Rolling green hills, thick forests, sparkling lakes, picturesque hikes, Nessie hunting and whiskey tasting – what isn’t there to love about Scotland? Without a doubt, the best way to see this beautiful country is by car. Back in 2013, we hired a Peugeot (who we lovingly named Myrtle) for our jaunt around Scotland, and it was one of the highlights of our time in Europe.
Here is our guide to the perfect two-week road trip around Scotland.
Hiring a car in Scotland
We emailed a number of local companies to compare quotes, but eventually settled on Celtic Legend. We were very happy with our car (we even received a free upgrade) and their prices. We had a 500GBP excess for comprehensive insurance, so they placed a hold on our credit card for this amount while we rented the car. The excess amount was is covered by our own travel insurance. You will need your driving licences, passports and debit card for payment when you collect the car. For more tips on hiring cars, check out our handy guide.
TRAVELATOR TIP: Car hire and accommodation rates in Scotland are significantly lower in shoulder and off-seasons. We road-tripped around Scotland in January. No crowds, plenty of accommodation and cheap car hire. It was cold but for us this made the trip more ‘Scottish’!
2 Week Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1-3: Glasgow
Glasgow is Edinburgh’s grittier, edgier cousin with a fanatical football culture and thick Glaswegian accents (good luck understanding your taxi driver talking about the next Celtics game!). But underneath this tough exterior is a beautiful city. Spend a day visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, University of Glasgow grounds, Glasgow Cathedral. Football lovers should head to Celtic Park, while beer drinkers can tour the Tennents Wellpark Brewery. If you need a few winter woolies for your stay, souvenirs, a pint or a coffee head to Glasgow’s main shopping area, Buchanan Street.
Day 4: Fort William
Driving from Glasgow to Fort William takes you through the beautiful mountains of Glencoe and past Loch Lomond. The scenery is breathtaking, and there are a number of short hikes you can do in the area. During our road trip, we did our fair share of hiking and wildlife spotting with the help of the Walk Highlands website. We note that Scottish wildlife consists mainly of hairy cows, hairy goats, hairy sheep and squirrels.
Day 5-6: Kyle of Lochalsh
We made Kyle of Lochalsh our base for exploring the stunning Isle of Skye. Spend a day driving and hiking around the island. Put aside a half day to visit the Tallisker Distillery at Carbost on the Isle of Skye, which is a real highlight for whiskey lovers.
Day 7: Ullapool
Ullapool is a quaint fishing village and a gateway to the Northern Highlands. As we visited Scotland in winter, we avoided venturing much farther into the Northern Highlands but Ullapool provided a great introduction. Nearby are the Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach, as well as plenty of beautiful walks through the forested nature reserves.
Day 8-9: Inverness
Make Inverness your base to explore the stunning Loch Ness. Hopping on a boat cruise of Loch Ness is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, and offers great Loch Ness Monster spotting opportunities. No Nessie sightings for us though unfortunately. Your day at Loch Ness should also include a visit to the ruined medieval Urquhart Castle. History buffs can also visit the bloody Culloden Battlefield.
On route from Ullapool to Inverness there are also more world class whiskey distilleries. We recommend a stop at the Dalmore and Glenmorangie distilleries. Some distilleries offer paired chocolate tastings, which is great for the designated sober driver.
Day 10-11: St Andrews
On the drive from Inverness to St Andrews pop into the Dalwhinnie whiskey distillery (if you haven’t guessed yet, Tom likes whiskey). A trip on the ski lift up CairnGorm Mountain is also fun, even if there isn’t much snow.
Once you arrive in St Andrews, check out the St Andrews University (where Prince William attended), St Andrews Castle, St Andrews Cathedral, and the golf course (home of the British Open). The University has some interesting quirks, including the pavement stones you can’t step on until you finish your uni degree (otherwise you are destined to fail) and Hamish McHamish the local stray cat that has been adopted by the town.
Day 12-14: Edinburgh
On the way to Edinburgh, swing past Stirling to visit the spectacular Stirling Castle and the national William Wallace Monument. The castle and William Wallace (Braveheart) are hugely important part of Scottish history, so it is worth the visit.
Once you arrive in Edinburgh, make sure you try some haggis (if you haven’t already). Paired with some neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) and some local beers, it goes down an absolute treat.
Budget travellers will be thankful for the free walking tour of Edinburgh, which will help you get your bearings. No trip to Edinburgh is complete without visiting Edinburgh Castle to see the ‘Stone of Destiny’. After nearly choking on the entry price, we had a lovely time wandering around the castle in the snow while the bagpipes played in the background – so Scottish! Other top attractions include a walk to Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, St Giles Cathedral and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Depending on how outrageous your one way car hire fees were, your next stop may be a return to Glasgow. This is only a short 90 minute drive from Edinburgh.