Scotland has a rich offering in terms of landscape, culture, and history, so if you’ve got a spare week to hop on over to Europe, here’s the lowdown.
When is the best time to do a road trip around Scotland?
When deciding what time of year to do a Scotland roadtrip, there are a few factors to consider. The first is, of course, the weather. In the summer months, Scotland experiences mild weather with daylight until as late as 11 pm. In contrast, the winter days are dark, cold and much shorter which will restrict the amount of time you have to do things.
The downside of visiting in the summer is the influx of tourists that Scotland receives, so to beat the crowds it’s worth considering a Spring or Fall visit.
Finally, be weary of the roads in the winter months of December to February, where even the most experienced of drivers can have an unfortunate run-in with unfavourable conditions such as black ice.
Scotland’s landscapes are breathtaking year-round, so you’ll be in for a treat whenever you decide to visit.
How much should you budget for a road trip in Scotland?
Your budget should include car hire and fuel, food, accommodation and money for attractions and activities. Expect to spend £30-50 ($37-$62) on food per day, anything from £30-£200 ($37-$250) a night on accommodation (ranging from a hostel bed to a luxury hotel), and allow a healthy budget for activities.
Car hire and fuel cost for a 7-day road trip in Scotland
Car hire in Edinburgh for a one-week trip starts at around £200 ($250) and increases depending on the type of car and the age of the driver. Additionally, you may need to consider roadside recovery in case of a breakdown. It’s a good idea to check the price of fuel before you travel and create a budget for the distances you’re going to be driving.
Is 7 days enough for a road trip in Scotland?
7 days is enough time to see some of Scotland’s highlights, without driving too far each day. Of course, if you have the time and money on your hands you can extend the trip to see more of the country or just take things at a slower pace.
The best itinerary for a 7-day road trip around Scotland
The ideal itinerary for a 7-day roadtrip in Scotland takes a circular route from Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a well-connected city to start and finish your itinerary, with an international airport and regular trains from London.
Day 1 Edinburgh
Your 7-day Scotland roadtrip will kick off in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Before you set off, it’s worth spending some time soaking up the city and its vast offering of arts, culture and history. Take a hike up to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano in the hills on the edge of the city, or explore the magnificent Edinburgh Castle.
Day 2 Pitlochry
The second day is a 70-mile drive from Edinburgh to Pitlochry, meaning you can easily arrive at your destination before lunch. On your journey, you’ll pass by Lochleven Castle—a beautiful 14th-century castle on an island in the middle of the loch with connections to Queen Mary of the Scots.
Pitlochry is a picturesque town to spend the rest of the day with plenty of places to eat, drink and enjoy. If you’re craving some more nature, head to the nearby Killiecrankie Gorge, or Queen’s View; a stunning viewpoint overlooking Loch Tummel.
Day 3 Inverness
Day three of the trip is an 89-miler, taking only two hours. However, there’s plenty to see on the way, including several distilleries, a highland wildlife park, castles and even the Highland Folk Museum full of fascinating history.
Once you hit Inverness, you’ve got many options for things to see and do. The River Ness flows through the city which makes for a pleasant walk, or if you’re seeking some culture head to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery in the city center.
Day 4 Skye
A Scotland roadtrip isn’t complete without a visit to the spectacular Isle of Skye. From Inverness, you’ll head 105 miles west on the A82, passing the famous Loch Ness. It’s worth considering a visit to the Urquhart Castle which overlooks the loch and offers a pretty spectacular view—from here you can try and spot the infamous Loch Ness Monster!
You’ll also drive past the iconic Eilean Donan castle, featured in James Bond’s ‘The World is Not Enough’ among many other movies. Finally, you’ll cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye, you’re next destination!
Day 5 Skye
A full day in Skye is essential to see the main sights and the awe-striking landscape. Hike to the lighthouse at the Point of Sleat, visit the Armadale and Dunvegan castles and soak up the views at Staffin Beach, finishing with a visit to the quaint village of Staffin.
If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a boat to UNESCO world heritage site St. Kilda where you’ll have a chance of seeing the world’s largest colony of gannets and fulmars.
Day 6 Skye to Oban
Day 6 of your Scotland roadtrip involves a 134-mile drive to Oban. Halfway into your journey, you’ll pass by the town of Fort William, known as the gateway to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, with some great mountain views.
Your next destination, Oban, is known as the seafood capital of Scotland, making it a great place to try some of the local dishes. Oban also has a famous whiskey distillery where you can take a tour and see for yourself how such a small distillery is able to produce over one million bottles of single malt each year!
Day 7 Oban-Loch Lomond-Edinburgh
The final 144 miles of your Scotland roadtrip won’t disappoint as you slowly make your way back to Edinburgh. The road will take you past Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park—a breathtaking place, with mountains, lochs and picture-postcard views.
Before you know it you’ll be driving back into the vibrant and charming city of Edinburgh. Drop off the car and go and soak up some of Edinburgh’s lively nightlife—a much-needed way to unwind from a week on the road!
Long Story Short....
If you’ve got a spare 7 days and want to hit the road, this is one of the most beautiful road trips you can do in the UK, with a real blend of culture, adventure and spectacular scenery.
Written by AC Callahan