We made a 1-week round trip through Scotland with departure and arrival in Edinburgh. There are many other routes, lengths, and start and end point possible. But here you can get some inspiration for a 1-week round trip through the Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye.
No tour without a car, so we rented one from Sunny Cars. The nice thing is that the rental price is really an all-in price, so you don’t have to take out extra insurance on the spot (but the local rental companies will try to do it, unfortunately). We also chose a car with automatic transmission so there was no need to shift lefthanded.
We used google maps as our navigation. In advance, we downloaded the map of Scotland so that we could also use the map offline. This is really necessary as there are some places where you don’t have internet. Also, keep in mind that there are few gas stations on the Isle of Skye, so try to fill up when you can. Then again, the driving distances in Scotland are not very long.
Best travel time for a tour of Scotland
First of all, it rains very often in Scotland: about 250 days a year on average. It can rain for a full day or just an hour. Hard to predict in advance, then. The chances of it raining during your vacation are very real.
The best time to travel around the Scottish Highlands is in spring or autumn. During the summer, in addition to many tourists, there are also many mosquitoes (called midges).
Day 1 + 2: Edinburgh
We used the first few days to explore Edinburgh. We walked the Royal Mile and down Victoria Street and Circus Lane. And we visited Edinburgh castle and Dean Village. You can read more about what to do in Edinburgh here.
Edinburgh is a very compact and cozy city. You can do everything perfectly on foot and stroll through the beautiful cobblestone streets. Don’t forget to enter a pub once in a while to enjoy a Guinness or a nice gin & tonic. Or go for Scotland’s specialty: whiskey. Tips for good restaurants in Edinburgh can be found here. We stayed at hotel Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge: ideally located in the center of Edinburgh.
Then the first day of the real tour. We went to pick up our car and then stopped at a supermarket to stock up on some things. We always buy cereal, milk, and then some things for lunch for the next few days. That way we don’t have to go to restaurants or look for food in the morning and afternoon.
We then drove to Stirling Castle. Since we weren’t sure what time we were going to arrive, we didn’t buy tickets in advance. But that was still possible just on the spot. This castle was the home of Scottish kings from the 12th century. The current castle is from the 14th-15th century with several rooms beautifully decorated.
Then we drove to the next castle: Doune Castle. For fans of Monthy Python, this castle will be familiar: in fact, pieces of the castle are featured in the movie Monthy Python and the holy grail. The castle was not available to visit at the time of our trip.
Along the way, we stopped several times at different viewpoints. The landscapes really are so beautiful here.
After a brief stop at Dochart Falls, we drove toward our sleeping place near Fort William. Corran Bunkhouse was ideal as a short stop: the rooms were small but clean.
In the evening we went to dinner in Fort William at The Geographer. There was a line waiting outside but luckily it went quickly. Delicious food in a beautiful interior: the perfect ending to our first day of the tour.
We start the day by driving to the Glenfinnan Viaduct to wait for the Hogwarts Express. A must for Harry Potter fans!
Then we drove toward Invergarry Castle. The perfect place to eat our lunch. This castle is actually a ruin and so cannot be visited.
After stops at several viewpoints, we drove toward Eilean Donan Castle. You can also visit this castle but since there were so many people we decided to skip it.
Our sleeping place for the night was Creaggan Ard Guest House. This was very small, but sufficient for sleeping. There was not very much nearby to eat. So we bought Fish and Chips at Fisherman’s kitchen and ate it in the car because it was raining so hard. It doesn’t get any more Scottish than that.
Today we went for our first real walk. And what a hike: an additional classic on Isle of Skye: Old Man of Storr. The Storr is a rocky hill formed by a landslide. It really is a beautiful sight: that big rock in the rolling landscape around it. This one was a lot spicier than expected, though. We didn’t really follow a specific hike but a walk around the ‘Storr’. There is a paying parking lot (you can pay with cash and a card). There are also pay toilets available. The parking lot is limited in capacity, so make sure you get there early enough in the day.
After a brief stop at Lealt Falls, we drove on toward The Quiraing. This is another popular spot on the Isle of Skye. And there is paid to park here as well. The road up here can be tough by car because the road is only wide enough for 1 car. There are coves available every x number of meters but you can’t always see the cars coming. The hike is about 7km long (2.5h). If they report bad weather or high winds, it is not recommended to do the hike. This is because you often go on narrow paths with deep chasms. We only did part of the hike.
We stayed in the village of Uig (Skye Holiday Chalets C1). There was only 1 restaurant where we ate a burger outside on the terrace. We also bought some beers at Isle of Skye Brewery to enjoy in the evening in the chalet.
The Fairy Glen is less well known than Storr or The Quiraing but no less beautiful for that. If like us, you visit the Fairy Glen in the morning there are almost no people. In the (late) afternoon it can be quite crowded here though as most pass by on their way back from The Quiraing or Old Man or Storr. Everywhere you look you see a beautiful green landscape with hills. There is not really a set hiking trail, you can just walk on the grass and moss here.
Next stop is Dunvegan castle. You can choose to visit just the beautiful gardens here but we decided to also visit the castle itself. The appearance of the current castle is largely 19th-century Victorian. The castle is also the seat of the McLeod clan and was opened to the public in 1933. The gardens are a beautiful mix of native and exotic plants and flowers. The waterfall and small rivers make it even more romantic.
Something that was very high on my list was Neist Point. The road here is another narrow country road where only 1 car can pass at a time. However, there are many more coves available than the road to the Quiraing. Neist Point is really a must-see on the Isle of Skye. It provides beautiful images: the green cliff with then the light tower. You can walk all the way up to the light tower: there are stairs down and then it’s a short walk. The way back is a lot more challenging.
We stayed again at Creaggan Ard Guest House. Now we had looked in advance for a restaurant on the way from Neist Point to our accommodation: Claymore Restaurant. We had a pizza with haggis, a vegetarian burger, and for dessert sticky toffee pudding. Very good food that we did have to wait a while for due to a lack of staff.
Today a visit to Loch Ness was scheduled. Last minute we decided to book another boat trip on the lake. We booked on the spot in Drumnadrochit at Castle Cruises Loch Ness. We took a small boat out onto the lake to learn more about the lake itself and its legend. You also have a very nice view of Urquhart Castle from the water. Loch Lake is the second-largest lake in Scotland in surface area but the largest in volume.
A visit to this castle was next on the schedule. After a short movie, we went to explore the remains of the castle. This 13th-century castle was built by the Durward family and was one of the largest castles in Scotland.
From the castle, it wasn’t far to drive to Inverness. Here we (read my friend) went whisky tasting at The Malt Room. They have a huge selection of whisky here where you can also choose 1 of the ‘flights’ they suggest. Very nice to be able to taste different whiskies. I stuck to gin & tonic.
We had dinner at The Castle Tavern: delicious Scottish salmon. And sleeping we did at the Inverness Youth Hostel: an ideal location within walking distance of the center of Inverness with free parking.
Then it was already time to drive towards Edinburgh to return our car. We then walked to our hotel for the last night: Edinburgh Central Accomodation.
From all that walking we had gotten hungry. We went for a Scottish pie at The Piemaker. There you can choose from several savory pies as well as some sweet pastries. We shared 3 pies and a piece of shortbread together. After exploring more of Edinburgh, we enjoyed a high tea at The Dome. High tea is definitely a must when in Edinburgh (and Scotland). And this one at The Dome is worth it. We had to bring some of the food back to the hotel ourselves.
This was really a wonderful round trip: lots of beautiful and rugged nature. And so green. We were really lucky with the weather: other than an afternoon and evening rain, we had mostly sunshine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below in the comments.
All useful links at a glance for your next trip to Edinburgh
✈️ Find plane tickets to Edinburgh
?️ Find the best hotels in Edinburgh
⛺ Find the best Airbnb in Edinburgh
? Book an all-in rental car in Scotland
? Book tickets for attractions in Edinburgh
? Buy the best travel guides about Edinburgh
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