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Scottish Highlands Travel Guide

Our Scottish Highlands Travel Guide includes recommended places to visit and things to do, best day trips, accommodation options, tips and more for this beautiful part of Scotland. Everything you need to plan your visit and essential reading for any visitor to the Highlands of Scotland.

Plan your visit to the Scottish Highlands

Are you interested in seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes and experiencing a culture that has been preserved for centuries? Look no further than the Highlands of Scotland. With lush green rolling hills, rugged mountains, and picturesque lochs the Scottish Highlands are the perfect destination for anyone who loves to explore new places.

Scottish Highands
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Map showing the location in Scotland of the Highlands

📖 The Scottish Highlands travel guide – FAQ’s

When is the best time of year to visit?

The best time of year to visit the Scottish Highlands is generally between May and September. However, the timing of your trip may vary depending on what you plan to see and do.

For those interested in outdoor activities, spring is a particularly good time as the weather tends to be milder and there are more daylight hours for hiking, cycling or climbing. In some parts of the Highlands, however, winter is the only time it is possible to see snow-capped mountains.

Places such as Glencoe and Loch Ness offer the best views of the Highlands just be aware that in winter weather conditions may make it a little more tricky to get around (plus hours of daylight are short) and many attractions like Urquhart Castle close for the season.

One benefit of visiting the Highlands in winter is that it can be a quieter time of year and you may find yourself on some roads without another car in sight. Plus if you are very lucky you may see the northern lights!

The traditional fire festival of Up Helly Aa is celebrated in Shetland from January to March.

Be aware that midges (tiny biting flies) are particularly prevalent in the Scottish Highlands during the summer months when the weather is warm and humid.

How many days do you need to explore the Scottish Highlands?

We recommend allowing at least one week to experience the Highlands of Scotland. This will give you enough time to get a flavour of what is on offer, see some highlights and take your pick from the many activities available.

Two Highland cows standing by a loch as seen in the Scottish Highlands Travel Guide.
Expect to see plenty of cows in the Scottish Highlands

What is the best way to get around the Scottish Highlands?

There are a few options you can choose from to get around the Highlands including by car, train, bus, ferry or by taking a tour.

Due to the distances involved and the limited public transport services, it can be easier (and cheaper) to travel around the Highlands by car. Road trips such as the North Coast 500 are particularly popular.

Please be aware, however, that many roads in the Highlands are narrow and single-track and driving conditions can sometimes be hazardous. If you decide to drive yourself around the Highlands, make sure you plan your journey carefully and allow plenty of time. Beware of cows, sheep and even deer on the roads.

If you prefer not to drive you can explore the Highlands by train too. ScotRail offers a number of services including routes from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh or up to Wick and Thurso. If you plan to travel around Scotland by train it may be cost-effective to purchase a BritRail Pass.

Inter-city buses also travel to many parts of the Highlands including Inverness, Ullapool, Skye, and Fort William. Bear in mind that bus timetables can be limited so it’s best to plan your journey carefully. Bus companies operating in Scotland include First Bus, Lothian Buses, and Stagecoach.

The following companies operate inter-city and longer distance coach services around Scotland:

  • Scottish citylink
  • Stagecoach
  • Megabus
  • National Express

No matter how you choose to get around the Scottish Highlands, make sure you plan your journey carefully and allow plenty of time.

Loch Ness
Look out for the Loch Ness monster at Loch Ness!

What is the best way to travel to the Scottish Highlands

🚆 By train from London – Inverness / By train from Edinburgh

The most direct way to travel from London to Inverness is by train. Take the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Inverness which leaves from Euston station in the evening arriving in Inverness the following morning. This is a spectacular train journey and is highly recommended!

From Edinburgh to Inverness there are 3 possible routes – one via Aberdeen, one via Perth, and the third via Stirling and Perth. Read more in our guide to the 10 best train journeys to take in the UK.

🚙 By car from Edinburgh

Inverness is the gateway to the Highlands and it is the starting point of the popular North Coast 500 road trip. It is possible to drive from Edinburgh to Inverness in around three hours 35 mins via Fort William. We would however recommend that you take your time and perhaps plan to do this over a few days rather than a few hours.

There is a multitude of car rental companies to choose from in the UK. We recommend comparing prices and deals on DiscoverCars and AutoEurope to get the best rates before making your booking.

Discover Cars compares companies including Hertz, Europcar and Avis and has a price match guarantee. AutoEurope offers longer-term rental deals for 30 days + and also rent camper vans and motor homes. They also have excellent deals for one-way rentals (often free of charge as long as the maximum rental period is adhered to)

Read – UK transportation guide

SCOTLAND road trip link 1

🏩 Scottish Highlands Accommodation

Tiny cottage in the Scottish Highands

Accommodation quick picks for that special stay!

Inverlochy Castle Hotel


Set among the beautiful Scottish West Highlands scenery, 19th-century Inverlochy is an award-winning luxury hotel and restaurant.

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Highland Lassie

Located on the Caledonian Canal – perfect for couples. Free WiFi and a terrace.


Redwood House

A small family-run guest house on the Isle of Skye. 


Find more special stays in my Accommodation Guide for Scotland.

Scottish Highands driving

🎟 Tickets, tours & attractions in the Scottish Highlands (including day trips from Inverness)

We use Get Your Guide when choosing tours – they have a huge selection plus one of the best cancellation policies in the business (so no stressing if your plans change at the last minute)

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride on the Jacobite steam train (as seen in Harry Potter)

Best day trips and tours from Edinburgh & Glasgow to the Scottish Highlands

Books, TV shows and movies set in the Scottish Highlands

💛 Enjoy your visit the beautiful Scottish Highlands

More practical tips and resources to plan your trip to Scotland can be found in these articles:

Find more inspiration for your travels in my Scotland Travel Guide which includes information about what to see, where to stay, how to get around, travel tips, recommended reading and more to make the most of your trip.