This week-long itinerary perfectly introduces Scotland's most scenic locales—blending a self-drive adventure with unforgettable guided excursions and experiences. Beginning and ending in the charming capital of Edinburgh, you'll set off into the rugged Highlands for a road trip to remember. Step back in time at the Culloden Battlefield, cruise the legendary waters of Loch Ness, and tour whiskey distilleries on the Isle of Skye.

Highlights

  • Stroll Edinburgh's vibrant Royal Mile
  • Immerse yourself in Highland history at the Culloden Battlefield
  • Cruise past castles on the legendary Loch Ness
  • Sample world-class cuisine & locally distilled whiskies on the Isle of Skye

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Explore the City on a Private Photography Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Edinburgh Food Tour, Drive to Inverness, Culloden Battlefield Private Tour Inverness
Day 3 Cruise the Caledonian Canal & Loch Ness Inverness
Day 4 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Tannery Visit & Three Chimneys Culinary Experience Skye
Day 5 Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail Skye
Day 6 Drive to Edinburgh, Historian Guided Walking Tour Edinburgh
Day 7 Depart Edinburgh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Explore the City on a Private Photography Tour

Colorful shops along Edinburgh's Royal Mile
Welcome to Scotland! Upon arrival at the airport in Edinburgh, you'll be met by your private driver and transferred to your hotel. Scotland's capital since the 15th century, Edinburgh is a lively and picturesque town built among rocky hills and crags, filled with quirky charm and atmospheric corners to explore. Highlights include Holyrood Palace, the royal residence since the 16th century, the Old Town's picturesque jumble of medieval tenements piled high along the Royal Mile, and hilltop Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress that dominates the city's scenic skyline.
 
After settling in, get your bearings and see more of the city with a unique photography tour, led by a local professional photographer. Combining a photography lesson with a historic tour of the city, you'll traverse the famously photogenic Old Town, learning how to frame the perfect shot and capture unforgettable images of your trip. 

Day 2: Edinburgh Food Tour, Drive to Inverness, Culloden Battlefield Private Tour

Drive north to Inverness and the Highlands today

From whiskey to smoked salmon to fried mars bars, Scottish food is often stereotyped. On today's three-hour culinary tour, you'll deconstruct those stereotypes and examine many of the ways Scotland is pushing forward its cuisine while adhering to traditional practices. Led by a chef or food writer, this tour gives you insider access to some of Edinburgh’s top food shops, where you'll meet shop owners, taste artisanal products, and discover some of the best-kept secrets of Scottish culinary traditions.

Your walk starts in the up-and-coming area of Stockbridge, stopping in at a select group of shops and market stands, depending on the season and the day of the week. Visit Scotland’s oldest and most famous specialist deli and wine merchant to discuss the influence that Italian immigrants have had in shaping Edinburgh's cuisine, or stop at the city's first independent coffee shop to learn about the local renaissance of good coffee. Browse the season's wild game in the window of a real butcher shop, then slip inside to taste some game pies. In the market, sample some of the hot and cold smoked salmon, haddock, trout, and seafood from an award-winning smokehouse.
 
In the afternoon, it's time to bid Edinburgh farewell for now as you pick up your rental car and head north toward the Highlands and Inverness, a compact and charming city on the banks of the River Ness. After checking into your accommodations, you'll visit the nearby Culloden Battlefield for a moving and fascinating tour.
 
The site of the last battle on British soils, Culloden sits on top of a ridge, four miles east of Inverness. Here the final conflict of the Jacobean Uprising in 1746 changed the shape of the Highlands forever, and the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie met a chilling final end. After a stop at the multi-media center onsite, your private guide will take you for a walk on the battlefield, to the Well of the Dead, the Main Cairn, and the Clan Graves, where many fallen clansmen are buried. Because so many Highland families ended up leaving Scotland, Culloden has become a focal point for their returning descendants and a site of global importance in terms of cultural visits.

Day 3: Cruise the Caledonian Canal & Loch Ness

Castle Urquhart overlooking Loch Ness

Admire some truly stunning Highland scenery today, with a two-hour cruise along the Caledonian Canal to the legendary waters of Loch Ness. Boarding at Dochgarroch, the breathtaking journey takes you past the lakeside ruins of Urquhart Castle and a panorama of mountains, water, and sky.

Back in Inverness, the afternoon is yours to explore the city at your leisure.

Day 4: Drive to the Isle of Skye, Tannery Visit & Three Chimneys Culinary Experience

Learn about the history of sheepskin on the Isle of Skye

Today you'll get back on the road and drive west to the Isle of Skye. The largest island in the Inner Hebrides, Skye boasts a breathtaking coastline of peninsulas and coves radiating out from a mountainous center. Known for its rugged beauty and charming fishing villages, the island is also famous for its excellent whiskey. Upon arrival, discover some island traditions with a visit to Skyeskyns Tannery, where you'll learn about the time-honored methods of sheepskin production and leather making. After a 15-minute tour of the tannery and its processes, you'll visit the showroom to discover the many different breeds and types of sheepskin. 

Get settled into your hotel, then head to the Skye Serenity Spa and soothe tired muscles with a full body massage using locally sourced seaweed oil. Designed to detox and balance the body while removing areas of tension and stress, it's the perfect way to pamper yourself after the day's drive.

In the evening, an unforgettable culinary experience awaits with a six-course tasting menu at the renowned Three Chimneys. Considered one of the best restaurants in the UK and the world, the dishes at Three Chimneys are all "mile zero"—with oysters fished from the bay, crab from nearby Loch Bracadale, lobster from Loch Dunvegan, and local Talisker whiskey flavoring sauces and deserts. The cuisine is both traditional and inventive but always refined. You'll sit at the communal kitchen table, watching the tableau of a busy kitchen as they prepare an evening of world-class dishes and drink pairings.

Day 5: Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail

Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail
Stunning scenery along the Skye & Raasay Whiskey Trail
Embark on an exciting full-day journey through Skye's whiskey heritage today, visiting three distilleries over two Hebridean islands. With private transportation and a whiskey guide to lead the way, you'll tour Skye's two historic distilleries, Talisker and Torabhaig, before catching a ferry to the nearby Isle of Raasay to sample their eponymous spirit alongside accompanying chocolates to compliment the complex flavors. All three distilleries are located in magnificent settings, and you'll enjoy scenic views as you learn about how water, climate, and land shape the character of the islands' remarkable whiskies.

Day 6: Drive to Edinburgh, Historian Guided Walking Tour

Return to the capital of Edinburgh
Say goodbye to the magic of the Hebrides today, as you enjoy a final morning on Skye before starting the return drive to Edinburgh. After dropping off your rental car and settling in at your hotel, join a three-hour historian-led private tour to explore more of the city's rich history and hidden corners. You'll begin in the shadow of Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat, dramatic parts of the former royal hunting grounds of Holyrood Park. Move on to admire 17th-century mansions clustered nearby, visit sites of old breweries and sugar houses, and catch a glimpse of the city's industrial past.
 
You'll learn about the Scottish alleyway, called a close, and wander through many of them in the atmospheric Old Town. Continue to the Canongate Tolbooth and learn how this part of Edinburgh is closely connected with Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, both of whom stayed in the palace at different times. At the end of the Canongate, you'll reach the Flodden Wall, 16th-century fortifications built to keep invaders out.
 
After this immersive tour, you'll see how the Royal Mile functions as the central spine of a town where medieval "skyscrapers" are crisscrossed by narrow lanes, and come away with an understanding of the pivotal moments that shaped Edinburgh's past. As the sun sets on your final evening in Scotland, explore Edinburgh's vibrant culinary scene for dinner before ending your night at a cozy traditional pub.

Day 7: Depart Edinburgh

Sunset over Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Your adventure draws to a close today as a private transfer takes you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Scenic Scotland: Edinburgh, Inverness & Skye - 7 Days
Map of Scenic Scotland: Edinburgh, Inverness & Skye - 7 Days