If you mix Green rolling hills, beautiful meadows, castles and breathtaking cliffs and glaze that with delicious whisky then you have got Scotland. In summer of 2016, we did an amazing 10-day road trip through Scotland. The trip included Edinburgh, Isle of Skye, Oban and Glasgow. Let me inspire you to take a trip to this magical country that includes amazing hikes, castle hopping, distillery trotting, and delicious food.
We flew into Edinburgh airport, picked up our rental car and headed to our airbnb for a good night rest, to recover from the long flight. For hassle free travel, we had booked our car in advance from hotwire.
- Day 1: Arrive in Edinburg – Historic City Center
- Day 2 & 3: Exploring Edinburgh
- Day 4: Perthshire & Pitlochry
- Day 5: Glenfiddich Distillery, Urquhart Castle & Eilean Donan Castle
- Day 6 &7: Isle of Skye; out and about in fairy land
- Day 8: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Ben Nevis and Oban
- Day 9: Island Hopping: Mull, Iona and Staffa
- Day 10: Glasgow
Day 1: Edinburgh’s Historic Royal Mile
Begin you day with a tour of the Norte Dam cathedral . Enjoy your afternoon coffee and cake at the famous café, The Elephant House, the birth place of the Harry Potter series. Take a romantic walk down the Victoria lane admiring its colorful shops and artist playing Celtic music in kilts.
- Hop in at Howies for delicious traditional Scottish cuisine served in a romantic setting.
Day 2 & 3: Exploring Edinburgh
Begin your day with a full tour of Edinburgh Castle . Explore the birthplace of James VI, learn about remarkable Scottish stone of destiny and drool over the Scottish crown jewels. Beat the hunger pang like a queen at the castle’s tea room. Take a tour of St. Giles cathedral, smell the roses at royal gardens and then meander your way towards the princess street for a shopping frenzy. Then head over to David Bann Restaurant, for a sumptuous vegan dinner!
Next day put on your hiking boots to take over Authur’s seat, a dormant volcano, to get the amazing views of Edinburgh. Take a preview to Scotland Distillery trail and know your scotch at Scotch Whisky Experience. Take a relaxing evening stroll through the Dean Village, a highly sought after locality/neighbourhood in entire Scotland.
- Take a day trip to Alnwick castle for a broom flying lesson.
- Take a peak of the modern Scottish Parliament building which is a welcome contrast on historic Royal mile.
- Holyrood Palace is still official residence of British Royal and its open to visitors.
- Walking is the best way to explore Edinburgh but you can also get a weekly pass from buses and trams.
- Don’t shy away from exploring local markets such as Grassmarket for food options. Their fresh cakes, cheeses and pies are to die for!
- Bar hopping pass is the best and cheap way to explore the pubs in the old town before diving in.
- All the castles listed above are included in the “explorer Pass” for 7 days which cost around 42 £ (link). Since we also visited Uqhart castle, Sterling castle and Elan donan castle, it was well worth the money. Apart from that, if you have the pass then you get to skip the huge ticket queues at each castle.
Day 4: Perthshire & Pitlochry
Start your day bright and early and head towards the Blair Atholl. This white -washed fairytale Castle, with its gorgeous summer gardens and pretty turrets, can be seen from miles away, nestled in the Highlands. You can tour the castle to learn about its 700 year history and take time to explore the Georgian design Hercules garden.
Our next stop is extremely photogenic Edradour distillery, its white washed building with striking red detail is bound to draw your eyes. It’s the world’s smallest distillery by still size and its peaty yet sweet whisky will check all the tick boxes in tasting profile.
Next stop at The Old Mill Inn for amazing haggis starter and beer before heading out to Aberdeen. Brace yourself for the long drive as you make your way towards the stunning Dunnottar Castle. This rocky fortress on the cliff of the coast is the site to behold and well worth the trip. Be aware that castle grounds are sometime inaccessible during high winds and rains. we suggest staying at Thistle Dhu Bed & Breakfast (Booking / Reviews).
- Musical Wonderland at Faskally Woods- heartwarming festival of music and lights
- Kinloch Rannoch – Take a day trip to the outlander filming location.
- Blair Castle distillery tour
Day 5: Glenfiddich Distillery, Urquhart Castle & Eilean Donan Castle
A trip to Scotland is incomplete without whisky tasting at Glenfiddich Distillery. Chose spirit of innovation tour at this highland whisky legend to understand their brewing process, their unique history and access to special casks. The distillery itself is nestled in the beautiful valley home to purest Robbie Dhu spring, which is also the single source of water in Glenfiddich whisky making process.
Visit Loch ness to pique your mythical taste buds by listening to the legends of Loch ness monster. Tour dungeons, ruinated walls and historic grounds of most visited Urquhart castle sitting on the banks of Loch ness.
Next up, trot your way to the most romantic Eilean Donan Castle. The sun rays create the unparalleled scenic painting from reflection of castle and clouds on the water. Sit on the banks of the castle grounds with a picnic basket to wrap up this lovey wee-tiring day. Make you way to Kings Arms Hotel – A Bespoke Hotel to enjoy sunset views at isle of skye (Booking / Reviews)
Day 6 &7: Isle of Skye; out and about in fairy land
Start your day 6 early and make your way to the Fairy pools. The 2 hours round trip hiking trail consists of vibrantly turquoise blue water, and crystal clear pools fed by beautiful waterfalls nestled in a mysterious valley. Although it’s hard to leave this magical place, make your way to taste sweet full bodied whisky at Talisker distillery followed by a breathtaking sunset views at Talisker Bay.
Day 7 is all about exploring The Isle of Skye’s dramatic landscapes consisting of epic mountains, plethora of waterfalls, and nerve wrecking sea cliffs. Start you day by visiting Neist point Lighthouse surrounded by gorgeous landscape. Make a pit stop at Ceiteag’s Tearoom for delicious cakes and hot tea. Hike your way up to the Old man of storr for a good view. End this day with strolling around the picturesque town of Portree and fine dining experience at Scorrybreac. We recommend getting cozy at The Bosville Hotel ((Booking / Reviews).
- Refuel your tanks when you can as fuel pumps are scarce on Isle of Skye
- If you love hiking, Blaven or Kintail Saddle are both spectacular hikes on the Isle of Skye
Day 8: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Ben Nevis and Oban
Next day hop on the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig (longer but scenic route).It is recommended to book tickets in advance from Caledonian. Do include little extra time in your trip because the ferry only runs once every hour. The drive from Mallaig to Fort William will leave you awestruck with the beautiful summer flower covered hills.
Make first pit stop at the Nevis Range mountain resort. Take scenic ride on the gondolas from 300ft to 2150ft. Once on top hop on Meall Beag trail for an easy hour return hike with stunning views of Loch Linnhe. For all harry potter fans like me, visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct is a must. Opt for a small hike to Glenfinnan viewpoint to get a closer look at viaduct and the Jacobite monument.
- If hiking is not your thing, explore Glencoe and Castle Stalker on the way to Oban
Day 9: Island Hopping: Mull, Iona and Staff
Oban is perfect stop to fulfill your pirate dreams. I recommend pre-booking a three island early bird tour from Staffa tours and tighten your belt for a day filled with adventures. Visit Staffa’s unique landscape formed entirely of hexagonal basalt lava rock columns and say hello to puffins. Visit Iona for its historical Abbey and beautiful beaches. End your tour by exploring waterfalls on Mull. After getting back to Oban, fancy a stroll around the glistening harbor. Do devour Mussels and Fancy desserts at Coast Restaurant.
Day 10: Glasgow
Start your day by indulging in Hot waffle platter at Oban chocolate Co. Next sample ( and buy as souvenirs) some peaty spicy whisky at Oban Distillery and then head to a short and sweet hike to the Bracklinn Falls . This hike through the meadows and forest leads to a spectacular wooden bridge on behemoth falls.
Next make your way to Stirling castle. Explore the rich stirling tapestries, uncover the mystery of Scottish king on English throne at Great hall and much more.
From here, make your way to Glasgow and explore detailed architecture, mesmerizing wall graffiti’s and go wild by pub hopping near main square. We recommend staying at this air bnb and be amazed by the talent the host poses(what talent?). Fly home the following day to wrap up this trip to mystical shire.
- For Hassle free road trip, getting the all-inclusive insurance from car booking agency is always a good idea.
- This trip can easily be extended into 12 day trip for relaxing travel.
- Driving in Scotland can be very tricky because the roads are very narrow in most parts. Read about all the rules and ohh & ahh’s here.
- For budget travelers, wild camping is free in Scotland. However, read all the rules and regulations here before you decide to camp.
- All the castles listed above are included in the “explorer Pass” for 7 days which costs around 42 £
- Unlike other countries, most of the Scottish castles offers free historic walking tours hourly.