This nine-day Scotland highlights itinerary squeezes just the right amount of fun into each day, moving at a more moderate pace. You'll explore Edinburgh, Cairngorms National Park, and Loch Lomond deeper, with almost three days in each destination. Discover history and Scottish food in the capital, then rent a car for your road trip north. In Pitlochry, you'll taste whisky and join a wildlife safari; then, it's on to Trossachs National Park for canoeing and horseback riding.


  • Dive into the capital's past with tours of Edinburgh Castle and Mary King's Close
  • Visit the Bannockburn Battlefield with a local historian who will bring it to life
  • Join an intrepid wildlife safari by 4WD in Cairngorms National Park
  • Explore Loch Lomond and its surrounds by canoe and horseback

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh, Explore Edinburgh Castle & Afternoon Tea Edinburgh
Day 2 Tour of Mary King's Close, Free Time In Edinburgh Edinburgh
Day 3 Edinburgh Food & Drink Tour Edinburgh
Day 4 Drive to Pitlochry via Stirling, Bannockburn Battlefield Tour  Pitlochry
Day 5 Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Blair Athol Distillery Pitlochry
Day 6 Pitlochry's Highland Games Pitlochry
Day 7 Drive to Loch Lomond & Alexandria, Canoe Tour in Trossachs National Park Alexandria
Day 8 Horse Trekking Near Loch Lomond Alexandria
Day 9 Drive to Edinburgh, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh, Explore Edinburgh Castle & Afternoon Tea 

Edinburgh Castle
Did you know Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged place in Great Britain?

Welcome to Scotland! You've landed in Edinburgh, the captivating Scottish capital 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.

Promenade through the cobbled streets, wynds, and closes of the world-famous Royal Mile until you reach Edinburgh Castle. Enter through the gates to 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. After, sit down for an afternoon tea fit for royalty. Within the castle walls, you'll feast on three tiers of homemade cakes, sandwiches, savory bites, and freshly made scones with tea or coffee. A royal treat!

Day 2: Tour of Mary King's Close, Free Time in Edinburgh

ROyal Mile
The Royal Mile links Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood

Beneath the streets of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile lies a big secret: Mary King's Close. Step under the streets and back in time with one of the Close's former residents on a private hourlong guided tour. You'll journey along now-hidden streets, hearing stories about real people who lived and worked here. From the maid to the merchant, the plague cleaner to the poet, each character offers a unique perspective of day-to-day life in 16th and 17th century Edinburgh.

The rest of the day is yours to explore Edinburgh. Use your time to wander the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh's Old Town and the street level of the Royal Mile. Dive into the vibrant local scene at the Grassmarket, where eclectic shops and cozy pubs beckon, or lose yourself in the rich literary history of the Writers' Museum. Later find a cozy Scottish pub for a pint or wee dram and a traditional heartwarming meal.

Day 3: Edinburgh Food & Drink Tour

Edinburgh Food & Drink Tour
Visit local favorites on a foodie walking tour of Edinburgh

On your third day in Edinburgh, you'll dive into the capital's rich food and drink scene, seeking out where the locals go. Join a small-group guided jaunt across the city, visiting five different bars and restaurants to taste locally sourced Scottish food and drinks. Your local guide will share city history and stories as you pass between venues across the Old and New Town centers. Along the journey, you'll get to taste Edinburgh's famous raspberry gin, a single-cask malt whisky, and a special Scottish beer.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore. If you're still in the walking mood, take a lap through charming Dean Village, along the Water of Leith, and past St. Bernard's Well to Stockbridge, a cool neighborhood where you'll find a high street with trendy cafés, boutiques, and bars, and the picture-perfect Circus Lane.

Day 4: Drive to Pitlochry via Stirling, Bannockburn Battlefield Tour

Robert The Bruce Statue at Bannockburn
Visit the statue of Robert The Bruce at Bannockburn with a historian
Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

After breakfast, pick up your rental car and drive an hour north to Stirling, a city with a long history of kings, queens, and battles. On the edge of town, make a visit to the Bannockburn Battlefield, where Scottish leader Robert the Bruce defeated the English in a key clash during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Here a local historian will lead you on a guided walk, following the route taken by the Scots. Learn about the tactical decisions made by Scotland's greatest king, who won Scotland its freedom.

After, continue an hour north to the quaint Victorian town of Pitlochry. Take a walk down the charming main street, find a late lunch, and stretch your legs. Stop at the Queen's View just outside Pitlochry, which overlooks Loch Tummel—on a good day, you can see the mountains of Glen Coe in the distance. Return to town and make a reservation at a local restaurant.

Day 5: Cairngorms National Park Wildlife Tour, Blair Athol Distillery

Cairngorms National Park Wildlife tour with a specialist
Drive through the heather-clad moorlands in a 4WD

Cairngorms National Park offers some of the best wildlife diversity in the United Kingdom. This pristine landscape is home to a quarter of the threatened species, and on today's full-day wildlife safari, you'll encounter the wilder side of the protected park. Explore expansive heather-clad moorlands, pass through towering Caledonian pine forests, admire imposing peaks, and see pristine lochs from the back of a 4WD Land Rover Discovery. Your knowledgeable guide will seek out wildlife, including red deer, golden eagles, and ospreys, and some light walking may be involved.

This is your opportunity to really explore the remote beauty of the Cairngorms and see the conservation efforts and commitment to preserving Scotland's natural heritage. After your safari adventure, continue to Blair Athol Distillery for a tasting tour. This distillery dates back to 1798 and draws its water from the ancient Alt Dour that flows from the heights of Ben Vrackie. This local pure mountain water contributes to the whiskey's mellow quality and smooth finish. After a behind-the-scenes exploration of the distillery, you'll get to sample a few golden drams.

Day 6: Pitlochry's Highland Games

Pipers at the Highland Games
Consider aligning your trip to fall during the Pitlochry Highland Games

The Highland Games are a unique series of events that take place in different areas of Scotland each summer. If you're lucky, time your visit to align with the Pitlochry Highland Games. Here hammers are thrown, cabers are tossed, the sound of pipes fills the air, and clan colors are on full parade. The Pitlochry Highland Games were one of the first reestablished in Scotland in 1852, bringing together families and rivals for a peaceful clash with fierce competition. Now it's a celebration of Highland heritage and tradition with dances, music, and athletic events.

If you're here a different time of year, you could consider embarking on a full-day hike up Ben Vrackie instead, a trail of around 6 miles (10 km), with an elevation gain of around 1,325 feet (404 m) from the car park. Or visit the Hermitage at Dunkeld, a mystical stretch of Perthshire forest and an 18th-century park designed for the Dukes of Atholl. Here giant Douglas firs tower over you as you walk to the roaring Black Linn waterfall. Later, return to Pitlochry for a well-deserved pub dinner.

Day 7: Drive to Loch Lomond & Alexandria, Canoe Tour in Trossachs National Park

Trossachs National Park
Grab paddles and launch canoes for a fun afternoon on the water

Loch Lomond is an area of natural splendor where you can go boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the clear waters of the largest freshwater loch in Scotland. Make the two-hour drive southwest to the loch within Trossachs National Park, which also offers superb hiking and cycling trails. Over the next few days, you'll explore the wild beauty of this national park, full of mountains, lochs, forests, and glens, with breathtaking views wherever you go.

This afternoon you'll join a leisurely canoeing adventure on the serene waters of nearby Loch Lubnaig. Grab a paddle and set out to discover the scenic wonders along the shores. Besides the expansive views, you'll also play some fun water-based games, upskilling your talents on the water! Once you're done, drive to your accommodation in the nearby town of Alexandria and check in.

Day 8: Horse Trekking Near Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond is the largest lake by surface area in all of Great Britain, and you'll explore it by horseback today

Picture yourself riding through the Scottish countryside on horseback because today, you'll jump in the saddle for an equine adventure. Witness some of the country's most beautiful landscapes with a light and easy trek through the hills and glens of Loch Lomond. A local equine guide will lead the way, showing you the beauty of the area with this one-of-a-kind experience. Together you'll explore the park, finishing with a climatic viewpoint of the banks.

You'll have the rest of the day free to enjoy Loch Lomond's tranquil beauty, watersports, and serene surroundings however you like. Continue the outdoor fun when you hire an electric mountain bike and hit the off-road trails. With two wheels, you have the freedom to explore the unspoiled forests and kick up dirt along the way. Alternatively, lace up your boots and seek more panoramic views at Conic Hill, a moderate but rewarding hike. 

Day 9: Drive to Edinburgh, Depart

Falls of Dochart
You can view the roaring white waters of the Falls of Dochart from the bridge

Your nine-day road trip across Scotland comes to an end today. If you have time, soak up the splendors of Loch Lomond with one last adventure this morning. Take a cruise on Loch Katrine, tour Scotland's most picturesque distillery at Glengoyne, or discover the folk legend behind the beautiful Falls of Dochart that runs through the small town of Killin.

Then it's time to hop in the car and make the 95-minute drive to Edinburgh airport. Make sure you allow enough time to drop off your rental car ahead of your flight home or onward. Safe travels!

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Map of Simply Scotland: Edinburgh, Cairngorms National Park & Loch Lomond - 9 Days
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