Scotland Road Trip Itinerary (10 Days)

Want to take an epic Scotland road trip, but aren’t sure where to start? Worried you might miss the best things to do and see along the way?

  • With my detailed itinerary, you will save HOURS of planning! No need to plot out your route- it’s here (map below)! 🗺️
  • All you have to do is tweak and alter this base itinerary. Add more time where you like, and skip the places that don’t interest you!  
  • This is a ten day road trip itinerary, but can easily be changed for whatever amount of time you have. (Download my roadtrip “Scotland Spotify playlist“!)
My husband and I spent ten days here in June (get my summer packing list!), using this exact route. This itinerary is fast-paced, but allows you to see lots in a short amount of time. 
We love Scotland so much, we returned again the next year! We’ve now driven nearly 3,000 miles across the country combined. I am so passionate about this magical place, and I think you’ll see why:

My daily itinerary for our ten day Scotland road trip! 

Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!).

To get a feel for this city, start in the touristic and historic center. The main road is called The Royal Mile, and this street alone provides hours of entertainment.
With all of the narrow alleyways (called “closes”) and old buildings, it’s one of my favorite parts of the city! Each building could tell such a story of what its witnessed over the years. 

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royal mile edinburgh scotland
Just a quick peek at how pretty this area is!
Are you a fan of Outlander? If so, see Bakehouse Close on the Royal Mile. You’ll immediately recognize it as Jamie’s print shop from season 3. My other favorite is Advocate’s Close, it has a great view of the city below!
Nearby, another popular spot is Victoria Street. The colorful buildings have so much character, and are said to have inspired J.K. Rowling with her vision for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
There are a few boutique shops (check out “Museum Context” if you love HP!), and several pubs and restaurants.
Just off Victoria Street is the centuries old cemetery of Greyfriars Kirkyard. I’m a huge history lover, and love old cemeteries. It helps create a more human connection to what can, at times, feel like an overwhelmingly long history! 🪦
This cemetery is touted as a place where J.K. Rowling would stroll when writing Harry Potter, and she supposedly got the inspiration for several character names from the headstones (most notably, there is a grave for a “Thomas Riddell”).
She did debunk this rumor on her Twitter account, but that doesn’t stop the various Harry Potter walking tours from still claiming this is the case!
Just outside the cemetery, see the bronze dog statue for good luck! Known as Greyfriars Bobby, this Skye terrier became a local legend for faithfully spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, until the dog died in 1872.
Back in the city center, you can’t miss St Giles’ Cathedral. If you hang around long enough, you will hear some local musicians playing the bagpipes out front!  The interior of the church is worth a visit (donation required to enter).st giles cathedral edinburgh scotland road trip itinerary idea
st giles cathedral interior edinburgh
Cathedral Interior
From the Royal Mile, head downhill towards the looming architectural display of the Scott Monument. Nearby, stop at Ross Fountain for a great photo of Edinburgh Castle on the hilltop behind.
FOOD IDEAS: Try well known World’s End Pub, or a drink at the Balmoral Hotel Scotch Whisky Bar. || Read about more Edinburgh food ideas ||
worlds end pub royal mile scotland outlander
LODGING: No. 53 Frederick Street. – Great location, historic building, very friendly owners! Tons of food, grocery, and parking options nearby.

Given I’m a hopelessly obsessed fan of the Outlander series, my first visit was to nearby Midhope Castle. I made an advanced reservation for a 9am entry. While this 16th century castle is intriguing, it wouldn’t really be too exciting for anyone who isn’t a fan of the series.
If you, like me, ARE a fan- it is the castle used as “Lallybroch” in the show! It was so cool to see it in person, I loved it! Sadly it is in a state of disrepair, and is unsafe to go inside at all.
"Take me home to Lallybroch"
It’s a 40 minute drive from Edinburgh, and there aren’t any feasible options to get there except by car (as it is somewhat remote).
Take a guided “Outlander” day trip out of Edinburgh!
Midhope Castle is part of the greater Hopetoun House properties, and there are many other “Outlander” activities to do there, including seeing more filming locations!
From there, we drove 15 minutes to Blackness Castle. This lies along the water, and while the inside is small, it’s worth going in to explore. For Outlander fans, the interior courtyard is where they filmed the “Fort William” scenes.
blackness castle scotland outlander filming
Blackness Castle
Next, we drove 25 minutes to a complex called “The Helix. This is a large park full of biking trails, food trucks, a gift shop and other outdoor activities. The main thing it’s known for is the giant Kelpies statue (the Scottish folklore mythological “water horses”)!
Given my husband is a fan of mechanics, he suggested we stop at the Falkirk Wheel. It’s a rotating boat lift connecting two canals. While I had no idea what to expect, it’s apparently a big feat of design. There is a shop and museum, and you can pay to ride in it.
falkirk wheel scotland
Can’t say I understand it, but I guess it’s cool
We then drove back 1 hour to Edinburgh. In the evening, we took a stroll down Circus Lane. It is a residential street, but incredibly scenic!
After dinner, we did one of many ghost walking tours. They can be a bit cheesy, but honestly super interesting to hear more about the morbid stories of this ancient city! 👻


LODGING: No. 53 Frederick Street 

In the morning, we left our hotel and started our scenic drive towards Inverness. In total, it is about a 3 hour drive. 
On the way, we made a quick stop at Drummond Castle Garden. It is beautiful, but again may be more special as it was used to film the Versailles scenes in Outlander.
edinburgh castle sunny day scotland
Saying goodbye to Edinburgh for now
Next we stopped at the medieval town of Culross (pronounced Coo-Ross) Yes, another Outlander filming location, but even my husband said it was cool and was happy he visited!😊It truly feels like stepping back in time.
Many of the buildings are from the 16-17th centuries, and are in great shape! Check out colorful Culross Palace, and the main square (which you may recognize as “the pillory” from the “Cranesmuir” scenes!).
Culross Mercat- The scene of the “Cranesmuir Pillory” in “Outlander”
Don’t miss the old church to the right of palace. This is where, historically, women were held as prisoners before witch trials! 🧙‍♀️ 
This was Geilis Duncan’s house in “Outlander”
Culross Fife Scotland Outlander filming location road trip
Approaching the yellow Culross Castle
From there, we drove 45 minutes towards an abandoned mansion restored to look like a religious priory, known as Crawford Priory. There are signs advising you not to enter (given the building is in shambles), but we took some very nice drone photos!
crawford priory drone
Drone shot of this formerly grand estate
abandoned mansion scotland creepy
We were able to safely peek in to see this glorious winding staircase
We headed next to Falkland Town (yes…Outlander again- it was used as “Inverness” in the show, but still worth visiting!). It reminds me of a “quintessential Scottish town” and has scenic streets and cafes.
falkland scotland
Heading to go look where Jamie’s ghost was
As we drove towards Inverness, we made a random quick stop at Balvaird Castle (home to the Murray family, 16th century). I love that in Scotland, if you check Google Maps while you drive, you’ll find medieval castles all over that you can randomly just pop in to see!
balvaird castle ruins scotlnd aerial view drone
Balvaird Castle from above!
Once in Inverness, we walked towards the central part of town. It is a bit of a quiet place, but we appreciated it. We had dinner at Hootananny and stayed for the ceilidh (traditional music performance and dancing). Very fun experience!
LODGING: Strathallan B&B. We stayed in a private room at a local residence. The breakfast was nice and the owners are lovely people with great conversation!

⇒ See what to wear in Scotland in summer!


We left first thing to the Culloden Battlefield. We drove (10 minutes) to the site of the famous and impactful battle between the Jacobites and the English.
The museum does a nice job explaining why this particular battle is so integral to the history of the Scottish culture and the Highlands.
I also recommend doing the free walking tour of the battle site. Our guide made it so interesting, and without the explanation it’s hard to know what you’re looking at.
From the battlefield, it’s a 5 minute drive to the site of Clava Cairns. They’re about 4,000 years old and built as a sacred cemetery. It can be a quick visit, but we had lunch there and it was great to spend time in such an ancient and mysterious spot.
ancient stone structures scotland inverness
Touching a stone that people set upright 4,000 years ago!
After the stones, we were ready to see the famous Loch Ness and enjoy the scenery!
We stopped at the Loch Ness Centre, which provides a scientific viewpoint as to how the legends of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, came about. 🦕They go in depth about all the studies and progress trying to find sightings, etc. It was interesting, but cheesy. I don’t feel it was worth the cost.
loch ness inverness scotland road trip
The foggy and ominous Loch Ness
After, we drove over to the 16th century Urquhart Castle. We walked around to get views of it, but didn’t go in. In hindsight, I regret we didn’t go on a boat to view it from the water.
Next up was a scenic drive called “The Loch Ness Loop” which circles the lake and back to Inverness. On the way, we stopped at the Invermoriston Bridge and did a quick hike to Foyers Falls.
Back in Inverness, we had dinner at Black Isle Bar & Rooms. They were slammed on the ground floor, but we headed upstairs where they have cute little rooftop sheds. The pizza is amazing! 🍕
LODGING: Strathallan B&B.

Are we crazy? Yes, probably.🤪 Today was the day we decided to head to Orkney from Inverness, and back to the mainland, all in one day.
Would I recommend doing it this way? Honestly, not really. Add another day in Orkney, it absolutely merits it!!!
We left Inverness at 5am in order to drive north to Scrabster and take the 2 hour ferry to Stromness. The ferry ride was fun and had beautiful views including the Old Man of Hoy.
The ferry had lounge seating, cafeteria, and even a bar! We took our car with us, and the whole process was easy.  Read more about taking a ferry to Orkney
ferry to orkney
Scrabster Ferry Port
Stromness Orkney Scotland
Stromness Town in Orkney
First stop is the prehistoric Ring of Brodgar. A circle of ancient standing stones (2500 BC!), scientists are not positive what exactly this spot was used for. If you’re curious, read some of the Brodgar theories.
It was cold, windy, but very visually stunning. It’s truly impressive to think about what the ancient peoples were like.
ring of brodgar orkney scotland
Ancient standing stones at Brodgar
Just down the road is another ancient site, the Standing Stones of Stenness. While not as grand a scale, I liked visiting these more than Brodgar as you were able to touch and get close to the stones. It’s nice to feel connected to something so truly ancient beyond our comprehension.
From there, we headed to the UNESCO world heritage site of Skara Brae. Get your tickets in advance! This is the site of an ancient settlement along the water. 
The stone structures here were built in 10,500 BC (making them older than the Pyramids of Giza)! 😮It’s officially the oldest human structure I’ve ever seen!
skara brae unesco orkney
The outside of the houses
scotland road trip orkney day trip
A view inside the home of someone from 10,000+ years ago!
After exploring, check out the small seaside town of Kirkwall. We went in the Cathedral, and I roamed around the cemetery reading the tombstones while listening to ravens cawing. 🐦‍⬛
Next we drove to the Yesnaby Cliffs. This spot was incredibly scenic, and we saw some puffins! We spent over an hour taking in the views, looking for seals, and flying our drone for some epic footage! 🐧
yesnaby cliffs orkney puffins scotland
Absolutely stunning views!!
Sadly, the ferry back to Scrabster was at 5pm, so we had to end our short time on Orkney.
When we got back, we headed to our AirBNB, a small 18th century cottage near the town of Forss. It was a last minute decision to stay here, but it ended up being my favorite AirBNB rental I’ve ever done!
Not only is the cottage itself great, but we had access to explore the property. We hiked up to old St. Mary’s Chapel and cemetery, and had ocean views of Crosskirk Bay. The owner left us some local pastries, so we enjoyed those while looking out for orcas, which he said he has seen there before!
crosskirk bay forss
Crosskirk Bay
forss scotland views
Scenic old cottage, just a 2 minute walk from our rental!
LODGING: Crosskirk Cottage– Watch this video to see the views! A gem of a find!

Today we began the drive to Portree, which is the main town most people stay in while exploring the Isle of Skye. During the 2.5 hour drive we made a quick stop at Castle Leod which is still home to the Mackenzie Clan descendants to this day!
castle leod scotland
The descendants still live here even now!
Our next stop was the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most recognized in the country. After walking the outskirts of the castle, we went inside for the guided tour. 🏰 
The included tour was a little disappointing as there is not much signage, and I think some sort of audio tour would be nice- I like knowing the history of what I’m looking at!eilean donan castle isle of skye scotland road trip
From the castle, we drove 45 minutes to the Sligachan Old Bridge.
From there, we went to the car park for the Fairy Pools Hike. I’ve heard so much about it, but it started raining right when we arrived. ☔The hike was not fun as a result, and we weren’t overly impressed. I’m guessing it’s better when it’s not rainy and foggy!
sligachan bridge skye
Sligachan Bridge
Now that we were on the actual Isle of Skye, we checked into our hotel and drove into Portree town to explore, and took photos at the scenic “colorful houses overlook”.
Pro tip: If you’re visiting in high season, making dinner reservations in advance is a must! The town is small and it gets packed!
portree town isle of skye colorful houses
Colorful houses overlook in Portree town
LODGING: Feochan Rooms Portree– Basic room but comfortable with nice amenities and a peaceful location.


Day 7: ISLE OF SKYE (Portree)
Today we were ready to take on some of the many incredibly beautiful hikes the Isle of Skye is known for! 
Our first stop was the short and easy walk to “The Fairy Glen”. Known for its scenic grassy mounds and stone circle design, some say fairies created it and live there now. 🧚‍♀️ (update: the stones have been removed as of 6/2024)
fairy glen isle of skye scotland things to do
Fairy Glen
Next we drove to the VERY windy but beautiful viewpoint for Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. This was absolutely stunning! How can you resist ancient cliffs (that supposedly look a torso and a kilt) and cascading waterfalls ?
After these easy walks, we were ready for some “real” hiking! We headed towards the hike upwards to The Old Man of Storr. It’s a 1.5 hour hike each way, and is quite windy.
I felt the hike up was a bit difficult given its mostly uphill, but I saw plenty of children and elderly folk pass me up on the trails. Maybe it was just me! 😅
old man of storr hike on skye scotland
View from the end of the trail!
After a packed lunch, we were ready for more! We started on the absolutely incredible hike known as “The Quiraing”. Even if you aren’t up for the whole hike, simply walking ten minutes down on the trail from the parking lot will give you epic views.
This was definitely our favorite hike of the trip, as it offers panoramic vistas of the whole area. We also both said it might be one of our favorite hikes we’ve done, ever! 
If you can, try to time this hike for a sunny day, otherwise it might not be as impressive. |Click here to see a video of the views! |
Quiraing Hike views clear day isle of skyeThe 
Back in Portree, we went to dinner at Antler’s Bar & Grill. While nothing special, it was cozy and had good service!
LODGING: Feochan Rooms Portree

Sadly the time had come to leave the Isle of Skye. We stopped again at Eilean Donan Castle once back on the mainland. As we were there early, we got some amazing photos at the castle without the crowds! eilean donan
As we continued our 5 hour drive from Portree to Glasgow, we stopped at a little coffee shop. Then, we looked across the street and happened to see ruins of a castle along the road (as one does!).
Called Invergarry Castle, we made a quick stop to explore! No one else was there, so it was quite eerie to walk around.invergarry castle ruins scotland
Next up, we did a stop at the famed Glenfinnan Viaduct. This bridge was used for shots in the Harry Potter movies as the “Hogwarts Express train”. 🚂The hike up to the viewpoint is muddy, and took us longer than anticipated.
Once at the top, we realized we misunderstood the schedule and sadly did not get to see the Jacobite steam train it’s known for. If you want to see the train come by, be prepared for crowds and do your research!
glenfinnan harry potter jacobite steam train
A “Harry Potter” filming location
Continuing the increasingly scenic drive through the Scottish highlands, we stopped at the Glencoe Visitor Center. We also stopped at scenic pullovers to see the Three Sisters, and the wee white barn with waterfalls behind it.
scottish highlands glencoe via car
Glencoe is truly breathtaking and one of the most beautiful spots in all of Scotland! You can also see the tallest mountain in Scotland, Ben Nevis, while driving through this area.
 ⇒ Want to overnight in Glencoe? Read my post on the Isles of Glencoe hotel!

When we finally arrived in Glasgow, we had dinner on a classic double decker red bus while it drove throu
gh the city! Called the Red Bus Bistro, we booked their pizza dinner option, but they also do an afternoon tea. I do wish they gave some sort of historical commentary, but overall it was still fun ! |Watch a video of our dinner on the bus|



Finally, we made our way to the Horseshoe Bar. This classic Scottish pub has been around since the 18th century!
Even if you don’t drink, come in just to admire the Victorian decor and the design of the wooden bar (said to be the longest in Europe!). We loved the vibes here, and stayed for a while to enjoy a wee dram! 🍻
LODGING: Z Hotel Glasgow- Good location, but tiny and cave like rooms with no windows. The lobby area is nice and there is parking, but the rooms have no character.

Bright and early we walked from our hotel to the Glasgow Cathedral. The interior is worth a quick visit (and, yes, some of the Paris hospital scenes from Outlander were filmed there!) but it got quite crowded with tour groups.
Behind the church is the gigantic and Victorian Gothic-era cemetery called the Glasgow Necropolis. The headstones could be considered works of art! 🪦
Between the view overlooking the city, and the aesthetically crumbling crypts (many with very detailed and interesting stories of how their inhabitants died), this was actually my favorite activity in Glasgow!
View of the city from the Necropolis
Lunch was at Porter & Rye– very tasty and a great environment! We then left Glasgow and drove for 1.5 hours back to Edinburgh, to check in to our new hotel. 
Once there, we explored parts of the city (on foot) we hadn’t seen thus far. We started out in the Grassmarket Area for their weekend farmer’s market.
We stopped at Stockbridge Market specifically, and enjoyed a Spanish paella food stall while being serenaded with a local primary school’s bagpipe band! This area is so lively and fun, definitely come by here!
We walked over next to the Dean’s Village area. The buildings and streets are beautifully impressive, and perfect for photos. It’s hard to believe normal people can just be living in houses like that!
Continuing our walk, we made it to Calton Hill. This involved a quick uphill hike, but had gardens, a museum, and a scenic overlook at the top.
Calton Hill views
Needing a break from all that walking, we naturally found ourselves at the “The Scotch Whisky Experience” building. Is it touristy? Absolutely. Is it still fun and worth doing? Definitely! The tasting tour lasts about 2 hours, and must be booked in advance.
Pro Tip: The unassuming shop across the street from here is actually massive and had a HUGE Harry Potter themed area!
So many choices…
As one does in Scotland, we finished off the day at Biddy Mulligan’s pub for unhealthy food and more drinks! 🍻
View of Edinburgh Castle on the way to the pubs!
LODGING: Motel One Edinburgh Royal – Perfect location near the Royal Mile at the bottom of idyllic Cockburn Street. Rooms are nice and the lounge/bar area is fun!

If you are up to the challenge, throwing in a hike to Arthur’s Seat is highly recommended! Sadly, we tried to go, but the rain put us off. Instead we tried to get coffee at Maison de Moggy Cat Cafe. You need advance reservations, which we sadly did not have!
A view of Arthur’s Seat as seen from Edinburgh Castle
To start the day, we did the highly acclaimed tour of the city’s medieval underground street system. Named after the alleyway lying below the modern day street, the tour company is The Real Mary King’s Close.
If you are intrigued by morbid history, tales of the plague, or how the city’s poor lived in the 17th century- this tour is perfect for you! No photos are allowed once you descend into the dark underbelly of the city, and it is a fascinating, and “must do” activity!
This tour must be pre-booked, and books up fast! I reserved ours months before the trip- Get your tickets below:
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Instead of relaxing on our last day, we hustled! I had read about the abandoned Borders Abbeys (1.5hr drive one way) that lie along the border with England.
The concept of exploring 12th century ruins seemed promising. However, I did end up slightly disappointed due to most of the sites being barricaded off for “restoration”. 🙁
There are four abbeys, and you are meant to visit them as you drive along the “Borders Abbeys Way”. Built as centers of learning and piety, the four main abbeys were strategically built there in hopes of impressing English visitors, and proving they were capable architects.
borders abbeys scotland road trip visit day trip
Dryburgh Abbey
First was Dryburgh Abbey. This is in an isolated patch of countryside, and would be lovely to explore, however it was closed off due to “unsafe conditions”. We could still see some of it, but I was for sure disappointed.
Next is Kelso Abbey. This was a quick stop, as the ruins are small. There is not an official entry here either. Again, we were sad to see it was fenced off.
Also, none of this information was online, so we had no clue! We drove so far to end up looking at them through chain link fences. 🙁​
Afterwards was Melrose Abbey. This was the largest and most impressive. Even though we had to pay a fee to enter the grounds, most of it was fenced off and still inaccessible. I was frustrated they can’t figure out a way to keep people out without blocking the view.
Frustrated, we explored the town of Melrose. This was a great idea, as the town is very pleasant and with tiny coffee shops and friendly residents! (We skipped Jedburgh Abbey this time, but went the next year- it’s great!)
melrose abbey scottish borders abbeys
Melrose Abbey, fences included
Leaving Melrose, we had an impromptu picnic lunch at the Leaderfoot Viaduct.
Next, we drove an hour back towards Edinburgh, to Rosslyn Chapel (need advance reservations). It’s hard to describe without seeing it with your own eyes, but this chapel is MAGNIFICENT. I’ve seen a lot of religious buildings, and this chapel will always stand out to me!
The interior has thousands of incredibly intricate stone carvings, and all merit long discussions and theorizing. If you’ve ever read “The DaVinci Code” books, some of the events take place here, and they actually filmed a few scenes in the crypt. No photos are allowed inside, but you can see photos of Rosslyn Chapel on their website.
The cherry on top of our incredible journey, we drove back into Edinburgh, parked, and rushed to the entrance of the looming Edinburgh Castle (tickets need to be reserved in advance!).
We did the self-guided audio tour. I recommend this, as you can go at your own pace, but actually know what you’re looking at! There is minimal signage, so doing it on your own wouldn’t be half as interesting. 
Finally it was time for dinner and drinks! We headed to The Piper’s Rest, which is delicious and also apparently haunted! We toasted our amazing trip, and lamented that we had to fly home.
Until next time Scotland… Slainte!
Views of the city from edinburgh castle
City views from the high castle
LODGING: Motel One Edinburgh Royal – Scotland road trip ltinerary

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The ultimate ten day itinerary for your road trip in Scotland! Read for my schedule, things to do, hotel links, and more!

Thanks for reading my Scotland road trip itinerary! 


  • Reply Robert March 17, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Superb Scotland Itinerary Michelle!
    My wife and I are heading to Scotland for 2 weeks at the end of August 2024 and so looking forward to our visit. We do like staying in B&B’s when traveling to new destinations. What year did the 2 of you go?
    I’ve definitely Pinned the post for reference. Sounds like things get very busy. Any other suggestions, please do send an email to me. Greatly Appreciated! Safe Travels, Robert @

    • Reply Michelle W. April 29, 2024 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks so much Robert! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing vacation. I went in June/July 2022 and then also May 2023

  • Reply Merrie Beth April 4, 2024 at 10:06 pm

    Wow, Michelle – this is probably the very best recap of all the highlights of Scotland plus unique finds I’ve seen. I’m curious what kind of luggage you used with all the moving you did from one town to another. I’m guessing anything on wheels is really difficult to navigate on cobblestone streets? I’ll also be there the last two weeks of August 2024 and would love your thoughts. Thank you!

    • Reply Michelle W. April 29, 2024 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks Merrie Beth! Many hours went into writing this post, so I truly appreciate that! Honestly with doing a road trip, most places we stayed had on-site parking except for in Edinburgh. I used a rolling suitcase and didn’t have any issues as they do seem to have largely paved sidewalks other than maybe the inner-parts of the old town. I have links to my specific luggage if you go to the top of my page “resources – travel essentials”. In general though, my Delsey checked bag has been amazing over the years!

  • Reply Mary Eleanor Harris June 6, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Where is the map? Wanted to print it. Thanks

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