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App for planning distances and travel times in scotland

Hi, I’m trying to plan a weeks vacation in Scotland for 4 adults. It’s looking like we will have to drive ourselves. Is there an easy to use app that we can use while in the US, to plan our driving trip in Scotland? Both for specific directions to each place, with times required on Scotland roads etc ?

Thank you all for any help and guidance you can share !


Posted by
9325 posts

I like ViaMichelin. It's not specific to Scotland, but I find it more realistic than other estimates.

Posted by
1434 posts

First, determine what destinations would satisfy the group. If there are two generations there may be diverse interests. If there are younger folks that may enjoy hiking; not that the older folks don't, but they may enjoy lingering at a pub for a pint. By the way DUI laws are strict in Scotland so have a designated driver if you are going to a lot of Whisky Tastings. If you are looking for Clan, study up ahead of time, this can lead you to Clan Castles. If you are History buffs: there are a lot of "Outlander" day tours. We followed the Campbell Clan History, Good & Bad! Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots has a history trail you can follow. But back to distances: Try to do loops, so you don't have to backtrack. The jagged coastline means a lot of zigzags. A week doesn't allow for too many out of the way places. Allow at least 2 Days for Edinburgh. Check Rick's itinerary for other best choices. Once you figure out where you are going: study Google Earth for suggested routes and times. Just remember to stop and smell the Heather. Time of year does make a difference. Scotland is at the same Latitude as Canada.

Posted by
3844 posts

I would compare a couple of sources, but have found Google Maps to be good for plotting routes (always look them over carefully before heading off) and you have the ability to use it offline for verbal directions if you won’t be using data, as long as you prepare when you have WiFi. However it tends to be optimistic about times.

Posted by
4661 posts

We've always used Google Maps for route planning, both in North America and Europe, in addition to the car GPS. The ability to use it offline makes it even more handy. But I agree that the times it gives are usually very optimistic. We usually add an extra 25%. Doing forget to add extra time for gas and bathroom stops and to find parkng.

Posted by
795 posts

I started out using Via Michelin but have changed over to Google Maps because I found it easier to use and more informative although, as has been said above, the driving times are a bit optimistic. They are getting better but you still should add a few percent.

You will want have GPS and back it up with some good paper maps. GPS is very good at telling you where you are down to the foot but lousy at showing where you are on the grand scale, the screens are simply too small. I use my Garmin with a European map card for a couple of reasons; 1) I already know how to use it and I can pre-load destinations in it in the comfort of my living room , 2) Rental car prices for GPS are one step short of highway robbery.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all for the great tips and hints. I will have to practice more with google maps. I’m “of an age” where computers and apps are a new language for me. I just want to get planning, before we arrive. Thank you again !

Posted by
546 posts

Not only do I use Goggle Maps to chart my routes, but I often "drive" the route in Street View for the exact way to find ferry parking areas, specific B&Bs, etc. It's amazing to be able to recognize the turns you saw in Street View when you do the real thing.

As an example, when arriving in Rossaveal for the ferry to Kilronan, there are several "park here" signs that leave you with a high price and long walk, while the official lot is inexpensive and across the street from the terminal. Knowing that in advance is relaxing.

I actually find the estimated times to be pretty good, but you have to be crazy enough to drive at the posted speed limit. The occasional herd of sheep or farm tractor is always unpredictable, so leave some slop in the times if you're on a deadline. I never plan a fixed time event at the end of a long drive. For example, trying to get the last Gills Bay ferry in the afternoon that you leave Portree is too risky (for me) unless you skip all the nice stops.

Posted by
6191 posts

I use google maps for route planning and another website to get distances between cities and towns ( The type road (interstate, rural) will give me an idea of how long it will take to drive. I always have a GPS as well as Google maps downloaded for offline use. I save places (sights, parking, hotels, etc.) on Google maps so the smaller places I want to visit are easy to find, and also for sights not in my GPS. Put the phone in airplane mode and it’s a GPS unit. No data or international plan needed. I too use street view to get an idea of what things look like from the ground.

Posted by
3111 posts

Others have recommended buying the Ordinance Survey maps available at petrol stations and convenience stores. I'm sure they are very helpful, especially if you need to find places that are not major landmarks or located on back roads. We did fine with Google Maps researched at home. I printed out maps for specific locations like the hotels we'd reserved. Then, of course, we could always call the hotel when we were within half a mile or so and get pointers on what signs & landmarks to look for.

As you probably know, you can get GPS in a rental car -- but if you're not familiar with how they work (as we weren't), it may not be much help. For example, one of the places we needed to go had a postal code of just two characters. The GPS would not accept it, and when I tried adding a dummy character like zero or 1 it wouldn't take that either. We would have been happy with a general map of the overall area, but there didn't seem to be away to request that. Another time, we wanted turn-by-turn directions to get through and out of a town, but the GPS kept sending us around in circles.

You may ask why we rented a car with GPS if we didn't feel comfortable using it. The answer is that the particular car we got came with GPS; we didn't ask for it. (We're probably the only American family that doesn't use GPS in our own cars, but that is our choice!)

Posted by
5678 posts

The hard thing about this is that whatever app or program you use can’t really understand how often you will stop for pictures! My experience has been that I should add 25% more time to any journey whether using Google or Via Michelin. Particularly i the north I would constantly feel the need to pull over, take pictures or just enjoy and soak in the scenery. 😎