Scotland is the land of rolling hills, ancient castles, stunning lochs, beautiful parks, whisky, and welcoming locals. Although it may be small in size, there is a lot to see and do. For first-timers that don’t have an endless amount of time to explore Scotland, we’ve crafted the perfect nine-day road trip! Here's how to get around this amazing country, where to go, and what to do.
Day 1: Glasgow
Start your Scottish getaway in Glasgow, home to trendy art galleries, historic landmarks and lots of live music. Glasgow is a busy and bustling city, with a youthful population and a picturesque downtown. The city is shedding its industrial past and reinventing itself as an article and tech hub.
Pick up your car at the airport and spend your first day exploring the city.
Don’t miss: the West End, Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Kelvingrove Park, the Lighthouse and the Glasgow Cathedral
Day 2: Loch Lomond, Glen Coe & Fort William
When you’re ready to leave the city, pack up the car and head for Fort William, making stops at Loch Lomond and Glen Coe along the way.
Gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Loch Lomond is the largest lake in Great Britain and its southernmost point lies only 45 minutes from Glasgow. Numerous scenic viewpoints offer dramatic panoramas and forest trails and mountain paths provide excellent walking and mountain biking routes.
Driving through Glen Coe is like traveling back in time. It is one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks, a valley surrounded by some of the country’s roughest peaks and most popular hikes.
Fort William is known more for its surroundings than for its town. This is where the highest mountain range in the UK, the Ben Nevis Range, begins. It is a 15-minute drive from Fort William to the Nevis Range Mountain Resort, where a gondola brings you further up the mountain Aonach Mor, right beside Ben Nevis.
After a day full of driving and sightseeing, stay overnight in Fort William and get ready to rise early to head to the Isle of Skye.
Day 3 & 4: Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one of the top destinations in Scotland and is famous for its scenery and landscapes that will take your breath away. Skye is steeped in myth and legend – a place where giants and fairies roam. Bloody clan wars were fought here and ancient castles still stand.
Free to explore at your own pace, you will be stopping around each bend of Skye’s notoriously narrow and winding country roads for one incredible photo opportunity after another. You will feel like you have been transported into an epic fantasy novel and will want to dedicate at least two days to Skye.
Don’t miss: Fairy Glen, Quiraing, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point). Old Man of Storr, Neist Point, Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, and Dunvegan Castle
Day 5: Loch Ness
Leave Skye behind early in the morning and make your way to Eilean Donan Castle.
After stopping for a few photos, continue to Loch Ness. Nowhere else on earth have people wondered more about what lies beneath the water as much as at this lake. Take a monster-hunting cruise and keep your eyes out for Nessie.
Day 6: Inverness
Next, head to the town of Inverness, a small city with a lot to offer. Nestled in the heart of the highlands on the banks of the River Ness, Inverness boasts the best of both worlds, a compact city and a huge highland playground. Together, they provide an abundance of cultural sights, outdoor attractions and historic gems.
Don’t miss: Victorian Market, Leakey’s Bookshop, Ness Island, Caledonian Canal, Castle Viewpoint, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
Day 7: Blair Castle, Pitlochry, and Edinburgh
The drive from Inverness to Edinburg takes around three hours, but round out the final leg of your road trip with these stops:
Stop #1: Loch Morlich
Lake Morlich in Cairngorms National Park is arguably one of Scotland’s most beautiful lakes. You can either take a walk or try some water activities
Stop #2: Blair Castle
Blair Castle is nestled in the landscape of Highland Perthshire and has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl. The story told here will take you from a visit by Mary Queen of Scots to the Civil War and from the Jacobite cause to the disaster of Culloden following Bonnie Prince Charlie's stay in the castle.
Stop #3: Pitlochry
A quaint and picturesque town, Pitlochry is a very popular weekend getaway for many Scots. A highlight in the town is the Edradour Whiskey Distillery, one of Scotland’s smallest!
Stop #4: South Queensferry
One final stop before you arrive in Edinburgh should be to South Queensferry. From here, you get a great view of the iconic Forth Railway Bridge that connects the Scottish capital with the region of Fife.
After Queensferry, head to Edinburgh. Since you will probably be arriving in the late afternoon, give yourself some time to relax for a little while. Have a leisurely dinner and a sunset stroll up Calton Hill or maybe grab a drink in the Old Town.
Day 8: Edinburgh
There is so much to see in Edinburgh you could easily fill a week. Luckily, many of the highlights are within walking distance from each other so you can easily get a good overview in one day. If you want to visit multiple museums, the castle and other attractions, you should consider adding one or two full days to your itinerary.
Don’t miss: Edinburgh Castle, the Camera Obscura, National Museum of Scotland, Royal Botanic Gardens, the Grassmarket and the Royal Mile
Day 9: Goodbye, Scotland!
Edinburgh is a great city to depart from, with hundreds of international flights leaving daily. It also has a ton of highlights, making it the perfect place to end your trip.