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A road trip of Scotland is the best way to visit Scotland, especially when visiting the more isolated and desolate Scottish highlands. There’s so much to see in Scotland so it’s unlikely you can fit it all into one trip. For the best Scotland road trip you don’t want to be rushing around too much. You need a lot of time to take it all in! A 2 hour journey in the Scottish highlands will likely take you double that, as you will want to keep stopping to take in all the breathtaking landscapes. And simply enjoy the silence and isolation this unique part of the world gives you.
There are lots of different Scotland road trip itineraries that you can follow, all of which take you to different beauty spots in Scotland. When travelling, especially solo travelling, I often find it better to have a very limited plan and just ‘wing it’. For this reason I find a self drive tour of Scotland better as it gives you the ultimate freedom to do as you please. That being said, it can be useful to have an idea of where to visit in Scotland, so you can make the most of your time there. This 1 week itinerary is a great guide to enjoying a 7 day Scotland road trip, encompassing some of the best places to visit in Scotland by car.
- 1 7 DAY SCOTLAND ROAD TRIP
- 1.1 DAY 1 – Edinburgh
- 1.2 DAY 2 – Edinburgh, Dunkeld and Cairngorms National Park
- 1.3 DAY 3 – Ballater, Balmoral, Craigievar Castle, Loch Glass and Loch Ussie
- 1.4 DAY 4 – Corrieshalloch Gorge, Ullapool and Achmelvich Beach
- 1.5 DAY 5 – Ullapool, Shieldaig, Applecross / Bealach na Ba Pass and Uig, Isle of Skye
- 1.6 DAY 6 – Isle of Skye, Glenelg, Glencoe and Kinlochleven
- 1.7 DAY 7 – Glencoe, Glen Etive, Tyndrum, Falls of Falloch and Loch Lomond
Scotland Road Trip Map
This map of shows all of the main places and attractions featured on this 7 day tour of Scotland.
7 DAY SCOTLAND ROAD TRIP
DAY 1 – Edinburgh
This 7 day Scotland road trip starts with a trip to the Scottish capital – Edinburgh. Of course any Scotland itinerary has to allow for actually making the trek up to Scotland! I started at home in Staffordshire, and headed straight up the M6 across the Scottish border. The road to Scotland from the midlands is an easy and straight forward one – you don’t need to change for at least 300 miles! Annandale Water is great service station to stop at just over the Scottish border, to break up your journey. As the name suggests, there’s a lake that you can have a walk round.
To break up my journey to the Scottish Highlands, I spent my first night in Edinburgh. Notorious for being expensive, I wanted to avoid the city centre parking, so left my car at Hermiston Park and ride (what.3.words – ///figure.voting.chill Postcode: EH15 4AT).You can leave your car here for free for up to three days. From here you can get a bus into the city centre. I’d really recommend using an Edinburgh Park and Ride, if you’re driving around Scotland.
I arrived at the park and ride at around 1pm and was in the city by 2. Edinburgh is a great place for a weekend break, you can also fit a lot into one day in Edinburgh. I’d really recommend visiting Edinburgh as it has the perfect combination of city and outdoors life rolled into one.
DAY 2 – Edinburgh, Dunkeld and Cairngorms National Park
Day 2 of the 7 day Scotland road trip kicks off in Edinburgh. After spending a (very wet) 24 hours exploring the Scottish capital, I caught the bus out the city and back to the park and ride. Next destination on this Scotland itinerary is the village of Ballater of Cairngorms National Park, which lies around 110 miles from Hermiston Park on ride.
This 2 and a half hour journey is nicely broken up by the small town of Dunkeld on the way. From Dunkeld it’s just over an hour and a half, through the mountains of the Cairngorms and the village of Braemar, to get to Ballater.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, I couldn’t recommend Ballater Hostel enough. They offer dorms and private rooms.
DAY 3 – Ballater, Balmoral, Craigievar Castle, Loch Glass and Loch Ussie
Ballater is less than 15 minutes away from Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s home in the highlands. Balmoral is open to the public at varying times of the year. However, I would really recommend going to find the Balmoral Pyramid, one of the Cairngorms’ best hidden gems.
Next on this Scottish itinerary is another hidden gem – Craigievar Castle. This Archie the Inventor-esque castle is hidden in the trees just south of Alford, Aberdeenshire. It will take you around 40 minutes to get from Ballater to Craigiever Castle.
The next stop on day 3 of this 7 day Scotland itinerary takes us up another 100+ miles, past Inverness. Take the route via Tomintoul and Cock Bridge, as this will give you the best views of the Cairngorms. Stop via the small village of Carrbridge to check out the Old Packhorse Bridge – the oldest stone bridge in the highlands. Around 30 miles north of Inverness lies Loch Glass, where we find our second pink building of the day. This isolated Loch and abandoned pink house is certainly a unique and slightly eerie sight. Find out how to visit Loch Glass.
Loch Glass is only around half an hour from Dingwall, where you should be able to easily find accommodation. I found a place on Air B&B overlooking the remote Loch Ussie, just outside the village of Knockfarrel.
DAY 4 – Corrieshalloch Gorge, Ullapool and Achmelvich Beach
First job of the day was getting petrol in Dingwall. There are 3 things in life that are certain: death, taxes and having to buy fuel relatively regularly on a road trip to Scotland. Writing this in June 2022, when petrol is hurtling towards £2 a litre, the thought of a trip around Scotland makes me feel a bit weak and incredibly financially unstable.
Day 4 of the 7 day Scotland road trip, sees us heading further north yet again, up to Ullapool and beyond. Heading across to the west from Dingwall to Ullapool there isn’t a lot going on. But as you head along the A835 (it’s pretty much the only road, you can’t get lost!) you’ll naturally come to Corrieshalloch Nature Reserve. This impressive gorge is around 1.5km long and 60m deep. It’s one of the most spectacular gorges in Scotland so is definitely worth a stop. You can do a 1.3km walk around the gorge, and admire the Falls of Measach from the viewing platform.
Just 20 minutes up from Corrieshalloch you’ll find the most lively town for miles – Ullapool. We’re stopping there later tonight, but for now we just need to keep heading north! Carry on along the A835 and A837, and be prepared to be blown away by yet more desolate highland. Emerging amongst the beauty and mystery of the north west highlands are the ruins of Advreck Castle. This 15th century castle is found jutting out into Loch Assynt, and was left to ruin after a mysterious fire in 1737. You can park your car at the side of the road and walk over to explore the ruins.
Continue driving along the A837, before turning off to Achmelvich. A short, but narrow and pot hole-y drive along a small track and you’ll reach Achmelvich Bay. And trust me it’s worth it! Achmelvich’s stunning white sands and blue seas may scream southeast Asia, but the water temperature certainly reassures you that you’re in the Scottish Highlands! There’s a campsite and hostel very close to the beach so there’s plenty of accommodation options here.
I headed back to Ullapool, via Lochinver, taking the long and windy route via Inverkirkaig, Rhegreanoch and Loch Lurgainn. Don’t expect to see many other cars along this route, but also don’t expect it to be an easy drive! It will take you over an hour to make the 30 mile drive back to Ullapool this way. Once you’re back in Ullapool head down to the harbour to enjoy some fish and chips.
Looking for a longer Scotland road trip? You might enjoy this:
DAY 5 – Ullapool, Shieldaig, Applecross / Bealach na Ba Pass and Uig, Isle of Skye
Day 5 begins with a drive south of Ullapool, to the village of Shieldaig. This drive will take you via Achnasheen and the Glen Docherty view point (IV22 2HJ / what.3.words ///sweated.warned.booster). Nanny’s is a great lunch or snack stop in Shieldaig.
Onwards from Shieldaig, head to apple cross via the coastal route. This road will take you up to the top of the Applecross pass (Bealach na Ba Pass), and you will then descend down via the Bealach na Ba Pass. Be aware that this road is full of hair pin bends and is not suitable for caravans and large vehicles. But if you have a vehicle that can manage it, I fully recommend driving the Bealach na Ba Pass. The views are amazing, and when I did it the rain was terrible so I can only imagine what it’s like when the skies are clear. Driving around the hairpin bends is exhilarating to say the least, especially if you’re an adrenaline junkie like me!
After completing the Bealach na Ba Pass, I headed towards the Isle of Skye- but we aren’t ready to leave the mainland just let. Not far from Kyle of Lochalsh, is Manuela’s Wee Bakery (what.3.words – ///loafer.bravo.skewing), which looks like something straight out of a fairytale! They freshly bake all the goods on site, so it’s the ideal place to stop for a small road trip snack before heading over to the Isle of Skye.
The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get to the Isle of Skye is by crossing the Skye Bridge in Kyle of Lochalsh. This used to be one of the most expensive road bridges in Europe, however it’s now free. Arriving on Skye it’s still over an hour to drive to Uig in the north of the island. Depending on the time of day, you could make a slight detour on your journey and pass by the Quirang. This is a very impressive sight!
Below is a driving map of Scotland which shows the route taken on day 5 of this Scottish highlands road trip:
DAY 6 – Isle of Skye, Glenelg, Glencoe and Kinlochleven
As I’d already spent time on Skye during another trip to Scotland, this visit was a flying one. I headed to the Falls of Rha in Uig in the morning and then had a look around Portree in the afternoon. Check out Birch Cafe in Portree for your daily coffee and cake fix, and Starry Skye Portree for all your gift and souvenir needs.
To head back to the mainland, drive to Kylerhea to catch the Skye Ferry over the Glenelg. This is the last manually operated turntable ferry in the world, so it’s definitely worth checking out. Once you’re over in Glenelg take some time to admire the scenery and enjoy the beach. Then continue to drive towards Glencoe. Leave lots of time for this leg of the journey as you’ll want to keep stopping to admire all the incredibly scenery! First you’ll go along the stunning Mam Ratagan pass, before heading through Invergarry. Make a quick pit stop at Loch Oich before you head through Fort William and straight on to Glencoe.
Glencoe is up there as one of my favourite places in the world, let alone just in the Scottish highlands. The landscape is stunning no matter what the weather. You can’t go through Glencoe without checking out it’s most desirable photo spot – Lagangarbh Hut (aka the Wee White House).
I found accommodation in Glencoe to be sparse and also a bit more expensive, so my best best was an air b&b in Kinlochleven. In the village centre of Kinlochleven there’s a fish and chip shop and a co-op.
DAY 7 – Glencoe, Glen Etive, Tyndrum, Falls of Falloch and Loch Lomond
My seventh and final day of my 7 Day Scotland Road trip begun in the beautiful Glencoe mountains. I started the day 357 miles / 6 and a half hours from home so it was an early start. The first leg of the journey took me along the stunning A82 Glencoe Pass. Along here you’ll come across a right hand turning to Glen Etive. This 10 mile stretch of road takes you through some more of the highlands most stunning and desolate landscapes. Once you reach the end you’ll find yourself at Loch Etive. There isn’t much to do here except enjoy the views, turn around, and come back.
Heading further along the A82 you’ll pass along the western edge of the deserted and slightly eerie Rannoch Moor. Shortly after crossing the border into Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you’ll reach the tiny village of Tyndrum. This is most notable for being home to the Green Welly Stop, where you can top up on some petrol, albeit it more expensive than your average pump. But when it’s the only filling station for miles, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!
Across the road from the Green Welly Stop is the Real Food Cafe. This is a MUST food stop on any Scotland highlands road trip! I’ve stopped for breakfast here both times I’ve been in the area and it’s been brilliant every single time. Nothing you want more on a chilly October morning than a log burner and a hot coffee and full Scottish breakfast!
Just 9 miles down the road from Tyndrum, are the Falls of Falloch, the last scenic shop on this 7 day scotland road trip itinerary. The waterfall is a short walk from the car park, which is clearly signposted on the A82. After enjoying the waterfall, continue to head south and watch the scenery get heartbreakingly worse. Just down the road from Falls of Falloch is Drovers Inn at Inveranen which is worth having a look at.
After that I just headed into Glasgow for some top quality Asda petrol, before making the long journey down the motorway, across the English border, through the Lake District, and back to Staffordshire.
A Scottish highlands road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s such an incredible destination, and as a UK citizen I can’t believe I’m able to travel to somewhere like this without a passport. If you’re travelling Scotland for the first time – enjoy, there’s nowhere else quite like it!