- Explore stories of royalty and see the crown jewels at Edinburgh Castle
- Visit the UK's only cooperage and tour a favorite Speyside whisky distillery
- Go castle hunting during a private scenic tour across Aberdeenshire
- Take a cruise on Loch Ness and hunt for the legendary monster yourself
- Experience Scotland's traditional folk music during an evening in Glasgow
|Arrive in Edinburgh, Secrets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile & Castle Tour
|Drive to Stirling, Visit Stirling Castle & the William Wallace Monument
|Drive to Aberdeen via Lindores Abbey Distillery & Arbroath Abbey
|Castles of Aberdeenshire Private Tour
|Drive to Aberlour via Cairngorms National Park & Balmoral Castle
|Whisky Tasting at Glenfarclas, Speyside Cooperage, Drive to Aviemore
|Drive to Inverness via Culloden Battlefield & Clava Cairns
|Kiltmaking Exhibition, Visit Cawdor Castle
|Loch Ness Cruise, Drive to the Isle of Skye via Eilean Donan Castle
|Isle of Skye
|Whisky Tasting at Torabhaig Distillery, Free Time on the Isle of Skye
|Isle of Skye
|Drive to Fort William via Glenfinnan Viaduct & Monument
|Hiking Glen Nevis: Steall Falls & Nevis Gorge Walk
|Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music
|Visit Glasgow Cathedral, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Secrets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile & Castle Tour
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. Stroll through the cobbled streets 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 Sterling, Visit Stirling Castle & the 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 battle took place. Finally, check into your accommodation for the evening.
Day 3: Drive to Aberdeen via Lindores Abbey Distillery & Arbroath Abbey
Today's 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 beautiful parks and streets.
Day 4: Castles of Aberdeenshire Private Tour
Can you believe there are 263 castles in Aberdeenshire? You can find them 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 some 50 feet (15 m) above the sea. There are more per hectare or acre than anywhere else in the British Isles. Why? 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. Return to Aberdeen and find a cozy pub for dinner.
Day 5: Drive to Aberlour via Cairngorms National Park & Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle, which is nestled within Cairngorms National Park, has been a cherished royal retreat since Queen Victoria's time. Prince Albert bought the property for Queen Victoria, and its granite castle was completed in 1856. So long as the royal family isn't visiting, you can drive into the estate and catch a glimpse of their private world. Wander around the lush, manicured grounds, past pristine lochs, and through the countryside. Nature is at its best here, so bring a picnic to enjoy or enjoy a simple stroll around the iconic residence.
The drive from Aberdeen takes around 80 minutes, and after touring the grounds, you'll stop in the quaint village of Ballater for lunch. Use your afternoon to explore more of the park. You could take a short hike, visit the pretty peach Craigievar Castle, or continue on to Aberlour, your home for the evening.
Day 6: Whisky Tasting at Glenfarclas, Speyside Cooperage, Drive to Aviemore
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
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, a 50-minute drive south. Nestled in Cairngorms National Park, this charming town is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts who flock here for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.
Day 7: Drive to Inverness via Culloden Battlefield & Clava Cairns
This morning, visit the site of the final Jacobite Rising, the last and most harrowing pitched battle fought on British soil. On 16 April 1746, Jacobite supporters seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones gathered 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. Make the 40-minute drive from Aviemore to the Culloden Battlefield visitor center, where you can explore interactive exhibits and view artifacts from the battle. An eerie silence often falls on Drummossie Moor here.
After, visit the nearby Clava Cairns, one of Scotland's most evocative prehistoric sites. This is the remains of an ancient cemetery, set on a terrace above the River Nairn. Thought to be around 4,000 years old, this sacred place provides many clues to the beliefs of Bronze Age society. Explore prehistoric burial monuments and the remains of a medieval chapel, then continue to nearby Inverness. Here you can visit Inverness Castle, seek out a show at the Eden Court Theatre, or go hiking in Glen Affric.
Day 8: Kiltmaking Exhibition, Visit Cawdor Castle
Today you'll gain a fascinating insight into the history, tradition, and culture of the kilt—from its origins through to the present day. Set within a kiltmaking workshop, the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre in Inverness brings the story of the kilt to life with costume and tartan displays.
From here, set off to explore Cawdor Castle, a 25-minute drive from town. This traditional Scottish castle was built and has been inhabited by the Cawdor family for more than 600 years. The fantastic medieval tower was constructed around a legendary holly tree. You can visit the 14th-century fairy-tale castle and explore the three distinct gardens. End the day back in Inverness with a hearty Scottish meal at a cozy local pub, perhaps topped off with a dram of whisky.
Day 9: Loch Ness Cruise, Drive to the Isle of Skye via Eilean Donan Castle
This morning, make your way to Dochgarroch, just outside of Inverness, 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, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria. Hear stories about the elusive Loch Ness Monster, and try to spot "Nessie" for yourself.
After the cruise, jump in the car. Today's final destination is the Isle of Skye, but before crossing over to the island, you'll pause at Eilean Donan Castle. This 13th-century tower is one of the most iconic images of Scotland. Situated on a scenic 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. After your visit, cross over to the dramatic and ethereal isle known for its rugged, mountainous terrain and the iconic Cuillin Range.
Day 10: Whisky Tasting at Torabhaig Distillery, Free Time on the Isle of Skye
Journey back in time at Torabhaig Distillery, where whisky-making traditions have thrived for nearly two centuries. This historic distillery, only the second licensed single malt Scotch whisky distillery on Skye, pays homage to its natural surroundings and draws on the island's pristine water, land, and climate. Join a distillery tour to uncover the painstaking process of crafting fine Scotch whisky, from mashing and fermentation to distillation and aging in oak casks. The history-rich stone building, once part of a 200-year-old farmstead, adds a sense of timelessness to the experience.
Finally, you'll taste the golden nectars with a whisky tasting. Savor the distinctive flavors imparted by Skye's elements and sip history. The rest of the day is yours to explore Skye. 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. You could also explore the historic Dunvegan Castle or see the Neist Point Lighthouse, perched atop a dramatic cliff.
Day 11: 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 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 12: Hiking Glen Nevis: Steall Falls & Nevis Gorge Walk
Today you'll explore some of the most beautiful Scottish wilderness on foot. Glen Nevis is one of the most spectacular glens in Scotland. Set at the foot of Ben Nevis, this verdant area offers peace, tranquility, and trails. Follow the River Nevis just a few minutes from Fort William into the glen to where waterfalls cascade off the towering mountain landscape. Embark on an easy yet rewarding walk to Steall Falls, a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) trek that's one of the best short walks in Scotland. This special route heads through the dramatic and beautiful Nevis Gorge, leading to the Steall Falls.
See erosion at work as the force and volume of water cascades over and down through deep rock pools. Farther downstream, the Lower Falls is a great place to watch millions of gallons (or liters) of freshwater pour over the rock on its way to the sea. Spend the rest of the day in the glen, hiking other trails or enjoying a picnic. Later, return to Fort William for a second night.
Day 13: Drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, Scottish Trad Trail Tour & Folk Music
The largest freshwater loch in Scotland, Loch Lomond, is 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. Take a cruise on Loch Katrine or kayak on Loch Lomond. Visit the Sea Life and Birds of Prey Centres or tour Scotland's most picturesque distillery at Glengoyne. For panoramic views, Conic Hill beckons with a moderate hike. Find somewhere for a late lunch, then continue to Glasgow.
This evening you'll experience the best of Scottish culture and food, a great way to spend your final night. Start with a 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 line-up of Glasgow's up-and-coming talent. Slàinte Mhath!
Day 14: 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! Of course, not everything is from that era, and curiously it has one of the finest postwar collections of stained glass windows in Britain.
This marks the end of your Scottish road trip. 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 next destination. Safe travels!