Bagpipes, haggis, kilts, and gorgeous Highland views. What else comes to mind when you think of Scotland?
If this is your first time exploring the magical country, you’re in the right place! This 10 day road trip itinerary (with options to extend) is the perfect way to get to know Scotland’s major towns and sites, with a few places off the beaten track thrown in.
Keep reading to discover the ultimate Scotland road trip itinerary!
Currency: Pound, contactless payment (With your phone or a contactless card) is the norm but cash is generally accepted)
Price Range: $$
Best Way to Get Around Scotland: Bus, Train
Timeline: 2 to 3 full days to explore Edinburgh’s sites; at least 10 days for a Scotland road trip
Table of contents
- Essential Scotland Travel Tips
- How & Where to Rent a Car in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Scotland Road Trip Itinerary
- Days 1 and 2: Edinburgh
- Day 3: Drive to Oban
- Day 4: Oban
- Day 5: Drive to The Isle of Skye
- Day 6-7: Isle of Skye
- Day 8: Drive to Loch Ness, Culloden, and Newtonmore
- Day 9: Drive to Edinburgh
- Day 10: Edinburgh
- Interactive Scotland Road Trip Map
- Follow Us on Pinterest
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Essential Scotland Travel Tips
Language: English. The further north you get, the thicker the Scottish accents get! In Edinburgh, you’ll find a wide variety of accents because it’s such a diverse city with a large student population, which brings in a lot of international students (like moi once upon a time!)
Best Time of Year to Visit Scotland: Scotland is gorgeous in all seasons. For experienced drivers and those who can brave the cold and snow, winter in the Highlands is stunning but can be dangerous so proceed with caution. Spring (April or May) is a stunning time to go because everything is in bloom and there are baby animals (a baby Highland cow is the cutest thing you will ever see) everywhere. If you decide to go in summer, it might be worth skipping Edinburgh simply because of insanely high accommodation prices due to various festivals.
Currency: Scotland uses pounds but don’t waste time or money withdrawing cash. Virtually all of the UK is cashless, except for the occasional tax-avoiding pub. You can use a card without international fees but to truly do it like the locals, you’ll want to add your card onto your phone’s virtual wallet. You can look up how to do this for your phone type and it really is essential! Paying by contactless will save you from having to sign (which always happens with American cards) and is essential if you plan on taking public transportation. You don’t need data or service to use contactless payment.
Transportation: Transportation within cities in Scotland is generally easy to use. Buses and Uber are quite common but many cities, like Edinburgh, are also very easy to walk. Between cities, trains are very common and easy to use (make sure you get a rail card and use travel apps like Trainline for discounts). The further north you get, the more difficult it is to get trains, so Megabus is your best bet.
Phone Plan: If your phone is unlocked, it’s very easy and affordable to purchase a sim card and have access to data and calls while traveling. You can either wait until you arrive in Scotland and purchase a sim card at the airport or any corner shop, or order one in advance and have it sent to your accommodation. Virtually any provider will work, but here are my top recommendations:
How & Where to Rent a Car in Edinburgh, Scotland
How to book a car. Check out the recommended websites below, taking into consideration the type of car and age restrictions. If you’re starting your journey in Edinburgh, you’ll find it easy to rent a car. Major car rental programs like Enterprise have pickup stations in Waverley Station but Edinburgh as a whole is very easy to get around by public transport, Uber, or walking.
Consider your route. The roads in Scotland are not what many of us are used to. Yes, you’ll likely stick to paved routes (this guide shows you the major sites for those visiting Scotland for the first time) but sometimes the GPS decides that it would be better to take a very muddy and tiny unpaved route rather than sticking to the main roads (speaking from experience here). With that in mind, if you plan on doing even a tiny bit of off road adventures or go through the Highlands (which you should and will be doing in this Scotland itinerary), opt for a four wheel drive.
Check age restrictions. The first thing to check is that the age restrictions. Some companies, like Enterprise, require that you be over 25 to rent or drive, even if you’re with a parent. Kayak UK is a good site to check to find a variety of deals for different car needs. Sixt offers under 25 car hire and a student discount and Edinburgh Car Rental also offers under 25 rental.
Scotland Road Trip Itinerary
Now that part you’ve been waiting for – the 10 day Scotland road trip itinerary that’s perfect for those visiting Scotland for the first time. Although this road trip can be done in 10 days, we’ll also give you options to expand and take the road less travelled for a longer road trip.
Days 1 and 2: Edinburgh
Beautiful, lovely, amazing Edinburgh! Welcome to the first stop of your Scotland road trip! Edinburgh has so much to offer, so let’s dive right in.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Here are a few of our top picks for places to stay in Edinburgh, but be sure to check out the full guide!
Read More: Where to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland
Where to Eat in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is full of absolutely incredible spots to eat. Here are a few of the best vegan restaurants in Edinburgh that you have to visit!
- David Bann: Classier dining option
- Sora Lella: Vegan Roman Food (also available on Uber Eats)
- Holy Cow: Healthier vegan cafe
- Paradise Palms: Mostly vegan junk food
What to Do in Edinburgh
There’s no shortage of incredible things to do in Edinburgh!
- Real Mary King’s Close
- Free Rick Steves audio tour of the Royal Mile
- Camera Obscura
- Whisky tasting
- Palace of Holyroodhouse
Read More: Top 10 Things To Do in Edinburgh
Day 3: Drive to Oban
Today is an exciting day, you’re driving to Oban! The three hour drive isn’t terribly long, but if you’re at all a nervous driver or are not used to bending, one-way roads, give yourself plenty of time to get there.
Along the way, there are plenty of incredible viewpoints that you’ll discover and want to stop at.
Glasgow. Take the longer route and make a pit stop in Glasgow. The city has a great vegan scene so be sure to check out the Glasgow Vegan Guide to discover some incredible vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. Although Glasgow is the second largest in Scotland, it only has 488,000 residents! If you’re worried about parking, consider using Just Park to book your spot in advance.
Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond is an absolutely stunning natural wonder of Scotland and is truly a must-visit. You can park next to the loch and simply take a quick look around, but I highly recommend packing your favorite vegan hiking boots and spending a few hours exploring the area. No matter the weather it’s absolutely stunning!
Option to Extend: Spend the night in Glasgow or near Loch Lomond. Sunrise at Loch Lomond is surely a spectacular way to start the day.
Day 4: Oban
Oban is a lovely little town, but the real highlights are the amazing islands and wildlife that you have the opportunity to explore and see.
Where to Stay in Oban
Oban is a fairly small town and is easy enough to walk if you’re staying central (although it’s along the coast so this is weather dependent). We stayed at the Sandvilla Guest House and it was absolutely lovely. The rooms are clean, it’s a convenient location, and they were even nice enough to get us vegan butter and soy-milk for breakfast the next day. Plus, they have parking which is tight, but the proprietor was lovely and helped up back into the space.
Browse Oban Accommodation on Booking.com
Where to Eat in Oban
As with most places in the UK, you can usually find one surprising vegan or vegetarian-friendly restaurant, but if not, supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, or Co-op are always safe bets. Thankfully, there are a few great vegan options in Oban (located using abillion and Happy Cow).
- Gelatoburger: Classic burgers
- The Little Potting Shed Cafe: Healthier salads and wraps
- Catchacarrot Vegan Pop Up Cafe: Popup cafe run by vegans for vegans
- BAAB: Mediterranean food with vegan options (show me a vegan that hasn’t had hummus for dinner in a pinch!)
Looking for more vegan options near you? Check out the abillion app and use the referral code VOYAGINGHERBIVORE
Every review you write contributes to a donation to an animal rights organization!
What to Do in Oban
Because Oban is a coastal town, it’s the perfect time to go island hopping and see some sea life (make sure to bring your camera gear along!) Be sure to book in advance
Sealife Adventures. These small group tours are a fantastic way to see Scotland’s wildlife. Spend several hours looking for whales, otters, wild goats (featured below) and other amazing creatures, using the provided Nikon binoculars, and drinking tea all while hearing a marine biologist explain what you see. This was a highlight of our Scotland road trip itinerary!
Three Isles Tour. If you’re up for some island hopping check out the Three Isles Tour which is 10 hours for 78 pounds (at the time of writing). We had booked this but because of bad weather, it got canceled with a full refund. If you’ve taken this tour do let us know what you thought of it in the comments.
Day 5: Drive to The Isle of Skye
As you head further north into the Highlands, the driving will become trickier. Because of this, give yourself plenty of time (take it slow over the day) to drive from Oban to Portree (the main city on the Isle of Skye) and take as many stops as necessary. The land is stunning and I know when I drive it’s easy to miss the beauty around you for the need to focus on the road. Pullover when you get the opportunity! It’s well worth it for the views, fresh air, and your safety.
Along the way, you might see little or large piles of stones called cairns. These cairns have been a part of Scotland’s traditions and folklore for centuries and have four main meanings (source):
- Marking a grave of a loved one
- Used by climbers to show success at reaching a summit
- To mark a path across tricky terrain
- As a sea marker to help mariners determine their location
Option to Extend. As you head from Oban to the Isle of Skye, you can stop in Inverness and spend the night. Then, take a day to drive or take a bus tour up to the Black Isle. You’ll have this option again on Day 8.
Read More: Rabbies Scotland Tour Review – Black Isle
Day 6-7: Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one that you won’t want to miss. There are so many beautiful spots you’ll want to pull over when driving! Don’t plan ahead too much because where you can drive will be weather dependent. Also, keep in mind that there’s only one bridge on and off the island, so if there’s a bad storm, you’ll probably have to extend your stay until it clears.
Depending on how much rain, you may or may not be able to see the Fairy Pools. We weren’t able to see any unfortunately but did get to explore Fairy Glen. On our next Scotland Road Trip Itinerary, we will definitely be trying to see them.
For dinner, we headed to a pub called The Isle, which had several vegan options. I also tried a tenant shandy, beer mixed with lemonade, which was recommended by our tour guide. The evening was time for me to try some night photography. Our bed and breakfast was across from the town of Portree, and it was an absolutely beautiful night.
When you get to Portree, be sure to check out this map to see what vegan options we recommend nearby.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye
The Glendaruel is an absolutely lovely bed and breakfast just down the road from Portree. It takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes to walk into town but if you’re visiting Scotland in the warmer months, you’ll love the walk. The hosts were so incredibly friendly and accomodating in making a vegan breakfast (it seems every bed and breakfast makes you a full English so you’ll be well-fed for all of your adventures!), rooms clean, and beds comfy.
You don’t need to stay in Portree though, and if you care to extend your trip, it’s well worth checking out some of the exciting places to stay on the Isle of Skye, from glamping pods and tiny houses to gorgeous cottages.
Browse Portree Accommodation on Booking.com
Where to Eat on the Isle of Skye
Surprisingly, the Isle of Skye is relatively vegan friendly for such a small town. Here are a few vegan-friendly restaurants and pubs that are worth checking out.
- The Isles Inn: One of the main pubs in Portree with at least two vegan options that aren’t just salad (at the time of writing). Try a shandy which is half a pint of beer and half a pint of lemonade – tasty!
- Cafe Arriba: Portree restaurant where the Only vegan option is a light mezze platter, but still very tasty
- Ellishadder Art Cafe: Open seasonally on the Trotternish peninsula with vegan options
- Red Roof: Labeled lunch menu with vegan options
- The Dunvegan: Located in Dunvegan this restaurant serves meat but does have vegan options. Sadly this is not a fully vegan town, I know, very misleading 🙁
What to Do on the Isle of Skye
You could easily spend weeks exploring and hiking the Isle of Skye, but here are a few highlights that are worth visiting.
- Lealt Waterfall
- Kilt Rock sea cliffs
- Old Man of Storr
- Fairy Glen
Day 8: Drive to Loch Ness, Culloden, and Newtonmore
Today is a busy day on this Scotland road trip itinerary! Get a good night’s rest the night before, eat a big breakfast and stock up on snacks so you can make the most of today’s journey.
Loch Ness (2 to 3 hours). Arrive early for one of the morning tours. It’s an extra expense but I really do recommend doing the boat tour. It’s a fun experience and you get to learn some interesting if not frightening facts about the loch. For example, the waters are so dark and deep that if someone drowned they would almost certainly never be found. Be sure to take some time to explore the small surrounding area while you’re there. It’s quite touristy but it’s a great chance to smell the fresh air and stretch your legs. Loch Ness is also a great place for a Scotland staycation!
Culloden Battle Fields (3 to 4 hours). Next, you’ll be heading to Culloden Battle Fields in Inverness. Take some time to explore the museum (lots of reading here so it may not be the best for little ones) and do a tour of the battleground. This is a somber experience but it’s an important opportunity to learn about local and national history. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop on the way out. They have some very cute highland cow merchandise that is my favorite souvenir to this day!
Newtonmore. Newtonmore should be a good place to do some well deserved relaxing for the rest of the evening before setting out the next day. Although spending the night here (as opposed to Loch Ness or Inverness) isn’t necessary, it will make Day 9 more manageable.
Option to Extend: Spend the night at Loch Ness or Inverness (Culloden) and spend some extra time exploring. I recommend Inverness as there is more to explore in the walking distance area. You can also take a day tour to the Black Isle which is very enjoyable.
Day 9: Drive to Edinburgh
Another early day! Today you’re leaving Newtonmore with 3 options for stops along the way, or you can just head straight back to Edinburgh.
Stirling Castle. If you haven’t stopped at any castles yet, definitely take the chance to look around, but if this is the third of fourth castle, you may just feel like bypassing it.
Kelpies. The Kelpies are incredible large horse head statues that can. beseen from the road. If you have time. stop and see them in all of their glory.
Falkirk Wheel Boat Trip: Your final option is to stop and see the world’s only rotating boat lift (not sure why you would build one in the first place?) at the Falkirk Wheel. Take a boat through the canals and ride the wheel although be aware that boat tickets aren’t available year-round at the time of writing.
Day 10: Edinburgh
To finish your Scotland road trip itinerary it’s the final day in Edinburgh! This is a great chance to explore some places you may not have had time to during your first few days in Edinburgh (see Day 1).
What Camera Gear Do We Use?
- Camera body: Nikon d750
- Prime lens: 35mm f/1.8
- Wide-angle lens: 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 FX
- GoPro: GoPro Hero 8
- Drone: DJI Mavic Air is no longer available so we recommend the DJI Air2S
- Camera Bag: Wandrd Prvke 31L
- Tripod: ESDDI Aluminum Tripod
More Scotland Posts
- How to Photograph Scotland: From Highlands to Cities
- 10 Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary for an EPIC Adventure
- Rabbies Scotland Tour Review – Black Isle
- Where to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Vegan Edinburgh & Beyond: AMAZING Restaurants You NEED to Try
- Beautiful Scotland: Photo Spots You NEED to See
- Top 10 Things To Do in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Heart of Scotland Tour Review – 3 Day Edinburgh to Isle of Skye Bus Tour
Interactive Scotland Road Trip Map
Please note that the driving directions on this map are not specifically created. They are simply what was recommended at the time of creating the map so do check updated directions beforehand. While this road trip is great for first-timers, there are so many amazing road trip opportunities in Scotland, including the North Coast 500, North East 250, Heart 200, Scotland West Coast 300, and more!