Experience the best of Scotland and Ireland with this 16-day scenic road trip. Start by walking around the cobbled streets of Edinburgh before driving through the Scottish Highlands, where you'll visit castles, view wildlife, and taste whisky. You'll also explore the Isle of Skye, boat across Loch Ness, and have high tea in Killarney. Then, skip over to charming Ireland and lap around the Emerald Isle while kissing the Blarney Stone, hiking in West Cork, and visiting the famous Book of Kells at Dublin's Trinity College.


  • Discover Edinburgh's distinct Gothic architecture during a musical walking tour
  • Drive through the beautiful Cairngorms National Park, stopping at Balmoral Castle
  • Join a guide and sip whisky at three distilleries on the islands of Skye and Raasay
  • Drive a loop around the Ring of Kerry at your own pace, making stops along the way
  • Learn about (and taste!) Dublin's up-and-coming food scene during a walking tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh (Scotland), Musical Walking Tour Edinburgh
Day 2 Drive to Pitlochry via Scone Palace & The Hermitage Pitlochry
Day 3 Drive to Aviemore via Cairngorms National Park Aviemore
Day 4 Drive to Inverness, Loch Ness Cruise Inverness
Day 5 Sheepdog Demonstration, Visit the Highland Folk Museum Inverness
Day 6 Drive to the Isle of Skye, Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail Tour Isle of Skye
Day 7 Ferry to Mallaig, Wildlife Boat Trip, Drive to Oban Oban
Day 8 Hike to Steall Falls, Drive to Glasgow Glasgow
Day 9 Visit the National Piping Centre, Fly to Dublin (Ireland), Walking Tour Dublin
Day 10 Drive to Cork via Rock of Cashel, Tour Blarney Castle Cork
Day 11 Day Trip to West Cork with Three Castle Head Hike Cork
Day 12 Explore the Ring of Kerry & Skellig Ring Killarney
Day 13 Explore Killarney & Ross Castle, Afternoon Tea Killarney
Day 14 Drive to Kilkenny, Visit Dunmore Cave & Explore a Local Orchard Kilkenny
Day 15 Drive to Dublin, Food & Drink Tour Dublin
Day 16 Visit the Book of Kells & Trinity Long Room, Depart Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh (Scotland), Musical Walking Tour

Old Town Edinburgh
Check out views from Edinburgh Castle, set high on the hilltop of a dormant volcano

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 historic Edinburgh Castle, 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 you'll set off on a musical journey, discovering the Old Town vibrant with life, music, and the occasional murder! Your host, an Edinburgh native, will perform traditional and modern songs that relate to real events and characters. Wander the Royal Mile, hearing the history and stories of the city as your guide breaks into the occasional song to recount key events. They say the narrow streets and courtyards of the Old Town have great acoustics!

Day 2: Drive to Pitlochry via Scone Palace & The Hermitage

Scone Palace built of red sandstone with a castellated roof, it is one of the finest examples of late Georgian Gothic style in Scotland
Scone Palace is built of red sandstone and is a fine example of late Georgian Gothic style

After breakfast, go collect your rental car—your Scotland road trip begins today. Hit the road north for an hour until you reach the sumptuous Scone Palace. Discover one of Scotland's most important stately homes and its history when you pause for a light lunch at the tea room and explore the palace and gardens. Scone has served as the capital of the Pictish Kingdom, the seat of Parliaments, and the crowning place of the King of Scots, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. See where the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, once stood, which now resides in Edinburgh Castle.

From here, continue north to Pitlochry, a quaint Victorian town. Take a walk down the charming main street, stopping for a cup of tea and cake. Then, visit 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 3: Drive to Aviemore via Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park Aviemore
Take the scenic road through Cairngorms National Park today

Situated in the center of the Scottish Highlands lies a true natural wonder—Cairngorms National Park. Covering over 1,748 square miles (4,527 sq km), this vast expanse of rugged terrain, ancient forests, and pristine lochs offers a haven for both wildlife and those seeking refuge from modern life. Explore the park your way today, starting in Pitlochry and ending in Aviemore, your home for the evening. The fastest route takes just over an hour, but you have all day, so choose to take the scenic roads to see scenes that have inspired poets, artists, and adventurers with their wild beauty.

Set the GPS for Balmoral Castle. Set within Cairngorms National Park, this estate 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. After, continue to Aviemore and check into your hotel.

Day 4: Drive to Inverness, Loch Ness Cruise

Loch Ness
Look for Urquhart Castle during your cruise of Loch Ness

This morning, make the 50-minute drive 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, enter the charming riverside city of Inverness. Enjoy a late lunch in town, drop your bags at your accommodation, and then set off to explore the capital of the Highlands. You could visit 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. Another option is to visit the Culloden Battlefield, which is the site of the final Jacobite Rising—the last and most harrowing pitched battle fought on British soil. 

Day 5: Sheepdog Demonstration, Visit the Highland Folk Museum

Sheep dog at work
Watch a border collie at work, rounding up sheep in a special farm demonstration

Herding is an ancient tradition that has been perpetuated for hundreds of years by training dogs to modify their natural inclination to treat cattle and sheep as prey. Today, you'll observe talented sheepdogs' instincts in action as they work and train at Leanach Farm. Watch as a friendly clan of intelligent border collies round up more than 350 woolly subjects under the careful watch of the shepherd.

After, jump behind the wheel and drive 50 minutes south to the very special Highland Folk Museum. Britain's first open-air museum takes you on a journey into the past with heritage buildings and highland cows. Wander around the various townships, exploring how life in Scotland was in centuries past. See a tailor shop and sweets shop, and then explore the 1700s-era township. A highlight of any visit, the authentic thatched houses were even used in the "Outlander" TV series. When you're finished, return to Inverness.
Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Drive to the Isle of Skye, Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail Tour

Skye & Raasay Whisky Trail
Taste whisky at three distilleries during today's tour of Skye and Raasay

Today's final destination is the Isle of Skye, a 2.5-hour drive away. Set off early to reach the dramatic and ethereal isle in time for today's guided whisky trail, which will take you to three distilleries across two Hebridean islands. A local whisky expert will collect you for the adventure into single malts. Kick-off at Talisker, the oldest operating distillery on Skye. Set on the shores of Loch Harport, with spectacular views of the Cuillins, taste the seductively sweet and full-bodied single malts that reflect the wild character of these lands. After, board a passenger ferry to the Isle of Raasay.

A 10-minute walk from the port, you'll arrive at the local distillery for a very special whisky, gin, and chocolate tasting. The offering here is inspired by older styles of Hebridean single malts, resulting in a lightly peated whisky that's balanced with rich dark fruit flavors. Return to Skye and drive south to the Torabhaig Distillery, where whisky-making traditions have thrived for nearly two centuries. This historic distillery pays homage to its natural surroundings and draws on the island's pristine water, land, and climate. After a complete distillery tour, you'll taste the golden liquor made here.

Day 7: Ferry to Mallaig, Wildlife Boat Trip, Drive to Oban

The Harbour of Oban and the Mccaig's Tower reflecting in the Water
Walk along the quaint waterfront of Oban, known as the "Seafood Capital" of Scotland

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 this small fishing port, you'll join a wildlife tour to discover the creatures that call this part of Scotland's west coast home. Board a specialist boat that will take you all around the small isles and Loch Nevis. You'll travel to Green Island on Knoydart Peninsula, where you might see a variety of birds, seals, porpoises, dolphins, whales, and basking sharks. Since it's Scotland, your boat has a whisky bar, and you can bring a picnic lunch from a local café.

Back on dry land, continue two hours south to Oban. The "Seafood Capital" of Scotland is a quaint waterfront town with sweeping views of Kerrera and Mull. En route, you could 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, the Jacobite Steam Train runs twice a day, so time it right to experience a little magic of your own. Once in Oban, check into your accommodation, then go enjoy Scotland's top-quality fish and shellfish at a waterfront restaurant as the sun sets.

Day 8: Hike to Steall Falls, Drive to Glasgow

Glen Nevis
Immerse yourself in the lush green wilds of Glen Nevis today

Today starts with an hour's drive north to experience Glen Nevis, 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 the town of Fort William into the glen, 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 the country. 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. After, continue a 2.5-hour drive south to Glasgow, Scotland's largest and most buzzing city.

Day 9: Visit the National Piping Centre, Fly to Dublin (Ireland), Walking Tour

Dive deeper into Scotland's bagpiping heritage today

Explore 300 years of bagpipe heritage at the National Piping Centre this morning. Here, the museum highlights the Scottish musical tradition, with bagpipes thought to date back to the 18th century and other special artifacts. Curiously, the museum also has instruments from the European bagpipe tradition, with examples of Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, and Italian bagpipes. After, it's time to swap Scotland for Ireland, so drive to the airport with enough time to return your rental car before your flight to Dublin.

On arrival in Ireland, collect another rental car, settle into your accommodation, and lace up your walking shoes. Your first Irish adventure is a two-hour walking tour exploring Dublin's history and culture with a local historian. You'll learn about Dublin's growth from a Gaelic village and a settlement by the Vikings, Normans, and English to the modern city it is today. See the statue of James Joyce, the Spire of Light, the O'Connell monument, the Silicon Docks district, the Temple Bar neighborhood, the Olympia Theatre, and Dublin Castle

Day 9: Drive to Cork via Rock of Cashel, Tour Blarney Castle

Rock of Cashel
It's thought the Rock of Cashel was home to the Kings of Munster

Today you'll get to know why it's called the Emerald Isle on a three-hour drive southwest to Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. En route, don't miss a stop at the famous Rock of Cashel. Set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. Stroll among monuments like a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and a 15th-century tower house. Take your time exploring the site, then continue to Cork.

Just outside Cork, you'll find the 15th-century Blarney Castle. This famed castle was built nearly 600 years ago and contains one of Ireland's greatest treasures: the Blarney Stone or "Stone of Eloquence." Legend has it that anyone who kisses the stone receives the gift of words and eloquence, so climb to the top of the castle's tower, kiss the stone, and see if you get some of its magic. Blarney Castle offers many other fascinating sights, such as an exactly-what-it-sounds-like Poison Garden of toxic plants, a beautiful (and less dangerous) Fern Garden, and the spooky Witch Stone.

Day 11: Day Trip to West Cork with Three Castle Head Hike

Three Castles Dunlough Castle
Tackle the hourlong Three Castles Hike to see the impressive ruins of Dunlough Castle

This morning you'll explore the rugged beauty of West Cork. Nature sets the pace in this beautiful southwest corner of Ireland, stretching from Kinsale to three rugged westerly peninsulas reaching into the wild Atlantic Ocean. Jump in the car and make the two-hour drive out to the Mizen Peninsula, stopping when you reach the Mizen Head Lighthouse. Soak up incredible views from the magnificent lighthouse, then stop for a café lunch before your hike.

When you're ready, make the short drive around to Coosacuslaun Bay for the starting point of the Three Castles Head hike. From here, you'll trek along the ocean and through grassy green fields until you reach the ruins of Dunlough Castle. The locals think it might be the most eye-catching castle ruin in the world! The 2-mile (3 km) out-and-back trail takes around an hour to complete. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon as you see fit before returning to Cork for the evening.

Day 12: Explore the Ring of Kerry & Skellig Ring

Scenery along the stunning Ring of Kerry route
Enjoy the lush and ever-changing scenery along the postcard-perfect Ring of Kerry route

Today you'll experience one of Ireland's most iconic scenic drives—the 100-mile-long (179 km) Ring of Kerry—but with an added exciting twist: the Skellig Ring. This is one of Ireland's great drives, with everything from mountain passes and steep clifftop-hugging roads to quaint villages offering delicious food, relaxing drinks, and friendly locals. Make the 90-minute drive to Kenmare, a cute town known for its crafts, artisan shops, and beautiful houses. Divert to see the dramatic Ladies View, nearby Torc Waterfall, and spectacular Moll's Gap. Travel onward along the coast to Sneem.

Explore colorful Sneem village, then drive by Whitestrand, Castle Cove, and Caherdaniel. Continue to Waterville, followed by the rugged Skellig Ring to beautiful Balinaskellig. From here, the rugged coast winds over mountain crevices and craggy cliffs and down into St Finians Bay. From the beach, travel up the horseshoe road onto the top of the Kerry Cliffs and into Portmagee for lunch with a view. After, follow the coast to Cahirsiveen and onto Kells Bay. Head on to Glenbeigh along one of the country's most picturesque roads.

Finally, at Killorglin, turn south toward Killarney and then to Beaufort. Head up to the spectacular Gap of Dunloe, where you can park the car and walk up the incredible canyon, then make your way to Killarney. Freshen up before at Courtney's Bar for dinner, then stay for the music or skip over to other famous bars, such as Laurels, Murphy's, or Buckley's.

Day 13: Explore Killarney & Ross Castle, Afternoon Tea

Explore the colorful streets of Killarney before venturing out into the countryside by horse

Enjoy a slow morning in Killarney before this afternoon's fun. You'll start with a lively horse-drawn jaunt through the bustling streets of Killarney town, soaking in colorful scenes, before reaching the peaceful landscapes of Killarney National Park. Admire views of the magnificent MacGillycuddy Reeks, the highest mountain peaks in Ireland, witness the country's last remaining herd of majestic red deer, and take in the distinct sights and sounds of the Oak and Yew Woodland as you learn about the history of the park and how it came to be.

Continue to Ross Castle on the edge of Lough Lein and be spellbound by spectacular views en route. Once the ancestral home of the O'Donoghue Clan, hear its tales of woe and warship, plus the ancient prophecy and legends of the fortress. Take a quick jaunt back through the leafy green suburbs until you reach the historic Great Southern Hotel. The hotel has hosted high tea here since Victorian times, and today, you'll sit in the spectacular grand foyer enjoying tiers of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and pastries with tea, coffee, or Prosecco!

Day 14: Drive to Kilkenny, Visit Dunmore Cave & Explore a Local Orchard

Calcite formations in Dunmore Cave
Dive underground to explore calcite formations in Dunmore Cave

After breakfast, the road trip continues. Make your way to Kilkenny, a 2.5-hour drive away. For something adventurous, go underground at Dunmore Cave. It's filled with impressive calcite formations and was first mentioned in the ninth-century Triads of Ireland, where it's referred to as "one of the darkest places in Ireland." This isn't just because of its dark chambers but also because of the Viking leader who massacred 1,000 people here in 928 CE. While the tragic event remains unconfirmed, archaeologists have found other evidence of Viking activity here.

After doing some light spelunking in the cave, you could visit the 17th-century Highbank Organic Farm. At this present-day working farm and orchard, you can gather apples and make a refreshing apple drink or enjoy the whiskey or cider straight from the farm, which is known as Ireland's smallest distillery. Return to Kilkenny, best known as the medieval town of Ireland, and check into your accommodation for the evening.

Day 15: Drive to Dublin, Food & Drink Tour

Dublin Food and Drink tour
Get a taste of Dublin's food and drink scene this afternoon

Jump behind the wheel again this morning and make the 95-minute drive back to Dublin. Once back in the Irish capital, get ready to eat! The days of the potato famine are long gone—today, Dublin is a major food destination. On a 3.5-hour food tour, you'll discover how a country once known for its poor eating standards is now leveraging the locavore movement and digging into its traditions to create a rich and diverse culinary scene. Learn about Dublin's food evolution with a local expert as you taste fresh seafood and classic soda bread and enjoy a frothy pint or dram for good measure.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy as you wish. Venture to the vibrant Temple Bar district, where colorful streets beckon with galleries, pubs, and pints. You can also wander along the scenic River Liffey, admiring its iconic bridges, or take a cruise for a different perspective. Make sure to visit Dublin Castle to glimpse into the city's history, shop Grafton Street and watch lively street performers, or step through museums like the National Gallery and IMMA.

Day 16: Visit the Book of Kells & Trinity Long Room, Depart Dublin

Long Room Trinity College
Keep your camera close as you walk around the Long Room at Trinity College

The Book of Kells at Dublin's Trinity College is a must-see. On your final morning in Ireland, make time to visit the grounds and see one of the oldest books in the world, dating back to 800 CE. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament and was created by Irish monks using local organic paints and inks. Walk through the library's wooden Long Room among 250,000 of Ireland's oldest books and documents and the original 15th-century Brian Boru Harp. You'll recognize this space from the "Harry Potter" movies!

Finally, your great road trip across Scotland and Ireland comes to an end. Hop in the car one last time and make the journey to Dublin's 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 Ultimate Scotland & Ireland Road Trip - 16 Days
Map of Ultimate Scotland & Ireland Road Trip - 16 Days