Scotland is PACKED with amazing places to visit and roads to drive, and since we spent 2 months exploring all the amazing road trips this country has to offer, we thought we would put together a guide on the best road trips in Scotland based on our very own experience!
Some of these are “official” road trips, and the others are ones we have designed ourselves.
So let's get started!
Scotland is the sort of country that brings something unique to every season.
If you don’t mind busy roads and tourist attractions, then you’ll love summer, and the fact it’s kind of the only time of the year you’ll get some sort of “heat” in Scotland!
The main problem will summer road-tripping Scotland is the midges.
They’re a real problem and if you don’t know what they are, they’re an insect that loves to bite!
If you want to avoid the crowds and the midges, then we can recommend road tripping Scotland in the autumn months!
That’s when we visited and we loved it.
We didn’t experience too much rain, and we pretty much had the best places to visit in Scotland all to ourselves -- that was cool!
Naturally, we will say that road tripping in Scotland is best done in a campervan because we did it in our very own self-converted camper!
But, if you don’t have your own campervan, or it’s out of your budget to rent one, then driving is a good option.
With driving, you can either bring a tent and get adventurous on your sleeping arrangements or stay in the many amazing Airbnbs and hotels dotted around these Scottish road trip routes.
The perk of having a campervan, however, is the ability to wild camp in Scotland.
Wild camping in Scotland is AMAZING! You’ll find yourself waking up to some EPIC views, so if you get the chance to hire a campervan, then choose that for your Scottish road trip itinerary.
For more help choosing a van, check out our guide on the best campervan rentals in Scotland.
Short answer ... as long as you can spare! There really is so much to see in this incredible country.
Long answer, well, it will really depend on what you decide you want to see when planning out your road trip.
There are road trips in Scotland that will take a few hours, and others that will take a few days.
That’s the beauty of the country, you’ll find something to suit your needs.
When I discuss the individual road trips in Scotland below, I’ll put the mileage covered and time estimated to complete so you can help make a choice based on your own personal time constraints.
But if I had to tell you how long to put aside for an epic road trip in Scotland, at minimum I would say, give it 10 days!
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This was the very first road trip we did when we entered Scotland and it’s an “official” one that’s advertised and promoted on the Visit Scotland website.
I loved this Scottish road trip because it took us to the coastline and I was excited to see the sea!
This road trip will take you through some beautiful sights including amazing castles, forests, towns and more.
It will also take you to the most South westerly point in Scotland, the Galloway Lighthouse from where you can see the North of Ireland, Isle of Man, Wales & England. Pretty cool!
Some of my favourite highlights of the SW coastal route include:
1. Calverock Castle: there are lots of great castles along this route but I just loved this one. It was empty when we visited, it’s located within a forest and it just looks so well maintained! Plus, it’s free to visit and walk around, so great if you’re on a budget.
2. Mull of Galloway Lighthouse: I love lighthouses. I’m not sure where the love came from, but if there is a lighthouse on the route, I’m going to visit it! This one as I mentioned above is the most south-westerly point in Scotland and there is a tea room built into the side of the cliffs, which has amazing views, so I loved it.
3. Culzean Castle: Another great castle, but more tourist established! It’s part of the Scottish national trust. I’ve written a guide on visiting it here, but it’s a dreamy castle where you can imagine beautiful weddings taking place.
Optional day 3: take it slower, or add in extra spots for walking in the Galloway National Park
The NC500 (The North Coast 500) is, without doubt, the most popular and famous Scotland road trip there is.
It’s Scotland’s answer to Route 66 and it’s amazing!
We actually spent a couple of weeks doing the NC500, but it doesn’t take anywhere near as long as that.
We were working whilst sightseeing so wanted to take it slow.
But it’s the sort of Scottish road trip that you can dedicate as much time as you like to it.
Just remember, since this is Scotland’s most famous road trip, it gets super busy in the summer months.
Expect traffic delays and the need to pre-book accommodation and/or campsites in advance.
We did the NC500 road trip in autumn time and it was perfect.
We got lucky with the weather and only experienced a few days of rain and we were practically alone for the entire trip- which was perfect for us!
We absolutely loved the NC500 and it didn’t disappoint.
It lived up to our expectations!
1 Applecross mountain pass: This is a mountain pass road that made me feel like I’d just been transported to Norway. The scenery was amazing and the road was a little scary (which added to the excitement!) The little town of Applecross is great to visit too, it’s just so secluded, you honestly feel like you’ve entered a corner of the earth that no one really knows about!
2. Smoo Cave: I love caves and we’ve visited some pretty vast and unique caves in our travels, and I can’t say I was expecting much from a cave in Scotland. But I loved it! This is a large cave that you can wander in (when the tide is low), check out the powerful waterfall hidden inside, and you can take a boat ride at certain times of the year! It was really cool, and it was FREE!
3. John O Groats: I really liked this spot on the NC500. It marks the furthest northern part of mainland UK, and it’s a cute place to visit in Scotland. Take pictures of the iconic different colour of houses (very Balamory style!), grab a coffee, check out the beer distillery and go spotting for sharks and whales!
I’ll base this on a 5 day itinerary, but in my dedicated post on the NC500 I take you through both 3 day and 7 day road trip itineraries.
The Isle Of Skye is one of the many islands that Scotland has to offer.
I hope to visit many more in the future, but for now, the Isle of Skye is my favourite.
I’d heard so many great things about this place before visiting and I worried it couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations in reality.
But, you’ll be happy to know that it did!
The great thing about the Isle of Skye is that it’s small but mighty, so it makes for a perfect road trip in Scotland.
You can drive the full isle of Skye in around 6 hours, but that’s without sightseeing, so if you want to truly see it all, then I would definitely recommend at least 3 days, simply because a lot of your sightseeing will include walking routes and hikes, and they will take up time!
1. Old Man of Storr: this is probably one of the most famous attractions on the Isle of Skye. It’s essentially a hike within a dramatic landscape, but it’s epic. The hike itself will take around 2 hours round-trip and it’s tough-going up, but doable, even if you’re not fit (I don’t consider myself fit!). The views here are EPIC! And I suggest you go either at sunrise or sunset.
2. The Magical Fairy Glen: This is my favourite place on the Isle of Skye. It seriously feels like a completely different country that’s been plotted into a random bit of the island. It’s a natural phenomenon and reminds me of New Zealand (even though I haven’t been, it’s what I imagine New Zealand looks like!). Visit early to beat any crowds.
3. Eilean Donan Castle: so this isn’t technically on the Isle of Skye itself (but within the region) and it’s just before the Skye bridge. But this is such a cool castle to visit. There is a bridge to walk over the water to visit the castle, and you can just imagine what it was like to be in this castle back when it operated! A real gem of a place to visit on your Scottish road trip.
I’ve done a whole separate post on a suggested Isle of Skye road trip itinerary, but I’ll give you the basics here.
From Armadale, you can get the ferry across to Mallaig, or you can drive back out of the Skye bridge.
Read More: Best Places To Stay On The Isle Of Skye
So this isn’t an official road trip in Scotland, but one I’ve created based on our driving.
So if you want to experience the best that the Cairngorms National Park has to offer this is the driving route for you.
If you’ve got a full day, then you might be able to squeeze everything in (at least in the summer months), but if you’re visiting in winter, or you just want to take things slower, then you can do this route in 2 days.
1. Braemar Castle & town: This is one of my favourite little towns in all of Scotland. It was soooo charming and I would move in tomorrow if I could! Not only that, but this town is home to one of the really cool castles in Scotland and it’s really nice when it's lit up at night.
2. Cairngorm Mountain: This is a really cool place to visit, even if you’re not there for ski season. It offers amazing views over the whole of the Cairngorms national park.
Read Also: Interesting Scotland Travel Statistics
Aviemore > Cairngorm Reindeer Centre > Cairngorm Mountain > Balmoral Castle > Braemar Castle > Blair Castle
If you’re looking for a short but sweet road trip in Scotland then this is the one for you.
This mini road trip will allow you to see the delights of Scotland, the epic beauty of Glen Coe and the chance to ride the Harry Potter train!
If you want to do some hikes in Loch Lomond, then you’ll need the two days for this Scotland road trip to make it to Fort William.
1. Glen Coe: Glen Coe is without a doubt one of my favourite places to visit in all of Scotland. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and this road trip means you can visit. You should definitely make a stop at Rannoch Moor viewpoint, and the famous James Bond filming picture point.
2. Riding the Jacobite: Fort William is home to the Jacobite, a world-famous train ride that is otherwise known as “The Hogwarts Express”. Yes, it’s the same company of the famous train used in the movie, and if you take the train ride to and from Fort William to Mallaig, you’ll go past some pretty famous Harry Potter filming locations, including the Glenfinnan Viaduct!
3. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: This is a really great place to visit in Glasgow, and definitely worth stopping by if you spend some time in the city! Glasgow is actually a really charming city and a great place to simply walk around too.
4. Loch Lomond: This area of Scotland is massively popular not just with locals but tourists too. Loch Lomond is an EPIC loch with beauty on every corner. Whether you want to grab lunch in a local pub, take a boat on the loch, discover castle ruins, stay in some unique accommodation, or do a hike, Loch Lomond has it all!
On your 3rd day, you can either take the Jacobite train ride OR, if you’re feeling adventurous and the season is right, why not hike the highest mountain in all of the UK? Ben Nevis!
Bradley and I spent quite a bit of time in the Highlands of Scotland, so I’ve come up with this epic road trip that I think highlights the BEST that the highlands have to offer.
This is completely based on our own experience and the sights we saw on our Scottish road trip adventures.
This road trip will basically allow you to undertake the best parts of the NC500, alongside some of the best sights that the Scottish highlands have to offer, so you really get to experience everything, and the slower you can take the trip, the better it will be!
You can even make this trip more EPIC, by combining the Isle of Skye road trip with it!
1. Glenfinnan Viaduct: This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland and I don’t think any Scottish road trip would be complete without visiting here. It’s honestly one of the most picturesque places we’ve ever witnessed.
2. Kylesku Bridge: The bridge itself is pretty cool, but really it’s this whole area in general that is just beautiful. Driving this area of Scotland is a real treat, and we got to meet so many highland cows and deer along the way. It was amazing!
3. Inverness city: Inverness is often regarded as the “capital” of the highlands and we both really loved it! It’s a city, but it’s not overly big and you can easily see all the best sights in one day. From the charming Victoria Market, to Inverness castle! This is a great place to pick up any souvenirs for your road trip too.
4. Loch Ness: Imagine going all the way to Scotland and not trying to find the famous Loch Ness Monster! Loch Ness isn’t too far from Inverness, so it’s a leisurely and beautiful drive. There are wild camping spots right on the lake too. You can get boat trips out on Loch Ness which will give you a chance to learn about the history of the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, and the chance to actually spot Nessie!
If you love cities, then you’ll enjoy this mini road trip of 3 of the best cities that Scotland has to offer.
You can even experience some local nature and lochs too in the form of Loch Lomond, which doesn’t take you off route!
Since Edinburgh is a popular place to fly into, this would be one of the more convenient road trips from Edinburgh, especially if you’re short on time!
This isn’t a long driving road trip in Scotland, but your time will be taken up with all the awesome sightseeing you’ll have to do.
1. Ben Lomond: If you like hiking, then you’ll love Loch Lomond. There are so many scenic hikes and viewpoints around this area, and if you like a challenge, you can hike the highest peak in the Loch Lomond area, which is Ben Lomond.
2. Stirling Old Town: The old town of Stirling is super cute and quirky. The first thing I saw when we arrived was a shop selling only handmade bagpipes, and I thought, this is Scotland! There’s also the beautiful Stirling Castle to see, among many other great attractions.
3. Harry Potter heaven: Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and it’s bursting with amazing sights to see, including Edinburgh Castle, but it’s also really popular with tourists for another reason! J.K Rowling wrote all of the Harry Potter books whilst living in the city, and you’ll see constant sources of her inspiration for Harry Potter as you walk around the famous sights Edinburgh has to offer.
Then make your way back to Edinburgh from Glasgow...which won’t take you long at all!
Before I leave you, I just want to point out a few of tips which may help planning your Scottish adventures easier.
So there you have it, my guide to the best road trips in Scotland as voted by me!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and hopefully, you’ve got some inspiration for planning your next Scottish road trip. If you’ve got any questions or suggestions to add to this post, then please do drop me a comment below!