With 12 days in Scotland, you can experience the welcoming cities of Edinburgh and Inverness, the historic castles of Aberdeenshire, and the forested Cairngorms National Park on a well-rounded highlights tour. Or, focus your time on the dreamy islands of Arran, Mull, and Skye with a culture-infused itinerary. Other options include an active adventure featuring hikes in the Isle of Skye, Fort William, and Glen Coe, and a self-drive trip focused on Scotland's famed and lesser-visited whisky distilleries.

Itinerary #1: Self-Drive Scotland Highlights: Cities, Castles & Countryside

Perfect for first-time visitors to Scotland, this 12-day highlights trip features a finely curated mix of city tours, castle visits, and countryside hikes. With a rental car on hand, you'll delight in the freedom of the open road, and thanks to specialized tours, you'll also delve into the history of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling, and Inverness. Other notable highlights include a hike along the Fife Coastal Walk, a visit to Balmoral Castle, and a whisky tasting session at Glenfarclas Distillery.

Count the castles as you explore historic Aberdeenshire on a guided tour
Count the castles as you explore historic Aberdeenshire on a guided tour
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Old Town Walking Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Drive to Stirling, Explore Stirling Castle & William Wallace Monument Stirling
Day 3 Drive to St Andrews, Fife Coastal Walk to Kingsbarns St Andrews
Day 4 Drive to Aberdeen via Lindores Abbey Distillery Experience & Arbroath Abbey Aberdeen
Day 5 Castles of Aberdeenshire Tour Aberdeen
Day 6 Full-Day Coastal Villages Tour Aberdeen
Day 7 Drive to Aberlour via Cairngorms National Park & Balmoral Castle Aberlour
Day 8 Whisky Tasting at Glenfarclas, Speyside Cooperage, Drive to Aviemore Aviemore
Day 9 Drive to Inverness via Culloden Battlefield & Clava Cairns Inverness
Day 10 Kilt Making Exhibition, Cawdor Castle Inverness
Day 11 Drive to Edinburgh via The Hermitage Walk Edinburgh
Day 12 Depart Edinburgh  

Welcome to Scotland! Your adventure begins in Edinburgh, where you'll delve into the city's intriguing past during an Old Town tour before collecting your rental car. Your first road trip destination is Stirling, and upon arrival, head out to explore its imposing Stirling Castle. Next is an overnight stay in St Andrews paired with a half-day hike along the Fife Coast Path, then continue to Aberdeen for a three-day stay. Here, you'll embark on a private tour showcasing the best of Aberdeenshire's 263 castles and enjoy small group exploration of the region's quaint coastal villages and beaches.

Just over the midway point of your trip, you'll drive to Cairngorms National Park for a splendid afternoon roaming Balmoral Castle's grounds. Spend that evening in Aberlour, which ensures a leisurely start to the following day's whisky tasting at Glenfarclas Distillery. Next, an overnight in Aviemore provides the perfect base to visit Culloden Battlefield and the prehistoric site of Clava Cairns before continuing to Inverness. Here, you'll visit the Inverness Castle and learn the secrets of kiltmaking at the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre prior to returning to Edinburgh for your departing flight. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Active Scotland: Edinburgh, Isle of Skye, Ben Nevis & Loch Lomond

Treat yourself to a thrilling snorkeling excursion, scenic hikes, and a mountain biking experience on this active exploration of Scotland. Crafted for travelers whose idea of a perfect day involves time in nature, you'll hop between the scenic regions and cities of Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, Fort William, Oban, and Glasgow while packing in all sorts of unique outdoor activities. Plus, with a rental car on hand and plenty of stops to break up longer drives, even your travel days promise to be filled with adventure.

Pick between hiking adventures during a free afternoon on the Isle of Skye
Pick between hiking adventures during a free afternoon on the Isle of Skye
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Private Walking Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Ultimate Cycling Tour of Edinburgh, Free Time Edinburgh
Day 3 Drive to Inverness via Killiehuntly  Inverness
Day 4 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Underwater Boat Trip Isle of Skye
Day 5 Guided Sea Kayak Experience, Free Time Isle of Skye
Day 6 Ferry to Mallaig, Drive to Fort William, Mountain Biking Fort William
Day 7 Hike to the Top of Ben Nevis Fort William
Day 8 Drive to Oban via Glen Coe, Private Guided Glen Coe Walk Oban
Day 9 Experience Scotland's Snorkel Trails, Free Time Oban
Day 10 Visit Inveraray Castle, Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, Horse Trekking  Glasgow
Day 11 Free Time, Glasgow Beer Tour Glasgow
Day 12 Drive to Edinburgh, Depart  

Your active adventure through Scotland kicks off with two days in Edinburgh, which is the perfect place to overcome travel fatigue while exploring its Old Town and cycling between lesser-visited sites alongside guides. Settled in, you'll then collect your rental car and head to Killiehuntly for a superb morning of salmon fishing before spending that night in Inverness. Your self-drive trip continues to the mystical Isle of Skye, where you'll seek out the region's wildlife while onboard a glass-bottom boat and during a guided kayaking excursion. Afterward, catch a ferry to Mallaig and make your way to Fort William.

With two nights based in Fort William, you'll have ample time to join a Nevis Range mountain biking adventure and conquer a hike to the summit of Ben Nevis. A short drive brings you to Glen Coe, where you'll explore the lush Lost Valley before continuing to Oban for a two-night stay. Upon arrival, savor a memorable seafood dinner, which will fuel you for the following day's thrilling snorkeling excursion among Ganavan Sands' kelp forests. Lastly, pause to visit Inveraray Castle and Loch Lomond on your drive to Glasgow, and celebrate the end of an epic adventure over a pub tour. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Island Hopping in Scotland

Discover Scotland's rich culture and rugged beauty on this epic island-hopping itinerary. Ideal for those seeking immersive experiences, you'll attend a traditional music show in Glasgow, participate in a traditional social gathering in Oban, and sample whisky at a tucked-away distillery on the Isle of Raasay. Throughout, you'll also enjoy numerous nature-based excursions, including a hike up Ben More, a trek through Nevis Gorge, and free time to explore at Glencoe Lochan.

Views to the Isle Ornsay lighthouse from Skye—one of the six Scottish islands you'll visit on this trip
Views to the Isle Ornsay lighthouse from Skye—one of the six Scottish islands you'll visit on this trip
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Glasgow, Scottish Trad Trail & Folk Music Tour Glasgow
Day 2 Drive to Adrossan, Ferry to Isle of Arran, Explore Arran's Nature Arran
Day 3 Return Ferry, Drive to Oban & Explore Oban
Day 4 Free Time, Traditional Scottish Ceilidh Experience Oban
Day 5 Ferry to Isle of Mull, Explore Tobermory Isle of Mull
Day 6 Full-Day Guided Mull & Iona Tour Isle of Mull
Day 7 Drive to Fort William, Hike Glen Nevis: Steall Falls & Nevis Gorge Walk Fort William
Day 8 Visit Eilean Donan Castle, Drive to the Isle of Skye Isle of Skye
Day 9 Isle of Raasay Whisky, Gin & Chocolate Tour Isle of Skye
Day 10 Drive to Glencoe, Glencoe Lochan Walk Glencoe
Day 11 Drive to Glasgow, Private Glasgow Tour Glasgow
Day 12 Depart Glasgow  

Upon arriving in Glasgow, get your first taste of Scotland's lovable culture through a music-themed walking tour and dinner show. Then, pack up your rental car the following morning, set your sights on the Isle of Arran, and spend the afternoon exploring the ruins of Lochranza Castle and the grand Brodick Castle. After another morning of travel, you'll find yourself in Oban, where you'll sample local whisky and join a traditional social gathering. From Oban, catch a ferry to the nature-immersed Isle of Mull and spend your time here imagining bygone times while exploring independently and alongside a local guide.

The second half of your adventure kicks off with a drive to Fort William and a scenic hike into Glen Nevis and to the mighty Steall Falls. Then, stop by the iconic Eilean Donan Castle for a tour the following day before continuing to the rugged Isle of Skye. While here, take in the cliff-perched Neist Point Lighthouse, trek to the enchanting Fairy Pools, and venture to the nearby Isle of Raasay for an exclusive whisky, gin, and chocolate tasting experience. Next, an overnight in Glencoe provides the opportunity to hike through the region's misted forests before wrapping up your trip in Glasgow. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Great Scottish Whisky Adventure

Crafted for whisky enthusiasts, this perfectly blended tour takes you on an insider's road trip between Scotland's famous, tiny, and tucked-away distilleries. Along the way, uncover the secrets of barrel making, learn to decipher the tastes of single malts, and see firsthand how grains are turned into golden liquor. You'll also break for numerous nature-based excursions, including a river fishing experience, a guided sea kayaking trip, and a day of hiking in Glencoe.

Taste Scottish whisky at its source on this 12-day jaunt around Scotland's best distilleries
Taste Scottish whisky at its source on this 12-day jaunt around Scotland's best distilleries
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Palace of Holyroodhouse & Distillery Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Visit Edradour Distillery, Drive to Pitlochry Pitlochry
Day 3 Explore Blair Castle, Blair Athol Distillery Tour & Highland Games Pitlochry
Day 4 Wild River Fishing Experience, Drive to Aviemore Aviemore
Day 5 Visit Speyside Cooperage & Aberlour Distillery, Drive to Inverness Inverness
Day 6 Full-Day Speyside Whisky Trail Tour Inverness
Day 7 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail Tour Isle of Skye
Day 8 Guided Sea Kayak Experience Isle of Skye
Day 9 Drive to Glencoe, Hike the Glencoe Lochan Trails Glencoe
Day 10 Drive to Oban, Oban Distillery Tour Oban
Day 11 Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Glasgow
Day 12 Clydeside Distillery Tour, Depart Glasgow  

Straight after arriving in Edinburgh, you'll savor your first sips of Scotland's famed whisky at the Holyrood Distillery. Collect your rental car the following morning and drive among imposing mountains to Cairngorms National Park, pausing to visit the tiny Edradour distillery en route. The charming town of Pitlochry will serve as your base for the next two nights, and here, you'll explore the grand Blair Castle, tour Blair Athol Distillery, and join a unique fly fishing experience. Continuing on, an overnight in Aviemore allows you to learn the art of barrel making at Speyside Cooperage before driving to Inverness.

While in Inverness, embark on a full-day Speyside Whisky Trail tour, visiting renowned distilleries such as the Tomatin Distillery, Cardhu Distillery, and Glen Moray Distillery. After, continue to the Isle of Skye, where you'll visit three distilleries across two Hebridean islands and join a sea kayaking experience. A day of hiking in the rugged region of Glen Coe is featured next on the itinerary, followed by a drive to Oban for a delightful afternoon at Oban Distillery. Then, explore Trossachs National Park before wrapping up your trip with a fantastic whisky-tasting experience in Glasgow's Clydeside Distillery. Learn more

More Great 12-Day Scotland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Scotland? Check out these other 12-day Scotland itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.


Map of 12 Days in Scotland - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 12 Days in Scotland - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas