- Transport yourself back to the Great Siege while touring Stirling Castle
- Learn about historic clan feuds at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle
- Marvel at classic 18th-century interiors and gardens at Blair Atholl Castle
- Relive the blood, mud, and sweat of the Bannockburn Battle with a historian
|Arrive in Edinburgh, Drive to Stirling & Explore
|Visit Blair Atholl Castle & Gardens, Drive to Bridge of Orchy
|Bridge of Orchy
|Discover Eilean Donan Castle, Drive to Glencoe
|Explore the West Highland Museum & Corpach Wreck, Drive to Fort William
|See the Culloden Battlefield, Drive to Pitlochry
|Tour Scone Palace, Hermitage Forest & Queen's View, Drive to Edinburgh
|Guided Tour of Bannockburn, Whisky Tasting at Edradour Distillery
Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Drive to Stirling & Explore
Welcome to Scotland! Upon arrival in Edinburgh, pick up your rental car, and drive one hour northwest to the ancient town of Stirling. Take the rest of the day to explore Stirling's major attractions—the stage for some of Scotland's most epic events and legendary figures—beginning with Stirling Castle. From its rocky aerie, this imposing fortress rewards your stroll up Stirling's cobbled main street with sweeping views over the Stirlingshire countryside. Learn about one of the most famous Scottish sieges—the Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304—before heading to the National Wallace Monument.
Here you can visit the galleries inside the monument to learn how the battle of Stirling Bridge was fought and won and the legacy William Wallace left behind. Finally, complete the story of Stirling Bridge by visiting it and taking photographs of its picturesque arches. Find a cozy pub to feast on some of Scotland's finest dishes before relaxing at your Stirling accommodation tonight.
Day 2: Visit Blair Atholl Castle & Gardens, Drive to Bridge of Orchy
Hop back in your car this morning and enter the Scottish Highlands as you drive 1.5 hours north to Blair Atholl Castle. Along the drive, you'll pass through two picturesque towns well worth a wander: Dunkeld and Pitlochry (the latter of which you'll return to later in the trip). You also might want to make a retail stop at the House of Bruar—a refined Scottish department store offering a canteen with local fine foods, a gourmet food shop, and an array of top-quality tartans and tweeds for possible souvenirs.
Finally, arrive at Blair Castle, home to the Atholl family for over seven centuries. Learn about 750 years of the castle's history, as well as the politicians, soldiers, and entrepreneurs who called it home, not to mention Scots Baronial architecture, while walking through impressive 18th-century interiors. You'll also have time to walk around the 9-acre (3.6 ha) walled garden, extensive wooded grove, deer park, and Gothic folly, and keep your eyes peeled for the native red squirrel! From here, drive just under two hours west to Bridge of Orchy, where you'll spend tonight.
Day 3: Discover Eilean Donan Castle, Drive to Glencoe
Get ready for a 2.5-hour drive up the breathtaking west coast of Scotland to what is probably the most photographed castle in Scotland: Eilean Donan. The island and castle are named after Donan, a seventh-century Irish priest killed on the nearby island of Eigg in 617 CE. Find out how Donan came to the west coast of Scotland to try to convert the pagan inhabitants to Christianity. While the island was fortified before written records, the first record of a castle dates to the 13th century, shortly after Alexander III had driven the Norse from western Scotland at the Battle of Largs in 1263.
The island and castle have been the subject of many clan battles, most notably, the Mackenzies, the Macraes, and the Macdonalds. Learn about these family feuds and how three English frigates destroyed the castle in the early 1700s. It wasn't until 200 years later that John Macrae-Gilstrap restored the building and the causeway that links the castle to the shore. After soaking up the castle's extraordinary history, drive back south to your lodgings for the night at Glencoe—a beautiful settlement set on the shores of Loch Leven and against a backdrop of towering green mountains.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Explore the West Highland Museum & Corpach Wreck, Drive to Fort William
Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring Glencoe and stroll along one of the many nearby footpaths before heading to Fort William. Enjoy views of the loch to your left as you drive 30 minutes northeast of Glencoe and park near the West Highland Museum. Situated on the High Street in the heart of the historic town of Fort William, the West Highland Museum's collections tell the story of the region and its history. Browse their collection relating to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause, and learn about important figures in the West Highlands.
Move to Loch Eil—a nearby sea loch ringed by great mountains rising into the sky near Glenfinnan. Here you can can zigzag around the lochside communities, such as Fassfern, and keep an eye out for mussel farming and creel fishing, both small industries that thrive on this loch. Spend some time in Corpach village, where you can also admire the Old Boat of Caol. This shipwreck attracts photographers from all over, angling their cameras to capture the atmospheric site against the backdrop of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak. Head back to Fort William for the night.
Day 5: See the Culloden Battlefield, Drive to Pitlochry
Today, get ready to be taken back to 1746 on a trip to Culloden Battlefield. First, drive two hours northeast to the site, just on the outskirts of Inverness. Don't forget to stop by Loch Ness on the way up, where you can get a plethora of Nessie memorabilia. Once at Culloden, learn about the final Jacobite Rising—the last pitched battle on British soil with around 1,500 men slain in less than an hour, the vast majority of them Jacobites. Explore the interactive visitor center, view battlefield artifacts, and experience the battle in the immersive surround cinema.
After soaking up the atmosphere, begin your descent to southern Scotland. Drive 1.5 hours south to Pitlochry through the Cairngorms National Park. If the weather permits, stop the car and go for a short afternoon hike along one of the park's many routes before arriving at your evening's lodgings.
Day 6: Tour Scone Palace, Hermitage Forest & Queen's View, Drive to Edinburgh
Jump in the car this morning and drive 45 minutes south to the edge of Perth, where you'll enter the mesmerizing Scone Palace. Scone Palace is one of Scotland's most important stately homes, with a story that dates back 2,000 years to when it was the capital of the Pictish Kingdom. Learn about the palace's role as a religious center, a seat of different Parliaments, and the crowning place of the King of Scots—including the all-famous Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. See where the Stone of Scone, known as the Stone of Destiny, once stood.
From Scone Palace, head 30 minutes north to Dunkeld and the Hermitage Forest. Soak up history, atmosphere, and nature as you explore this stretch of Perthshire forest, once an 18th-century pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl. Wander beneath giant Douglas firs as you approach the Black Linn waterfall, and discover the picturesque 18th-century folly known as Ossian's Hall.
Continue your drive into the depths of Perthshire along a winding, tree-lined road hugging the River Tummel to Queen's View. From this vantage point, look out over one of the most iconic panoramas in Scotland directly to the west along Loch Tummel. On a clear day, you can sometimes see the mountains surrounding Glencoe by the west coast. Continue your drive south to Edinburgh, just 1.5 hours from Dunkeld, and settle into your accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 7: Guided Tour of Bannockburn, Whisky Tasting at Edradour Distillery
Wake up to a delicious coffee in one of Edinburgh's many trendy and quaint coffee shops before embarking on a three-hour PhD-level guided tour of Bannockburn, an hour outside the city. Join local expert historian Dr. Murray Cook and follow a route once taken by the Scots to the English camp. Learn about the tactical decisions the two opposing kings took in 1314, tactics that would change Scotland's history forever. Follow in Robert the Bruce's footsteps and see where he raised his royal standard.
Later in the afternoon, continue traveling north another hour to Edradour—the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland, which dates back to 1825. Visit the picturesque Model Village of Edradour, experience the sights, sounds, and smells of whisky production, and, for anyone who's not driving, sample one or two of their 25 versions of Highland single malt Scotch whisky. Return to Edinburgh for the evening, and relax in one of the city's many quaint pubs.
Day 8: Depart Edinburgh
If you have time, wander the streets of Edinburgh, picking up any last-minute gifts or memorabilia on the way. Pack your bags, drop your car off at the airport, and board your flight. Safe travels!
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