Experience the best of Scotland's natural beauty with this two-week itinerary that includes hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife cruises. Your active adventures take you on a road trip from the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands, featuring the best of Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, national parks, and Glasgow. Along the way, you'll have plenty of free time built in so you can relax, add extra hikes, or seek out a whisky distillery or two.


  • Join cycling tours in Edinburgh and Glasgow to see more of each city
  • Embark on a full-day wildlife safari through Cairngorms National Park
  • Drive part of the North Coast 500, Scotland's most famous road trip
  • Explore the Isle of Skye with a sea kayak experience and self-guided hike
  • Ride horses and e-bikes in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Private Walking Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Ultimate Cycle Tour of Edinburgh, Free Time Edinburgh
Day 3 Drive to Aviemore via Bruar Falls Canyoning Aviemore
Day 4 Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Safari Tour, Drive to Inverness Inverness
Day 5 Dolphin Watching Cruise, Free Time in Inverness Inverness
Day 6 Drive to Lochinver via the North Coast 500, Explore Beaches Lochinver
Day 7 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Guided Sea Kayak Experience Isle of Skye
Day 8 Self-Guided Coire Lagan Hike Isle of Skye
Day 9 Glass-Bottom Boat Trip, Free Time on the Isle of Skye Isle of Skye
Day 10 Drive to Glen Coe, Private Guided Walk Glen Coe
Day 11 Drive to Loch Lomond, Horse Trekking  Loch Lomond
Day 12 Electric Mountain Bike Adventure, Drive to Glasgow Glasgow
Day 13 Glasgow Cycling Tour, Free Afternoon Glasgow
Day 14 Return Drive to Edinburgh, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Private Walking Tour

Old Town
Explore the Old Town of Edinburgh on foot today

Welcome to Scotland! You've landed in Edinburgh, a captivating historic and modern city known for its festivals, thriving arts scene, and friendly locals. On arrival, take a taxi to your hotel. En route, you might catch a glimpse of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, sitting atop an ancient volcanic hill and overlooking the Old and New Town centers. Drop your bags, refresh, and lace up your walking shoes.

Puzzled by wynds and closes? This afternoon find answers on a private three-hour walking tour of Edinburgh's Old Town. Together you'll trace the Royal Mile that runs between the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official royal residence, and the castle. Admire 17th-century mansions, visit old breweries and sugar houses, and discover many landmarks. Discover a Scottish alleyway and hear stories of royal murders, espionage intrigues, and former artisan guilds. Discover Edinburgh's social history and tales of Mary, Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a ghost or two.

Day 2: Ultimate Cycle Tour of Edinburgh, Free Time

Carlton HIll
Check out views from Calton Hill near the city center

Discover off-the-beaten-path locations and secret spots with this morning's small-group cycling tour. Jump in the saddle of a bike and make a full lap of the city on two wheels, taking in the sights and beautiful parts of Edinburgh that most visitors don't get to see. Cycle out of the city, around Arthur's Seat, and to the (sometimes) sunny seaside while your guide shares fascinating facts about the city. You'll pass canals, aqueducts, railways, gardens, beaches, mountains, and tunnels, covering 18 miles (29 km) and stopping for refreshments and photo opportunities along the way. 

This afternoon is yours to explore Edinburgh as you wish. Since you've ticked off the sights, use your free time to relax at the Royal Botanic Garden or explore history, art, and culture at the National Museum of Scotland. Pretend you're a local in Stockbridge, a trendy inner-city neighborhood known for its independent shops, galleries, thrift stores, cafés, and bakeries. Or go for a short walk to Dean Village and admire the well-preserved 19th-century and wander alongside the tranquil Water of Leith. If the weather is nice, head to Calton Hill for sunset or find a cozy pub to hide inside.

Day 3: Drive to Aviemore via Bruar Falls Canyoning

Road trip to Aviemore
Drive past beautiful Scottish scenery on the way to Aviemore

Today your great Scottish road trip begins. Pick up your rental car, load your suitcases, and hit the road north. After two hours, you'll reach the quaint Victorian town of Pitlochry. Nearby, the famous Bruar Falls are well known for canyoning, and today you'll try this heart-pumping sport combining nature and adventure. This canyoning experience features epic jumps from 7 feet (2 m) to 26 feet (8 m) with exciting flumes, vertical rock slides, and waterfall abseils. If you've never tried canyoning before, this thrilling adventure might just get you hooked!

Dry off and return to the road—today's final destination, Aviemore, is another hour's drive north. Nestled in Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, this charming town is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts who flock here for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. If you have time this afternoon, you could pass through one of the nearby Speyside distilleries to taste the local golden nectar before checking into your accommodation.

Day 4: Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Safari Tour, Drive to Inverness

Cairngorms National Park Wildlife tour with a specialist
Ride a 4WD through the heather-clad moorlands

Cairngorms National Park offers some of the best wildlife diversity in the United Kingdom. This pristine landscape is home to a quarter of the threatened species, and on today's full-day wildlife safari, you'll encounter the wilder side of the protected park. Explore expansive heather-clad moorlands, pass through towering Caledonian pine forests, admire imposing peaks, and see pristine lochs from the back of a 4WD Land Rover Discovery. Your knowledgeable guide will seek out wildlife, including red deer, golden eagles, and ospreys, and some light walking may be involved.

This is your opportunity to really explore the remote beauty of the Cairngorms and see the conservation efforts and commitment to preserving Scotland's natural heritage. After your safari adventure, return to Aviemore, where you'll continue your road trip to Inverness, a 35-minute drive away. If you have time, make a detour to the legendary Loch Ness and see if you can spot its mythical inhabitant, the elusive "Nessie" or Loch Ness Monster.

Day 5: Dolphin Watching Cruise, Free Time in Inverness

Team Of Bottlenose Dolphin Jumping In The Moray Firth In Front Of Fort George Near Inverness
Look for bottlenose dolphins leaping in the Inner Moray Firth

This morning, seek out Scotland's marine beauty when you join a two-hour dolphin-watching cruise. Board the boat and set sail across the Inner Moray Firth, where a community of bottlenose dolphins resides. As you experience the area from the water and hear historical insights, keep an eye out for elusive harbor porpoises, common seals and gray seals, and the occasional minke whale. As you pass by the rocky, rugged coastline, look for bird colonies and war fortifications with the help of knowledgeable guides who will deepen your understanding of the marine ecosystem. 

After the cruise, the day is yours to enjoy in Inverness. Explore the city's rich historical sites, such as the Inverness Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the River Ness. Seek out a show at the Eden Court Theatre or visit a local art gallery. Go hiking in Glen Affric, or visit Loch Ness (if you didn't get to it yesterday). Then end the day with a hearty Scottish meal at a cozy local pub, topped off with a dram of whisky.

Day 6: Drive to Lochinver via the North Coast 500, Explore Beaches

Achmelvich Beach
Finish the day by exploring the pristine white sands of Achmelvich Beach
Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

The North Coast 500 is Scotland's ultimate road trip, a scenic route of just over 500 miles (800 km) that takes in coastal scenes, white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, and quaint fishing villages. Today is all about the drive, taking you from Inverness to Lochinver, exploring the best of Wester Ross along the way, a drive of around four hours. Put Poolewe in your GPS and cross to the west coast of Scotland. Set on the shores of Loch Ewe, this remote community is home to the Inverewe Garden, a botanical paradise thanks to its distinct microclimate.

Continue along the NC500 toward Lochinver, where you'll explore parts of the North West Highland Geopark. Detour to Stac Pollaidh, a short walk that rewards with unique views of small lochs and rocky outcrops. Continue to Elphin, where the Knockan Crag Visitor Centre has a geology trail so you can explore some of the oldest rocks in Europe, around 3,000 million years old. You can also visit the 16th-century Ardvreck Castle on the shores of Loch Assynt.

Check into your accommodation in Lochinver, then set off for a mini beach adventure. Just 20 minutes away, Clachtoll Beach is famous for its dunes, white sand, and blue water. If you can brave the chilly water, bring a snorkel! Nearby, Achmelvich Beach is just as beautiful, and you can take a two-hour hike between the two.

Day 7: Drive to the Isle of Skye, Guided Sea Kayak Experience

Walk around Portree, one of the Isle of Skye's quaint fishing villages

After breakfast, hit the road south to the Isle of Skye. After three hours, you'll reach the bridge and cross over the often dramatic and ethereal isle known for its rugged, mountainous terrain and the iconic Cuillin Range. The island's coastline is scattered with high cliffs, sea stacks, and picturesque fishing villages. This afternoon you'll explore the sights from the water—away from the crowds— with a half-day guided sea kayak experience.

Grab a paddle and follow your local kayak expert on a scenic journey along the coast of Skye. A magnet for nature lovers and explorers seeking a taste of Scotland's untamed beauty, this adventure gives you an alternative perspective of the special island while learning about its history, nature, and folklore. You'll pause at a remote beach for a picnic and spot wildlife on the coast. Afterward, check into your accommodation and settle in for the evening.

Day 8: Self-Guided Coire Lagan Hike

Mountain reflection in Coire Lagan
Look for mountain reflections in Coire Lagan

A string of jagged angry-looking peaks, the Cuillins are one of Skye's most famous landmarks, attracting avid mountain climbers and hikers who are skilled with a map and compass. Today you'll embark on a half-day hike to Coire Lagan, a small glacial pool tucked away in an elevated valley, surrounded by the awe-inspiring Cuillin mountains. This trail is a wonderful way to get up close to the imposing peaks without tackling a technical mountain ascent. Pack snacks and plenty of water and set off on your self-guided 5.5-mile (9 km) hike.

Begin at a pretty beach in Glen Brittle, following a well-defined path up into the mountains. The trickiest part of this moderate hike is a rocky scramble up a steep gully below the entrance to Coire Lagan. Once over the rim, the tiny clear blue pool is right at your feet. Being nestled up high in the ring of towering peaks gives the effect of being in a huge amphitheater on the roof of the world. Once back down to earth, take some time to relax. 

Day 9: Glass-Bottom Boat Trip, Free Time on the Isle of Skye

Neist Point on the Isle of Skye
Make your way out to Neist Point Lighthouse, set on this dramatic peninsular

There's no denying that the waters off Scotland are rather icy (even in summer), so the best way to explore above and below the waves is with a semi-submersible. Today you'll board a glass-bottomed boat, the Seaprobe Atlantis, for a journey that explores the worlds both above and below the surface. You'll enjoy fantastic sea views of Skye and the mainland of Scotland as you sail down Lochalsh looking for seals, otters, and other wildlife. Then go below decks to see the fascinating underwater world teeming with marine life.

This afternoon is yours to explore as free time. You could take another hike, perhaps to the crystal-clear, blue-hued Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle, or hike through the otherworldly landscape of the Quiraing. Explore the historic Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and its beautiful gardens, or see the Neist Point Lighthouse, perched atop a dramatic cliff. Of course, you could visit Talisker Distillery to sample the island's famous single malt.

Day 10: Drive to Glen Coe, Private Guided Walk 

Coire Gabhail
Take in the views below the mountains of Glen Coe

Jump back behind the wheel this morning and continue south to Glen Coe. Considered one of the most hauntingly beautiful of the Scottish glens, this hidden gem is often shrouded in mist and runs for 10 miles (16 km) beneath rugged peaks formed from lava flow and shaped by millions of years of erosion. On the 2.5-hour journey, you'll pass through Fort William, where the nearby 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct was made famous by the "Harry Potter" movies. If you time it right, you might see the Jacobite Steam Train pass across it. 

Once you reach the volcanic valley of Glen Coe, you'll set off on a guided hike through the lusciously green Lost Valley. Pack a picnic lunch and follow an idyllic 4.5-mile (7.2 km) walk. You'll hike alongside a deep gorge before emerging into the large, flat river basin surrounded by high peaks. Stop here to enjoy your snacks surrounded by the beauty of Scotland's wilderness. If you're a keen hiker, you could continue up the valley or tackle one of the summits. Alternatively, return to your rental car and make the drive to your nearby accommodation to check in. 

Day 11: Drive to Loch Lomond, Horse Trekking

Loch Lomond
Trek around the tranquil shores of Scotland's largest freshwater loch

The largest freshwater loch in Scotland, Loch Lomond, is an area of natural splendor, an hour's drive from Glen Coe. Here you can go boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the clear waters, while the surrounding Trossachs National Park offers superb hiking and cycling trails. The picturesque villages of Balmaha and Luss dot its shores, and for panoramic views, Conic Hill beckons with a moderate hike.

Picture yourself riding through the Scottish countryside on horseback because today, you'll jump in the saddle for an equine adventure in Loch Lomond. Witness some of the country's most beautiful landscapes with a light and easy trek through the hills and glens of Loch Lomond. A local equine guide will lead the way, showing you the beauty of the area with this one-of-a-kind experience. Together you'll explore the park, finishing with a climatic viewpoint of the banks.

Day 12: Electric Mountain Bike Adventure, Drive to Glasgow

Hit the trails on an e-bike and explore the nearby forests

Loch Lomond's tranquil beauty, watersports, and serene surroundings make it a sought-after destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. Continue the outdoor fun when you hire an electric mountain bike and hit the off-road trails. With two wheels, you have the freedom to explore the unspoiled forests and kick up dirt along the way.

Later, if you're still eager to explore, consider taking a cruise on Loch Katrine, or go kayaking on Loch Lomond. You could visit the Sea Life and Birds of Prey Centres or tour Scotland's most picturesque distillery at Glengoyne. Stumble across the beautiful Falls of Dochart running through the small town of Killin, and find out more about the local folklore and clan history. Visit Arrochar in the high mountains and Aberfoyle on the banks of the River Forth in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Before the day is done, make the hourlong drive to Glasgow and check into your hotel. 

Day 13: Glasgow Cycling Tour, Free Afternoon

View of Kelvingrove Park full of people enjoying the Scottish summer with the main building of Glasgow University on the top of the hill.
Visit Kelvingrove Park, with Glasgow University at the top of the hill

Walking tours are great, but you can explore more on two wheels! Today you'll join an entertaining bike tour of Glasgow, combining history, culture, and quirky tales. Scotland's largest city is shaped by its rich industrial heritage, reflected in the grand Victorian architecture that's now juxtaposed with modern structures. No matter whether it's gloriously sunny or ingloriously dreich (a Scottish word for drizzly, cold, and cloudy), you'll wheel across the city over three hours, past the Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis, the People's Palace, Glasgow University, and more.

With a free afternoon in Glasgow, you could explore the city's vibrant cultural scene. Start at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to admire an eclectic collection of art and historical artifacts, then stroll through Kelvingrove Park. Seek out a traditional Glasgow pub for a hearty meal, and taste local dishes like haggis, then visit one of the city's music venues or theaters.

Day 14: Return Drive to Edinburgh, Depart

See you next time, Edinburgh!

Your road trip across Scotland comes to an end today. Hop in the car one last time and make the hourlong drive from Glasgow back to Edinburgh. Make sure you allow enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or onward. Safe travels!

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Map of Active Scotland Adventure: Cairngorms, the NC500 & the Isle of Skye - 14 Days
Map of Active Scotland Adventure: Cairngorms, the NC500 & the Isle of Skye - 14 Days