This unique Scotland itinerary weaves whisky, wildlife, and the West Highland Way into an epic 16-day trip. Kick off with an overnight in Glasgow before spending three days on the scenic trail. After, you'll join a wildlife cruise, explore the magnificent Isle of Skye, and wander the Culloden Battlefield with a historian. If that's not enough, venture through Cairngorms National Park, cruise Loch Ness, visit a handful of famous castles, and finally explore Edinburgh's Royal Mile to complete the adventure.


  • Hike a section of the West Highland Way, Scotland's scenic long-distance walk
  • Board a wildlife cruise to see one of the rarest birds of prey in the United Kingdom
  • Spend three nights on the Isle of Skye, which includes a half-day kayaking trip
  • Learn about history and the monarchy at both Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Glasgow, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music Glasgow
Day 2 Horse Riding in The Trossachs, Train to the Bridge of Orchy & Explore Bridge of Orchy
Day 3 Hike the West Highland Way (Day 1): Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse Glen Coe
Day 4 Hike the West Highland Way (Day 2): Kingshouse to Kinlochleven Kinlochleven
Day 5 Hike the West Highland Way (Day 3): Kinlochleven to Fort William Fort William
Day 6 Drive to the Isle of Skye via Mallaig, Wildlife Boat Tour Portree
Day 7 Full-Day Isle of Skye Tour Portree
Day 8 Guided Sea Kayak Experience Portree
Day 9 Drive to Torridon via Eilean Donan Castle Torridon
Day 10 Drive to Inverness, Loch Ness Cruise, Visit Urquhart Castle Inverness
Day 11 Private Culloden Battlefield Tour Inverness
Day 12 Drive to Pitlochry via Rothiemurchus Estate in Cairngorms National Park Pitlochry
Day 13 The Hermitage & Braan Walk, Deanston Distillery Tour, Drive to Stirling Stirling
Day 14 Visit Stirling Castle, Drive to Edinburgh, Free Time Edinburgh
Day 15 Explore Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh
Day 16 Depart Edinburgh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Glasgow, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music

A Scottish summer day in Kelvingrove Park, with Glasgow University at the top of the hill
Visit Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow University before sampling Scottish culture and food

Welcome to Scotland! You've landed in Glasgow, a modern, creative city shaped by its rich industrial heritage. This is reflected in the grand Victorian architecture juxtaposed with modern structures. On arrival at the airport, take a taxi to your hotel. Drop your bags, refresh, lace up your walking shoes, and see some of the sights before joining a tour.

This evening, you'll experience the best Scottish culture and food, a great way to kick off the adventure. Start with an hourlong folk music-themed walking tour of the gritty city's oldest and most interesting streets. After, pile into a classic Scottish restaurant for a hearty, home-cooked meal. Then, you'll experience the best contemporary and traditional folk music from a rotating lineup of Glasgow's up-and-coming talent.

Day 2: Horse Riding in The Trossachs, Train to the Bridge of Orchy & Explore

Old Military Road, Bridge of Orchy
Check out the Bridge of Orchy, which crosses a river of the same name

It's time to explore the countryside! You can ride sure-footed and well-mannered ponies on this morning's excursion. You'll be guided by seasoned riding leaders on a leisurely trek through the tranquil Scottish countryside and more rugged terrain that overlooks The Trossachs National Park.

Then, make your way to Glasgow's train station on foot or by taxi. You're catching a 2.5-hour direct service north to Bridge of Orchy. After the 1715 Jacobite uprising, the government started building better infrastructure across the country, and this namesake bridge was built in 1751. These days, the village is most famous for being on the West Highland Way, Scotland's favorite long-distance walking route. Settle into your accommodation for the evening and enjoy the charms of the historic village. You'll want to rest up ahead of tomorrow's first day of walking.

Day 3: Hike the West Highland Way (Day 1): Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse

Experience the beauty of Glen Coe, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the country

Stretching 96 miles (154 km) from Milngavie to Fort William, the West Highland Way traverses an incredible range of Scottish scenery, from countryside parks to lochs and open moorlands to steep mountains. The route is usually completed south to north, as the southern part is flatter and easier—but you'll be jumping halfway, so set off ready to hike some challenging terrain. Your first day on the trails takes you through the beautiful Rannoch Moor, a wild and remote section of Scotland.

You'll then cross over to Glen Coe, home to some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the United Kingdom. Pass the impressive Buachaille Etive Mor to arrive at Kingshouse, one of Scotland's oldest inns and your base for the night. Today's total walking distance is 13 miles (21 km) and will take around 4.5 hours. Don't worry about your luggage; bag transfers will be arranged, and your luggage will meet you each night on the trail!

Day 4: Hike the West Highland Way (Day 2): Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Hiking trail in Scotland
Expect some challenging trails and terrain on today's hike

Hopefully, you'll wake up with plenty of energy, ready to tackle your second day on the trail. First, you'll admire the imposing Buachaille Etive Mor, one of Scotland's most famous Munros (peaks). Then, you'll walk toward Altnafeadh before turning right for the Devil's Staircase, the highest point on the West Highland Way. A steep ascent climbs 1,797 feet (548 m), rewarding you with sweeping views over Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, and the Mamores mountain range.

After the ascent, you'll meander across a moorland before heading down to the secluded village of Kinlochleven, your home for the night on the pristine shores of Loch Leven. Rest your feet and celebrate today's walking distance of 10 miles (16 km).

Day 5: Hike the West Highland Way (Day 3): Kinlochleven to Fort William

Trekking Scotland
Begin the final stretch of the West Highland Way with a steep ascent

Today you'll tackle the final section of the West Highland Way, taking you from Kinlochleven to Fort William. The trek starts with a steep climb out of Kinlochleven—look back to admire the view. Ahead lies the great pass of Lairigmor, a special path that follows the glen, making the trek between steep mountains easy. Wander through woodland and forestry plantations and watch as Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, comes into full view. Before the final descent, you could choose to make a short detour and see the remains of Dun Deardail, an Iron Age fort in Glen Nevis.

Soon enough, you'll make the descent to Fort William, known as the "adventure capital of the UK." This loch-side town sits between crystal clear lakes and snowcapped mountains, drawing outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Venture into town, take a photo with the bronze statue of a fellow walker at Gordon Square, and then celebrate today's walking distance of 14 miles (23 km).

Day 6: Drive to the Isle of Skye via Mallaig, Wildlife Boat Tour

Loch Nevis Knoydart
Look out for gray seals while cruising off the coast of Mallaig

Today you're destined for the dramatic and ethereal Isle of Skye, which is known for its rugged, mountainous terrain and the iconic Cuillin Range. To get there, you'll collect a rental car and make the one-hour drive to Mallaig. From this small fishing port, you'll join a wildlife tour to discover the creatures that call this part of Scotland's west coast home. Board a specialist boat that will take you around the small isles and Loch Nevis. You'll travel to Green Island on Knoydart Peninsula, where you might see a variety of birds, seals, porpoises, dolphins, whales, and basking sharks.

Since it's Scotland, your boat has a whisky bar, and you can bring a picnic lunch from a local café. Return to dry land, jump in the car, and board a ferry destined for the Isle of Skye. On arrival, make the 50-minute drive to Portree, Skye's bustling harborside town and island capital. Here, you can stroll around the colorful fishing village and venture into a cozy pub for a bite to eat after checking in.

Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Full-Day Isle of Skye Tour

Looking across the sea to the Black Cuillin mountains of Skye.
Look for views of the Black Cuillin mountains
Today you'll experience the best of Skye with the help of a local. After breakfast, meet your friendly guide in Portree and set out to discover the rugged island. They'll take you to famous locations such as Kilt Rock, the Fairy Glen, and the Quiraing and share stories, legends, and facts as you pass by historic castles and natural sights. With a whole day up your sleeve, you'll get to know the best bits of Skye, along with the history and tales behind them. Each full-day tour is different, depending on the weather and what you'd like to see.

Day 8: Guided Sea Kayak Experience

Sea Kayaking Scotland
Jump in a sea kayak and navigate the coastline of Skye

The Isle of Skye's coastline is scattered with high cliffs, sea stacks, and picturesque fishing villages. This morning, after breakfast, 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 sea kayak adventure gives you an alternative perspective of the special island while learning about its history, nature, and folklore. You'll even pause at a remote beach for a picnic while looking for wildlife on the coast. Afterward, use your free time to explore any sights you missed yesterday, or return to Portee and find a cozy pub for the evening. 

Day 9: Drive to Torridon via Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Many films have used Eilean Donan Castle as the backdrop

Today you'll wave goodbye to Skye, crossing back to the mainland for your two-hour drive north toward Torridon. En route, you'll make a small detour to visit Eilean Donan Castle. This 13th-century tower is one of the most iconic images of Scotland. Situated on an island where three great sea lochs meet, it's little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish Highlands. Inhabited since the sixth century, the first fortified castle was built here in the mid-13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail.

Since then, four versions of Eilean Donan Castle have been built and rebuilt as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries. After your visit, continue onto Torridon for the evening. This area is famous for its dramatic mountain scenery, so make sure you have enough daylight for the drive. Check into your hotel and find dinner in the small village.

Day 10: Drive to Inverness, Loch Ness Cruise, Visit Urquhart Castle

Castle Urquart overlooking 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, on your 80-minute drive to Inverness, pull up at Dochgarroch, just outside town, for a two-hour cruise on the legendary waters of Loch Ness 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. Hear stories about the elusive Loch Ness Monster, and try to spot "Nessie."

After, hop ashore for a one-hour visit to explore historic Urquhart Castle and its turbulent past. Here, you can unearth more than 1,000 years of history at the ruins. Snap panoramic pictures of 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, venture into Inverness, check into your hotel, and find a cozy pub for a traditional Scottish meal and a wee dram of whisky.

Day 11: Private Culloden Battlefield Tour

Sunrise over Culloden Battlefield.
Look for the graves of hundreds of clansmen and a 20-foot (6 m) memorial cairn

The Culloden Battlefield is the site of the final Jacobite Rising, the last and most dramatic battle fought on British soil. On 16 April 1746, Jacobite supporters seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones gathered on top of a ridge a few miles from Inverness to fight the Duke of Cumberland's government troops. In less than an hour, around 1,300 men were slain—more than 1,250 of them Jacobites. This morning a private guide will lead you around the historic site, sharing stories and details of this time.

You'll walk to the battlefield, see the Well of the Dead, the Main Cairn, and the Clan Graves, where the soldiers are buried, and explore the multimedia center. The site attracts many descendants whose families were forced, or chose, to leave Scotland. After, the rest of the day is yours to explore Inverness. You could visit Inverness Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the River Ness. You could also seek out a show at the Eden Court Theatre or visit a local art gallery.

Day 12: Drive to Pitlochry via Rothiemurchus Estate in Cairngorms National Park

Osprey Fishing
Look for a wide variety of wildlife, and you might be lucky enough to watch osprey fishing

Set your GPS for Rothiemurchus Estate, a family-run estate in Cairngorms National Park with a 13th-century island castle, abundant wildlife, and fun activities. The 40-minute drive laps the western edge of the park, past the beautiful verdant farmland and historic granite villages. Rothiemurchus is home to one of the largest areas of natural forest in Britain and an extraordinary variety of wildlife calls this area home.

These animals have been under the protection of 18 generations of the Grants of Rothiemurchus, who have cared for this estate for more than 450 years. Your visit helps the family continue their sustainable stewardship of the forest. Choose to walk or cycle along carefully maintained paths or join an outdoor activity such as clay shooting, fishing, quad bike trekking, pony hacking, off-road driving, archery, and canoeing. After your visit, continue to Pitlochry, a quaint Victorian town on the southern edge of the park.

Day 13: The Hermitage & Braan Walk, Deanston Distillery Tour, Drive to Stirling

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

This morning, after breakfast, you'll venture 20 minutes south to The Hermitage, an 18th-century park designed 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 Ossian's Hall, which overlooks the roaring Black Linn Waterfall.

After, continue an hour south for a taste of Scottish whisky! Join a tour at Deanston Distillery and sip your way through the core range of whisky, comparing the local liquor with samples from their sister distilleries in the Highlands and on the Scottish islands. You'll experience rare and hard-to-find whiskies, so if you're the designated driver, ask for "driver drams" to enjoy later. From the distillery, it's just a 15-minute drive to Stirling, one of the most historic and politically important cities in Scotland. It was once said that whoever controlled Stirling controlled Scotland.

Day 14: Visit Stirling Castle, Drive to Edinburgh, Free Time

Stirling downtown
Wake up in Stirling, grab breakfast, and then explore the castle

All visitors to Stirling should take a trip up to Stirling Castle, so rise early to squeeze in a visit. The castle once guarded the main crossing point over the River Forth, so all armies traveling north or south had to pass here, and several important battles have occurred within view of Stirling Castle's ramparts. Because "to hold Stirling was to have Scotland," the town became known as the Key to Scotland! The castle was a favored royal residence for the Stuart monarchs, only rivaled by Edinburgh. Three kings were born in this castle, and Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here.

When you're ready, make the one-hour drive to Edinburgh, the beautiful capital of Scotland. Check into your hotel, then set out to explore. The Old Town is the heart of Edinburgh, and a walk along the historic Royal Mile will help you gain your bearings. Look for the David Hume Statue and rub its toe for good luck, then pop into the World's End, a pub set within a 16th-century building. After finishing a pint, continue along the mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official royal residence in Scotland and is open to the public year-round.

Day 15: Explore Edinburgh Castle

Exploring Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle sits atop a dormant volcano

Edinburgh Castle is steeped in history and has played a crucial role in Scotland's past. It has witnessed many significant events and has been a site of royal residence, military fortification, and strategic importance. This morning, you'll explore the castle from top to bottom, immersing yourself in Scotland's rich heritage and history. Plus, from its strategic location on Castle Rock, you'll enjoy brilliant panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh too. Within the castle walls, you'll find the Honours of Scotland—also known as the Crown Jewels—including the crown, scepter, and sword of state.

Use the rest of your day to enjoy the historic and modern city known for its festivals, thriving arts scene, and friendly locals. 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 neighborhood known for its boutiques, galleries, thrift stores, cafés, and bakeries. Or go for a short walk to Dean Village to admire the well-preserved 19th-century architecture and wander alongside the tranquil Water of Leith. If the weather is nice, head to Calton Hill for sunset.

Day 16: Depart Edinburgh

Say goodbye to Edinburgh and return to the airport

Finally, jump back in the car one last time for the drive to Edinburgh's airport. Arrive with enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or next destination. 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 Explore Scotland's West Highland Way & Beyond - 16 Days
Map of Explore Scotland's West Highland Way & Beyond - 16 Days