- Learn about kings and queens and see the crown jewels at Edinburgh Castle
- Visit the UK's only cooperage and tour a favorite Speyside whisky distillery
- Go castle hunting with a private tour across Aberdeenshire
- Ride in a hot-air balloon high above the Scottish countryside
- Experience the best of Scotland with traditional folk music in Glasgow
|Day 1||Arrive in Edinburgh, Secrets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile & Edinburgh Castle||Edinburgh|
|Day 2||Drive to Stirling, Explore Stirling Castle & William Wallace Monument||Stirling|
|Day 3||Drive to Aberdeen via Lindores Abbey Distillery Experience & Arbroath Abbey||Aberdeen|
|Day 4||Castles of Aberdeenshire Private Tour, Drive to Abelour||Aberlour|
|Day 5||Whisky Tasting at Glenfarclas, Speyside Cooperage, Drive to Aviemore||Aviemore|
|Day 6||Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Highland Folk Museum, Drive to Inverness||Inverness|
|Day 7||Dolphin Watching Expedition, Drive to the Isle of Skye||Isle of Skye|
|Day 8||Ferry to Mallaig, Drive to Fort William via Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument||Fort William|
|Day 9||Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music||Glasgow|
|Day 10||Visit Glasgow Cathedral, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Secrets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile & Edinburgh Castle
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. En route, you might catch a glimpse of the mighty Edinburgh Castle, a huge fortress sitting atop an ancient volcanic hill and overlooking the Old and New Town centers. Drop your bags, refresh, and lace up your walking shoes.
This afternoon, explore Edinburgh on a historical walking tour of the Scottish capital. Promenade through the cobbled streets, wynds, and closes of the world-famous Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle with the official royal residence in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Over 90 minutes, you'll hear true stories and fascinating facts and learn about the city's rich heritage. Finally, enter Edinburgh Castle and 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.
Day 2: Drive to Stirling, Explore Stirling Castle & William Wallace Monument
Today you'll walk through one of the most significant castles in Scottish history. But first, go collect your rental car. Just an hour's drive from Edinburgh, Stirling Castle is where the Great Siege took place in 1304, when Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots, besieged the fortress. Instead of starving the occupants to surrender, he commanded his troops to attack the castle, and after four months of brutality, Stirling was theirs. Wander up to the rocky aerie and explore the Royal Palace, Chapel Royal, and Regimental Museum. Take in the views over Stirling's cobbled main street and countryside.
Afterward, seek out refreshments in town and visit the National Wallace Monument, situated on the Abbey Craig just outside Stirling. This famous landmark commemorates the life of the patriot and martyr Sir William Wallace and overlooks the scene of his greatest victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Read the story of how the battle was fought and won and of his legacy. Then, of course, admire the Stirling Bridge itself, where the 1297 fight took place. Finally, check into your accommodation for the evening.
Day 3: Drive to Aberdeen via Lindores Abbey Distillery Experience & Arbroath Abbey
Today's final destination is Aberdeen, but you'll be making two special stops on the three-hour journey. First, you'll join a Lindores Abbey Distillery experience and make your own aqua vitae. If you fell ill 500 years ago, you'd seek out the Apothecary at the local monastery for a tincture of herbs, spices, or fruit to cure your ailments. Venture back to the ancient art of distillation with this workshop, where you'll produce your own aqua vitae spirit. It's a unique souvenir to take home!
Find somewhere for lunch nearby, then return to the road. Your next destination is Arbroath Abbey, on the coast 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Dundee. Explore the extensive ruins of this beautiful medieval abbey, founded by King William I to honor his childhood friend, the murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket. Continue to Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city. This historic port is known as the "Granite City" and is home to two prominent universities, giving it a youthful, vibrant vibe. Check into your accommodation and use the evening to explore its beautiful parks and streets.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Castles of Aberdeenshire Private Tour, Drive to Abelour
Can you believe there are 263 castles in Aberdeenshire? Deep in an ancient pine forest, beside a fast-flowing river, on a high snowbound mountain pass, among rich rolling farmland, and perched on cliffs above the sea. There are more per acre or hectare than anywhere else in the British Isles. This is because a turbulent history of invasions and war, rebellion and uprising, independence and occupation all played out here. Today a private guide will whisk you to see the best and most interesting castles scattered across the countryside.
Explore the evidence of Iron Age hillforts, visit medieval fortresses, see inside Scottish baronial castles, admire Jacobean mansions, and gaze at fortifications added in the 18th century. These often extraordinary buildings have inspired famous storytellers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Walt Disney, and Franco Zeffirelli—and perhaps you'll be inspired to write a story too after today. After the tour, return to Aberdeen, then hit the road 80 minutes northwest to Aberlour, your home for the evening.
Day 5: Whisky Tasting at Glenfarclas, Speyside Cooperage, Drive to Aviemore
It's time to taste one of Scotland's greatest exports: whisky. Drive 5 miles (8 km) down the road to Glenfarclas Distillery, a local favorite that's been in the hands of the Grant family for five generations. Here you'll join a 90-minute tasting experience where you'll unravel the mysteries of single malt whisky craftsmanship during a tour of the six-still distillery (designated drivers can grab a tasting pack to go). Hear about the family legacy as you relax with a couple of drams in the gorgeous Ship’s Room, then choose which bottle is going home with you!
After, if you have time, visit the Speyside Cooperage to experience the ancient art of barrel making. Here you'll see the highly skilled coopers working at lightning speed, using medieval-looking tools to fix and create the finest casks. Since 1947 this family-owned cooperage has worked with American oak using traditional methods and tools. Later, make your way to Aviemore, 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.
Day 6: Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Highland Folk Museum, Drive to Inverness
Witness the sunrise from the basket of a hot-air balloon this morning as you float peacefully above the lush green Scottish countryside. Today's early start rewards you with spectacular panoramic views as you drift in whichever way the wind blows. Back on solid ground, there's a full day ahead, so make the most of it and go explore Cairngorms National Park. For a touch of culture, visit the Highland Folk Museum. Britain's first open-air museum takes you on a journey into the past with heritage buildings and highland cows. The 1700s township was used in the "Outlander" TV series.
Later, jump back behind the wheel and make your way to Inverness, just 35 minutes from Aviemore. 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 or visit a local art gallery. Go hiking in Glen Affric, or visit the legendary Loch Ness to spot the famous Loch Ness Monster, or "Nessie." End the day with a hearty Scottish meal at a cozy local pub, finishing with a dram of whisky.
Day 7: Dolphin Watching Expedition, Drive to the Isle of Skye
This morning, seek out Scotland's marine beauty when you join a two-hour dolphin-watching cruise. Board the Saorsa 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 grey 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, make your way to the West Coast. After 2.5 hours, you'll reach the Isle of Skye and cross over to 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. Use your time to hike to the crystal-clear, blue-hued Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle or trek through the otherworldly landscape of the Quiraing. Explore the historic Dunvegan Castle, or see the Neist Point Lighthouse, perched atop a dramatic cliff.
Day 8: Ferry to Mallaig, Drive to Fort William via Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument
Make your way to Armadale this morning and wave goodbye to the Isle of Skye as your ferry crosses over to Mallaig on the mainland. From here, it's an hour to Fort William, but you'll make a few stops en route. Pause at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland at a whopping 1,250 feet (380 m) long. Made famous by the "Harry Potter" movies, this bridge was actually completed in 1898. The Jacobite Steam Train runs twice a day, so if you time it right, you'll experience the magic of it crossing the 100-foot-high (30 m) arches.
Before or after, explore the Glenfinnan Monument at Loch Shiel, a tribute to those who died fighting for the Jacobite cause. Discover the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 Jacobite Rising, and climb up the tower for amazing views. Continue on the road past Loch Eil to Fort William. Stop briefly at the village of Corpach to photograph the Old Boat of Caol, which sits proudly on a stony beach with a backdrop of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak. Finally, check into your accommodation in Fort William and venture out for dinner. Try the local mussels grown in the nearby loch!
Day 9: Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music
The largest freshwater loch in Scotland is Loch Lomond, an area of natural splendor and a picturesque two-hour drive from Fort William. 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. Park the car and set off on this short 2.5-mile (4 km) walk for views over the loch. Find somewhere for a late lunch, then continue another hour to Glasgow.
This evening you'll experience the best of Scottish culture and food, a great way to spend your final night. Start with an hour-long 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. Sláinte Mhath!
Day 10: Visit Glasgow Cathedral, Depart
It's your final day in Scotland, so if you have time before your flight, explore the famous Glasgow Cathedral, which took 350 years to finish. The first stone of this Gothic cathedral was laid in the presence of King David I in 1136! It's been added to over the centuries and today has one of the finest postwar collections of stained glass windows in Britain.
Afterward, the end of your Scottish road trip has arrived. Hop in the car one last time and make the drive to the airport with enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or onward. Safe travels!