If you’re looking for an unforgettable road trip adventure, look no further than a road trip around Scotland. This beautiful country is home to some of the most scenic and challenging roads in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or a beginner, there’s something for everyone in Scotland. In this blog post, we will discuss 7 best Scottland road trips to make in 2022.
Scotland is the perfect playground for a road trip. I mean, the landscape up there is something else. It’s so diverse and varied, and with so many hidden gems to explore, you could literally spend months driving around and still not see everything.
We’re here to run you through the best pre-planning advice, the best ways to reach Scotland, and which routes are going to best serve your needs and wants…and timescales!
The 7 Famous Scotland Road Trips
The the above Scotland road trip map to plan your next trip. You choice will mostly depend on the time you have and where you will be flying into. To jump ahead to the route you want to see, you can use the table of contents below.
Driving From London To Scotland
The first step to planning any road trip is working out how you’re going to get there. If you’re coming from England or Wales, the easiest way to reach Scotland is by car.
The journey will take around eight hours if you’re driving from London. You’ll spend most of the trip using the M1 – the backbone of Britain – so even the most inexperienced drivers shouldn’t have any trouble reaching your Scottish starting point.
Driving From Wales To Scotland
From Cardiff in Wales, you’ll want to join the M6 at the closest junction where you’ll take this one road the whole way up the country. You’re looking at around 7hrs to reach Edinburgh – a little less for Glasgow, or a bit longer if you’re planning on going up to the Highlands.
Driving From The South East To Scotland
From the South East of England, You’ll want to take the M5 up to Birmingham before riding the M6 for most of the remainder of the drive. From Exeter, you’ll be looking at around 7.5 – 8hrs to reach Edinburgh, so it’s not for the faint-hearted!
From wherever you are driving from, if you fancy something a bit different, you could always take the ferry from Liverpool to Belfast and then drive up through Northern Ireland into Scotland. This will add a few hours to your journey but it’s a great way to see some of the stunning coastlines along the way if time isn’t an object for you.
And remember – if you’re not used to driving long distances, then consider breaking up the journey along the route and give those tired eyes a little rest around the halfway leg.
Driving From Mainland Europe To Scotland
You’ll want to take the M25 around London before joining the M1 which will eventually lead you up to Scotland.
The journey should take around 11hrs from Calais if you take the tunnel, so it’s definitely a trip for those with some experience (or a good sat nav).
Flying To Scotland
Scotland has 6 main international airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, and Prestwick – all of which have brilliant transport links to the rest of the country.
Some people even fly from other parts of the UK and rent a car once they arrive because it can actually work out cheaper than driving!
If you’re flying from London, then you can be in Edinburgh in around an hour, and Glasgow in just over that. If you’re flying in from overseas, then you’ll likely arrive into one of Edinburgh or Glasgow’s airports.
Make sure you check the prices of flights into each airport as they can vary quite significantly. For example, flying into Edinburgh will almost always be cheaper than Glasgow, but it’s worth considering the time it’ll take you to get from the airport to your first destination.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can pick up a rental car and prepare for the next leg of your Scotland road trip.
Car rental prices vary from airport to airport, but you can typically expect to pay around £30-£40 per day for a small car. If you’re planning on renting a larger vehicle or an SUV, then these prices can sometimes double.
To save money on your car rental, it’s definitely worth using a service like Rentalcars.com. They compare all the major car rental brands in one place, so you can easily find the best deal for your needs.
Travelling By Train To Scotland
If you’re not a fan of driving or flying, then another option is to take the train and rent a car when you arrive.
The train journey from London to Edinburgh is around five and a half hours, so it’s a great option if you want to avoid spending too much time on the road.
You can also take the train from other major cities in England like Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle.
If you’re coming from Europe, then there are also direct trains from cities like Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
The downside of taking the train is that you’ll likely have to change at least once, and the journey can be quite expensive if you’re not booking in advance. You can use a service like Trainline to check prices and book your tickets.
Now that you know how to get there, let’s get to the exciting stuff and look at some of the best road trip routes in Scotland!
Scotland Road Trip with a Campervan or Car?
This one will largely depend on your budget, but if you have the cash for it, then we would most definitely recommend a campervan! The benefit of taking a campervan is the ability to wild camp where you can wake up with some absolutely cracking views completely in the wilderness.
Bringing or renting a car is also a great way to go, and you will find some amazing hotels and Airbnbs dotted around to cater for all kinds of budgets for your road trip around Scotland.
I mean, there are some fantastic Airbnbs on offer too, such as this one, with some really unique experiences that you’ll likely never see again.
The Best Time Of Year to Take your Scotland Road Trip
Scotland is a stunning country to visit at any time of year, but there is something truly magical about it in springtime. As the days start to get longer and the weather gets warmer, the country comes to life. The hills are blanketed in wildflowers, the trees are filled with new leaves, and the air is filled with the sound of birdsong.
Even Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, feels different in spring. The streets are filled with people enjoying the sunshine, and the parks are alive with colour.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family adventure, Scotland is the perfect destination in spring.
Summers in Scotland average around the 20-degree mark. The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, but in general, the summers are mild with occasional showers. So pack your raincoat and enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer.
The days are longer, making it easier to pack in more activities, and the weather is generally more mild and pleasant. But remember – with this being the high season, the popular routes and hotels are often busier so will require a little more forward-planning rather than just rocking up on the day.
Scotland is a country of great natural beauty, and there is no better time to visit than in autumn. The leaves on the trees begin to turn red and gold, creating a stunning spectacle that can be enjoyed in both the countryside and the cities.
Although the weather can be unpredictable, the average temperature in autumn is around 13 degrees Celsius, with rainfall totalling around 80 millimetres. This makes it the perfect time to go for long walks in the fresh air, enjoying the changing colours of the leaves before they eventually fall to the ground.
You’ll also find plenty of deers on display at this time of year too, with ample opportunities to see them rutting around the highlands in full display.
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Scotland is the perfect destination in autumn.
Scotland is a land of contrasts, and this is especially true in winter. The days are short and the weather can be harsh, but there is also a unique beauty to the landscape that can only be seen in this season.
Winter in Scotland is a magical time, with snow-capped mountains and cosy fires in the evenings. The average temperature in winter is around 5 degrees Celsius, but it can feel much colder due to the wind chill factor. Precipitation levels are also high, with an average of 170mm of rainfall per month.
However, despite the challenges, winter is a great time to visit Scotland. The days may be shorter, but they are also filled with a special kind of light. And while the weather can be unpredictable, there are also moments of beautiful stillness and clarity.
Whether you’re braving the elements or cosying up by the fire, Scotland in winter is an unforgettable experience.
Understanding The Scottish Outdoor Access Code
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is a set of principles that governs how people can use and enjoy Scotland’s outdoors and is different to the position of England and Wales. The key principles of the code are that people should:
- Be respectful of the environment
- Be considerate of other
- Take responsibility for their own safety.
To give just a few examples, this might mean not straying off marked trails in order to protect fragile ecosystems, being aware of traffic when cycling on busy roads, or packing out all litter when leaving an area. By following the Scottish outdoor access code, everyone can help to keep Scotland’s outdoors beautiful and enjoyable for everyone.
1. The North Coast 500
Length: 506 miles / 814km
Duration: 10-15 days
Route: Inverness > Wick > John o’Groats > Thurso > Durness > Lochinver > Ullapool > Gairloch > Applecross > Inverness
Intending to take on the Scotland north coast 500 road trip? Well, first things first – you’re going to need to buckle up and put your game face on. This Scotland road trip 500 is one of the most scenic routes in the world, but it’s also one of the most challenging. The 500-mile route hugs the coastline of Scotland, taking in some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. From towering cliffs and sheltered bays to imposing castles and rolling hills, there’s something to feast your eyes on every step of the way.
The Scotland North Coast 500 road trip will take you approximately five days to complete, depending on how many stops you make along the way. If you’re looking to cover as much ground as possible, then you can plan to drive for around 3 hours each day. However, we recommend taking your time and enjoying the journey, stopping off at some of the highlights along the way. Some of our favourite stops include Eilean Donan Castle, Torridon mountain range and Plockton village – but there are plenty more to choose from.
You will cover 6 different regions on this road trip in Scotland, each one as unique and special as the last.
Black Isle is a peninsula located in the Scottish Highlands, to the north of Inverness. Although it’s often referred to as an island, Black Isle is actually connected to the mainland by a bridge.
The area is well known for its wildlife and stunning scenery, with plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling, and birdwatching. There are also a number of whisky distilleries located on Black Isle, making it the perfect place to enjoy a dram or two.
Caithness is the most northerly county in mainland Scotland and is home to some of the country’s most spectacular coastline. The area is renowned for its rugged beauty, with towering cliffs, sheltered bays, and sandy beaches.
Sutherland is a county located in the Scottish Highlands, to the north of Inverness. The area is renowned for its stunning scenery, with towering mountains, pristine lochs, and rushing waterfalls.
The region is also home to a number of castles, including Dunrobin Castle, which dates back to the 13th century.
Inverness-Shire is a county located in the Scottish Highlands, to the north of Glasgow. The area is renowned for its natural beauty, with lochs, mountains and glens to explore. The Inverness-Shire coastline is also home to some stunning beaches.
Easter Ross is a region in the Scottish Highlands, located to the north of Inverness. The area is known for its beautiful countryside, with rolling hills and lochs. There are also a number of historical sites to explore, including castles and historic battlefields.
is one of the most beautiful and remote areas in Scotland. The scenery is truly breathtaking, with towering mountains, pristine lochs and glens, and stunning coastline. This is a place where you can really get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Unmissable Highlights Of The North Coast 500
The best places to see on the scotland north coast 500 road trip? Here are our top picks:
1. Eilean Donan Castle: a 13th-century castle located on an island in Loch Duich. The castle is one of the most iconic and popular tourist attractions in Scotland.
2. Torridon Mountain Range: a stunning mountain range located in the northwest Highlands. The range includes some of the highest mountains in Scotland, including Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.
3. Plockton Village: a quaint and picturesque village located on the shores of Loch Carron. The village is home to a number of traditional Scottish pubs and restaurants.
4. Dunrobin Castle: a 19th-century castle located in the village of Golspie. The castle is home to a museum and impressive gardens and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
5. Cairngorms National Park: a large national park located in the Highlands of Scotland. The park is home to a number of mountains, lochs, and forests, and is a popular destination for walking, cycling, and wildlife watching.
6. Inverness: the capital of the Highlands and the largest city in the region. Inverness is home to a number of tourist attractions, including castles, museums, and shops. The city also has a lively nightlife scene, with a number of bars and clubs to enjoy.
7. Loch Ness: a large freshwater loch located in the Highlands of Scotland. The loch is home to the legendary Loch Ness Monster, and is a popular destination for boat trips and wildlife watching.
8. Visit the haunting battlefield of Culloden. Culloden is the site of the last battle to take place on British soil, and it is a place steeped in history. The battlefield is located just to the east of Inverness, and visitors can explore the extensive visitor centre, which includes a museum and interactive exhibits. The battlefield itself is now a protected area of natural beauty
9. Ben Nevis. Fancy tackling any of the 37 Munros along the route. If that’s a little too much for you, challenge yourself to one of the 43 Corbetts or 38 Grahams. In a rush? Just snap a photo of them from your car window as you whizz past…
*Munros – mountains over 914m | *Grahams – mountains over 762m | *Corbetts – mountains between the two
10. The Hill O’Many Stanes – be sure to visit this mystery wrapped in an enigma. No one knows for sure why 200 thin stones were laid out in a radiating pattern over 4000 years ago. Some believe that it was a burial site for the chieftains of the time. Others believe that it was a place of worship or a ceremonial
11. John o’Groats to Duncansby Head – The most north-easterly point on the British mainland with two commanding sea stacks out at sea to check out along the path. The impressive stacks alone makes this coastal walk worth the 5-mile trip.
12. Castle Sinclair Girigoe – There are few places in the world that can take your breath away quite like these 15th-century ruins. Situated on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, this once mighty fortress was once the stronghold of the powerful Sinclair clan. Today, it stands as a testament to a bygone era, when clans battled for control of the Scottish Highlands.
13. Castle of Mey – If you’re looking for a castle that has a truly personal touch, then the Castle of Mey is definitely worth a visit. This Scottish castle was owned by the Queen Mother (the mother of Queen Elizabeth II) and she spent many happy summers here. The castle is now open to the public and it’s a great place to learn more about the Royal Family.
14. For those who love their beaches, Scotland’s north coast has some of the best beaches in Britain. With miles of coastline and sandy shores, there are plenty of places to explore. Here are a few of our favourites
14a. Cromarty Beach – a great spot for walkers and birdwatchers. It’s also home to Scotland’s only colony of common seals.
14b. Tain Beach – perfect for a peaceful stroll or a spot of fishing. It’s also the site of an annual sand sculpture festival.
14c. Lossiemouth Beach – popular with surfers and kite surfers. It’s also a great place to enjoy a sunset over the Moray Firth…its truly spectacular in the right conditions!
15. Applecross Pass – this pass is one of the most beautiful and remote roads in the country. The pass is only a few miles from the coast, but the winding roads are not to be missed. Bealach na Bà is a small stretch with hairpin sharp bends and steep inclines. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but my god is it worth it.
16. Whale watching from Gairloch – and not just whales. This region has a wealth of different sea, land and air animals to excite, including dolphins, porpoises, sharks, seals, otters, puffins and perhaps even the white-tailed eagle. If this is high up on your list of things to do whilst on this Scotland road trip, you’ll want to plan your visit between mid-June and late September.
2. The North East 250
Length: 259 miles / 416km
Duration: 5 – 8 days
Route: Aberdeen > Peterhead > Fraserburgh > Portsoy > Spey Bay > Glenlivet > Braemar > Aberdeen
Scotland is a land of immense natural beauty, and the North East 250 road trip is the perfect way to explore everything it has to offer. Winding through the Highlands, this journey takes in some of the country’s most iconic scenery, from the towering peaks of the Cairngorms to the rugged coastline of the Northeast.
You can squeeze these highlights into a 7-day Scotland road trip, but of course, the slower you do it, the more you will be able to take in. Try giving yourself 10 days and make the most of each place.
You’ll access this route from Aberdeen Airport if you’re flying in and you can choose to go either clockwise or counter-clockwise…whichever you prefer.
Starting in Inverness, the route takes in the coastal towns of Aberdeen and Oban before heading inland to Loch Ness and Glencoe. From there, it’s onto the Isle of Skye before returning to the mainland and finishing up in Inverness.
Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to explore castles, drink whisky, and spot wildlife including red deer, Highland cows, and eagles. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed road trip around Scotland or an action-packed adventure, the North East 250 has something for everyone.
You’ll also have the opportunity to experience some of Scotland’s finest food and drink, as well as its rich history and culture. Whether you’re a keen photographer or simply looking to relax, take in the breathtaking views and enjoy the sweeping roads, the North East 250 is sure to have something for everyone.
Take care on the Snowroads on this Scotland road trip. There are plenty of steep inclines, blind summits, hairpin bends and single lane roads with passing places. A word of warning required if you’re thinking of completing it with a large motorhome.
Its also one of the newest routes up here, only being established in 2017. The route isn’t always clearly signposted so make sure you have your satnav to hand.
Aberdeen is the starting point for the North East 250 road trip, and is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. With a wealth of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as a variety of museums and art galleries, Aberdeen has something to suit all tastes.
The capital of the highlands and the perfect base from which to explore, Inverness also serves up a wealth of shops, restaurants and bars if that’s your vibe. With so many things to see and do, Inverness is the perfect place to relax and take in the stunning surroundings.
The Cairngorms are one of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes, and are a must-see on the North East 250 road trip. With a variety of hiking and cycling trails, as well as a number of golf courses, the Cairngorms offer something for everyone.
Moray Firth Coast
The Moray Firth Coast is home to some of Scotland’s best beaches, and is the perfect place to relax and take in the stunning views. With a number of towns and villages to explore, as well as a variety of outdoor activities on offer.
Speyside is home to some of Scotland’s best whisky distilleries, and is the perfect place to enjoy a dram or two. With a number of tours and tastings on offer, as well as a variety of shops and restaurants, Speyside ticks a lot of different things off the list.
Unmissable Highlights Of The North East 250
1. The Cairngorms National Park – This magical national park is home to wild deer and eagles, so make sure you have your camera at the ready. There is also the magnificent Corgarff Castle in all its glory.
2. Dolphin spotting at Portknockie. The perfect spot for looking at to sea, where you can also see the iconic Bow Fiddle Rock. The best bit? If you;re lucky and the sky is clear, you might even be able to glance the Northern Lights. Imagine that…
3. Elgin Castle – This picturesque castle is set in the Moray countryside and has some of the most incredible views. It’s also home to one of the oldest trees in Scotland, which is definitely worth a visit, too.
4. Enjoy a Cullen Skink. This is a thick, Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions. The dish is named after the town of Cullen in Moray, so make sure you try this delicious soup at its birthplace.
5. Visit the Castle of Balmoral – Located in Aberdeenshire, this castle is a popular tourist destination because of its picturesque setting and beautiful architecture. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Balmoral estate in 1852 and commissioned architect William Burn to design the castle. It truly is a remarkable build so do not miss it!
6. Get outdoors – Simply put, this whole region of Scotland has some of the best adrenalin-fueled activities on offer, including white water rafting, climbing, hiking, cycling and much more. The adventurous types’ dream location.
7. Visit Peterhead Prison Museum – The museum is dedicated to the history of Peterhead Prison, which was once one of the largest prisons in Scotland. The prison closed its doors to inmates in 2013, after nearly 400 years in operation. The museum tells the story of the prison and its inmates, through exhibits and audio-visual displays.
8. Don’t miss the whiskey – Glenlivet, Strathisla, Royal Lochnager and Tomintoul are all established (and incredibly tasty) distilleries that you can find on this road trip in Scotland. If Whiskeys your tipple, then this news might make you very happy!
9. The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses – Located in Fraserburgh, this tour of the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse is draped in history, where you can explore the very first lighthouse built on the Scottish mainland back in 1787.
10. Ellon Castle Gardens – These magnificent yews and lovely herbaceous borders make for a lovely trip to this iconic ruined castle.
11. Huntly Castle – Did I say there was a shortage of castles on the North East 250? This one is another famous ruin with noble heritage, quality design and tranquil gardens to explore
12. Did anyone say ice cream? – Visit an award-winning ice cream parlour, awarded the best ice cream in the whole of Aberdeenshire. Sweet treats and everything to keep the blood sugar levels running high
3. Heart 200
Length: 232 miles / 373km
Duration: 5-8 days
Route: Stirling > Trossachs Pier > Killin > Blair Athol > Pitlochry > Perth > Kinross > Crief > Stirling
Another newcomer the Scotland roap trip map, this time a little less distance covered at a modest 200-mile drive. Even though the total drive time to get around this circuit comes in at around 7 hours, you’ll still want to plan for a 5-8 days to get everything ticked off the list.
The Heart 200 Scotland road trip is one of the most popular tourist routes in Scotland. The trip takes visitors through some of the most beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer, including the Highlands, Loch Ness, and Edinburgh.
Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the sights, as well as to enjoy some of the best food and drink that Scotland has to offer.
The trip can be taken at any time of year, but many people prefer to travel in the spring or summer when the weather is at its best. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday or an adventure-filled road trip, the Heart 200 Scotland road trip is sure to give you memories that will last a lifetime.
This trip uncovers the rich history of Stirling and Perth where you will find ample castles for any prince or princess in the family.
The castles of Stirling and Perth are some of the most well-preserved in all of Scotland, and their history goes back centuries. The scenic beauty of these two cities is breathtaking, with rolling hills, lush green forests, and pristine lakes.
And last but not least, the food in Scotland is to die for! From haggis and shortbread to whisky and salmon, there is something for everyone on this leg of the trip.
Expect a very diverse drive steeped in beauty, from the brimming forests in the west, the spectacular highlands in the north, the gushing rivers streaming in the east, and of course the historic south full of castles, tales and legend.
If you have the time, you can add the Fife Coastal Route to this one and capture some of the idyllic fishing villages, world-class golf courses and of course, castles and whiskey distilleries that always come in abundance. Head to Kincardine along the estuary and take the coastal road all the way up to Dundee before dropping back down to Stirling to bring a close to this Scottish road trip.
Unmissable Highlights of The Heart 200
1. Learn the rich history of Stirling – Sitting at the heart of central Scotland. Visit the old town for what will feel like a walk through medieval history, explore the imposing Stirling castle that sits on top of an ancient volcanic rock, and make sure you check out the National Wallace Monument overlooking the historic site 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge. This is where William Wallace once defeated the English and they pushed their way northwards.
2. Doune Castle – If you like your TV shows, then this is a must for you. Used as a popular film set, this castle was the home for Monty Python, the Prime series ‘Outlander’, and as the majestic ‘Winterfell’ in the Game Of Thrones smash-hit series. Think you’re bored of castles yet? Think again!
3. Visit the Kallin Museum – The Kallin Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Scotland. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, including a replica of a medieval Scottish castle. You can also learn about the Battle of Bannockburn, which was fought in 1314 between the Scots and the English.
4. Check out the Falls of Dochart – This gushing series of white water rapids is worth a glance. Base yourself at the Bridge of Dochart in the village for the best views.
5. Watersports at Loch Earn – Wakebarding, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are all on offer at this magnificent freshwater loch located in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. For a breathtaking view of the loch and countryside surroundings, head up Ben Vorlich – a popular short walk to the top of the mountain.
6. Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games – If you’re doing your Scotland road trip during August, the third Saturday in August is the annual highland games tournament including caber tossing, hill racing and other traditional games. trust me, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
7. The Queens View, Loch Tummel – This place is named after Queen Victoria, who visited the site in 1866. The viewing point offers stunning panoramic views of Loch Tummel and the surrounding mountains. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and receives over 200,000 visitors each year.
8. The Birks of Aberfeldy – a must-see while in town. This natural gorge is created by the River Tay and is one of the most popular walks in all of Perthshire. It’s also home to a number of waterfalls, which are especially beautiful after a rainfall. The best part is that the Birks of Aberfeldy is only a short walk from the center of town. After you’ve worked up an appetite from all that walking, stop in at one of Aberfeldy’s many cafes or restaurants for some lunch. Check out the Breadalbane Bakehouse for its delicious pies and pastries!
9. The Falls of Bruar – These waterfalls and white water rapids are located in the Perthshire village of Grandtully, near the River Tay. The falls are made up of two main cascades, each with a drop of around 15 metres. There is also a smaller waterfall known as the Stone of Destiny.
The Falls of Bruar are a popular spot for walkers and photographers whilst the rapids are reserved for you thrill-seekers out there!
10. The Gorge of Killiecrankie – If you’re into your history, then make sure you stop at the Gorge of Killiecrankie where the Battle of Killiecrankie was fought in 1689. The battle was part of the Jacobite Rising, which was an attempt by the Scottish to overthrow the English monarchy. Don’t miss the viewpoint at the top as well, and keep your eyes peeled for salmon leaping out of the water and colourful woodpeckers.
11. Visit the crowning place of Scottish Kings – Scone Palace is home to where many famous kings were once crowned, including Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Charles II. You’ll find this red sandstone castle close to the village of Scone and Perth city and showcases some of the very best late Georgian Gothic styles remaining in the UK.
12. Blair Drummond Safari Park – Last but not least on our Heart200 list is to visit the Blair Drummond Safari Park. Located just outside of Stirling, the safari park is home to a number of different animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants and rhinos. You can even feed some of the animals too. Its strongly considered the best safari park in the UK for conservation efforts and breeding, so give yourself a day to explore the 120 acres and 350+ animals. The park also has a number of different rides and attractions, making it the perfect day out for all the family.
4. South West Coast 300
Length: 302 miles / 486km
Duration: 5-8 days
Route: Prestwick > Ballantrae > Cairngaan > Isle of Whithorn > Kirkudbright > Lockerbie > Moffat > Dalmellington > Prestwick
The South West Coastal 300 road trip in Scotland is one of the most popular routes in the country. Stretching for 300 miles, the route takes in some of the most stunning coastal scenery any Scotland road trip would have to offer.
Starting this Scottish road trip in Glasgow, its perfect for internationals flying in from overseas before renting a car. The circular route can be taken in either direction where you’ll finish back at Glasgow before taking your return flight (or drive/train – whichever suits!)
Total drive time is a mere 8 hours but we would still recommend giving yourself 5-8 days to complete this one to allow all the beautiful stops you’ll want to make along the way.
Highlights from this road trip include the cultural heart of Glasgow where you can spend a few days here to explore, along with the rugged coast of Ballantrae, the majestic Cairngorms National Park and the sweeping moorlands at the south.
Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure across the many moorlands, immersed in the deep greens of the lush forests, or the rugged coastal drives, we think you will quickly fall in love with this little corner of Scotland with all its dramatic landscapes and charm.
This village is on the coast of South Ayrshire, in southwest Scotland. The name Ballantrae is derived from the Scottish Gaelic ‘Baile na Tragha’, meaning “town on the beach”.
The village lies at the southern end of a peninsula, on the east coast of Girvan Bay and serves up wonderfully rugged coastal roads.
This charming town in Scotland will seduce and woo you. There are many highlights to Dumfries, including the beautiful scenery and the super-friendly people that live there that will make this a memorable part of your trip.
Isle of Whithorn
is a small town in Dumfries and Galloway, southwest Scotland. The town is located on the coast of the Solway Firth, just north of Stranraer. The Isle of Whithorn is a popular tourist destination for its sandy beaches, golf course, and fishing. The town is also home to a number of historical sites that you will quickly fall in love with.
Unmissable Highlights Of The South West 300
1. Gallaway Forest Park – Don’t miss the chance to see the beautiful Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, in this incredible national park. Your best chances of seeing it is during the winter months so wrap up warm. Between 10pm and 2am are the best times.
2. Isle of Whithorn – Explore this beautiful little town and the old ruins of St Ninians Chapel. St Ninian founded the first Christian church in the whole of Britain all the way back in AD390, so you can expect this town. tobe draped in history and culture.
3. See the sunset at Mull of Galloway lighthouse – this expertly designed lighthouse sits at the southern-most tip of Scotland on the Galloway peninsula and serves up some rather incredible sunsets at dusk. Not to be missed.
4. Culzean Castle – If you’re looking for a truly Scottish experience, look no further than Culzean Castle. This historic castle is located on the coast of Ayrshire and offers stunning views of the Isle of Arran. Highlights of a visit to Culzean Castle include exploring the grounds, taking in the views from the top of the tower, and admiring its glory from below the clifftop its perched on.
5. Day-tripping in Kirkudbright – immerse yourself in the creative history of this ‘artists town’. Full of prevailing communities of different creatives like painters and crafts, with a rich history going back generations to this creative cultural centre of Scotland
6. Discover Peter Pans creator at Moat Brae – Home to the author who congured up Peter Pan, JM Barrie‘s famous character come from inspiration of a town he called home in Dumfries.
7. Scottish Dark Sky Observatory – The powerful telescopes in Dalmellington are used to observe the night sky in the absence of any light pollution. Great those for with an interest looking out of our worlds rather than looking in.
8. Hiking in Moffat – There are many fantastic hiking trails in Moffat, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks. Some of the highlights include Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall, Devil’s Beef Tub, and Hartfell Spout. Whatever your fitness level, there’s a hike for you in Moffat!
9. 7Stanes mountain biking – Located in Nithsdale, just outside of Dumfries, this world-class mountain biking centre servers up some dramatic and intimidating routes to challenge yourself with. Don’t worry, there’s different routes for all skill levels, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy
10. Galloway Activity Centre – Right on Loch Ken, you can experience full-day activities or shorter taster sessions on everything from mountain biking, archery, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking…the list goes on but if outdoor adventure is your thing, this needs to be included into your Scotland road trip.
11. Visit the Five Kingdoms Brewery – If craft brewing and fine ales is your cup of tea, then this will be worth a stop. You’ll find it nestled atop the Machars Peninsula a short drive away from Galloway Forest hills. The small fishing village is a charm to walk through, too
5. Argyll Coastal Route (& Loch Ness)
Length: 263 miles / 423km
Duration: 7 – 11 days
Route: Glasgow > Tarbet > Inverary > Lochgilphead > Oban > Glencoe > Fort William > Glenfinnan > Inverness
The Argyll Coastal Route in Scotland is one of the most amazing driving routes you will ever take. The one-way road trip will take you from Glasgow airport in the south to Inverness up in the north.
The 263-mile Scotland road trip will take about 7hrs of total drive time, but with soooo much to see along the way, you’ll want to try and allocate about 10 days for this one, but you might just get away with 1 week.
You can shorten this road trip in Scotland by cutting out the coastal drive from Lochgilphead up to Glencoe and instead head straight from Tarbet to Glencoe. You can save yourself a few extra days if time is not your friend, but the diversity the coastal route throws into this tour of Scotland won’t be forgotten any time soon.
The highlights of the trip include the stunning scenery, the friendly locals, and the chance to experience some of the best driving roads in the world.
You can expect to see plenty of sheep, castles, and lochs, as well as some of the most picturesque villages that Scotland has to offer as you travel the linear route from the sweeping low lands in the south to the majestic highlands of the north.
The route takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside in the country, and you will definitely want to stop frequently to enjoy the views. With so much to see and do, the Argyll Coastal Route is a road trip that you will never forget.
This is a small town in Argyll and Bute, situated on the banks of Loch Gilp – a freshwater loch which lies to the south of the town. The population of Lochgilphead is approximately 2000 people, but expect to fall in love with the friendly people and the quaint town.
Another small town in the Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. The town is located on the coast of Oban Bay, and is also the gateway to the Isles, with ferries departing from the town to Mull, Iona, Lismore, Coll and Tiree. Oban is a popular tourist destination, with visitors coming to enjoy the town’s scenic location, as well as its shops, restaurants and cafes.
Unmissable Highlights Of The Argyll Coast Route
1. Immerse in the culture of Glasgow – Enjoy a day two exploring the cultural heritage and sublime architecture brought to life from the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his stately victorian designs.
2. Oban – this quaint town is home to a number of historical attractions, including McCaig’s Tower and the Oban War and Peace Museum, both of which are well worth a few hours to explore
3. Inveraray Castle and Jail – Worth a stop-off, make sure you drop in at the Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell’s home and enjoy this fairytale home surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers.
4. Step back in time at Auchindrain – This atmospheric open-air museum is set on the site of a former Highland farmstead, and is the perfect place to learn about traditional rural life in Scotland. With its thatched cottages, stone byres and water-powered mill, Auchindrain gives visitors a rare insight into what life was once like in the Scottish Highlands.
5. Consume your own weight in fresh seafood – The fresh seafood on offer along this route and down the coast is second to none, with some of the finest oysters on offer you’ll likely ever find.
6. Kilmartin Museum – This museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Scottish history or archaeology. The museum holds an impressive collection of artefacts from Scotland’s past, including prehistoric tools and pottery, medieval jewellery and weapons, and even items from the Viking age. The museum is also home to the National Centre for Archaeology, which offers a variety of courses and workshops for all levels of interest and expertise.
7. Castle Stalker – Another must-see for anyone driving in Scotland and visiting the area of Port Appin. The castle sits on a small island just off the coast, and its unique design makes it one of the most recognizable castles in the world. There are several reasons to visit Castle Stalker, including its history, architecture, and location which makes for many great photo opportunities!
8. Lochabar Area – The Lochabar area in Scotland is known as the outdoor capital of the UK, and for good reason. It’s an incredibly peaceful place to visit, dominated by views of Ben Nevis on the horizon. You can enjoy outdoor activities to your heart’s content, including mountain biking, climbing, hiking, abseiling and plenty of different watersports to fix any shortage of adrenaline-induced fun.
9. Glen Coe – Scotland’s most infamous and beautiful valley, and also the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. This was the time two clans came head to head, with members of the Campbell clan murdering members of the Macdonald Clan on the orders of the English crown. It’s a gruelling history, with a dramatic landscape shaped by glaciers and a volcanic history from millions of years ago. Its fair to say there is a lot that went on here in the past!
10. Viewpoint at An Ceann Mor – There is a wonderful viewpoint at An Ceann Mor where you can see for miles over Loch Lomond. The views are simply breathtaking and it’s well worth the climb to the top. You’ll find it in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
11. Wildlife – The Scottish Highlands are home to some of the most amazing wildlife in the world. You’ll have the chance to see red deer, eagles, otters, and much more, so have your cameras at the ready.
6. The Borders Historic Route
Length: 88 miles / 141km
Duration: 2-4 days
Route: Edinburgh > Dalkeith > Galashiels > Selkirk > Hawick > Langholm > Gretna Green
With Edinburgh as the starting point of this shorter, 88-mile Scotland road trip, you’ll traverse through the green cascading countryside, quaint and charming villages and finish up at the famously-known Gretna Green bordering England.
This is one of the shortest trips on this list, with a total drive time of around 3 hours, but you’ll definitely still want to break this up over 2-3 days, which also makes it a perfect weekend getaway to retreat into the countryside!
You will learn all about the bustling arts and crafts scene on this trip, with rural regions absolutely brimming with vibrant scenes from the Scottish industrial heritage.
You can also fly into Newcastle airport and make the short drive up to Gretna Green if you wanted to flip the linear route and finish up in Edinburgh.
Unmissable Highlights Of The Border Historic Route
1. Neoclassical Edinburgh – The historical capital of Scotland, and the start (or maybe the finish?) of this famous Scotland road trip. The medieval architecture and Edinburgh castle is enough to excite most people, so lap it up and immerse yourself in the stone streets and old buildings.
2. Dalkeith Country Park – A beautiful, 1,000-acre countryside park that’s perfect for a day of picnicking, walking and wildlife spotting. Located just outside Edinburgh, it’s the perfect place to start your road trip as you make your way into the Scottish Borders.
3. Lady Victoria Colliery – If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, you will want to visit Lady Victoria Colliery as part of your famous Scotland road trip. This working coal mine offers tours that take you deep underground to see firsthand how the miners work. You’ll also get to try your hand at traditional mining tasks like operating the pithead winding gear. It’s an unforgettable experience and a fantastic tour so don’t miss this one.
4. Harmoney Garden, Melrose – The gardens are beautiful and the views are fantastic. Make sure you get yourself up to Melrose Abbey and the close-by Eildon Hills for some of the best views. There are plenty of things to do here, so you won’t be bored. You can go for a walk, visit the museum, or just relax and take in the wonderful colours of the garden.
5. Innerleithen – This is a small town in the Scottish Borders, situated at the confluence of the River Tweed and Leithen Water. Step back in history at the Robert Smail’s Printing Works when visiting this charming little town, and try your hand at typesetting and discover the fine art skilled printers used to use hundreds of years ago.
6. Discover how Scottish tartans are made – You can grab a tour at Lochcarron of Scotland in Selkirk and discover how tartans are woven from start to finish. These guys are on the most well-known names in the Scottish Border’s textile industry with over 100 years of experience in their craft.
7. Lindean Mill Glass tour – The Lindean Mill Glass tour is the perfect way to see how this beautiful glass is made by traditional glassblowers, with some of their works even exhibited at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. You’ll get to see the process from start to finish, and you might even get to meet some of the friendly staff who work there.
8. Gilnockie Tower – this ruined tower house in Dumfriesshire was built in the 15th century by the Johnstone family, who was one of the most powerful families in the area. The tower is located on a strategic site overlooking the River Nith and was used as a defensive stronghold during border disputes between England and Scotland, and was once home to the Armstrong Clan.
9. Loch Awe & Kilchurn Castle – Loch Awe is the largest freshwater loch in the UK, and is home to a variety of wildlife including red deer, eagles, and otters. Kilchurn Castle, meanwhile, is a ruined 15th-century castle that sits on the edge of the loch. The castle is open to the public and is a popular spot for picnics and walks. Loch Awe & Kilchurn Castle are draped in wildlife and history and a great spot for nature lovers to visit.
7. Isle Of Skye Road Trip
Length: 160 miles / 257km
Duration: 2-4 days
Route: Ardelve > Broadfrod > Portree > Trotternish > Duntulm > Dunvegan > Armadale > Mallaig
Ready to take your next famous Scottish road trip around the Isle of Sky? It is the perfect way to explore this stunning island, with highlights of the trip including driving through the varied rugged landscapes and incredible coastal roads.
To total distance for this one is around 160 miles with a total drive time of around 5 hours. Yes, you can complete this drive in a day, but if you wanted to make all the sights and stops to make this Scotland road trip a memorable one, then you’ll want to give yourself 2-4 days to absorb it all in.
No matter how long you have to explore, a road trip around the Isle of Sky is an unforgettable experience though.
Unmissable Highlights Of The Isle Of Skye Road Trip
1. Old Man Storr – This is a Rocky Peak on the Isle of Skye, and is one of our favourite places to visit in Scotland by car. It serves up epic views all around the countryside and dramatic landscape. The hike up is around 2hrs but it’s not too challenging and will be worth every second when you reach the top!
2. The majestic Fairy Glen – Ok, so this place is like it’s just been dropped here from another world. It’s a completely natural phenomenon and looks uncannily similar to something you might see in New Zealand. It gets busy though, so arrive early if you want to escape the crowds.
3. Eilean Donan Castle – One of the most iconic castles in Scotland where you have to cross a bridge to visit. It is located on an island in Loch Duich and is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the country. The castle has been used as a filming location for many films and TV shows, including Highlander, James Bond and Outlander. It’s an absolute gem and can’t be missed.
4. Mealt Falls – A beautiful waterfall located in the northeast of the Isle of Skye. The waterfalls from a height of about 100 feet and is surrounded by lush greenery. There is also a viewing platform where you can get a great view of the falls where you can get some great photos.
5. Kilt Rock – This is another must-see on the Isle of Skye. This towering sea stack is located on the east coast beside Mealt Falls. It is about 200 feet high, and the views from the top are simply breathtaking and you can see for miles. There is also a small path that leads to the top of the stack if you’re feeling adventurous.
And there you have it – the 6 BEST Scotland road trips that we believe absolutely every man and his dog should take at least once in their lives (or why not more). If there is anything we’ve missed, then we’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Now…go forth and have the most magical time exploring these famous Scottish road trips. Remember to capture the most amazing pictures as you imerse yourself into the wild outdoors that Scotland has to offer.