Hike, bike, paddle, and snorkel your way across Scotland with this adventurous 16-day Scotland road trip. This active itinerary prioritizes time in the great outdoors with distinct experiences such as canyoning at Bruar Falls and taking an off-road wildlife safari in Cairngorms National Park. You'll also float above the Scottish Highlands in a hot-air balloon, e-bike to geological wonders on the Isle of Skye, kayak across the Great Glen, and explore street art in Glasgow with a local guide.


  • Spend a day hiking or biking the famous John Muir Way from Edinburgh
  • Join an intrepid wildlife safari by 4WD in Cairngorms National Park
  • Witness wildlife, birds, and marine life off Scotland's west coast on a boat
  • Go wild river fishing for salmon or brown trout with an expert in Killiehuntly
  • Cut a lap of the Isle of Skye's incredible Trotternish Peninsula on an e-bike

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Ultimate Cycle Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Hike the John Muir Way Edinburgh
Day 3 Drive to Pitlochry, Bruar Falls Canyoning Pitlochry
Day 4 Nature Walk in The Hermitage, Free Time Pitlochry
Day 5 Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Drive to Aviemore Aviemore
Day 6 Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Drive to Inverness Inverness
Day 7 Full-Day Loch Ness Boat Cruise & Walking Tour Inverness
Day 8 Wild River Fishing Experience From Killiehuntly, Drive to Fort William Fort William
Day 9 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Biod an Athair & Dunvegan Coastal Cliff Walk Portree
Day 10 Guided E-Bike Trotternish Peninsula Tour Portree
Day 11 Ferry & Drive to Oban, Explore Scotland's Snorkel Trails Oban
Day 12 Wildlife Cruise, Drive to Glen Coe Glen Coe
Day 13 Kayaking Adventure in the Great Glen Glen Coe
Day 14 Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Loch Leven, Drive to Glasgow Glasgow
Day 15 Walk the Glasgow Mural Trail Glasgow
Day 16 Drive to Edinburgh, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Ultimate Cycle Tour

Bike outside of Edinburgh's city center to see Arthur's Seat and the seaside

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, meet your private driver for a transfer to your hotel. Drop your bags, pop on some active clothing, and lace up your sneakers for this afternoon's adventure.

Discover off-the-beaten-path locations and secret spots with this 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. 

Day 2: Hike the John Muir Way

Follow the signposts and take a scenic walk along the John Muir Way

The John Muir Way is a long-distance walking and cycling route that stretches 134 miles (215 km) across Scotland, from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east. John Muir was a Scottish American naturalist and conservationist, and this route showcases Scotland's natural beauty and heritage. Muir's writings and activism helped inspire the modern environmental movement, and today, you'll enjoy his legacy when you tackle a portion of the trail.

The John Muir Way is now a popular destination with walkers and cyclists who visit from around the world. From Edinburgh, you can walk in two directions: to South Queensferry (15.5 miles, 24.8 km) or to Prestonpans (10 miles, 16 km). The route is well-signposted and easy to follow, plus you can hike one way and easily return to Edinburgh by train or bus.

Day 3: Drive to Pitlochry, Bruar Falls Canyoning

Bruar Falls Experience
Challenge yourself with the Bruar Falls canyoning experience near Pitlochry

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 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!

After, find your accommodation in the quaint Victorian town of Pitlochry. Take a walk down the charming main street, find a late lunch, and stretch your legs. Then, visit the Queen's View just outside Pitlochry, which overlooks Loch Tummel, and on a good day, you can see the mountains of Glen Coe in the distance. Return to town and make a reservation at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Nature Walk in The Hermitage, Free Time

The Hermitage and Braan Walk.
Enjoy some fresh air at The Hermitage on the River Braan

After breakfast, jump in the car and drive 20 minutes south to The Hermitage at Dunkeld. This mystical stretch of Perthshire forest is an 18th-century park designed especially for the Dukes of Atholl. Here, a beautiful two-hour, 4-mile (6.5 km) walk through the wooded glen, past picturesque follies, giant Douglas fir trees, and attractive waterfalls await. Park the car and follow the River Braan, passing the picturesque 18th-century folly known as Ossian's Hall, which overlooks the roaring Black Linn Waterfall.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore as you wish. You could visit the sumptuous Scone Palace, one of Scotland's most important stately homes. It has a gorgeous tea room that's perfect for a light lunch.

Day 5: Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Drive to Aviemore

Cairngorms National Park Wildlife tour with a specialist
Look for wildlife as you make your through the heather-clad moorlands in a 4WD

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, your guide will drop you back at your car. From here, drive one hour or less to Aviemore, a charming town and hub for outdoor enthusiasts who flock here for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. Settle into your accommodation, then find a good place for dinner in town.

Day 6: Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Drive to Inverness

Drive to Inverness after hot-air ballooning and visit its castle perched on a hillside

As dawn breaks on a new day, you'll float up, up, and away over the Scottish Highlands. Breathe in crisp country air as you float high over Cairngorms National Park, taking in spectacular panoramic views while drifting where the wind takes you. Flying in a hot-air balloon is a bucket-list experience, and you'll find a calm sense of peace as you quietly move through the air, looking for wildlife down below. Back on solid ground, there's a full day ahead, so make the most of it and go explore Cairngorms National Park or drive the 35 minutes to Inverness.

Here you can 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, visit a local art gallery, or go hiking in Glen Affric. End the day with a hearty Scottish meal at a cozy local pub, finishing with a dram of whisky.

Day 7: Full-Day Loch Ness Boat Cruise & Walking Tour

Loch Ness
Cruise by Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands

No one can resist the mythical Loch Ness: its beauty evokes a sense of wonder, while its monstrous depths are legendary. This morning, make your way to Dochgarroch, just outside of Inverness, for a two-hour cruise on the legendary loch and Thomas Telford's famous Caledonian Canal. Aboard a catamaran, you'll set off, soaking in the views of Great Glen, Aldourie Castle, Bona Lighthouse, and the spectacular Urquhart Castle, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria.

Even if the elusive Loch Ness Monster doesn't show up, your guide will bring the loch to life with intriguing tales and local history. After, you'll return to dry land and set off on foot. Unearth more than 1,000 years of history this morning at the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Snap panoramic pictures with the loch from the Grant Tower, imagine the banquets that once took place in the Grand Hall, and peer into a gloomy prison cell said to have held legendary Gaelic bard Dòmhnall Donn. Finally, return to Inverness for the evening.

Day 8: Wild River Fishing Experience From Killiehuntly, Drive to Fort William

Fishing scotland
Go fishing for salmon or brown trout, depending on the season

The lochs and rivers surrounding Killiehuntly offer wonderful opportunities for the seasoned fisherman and happy beginner. Make the drive an hour north, lapping the west side of Cairngorms National Park. In Killiehuntly, you'll be in the safe (and dry-witted) hands of some ghillies who have fished these waters for decades. You'll fish for salmon on the world-famous River Spey, with space for four to six rods on the Kinrara beat. If you prefer, you could fish for trout on four secluded lochs with the help of a Highland pony to transport equipment and lunch.

After your day with a rod immersed in nature, you'll have a choice—release the fish back into the water or ask the team to cook your catch for supper. Afterward, jump back in the car and continue to Fort William, another 80-minute drive southwest. This loch-side town sits between crystal clear lakes and snowcapped mountains, drawing outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Check into your accommodation for the evening, take a gentle walk around the loch, and then seek out a steaming bowl of fresh local mussels for dinner.
Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 9: Drive to the Isle of Skye, Biod an Athair & Dunvegan Coastal Cliff Walk

Dunvegan Cliffs
Talk a clifftop walk along the Duirinish Peninsula for dramatic views of the ocean

Today's final destination is the Isle of Skye. After a 2.5-hour drive, you'll cross over to the 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. Once on the island, find someone for a quick lunch or pick up sandwiches and lace up those hiking boots. This afternoon, you'll set out for a 5.5-mile (9 km) pathless trek around Dunvegan Head.

This route passes across rough and tough moorland, and the clifftop walk along the Duirinish Peninsula includes the dramatic Biod an Athair, perhaps the most impressive perch among Skye's sea cliffs. Biod an Athair means 'sky peak,' and this summit rises to 1,026 feet (313 m) before plunging straight into the ocean. Afterward, make your way to Portree, the largest town and capital of Skye, to check into your accommodation for the evening.

Day 10: Guided E-Bike Trotternish Peninsula Tour

Look for the Old Man of Storr rock formation on the Trotternish Peninsula

Make your way to the northeast tip where the Trotternish Peninsula lies. Here, you'll join a half-day e-bike tour, giving you the power to explore the splendid natural beauty of this famous region while still relaxing and enjoying the ride with ease. Follow your guide along the winding single-track roads of the Trotternish Explorer Route; you'll soak up coastal and inland scenery while pausing to spot some of Skye's spectacular native wildlife and take photos. The circular loop is 23 miles (37 km).

You'll pedal past some of Skye's most famous sights, including the otherworldly Fairy Glen, the geological wonder that is The Quiraing, and An Corran Beach, where they found fossilized dinosaur footprints in 2002. Pass Kilt Rock and its basalt columns, Loch Langaig, the crystal-clear Healing Pool, and the ruins of Duntulm Castle. At some point, you'll pause for a picnic in the wild before continuing the two-wheeled adventure. After the fun, return to Portree for the evening.

Day 11: Ferry & Drive to Oban, Explore Scotland's Snorkel Trails

Spend one night in Oban, a port town and the gateway to the Hebridean Islands

Make your way to Armadale this morning, a one-hour drive from Portree, and wave goodbye to Skye as your ferry crosses over to Mallaig on the mainland. From this small fishing port, continue two hours to Oban, Scotland's "seafood capital." This quaint waterfront town is the main gateway to many of the Hebrides Islands and enjoys sweeping views of Kerrera and Mull. It's peaceful in winter, but in summer, the town center is jammed with traffic and crowded with holidaymakers and travelers headed for the archipelago. Drop your bags at the hotel, and get ready to snorkel. 

Snorkeling in Scotland? Yes, really! Zip on a wetsuit and dive into the icy water close to Oban at Ganavan Sands. Within the safe bay, you'll explore rocky outcrops to the west and east, revealing glimpses of kelp forests and seagrass beds. The grasses and kelp provide safe nurseries for local fish and shellfish, so keep your eyes peeled as you swim around in the sea. Beyond providing a home, your guide will share how these special sea forests also remove carbon from the atmosphere. Finish the day by returning to Oban to enjoy a cozy dinner of local seafood.

Day 12: Wildlife Cruise, Drive to Glen Coe

Eilean Musdile Lighthouse
Cruise past this lighthouse in Lismore that was erected in 1833

Today, join a two-hour wildlife cruise in Oban that blends pristine scenery, rich history, and local animals. Board a boat and head out into the Firth of Lorn, where you'll be provided with great views of the islands of Mull, Kerrera, and Lismore. Here you're likely to see plenty of wildlife, including seals, sea birds, and occasionally dolphins. Mull is also home to one of the rarest birds of prey in the United Kingdom—the white-tailed sea eagle. While out on the water, your guides will be looking for marine wildlife, plus you'll see three Scottish castles—Gylen, Duart, and Dunollie.

Playful dolphins and porpoises may joyfully ride alongside the boat, and you might also see a local seal colony and Scotland's elusive otters. View the famous Stevenson Lighthouse on Lismore Island before returning to Oban once more. Back on dry land, find somewhere for lunch then continue 90 minutes south to Glen Coe. Considered one of the most hauntingly beautiful of the Scottish glens, this hidden gem is often shrouded in mist. Once in the central town of Glencoe, check into your accommodation.

Day 13: Kayaking Adventure in the Great Glen

Kayaking in The Great Glen
Paddle a kayak in the pristine waters of the Great Glen today

Glen Coe is a surreal and beautiful Scottish glen that runs for 10 miles (16 km) beneath rugged peaks formed from lava flow and shaped by millions of years of erosion. Today, after a hearty breakfast, you'll grab a paddle and experience the beauty of the area from the water. Your half-day kayaking adventure will take you into the Great Glen, venturing further with every paddle. You'll explore the shoreline of the loch and the Caledonian Canal, a 60-mile (96 km) stream that cuts through the spectacular Great Glen. 

Weather permitting, you'll visit some local landmarks, such as the Well of the Seven Heads and the ruins of Invergarry Castle. After a few hours of paddling, you'll return to shore and enjoy a relaxed evening in Glencoe village. if you have time and energy this afternoon, you could set off on a short hike through the woods nearby. 

Day 14: Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Loch Leven, Drive to Glasgow

Paddle Board on the Loch Leven
Let an instructor lead the way during a standup paddleboarding session on Loch Leven

There's one more adventure to be had while in the area: standup paddleboarding. See if you have the balance for this relaxed sport when you set off across calm Loch Leven. A local guide will show you how to paddle and steer before you venture off on a tour of the loch. You'll explore islands, including Eilean Munde—also called the "Graveyard Island"—and finish the session as a paddleboarding pro. 

Wave goodbye to your instructor and return to the car for a two-hour drive to Glasgow, Scotland's largest and most buzzing city. Now that you're in the big smoke enjoy a long hot shower and dress up for a night on the town. Glasgow has great nightlife and is well known for its live music scene. Drop into local pubs and clubs to find up-and-coming acts.

Day 15: Walk the Glasgow Mural Trail

Walk the Glasgow Mural Trail
Look for the Saint Mungo mural, which depicts the city's patron saint

Glasgow is a modern, creative city shaped by its rich industrial heritage. This morning's walking tour takes you on an offbeat route across the city, exploring the best street art and modern culture with a local. Glasgow's first mural appeared back in 2008, and since then, the city has embraced this creative outlet to breathe life into the city, rejuvenate streets, and revitalize buildings.

Over two hours, you'll skip past the cathedrals, grand buildings, and monuments to experience the real Glasgow. Your local guide will lead you down alleys and under bridges to uncover some of the city's most beautiful pieces of art painted by world-renowned heroes and local artists. You'll hear the stories and inspiration behind each piece while learning about how the art scene in Glasgow has developed dramatically over the last decade. After, find a cozy pub to enjoy your final night in Scotland with a traditional meal and wee dram or pint.

Day 16: Drive to Edinburgh, Depart

University of Glasgow
Take a final walk around the University of Glasgow before driving to Edinburgh's airport

And finally, your 16-day road trip across Scotland comes to an end. At the appropriate time, hop in the car one last time and make the drive to Edinburgh airport. Make sure you allow enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or onward. Safe travels!

More Great Scotland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Scotland? Check out these other Scotland itineraries, explore different ways to spend 16 days in Scotland, or discover the best time to visit Scotland


Map of Active Scotland Self-Guided Road Trip - 16 Days
Map of Active Scotland Self-Guided Road Trip - 16 Days