Planning a Scottish road trip? Our detailed Scotland road trip itinerary includes many of the most popular destinations, scenic routes, landmarks and sights when touring Scotland. Over 18 days explore cities, Highlands, islands and part of the popular North Coast 500 route. Options to reduce to a 10 day or 14 day Scotland road trip itinerary are also included.

As road trips go one destination you are sure of an epic road trip is Scotland! In this article, we have shared our own epic Scotland road trip itinerary which includes some of our favourite destinations across the country.

The itinerary starts and ends in Edinburgh and includes our recommended route, highlights to see every day plus where to stay and travel tips along the way.

If you are planning to visit Scotland our ultimate Scottish road trip itinerary is an off-the-peg plan which means you can use as-is or if you prefer simply adapt it to suit your own interests and needs. Although planned for 18 days it is possible to shorten the itinerary to 10 days, 14 days or whatever length you require.

If you are planning to hire a car in the UK we recommend reading our practical guide to car rental (and driving in the UK) which has essential information, tips and points to consider.

Prefer to travel by train? Check out our best of Scotland by rail itinerary! Everything you need to know to plan your Scotland rail adventure.

Beautiful scenic drives like in this image are in our Scotland road trip itinerary.

Scotland Road Trip Map & Itinerary – Overview

Scotland Itinerary

Click for our Scotland road trip map (Google maps)

SCOTLAND ITINERARY AND ROAD TRIP ROUTE

  • Days 1/2/3/4 – Edinburgh
  • Days 4/5/6- Callander
  • Days 6/7/8 – Oban & Islands
  • Days 8/9/10 – Fort William
  • Days 10/11/12/13 – Isle of Skye
  • Days 13/14 – Ullapool (North Coast 500)
  • Days 14/15 – Durness/Tongue/Skail (North Coast 500)
  • Days 15/16 – Orkney
  • Days 16/17/18 – Inverness
  • Day 18 – Edinburgh

Days 1, 2, 3 & 4 – Edinburgh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (3 nights)

Summer in Edinburgh Scotland

On Day 1 arrive in the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh, via train. If you are staying in London and plan to take a road trip around Scotland it is quick and easy to take the train between the two capitals. Read more about how to get from London to Edinburgh.

👍 Good to knowJourney time is around 4½ to 5 hours so if you leave London at 9 am you should get into Edinburgh at around 1 pm – 1.30 pm which is the perfect time to head to your accommodation to check-in.

Arriving in Edinburgh early afternoon leaves a decent amount of the day for sightseeing, particularly in summer. Day 2/3 days to explore Edinburgh. Below are the main highlights we recommend including in your itinerary.

Read our guide to things to do in Edinburgh which also includes suggested itinerary ideas.

📝 What to see in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh hop-on hop-off bus stops at the main attractions and landmarks and is a great way to get around the city – book your tickets here.

✅ If your itinerary includes visiting Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Palace of Holyroodhouse we recommend purchasing a city card that includes entry to all 3 royal attractions plus the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour for 48 hours. (Note that Holyroodhouse is closed Tues/Wed).

  • Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Palace of Holyroodhouse is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) – Buy your ticket here
  • The Royal Mile – start at the Castle and walk down to Holyroodhouse
  • Scott Monument
It is popular to climb Arthur's Seat for views over the city of Edinburgh.
It is popular to climb Arthur’s Seat for views over the city
Calton Hill is an easier climb and also gives great views!
Calton Hill is an easier climb and also gives great views!
Steep sets of steps in Edinburgh.
Expect lots of steps – Edinburgh Castle is perched on top of an extinct volcanic outcrop!

🏨 Where to stay in Edinburgh

  • £ – Elder York Guest House – This is our choice of accommodation whenever we stay in Edinburgh – excellent breakfast, near the train station and nice rooms. * Note there are stairs to the accommodation so this is not suitable if you have any mobility issues.
  • £££ – The Balmoral Hotel – Edinburgh’s most famous luxury hotel offers guests a Michelin-starred restaurant, a pool and a gym.
  • £££ – The Witchery – Lavishly furnished suites display gothic touches and 4-poster beds. Ideal location near Edinburgh Castle.

⭐️ Find more accommodation options in our guide to where to stay in Edinburgh

Days 4/5/6 – Callander (2 nights)

🚗 Day 4 – Edinburgh to Callander (Via The Kelpies and Stirling)

On day 4 travel from Edinburgh to Callandar. We recommend picking up your hire car at the point you are ready to leave the city to avoid any unnecessary parking expenses (or difficulties)

  • The drive from the centre of Edinburgh to Callander takes just over 1 hour. Distance is 52 miles (83 km) via the M9. This route will take you past Falkirk and Stirling.
The Kelpies 2 1
The Falkirk Wheel.
The Falkirk Wheel
Stirling Castle

🏞 Day 5 – Day trip to Killin & Pitlochry

Pitlochry 1
Experience beautiful landscapes on your journey

🚗 Logistics

  • Callander to Killin via A84
    • Distance – 22 miles (35 km)
    • Journey time – 35 mins
  • Killin to Kenmore and Aberfeldy via A827
    • Distance – 23 miles (36 km)
    • Journey time – 38 mins (stop off to admire the views)
  • Aberfeldy to Pitlochry via A827
    • Distance – 15 miles (24 km)
    • Journey time – 25 mins
  • Pitlochry to Callander via Cumrie Crieff on A9 & A822
    • Distance – 68 miles (109 km)
    • Journey time – 1 hour 44 mins

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Falls of Dochart
  • Drive along the banks of Loch Tay
  • The scenic beauty and picturesque views (don’t forget to charge your phone, pack memory cards for your cameras etc!)
  • Blair Athol distillery
  • Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder walk
  • Afternoon tea at Crieff Hydro Hotel (Beautiful views)

Good to know – Highland cows can be seen in a field on the right-hand side of the road as you drive north out of Callendar.

Falls of Dochart
Falls of Dochart
Views from Ben Lawers.
Views from Ben Lawers
Sign for the Scottish town of Pitlochry.

🏨 Where to stay in Callander

🏞 Day 6/7/8 – Oban (2 nights)

🚗 Day 6 – Callandar to Oban via The Trossachs and Loch Lomond

The Trossachs

🚗 Logistics

Day 6 is a day spent exploring the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond National Park and Loch Katrine (Callander is located on the edge of the park) before heading for 2 nights in Oban.

Take a picnic and enjoy the views and scent of the forests. Head to the village of Balloch (a 45-minute drive from Callander) for a boat trip across Loch Lomond.

Oban is a 1 hour 45 mins drive from Balloch where you will check into your accommodation for the next 2 nights. If you wish to visit one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles at Inveraray it is possible to take a slightly different route via A83 and A819 which only adds around 10 minutes to the journey time.

  • Mileage Callander to Balloch is 28 miles (45 km)
  • Mileage from Balloch to Oban is 74 miles (119 km) on the A82
  • The mileage from Balloch to Oban via Inverary Castle on the A83 is 77 miles (125 km).

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Loch Lomond (the Queen of Scottish lochs)
  • Loch Katrine
  • Scenic views
  • Boat trip across Loch Lomond from Balloch (Island Discovery 2-Hour Cruise)
  • Inverary Castle
Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond
Inveraray Castle.
Inveraray Castle

🏨 Where to stay in Oban

⛴ Day 7 – Tour to Mull, Iona and Staffa (Day trip)

Fingalls Cave
The boat tour visits Fingal’s Cave
Staffa 1 1
Staffa
Iona Scotland.
Iona
Iona Abbey.
Iona Abbey

🚗 Logistics

Day 7 drive from your accommodation in Oban to join the 3 Isles tour of Mull, Iona and Staffa. This is an all-day tour departing from Oban at 9:55 and returning at 20:05.

Notes – If you are prone to seasickness this may not be for you as the trip from Mull to Staffa and then Staffa to Iona is in a small boat. There are no toilets on Staffa.

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Ferry to Mull and road trip of the island
  • Duart Castle
  • Iona and Iona Abbey
  • Boat trip to the Isle of Staffa to see Fingal’s Cave

🚙 Alternative itinerary for those prone to seasickness

If one or more of your party decides they don’t want to do the day trip to the islands there is an alternative. As Doug gets seasick this is what he did when I was over exploring the islands.

Drive up the coast road A828 towards Ballachulish / Glencoe. This is an alternative route to the way you will drive to Glen Coe on day 8 but is an equally pretty drive.

Highlights along the way include

  • Dunstaffnage Castle
  • Castle Stalker
  • Port Appin (tiny port)

Days 8/9/10 – Fort William (2 nights)

🚗 Day 8 – Oban to Fort William

Glen Coe in Scotland
Equally stunning in winter!

🚗 Logistics

Today we drive from Oban to Fort William via Rannock Moor and Glen Coe on the A82. In our view, the drive through Glen Coe is one of the most spectacular drives in Scotland (if not the world) Rannock Moor is a barren and rugged landscape and is one of the most remote places in Britain.

Stop at the Rannock Moor viewpoint and enjoy the views over this incredible place.

Read – Fort William Travel Guide & Ultimate Guide to things to do in Fort William

  • Distance – 83 miles (133 km)
  • Journey time – 2 hours (but do plan to stop off and enjoy the views along the way)

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Rannock Moor Viewpoint at the Bridge or Orchy
  • Glen Etive (James Bond Skyfall drive)
  • Glen Coe – don’t miss the new visitor’s centre
    • Viewpoints along the way:
      • Three sister’s car park
      • Buachaille Etive Mòr car park
  • Views of Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak)

Tip – Stop off at the Green Welly shop located between Tyndrum and Crianlarich.

Bridge of Ochy
Bridge of Ochy
Glen Coe.
Glen Coe
Glencoe visitor cenre

🏨 Where to stay in Fort William

Read – Area and accommodation guide for Fort William

🚂 Day 9 – The Jacobite

The Jacobite train first class
The famous Jacobite steam train (the Hogwarts Express)

🚂 Logistics

Riding the Harry Potter train (or the Jacobite to give it its muggle name) is every Harry Potter fan’s dream and is one of the most popular train journeys in the UK.

ReadHow to ride the Harry Potter train in Scotland

⭐️ Highlights of the day 🪄

  • Riding the train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct
  • Observing the train from the Glenfinnan viewpoint crossing the viaduct later in the day
  • Glenfinnan Church
  • Mallaig
  • Neptune’s Staircase
  • Read – Things to do in Fort William
The Jacobite train.
Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Glenfinnan Monument.

Day 10/11/12/13 – Isle of Skye (3 nights)

⛴ Day 10 – Fort William to Skye via Mallaig

Mallaig in Scotland

🚗 Logistics

Drive from Fort William to Mallaig which takes around 1 hour. Distance 43 miles (69 km) via A830. Cross over from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye via the CalMac ferry.

The ferry takes 30 mins. There are a number of departures per day. Book asap as this is a very popular route.

On arrival at Armadale, you will head to your accommodation. We recommend staying around Portree and exploring the island from there as your base.

Drive time from Armadale to Portree is around 1 hour via the A851 and A87. Distance is 42 miles (62 km)

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Scenic views on the drive from Fort William to Mallaig
  • Ferry crossing
  • Drive to Portree (depending on crossing time you can stop and enjoy the scenery along the way)

🏞 Days 11/12/13 – Exploring Skye

Isle of Skye.

🚗 Logistics

You have 2 full days to explore the Isle of Skye.

Drive the western driving loop on Day 10 and the northern driving loop on Day 11.

Many of the roads in Skye are narrow single-file lanes and you will need to pay attention to other road users (and animals!) as you drive.

Tip – Make reservations at restaurants prior to arrival as they can be busy and you may struggle especially during the summer months. We recommend the Edinbane Inn.

⭐️ Highlights of each day included

Day 10

  • Dunvegan Castle
  • Neist Point Lighthouse
  • Talisker Distillery
  • The Fairy Pools
  • Sligachan Old Bridge
Fairy Pools in Skye.
Isle of Skye 16
Dunvegan Castle 1

Day 11

  • Old Man of Storr
  • Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
  • Uig
  • The Fairy Glen

Read – One-day itinerary for the Isle of Skye

Read – How to get to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh

Old Man of Storr 1
The Old Man of Storr
Fairy Glen 3
Mealt Falls Skye.
Mealt Falls

Day 13/14 – Ullapool (1 night)

Skye Bridge in Scotland
Cross the Skye Bridge back over onto the mainland
Eilean Donan Castle 2
Eilean Donan Castle
Manuelas Wee Bakery
Pop to Manuela’s Wee Bakery for a bite to eat!

🚗 Logistics

Check out from accommodation today and drive across the Skye bridge to the mainland and the Kyle of Lochalsh. The distance from Portree to the Kyle of Lochalsh via A87 is 50 mins – 34 miles/55 km.

The destination for this evening is Ullapool but there are a couple of places worth exploring along the way.

1. Plockton – 14 minutes from Kyle of Lochalsh (6 miles/ 10 km)

2. Eilean Donan Castle – Drive from Plockton to Eilean Donan Castle is around 20 minutes via A87. (11 miles/18 km)

Tip – Manuela’s Wee Bakery is only a few minutes drive from Eilean Donan and is a must-visit for a tasty snack!

The last leg of the journey today is from Eilean Donan Castle to Ullapool. This takes around 3 hours via Poolewe on the A890 and A832.

Distance is 120 miles (193 km) You are now driving the famous North Coast Scotland route.

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Plockton – Beautiful village famously featured in the Hamish Macbeth TV series
  • Eilean Donan Castle – £10 admission charge for adults
  • Manuela’s Wee Bakery
  • Driving over the famous Bealach Na Ba road from Kishorn to Applecross!
Ullapool
Ullapool
Ullapool 1
The scallops were delicious (And yes that is black pudding!)

🏨 Where to stay in Ullapool

Day 14/15 – Durness & Tongue (1 night)

Durness in Scotland

🚗 Logistics

  • First leg – Ullapool to Durness via Scourie on the A835, A894 and A838. Distance – 67 miles/109 km. Time – 1 hour 45 mins.
  • Second leg – Durness to Tongue on the A838 Distance – 29 miles/47 kms. Time – 1 hour

Accommodation for the night is in Skail (23 miles from Tongue) which adds another 30 mins to the day’s driving time but accommodation is available in Tongue too.

Plan longer for each leg due to stopping to enjoy scenic views, unscheduled delays such as traffic/wildlife/sheep and rest stops.

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Clachtoll Beach
  • Clashnessie Beach
  • Smoo Cave
Standing stones along the NC 500 route
Wee Hoose Glamping Pod
Wee Hoose Glamping Pod

🏨 Where to stay in Durness or Tongue

Day 15/16 – Orkneys (1 night)

John O Groats
Skara Brae Orkney
Skara Brae
Orkneys

🚗 Logistics

Drive from your accommodation to catch the ferry from Gills Bay to Mainland Orkney. The journey takes around an hour and arrives at St Margaret’s Hope.

There is enough time to explore some of the main highlights of the island. Make sure to book tickets for popular places such as Skara Brae and Maeshowe.

⭐️ Highlights of the day

  • Dunnet Head Lighthouse (the most northerly point of mainland Britain)
  • Skara Brae
  • Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar
  • Maeshowe Chambered Cairn

Read – What to do and see on Mainland Orkney

Day 16/17/18 – Orkney to Inverness (2 nights) via John O’Groats

John OGroats in Scotland 1
Inverness in Scotland

🚗 Logistics

Catch the ferry from Orkney back to Gill’s Bay. Head south via John O’Groats to the last stop in the Scottish Highlands – the city of Inverness.

  • Journey time from John O’Groats is 2 hours 40 mins via A99 and A9
  • Distance from John O’Groats is 119 miles (192 km)

🏨 Where to stay in Inverness

Read – Where to stay in Inverness (Area and accommodation guide)

🚗 Day 17 – Inverness

Culloden battlefield in Scotland
Loch Ness in Scotland
Visit Urquhart castle on the banks of Loch Ness

Logistics of the day

Today is spent exploring the main sights and landmarks in and around Inverness. The itinerary for today includes visiting Culloden, the Clava Cairns, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness.

Read Day trips from Inverness

⭐️ Highlights of the day

Day 18 – Edinburgh

Forth Rail Bridge

🚗 Logistics

Today drive back to Edinburgh from Inverness to return the rental car. The drive time is dependent on the option you choose. The 3 options are

  1. A9 3 hours – 156 miles (250 km)
  2. A9/M9 3 hours 30 mins – 179 miles (288 km) This goes via Stirling
  3. A93 4 hours – 171 miles (275 km) through the Cairngorms National Park and down via Perth to Edinburgh

⭐️ Highlights of the day

If you have time we recommend option 3 through the Cairngorms as this is a beautifully scenic route.

Where to next?

Once back in Edinburgh you can connect with onward travel via the train station or airport.

For example, you could take the Caledonian Sleeper back to London which is a great way to get back to the UK capital and save time (as it is an overnight service) or you could take the train to York!

Frequently asked questions about planning a road trip in Scotland

What is the best road trip in Scotland?

The most famous road trip in Scotland is the North Coast 500 but there are many fantastic road trips in Scotland to choose from.

These include

  • South West Coast 300 – Through Dumfries & Galloway and southern Ayrshire.
  • North East 250 – Includes the Malt Whisky Trail, the Cairngorms National Park Aberdeen and the Moray Firth Coast
  • The Borders Historic Route

How long is a road trip around Scotland?

As you can see from the above road trips they can vary. Some of Scotland’s road trips can be as little as 90 miles (the Snow Roads Scenic Route in the Cairngorms) to 500 kms for the North Coast 500.

How many days do you need to tour Scotland?

We recommend planning at least a week for your road trip – longer if you can! There is so much to see from historic castles to stunning coastlines, fishing villages, lochs and Munros, to islands and more!

Take your time – stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way!

Plan your trip to Scotland

Read more in our extensive guides to Scotland

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