Take a scenic, 10-day journey through Scotland by train. Begin with two days of sightseeing in Glasgow before boarding your first train to the Highlands. Stop in Stirling en route to Inverness, home to Culloden Battlefield, Urquhart Castle, and the famed Loch Ness. Then, it's on to the stunning Isle of Skye to take in the dramatic coastline and mountain scenery. Finally, board the Jacobite Train to reach Edinburgh to experience the best of the Scottish capital city.

Highlights

  • Tour the Glasgow Cathedral, Necropolis, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Explore Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and historic Culloden Battlefied in Inverness 
  • Wander the Trotternish Peninsula and its stunning coastal surroundings in Skye
  • Visit the best sights and take a guided tour of Edinburgh's renowned Old Town 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Glasgow, Self-Guided Tour  Glasgow
Day 2 Glasgow: Self-Guided Exploration Glasgow
Day 3 Visit Stirling & Transfer to Highlands Inverness
Day 4 Tour Loch Ness, Inverness & Culloden Battlefield Inverness
Day 5 Explore Moray Firth & Elgin Inverness
Day 6 Isle of Skye: Self-Guided Exploration  Isle of Skye
Day 7 Isle of Skye: Private, Guided Tour Isle of Skye
Day 8 Jacobite Train & Transfer to Edinburgh Edinburgh
Day 9 Edinburgh: Self-Guided Tour Edinburgh
Day 10 Old Town Tour of Edinburgh and Depart Edinburgh

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Glasgow, Self-Guided Tour

The Clyde Arc, Glasgow
The Clyde Arc, Glasgow

Welcome to Glasgow! Once you arrive, check into your accommodations and get ready to explore this bustling port city. You can learn about C. R. Mackintosh's legacy at the Hunterian Art Gallery & Museum and see the iconic ship cranes and snap photos at The Clyde Arc. Then, grab a pint at a Drygate Brewery or have your first taste of single malt whiskey at Clydeside Distillery. 

Get some fresh air at Pollok Country Park, step inside Pollok House to view the antiques, and then climb the steps of The Lighthouse. Next, immerse yourself in the exhibits at the Glasgow Science Centre and learn about different religions at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

Following your first day, enjoy a hearty meal and a toast to the Scottish adventure ahead.

Day 2: Glasgow: Self-Guided Tour 

A view of Glasgow Cathedral from the Glasgow Necropolis
A view of Glasgow Cathedral from the Glasgow Necropolis

Today, continue exploring the best of Glasgow. Begin by visiting Glasgow Cathedral, built in 1197 and an impressive example of Gothic architecture. Next, stroll over to the nearby Glasgow Necropolis, a well-known Victorian cemetery on a low-but-prominent hill just east of Glasgow Cathedral. Then, stop at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which opened in 1901 and is Glasgow's most popular tourist attraction. It is a striking piece of architecture in the Spanish baroque style and is fashioned out of red sandstone.

The rest of the day is yours to explore other nooks and experiences in Glasgow. You can board a two-hour boat that cruises around Oban Bay into the Firth of Lorn to see exotic wildlife, as well as three castles—including the oldest, Dunollie Castle, which dates back to the 7th century. Or, perhaps take a guided music-themed walking tour that routes around Merchant City, the oldest neighborhood in Glasgow. Learn about the city's folk music scene while adding local color and enjoy the traditional Scottish food, from meat pies to fresh seafood. 

If you're interested in something more active, take a 2.5-hour cycling tour around Glasgow—e-bikes are available upon request. The cycling experience covers all the major highlights and landmarks, including the Cathedral and Necropolis, along with the 19th-century People's Palace Museum and 15th-century Glasgow University.

Day 3: Visit Stirling & Transfer to Highlands

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle

Today, take the train and head north to reach Stirling, which lies at the intersection between the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling is dominated by the majestic Stirling Castle. Another important historical site in the area is the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, the resting place of King James III of Scotland. Close by is the National Wallace Monument commemorating Sir William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish hero, brought to the attention of the wider world in the film "Braveheart."

Next, continue north, stopping in the pretty town of Perth on the banks of the River Tay. Perth is known as "The Fair City" due to the story "Fair Maid of Perth" by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, which was authored in 1828. Perth is also known for its Scone Abbey, home to the Stone of Scone (also known as the Stone of Destiny) where the King of Scots was crowned. Then, get back on the train and keep heading north through the Cairngorm Mountains to Inverness and Loch Ness.

Day 4: Tour Loch Ness, Inverness & Culloden Battlefield

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness at sunset
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness at sunset

Today, enjoy the best of Inverness. Visit the Inverness Cathedral before heading to one of Scotland's most famous sights, Loch Ness. Known for the Loch Ness Monster, it's a beautiful location to enjoy walks along the lake. Urquhart Castle sits proudly on the lochside and is a very photogenic spot. Once the largest castle in the Highlands, the now-ruined building has an eerie presence that has seen over 500 years of conflict between the 13th and 17th centuries. To get the best views, board a boat and take a quick trip around the lake. 

Next, visit Culloden Battlefield, where the British troops fought the Jacobite Army in 1746. The Scots suffered a heavy defeat, and this was to be the last-ever battle on UK soil. The visitor center has a state-of-the-art, 360-degree theatre which allows you to immerse yourself in the battle and hear real accounts from those who fought.

From Culloden, move a few miles along the road to see the 4,000-year-old Clava Cairn burial chambers. This exceptionally well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery is one of Scotland's most sacred prehistoric sites. Then, visit Cawdor Castle, which dates back to the late 14th century, and was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. An ancient medieval tower was built around the legendary holly tree. 

After the active day, kick back and relax at your accommodations in Inverness. 

Day 5: Explore Moray Firth & Elgin

Elgin Cathedral
Elgin Cathedral

Today, explore east of Inverness and south of Moray Firth. Board the train and make your first stop in Forres. Climb to the top of Cluny Hill and enjoy the views across Moray Speyside from the top of Nelson's Tower. Built in 1806 as a memorial to Admiral Nelson, the top deck of Nelson's Tower offers stunning panoramic views. To the north, spot the glittering Moray Firth and the distant hills of Caithness.

Continue east to reach the historic town of Elgin. Discover Elgin's past and present as you explore its historic streets. Dating from the early medieval period, Elgin has been a bustling town for centuries. Visit the site of Elgin's long-gone castle, destroyed in 1308 shortly after the death of William Wallace, and see the majestic Elgin Cathedral, which dates back to 1224. 

While in Elgin, book a free tour of the 220-year-old Johnston's Mill and see the process of transforming raw cashmere into clothing. Moray Speyside produces plenty of fantastic food and drink with its rich, fertile land. There are many tearooms, pubs, restaurants, and more to visit.

Return to enjoy your last evening in Inverness. 

Day 6: Isle of Skye: Self-Guided Exploration 

Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye

Depart from Inverness today via the Kyle Line Train, which heads through Highland villages like Achnasheen and Plockton before arriving in Kyle of Lochalsh. Along the route, pass idyllic beaches and tranquil lochs, all set to a backdrop of untouched Highland hillsides. Then, make the short transfer across the bridge to reach the Isle of Skye, one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland with dramatic coastal and mountain scenery. There are several short walks and places to visit. Explore the surroundings of your guest house and see the ruined crofting townships of Boreraig and Suisnish with stunning coastal views.

In the afternoon, take the ferry to reach and explore the breathtakingly beautiful Loch Coruisk on a 3.5-hour tour. Visit the large colony of seals and spend 1.5 hours ashore. Wind down the day at one of the local distilleries and enjoy some local chocolate to pair. 

Day 7: Isle of Skye: Private, Guided Tour

The Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr

On your second day on the Isle of Skye, take a private, guided tour—the best way to get around the island and experience the must-see sights. First, travel around the geological wonder of the Trotternish Peninsula. Then, visit The Old Man of Storr, featured in the movie "Prometheus," before continuing to the 200-foot (61-m) Kilt Rock Waterfall. Then, it's on to the strange landscape of the Quiraing. This volcanic wonder is one of the most beautiful sites on the island.

Continue west across the island to the only remaining inhabited castle on Skye. Home to Clan MacLeod for the last 800 years, Dunvegan Castle and Gardens is a great place to immerse yourself in history, boasting the longest continuous habitation of any castle in Scotland. Return to your accommodations to relax and enjoy your unique surroundings in Skye this evening. 

Day 8: Jacobite Train & Transfer to Edinburgh

Take the Jacobite Train on the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct
Take the Jacobite Train on the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct

Today calls for a stunning and scenic journey. Make the short transfer to Mallaig, the busy fishing port, and catch the ferry to the mainland. From there, take the West Highland Line to ride the Jacobite Train, which many consider the greatest rail trip in the world. This is the same line used by the "Hogwarts Express" to take Harry Potter to Hogwarts. The adventure takes you through the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct while providing beautiful views of Loch Shiel and Loch Etive.

The train then reaches Fort William, located below Ben Nevis, the highest summit in Scotland. Head south through the Highlands and across the vast and bleak expanses of Rannoch Moor. Finish your day in Edinburgh and enjoy your first evening in the Scottish capital city. 

Day 9: Edinburgh: Self-Guided Tour

Edinburgh at sunset
Edinburgh at sunset

Today is dedicated to exploring the best of Edinburgh on a self-guided tour. Edinburgh is a beautiful city with two UNESCO World Heritage designations: one for the wonderfully bustling medieval Old Town and another for New Town, built during the Georgian era. Start by visiting the city's medieval Edinburgh Castle to see Scotland's crown jewels and go underground to explore some of the city's storied past. Additionally, climb an extinct volcano (Castle Rock, not to be confused with Arthur's Seat) and visit some of the museums housing world-renowned works.

Other sights to bookmark include the Royal Mile, the medieval city's main thoroughfare, St Giles Cathedral, Holyrood Palace—home of the British monarchy in Scotland—and Princes Street Gardens. Following the day of exploration, head to a pub for a local pour of whiskey and a celebratory bite to end your trip right. 

Day 10: Old Town Tour of Edinburgh and Depart

St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh's Old Town
St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh's Old Town

Before your flight departs, embark on one last tour of Scotland. Enjoy a private, guided, 2-3-hour tour around Old Town. Take a journey through the centuries viewing buildings dating back to 1130 and a tavern first established in 1516. Learn about the darker aspects of life in Edinburgh from times past, including stops at historical execution sites. The tour can be tailored to suit your interests and the sights you didn't get to see yesterday.

Following the final tour, shop for souvenirs and whiskey before catching your flight home. 

More Great Scotland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Scotland? Check out these other Scotland itineraries, with outdoor adventures, castle visits, and best-of tours to hit the highlights or explore different ways to spend 10 days in Scotland.

Map

Map of Best of Scotland by Train: Glasgow, Inverness, Isle of Sky & Edinburgh - 10 Days
Map of Best of Scotland by Train: Glasgow, Inverness, Isle of Sky & Edinburgh - 10 Days