courage by crossing a 200 feet deep gorge on a bouncy little foot bridge.
When you get to Ullapool, you can watch the fishing boat activity in the harbour and then sample the delicious fresh catch in an award winning fish & chip shop. The village is a vibrant place with several good restaurants and range of pubs where you'll find live music and entertainment most nights of the week.
If you wish to extend the day, 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. Stac Pollaidh is a great little mountain to climb and you can do it in around 3 hours, but the final ascent to the true summit is a bit scary and too difficult a scramble for most to attempt.
Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver Area
Ullapool to Inverness -
There are faster routes to Inverness, but we guide you away from the main roads to traverse the Highlands via a more northerly route through Strath Oykel. We supply 2 route options so you can choose between;
The last leg of the tour takes you from the Glenmorangie Distillery to Inverness with detour options to explore a very photogenic lighthouse and a Victorian Spa village where you can still sample the mineral waters.
~100 miles / 117 miles
Stopover in Inverness area
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!
Excellent! We thought the information provided was fantastic and allowed us to see things I am sure we would have missed. Mike was very helpful in sending the itinerary through again for us when we had trouble with our downloads. Would definitely recommend this site. We have been travelling for a number of years and normally would just rely on the internet and books but decided to give this a go. So glad we did.
Secret Scotland is EXCEPTIONAL in providing guidance for itinerary planning and accommodation referrals for those wanting a self guided driving vacation in Scotland.... Simple to use. Thorough in suggesting ‘must see’ venues. Complete - sites, restaurants, pubs and experiences.” That is how I would describe what they do and provide. Exceptional accommodation recommendations. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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!
Secret Scotland's itineraries, accommodations guides, and other resources are incredible value with great attention to detail. Their owners, Mike and Aury, are experienced and honest, and they helped us so much as we attempted to narrow down a very long list of things we hoped to do during our time in Scotland. I feel so much more prepared for our trip and can now just look forward to our approaching vacation!
We have just got back from an EXCELLENT holiday following the Borders to Orkney route suggestions.
We can't say enough about how much the detailed information enhanced our experience in Scotland. We had a wonderful time seeing so many interesting sites that we would have passed by without your guide.
Thank you so much.
These guys really are the best. We used Mike's Flexi Days East to West itinerary last July and it was truly indispensable. His itinerary is full of detail, including driving directions and options. Mike is also very responsive if you have any questions. We had such a wonderful time we are going back again this year, and we will be using his itineraries again for our planning. I would also recommend his accommodations guide.
Just like pictures of Scotland can’t do justice to the magnificence of the actual landscape, words can’t do justice to the brilliance and sheer volume of work you put in your guide. The level of detail provided on each stopover sheet, in all the different itinerary options and on all the B&B features exceeded even my most crazy expectations.
Mike and Aurey from Secret Scotland prepared a fantastic itinerary for us. It was a huge ingredient in the success and huge enjoyment that we got from our trip. It was absolutely worth every penny and there is no way we could have seen so much and so well without their itinerary. We felt like we belonged in Scotland, we knew what we were doing and what it all meant at every step. We recommend their services wholeheartedly. Scotland is such a marvelous place. Thank you Mike and Aurey... and we will be back!