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The Ultimate 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

10 day scotland itinerary

The ultimate 10 day Scotland itinerary- created by a local.

Are you planning a 10 day trip to Scotland? Or perhaps you’ve already arrived and you’re looking for ideas of what you can do here. Bonnie Scotland may be on the small side, but there is plenty to see and do.

It was always my dream to move to Scotland and I am proud to call West Lothian home. I’ve managed to explore almost every corner of this incredible country since moving here; I have travelled around Scotland by car, train, bus, ferry and on foot. In 2018, I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail where I discovered many hidden gems.

I’ve designed what I believe to be the best 10 day Scotland itinerary. This itinerary contains a little bit of everything; you will visit many different cities, towns, and villages. If you enjoy slow travel, I recommend completing this itinerary over two weeks, adding in nights in the spots that intrigue you the most.

I don’t expect you to get through everything in this 10 day Scotland itinerary, however, I thought it best to include as much information as possible so you can decide what is best for you.

In this itinerary, you will find the top attractions for each area, with bonus recommendations to visit if you have the time (or want to swap something out from the main attractions). I’ve also included my personal off-the-beaten-track recommendations if you want to see something a little different. There are plenty of budget and family-friendly activities too.

While you can complete this itinerary using public transport and taxis, I also recommend hiring a car to complete this itinerary; you will see a lot more of Scotland this way. It will be cheaper too.

I’ve also made recommendations and tips on booking accommodation, restaurant and pub recommendations, hiring a car, and driving in Scotland.

SCOTLAND RESOURCES

On a budget? Grab my Scotland Bucket List Planner

Organising a big trip? Grab my Ultimate Scotland Planner

Want to tick off all the must-sees? Grab my Must-See Scotland Essential Travel Planners

Have a question about travelling around Scotland? Join my Facebook groups Scotland Travel Tips and Scotland Travel Tips for Locals

Love podcasts? Listen to my Scotland podcast Life in Scotland

Discover Scotland’s hidden gems: Visit my Scotland website Secrets of Scotland for inspiration

view from atlas obscura of edinburgh scotland
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland

Table of Contents

What can you see with 10 days in Scotland?

If you’re planning your Scotland itinerary, 10 days should be enough time to see all the main attractions. Scotland is a relatively small country (it has a population of 5.4 million) and it takes just under 7 hours to drive from the bottom to the very top!

In my ultimate 10 day Scotland itinerary you will see ancient castles, cathedral and abbey ruins, highland coos, and medieval buildings. You will wander down cobblestone streets to the sound of bagpipers busking on the streets, and polish off a day of exploring with a hearty traditional meal washed down with a dram of whisky. You’ll see the Scottish coast, visit a Scottish island, and lose yourself in the Scottish Highlands.  

Basically, you will experience everything you should experience when visiting Scotland in 10 days- plus some wonderful off-beat options!

What you need to know before you go:

Car hire for a 10 day Scotland road trip

In order to see and experience Scotland off the beaten track, you will need to hire a car. Scotland does have a great public transport system, however, to experience the very best of Scotland [and to complete this itinerary] I highly recommend hiring a car.

Renting a car isn’t as cheap as it is in the United States, but it ultimately will save you time and money if you’re planning on spending some time here.

So what is the best option for car rental in Scotland?

Auto Europe is a car rental agency I recommend for many reasons. Firstly, they compare prices from different rental agencies so you can find the vehicle you are looking for for the best price [they operate similarly to Skyscanner, but for car hire]. They also have great deals on car insurance. For Scotland, you will need to search under ‘Great Britain‘, and then you can choose the Scottish city you’d like to pick up from.

For navigation, I rely on Google Maps which I use on my phone. My husband [who is Scottish] also swears by Waze. This app also reports traffic incidents and updates to the quickest route possible live. You can also hire navigation for extra through Auto Europe too.

Another popular way of travelling Scotland is by hiring a campervan. For campervan hire in Edinburgh I recommend Goboony, where you can hire a camper from a local, which will save you money.

If you like your luxury, I recommend hiring a motorhome to tour Scotland. For motorhome hire in Scotland, I recommend Just go in Edinburgh (full disclosure- I work for Just go, but our motorhomes really are great!).

Before you visit Scotland I recommend purchasing these Scotland maps: Northern Scotland, Western Scotland + Southern Scotland. You can use them to plot your road trip around Scotland!

You’ll drive on average for 3 hours per day on this 10 day Scotland road trip itinerary.

driving the north coast 500 in scotland
Hiring a car in Scotland allows you to get off the beaten track- you may even run into some wildlife while doing so!

5 tips for driving in Scotland

A comment I hear often from my readers is that they are worried about driving in Scotland. It’s true that the roads are narrower here, but you do get used to it. Here are some handy tips for driving in Scotland:

1. In Scotland, we drive on the left-hand side of the road.

2. The roads can be narrow in places, and in places such as the Isle of Skye it is not uncommon to see many single-lane roads. Always drive keeping in mind there may be someone in your path around each blind turn.

3. The speed limit isn’t always obvious in Scotland, but on motorways and dual carriageways it’s 70 mph (112 km/h), single carriageways are 60 mph (96 km/h) and generally 30 mph (48 km/h) in areas with street lighting, unless otherwise specified. For motorhomes, cars towing caravans or trailers and lorries on motorways or dual carriageways, the speed limit is 60 mph (96 km/h).

4. Scotland has a LOT of roundabouts. Always give way to vehicles from your right, and turn left on entering the roundabout.

5. Fill your vehicle up with fuel at ASDA when you can- they usually have the best fuel prices. You can compare fuel prices here.

For more information about driving in Scotland, Visit Scotland has a good guide.

Booking accommodation in Scotland: A Quick guide

Working as a travel blogger and being an ex-travel agent, I know the best way to book reliable accommodation at the best rates. I’m going to share with you the exact process I use when I book accommodation in Scotland.

Types of accommodation in Scotland

Bed and Breakfast: Scotland has a fantastic array of bed and breakfasts. I highly recommend spending at least one night in a bed and breakfast to enjoy real Scottish hospitality!

Hotels: There are plenty of hotel options in the Scottish cities. B&B’s tend to be more common in the smaller towns and villages.

Hostels: Scotland has a fabulous network of hostels throughout- with many being located in very remote areas! These are my favourite hostels in Scotland.

Glamping and camping: Recently Scotland has upped her game when it comes to glamping and eco-friendly accommodation. There are also many campsites, and for the outdoor lovers spending a night in a bothy is a great experience.

Finding the best deals on accommodation in Scotland

For hotels, I compare prices on Booking.com and Expedia. Beware using other booking engines- sometimes they may have cheaper prices, but that doesn’t mean they have great customer service if something goes wrong! Always book with a reputable third-party accommodation provider.

For hostels I book using Hostelworld, and I only book hostels with a rating of 8 or higher, if possible.

I also recommend checking prices directly with your chosen hotel, hostel or bed and breakfast. Sometimes booking directly may save you money.

>> Read more: Common questions about visiting Scotland answered

The best of Scotland itinerary 10 days map + Summary

Day 1: Edinburgh

Day 2: Scottish Borders

Day 3: Glasgow

Day 4: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs & Glencoe

Day 5: Isle of Skye

Day 6: Isle of Skye

Day 7: Inverness

Day 8: Pitlochry & Cairngorms National Park

Day 9: St Andrews

Day 10: Stirling, Falkirk & Linlithgow

Day 1: Edinburgh

view of edinburgh from calton hill at sunset
Edinburgh at sunset

You’ll need a full day to experience the thriving capital of Scotland. You’ll want to rise early to make the most of your time here- there is plenty to see and do!

Things to do in Edinburgh

Explore the Royal Mile

Begin your day in the historic heart of Edinburgh. The Royal Mile is located in Edinburgh’s Old Town– the oldest part of the city which dates back to the 12th century. The Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace.

Take in the medieval architecture, explore the hidden passageways (closes) and listen to the bagpipers play along this iconic street.

Fun fact: A Scots mile is actually longer than a traditional mile! The Royal Mile measures 1.81 kilometres, but this measurement system hasn’t been used since the eighteenth century.

Suggested time: 2-3 hours

Edinburgh Castle

A visit to Edinburgh isn’t complete without exploring Scotland’s most famous castle! Located at the top of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny (on which Scotland’s first kings were crowned). It was also where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future James VI of Scotland and I of England. Make sure you buy your tickets online in advance to skip the queue.

Want a quieter castle option? Craigmillar Castle has an incredible history and is a very romantic castle ruin. If you’re spending longer in Edinburgh, I highly recommend visiting.

If you plan on spending more time here, check out my comprehensive list of things to do in Edinburgh.

Suggested time: 2-3 hours

Grassmarket and Victoria Street

The Grassmarket was where the city’s marketplaces were held. Cattle and horses were sold in this area (which is quite hard to believe today!). It was also the site of a bombing during WWI in 1916, and where over 100 public executions were held.

Despite its dark history, the Grassmarket is a great place to grab some lunch or have a drink.

Be sure to wander up the iconic Victoria Street, which is rumoured to be the inspiration behind Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter fan or no’, the street still makes for an Instagram worthy snap! Be sure to take a photo from the lower end of the street, looking up, and also from the balcony, looking down the street.

Local tip: For a great view of Edinburgh Castle, walk to the top of the Vennel Steps, located at the southern end of the Grassmarket.

Suggested time: 1 – 1.5 hours

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Another famous Harry Potter spot is Greyfriars Kirkyard – a graveyard where J.K. Rowling sought inspiration for her character’s names. Visit the real Tom Riddle’s grave, or just enjoy the fascinating architecture of a Scottish graveyard. Just don’t visit at night- it’s reportedly haunted! Plus it’s usually locked.

Located a short walk from the Kirkyard on George IV Street is The Elephant House, a restaurant where J.K. Rowling wrote parts of the Harry Potter series. Sadly, a fire damaged the building in 2021.

Suggested time: 45 minutes

New Town for drinks

During the evening head into New Town for cocktails or a dram of whisky. Rose Street has a great selection of bars and nightclubs. I recommend The Black Cat for whisky lovers and Panda and Sons for cocktails. The Picture House (a Wetherspoons brand) has excellently priced pub food and drinks if you’re travelling on a budget.

I’ve included all my pub and restaurant recommendations further along in this article.

Suggested time: 2+ hours

Bonus activities

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

At the lower end of the Royal Mile sits the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This palace is often overlooked in favour of Edinburgh Castle, but it is honestly worth a visit.

The palace was the primary residence of Mary Queen of Scots, and the site where her private secretary was murdered by her husband, Lord Darnley (you can read more about this crazy tale here). The palace is still very much in use- the Queen stays here for one week in June every year. Her niece, Zara Tindall (nee Phillips) was married here! Don’t forget to purchase your skip-the-line ticket in advance online.

Suggested time: 2-3 hours

Dean Village

This leafy and tranquil canal-side village is quite the contrast to the bustling city centre which is located a short 20 minute walk away. The pleasant mixture of colourful flats and 19th-century brick buildings on either side of the Water of Leith canal make for a fantastic opportunity for an Instagram pic- or just simply enjoy the serenity.

Suggested time: 2 hours

dean village in edinburgh
Dean Village, Edinburgh

Cramond Island

Fancy walking to an island? Cramond Island in Edinburgh is a tidal island you can walk to at low tide.

Suggested time: Half a day

Haunted Tour

Mercat has an awesome underground vaults tour. I did this tour at night on Halloween, and while I didn’t see any ghosts, the tour was definitely spooky! The history of the underground vaults is haunting, but interesting too. The only way you can visit the underground vaults is through this tour- so I highly recommend you book it.

You can even do this tour with whisky (which helps!)

Suggested time: 1 hour

Recommended accommodation in Edinburgh

  • Balmoral Castle – If you’re wanting an amazing experience while staying in Edinburgh, look no further than the Balmoral Hotel. This luxury hotel is where J.K. Rowling wrote the final Harry Potter novel in the series.
  • Apex Grassmarket – This hotel is located in the centre of Old Town and has won many awards.
  • The Dunstane Houses – If you’re looking for traditional Scottish accommodation with a side of luxury, I recommend staying here.
  • Ibis Edinburgh Royal Mile – If you want to stay at a hotel but you’re on a budget, I recommend the Ibis Edinburgh on the Royal Mile. It’s affordable and central to all the main attractions.
  • JustB City Retreat – Located on the edge of Edinburgh, JustB is hands-down the best bed and breakfast I’ve stayed in! There is a bus stop outside to take you to the city centre, and the Pentland Hills are located a short distance away if you want to go hiking.
  • Castle Rock Hostel – This hostel is one of the highest rated hostels in Scotland. I lived at Castle Rock when I first moved to Edinburgh, and it’s really great! It’s perfectly located across from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.

Pubs and Restaurants in Edinburgh

  • Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith and Corstorphine – Mimi’s is a wonderful bakery selling cakes and plenty of other sweet treats. Their award-winning afternoon tea is served every day at 11am. Mimi’s also won Scottish Bakery Cafe of the Year in 2019.
  • The Witchery by the Castle – This award-winning restaurant is like stepping back into Scotland in the 18th century. They have a wonderful afternoon tea, however, you need to also try lunch or dinner as their food is exquisite. It’s worth the hefty price tag.
  • Hula on Victoria Street – A healthy and delicious juice bar with plenty of vegan and vegetarian lunch options. Their rainbow bowls are heaven!
  • Harmonium in New Town – Harmonium is one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Edinburgh for lunch or dinner. They serve delicious stone baked pizza, burgers, sweet treats, and more. They also have a bar with vegan tipples.
  • The Bow Bar on Victoria Street – This traditional Scottish pub is tiny, yet boasts one of the largest whisky collections in Edinburgh. It’s a bucket list destination in Edinburgh to have a dram.
  • The Hanging Bat in Newtown- This pub has a dark, romantic vibe. In fact, I once went on a date here! I actually enjoyed this pub more than that date…
  • The Black Cat on Rose Street – The Black Cat is one of my favourite whisky bars in New Town. They occasionally have live traditional music.
  • Stramash in the Cowgate – Stramash is a large pub/nightclub and live music venue that is popular with tourists and locals. During the day you’ll find a venue to watch sport on the big screen, and at night it turns into party central! They occasionally hold a ceilidh to a live band, which is a lot of fun.
  • Bourbon in New Town – Bourbon is a fun nightclub that plays R&B, pop, and rap hits. It’s a great club to head to if you’re in your twenties and you want to go dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

EDINBURGH BUDGET TIP
If you’re saving your pennies, the Cowgate area in Old Town has a selection of cheap pubs and nightclubs. I recommend The Globe Bar, Sneaky Pete’s and Stramash to grab some cheap drinks. The Three Sisters is a lively sports bar that is usually thriving that also plays your classic dance tunes.

Day 2: Scottish Borders

River Tweed, Scottish Borders

Rise early to explore the area that has some of the richest history in Scotland: the Scottish Borders. You will explore the four abbeys in the area and spend the night in either Melrose or the charming village of Peebles.

Things to do in the Scottish Borders

Kelso Abbey

You will first drive to Kelso Abbey, which was founded in the 12th century by a community of Tironensian monks. Prince Henry of Scotland (1114–1152) is buried here, as well as several of the Dukes of Roxburghe.

Kelso is also a very pretty town, being the subject for many artists since the late 17th century!

Suggested time: 45 mins

kelso abbey in kelso scotland
Kelso Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey is a ruined Augustinian abbey. It took over 70 years to build during the 12 century! It is known for its unusual mix of Romanesque and early Gothic architecture.

The town of Jedburgh was home to the Earl of Bothwell, Mary Queen of Scots’ third husband, who was accused of raping Queen Mary, therefore, forcing her hand.

Located in Jedburgh is also the Mary Queen of Scots House, which is now a museum. It is believed she stayed here when she fell gravely ill after riding 30 miles to Hermitage and back in one day to visit the Earl after he was seriously wounded.

Suggested time: 1-1.5 hours

Jedburgh Abbey

Dryburgh Abbey

Dryburgh Abbey is one of the most romantic places in Scotland. It has some of the best Gothic church architecture in Scotland. It is most famously known for being the burial place for Sir Walter Scott. There is a large tomb within the ruin of the abbey where this famous Scottish writer is buried alongside his family. The pretty River Tweed is located near the site of the abbey and wraps around the Scottish Borders like a bow.

Suggested time: 1-2 hours

Dryburgh Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Founded in 1136, Melrose Abbey is the most spectacular of the four abbeys and is the burial place for several notable Scottish figures. Alexander II of Scotland is buried here, and so is King Robert the Bruce’s heart! His body is buried at Dunfermline Abbey, however, he requested his heart be buried at Melrose Abbey.

I recommend having lunch here at either the Ship Inn for cheap pub food or the George & Abbotsford Restaurant if you want to eat somewhere a bit nicer.

Suggested time: 1-2 hours

melrose abbey
Melrose Abbey

Bonus Attractions

Peebles Kirk

The Peebles Kirk is quite magnificent- and a highly underrated attraction! It is thought to be the burial place of St Nicholas after a stone urn was discovered with his supposed remains. The site was associated with miracles, and Alexander III built the church on the site in the 1200s.

Peebles Kirk is beautiful in late April, early May when the large cherry blossom trees that tower over it are in flower.

Suggested time: 30 mins

Recommended accommodation in the Scottish Borders

  • The Cross Keys Wetherspoon in Peebles – The Cross Keys is a comfortable, affordable hotel with a bar, restaurant and a garden.
  • Macdonald Cardrona Hotel.in Peebles – The Cardrona is a luxury hotel located next to a golf course. It also has a spa, so it’s a wonderful hotel for golf enthusiasts!
  • Tweed View in Peebles – Tweed View is a great wee bed and breakfast.
  • Burt’s Hotel in Melrose – This hotel is a traditional three-star located in the heart of Melrose.
  • The Barn at the Coach House – The Barn is a highly rated bed and breakfast (9.8 stars on Booking) located a short distance from Melrose, in the countryside. The tariff also includes a home cooked breakfast!

Pubs and Restaurants in The Scottish Borders

  • The Hoot n’ Cat in Kelso. This cafe is located next to the car park by Kelso Abbey; they have excellent coffee and a great selection of baking and sweet treats.
  • Burts Hotel Restaurant in Melrose. Burts Hotel also has a popular restaurant with a bar that serves traditional Scottish food.
  • The Townhouse in Melrose. Another highly-rated, traditional Scottish restaurant. Located in the centre of the town. They have gluten-free options and options for vegans and vegetarians.
  • The Crowne Hotel Restaurant in Peebles. This restaurant and bar is rated #1 on TripAdvisor and it’s because the food is amazing! A great place to stop for lunch or dinner with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
  • Osso in Peebles. A Michelin guide restaurant, Osso is a contemporary cafe where you can get anything from an expresso to a six-course meal. They do breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner and have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options.

Day 3: Glasgow

Looking out to Glasgow Cathegral

While Edinburgh may be known for its pretty gothic architecture, Glasgow is known for its slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’.

If you’re going to spend a night out anywhere in Scotland- it’s in Glasgow! This lively city has an abundance of bars and pubs, cheap places to eat, and vibrant nightlife.

Today you can have a wee lie in before you make your way to Glasgow. I recommend getting your shopping fix in the city centre and then donning your finest outfit and heading out for cocktails [or whisky- it’s up to you!]

Or if shopping isn’t your thing, there are a range of other interesting things to do.

Things to do in Glasgow

Visit Glasgow University

Glasgow University is assumed by many to be the inspiration for Hogwarts from Harry Potter. It is a truly spectacular building- make sure you visit the cloisters located inside the main building. Glasgow University also offers some spectacular views across the city.

Suggested time: 1 – 1.5 hours

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Located next to Glasgow University is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum– which is free to enter! Explore the 22 galleries which feature everything from art to Ancient Egypt. They also have changing exhibitions and displays- so there is bound to be something new to see every visit.

Suggested time: 2-3 hours

kelvingrove art gallery and museum
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Admire the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail

Glasgow is home to an array of beautiful street art, sprinkled across the city. I recommend walking the Glasgow Mural Trail to collect some great snaps for Instagram. Be sure to check out the Billy Connolly murals, which were created to mark the 75th birthday of the much-loved Glaswegian comedian.

Suggested time: You can spend a couple of hours on the Mural Trail up to a couple of days; don’t expect to see it all in one day, just pick out a few murals that appeal to you and visit those. One of the most famurs murals is the one of St Mungo, near Glasgow Cathedal.

glasgow mural trail st mungo
Mural art of St Mungo on the Glasgow Mural Trail

Glasgow Cathedral & the Necropolis

Glasgow Cathedral (also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow) was built in the 1100s on the site of where St Mungo was supposedly buried in AD 612. It’s the oldest cathedral in Scotland and the only cathedral on the Scottish mainland to survive the Reformation of 1560!

Explore the crypt which was built to house tomb of St Mungo, and admire the Blackadder Aisle, a ceiling which is studded with brightly painted carved stone bosses.

The Necropolis is a stunning Victorian graveyard located behind Glasgow Cathedral. Over 50,000 people are buried here, and the highest point of the cemetery offers fantastic views of Glasgow!

Suggested time: 45 minutes

Recommended accommodation in Glasgow

  • Ibis Styles. I’ve stayed here before and this hotel ticks all the boxes- central, clean, comfortable- the perfect place to base yourself in the city!
  • Native Glasgow. A lovely apartment hotel that is close to the train station and George Square.
  • Argyll Guest House. A great wee bed and breakfast in an excellent, central location.

Pubs and Restaurants in Glasgow

  • Revolution on Mitchell Street. This is the go-to bar for cocktails! This is one of my favourite classy bars in Scotland.
  • Ubiquitous Chip in Ashton Lane. Go to this restaurant if you want to treat yourself- it’s a Michelin-starred and the perfect restaurant for a romantic meal with your partner.
  • Six by Nico on Argyle Street.
  • Paesano Pizza on Miller Street. One of the most loved pizza restaurants in Glasgow, Paesano is a Glasweigian staple.
  • Cranberrys on Wilson Street. A great wee coffee shop that also do sandwiches, and delicious cakes and slices!

Day 4: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park & Glen Coe

Marvelling at The Three Sisters

On day four of my 10 day Scotland itinerary, you will begin your adventure into the Scottish Highlands!

You will depart Glasgow in the morning and drive through Scotland’s first national park: the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, which shows off some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. Today will be a leisurely drive- there are many lay-bys and car parks you can pull into on your way to Glencoe to take photos and admire the rugged mountains and vast lochs!

The road through to the village of Glencoe takes you through the heart of an ancient volcano.

Glen Coe has been used as a filming location for many films, including James Bond’s Skyfall and the Harry Potter movies.

You can easily fit in all the recommendation stops on this itinerary in one day.

Things to do in The Trossachs National Park + Glencoe

Loch Lomond

You will drive alongside Loch Lomond for 25 miles- and there will be lots to see out the window! If you want to stop and stretch your legs, I recommend stopping in at the village of Luss. The cottages in this village are super cute and picturesque, and there are some fun gift shops selling products made by Scottish creators.

Suggested time: I recommend spending an hour exploring the village of Luss

Stop at The Drovers Inn [for lunch]

The Drover’s Inn is one of the best pubs in Scotland and also serves hearty Scottish meals. Walking through the door of the stone building is like walking into another century; the inn was opened in 1705 as a cattle drovers lodging and the interior is basically unchanged. It’s got everything you’d picture a traditional Scottish inn should have: tartan carpeting, antique furnishings, traditional live music- even an impressive taxidermy collection of animals from Scotland’s past and present.

Legend has it that Rob Roy MacGregor used to drink here!

Suggested time: 1 – 1.5 hours

Admire the Falls of Falloch

Located just 2.2 miles from The Drover’s Inn are the Falls of Falloch, a spectacular 30 ft waterfall well worth the short walk.

Suggested time: 45 minutes

Snap a photo of the ‘Wee White Hoose’ [aka the Glencoe house]

One of the most iconic images of Glencoe is the ‘Wee White House‘ that is nestled right in front of one of Scotland’s most impressive mountains: Buachaille Etive Mor. There is a car park on the A82 you can park your car in [search for ‘parking for Buachaille Etive Mor‘ on Google maps], to wander down to take a snap. Just be cautious of oncoming traffic as this is a popular spot for tourists to stop!

Suggested time: 30 minutes

Admire the Three Sisters

Not far from the Wee White House the road bends and The Three Sisters will appear. You won’t miss these three dramatic mountains- one of the most beautiful sights in Scotland. There is a car park you can pull into to stop and admire them. Be warned, this is a very popular location and the car park does get busy.

Suggested time: 30 minutes

Other activities you can do in Glencoe

Glen Coe is located in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, which is known as the Outdoors Capital of Scotland! There are plenty of outdoor activities to satisfy the adventurer, and here are a few of my favourites:

  • Hike the Pap of Glencoe or to the Lost Valley
  • Ski, snowboard or go mountain biking at the Glencoe Mountain resort
  • Hire a sea kayak on Loch Leven
  • Via Ferrata in Kinlochleven

Off the beaten track option: Killin

If you wanted to go somewhere a little quieter than Glencoe [it can get very busy with tourists] I recommend staying in Killin. There are plenty of hiking opportunities in the area, including Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve where you can hike one of Scotland’s highest Munros, Ben Lawers.

For accommodation, I recommend staying at the Killin Woodland Lodges. They do have a 2-night minimum stay, so you will have to alter this itinerary slightly if you plan on staying here. I spent a few nights here and it was the perfect nature escape.

Recommended accommodation in Glen Coe

  • The Ballachulish Hotel. The Haggis and I stayed here for my 30th birthday- it’s one of the more affordable options for accommodation in Glencoe and I loved the traditional decor. There is a restaurant with a pub onsite. I recommend upgrading to a room with a view of the loch.
  • Isles of Glencoe Hotel. This hotel is located next to Loch Leven, and is a short drive from the village of Glencoe. They also have swimming pools and a spa.
  • RiverBeds Lodges (with hot tubs) Perfect for couples, there is nothing quite like relaxing in a hot tub surrounded by nature after a busy day exploring! Definitely a luxury experience.
  • The Boathouse. An amazing holiday home- perfect for a family or a group of friends.
  • Ardno House B&B. A lovely, traditional bed and breakfast surrounded by nature.
  • Glencoe Youth Hostel. If you’re on a budget, this hostel is a great choice. It’s perfect for friends, solo travellers or families. Don’t worry- it’s not a party hostel!

Pubs and Restaurants in Glencoe

  • Clachan Inn
  • The Ballachulish Hotel
  • Kingshouse Hotel Restaurant
  • Glencoe Cafe
  • The Laroch Restaurant and Bar
  • Lochleven Seafood Cafe

Day 5: Isle of Skye

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Today you will depart Glencoe and drive to the magical Isle of Skye– one of Scotland’s most magnificent islands known for its otherworldly rugged landscapes, delicious seafood and cute fishing villages.

The drive itself takes you through Lochalsh, home of the Five Sisters of Kintail, before you drive over the bridge to the Isle of Skye (that’s right- there’s a bridge so there’s no need to catch a boat across!). You’ll spend two nights in the main town of Portree, a great base for exploring the island, features harbourside pubs and boutique shops.

On your journey to Scotland’s largest island, you’ll discover two ancient castles. When you arrive on the island, you’ll make your way around the east coast of the island to discover its natural beauty.

You will spend two days on the Isle of Skye (the absolute minimal amount of time I recommend) but you are welcome to spend longer here if you want to see everything. I’ve written a comprehensive 2-day Isle of Skye itinerary that I recommend you check out.

Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye

Things to do on the way to the Isle of Skye

Spot some Heilan’ Coos

Highland cows or ‘heilan coos’ are a Scottish cattle breed known for their long horns and shaggy ginger coats. I’ve been to Invergarry during the summer, autumn and winter and I always spot this herd in the paddock next to the bridge on the A82 as you drive into Invergarry. It’s well worth a quick photo stop! There is a car park at a hotel which is close to the paddock as you enter the village.

Suggested time: 30 minutes

Invergarry Castle

You’ll take a slight detour to visit Invergarry Castle next, my favourite castle ruin which was once the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry.

Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the castle and is said to have rested there after his defeat at Culloden in 1746. The castle was burned shortly after Culloden by English troops, however, the walls of the castle refused to yield and have survived to this very day!

Invergarry Castle cannot be entered (it’s fenced off) but you can get close enough to look inside the ruin. It is especially beautiful in the spring when the flower bushes are in bloom.

Suggested time: 30 minutes

Eilean Donan Castle

Just before you cross the bridge into Skye, make sure you visit Scotland’s most photographed castle. Seat to the MacRae clan, Eilean Donan Castle is often referred to as the most romantic castle in Scotland- with good reason. It is situated on an island at the point where three sea lochs meet and surrounded by a backdrop of mountains. It has appeared in many films, including Highlander and the James Bond film The World is Not Enough.

Eilean Donan Castle was first inhabited around the 6th century, and the first fortified castle was built in the mid-1200s. The castle was rebuilt many times over the course of Scotland’s bloody history. King Robert the Bruce is also rumoured to have sought refuge here while being hunted by the English.

There is a visitors centre and ample parking available next to the castle.

Suggested time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours if you pay to go inside the castle, or you can admire it from the car park.

Things to do on the Isle of Skye

You won’t have time to complete both of the hikes I recommend below, however, you can see both of these locations from your car, so you could easily visit them both in the evening. If you’d like to complete one or both of the hikes, you can do them on your second day on Skye.

Old Man of Storr

This iconic landmark is closely located north of Portree. You can view the Old Man of Storr from the roadside, or there is a popular hike to the landmark you can do if you have time. For the adventurous looking for a challenge, there is a hike to the summit of the Old Man of Storr. Be mindful of loose rocks and rockfalls- you will need good quality hiking boots to attempt these hikes. Allow 1.5 – 5 hours for each of these hikes. The Old Man of Storr can also be seen from The Lump in Portree if you look carefully.

Suggested time: 2-5 hours if you plan on hiking, but you can also see it from the roadside.

The Quiraing

The Quiraing is my favourite location on the Isle of Skye. There is a small car park where you can park your car. Be sure to arrive early, as it fills up quickly.

You can hike the hill circuit to get the best views; you don’t have to do the whole thing, but make sure you walk to The Prison and The Needle, two impressive rock formations. This location is also the perfect place to watch the sunrise, so you may want to delay visiting until the following day.

Just like the Old Man of Storr, be mindful of rockfalls and loose rocks in this area.

Suggested time: 3-4 hours if hiking the hill circuit; 2 hours if you plan on walking to The Needle.

Hiking The Quiraing at sunrise

SCOTLAND TRAVEL TIP
One thing to be aware of is that many of the roads in the Isle of Skye are single track. During the summer months, Skye can get very busy, so it is worth rising early to avoid peak traffic times or travel in the shoulder-season. When I visited in November, I barely saw one tourist on the road!

Recommended accommodation in the Isle of Skye

Day 6: Isle of Skye

Sleat Peninsula, Isle of Skye

On your second day on the Isle of Skye, you can go on one [or both] of the hikes I recommended in the earlier section, or drive around the stunning Sleat Peninsula.

The Sleat Peninsula isn’t as touristy as the north-east part of the island, and it definitely feels like you’ve gone off the beaten track. It surprises me that the Sleat Peninsula is a less visited area on Skye, seeing as it is one of the nicest drives I’ve done in Scotland.

Just picture violet, heather-clad mountains contrasted with glittering blue sea and rocky shorelines and this will give you an indication on just why this drive is one for the Scotland bucket list!

If you’d decide to relax in Portree instead…

Go for a walk around The Lump and climb the Apothecary’s Tower for views of the town all the way to the Old Man of Storr. Follow the path back into the town and marvel at the famous colourful houses along Portree harbour, and go for a spot of shopping in the town centre.

Driving the Sleat Peninsula

The Sleat Peninsula is known as the ”garden of Skye” and is home to clan MacDonald of Sleat.

This is the route I recommend taking:

This route will take you through the Cuillin mountains to Dunscaith Castle, a ruin that sits on the coast. It once belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat, but some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod. It was held briefly by the MacAskills (allies of the MacLeods) but it was recaptured by the MacDonalds sometime in the 15th century.

There isn’t much left of Dunscaith Castle, but the views surrounding the ruin are simply spectacular! This is certainly an off the beaten track experience you can brag about.

When you return to your car you can go back the way you came, or continue on in the same direction, as the road eventually loops back to the A851 that will take you to Portree via the A87.

Suggested time: Allow at least 5 hours to drive around the Sleat Peninsula and stop off at attractions along the way.

Spending more time in the Isle of Skye?

Make sure you visit these locations:

  • Neist Point Lighthouse
  • Fairy Glen
  • Dunvegan Castle
  • Talisker Whisky Distillery
  • Fairy Pools

Day 7: Inverness

Inverness Castle

On day seven of my 10 day Scotland itinerary you will visit the capital of the Scottish Highlands: Inverness.

Inverness is located at the north-eastern end of the Great Glen, a line of five lochs extending from Fort William in the south-west and which has historically been an important area of trade and movement through the highlands. It’s also known as the gateway to the north-west highlands and is the starting point for the popular North Coast 500.

The drive from Portree to Inverness takes just over 3 hours- but the scenery of the highlands makes up for the long drive. There are many scenic stops along the way to enjoy.

Want to stay a bit longer? Check out my 2 day Inverness itinerary.

Recommended accommodation in Inverness

Hotels: Culloden House if you’re after luxury (the location of the Jacobite camp the night before the Battle of Culloden in 1476- it’s now been transformed into luxury accommodation); The Wee Lodge is great if you can find availability (so popular it’s almost always booked out) or Kilcumin Guest House is a good medium-budget option.

Bed and Breakfast: Balcroydon B&B or Culliss B&B.

Hostels: I stayed at Inverness Youth Hostel and recommend it for a comfortable hostel stay; Bazpackers is a great modern hostel.

Things to do on the drive to Inverness

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

It’s easy to combine Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness because the castle sits beside the legendary loch!

The ruin of Urquhart Castle was once a royal castle and was later gifted to Clan Grant. The present ruin dates back to the 13th century, although it is speculated that it used to be the fortress of Bridei, King of the Northern Picts! It is said that St Columba visited Bridei in the 6th century. It’s also said Columba converted a Pictish nobleman who was on his deathbed to Christianity!

Loch Ness is ‘home’ to the legendary Loch Ness Monster- or Nessie, as the locals like to call her! While it’s unlikely you’ll spot Nessie, the views from atop the castle ruin make for a fantastic photo opportunity.

Things to do in Inverness

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle is a more modern Scottish castle, and by modern I mean it was built in 1836! The red sandstone structure sits on a cliff overlooking River Ness. This is a castle you can just marvel at from the outside- which is definitely its most aesthetically pleasing point.

Suggested time: 1 hour

Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns is a well-preserved cemetery from the Bronze Age, dating back around 4,000 years! It consists of a complex of passage graves; ring cairns, kerb cairns and standing stones.

It’s free to visit and well worth it.

Suggested time: 1 hour

The standing stones at Clava Cairns

Culloden Battlefield

The Battlefield of Culloden is the site of the fateful final Jacobite Uprising in 1746, where supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie clashed with the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops.

If you’re an Outlander fan, you’ll recall this was the battle that Claire and Jamie were trying to prevent from happening in season one.

The battle of Culloden took place on Drumossie Moor; the battle was over within an hour and with 1500-2000 men were massacred. The conclusion of the battle led to the Highland Clearances, where the Scots were stripped of their lands, their tartan, and their culture.

The battle site is free to visit, but the interactive Culloden Visitor Centre is worth paying to see.

Suggested time: 2 hours

Day 8: Cairngorms National Park & Pitlochry

Pitlochry

Day eight of my 10 day Scotland itinerary is more relaxed; you can either tick off some more activities in Inverness in the morning or drive straight to Pitlochry, a charming burgh located at the foot of the Cairngorms National Park.

A good stopping point between Inverness and Pitlochry is Blair Atholl. This does require a slight detour from the A9, but the drive is much more appealing.

Option: If you’d prefer to spend more time in another area, you can cut this day out of the itinerary and spend the extra day somewhere else!

Recommended accommodation in the Cairngorms National Park

Hotels: McKays Hotel is fabulously located in the centre of the town and has a bar and restaurant downstairs.

Hostels: Pitlochry Youth Hostel.

Bed and Breakfast: Ellangowan House Bed and Breakfast.

Things to do in the Cairngorms National Park & Pitlochry

Blair Castle

Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, is a vast white castle set amongst a nine-acre walled garden. There is a lot to see here: a ruined kirk, peacocks, a red deer park, Highland cattle and native red squirrels can often be spotted in the garden.

Suggested time: 3 hours

Stroll through the town

Pitlochry is a picturesque wee burgh, sitting cosily below Beinn Bhracaigh (Ben Vrackie), the speckled mountain and beside the River Tummel, in some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. There is a nice viewpoint of the town from the Pitlochry Youth Hostel.

You’ll want to spend your time in Pitlochry by browsing the shops on the main street, admire the locks on the Iron Suspension Bridge, or going for a walk on one of the many walking trails.

You’ll spend the evening relaxing in one of the cosy pubs for a warm meal.

Alternative option: Aberfeldy

If you’d prefer to visit an area that isn’t as touristy as Pitlochry I recommend going to Aberfeldy instead. It’s located just 25 minutes south-west of Pitlochry.

Castle Menzies

Castle Menzies is a beautiful 16th-century castle and is actually located a short drive from Aberfeldy, in Weem. It is the seat of Clan Menzies and the Menzies Baronets, and a good example of the transition in Scottish castles from earlier rugged Highland fortresses to mansion houses. Bonnie Prince Charlie rested here for two nights on his way to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Visit their website for opening times.

Suggested time: 1 – 2 hours.

The Birks of Aberfeldy

The Birks of Aberfeldy is known for being the namesake of one of Robert Burns’ most famous poems. Walk the path through the birch trees to the Falls of Moness– a spectacular waterfall- which inspired the poem during Burns’ tour of the Scottish Highlands.

Suggested time: 1-2 hours.

Watermill Bookshop & Cafe

Aberfeldy is also home to one of Scotland’s best bookshops, the Watermill Bookshop & Cafe. The downstairs cafe even has a reading area- so if you’re a book lover and want to purchase some beautiful books about Scotland, take a break here!

From Aberfeldy, you can drive the longer, more scenic route via Amulree to Crieff [the A826/A822] before turning left onto the A85 to head towards St Andrews.

Suggested time: 1-2 hours

Day 9: St. Andrews

Swilcan Bridge, St Andrews

St Andrews is known as the ‘home of golf’ because the sport was first played on the Links at The Old Course in St Andrews!

There is plenty to see and do in St Andrews and it has an interesting history. It’s the location where Prince William met his future wife, Kate Middleton, while they were attending St Andrews University together- one of the oldest universities in the world!

The town is easily navigated on foot, and it’s possible to see mostly everything in St Andrews in one day.

PLACES TO EAT
Popular with students, The Vic serves great food at an affordable price. Jannettas Gelateria– known as the ‘home of gelato’ is a must-visit. Greyfriars Inn and The Keys Bar are popular pubs.

Recommended accommodation in St. Andrews

Hotels: The Old Course Hotel is situated in the middle of the oldest golf course in the world, and is a good luxury option. The Albany is a fantastic budget option.

Bed and Breakfast: Shangri-la bed and breakfast.

Hostels: There are no hostels in St Andrews.

Things to do in St Andrews

St. Andrews Cathedral

Once Scotland’s largest church, St. Andrews Cathedral is the most famous attraction in the town, and perhaps the most famous ruin in Scotland. It is free to explore the ruin and accompanying graveyard. For a small fee, you can climb to the top of St. Rule’s Tower for spectacular views across St. Andrews!

St. Mary’s Chapel on the Rock is also located nearby; this chapel was built in the late 1300s on the site believed to be the original location of St Andrew’s relics. It was ruined after the Scottish Reformation, but the foundations are still visible.

Suggested time: 2 hours.

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Castle has been by turns a stronghold, palace and a prison. Explore the infamous ‘bottle dungeon’ and the underground mine and countermine.

It costs to go inside St. Andrews Castle- or if you’re trying to save money, there is a good view of the castle from the small beach next to the castle!

Suggested time: 2 hours.

The Old Course

The oldest golf course in the world, The Old Course attracts many famous golfers and celebrities. Each year in fall, amateur celebrities will play against the pros at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Celebrities that have played in the past include Michael Douglas, Samuel L Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Grant and Jamie Dornan.

I recommend going for a walk down to the course to see the Swilcan Bridge, a famous spot to get a photo. Just look out for flying ball and ask if it’s okay to walk on the course.

Suggested time: 2 hours.

Day 10: Stirling, Falkirk & Linlithgow

Stirling Castle

On your final day, you’ll drive back to Edinburgh but stop off at some important historical attractions on the way. You’ll pass through Stirling first, followed by Falkirk and then Linlithgow– the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots!

I suggest choosing one of these locations and spend some time there, as you’ll be hard-pressed to visit all three.

Things to do in Stirling, Falkirk & Linlithgow

Stirling Castle [Stirling]

Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. It sits atop a steep crag, which gives it an excellent defensive position. Here are some fascinating facts about Stirling Castle:

  • After the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Robert the Bruce destroyed Stirling Castle to stop it falling into English hands.
  • There is a hole in the wall of the castle that is reputed to have been made so a young Mary Queen of Scots could look at the view of Stirling.
  • Several Kings and Queens were crowned at Stirling, including Mary Queen of Scots.
  • The oldest football in the world was found in the Palace at Stirling Castle.
  • William, the 8th Earl of Douglas, was murdered at Stirling Castle. In 1452, James II had the Earl assassinated and his body was flung from a castle window down into the gardens.

The Kelpies [Falkirk]

The Kelpies are 30 metre-high horse sculptures and they are the largest equine sculptures in the world. There is a visitors centre on-site. There is a huge car park where you can park up and walk down to see the huge equine statues.

Suggested time: 1 hour.

Linlithgow Palace [Linlithgow]

Linlithgow Palace is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V. It is also the location for several films and tv shows, including Outlaw King and Outlander.

It was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens from James I onward. There is a fantastic view of Linlithgow Palace from across the Linlithgow Loch. There is a paved path that goes around the loch, which is a lovely walk.

Suggested time: 2 hours [longer if walking around the loch]

Off the beaten track option: Callendar House [Falkirk]

If you’ve had your fill of palaces and castles, I recommend visiting Callendar House, a mansion that was once home Scotland’s most famous noble families. Callendar House has hosted some very famous Scottish guests, such as Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Victoria. The house lies along the line of the Antonine Wall, a Roman fortification which was built in AD 142 (20 years after Hadrian’s Wall). If you follow the path that leads from the front of the building out to the road, you will see the ditch which ran along the northern side of the wall. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interesting facts: 

  • The tree that sits on a mound of earth to the west of the entrance has some 60 bodies buried beneath it!
  • The marriage agreement between Mary, Queen of Scots and Francis II was signed here.
  • Lady Anne Livingston (a Jacobite) hosted and distracted the general of the English army while Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army approached and took the English army by surprise, which led to the victory of the Battle of Falkirk Muir.

Suggested time: 2-3 hours.

Summary

If you’ve made it this far- well done! I put absolutely everything into this 10 day Scotland itinerary. Just remember, it’s not expected you get through every activity in this itinerary. The whole point is to pick and choose the things you want to do. You can always add anything you’ve missed into a future trip to Scotland.

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Scotland, why not join my Scotland Travel Tips group on Facebook? I’m very active in this group, helping as many people as I can with their Scotland travel questions.

I’ve written a bunch of Scotland itineraries to help you plan your trip to Scotland. Check them out below, or click here to read all my Scotland guides.

Also- don’t forget to download the printable version of my 10 day Scotland itinerary. This will really help you with your planning!

*****

PIN FOR LATER

Sien Wei

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

Hi, following this itinerary, would you recommend that I pick up my car on day 4?

Yvette Morrissey

Sunday 24th of November 2019

I'd recommend you pick up your car when you head to the Scottish Borders on day 2. I don't recommend driving in Edinburgh as the first day is walkable

Meagan

Sunday 6th of October 2019

My husband and I followed this almost to a tee and it was absolutely spot on! We printed it and consulted it while planning and again while on our trip. We loved your recommendations and felt it was a really great itinerary in order to see and do all the main stops in Scotland. The only thing we didn’t do were the Abbeys (Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world and I couldn’t part with it early). Thank you so much for having taken the time to assemble this and share it online. It shaped our entire trip!

Marcelo Pisati

Thursday 12th of September 2019

Hi Yvette I am actually planning my trip to scotland for next year and found your information fantastic We are six adult on our 65´s and plan to drive all the way your road map we are planning to have a 6 seats Alhambra for the trip as most of the trip is on good roads Perhaps such a vehicule in Isle of skye may be to big But anyhow we will give a try Thank you very much for sharing invaluable information for the traveler Best worm regards Marcelo

Yvette Morrissey

Friday 13th of September 2019

Hi Marcelo, I'm so glad this article helped you! I hope you have a fantastic time on your travels around Scotland :-)

Chloe

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

Hi Yvette, do you recommend this for Xmas break? This is a terrific itinerary.

Yvette Morrissey

Monday 29th of July 2019

Hi Chloe, one thing to bear in mind is there is very little daylight during winter in Scotland- it's usually dark by 3-4pm! So you could do this itinerary but you'd have to cut quite a lot out due to this. Another thing to consider is if it snows. Usually it will snow in Scotland from Jan, but it can be earlier.

Kate

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Brilliant guide - I have lots more things on my list now to see in Scotland. I love that you go to the Borders - so underrated.

Yvette Morrissey

Thursday 9th of May 2019

The borders are one of my favourite places in Scotland, and totally doable in a day!