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12 days in the Highlands with a car.

I'll be in Scotland for 12 days (counting from when my flight lands to when my flight departs) in early June. I'm picking up and dropping off a rental car from the airport.

I've done a bit of research and composed a fairly detailed itinerary, and am wondering if it's a bit too ambitious- especially the end couple of days? I'm also hoping for some insight on if I'm missing anywhere amazing, or going somewhere not worth it.
I did a 3 day tour of the highlands two years ago, and saw some of the greats already (loch ness, fort Williams, culloden etc) which I'm planning on skipping this time around

--Each bullet point represents a day--

• Land in Aberdeen on Saturday June 12th at 11:35am. Pick up rental car at 1:00pm. Go to hostel and get settled. Explore Aberdeen a bit.

• Depart hostel at 9:00ish, leave for Craigievar castle (49 minute drive. Tour castle, then head to Inverness (2 hour 4 minute drive). Stay the night in Inverness.

• Inverness (Day trip to Newtonmore? 1 hour drive)

• Depart Inverness and head to Plockton (1 hour 50 minute drive). Tour Plockton for a few hours, then head to Isle of Skye and the hostel. (1 hour 9 minute drive). Get settled in the hostel and then explore.

• Skye

• South Skye for the day- Armadale (1 hour 6 minute drive). Return to Skye hostel.

• Skye in the morning and then depart to Tobermory (4 hour 45 minute drive- plus ferry). Get settled in hostel and rest.

• Explore Tobermory.

• Explore Isle of Mull. Pony trek?

• Depart Toberymory and head to Glencoe (2 hour 30 minute drive).

• Explore Glencoe in the morning, depart for Perth. (2 hour 10 minute drive). Stay the night in Perth.

• Check out Perth for the day, then leave for Aberdeen (1 hour 37 minute drive). Stay the night in Aberdeen.

• Drive to the airport (16 minute drive), drop off rental car at 10:00am, flight home at 1:40pm.

Posted by
5677 posts

I think that is all doable. I be interested in knowing why you chose some of the places that you chose.

  • Drive from Craigievar Castle to Inverness. You might want to explore different routes to Inverness. Here are some that Viamichelin suggests. I thought Corgarff Castle was fascinating inside and a fantastic location.
  • Newtonmore. Are you a fan of Monarch of the Glen? I toured some of the sites from the movie. Or are you planning on the Folklife Museum? If you've not seen or read the Monarch of the Glen, I recommend both. The TV series is on Netflix.
  • Mull. I really liked Mull. Tobermory is great, but I am not sure you need a day to tour it. Other options on Mull include doing the tour of Staffa and Iona--it took a day. I drove from Tobermory to Fionnphort where I caught the tour. I was back in Tobermory by 7 or so at night. Another option is to tour the castles. Duart Castle has impressive history and impressive location. You see it form the Oban ferry. There are lots of other tours--boat tours for wild life. Check out the Eagles of Mull episode from PBS's Nature.
  • Perth. Why Perth? I guess I haven't found much that pulled me to the city as much as I've been pulled to the Perthshire countryside. I did like Scone Palace, but I also like the walks and village centre of Dunkeld. And I like Aberfeldy with the Crannog Centre and the Birks of Aberfeldy walk.


Posted by
459 posts

I regret not spending more time on Skye when we visited in October of 14. We had a blast at Ft. William and Glencoe with some great hikes in that area but Syke was over the top cool. Just something to consider, dont sell Skye short with time as the sites demand savorying! Not sure if you are a hiker but this site is great for hiking and provides a really easy to use vehicle for travel between hiking/tourist locations throughout the highlands. Oh and get a small car!!

Posted by
5677 posts

Jarradd, just curious, what would you subtract in order to add a day to Skye? That's the problem I always have when I look at itineraries like this. You can almost always do with more time at one or two places. But then you have to take a day away.


Posted by
3 posts

Hey Pam, thanks for your input!

I chose the places partially based on some googling about the best places to visit in the Scottish highlands, and partially on how the map of my travels worked out.

Here is my map:

I chose Perth because it seemed like a good stopover on the long haul from Glencoe back to Aberdeen, and sounded interesting to visit, but I don't have any real attachment to the city otherwise.

Newtonmore I indeed chose for the Folklife museum (though coincidentally I have watched a few episodes of Monarch of the Glen- it's a delight).

My biggest fear in planning my itinerary is that I'll give myself too much to do and see in too little time. I drove through France a few years back and (though admittedly the drive times were much longer) found that I spent more time in the car then I did exploring around. It was still a fantastic experience, but I really want to immerse myself this time around, and not just stare at the sights through the windshield. Would this context change your advice at all, Pam?

Posted by
3 posts

Jarrardd, I appreciate your insight on the fabulousness of the Isle of Skye- I totally agree!

I'll be honest- I'm not a natural born hiker by any means and I'm fairly convinced that I would get lost almost immediately. But that being said, I'm not at all opposed to the experience... Just trepidatious about the idea. I'll definitely be checking out your link!

I've given myself 2 full days and another half a day from the travel days. Do you think it would be worth it to give myself another? I would have the same question as Pam though- what would I take out?

Posted by
5677 posts

With that explanation, I would encourage you to think about these ideas.

Aberfeldy: This route takes your right up Loch Tay, which is beautiful. If you wanted to you can divert up Glen Lyon for a few miles, or get to Aberfeldy in time to check out the Crannog Centre. The Birks of Aberfeldy walk is quite nice and not difficult. It goes up, but you are following a river. Check it out here. Even non-hikers do this one. :) The onward journey to Aberdeen takes you through Dunkeld which a lovely little town.

  • Dunkeld: It the same route, you're just pushing on a bit further. There is a lovely pub, The Taybank, which often has live music. And if you are staying in Hostels it looks like there is one in Birnam, just over the rive. When I traveled with my parents a few years back, we stayed in Birnam and Mom and I walked over the bridge to the Taybank for the music and a whisky. It was an easy walk we didn't have to worry about drinking and driving.

This route takes you past Stonehaven and you might want to check out Dunnottar Castle. I've not gotten there yet, but many have visited and it has some wonderful history as well as a gorgeous location.

An alternate route would be to go north from the Dunkeld and through the Cairngorms. It's a beautiful drive and will take you past Balmoral. You certainly could tour a castle. There are plenty!