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Scotland is one of the most sought-after destinations for international visitors and over the past couple of years, the staycation craze has meant the number of UK visitors has grown incredibly. However, choosing that perfect 7-day Scotland itinerary for your trip is a minefield.
With so many beautiful places to visit, so many people chipping in and telling you to ‘not miss this one’, your planning can become a bit of a nightmare. This guide will walk you through the ultimate Scotland itinerary for 7 days. We’ll take away the worry so you can take the memories home with you.
Read the entire 7-day itinerary before making any decisions as we outline possible side trips if you can find more time which you could switch out locations for or bank for your next trip to Scotland! There’s just so much to do and we appreciate that not everyone has the same travel styles so we’ve included everything and advised how to create your own perfect 7 days in Scotland itinerary.
Note: We provide the approx milages and time to travel between stops but this does not take into account time spent at attractions or tractors/tourists on the road.
Day 1: Edinburgh to Loch Lomond (80 miles, approx 2.5 hours)
First of all, Failte gu Edinburgh! (Pronounced Fall-cha goo).
You have woken up in one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world and now your adventure begins.
Today you will set off to explore Stirling, Loch Lomond, and Oban (image below) with tips for your overnight stay in either Loch Lomond or Oban.
Make sure you have all your electronic equipment charged and spare power banks at the ready because the itinerary that will assault all of your senses begins this morning.
Morning: The Kelpies and Stirling
Setting off on the M9 in your hire car from Edinburgh to Falkirk, the journey will take around an hour, your first stop is The Kelpies.
These statues are the largest equine sculptures in the world.
Standing at over 100ft tall, and weighing more than 300 tonnes each, they are an attraction you cannot afford to miss.
They symbolize the heavy horse lineage that shaped the Scottish industry and economy.
You can spend anything from 10 minutes to hours at The Helix as there are canal walks and the Falkirk Wheel is also close by.
Public restrooms and a cafe are also found here.
From Falkirk, you now drive onwards to Stirling, this leg of the journey is about 25 minutes.
Note: Some rental car companies are located in the City Centre or just outside the center. Your start time will be dictated by your pick up time.
There are car rental companies at Edinburgh Airport which might save you time as you can collect and hit the road.
It is best to carry some loose change such as pounds coins, 50p, 20p and 10p for parking. Not all public car parks have apps for payment and you won’t always have a signal on your phone to access those that do.
Learn more about Scottish currency and money here.
We will discuss distillery options in our guide but be cautious that our Scottish drink driving limits are very strict with you only being allowed 22 micrograms of alcohol in 100mls of breath.
Too much the night before can easily put you over the limit without you even realizing it.
Stirling is a city in central Scotland and at its heart is Stirling Castle.
This is the first must-see on your itinerary.
Set upon a volcanic rock, the castle offers you views over the city and surrounding countryside.
Going back as far as the 12th century, Stirling Castle has a rich tapestry of involvement in Scottish history.
Almost every Scottish monarch has lived in the castle, died here, or been crowned in the castle.
From William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, you will find stories, tales, and myths to enjoy.
The National Wallace Monument is also a popular attraction in Stirling.
Stirling is a city so there are plenty of food options, Brea is a popular Scottish restaurant.
Late Afternoon and Evening: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
After you have enjoyed Stirling, your next stop is Loch Lomond.
Only an hour’s drive from Stirling, you will enter Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
Only one of two National Parks in Scotland, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is home to 21 Munros (mountains over 3000ft) 19 Corbetts (mountains over 2500ft but under 3000ft), and 22 large lochs!
The largest and most famous, is, of course, Loch Lomond.
You may know the song “Loch Lomond’.
It is played at the end of every wedding in Scotland and is a tune that will get your feet tapping.
However, it is one of the saddest songs you will hear if you listen to the lyrics.
Sang from the viewpoint of a Scottish soldier who was being sent home for execution, the lyrics weave the tale of one soldier going home alive and the other in spirit.
He will never see his ‘true love’ again.
Stopping at Loch Lomond Shores, you will have the chance to wander around the south end of Loch Lomond grabbing some photo opportunities and indulge in a wee bit of shopping or lunch.
Popular tourist activities include boat rides on the Queen of the Scottish Loch (reserve here) and the Loch Lomond Tree Zone for daredevil visitors!
Other spots around Loch Lomond worth visiting are Conic Hill for a short hike, which is part of the West Highland Way, and Balmaha, a tiny village with a pub and incredible views.
There is accommodation scattered around Loch Lomond but the central hub is Balloch including the famous Duck Bay Hotel.
Loch Lomond is a very busy area of Scotland.
Both Scots and tourists visit, especially on sunny days during the busy summer months.
It is a popular overnight stop so be sure to book your hotel in advance and reserve restaurant bookings for evening meals.
Alternatively, you could make Loch Lomond a casual stop and stay overnight in Oban which is one of our favorite big towns in Scotland and the next stop on your seven day Scotland itinerary.
Day 2: Luss, Oban, Glen Coe & Fort William (115 miles, approx 3 hours)
Morning: Luss, Tyndrum and Loch Awe
Start the day with breakfast, hopefully, a full Scottish including haggis, black pudding and potato scone then head out to Luss to visit a postcard-perfect village on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.
Once you have enjoyed the charms of Luss, your journey now takes you to Oban.
The drive is around 1 hour 40 minutes but can take much longer as this is a very popular route for tourists.
As you wind your way up from Crianlarich (pronounced Cree-an-la-rich, the ch is the same as the ch at the end of loch), the mountains begin to take shape and tower over you.
From Crianlarich, the next town is Tyndrum (pronounced Tine-drum).
The Green Welly is a landmark on the West Coast of Scotland where you can buy some Scottish souvenirs, a toilet stop, and a cuppa before you take the turning towards Oban.
The road now directs you along to the top of Loch Awe where you can make the most of some fantastic photo opportunities.
Late Morning and Early Afternoon: Oban
Oban is the unofficial capital of the Highlands and the seafood capital of Scotland.
This picturesque seaside town is the gateway to the Hebridian islands and is packed full of things to do and see.
One of the most prominent buildings you see in Oban is McCaig’s Tower, just 144 steps to climb to get there!
Situated on top of the hill, the walk up to the tower is made worthwhile by the views over Oban Bay to Atlantic Isles.
Walking around Oban itself, you can take a short 23-minute walk via the Corran Esplanade to the ruins of Dunollie Castle.
If you are exploring your ancestral family line, then this is the clan seat of the McDougalls.
You can explore the Woodland Trail, World of Trees, the spectacular Willow Hall, and the mischievous Faerie Garden.
There’s also a sandy shore 10 minutes drive away called Ganavan Beach.
Visiting Scotland to try the whisky? Oban Distillery will be on your list of things to do during this road trip then.
Since Oban is the seafood capital of Scotland, you are truly spoiled for choice with restaurants.
Ee-Usk is set on the pier and its large windows offer you views over to the Isles of Kerrera Lismore and beyond.
The Seafood Hut is a little green hut on the pier prepares your meal there and then for you to enjoy alfresco.
It doesn’t get much fresher than this!
You could easily spend two days in Oban but time is of the essence so pick an activity and bank the others for another visit.
Bonus: An Evening in Oban?
If you decide to bypass Loch Lomond or want to visit the Isle of Mull, Iona and maybe Staffa during your seven day Scotland trip, you might need to stay overnight in Oban.
See our side trip section for details on Mull, Iona and Staffa.
Accommodation wise, I have stayed in The Ranald and would recommend this for ease of access to the town center and amenities.
Parking is at a premium for this hotel and in Oban in general.
The roads are narrow, and the town does operate a one-way system.
It can be a little frustrating, so when you get a parking spot, keep it!
Late Afternoon: Glencoe (33 miles, approx 55 minutes from Oban)
The road through Glen Coe is one of the most breathtaking you will see during your Scotland trip planner.
This makes it one of the busiest routes in what the locals call “silly season”.
This is the name for the time when the Highlands are descended upon by visitors from everywhere in the world and traffic holds up life in general.
We’re not used to traffic jams, the most that hold us up on the roads is the farmer moving the animals!
Leaving Oban, drive towards Ballachulish which takes you along the side of Loch Linnhe.
The loch is around 31 miles long and due to the scenic nature of the surroundings, it is also one of the most visited.
Photographers will enjoy stopping to grab that instagrammable photo.
When you get to Ballachulish, you should take the road towards Glencoe village.
Just outside the village is the Glencoe Lochan (image below).
This small loch or lochan is a great place to get out and stretch your legs.
There are three hikes that you can take to walk around.
Two are strenuous and one is on flat ground.
Depending on how energetic you feel, you can enjoy a hike that is suited to your abilities.
The easier walk will take you around 40 minutes to complete, however, with all the photos you will want to take, it could be longer!
The lochan was made by the Earl of Strathcona who was, for a while, the governor-general of Canada.
When he returned to Scotland, he brought with him his Canadian wife who became homesick.
The Earl landscaped the whole area around the house to look like the Canadian Rockies.
In fact, this was the first thing that the owner of Everything Edinburgh commented on when she saw the lochan, that it was so like Canada.
Back in your car, you should take the single-track road towards Glen Coe and towards the end and a possible dinner stop.
The Clachaig Inn is a well-established hill walkers’ stop.
Offering you food and drink while you sit under the towering mountains of Glen Coe, you will be hard-pressed to find a more scenic eatery!
Not hungry yet? Fort William has plenty of restaurants to book a table at.
Local tip: You will notice two spellings of Glen Coe in this article. The Glen is Glen Coe whereas the village is Glencoe. Impress Scotland fans with your new knowledge!
Possibly one of the most romantic areas in the Highlands that is filled with murder and intrigue, on a cold and misty day you will feel the ghost of the past swirl around you as you explore.
There are two main viewing points on this road.
Each one will be filled with buses, cars, vans, and tours.
The first car park is where you can stop and see the three sisters of Glen Coe.
These are three ridges that form one of the most photographed sites in Glen Coe.
The parking further up shows you the entrance to the Hidden or Lost Valley.
You can follow the path up with your eyes to see where the Clan MacDonald hid their stolen cattle.
Eventually, they hid here in a bid to escape the Campbells after the horrific Massacre of Glen Coe. (It is said this massacre inspired the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones.)
It’s now time to begin the journey to Fort William or alternatively, spend in the night in Glencoe.
Evening: Glencoe to Fort William (17 miles, approx 40 minutes)
As you travel to Fort William, you will notice the loch on the right-hand side swapping to the left-hand side.
This is Loch Linnhe.
On a clear, calm day the loch looks like a mirror.
With the surrounding mountains reflected in the water, the photo opportunities here are picture-perfect.
Make sure you use the designated parking areas for stopping as the road is one of the busiest.
Stopping at the side is not recommended and can cause an accident.
The A82 then closes and you must wait for several hours to get to your destination.
When you arrive at Fort William, we suggest booking into your accommodation before the next attraction.
The Garrison is a great choice for accommodation.
It used to be the police station and you can even book rooms in the old cells!
It is also central to all the amenities you will need.
There are so many good eateries in Fort William to choose from.
If you like pizza and craft beer, then The Black Isle is the place for you.
For more upmarket dining, Garrison West or The Crannog offers seafood and Scottish produce.
For pub grub, check out The Tavern’s hanging skewers.
If you catch it before it closes, pick up a cruffin at the cafe, Rain for tomorrow’s quick breakfast.
Once you have eaten, the only place to be seen is The Volunteer Arms.
With a local band playing on a Friday night, you will be dancing until the wee hours.
Alternately, pop in for a night cap at The Crofter.
If you need more of a quiet evening, then a walk along the esplanade is just for you.
This gives you the chance to capture the sunsets and often spot some of the local seals.
Note: If you have time, we strongly advise you do one or two of the Fort William attractions described below to save time in the morning as you will be battling against the clock to get to Glenfinnan for 10:30 to see a very special moment from the silver screen!
Day 3: Fort William, Glenfinnan and the Ferry to Skye
Today, if following the classic route, you are traveling to the Isle of Skye.
This Inner Hebridean island is the holy grail for those who visit Scotland but due to overtourism it can feel like Disneyland in the summer.
Try to avoid the school holidays and the high season summer months June, July and August if you prefer less crowded experiences.
Today is all about monuments, trains, and white sands which requires an early start.
Note: You should pre-book your ferry ride from Mallaig to Armadle on the Isle of Skye with CalMac Ferries to avoid disappointment.
You don’t have to take the ferry although driving does add 2-3 hours on to your trip.
For this option, from Glenfinnan (point of interest below), take the road to Spean Bridge then up the A87 to Eilean Donan Castle and over the Skye Bridge.
Morning: Inverlochy Castle, Neptune’s Staircase, Caol & Glenfinnan
Start day three early as you have two scheduled times to meet if you want to get the best out of fit.
Firstly, the Harry Potter train going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct at 10:45, arriving with time to park by 10:20.
Secondly, your ferry to the Isle of Skye from Maillaig.
First stop, Inverlochy Castle ruins by the Highland Soap Company shop.
While this journey should take around 8 minutes as it is only approximately 4 miles away from Fort William, during ‘silly season’ it can take up to 45 minutes.
The road infrastructure is such that traffic gets clogged up easily.
Enjoy the views of Ben Nevis as you drive along. Is she showing her tip? It is often hidden!
Following the road out of Fort William towards Inverness, you will come to the turning for the Highland Soap Company.
Take this left turn and follow the road.
Passing over the bridge, you will see the castle ruins on the left.
Park around here and get out to wander around these ruins.
Inverlochy Castle was built in the 13th century as a stronghold for the lords of Badenoch.
Situated on the River Lochy, it allowed ease of access to Loch Linnhe.
It has hosted Queen Victoria who is said to have written in her diary “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”, and you will find the same tranquillity when you visit.
Once you have wandered around the castle grounds for ten minutes, the next stop is a true feat of engineering.
Banavie (4 miles approx 6 minutes)
Banavie is a small suburb of Fort William where you can park and walk up Neptune’s Staircase.
This is a set of locks on the Caledonian Canal where boats pass through as they make their way down or up the Great Glen using the waterways.
It takes around 90 minutes to travel these locks and spectators can sit on the banks and watch as the boats are quite literally taken up a ‘water staircase’.
Leaving the car where you have parked it, if you walk over one of the locks to the left-hand side, you can walk down towards the Corpach Wreck.
This boat has been here since a storm in 2011 brought it all the way from Kinlochleven.
The boat itself has the perfect backdrop as you will see from the many photos on social media.
Ben Nevis gives this wreck a reason to stay put.
With the surrounding Loch Linnhe, you would not find a more picturesque set.
How to get to Corpach Wreck
- Cross the canal at Corpah Basin so you are on the side of Ben Nevis
- Turn into the woods at the blue tourist signs
- Walk down towards the shore
- Cross the bridge over the water
- Turn right and walk down the manmade path skipping over the empty drinks bottle and tins to the beach
If this already sounds like too much of a rushed morning, enjoy a slow breakfast instead and head straight to Glenfinnan for 10:20.
Glenfinnan (17 miles, approx 25 minutes)
Situated at the top of Loch Shiel, this small hamlet called Glenfinnan is where the Jacobite uprising began in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived on the shores and raised his standard.
The monument was built 70 years later and is an iconic tower recognizing this historic event.
The other famous structure and the one that fans come from all over the world to see is the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
This is where the Harry Potter steam train passes over 1000ft of land at a height of 100ft at approx 10:45.
The local residents of Glenfinnan Community have created a car park for the visitors who want to stop and film the train going over.
Please pay the £2 parking charge and don’t give your ticket to another car as that £2 pays for the investment in the area so you have somewhere to park, pee and eat.
Leaving your car here, you can walk up to the viaduct and grab a prime spot for that once-in-a-lifetime video.
Remember, you’re on Highland time now and it may be running a little late.
Warning: The midges, Scottish nippy bugs that bite, are pretty bad around the viaduct, we actually wore our midge nets, no shame!
If you can, give yourself some time to walk down to Loch Shiel to see the Glenfinnan Monument and appreciate the stillness of this area.
If you plan to drive to Skye, skip the next section and follow the road to Spean Bridge and then onto the A87.
Glenfinnan to Arisaig (19 miles, approx 30 minutes)
As you drive towards Arisaig, the views become more beautiful with every passing mile.
The lochs change from Loch Shiel to Loch Eilt then to Loch Ailort.
In the middle of the lochs, there are various islands that make the whole landscape stunning.
Use the parking places to stop and take photographs.
It is a busy road, and you need to take care.
To get into Arisaig, take the alternative coast road on B8008.
You will not be disappointed.
This road gives you the first glimpses of the turquoise waters and white sands that this part of Scotland is famous for.
The road is a single-track road and you will have to adhere to the rules for allowing traffic to pass.
Here are some simple rules to remember:
- Locals use this road daily and know it well.
- If someone is close behind you as you enjoy the scenery, please let them overtake you.
- This stops frustration and accidents.
- Don’t park at the side of the road or in passing places.
- This can cause problems for other road users.
- Most of all, enjoy the drive!
You won’t find anywhere else like this in the world.
The road winds alongside the water and as you look out over the turquoise waters, you can see Eigg, Rhum, Mull, Skye, and on a very clear day South Uist!
The beaches are simply breathtaking but they are for public use which means they are not wild camping spots.
The white, smooth sand is akin to what you would find in the Caribbean.
Be warned – the water may be a little less warm than the Caribbean though!
There are a few different beaches you can stop at and enjoy a picnic.
Traigh Beach has a designated car park and is easy to access.
On the other side, you have a 9-hole golf course with views that nowhere else can boast.
Further along, you have Camsudarach Beach.
Again, there is a car park here, but it is a little trickier to access as you need to navigate the dunes.
Then you will encounter Silver Sands of Morar.
These three beaches are jam-packed on a hot summer’s day.
However, there is still room to move and enjoy some sunbathing.
Be cautious of your time as you have a pre-booked ferry to catch.
If you are anxious you will miss it, head straight to Malliag from Glenfinnan.
Afternoon: Airsaig to Mallaig (8 miles approx 15 minutes)
Mallaig is a port where you can get ferries to some of the islands.
You can also take the mail boat over to the Knoydart peninsula from here.
It is worth parking your car on the outskirts of this town and enjoying a walk around.
There are lots of little artisan shops and plenty of seafood restaurants to enjoy.
When you are ready, catch the ferry and enjoy the journey across to Skye.
The ferry takes around 45 minutes and docks in Armadale.
The Isle of Skye: Armadale to Portree (42 miles, approx 1 hour)
Welcome to the largest of the Inner Hebridean Islands.
When you disembark, it is tempting to begin your drive straight to Portree.
However, the Sleat Peninsula is a little explored area of Skye and has a lot to offer the visitors.
It is worth having a wee explore.
Just a short walk from the pier is Armadale Castle.
The castle and the gardens are part of the Clan Donald’s Land trust and again, if you are researching your heritage, this will be a good place for you to explore.
After you have explored this wee village, your drive now takes you through the Cullins.
These spectacular mountains tower above you, following the road that winds its way towards your destination.
The roads will be busy as this is the most popular of the Scottish Islands.
If you want to take photographs or simply soak up the views, it is advisable to stop in a designated parking area and not drive slowly holding up the traffic.
Here is your base for the next two nights.
There are lots of different accommodations to choose from.
Portree offers many fantastic restaurants that make good use of the vast array of seafood Skye boasts.
If you want something a little more upmarket with a bit of a drive, then the Michelin-starred Loch Bay in Stein is well worth a visit.
Or the Three Chimneys.
Having eaten here, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
In fact, it was the only reason for one of my trips to Skye!
Locally you will find everything from Scottish cuisine to pizza eateries.
After you have enjoyed a meal, then wander along the streets of Portree, you will find a cozy wee pub where you can enjoy a dram or two.
A walk to the harbour is well worth the effort.
Seeing the sunsets over the island finishes the day perfectly.
Day 4: Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Loop
With this being the biggest of the islands, it is a good idea when completing your Scotland travel planning, that you spend two nights here.
If you had more time you’d go for three.
There are so many fantastic sights to see, you really need to cherry-pick the ones that stand out to you.
Today’s itinerary will give you a selection that we feel is on the “most wanted” list, but feel free to add in or substitute others.
The Trotternish Loop is where the day will be focused.
Driving the loop with no stops takes 2 hours and 15 minutes (60 miles), and you are going to take lots of stops!
If this feels too much you can always complete half of the loop, it’s your trip, you decide!
I know couples who have visited Skye and felt their trip was successful with only seeing three tourist stops, Skye is a live museum in itself.
Pick up a picnic from one of the bakeries in Portree if you can as lunch options might be pretty limited until you get back into Portree.
Make sure you have all your power banks charged and ready for a day of photos and videos.
Note: The weather can really dictate what you do on Skye so be prepared to make changes if it is too wet or windy.
Portree to Old Man of Storr (15 minutes)
Old Man of Storr is probably the most recognisable landmark on Skye and one you will not want to miss.
The large pinnacle rock can be seen from miles around.
This makes it the busiest of the attractions on Skye.
Parking below, you can easily complete this hike in about an hour and a half.
The views over Skye will take your breath away.
Be prepared for snow all the way up to Easter!
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls (15 minutes)
Kilt Rock is so named as it looks like the pleats of a kilt.
The waterfall here is spectacular.
It cascades down 90ft into the ocean below.
This is also the waterfall that you see on social media because when it is “blowing a hooly” (very windy), the water blows up the way!
There are other walks you can enjoy around this area such as Mealt Galls and Brother’s Point.
On a beautiful day, you should take advantage of these short hikes.
Kilt Rock to Staffin (5 minutes)
Let’s talk about dinosaurs!
Staffin is nestled under the Trotternish Ridge and is famous for its spotty house and geology.
However, on Corran Beach, you are able to see dinosaur prints.
These prints are over 170 million years old and are some of the best examples you will ever see.
They are on slippery rocks, so wear appropriate footwear so you don’t have an accident.
Staffin to Quiraing (5 minutes)
One of the most scenic routes in Skye is the Quiraing.
The road is a single track and is hair-raising in places as it follows the mountainside on hairpin bends.
The viewing area at the summit affords you amazing views over Skye.
It is a photographer’s dream as there are so many spots for you to make the most of your photos.
Enjoy the mountains and the views over the lochs.
Skye is such a dreamy island both in the sun and the misty rain.
Quiraing to Skye Museum of Life (20 minutes)
The Skye Museum of Life is a great place to stop and understand what life in Skye would have been like in the 18th century.
A well-preserved township of thatched cottages allows you to step back 100 years and see what Highland village life was like.
Check opening times on the website.
This museum is little out of the way, if you want to save time you can add it to your bucket list for later.
Skye Museum of Life to Fairy Glen (20 minutes)
Think Alice in Wonderland style gardens and you are there!
Close to the Fairy Glen is a very small car park. Do not park on the side of the road!
The walk itself takes around 40 minutes and is not a strenuous hike.
As you wander among the trees and rocks, you may just spot one of the elusive fairies!
This is a good spot to get your legs stretched and enjoy the scenery up close.
Please don’t confuse the Fairy Glen with the Fairy Pools which is on tomorrow’s itinerary.
From the Fairy Glen, a side step trip Uig is only 1 mile away.
Here you will find a a restaurant and brewery.
The sleepy village is a port for ferries over to the islands such as quiet North Uist then on to the majestic Harris and Lewis.
Now complete the Trotternish Loop, driving back to Portree in around 30 minutes.
Evening in Portree
It has been a very busy day with all the driving and hiking.
A quiet evening dining out and sipping a dram at a pub in Portree is your reward.
Day 5: Portree to Edinburgh
Leaving the Isle of Skye will be a wrench today, especially after your fantastic tour yesterday.
Don’t be down heartened, though.
Our journey towards Edinburgh will take you through some more of the countryside of Scotland that you must see and give you the chance to make the most of this long road trip.
Before we head off, we know that the Fairy Pools in Skye is a must-do for many, personally we think other attractions are just as magical, or even more so but if a visit is non-negotiable, get up early and take the 50 minute drive out.
Give yourself a good 40 minutes to find a parking space at the car park and walk to the falls and back.
Remember your coins to pay for your space.
The official first stop of the morning is Eilean Donan Castle, the journey from the Fairy Pools to the castle takes around 1 hour 30 minutes so remember to add that on to your journey.
Morning: Portree to Eilean Donan Castle (43 miles, approx. 1 hour)
Making the most of your last hour on Skye, enjoy the view from the road as you pass by the Cullins, stop to dip your face in The Enchanted Waters of Sligachan and meander through the wee villages that lead up to the Skye Bridge.
Once you are over the bridge, you will pass through Kyle of Lochalsh.
This is a lovely wee town where you can fill up with fuel.
Just outside Kyle, is the next of the castles you will want to visit during your one week in Scotland.
Eilean Donan Castle is perhaps the most recognizable of the castles in Scotland.
Accessed via a stone bridge, it dominates the skyline.
On the shores of Loch Duich, this 13th-century structure protected the lands against the Viking invasion.
It also played a role in the Jacobite uprising which ultimately culminated in its destruction.
The castle you see today was rebuilt and was completed in 1932.
If you are completing some ancestry research, it is the Clan Macrae seat.
The next place to visit is Fort Augustus.
Note: Today is very busy. If that does’t suit your travel style then you have two options:
- Option one: Drive the route with minimal stops, earmarking locations for future Scotland itineraries
- Option two: Head straight to Edinburgh down the A9 (4.5 hours) stopping for lunch in Pitclochry
If you’ve rented a car you need consider your return time and location. Do you need parking in Edinburgh? Read our guide to hotels with parking here.
Eilean Donan to Fort Augustus, Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle (52 miles approx. 1 hour 20 mins)
Halfway between Inverness and Fort William you can see the middle part of the Caledonian Canal and the locks here.
The Canal Heritage Center is based here and if you have had your interest piqued by the Neptune’s Staircase, you should visit to find out more.
Just a short trip away (17 miles approx. 24 minutes), is Urquhart Castle.
The 13th-century ruins of Urquhart Castle played a huge part in Scotland’s fight for independence.
The views over Loch Ness, the largest body of water in the UK, are tremendous.
You can even try a bit of Nessie spotting while you wander around the castle.
From Urquhart Castle your next port of call is Pitlochry.
Afternoon: Urquhart Castle to Pitlochry (104 miles, approx. 2 hours)
This drive takes you down the A9.
This is a speedy road that passes through the second of our national parks, Cairngorm National Park.
The mountains here are stunning, with plenty of places to stop and take photos, you will enjoy seeing another area of the Scottish Highlands.
Pitlochry is the jewel of Perthshire.
This small, bustling town is nestled underneath the mountains and surrounded by forests.
The town sits on the River Tummel and boasts a beautiful loch, Loch Faskally.
One of the best times to visit Perthshire is in the autumn when the leaves are changing.
To see the russets, golds, oranges, and fiery reds that blanket the hillsides during the months of September to November gives you a whole new insight into what the area has to offer.
Once you have parked, a great place to explore is the Pitlochry Dam.
This huge structure has a visitor canter and is free to explore.
There is a salmon ladder where, during the spawning season, you can watch the salmon jump up the ladder to get to the loch and lay their eggs.
Walking along the riverbanks allows a peaceful afternoon and there are plenty of tearooms to enjoy some refreshments.
Read our guide things to do in Perthshire here at Two Scots Abroad Travel Guides.
Pitlochry to Edinburgh (71 miles approx, 1 hour 41 minutes)
Arriving in Edinburgh, you should make your way to your accommodation for the evening.
If you need any ideas on where to stay, have a look at our Edinburgh accommodation guide.
Edinburgh has so much to offer you as a visitor.
Tonight is about enjoying Scottish hospitality and exploring the Scottish capital in the evening.
You will be spoiled for choice when you are to eating out in Edinburgh.
We’ve got you covered for evening activities as well!
Have a look and see just what you should be doing when planning your trip to Scotland’s capital.
Note: If you have rented a car, do you need to return it tonight or find parking?
Day 7 in Edinburgh’s City Centre and Old Town
It’s now time in your 7 days in Scotland to explore the capital.
There are so many places to see and things you can do, you will be spoiled for choice.
Let us give you some top plans for you to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
This is just a snapshot of how to spend your day. We have an extensive one day in Edinburgh itinerary here.
Morning in Edinburgh
You will be walking a lot today.
Make sure you have your hiking boots on, so your feet don’t take a serious battering.
Beginning at 7 am your first stop is Calton Hill to watch the sunrise.
Easily accessed, the walk to the top should be around 5 minutes.
From here, you can see views across the city and watch the morning mist melt away as the sun rises.
Walking around the summit, you will see the Athenian acropolis.
This unfinished structure makes for some fantastic photo backdrops.
You’ll be hungry now, time for some breakfast.
Urban Angel offers you organic and ethical produce in a cozy setting.
After you’ve eaten, it’s time to go up a fair few stairs!
You’re climbing the Scott Monument.
This gothic monument is one of the most iconic landmarks in Edinburgh.
Built-in memory of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most famous writers, you climb the building using the 287 steps.
No need for Stairmaster this week!
From the top the views are stunning.
You can see over the whole city and spot many of the other landmarks Edinburgh is famous for.
As the monument is situated in Princes Gardens, it is worth spending an hour or so walking through them.
The famous floral clock is one photo you need to take.
Created from flowers, it is a unique way to tell the time.
There are also a number of monuments such as the Lulla-Bye Baby Memorial Elephant, San Diego’s Bum the Dog and the glorious Ross Fountain.
See if you can spot these structures as you meander through the gardens.
At the end of the gardens, the National Galleries of Scotland is positioned.
For art lovers, this is a great chance to see some of the great artists as well as Raeburn’s “The Skating Minister”.
Best of all, the exhibition is free.
Prefer to pick up some souvenirs? Princes Street has Scotland shops and St James Quarter has upmarket and high street store names.
Walk off lunch with a self-guided Harry Potter walking tour.
After the tour, a great way to have some fun before you spend some time at the castle is Camera Obscura.
This attraction offers over 100 interactive, hands-on illusions.
Head up to the rooftop terrace for the best views in Edinburgh over the city, and discover the Victorian Camera Obscura.
With 5 floors of activities, you’ll have a great time with lots of laughs. Read our review here.
Now for the star attraction – Edinburgh Castle.
Walking up to this impressive building, you will be awed by the architecture and the sheer size of the castle.
The best time to see it is as the sun is setting over the castle.
Ablaze with the colors of the sky, you can take some amazing photos.
You can really understand why so many musicians choose this as their concert venue.
If you want to visit inside the castle grounds, you can purchase your tickets on the Edinburgh Castle website.
You will have spotted some fantastic restaurants on your wanders today.
If you really want to enjoy a tasty meal in spectacular surroundings, it is worth booking The Dome.
Built-in the 1700s, the inside of the building is a sight to behold.
The circular bar in the middle draws your eye to the dome situated above.
You’ll find it difficult to get a better spot for food and cocktails.
The Witchery is another popular choice for a special meal as it is quite pricy.
For good reason though, it features in our most romantic restaurants guide.
Exploring Edinburgh in the evening, you really need to take one of the haunted tours.
Visiting the chambers beneath the streets of Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Vaults.
You will hear true tales of murder and witchcraft on a spooky ghost tour of the Old Town.
Reserve your ticket here.
Finish off with a night cap and live music at Whistle Binkies or Stramash.
A fantastic way to round off your day in Edinburgh and your 7-day self-drive tour of Scotland!
Planning a Trip to Scotland
Before you finalize your one week Scotland itinerary, read our extensive guide on how to plan a trip to Edinburgh which covers everything you need to know about Scotland including accommodation types, driving in Scotland, currency, what to eat, and Scottish culture.
If you are from the US, you definitely want to read our guide to things Americans should know before visiting Scotland written by your fellow North American, Nicole, who now resides in Edinburgh.
It includes everything she wishes she knew before her first visit. A must read!
You’ve heard there are four seasons in one day in Scotland? Well, we’ve created this extensive packing list to help you plan your luggage regardless of what season you are visiting.
Side Trip to Mull
If you read this itinerary and think, I can find 2-3 days for Mull and Iona, here’s our suggested itinerary.
Mull and Iona (194 Miles, Overnight Stay)
We are referring to this leg of the itinerary as a bonus overnight stay as island hopping and overnight stay on Mull might be a tad too much for those who prefer a slower-paced trip.
If you are desperate to see these islands but can’t face the driving, let someone else do the organising consider the Three Islands Tour of Mull, Iona and Staffa and stay overnight again in Oban.
It’s a 12-hour tour so be prepared for an early rise and late return with potentially another overnight stay in Oban.
If visiting during summer there is a high chance you will see puffins on Staffa, well worth our in our opinion!
Self-Drive Oban to Mull
The Oban to Mull ferry must be pre-booked and can only be done on the CalMac Ferry webpage.
The 46-minute ferry journey to Mull gives you a chance to enjoy the views over the Sound of Mull and spot any wildlife that is native to this area such as basking sharks and puffins.
Keep your eyes peeled for Rubha nan Gall aka Mull Lighthouse and Duart Castle as you sail in.
Arriving at Craignure, this little village has three food options, one well stocked village store and public restrooms.
Check out Arlene’s for incredible cakes and sandwiches.
Fill up at Craignure as the drive ahead can be long and there is only one village store at Pennyghael for coffee and snacks.
Mull’s Craignure to Fionnphort (35 miles, 1 hour 30 mins)
Mull is the second biggest of the Inner Hebrides and offers moors, mountains, and sandy beaches.
While Google Maps will tell you the drive between Craignure and Fionnphort, where you catch the ferry to Iona, is only 1 hour 5 mins in reality the journey takes at least 1 hour 30 minutes as the road is single track with passing places to let drivers get past.
Tour buses also use this road as do local farmers.
The road takes you along Glen More and then follows the coastal inlet at Pennyghael before rising higher.
At Pennyghael you can stop and see the otters that have their home there.
If you have them, it is worth taking along your binoculars to spot the wildlife that Mull is filled with.
When you arrive at Fionnphort, you can park your car (via app or with coins) and then get the ferry over to Iona, which is a passenger only ferry ride..
There’s a food vendor at Fionnphort that sells fishy dishes and a cafe that sells snacks. Public restrooms require coins to access.
Afternoon on Iona
The island of Iona is the smallest of the Inner Hebrides and is only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long.
There are around 120 residents, and they are the only ones who are allowed vehicles on the island.
There is so much to pack into your visit here, it can be hard to choose!
We recommend around two to three hours to visit the main attractions and enjoy the scenery and beaches.
One of the first places you will want to visit is Iona Abbey.
Dating from the year 536, this building was said to be founded by St. Columba.
While there is not much of this period left in the building that stands today, it is still used as a place of worship for the Community that inhabits Iona.
You can visit the Abbey as it is owned by Historic Scotland.
Iona’s highest point is Dùn I and here you will have views that will take your breath away.
Looking over to the Treshnish Isles, Tiree, Coll, and on a really clear day, Rhum, Eigg, and Skye with Ireland visible to the South, you truly gain a panoramic experience at the top of this hill.
The Heritage Centre is worth taking a walk to as it has all the information you need to know about Iona, living on the island, and the flora and fauna you can discover here.
Hop on a ferry back to Fionnphort and either stay the night back in Craignure at Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa or keep driving to the main town, Tobermory.
Note: While there is a ferry port in Tobermory, you will need to make your way back to Craignure to take the ferry back to Oban.
Hence why we have added this on as a bonus side trip. It’s a lot of effort but a healthy reward.
Evening in Tobermory
If you have ample time, skip the ferry home to Oban and stay the night in the big town on Mull.
Tobermory is one of the most colorful towns you will see on your travels.
The brightly painted houses light up the landscape and make the area come alive.
Dine at Coast for seafood.
Naturally, you could cross Iona off your list and spend more time on Mull.
If you have more time to spend on Mull:
- Mull pottery shop
- Mull Museum that you can visit and find out more about the history of the island
- Look out for one of the most famous residents here, a womble called Uncle Tobermory!
- Do a tour of Mull Distillery
- Isle of Mull Cheese Farm glass barn cafe which is about a 10 minute drive from the main street
- Calgary Bay, give yourself 1 hour to drive here
Here’s our guide on things to do in Mull which will take you to our other travel site, Two Scots Abroad.
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