Combine Scotland's most famous cities, national parks, and castles on this relaxed eight-day road trip. Start in the country's largest city, Glasgow, before heading north to Fort William to visit the rugged Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle. Next, see Loch Ness and the ruins of Urquhart Castle on your way to charming Pitlochry. Finish in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, with a walking tour of its hilly Old Town. Of course, there will be free time for hikes and whisky distilleries along the way if you so choose.


  • Enjoy a private—and customizable—tour of the rugged Isle of Skye
  • Take a boat cruise on Loch Ness while keeping an eye out for Nessie
  • Poke around the grand Stirling Castle, situated above the River Firth 
  • Take walking tours of both Glasgow and Edinburgh with local guides 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Glasgow, Bespoke Walking Tour, Clydeside Distillery Experience Glasgow
Day 2 Drive to Fort William via the Trossachs National Park & Loch Lomond Fort William
Day 3 Private Tour of Skye, Visit Eilean Donan Castle Fort William
Day 4 Private Cruise on Loch Ness, Visit Urquhart Castle, Drive to Pitlochry Pitlochry
Day 5 Free Day in Pitlochry Pitlochry
Day 6 Drive to Edinburgh via Stirling Castle Edinburgh
Day 7 Private Walking Tour of Edinburgh Edinburgh
Day 8 Depart Edinburgh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Glasgow, Bespoke Walking Tour, Clydeside Distillery Experience

University of Glasgow Main Building
Let a local guide show you Glasgow University, among other areas

Welcome to Glasgow! Upon arrival and after checking into your hotel, get to know Scotland's largest city on a walking tour with a local guide. You'll be taken across the city from east to west, then back again, visiting the main central district, the leafy West End, and the beautiful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Glasgow University. Your guide will tell you about the city's Victorian architecture and trading history and how the city modernized after the post-industrial era. Glasgow has a nickname, "the dear green place," so you can also visit the Glasgow Botanic Gardens if you wish.

If you have energy after your tour, head to Clydeside Distillery, Glasgow's first dedicated single malt whisky distillery in over a century. Learn about how the distillery handicrafts its spirit using traditional methods during an hourlong distillery experience. You'll also taste two whiskies matured in first-fill bourbon casks and first-fill sherry butts. From here, enjoy the evening at leisure to sample Glasgow's restaurants or nightlife.

Day 2: Drive to Fort William via the Trossachs National Park & Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond view
Admire the scenery at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park en route

Pick up your car rental this morning and drive to Fort William, located 110 miles (177 km) north of Glasgow. The journey should take less than three hours door-to-door but allow extra time to stop and admire the scenery at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park en route. This was Scotland's first national park known as "the Highlands in miniature" due to its captivating scenery. One option is to stop in the village of Luss on the western shore of Loch Lomond, where you can gaze up at Ben Lomond mountain from its pier.

Alternatively, steer north in the small village of Killin at the western edge of Loch Tay. Here you can see the Falls of Dochart, an impressive series of rapids, and a prehistoric stone circle near the village center. Stretch your legs before continuing your journey among the surrounding mountains of Breadalbane, keeping your eye out for local wildlife.

Arrive in Fort William in the afternoon and check into your hotel. Located in the West Highlands, this town is known as the outdoor capital of the UK, and there's plenty to explore if you have time before your evening meal. One option is to visit the Ben Nevis Distillery, one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland, for a tour or dinner in its restaurant. Or, immerse yourself in local history at the West Highland Museum. Alternatively, unwind while playing a round of golf at the Fort William Golf Club.

Day 3: Private Tour of Skye, Visit Eilean Donan Castle

Isle of Skye
Drive with a private guide to some of Isle of Skye's most beautiful and historic spots
Plan your trip to Scotland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today, you'll be picked up by a private driver and guide for a day trip to the rugged Isle of Skye. You'll be taken to some of its most beautiful and historic spots, which include the Mealt Falls (also known as Kilt Rock Waterfall), the otherworldly Fairy Glen, and Quiraing in the north. Or you could go on a secret tour of the south of the island, including a visit to the Torabhaig Distillery. A walk around the island's capital, Portree, is a must. The town in the east of the island is set around a harbor and has a backdrop of cliffs. Here you'll see The Meall, known as "The Lump," a headland where the annual Highland Games are held.

On your way back, stop at the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, which you may recognize as an iconic image of Scotland. It's one of the most visited attractions in the Scottish Highlands and is located on an island where three sea lochs meet. The site was first inhabited around the sixth century, but the first fortified castle here wasn't built until the mid-13th century. There have been at least four different versions of the castle here due to the feudal history of Scotland. After you've looked around, head back to your hotel for a relaxing night.

Day 4: Private Cruise on Loch Ness, Visit Urquhart Castle, Drive to Pitlochry

Keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster during an hourlong cruise

Hop back in the car and travel 1.5 hours east to Pitlochry in Perthshire today, your base for the next two nights. If you'd like to tick a bucket-list attraction off your Scotland list, take a detour north first to Loch Ness, a 90-minute drive away. Here, learn all about the legends around "Nessie," the Loch Ness Monster, on an hourlong cruise on the Nessie Hunter. The boat is the first vessel on Loch Ness to be fitted with down-scanning sonar imaging to look at the shapes of underwater objects. Following the tour, drive over to Urquhart Castle, located along the lake, and wander around one of Scotland's largest castle ruins.

To complement your cruise, drive to Pitlochry via the Cairngorms National Park, which has some of the best wildlife in the UK, with rare and endangered species, including the pine marten, osprey, Scottish wildcat, golden eagle, red squirrel, and black grouse. Go for a short walk, then head to Pitlochry for dinner and to check into your hotel.

Day 5: Free Day in Pitlochry

Queen's View
Start your self-exploration at the Queen's View overlooking Loch Tummel 

Enjoy a day to wander in and around Pitlochry at your own pace. A good place to start is the Queen's View, which overlooks Loch Tummel, with a visitor center, café, and shop selling souvenirs. If you're a whisky fan, head to the Blair Atholl Distillery for a guided tour and masterclass. The secret to their pour is an ancient source of water called the Allt Dour, which flows through the distillery's grounds. If you're feeling active, climb to the summit of Ben Vrackie from Pitlochry for superb views. The hike is around 6 to 8 miles (10 to 13 km), depending on the starting point you choose.

Other options could include a round of golf at Pitlochry Golf Course, a walk around Killiecrankie Gorge, which was the site of a Jacobite battle, and, if you like fishing, Loch Tummel provides. 

Day 6: Drive to Edinburgh via Stirling Castle

Spend the morning at Stirling Castle, the former home of Mary Queen of Scots

Today you'll drive 70 miles (112 km) south to Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, with a stop in Stirling en route to look around the grand Stirling Castle. The castle sits on a volcanic rock above the River Firth with a fabulous view. Past inhabitants include Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I. On your visit, talk to costumed staff in its Royal Palace, one of the best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the UK. If it's sunny, spend some time relaxing in its pretty Queen Anne Gardens.

From here, you'll arrive in Edinburgh and check into your hotel. Once settled, explore the handsome city, which has two UNESCO designations, one for its medieval Old Town and another for its Georgian New Town. A good place to start when looking around is medieval Edinburgh Castle, where you can see Scotland's crown jewels. You could also climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano, for fantastic views over the city. In the evening, treat yourself to a meal in one of Edinburgh's fantastic restaurants, which range from fine dining and Scottish dishes to relaxed pub grub.

Day 7: Private Walking Tour of Edinburgh

Experience Edinburgh's best attractions on a tour of its Old Town

Learn all about Edinburgh's social history, standout attractions, and even ghosts on a three-hour tour of its Old Town. Start your tour in Holyrood Park underneath the looming Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat. You're next to Canongate here, the eastern edge of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, which was once a separate burgh (town) developed around a 12-century abbey. Next, you'll see a group of 17th-century mansions—one of which was owned by Adam Smith (the Scottish author of "The Wealth of Nations").

Your guide will tell you about the city's industrial past and why overcrowding and disease led to the extension of the New Town. Next, wander through Scottish alleyways in the Old Town, which are called a close, and discover tales from each. Take some photographs of the striking Canongate Tolbooth before discovering this area's connection to Mary Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who both stayed in the palace. When you reach the end of the Canongate, you'll see a section of the ancient Flodden Wall, which kept invaders out and Edinburgh locals in.

You'll leave your tour with a greater understanding of how the Royal Mile was the central spine of a town, plus with knowledge of some of the key events that took place on the streets you've explored. After your tour, take the afternoon and evening to delve more into the city's history, buy your final souvenirs in the wide selection of shops, or sample more of the city's food and drink scene.

Day 8: Depart Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle
Until next time, Edinburgh!

Today is the final day of your Scottish tour! At the appointed time, return your rental car and head to the airport or train station to depart for your next destination. Safe travels!

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Map of Ultimate Scotland Road Trip: Cities, Castles & Countryside - 8 Days
Map of Ultimate Scotland Road Trip: Cities, Castles & Countryside - 8 Days