Zip around Scotland and Ireland on this 15-day itinerary packed with the best castles and local fare. Your culture-rich road trip starts in Edinburgh with a visit to the iconic castle. After, drive into the Scottish Highlands, stopping at local distilleries in Pitlochry before reaching Glasgow for a musical march. Fly into Belfast, then lap the Emerald Isle. Tick off the Giant's Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock of Cashel, and Kilkenny Castle. Finish in Dublin with a Guinness and Jameson tasting tour.


  • Taste Scottish whisky at a Highlands distillery, and join a food tour in Edinburgh
  • Explore the best of both Edinburgh and Stirling castles in Scotland
  • Road trip across Ireland, from Belfast to Dublin via the Cliffs of Moher
  • Learn about (and taste!) Dublin's up-and-coming food scene during a walking tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh (Scotland), Visit Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh
Day 2 Edinburgh Food Tour Edinburgh
Day 3 Drive to Pitlochry, See Queen's View, Visit Blair Atholl Castle & Distillery Pitlochry
Day 4 Explore Cairngorms National Park, Drive to Oban, Oban Distillery Tour Oban
Day 5 Drive to Glasgow, Music Mile Tour Glasgow
Day 6 Full-Day Loch Lomond, Trossachs & Stirling Castle Tour Glasgow
Day 7 Fly to Belfast (Northern Ireland), Cave Hill Walk Belfast
Day 8 Self-Guided Giant's Causeway & North Coastal Path Belfast
Day 9 Drive to Clifden (Republic of Ireland) via South Donegal Clifden
Day 10 Kylemore Abbey & Connemara National Park, Drive to Doolin Doolin
Day 11 Cliffs of Moher Cruise, Rock of Cashel, Drive to Kilkenny Kilkenny
Day 12 Explore Kilkenny & Kilkenny Castle Kilkenny
Day 13 Drive to Dublin, Food & Drink Tour Dublin
Day 14 Hidden Homes of Dublin, Guinness & Jameson Tour Dublin
Day 15 Depart Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh (Scotland), Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Did you know Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano?

Welcome to Scotland! You've landed in Edinburgh, the captivating Scottish capital known for its festivals, thriving arts scene, and friendly locals. The beautiful city also has two UNESCO designations—one for its wonderfully chaotic medieval Old Town, and another for its planned Georgian New Town. On arrival, meet your private driver for a transfer to your hotel. En route, you might catch a glimpse of the mighty Edinburgh Castle, a huge fortress sitting atop an ancient volcanic hill and overlooking the two town centers.

Drop your bags, refresh, and lace up your walking shoes. Set off to promenade through the cobbled streets, wynds, and closes of the world-famous Royal Mile until you reach Edinburgh Castle. As one of the oldest fortified places in Europe, it's a castle with many stories from its time as a military fortress, royal residence, and prison of war. Enter through the gates to discover the many battles and sieges fought over it. See the Great Hall of King James IV, lavish royal rooms, and the oldest crown jewels in Britain. After, find a pub for a classic British feed with a pint or your first dram of whisky.

Day 2: Edinburgh Food Tour

Edinburgh Food Tour
Taste local cheeses and gourmet goods on today's food tour

Today, you'll put Scottish food stereotypes to rest during a three-hour foodie tour of Edinburgh. A professional chef or food writer guide will lead you across the city, revealing how Scottish cuisine is evolving while still adhering to long-standing culinary traditions. You'll stop at a few of the city's top eateries to meet shop owners, taste artisanal products, and discover some of the best-kept secrets of Scottish cuisine. Wander charming and upscale Stockbridge, popping in at gourmet food shops. You'll discover a famous deli and the influence Italian immigrants had in shaping city tastes.

You'll also stop at the first independent coffee shop in Edinburgh to savor locally roasted beans and visit a butcher to see the season's wild game and sample meat pies. Finally, try hot and cold smoked salmon, haddock, and trout from an award-winning smokehouse. As you explore you'll learn how poverty and wealth have influenced Scottish eating and drinking habits, and discover what modern Scottish dining is. After, use the rest of your day as you please—perhaps a visit to a gallery or afternoon nap will be needed after a foodie morning!

Day 3: Drive to Pitlochry, See Queen's View, Visit Blair Atholl Castle & Distillery

Main Street, Pitlochry
Pitlochry's high street is full of charm

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, a 19th-century Victorian village nestled in a forested glen (valley) on the River Tummel. Upon arrival, find somewhere in town for lunch then check into your hotel. After, drive out to Queen's View, a famous viewpoint overlooking the azure blue waters of Loch Tummel. This is one of the finest views in the entire United Kingdom and was even a favorite of Queen Victoria, hence the name.

Pull up at Blair Castle, home of the Atholl family since the 13th century. Explore the fine 18th-century interiors and Scots Baronial architecture, along with the walled gardens, which span 9 acres (3 ha). After, visit the renowned Blair Athol Distillery, which dates back to 1798 and draws its water from the ancient Alt Dour that flows from the heights of Ben Vrackie. Join a tasting tour to explore behind the scenes, then sample a few golden drams. If you're driving, ask for their takeaway packs to enjoy back in Pitlochry.

Day 4: Explore Cairngorms National Park, Drive to Oban, Oban Distillery Tour

Cairngorms National Park Aviemore
If you're lucky, you might see a red deer stag walking among the pine trees in the Cairngorms

Wave goodbye to Pitlochry and drive north into the heart of Cairngorms National Park. At 1,748 square miles (4,528 sq km), this is the largest park in the UK and also happens to protect some of the greatest diversity of wildlife in Scotland. Keep your camera handy as a local guide leads you through the wilderness—if you're very lucky, you'll see a Scottish mountain hare and wildcat or the majestic red deer, the largest land mammal in the park. After, continue west three hours to the 18th-century town of Oban, the main gateway to many of the Hebrides islands.

Once in Oban, check into your accommodation, then walk to the Oban Distillery. When brothers Hugh and John Stevenson arrived at the frontier of the Hebrides in 1793, they found little more than a natural harbor and a windswept view. They opened the Oban Brewing Company, starting with beer and moving to whisky a year later. Gain an insight into the historic distillery's whisky-making process while enjoying a dram of exquisite single malt. After, seek out Scotland's top-quality fish and shellfish at a waterfront restaurant as the sun sets.

Day 5: Drive to Glasgow, Music Mile Tour

Glasgow Music Mile Tour
Learn about Glasgow's vibrant music scene this evening
Plan your trip to Ireland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

There's no need to rush off from Oban this morning. Use your morning to relax and enjoy the peaceful town and board a wildlife cruise, if you like. Then, jump behind the wheel and make the 2.5-hour drive to Glasgow. This cool and creative destination has been shaped by its rich industrial heritage and historic architecture, ranging from Victorian to Art Nouveau. Scotland's largest city is a curious mix of old and new—and today, you'll get to know the city through its storied folk music scene.

This evening's two-hour tour of Glasgow's Music Mile will be led by an enthusiastic local musician, fan, or writer. Together, you'll pass from the Royal Concert Hall to King Tut's via the Conservatoire, exploring music venues past and present. Hear tales from the heyday of the late, lamented Apollo, check out the home of Celtic Connections, and marvel at the many successful bands that started out at King Tut's. Follow the early footsteps of Oasis, Blur, and the Manic Street Preachers, and explore an area rich in both musical myths and scuzzy backroom stages.

Day 6: Full-Day Loch Lomond, Trossachs & Stirling Castle Tour

 Loch Lomond looks like a watercolor painting at any time of day

Explore the land and legends of Scottish heroes and experience the natural beauty of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park on this full-day excursion from Glasgow. Meet your local guide and driver, and set off for the "bonnie banks" of Loch Lomond, one of the prettiest and largest lochs in the whole of Scotland. Here, you'll take a cruise, enjoying spectacular views of the loch's many islands and the surrounding mountains. Alternatively, you might stroll through picturesque loch-side Luss, a village with quaint houses and water views.

Pause for lunch in the village of Aberfoyle, nestled in the heart of Trossachs National Park. Scotland's first national park is known as the "Highlands in miniature" due to its abundance of lochs, mountains, and forests. It's also the former homeland of legendary outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor. Before returning to Glasgow, your final stop is Stirling Castle, one of the most significant castles in Scottish history. Enjoy the views from its high vantage point, and explore the castle while hearing exploits by key historical figures, including William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Mary Queen of Scots. 

Day 7: Fly to Belfast (Northern Ireland), Cave Hill Walk

Divis Mountain Walk
Hop over to Northern Ireland's thriving capital, Belfast

After an early breakfast, drive to the airport with enough time to return the rental car ahead of your 45-minute flight to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. On arrival, collect a rental car and drive to your hotel. If it's still early in the day, you could take a self-guided walking tour of the Cathedral Quarter, where the cobblestone streets of the historic trading center are now lined with trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. Admire cool street art, then stop for lunch.

This afternoon, head to the outskirts of the city for a walk up Belfast's most famous landmark: Cave Hill. A two-hour hike will take you to the top of the mountain, where you'll enjoy incredible panoramic views over basalt cliffs to Belfast and the countryside below. Back in the city, you could shop for souvenirs at the famous St George's Market or visit the sleek multimedia Titanic Museum or Ulster Museum, which houses Irish art, history, and natural science. End the day at a historic Irish pub like the George, the Duke of York, and Kelly's Cellars.

Day 8: Self-Guided Giant's Causeway & North Coastal Path

Self-Guided Day to the Giants Causeway & the North Coastal Path
Giant's Causeway is made up of hexagonal basalt stones

Today's self-guided day trip takes you north to see the Giant's Causeway and follows the North Coastal Path, hugging the seaside. Kick off the morning a half-hour drive north at Carrickfergus Castle, a sturdy Norman castle that's one of the best-preserved medieval structures in Ireland. Enter the grounds, see the old canons, and continue along the coastal way to the abandoned Magheramorne quarry area, which was used as a filming location for "Game of Thrones." Keep driving the coastline through Glenarm, Carnlough, and Cushendal.

Stop to see the "Carrick-A-Reede," a death rope bridge that's thrilling for those who dare to cross it. Then, finally, reach the Giant's Causeway. Commonly called the "eighth wonder of the world," this World Heritage site of ancient hexagonal basalt stones is wrapped in local myths and legends. Bordered by the wild Atlantic seas, this location has inspired artists and scientific debate. You can learn about the Causeway on a guided storytelling tour or grab audioguides—either choice gets you on-site parking. After, return to Belfast.

Day 9: Drive to Clifden (Republic of Ireland) via South Donegal

Highlight of South Donegal
Explore the wild side of South Donegal, like around the fishing village of Killybegs

There's a 5.5-hour drive ahead as you cross from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland, ending in Clifden on the west coast. Start with a two-hour drive west and spend much of the day exploring South Donegal. Lap historic Donegal town, then experience the vibrant fishing village of Killybegs, stand in awe of the dramatic Slieve League Cliffs, and immerse yourself in the Gaelic heritage of Glencolmcille. There's loads to see here, from charming towns to dazzling landscapes.

In the mid-afternoon, continue the journey west to Clifden, a town set between mountains and the ocean. Often called "the Capital of Connemara," it's the area's largest town and your base for the night. Clifden's vibrant atmosphere and dramatic scenery make it a popular destination for travelers. Drop your bags at your accommodation, then set out to experience the joy and music of an authentic Irish town after dark.

Day 10: Kylemore Abbey & Connemara National Park, Drive to Doolin

Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of Ireland's Benedictine Abbeys

After breakfast, make the short drive to 19th-century Kylemore Abbey. Through historical photographs, audiovisual presentations, displays of artifacts, historical costumes, and beautifully restored period rooms, learn about the stories of the many generations of people who have lived, worked, studied, and prayed inside Kylemore Abbey's solid granite walls. After, grab lunch and lace up your hiking boots, ready to explore Connemara National Park. This 7,000-acre (2,832 ha) is a vast expanse of mountains, lakes, bogs, and heathland that's home to the native Connemara pony.

Just one of six in Ireland, this national park is well known for its diversity of birdlife, and Oscar Wilde once described Connemara as having "savage beauty." Take the opportunity to hike for one hour around the Lower Diamond Hill Walk, which enjoys gorgeous views of Connemara. After, make the 2.5-hour drive to the colorful seaside village of Doolin. En route, stop in Galway, the beating cultural heart of Ireland's west. Galway has been ranked as a top foodie destination in Europe, so join a foodie walking tour if you have the time before driving into County Clare. 

Day 11: Cliffs of Moher Cruise, Rock of Cashel, Drive to Kilkenny

See the Cliffs of Moher from below with a scenic boat cruise

After breakfast, you'll travel a few minutes outside Doolin to one of the most incredible landmarks in all of Ireland: the Cliff of Moher. Located on the west coast in County Clare, these sea cliffs run for 8 miles (13 km), reaching heights of over 700 feet (213 m). You'll experience the cliffs a little differently—on a fun boat tour around the offshore Aran Islands. Not only will the boat take you right under the cliffs, but you'll also stop at the island of Oírr for a hike or bike ride.

Once you're back on the mainland, you'll continue a couple of hours inland to the Rock of Cashel. Set famous landmark. on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. Stroll among monuments like a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and a 15th-century tower house. Take your time exploring one of Ireland's most impressive archaeological sites, then drive an hour west to the medieval town of Kilkenny for the night.

Day 12: Explore Kilkenny & Kilkenny Castle

The fairytale Kilkenny Castle
The fairy-tale Kilkenny Castle dates back to the 13th century

Kilkenny is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Ireland. Originally a monastic settlement, after the Norman invasion, Lord William Marshall gave the town its charter, and it became the medieval capital of Ireland. Today, after breakfast, you'll explore inside the grand Kilkenny Castle, which has been named one of the most beautiful castles in the world. Start in Kilkenny with a walk down the 1,500-year-old streets of Medieval Mile, and enter the fantastic St Canice's Cathedral, known for its massive round tower and breathtaking viewing gallery.

Stop by the Dame Alice Kyteler Inn, named after a famed witch, for lunch, then grab a pint at the beautiful Smithwicks Brewery. In the afternoon, explore the sights of Kilkenny Castle. Over the past 800 years, this castle has been under continuous occupation, being rebuilt, extended, and adapted to suit changing needs. These days, you'll see a Victorian remodeling of the 13th-century defensive castle. Enter the grand country house, wander 50 acres (20 ha) of rolling parkland, and finish at the tearoom with a well-deserved cuppa.

Day 13: Drive to Dublin, Food & Drink Tour

Dublin Food and Drink tour
Taste the best of Dublin's vibrant food and drink scene with a tour

Today you'll drive the final leg of your epic Scotland and Ireland road trip. After breakfast, make the final 90-minute drive to Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. This dynamic city is full of history, culture, music, and food, and it's the last one you'll focus on today. The days of the potato famine are long gone—today, Dublin is a major food destination. On a 3.5-hour food tour, you'll discover how a country once known for its poor eating standards is now leveraging the "locavore" movement and digging into its traditions to create a rich and diverse culinary scene.

Learn about Dublin's food evolution with a local expert as you taste fresh seafood and classic soda bread and enjoy a good pint or dram for good measure. The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy as you wish. Venture to the vibrant Temple Bar district, where colorful streets beckon with galleries, pubs, and pints. Wander along the scenic River Liffey, admiring its iconic bridges, or take a cruise for a different perspective. Visit Dublin Castle to glimpse the city's history, shop Grafton Street and watch lively street performers, or step through the National Gallery and IMMA.

Day 14: Hidden Homes of Dublin, Guinness & Jameson Tour

Discover the world of Guinness and learn what goes into every pint

What does "home" mean to you? This morning's tour is a fun and historical two-hour walking tour where you'll learn about history through its residents and residences, which run the gamut from tenements to grand estates. One highlight is Henrietta Street, which is lined with Georgian mansions built in the 1700s. Back then, Dublin was a wealthy enclave considered the second city of the old British Empire. In the 19th century, these homes fell into decline and became tenements with entire families living in one room.

You'll also pass by convents, abbeys, and monasteries and stroll medieval Fishamble Street, the birthplace of fictional Molly Malone, the protagonist of Dublin's unofficial anthem. After, visit two of the most popular attractions in Dublin: the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Whiskey Distillery. Meet your guide in Dublin's old warehouse district and set off to sample various whiskeys. Then, head over to the Guinness Storehouse to hear the history and learn how to pour the perfect pint of stout. Finish up with a complimentary glass of "the black stuff."

Day 15: Depart Dublin

Long Room Trinity College
Keep your camera close as you walk around the Long Room at Trinity College

If you have time on your final morning in Ireland, make sure you see The Book of Kells at Dublin's Trinity College. One of the oldest books in the world, it dates back to 800 CE and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. The book was created by Irish monks using local organic paints and inks. Walk through the library's wooden Long Room among 250,000 of Ireland's oldest books and documents and the original 15th-century Brian Boru Harp. You'll recognize this space from the "Harry Potter" movies!

Finally, your great road trip across Scotland and Ireland comes to an end. Hop in the car one last time and make the journey to Dublin's airport. 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 Discover Scotland & Ireland: Castles & Cuisine - 15 Days
Map of Discover Scotland & Ireland: Castles & Cuisine - 15 Days