A Scottish adventure
Scotland is home to approximately 8 million people. Edinburgh and Glasgow are the largest cities, each with an international airport, located in the Southern part of the country.
For visiting Isle of Skye or the Highlands, Inverness can be a good starting or ending point, and the small city also has its own airport.
For this 9-day itinerary, you will fly into Inverness and out of Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Plan to hire a car. Remember in the United Kingdom, they drive on the left side of the road and have the steering wheel on the right. With this in mind, when checking rental cars, it may be easiest to select an automatic car (even if you know how to drive manual) to reduce any extra challenges.
The Isle of Skye is a small island, but requires a car to explore all it has to offer. Plan to hire a car where your travel begins. If you are traveling by plane, the airports have numerous rental car companies to choose between. If you are keen to see a lot in a short period of time, consider booking with a company which allows you to pick-up the car in one location and drop it off in another location. For instance, you could travel into Inverness and rent a car from the Inverness airport, and then plan to fly out of Edinburgh or Glasgow, therefore returning the car to the Edinburgh or Glasgow airport rental location. Avis allows this along with other car rental companies.
The capital city of Scotland, known for being hilly and having a quintessential Old Town city center draws in visitors annually
One of the many Scottish Isles, the Isle of Skye is known for its gorgeous landscapes and rugged terrain
Larger than Edinburgh, Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and known for being an important industrial center in the United Kingdom
Found in the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe is known for beautiful nature with waterfalls, rolling hills and walking trails
Inverness is a city found in the far North part of Scotland, known for being home to Nessie in Loch Ness.
Not far from Glasgow, the national park is part of the lush Scottish Highlands
Oban is a small fishing village on the west coast of Scotland also home to the well-known whiskey producer, Oban distillery.
The town of Portree is a cute harbor town on Isle of Skye with colorful houses lining the water, often used as a home base when exploring the Isle of Skye.
Found in the western Scottish Highlands, Fort William is often used as a base when exploring the highlands for its location
Depart Boston for Scotland – overnight flight and connection to reach Inverness to kick-off the Scottish adventure.
Arrive in Inverness midday
Drive to Skye
Isle of Skye
Oban to Edinburgh
Option 1: Edinburgh > Glasgow
Option 2: Depart from Edinburgh
Exploring highlights of the country of Scotland from the Scottish Highlands to quaint towns to whiskey distilleries and busier cities
Scotland Roadtrip – Detailed Itinerary
Day 0 | Evening
Leave home and head to the airport in Boston as you will be traveling overnight to reach Scotland.
Day 1 | Morning & Early Afternoon
After connecting along the way, you will reach Inverness, one of the northern most cities in Scotland. Head to your accommodations to drop your bags, get settled and freshen up after a long journey.
Day 1 | Late Afternoon & Evening
Once you are ready to get out and about, head into the Old Town of Inverness where you will come across the Inverness Castle. Wander around the town and consider stopping into Leakey’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookstore, walking along River Ness, and grabbing a drink at the Black Isle Bar. You can also check out a formal walking tour if you prefer to have someone else show you around.
Plan to dine in Inverness this evening. Consider Rocpool for a nice restaurant in town.
Day 2 | Morning
Grab a coffee and small breakfast in Inverness before picking up your rental car. Before leaving Inverness officially, make a stop at Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns. After visiting, say bye to Inverness and plug in Dores Inn as your first destination. Dores Inn is a cute and cozy Inn sitting right on Loch Ness. Walk out along the pebble beach to take-in the view of the famous Scottish Highland Loch. Then grab a seat inside and enjoy a bite to eat before heading on the road to Skye.
An alternative option, or if you get an early start on your day, is to take a cruise on Loch Ness to see the Loch from a different vantage point. Jacobite Cruises offers boat tours along the water.
Day 2 | Afternoon
From Dores Inn, you will start your journey to the Isle of Skye. Your next official stopping point will be Eilean Donan Castle, which is about a 2 hour drive from Dores Inn. Upon arriving, grab a spot in the parking lot and hop out of the car to enjoy the view. If you fancy, purchase tickets to visit the castle grounds. If not, stretch your legs before getting back on your way to Skye. There are two main routes to reach Skye. The northern route uses a bridge, and the route you will be taking today, while the southern route requires a ferry ride.
To continue on your way, plug in Portree, the main town on Isle of Skye, where you will be staying.
Day 2 | Evening
Meander around the cute harbor town of Portree, checking out the colorful houses along the water. It will not take long to explore as it is tiny town. Since Portree is the main town, many restaurants book up in advance. Consider making a reservation at one of these restaurants for dinner:
Day 3 | Morning
Today you will want to get an earlier start and make your way to the Isle of Skye’s most iconic and well-known attraction, Old Man of Storr. The roundtrip hike is around 2.5 – 3 miles roundtrip, starting near the parking lot and climbing up to enjoy some magnificent views of the surrounding area. Plan to spend about 2 – 3 hours on the hike, considering time to stop for photos along the way and take-in the scenery. Since the hike is popular, consider getting an early start to avoid the crowds. If you are starting the climb around 8:00-9:00, you will be able to take advantage of the surrounding views without large groups of people alongside you.
Day 3 | Afternoon
Drive from Old Man of Storr towards Brother’s Point*. If you fancy another hike, you can stop here for a walk out to Brother’s Point, but if Old Man of Storr was enough hiking then continue on the road for five more minutes until you reach Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. The Kilt Rocks and Mealt Falls are located 5 minutes from the Brothers Point parking lot, just off the main road A855. These large rocks are cliffside with sharp, 90m drops. Depending on the season, a waterfall will flow over the Kilt Rocks. At this point, if you still have more time in your day to explore, you can continue onward to the Quiraing and the Fairy Glen. These are both recommended attractions for those visiting the Isle of Skye for a few days, but ones which can also be skipped on a tighter timetable. Do not force these into your itinerary today if the evening is approaching.
*Brother’s Point hike: Also known as the peninsula of Rubha Nam Brathairean, Brothers Point is scenic view of rolling hills along the water. The start of the hike can be tough to find as it looks like a driveway off the main road, and there is minimal parking nearby to call attention to the hike. It is an out and back hike, first heading down to the water and along the coast out to Brothers Point. On your way back, you will re-trace your steps and climb back up to where you began. 1-1.5 hours should be enough time to complete the 2.25 miles roundtrip hike. This hike tends to be much quieter and is less likely to be busy with crowds, making it a good stop for a mid-day hike.
Day 3 | Evening
Head back to Portree and make your way over to the Cuillin Hills Hotel, about a 20 minute walk from the town center. The hotel has chairs and picnic tables set up outside overlooking the harbor with stunning views of the surrounding area. Plan to head up here early to enjoy a drink at the end of your first full day exploring Skye before sitting down for dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Make a booking in advance at the restaurant at the hotel is called The View. True to its name, this restaurants sits up on a hill and has a beautiful view outside the windows over the surrounding area. If you are lucky, you will get a table right next to the window. The food is delicious and atmosphere is lovely. Overall, while on the Isle of Skye, be sure to take advantage of fresh fish and seafood. If you happen to have a sweet tooth, do not miss the sticky toffee pudding here as it is excellent.
Day 4 | Morning
This morning make your way to the Fairy Pools which makes for a nice out and back walk with panoramic views. The Fairy Pools are another favorite site to see while visiting the Isle of Skye. It is an out and back trail, about 2 miles, which runs along a stream and has a few, very clear waterbeds where people may wade into the water. The path is relatively flat and is suitable for most to join. For this reason, the Fairy Pools will be busy during the day and is another good option to hit early. The parking lot is very large, and more commercialized than others as it even has a proper parking attendant. Part of the beauty of the Fairy pools comes with the backdrop of the Black Cuillin Mountains.
Day 4 | Afternoon
This afternoon make your way to the Elgol where you can take a boat trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk, which sits in the Cuillin Mountain Range. The Loch takes awhile to get to and therefore accessing it by boat is a great option. Bella Jane offers bookings with fully refunds available if unable to go due to weather conditions. Misty Isle Boat trips is another company providing similar options.
Day 4 | Evening
Day 5 | Morning
Start your day in the direction of Coral Beach, a white sand beach and light blue, tropical water making it feel very out of place in Scotland. Coral Beach can be found about 10 minutes from the Dunvegan Castle on the NW coast. Walking out to the beach takes about 20 minutes from the parking lot. The walk is easy and worth it for a different view. If it is a nice day, there may even be swimmers, but the water is quite chilly. You can visit Dunvegan Castle & Gardens beforehand, but note you must pay to enter. However, if you drive past the castle parking lot towards the Coral Beach, there is a nice view of the castle from the road.
Depending on how early you start your day, you can venture to Neist Point lighthouse if you like. Neist Point is a beautiful spot to take in panoramic views of the surrounding area. Looking out over the ocean and around the rolling cliffs is stunning, and many like to venture here for the sunset. When visiting the lighthouse, you will have to make a steep walk downhill and continue the general downward descent until you reach the lighthouse. Since the walk is an out and back, you will have an upward climb to look forward to on the way back to your car. Do not let this scare you away though as the walk is not too long and provides very nice views. The lighthouse itself is dated, but the views around it are worth the walk. If you got a later start, skip the lighthouse and continue onto your afternoon activities.
Day 5 | Afternoon
Head to the the Oyster Shed and the Talisker Distillery. First stop by the Oyster Shed for an afternoon snack. The Oyster Shed is a spot where you can order fresh seafood in all different assortments including a plate of oysters, individual orders of fish and seafood, or a giant seafood box compiled of a variety of seafood, fish and chips. The Shed has spots to eat outside or you can take food to go. The food is excellent, but be prepared to work for it, especially if you get a seafood box with countless langoustines. Then head to the Talisker Whiskey Distillery, which offers tours and tasting. Be sure to book in advance especially if visiting during peak season as tours will fill up.
Day 5 | Evening
As it is your last evening in Portree, plan your evening based on what you still would like to cover. Perhaps you would like to hit The View again for drinks or try a new spot for dinner or just enjoy a quiet night before departing the next morning.
Day 6 | Morning
This morning start to make your way off the Isle of Skye. There are two options to leave, either take the same way you came on with the bridge, or taking a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. The itinerary assumes you will take the ferry, but this requires booking tickets in advance. It will also have a bit of wait time, but is nice to try a different route off the Isle. After reaching Mallaig by ferry, continue onward to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. En route to the Viaduct, Harry Potter fans should note you will drive past Loch Eilt, the film location of Dumbledore’s grave. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is also a key spot for Harry Potter lovers, as it is the iconic train track for Hogwarts Express. For the really big fans, you can ride on the train with The Jacobite.
Day 6 | Afternoon
From the Glenfinnan Viaduct, your next point of interest will be Glencoe. You will drive through Fort William and can choose to detour off to the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola. This will add about 2 hours to your journey as you will take the gondola up to the viewpoint and take-in the views.
If you choose not to stop, you will soon approach the Three Sisters of Glencoe. Enjoy the breathtaking views in the valley and surrounding area. Continue onward to Oban, a small fishing village on the west coast of Scotland, where you will be spending the night. Check-in to your accommodations and then had to the Oban Distillery. If possible to plan ahead, book a tour in advance here. Whether you enjoy whiskey or not, one of the nice activities to do while visiting Oban is take a visit to the Oban Distillery. Oban is a famous single-malt scotch in Scotland and is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. The Distillery offers different tour & tasting options to learn about their whiskey and sample different types. The staff are friendly and informative, and the Distillery is well worth a visit. Be sure to book a spot in advance.
Day 6 | Evening
Then explore the little town. This will not take long as it is quite small. Be sure to check out the Oban Seafood Shack. Located down on the Fishing Dock, the Oban Seafood Shack is just as it sounds. A little shack sits near the water with a few tables covered by tents to keep folks dry while enjoying their food. The Seafood Shack has an abundance of options, from fresh oysters to scallops to langoustines to clams to lobster and even has a variety of seafood sandwiches. The Oban Inn is also a cute pub right near the water. If the weather is nice, which is a luxury when visiting Scotland, sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the view of the water and people watching in town.
Day 7 | Morning
This morning, if there is any further exploring of Oban you’d like to do, take some time to enjoy the little town. Then start your drive to Edinburgh, which will take about 3 hours. The drive will pass through the beautiful Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Next stop will be the town of Culross following by Midhope Castle to drive by Outlander destinations. Tickets to the castle can be booked here.
Day 7 | Afternoon
Return the rental car and get checked into your accommodations on the (likely) final stop of your Scotland road trip (unless you choose to fly out of Glasgow and add one more Scottish city to the itinerary). In the city, you’ll now get around on foot or with public transit. If it is a nice day, check out Arthur’s Seat. It is a larger hill at edge of city overlooking Edinburgh. Starting from the bottom, climbing to the top takes about 15 minutes. There are three different “tops” so you can do all three or just choose the highest one to go up.
Day 7 | Evening
Check out Greyfriar’s Bobby for a drink or bite to eat. With its inspiration situated right outside, the pub named after the Skye Terrier has a lovely ambiance. It is located in the heart of the city center and a great spot to stop for a pint.
Day 8 | Morning
This morning walk over to Dean’s Village and Dean’s Gardens. This is a cute area that has a medieval feel to it. It does not feel like part of the city and is a nice way to get away from the hustle and bustle, and enjoy the gardens along the river. Then walk around the New Town area with key streets being Prince Street, George Street, and St. Andrew’s Square. The Scott Monument is also located in New Town which is a large Victorian monument.
Day 8 | Afternoon
Spend the afternoon in the quintessential Old Town of Edinburgh. Explore the Edinburgh Castle which is overlooks the city. The castle offers tours or visitors can enter and explore on their own. Make a stop at the Scotch Whiskey Experience for a tour and whiskey tasting. Check out Victoria Street, known for being a strip with colorful houses and walk along the Royal Mile, running from the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood, which includes many pubs, shops, restaurants and other historic sites.
Day 8 | Evening
Make the most of your final evening in Scotland. Hit up a pub for live music and a classic pub style meal, or consider something nicer and end your evening in the pub. Whatever you fancy, enjoy your last night in Scotland!
Day 9 | Morning
Today marks the day it is time to head home.
Option 1 – get an early start on your day and catch the 1 hour train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Tickets can easily be bought on trainline. Fast trains (duration – 55 mins), run approx every 30 minutes.
Option 2 – Pack your bags and head to the Edinburgh airport for your flight back to Boston.
Day 9 | Afternoon
Option 1 – walk around Glasgow and check out the University of Glasgow, which many say was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts. Ashton Lane is known for being an inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Find a pub for a nice Sunday Roast to enjoy your last British meal and a pint. Then head to the Glasgow airport to start your journey back to Boston.
Option 2 – With this option, you will be at the airport and on your journey back to Boston.