So you want to explore the Scottish Highlands but don’t know where to start? I’ve put together a 10 day Scotland road trip itinerary just for you! Starting and ending in Edinburgh you can easily catch a flight in if you are from overseas. This itinerary is fully tried and tested as we took this exact road trip last September. So without further ado lets get exploring.
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Day 1 – Travel Day
Your trip begins and ends in Edinburgh. Get yourself to Edinburgh today and get a good night’s sleep ready for an epic 9 days of sightseeing and breath taking beauty.
If you have your car with you already this hotel has a large carpark, although further out many of the inner-city hotels don’t have parking. It’s easy to catch the bus into the city from here.
Day 2 – Edinburgh
First stop of the day is the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens. Admire the gorgeous gothic monument from the ground or climb the 287 steps to the top for amazing views of Edinburgh.
Take a wander through the gardens and head towards Edinburgh Castle on castle rock. Spend a few hours exploring this magnificent castle before exploring the streets of Edinburgh.
If you are a Harry Potter fan your next stop has to be The Elephant House café. This is where J K Rowling sat and wrote her early novels. Make sure to get the hot chocolate it is amazing!
Grab some dinner before heading back to your hotel.
- Scott Monument – £5 per person (cash)
- Edinburgh Castle – £17 per adult
Day 3 – Edinburgh
Start today off early and head to Edinburgh Zoo on the bus. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, don’t miss the Giant Pandas. These are the only Giant Pandas in the UK! Time slots of 15-20 minutes to view the Pandas must be booked in advance of your visit as it gets busy.
Jump on the bus back to the Royal Mile and head to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland. Spend an hour or so enjoying the palace and grounds, all admissions come with an audio tour.
Next up you may want to change into your hiking boots as you are heading up Arthurs Seat in Holyrood Park. Arthurs Seat is an ancient volcano and the highest point in the park. There are stunning views over the city from the top.
If you are feeling particularly energetic you can hike over and check out the Salisbury Crags, a series of 150-foot cliff faces before heading off for dinner.
- Edinburgh Zoo – £17 per adult
- Holyrood Palace – £12.50 per adult
Day 4 – Edinburgh to Loch Lomond
Today begins the road trip! Head out of Edinburgh to the Rosslyn Chapel. This gorgeous 15th century chapel is in the village of Roslin about half an hour drive from the city. You will spend longer than you think here there is lots to see inside and out. Make sure you catch the talk if you can its quite interesting.
Next head to the Forth Bridge, a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth. This iconic structure is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The journey to the viewpoint in South Queensferry should only take about half an hour from the chapel. Find somewhere to park and then spend some time walking along the waterfront enjoying the views.
Your last stop today is Doune Castle, a 14th century courtyard castle 40 minutes’ drive from the Forth Bridges. This castle is a popular filming location, it features in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones and Outlander. Make sure to take the audio tour, especially if you are a Monty Python fan.
Once you have finished exploring Doune Castle it’s time to head to your accommodation for the evening in Tarbet on the shores of Loch Lomond.
If you stay at Loch Lomond Country Guest House like we did you can take a stroll down to the pier on the Loch for some stunning views before grabbing a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant.
- Rosslyn Chapel – £9 per adult
- Doune Castle – £6 per adult
Day 5 – Loch Lomond to Glencoe
Today before you continue on your road trip head down to the pier again and start your day with a stunning sightseeing cruise of Loch Lomond.
Once you are ready to leave Tarbet a short 20-minute drive will bring you to the Falls of Falloch. Take the short 15-minute walk through the woods until you come to a beautiful 30ft waterfall.
Next up take a slight detour to the village of Killin. They have an amazing waterfall called the Falls of Dochart. Spend some time exploring this tiny village and grab some lunch before heading off to Glencoe.
The drive to Glencoe takes about an hour. You can spend some time exploring the area or attempting a hike once you arrive.
If you have an accommodation with a hot tub like we did I suggest retiring for the day into your tub!
Day 6 – Glencoe to Arisaig
Today you are going to enjoy some easy hiking. First head 40 minutes north to the Nevis Range mountain resort. Take a scenic ride on the gondolas from 300ft to 2150ft up the north side of Aonach More, the eighth highest mountain in Britain. Once you reach the top there are two trails to choose from, Meall Beag (to the right) or Sgurr Finnisg-aig (to the left). My favourite is the Meall Beag trail which is an easy hour return hike and has stunning views over Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
Once you have returned back down on the gondola and jumped back in your car, a short 30-minute drive brings you to the Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument. Harry Potter fans will recognise the viaduct from the films. Take the trail behind the visitor centre up a steep stepped path to a spectacular viewpoint with panoramic views of the viaduct and monument along with Loch Sheil as a beautiful backdrop.
Another 30-minute drive brings you to your stop for the night, Arisaig. Take a while to enjoy the views out to sea and exploring this small village. For dinner, you can head 10 minutes up the road to Mallaig, a small port town where they have plenty of places to eat. If you haven’t done so already book your tickets for tomorrow mornings earliest Ferry to the Isle of Skye.
- Nevis Range Gondola – £14 per adult
- CalMac Ferry Tickets – £9.40 per car, £2.80 per person
Day 7 – Arisaig to Dornie via Isle of Skye
Today you need to be up early to catch your Ferry to the Isle of Skye. Head back to Mallaig and hop aboard, the journey takes about an hour. If the weather isn’t playing ball sometimes the ferrys are cancelled. Unfortunately, this would mean you have to drive round instead, this happened to us! It takes around 2 and half hours to reach the bridge to Skye from Mallaig.
Once you finally arrive on Skye head to the Fairy Pools near Glenbrittle, the drive will take about an hour. A short 20-minute walk and 2 river crossings over stepping stones will bring you to the first of the pools. Spend some time heading upstream exploring all the pools and enjoying the scenery. If you are brave enough why not take a quick dip!
Head off towards Portree your next stop. Take a walk around this little fishing town with its cute colourful houses and maybe grab some lunch.
A 30-minute drive north brings you to Kilt Rock. At the viewpoint, you can see Mealt Falls a waterfall which plummets off the cliff edge into the sea below.
Heading back the way you came stop at The Old Man Storr and prepare for a hike to the old man itself. The hike will take about 45 mins to an hour to reach the top although you needn’t go the whole way if you don’t want to. The top section of the hike is pretty muddy and the path is in poor condition so be careful.
After your hike its time to head off the Isle of Skye and back to the mainland. Tonight you should stay in Dornie ready for tomorrows visit to Eilean Donan Castle. There is a lovely pub in Dornie where you can enjoy dinner before heading off to bed.
Day 8 – Dornie to Loch Ness
If you stayed at the Schoolhouse Dornie B&B, this morning your first stop is only half a mile away. You can either walk to Eilean Donan Castle or drive the 3 mins up the road! Eilean Donan is a beautiful castle first built in the 13th century. Take a while to explore the castle inside and out.
Today is mainly about the drive. Head towards Applecross via the Applecross Pass road. Bealach na Bà or “Pass of the cattle” is a stunning single track mountain pass road summiting at 2053ft. Providing the weather is clear your will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
Once you reach Applecross head north and take the Wester Ross coastal trail towards Shieldag. This should take about an hour. Once you reach here continue on the trail towards Loch Ness. This will take another couple of hours depending on where you choose to stay.
Today has been a long day of driving so I’d suggest a chilled evening relaxing in your accommodation.
- Eilean Donan Castle – £7.50 per adult
Day 9 – Loch Ness
This morning head over to Urquhart Castle and explore the ruins that remain on the shores of Loch Ness. Stick around for a guided talk as the castle has a rather interesting history to share.
Spend the rest of the day taking a leisurely drive around the shores of Loch Ness taking in the views. Make sure to stop in Drumnadrochit and grab a hot chocolate and lunch at the Fiddlers Café and food truck!
- Urquhart Castle – £9 per adult
Day 10 – Loch Ness to Pitlochry (or Edinburgh)
Today you leave Loch Ness and drive over into Cairngorms National Park. Take a ride on the mountain railway, Scotlands only funicular railway. Enjoy panoramic views as well as the highest post box in the British Isles!
An hour drive down through the national park will bring you to your next stop, the Dalwhinnie Distillery. Pop in for a quick tour or tasting if whisky is your thing.
If not just continue straight on to Blair Castle. This pretty fairytale like white castle has been home to the Atholl family for over seven centuries. You can explore both the castle and the expansive gardens.
A short 15-minute drive from the castle brings you to the cute little village of Pitlochry where you can opt to spend the night. However, if you need to fly out of Edinburgh tomorrow you can just continue on instead, you will be back in the city within an hour and a half.
- Cairngorms Mountain Railway – £13.50 per adult
- Dalwhinnie Distillery – tours £12-£20, tastings £6-£20
- Blair Castle – £11 per adult (castle & gardens), £6.50 (gardens only)
What do you think of my Scotland itinerary? Have you taken a trip similar to this? Let me know in the comments!
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