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Scotland Itinerary Help!

Hi all! I am planning a trip to Scotland with my husband for next July and wanted to see what everyone thought about this itinerary. We will be 26 and 27 next year and love to be outdoors, but want a nice mix of sight seeing as well. I feel pretty good about the first half of the trip, but am feeling conflicted about days 11-14. We had talked about embarking on the North Coast 500, but I've read that you need at least 5 days to do it without feeling rushed. If that's the case, is there anything that you would recommend cutting out in order to include it or is there something else that we should do or somewhere else that we should go for the remaining 4 days of our trip (we don't have to do the entire North Coast 500 if there are just specific places we should check out using Inverness as a home base possibly?)

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh morning/mid day
Day 2: Edinburgh
Day 3: Glasgow (continue through and stay in Oban)
Day 4: Oban
Day 5: Glencoe (continue through and stay in Fort William)
Day 6: Fort William (Hike Ben Nevis)
Day 7: Isle of Skye
Day 8: Isle of Skye
Day 9: Loch Ness on the way to Inverness
Day 10: Inverness and Culloden
Day 11: TBD
Day 12: TBD
Day 13: TBD
Day 14: TBD - Head back to Edinburgh for flights home the next day
Day 15: Flights home

Thanks for your help! :)

Posted by
767 posts

Between Inverness and Edinburgh you will pass through the Cairngorms National Park. I haven't been for many years, but I am sure it is just as wonderful from friend's reports.

Posted by
1306 posts

Hi, hopespangler96

If you haven't already solidified your accommodation arrangements, you should do the Fort William to Inverness route on day 7. I'd highly recommend driving along the east shore of Loch Ness, rather than the A82 tourist route. There are some good hikes on the eastern side, and several spots where you can get right down to the shore of the loch and dip your feet. Day 8 would be your Inverness and Culloden day.

Days nine and ten would be better for Skye, as you'd be backtracking using your original schedule. Unless, however, you had your hearts set on Glenfinnan and the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. In that case, go back to your original plan.

There are many day trips which you can take, using Inverness as a base. Given an early start, you could drive out to Plockton, then head north through Lochcarron, and take the Bealach-na-ba to Applecross. From Applecross, you can take the coast road to Shieldaig, then return to Inverness via Torridon, Kinlochewe, and Achnasheen. There is lots of good hiking in Glen Torridon.

Another possibility for a day trip would be Glen Affric. There is an eleven mile hiking trail through one of the most scenic glens in Scotland.

If you fancy a long day through part of the NC500, you could drive out to Ullapool, then drive onward to Lochinver via Loch Lurgainn and the "Wee Mad Road."

There are so many possibilities using Inverness as a base. Another one would be to drive south on the A9 to Aviemore, and visit the scenic part of the Cairngorm National Park. Also, some of the small towns and villages along the Moray coast are definitely worth a full day.

I apologize for overwhelming you with choices, but I can tell you from personal experience that Scotland is a spectacular country, and that any of these day trips would be highly enjoyable. As I've said before on this forum, trips to Scotland are like potato chips - you can't have just one!

Best wishes for you travel plans. Keep coming back to this forum if you have any specific questions.

Safe travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
3150 posts

Well, I'm no expert on Scotland since my first trip will take place next year, but I'm scheduling three weeks in Scotland - the first 2+ weeks will be spent on the Isles of Arran, Mull, Skye and Harris and Lewis, but then I'm planning to go to Inverness, stop at Culloden and Clava Cairns, and then will drive along the northeast coastline; Nairn to Banff, Peterhead, Cruden Bay and on down to Edinburgh.

I love the sea and fishing villages and thought it would make a nice change from the Highlands. But I'm sure there will be many ideas from others, all more experienced than mine. :)

Posted by
23990 posts

Glasgow's quite large; the population of the metropolitan area is over 1.6 million people. I'm not sure it's terribly practical to plan a brief stop there. Won't it take some time to find a place to park the car and then walk to whatever you want to see? ViaMichelin estimates the driving time for Edinburgh-Glasgow-Oban at about 3-1/2 hours without stopping, navigational problems or dealing with the parking issue. I do like Glasgow a lot, but this seems like rather a lot of churn for not much sightseeing time.

Two days on Skye seems rather short to me. According to, you'll have at least five hours of driving time (not allowing for any stops or navigational errors) as you move from Fort William to Skye (I used Portree) to Loch Ness and on to Inverness.

I'd be inclined to distribute the four extra days among the other destinations. Scottish weather, especially in the west, is very iffy. You can end up with days so rainy as to noticeably affect your enjoyment of outdoor activities. It's very helpful to a bit of breathing room at major stops.

Posted by
2805 posts

Mike is an experienced traveler in Scotland, so take his advice to heart. One suggestion I might make is to add an extra night to Skye since you enjoy hiking. There is also plenty to see there, in addition to hikes.

Posted by
5178 posts

I’m not certain how you’re getting around, but I’ll assume it’s by rental car. Loch Ness is much like many other lochs in the area. It doesn’t take long to drive it. Urquhart Castle overlooks the lake and is a popular stop even though it’s just a ruin. Fort August is nice to walk around for about 30 minutes to see the locks on the Caladonian Canal. As an FYI, there is free 30 minutes parking along the one side of the locks, so you don’t need to go to the pay lot. Also in the Inverness area is Fort George and the Clava Cairns. Both are near the Culloden battlefield. If you like castles, there’s Cawdor castle.

In the Glencoe area along the A82 there is some beautiful scenery; The meeting of three waters, Three sisters viewpoint, and Rannoch Moor Viewpoint (area where scenes from a Harry Potter [HP] movies and James Bond Skyfall were filmed). For the HP fans a scene from a HP movie was filmed across the street from the Clachaig Inn. Of course there is the Glenfinnan Viaduct near Fort William. If you like castle homes, there’s always Inveraray Castle.

You could also drop down into northern England and spend a couple days in the Lake District, then visit Hadrian’s wall on the way back up. If you like Abbey ruins, there are four in the borders area; Kelsey, Dryburgh, Jedburgh, and Melrose. If you like woolen mills, there’s Lochcarron in Selkirk. It’s a higher end store that sells scarves, change purses, and custom made attire. It does offer tours of the facility. For other possible ideas, I posted a bunch from our recent trip on my website.

Posted by
1502 posts

A lot of recommendations depend on how you are travelling.
Mike's suggestion of going up the east side of Loch Ness is a good one, it is also a lot quieter, and if you are staying in Inverness you can go down to Urquhart Castle if necessary. I would add a couple of more nights to Inverness. From Inverness you can get up to the Black Isle which is the peninsular just above Inverness which before the bridges was isolated. Also some of the towns of the area like Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornock, or places like Dunrobin Castle seat of the earls of Sutherland.

Posted by
2 posts

We will be getting a rental car! I appreciate everyone's input so much. We worked on this some more last night and made some edits. Staying in Edinburgh an extra day, adding an extra day to Fort William in case day 7 doesn't work out for the hike (planning to do some smaller hikes around Glencoe). We thought Skye to Edinburgh would be a long haul back on our last day, so we left Skye before Inverness. Added plans to visit the east side of Loch Ness, though! I also was giving us one more extra day than what we had...whoops :)

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh
Day 2: Edinburgh
Day 3: Edinburgh
Day 4: Glasgow (staying in Oban)
Day 5: Oban
Day 6: Glencoe (staying in Fort William)
Day 7: Fort William (Ben Nevis hike)
Day 8: Extra day in Fort William for hike in case of bad weather
Day 9: Isle of Skye
Day 10: Isle of Skye
Day 11: Inverness
Day 12: Inverness
Day 13: Cairngorms national park on way back to Edinburgh
Day 14: Flight home

We're looking to stay at BnBs for the most part, but would love to stay in a castle in Edinburgh on our last night. Is there one that's somewhat convenient to the airport that you would recommend?