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A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Updated On 10th May, 2024

A 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland...​

If you’re planning a trip to Scotland and are wondering what your Scotland road trip could look like or what you should do with your time there, you’ve arrived at the right blog post. In this blog post, I am going to share a 10-day west  Scotland road trip itinerary with you, jam-packed with all the best adventure on offer in this beautiful country.

Whether you’re coming from London, Scotland or somewhere else in the UK, this 10-day west Scotland road trip is perfect for those who want a real taste for what Scotland has to offer. From the beautiful white sand beaches of Arisaig and Morar to the swiss-like valley of Glen Etive, this 10-day road trip is for travellers truly looking to escape the city.

I will be taking adventures from my best places to visit in Scotland blog post and plotting them on a route that will take you on an epic west Scotland road trip. It will encompass all of the adventures I’ve been on in Scotland and more: visiting the Isle of Skye , spending time in Loch Lomond National Park , exploring Fort William and swimming in all the lochs!

Of course, this west Scotland road trip itinerary is going to assume you have a car with you. I’m not sure it would be of any use for me to write an itinerary for you whilst staying at your hotel lol. However, if you have booked to stay in one place during your time in west Scotland, you may want to use this post to inspire a day trip in west Scotland or to add an extension to your existing booking.

If like me, you are planning to drive from England to begin your road trip, you can check out my top tips for your Scotland road trip and my Scotland road trip planning guide . 

After all, road trips are the best!

Other blog posts you might find useful…

  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: my guide and the best things to do
  • Cairngorms National Park: my guide and the best things to do
  • The best places to visit in Scotland
  • The best walks and hikes in Scotland
  • How to plan your Scotland road trip
  • The best things to do on the Isle of Skye
  • The best things to do on the NC500
  • A 2-week Scotland road trip itinerary
  • Top tips for your Scotland road trip
  • The best things to do in Edinburgh
  • Glasgow: a quick guide
  • The best places to visit in the UK
  • How to plan your UK road trip
  • Van life in Europe: a bucket list of Europe road trips

Loch Lomond National Park, Scotland

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A 10-day road trip itinerary for West Scotland…

I’m going to begin this west Scotland road trip in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park , travel north and then back south, ending this road trip itinerary in Oban. It would be easy to turn this into a loop and drive back to Loch Lomond at the end of the last day, though.

If you’re flying into Scotland then you’re likely to be flying into Edinburgh , which is only 2 hours from Loch Lomond . If like me, you are planning to drive from England to begin your road trip, you can check out  my top tips for your Scotland road trip  and my  Scotland road trip planning guide . 

This is a 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland, but there’s no reason why you can’t adapt it to be a 1-week itinerary, or take your time and spend 3 or 4 weeks completing this route! Now, personally, I think by far the best way to explore this part of Scotland is in your very own home on wheels, so you will find me recommending campsites and overnight parking, rather than hotels. However this trip is equally doable in a car, if you prefer. I’d recommend using Airbnb , Booking.com and Hostelworld for the best accommodation along your route.

If you’re looking to spend a bit more time and make some more stops, or if you’re looking for the best wild camping spots in Scotland, be sure to check out my Scotland Google Map Legend .

Day 1: Loch Lomond

  • Driving time: 0 minutes

It’s Day 1 of this Scotland road trip itinerary and I hope you’re raring to go! We’re starting this west Scotland road trip at Loch Lomond , one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland. Once you’ve got all the supplies ready for your road trip (check out my UK road trip checklist and my top tips for road trips in Scotland to make sure you don’t miss anything!), explore the area for a while.

Loch Lomond’s proximity to Glasgow makes it a popular spot with weekenders and holidaymakers, but that in no way detracts from its beauty. As part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park , this area is home to some of the best hikes in Scotland , and they range in difficulty so there’s something for everyone. Conic Hill is a great one to kick off your trip!

Although I’d recommend arriving as early as possible to squeeze in a hike, chances are you’ve travelled a long way to get to Loch Lomond and therefore are arriving late in the evening. If so, take advantage of the great overnight parking here, and wake up to a magical sunrise over the water…. although I should warn you, Scotland isn’t best known for having the clearest weather. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 2: Loch Lomond, Falls of Falloch, Glencoe & Loch Achtriochtan

  • Driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes

On your second day of your west Scotland road trip enjoy a short boat cruise around Loch Lomond in the morning, or take a dip in the icy water. There’s a small hidden bay at Firken Point, just off the A82 where you can swim and get a feel for these famous Highland waters. Always be mindful of where you swim however, as in some areas it can be incredibly deep and there have recently been cases of bathers getting into difficulty.

On from Loch Lomond you’ll find the cascade of waterfalls known as Falls of Falloch. There are so many beautiful spots to pull up and enjoy lunch, or even cook if you’re in a van! (I’ve pinned some spots for you in my  Scotland Google Map Legend ). The falls are a short walk from the car park, and another popular spot for a swim. 

In the afternoon, venture north through the jaw-dropping Glencoe valley. You’ll want to keep your camera close as there are tonnes of places to stop and capture the most incredible views. It is quite simply breathtaking all the way from Loch Lomond to Glencoe.

Along the way, take a small detour toward (but not all the way) Glen Etive, where scenes from James Bond’s Skyfall were filmed (it’s even marked on google as James Bond Skyfall Road). This is one of the most scenic drives in Scotland! 

Just after passing the Glencoe Mountain Resort is a left turn that will take you down a single-lane road zig-zagging along the river Etive. This valley is reminiscent of the Swiss alps, and one of the best spots for wild camping in Scotland. There are multiple waterfalls and lagoons to bathe in so it’s well worth spending the rest of the day here.

After sunset, it’s a 40min drive to your next and final stop for the day, right on the shores of Loch Achtriochtan. There’s a free overnight car park which is one of the best spots to camp in Scotland and if you snag the right spot, you’ll be opening your doors right onto the loch for sunrise. It’s definitely another view worth waking up to on your west Scotland road trip.

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 3: Fort William, Glencoe & Glenfinnan Viaduct

  • Driving time: 1 hour 45 minutes

I’d recommend swinging by Fort William in the morning to stock up on food and supplies… especially midge spray if you’re doing your west Scotland road trip in the summer. These little bugs are a nightmare during the warmer months. See all my top tips for a Scotland road trip here. 

Glencoe is one of the best places for hiking in the Scottish Highlands and there are plenty to choose from – catering to hikers of all levels, from leisurely wanderers to expert mountaineers.

Three of the best hikes in Glencoe include:

  • For those wanting an easy hike that has incredible views, I’d recommend the An Torr/Signal Rock Walk. This hike can be completed in 1.5 – 2hrs, and there’s a free car park.
  • If you’re looking to crank it up a notch, try the Lost Valley hike. This takes 3hrs and has a few steep sections, but they’re worth it for the view. 
  • If you’re really keen then test yourself with the Bidean Nam Bian hike or even attempt the summit of Scotland’s highest peak: Ben Nevis. Both are full day hikes. The closest car park for the Bidean Nam Bian hike is the Loch Achtriochtan viewpoint ca rpark, but for Ben Nevis, visit the Bens Nevis Centre to plan your trip.

See all the best hikes in Scotland here.

If hiking in Scotland is the main reason for your trip, then you can easily spend a couple of days here, but in the interest of time… we carry on.

From Glencoe and Fort William, it is a very short detour to one of Scotland’s most ‘magical’ destinations – Glenfinnan Viaduct, where Harry Potter fans can witness the iconic Hogwarts Express train cross the bridge. The best viewpoint is actually at the end of a dirt path, just up the road from the visitors centre. In the high season, from mid-June to late September, there are 4 train times, but in the low season there are only 2 so be sure not to miss it! (Top tip: the train usually passes the Glenfinnan Viaduct 30-40 minutes after it leaves Fort WIlliam). 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Other must see places to visit in Scotland for Harry Potter fans:

  • Loch Shiel – the iconic lake which surrounds the entrance to Hogwarts.
  • Loch Elite, Eilean na Moine island — the exact location where Dumbledore was buried and an absolutely beautiful place to watch the sunset.

Day 4: Lochs, Eilean Donan Castle & the Isle of Skye

  • Driving time: 3.5 hours

Get your playlist ready and hit the road early for day 4 of our west Scotland road trip! Follow the A82 north out of Fort William, before turning onto the A87 where you’ll be driving through an endless stretch of lochs: Loch Gary, Loch Loyne and Loch Cluanie (which is especially beautiful). This is honestly one of the best drives of this west Scotland road trip so take it slow and soak in the view. 

After about 2hrs, you’ll arrive at one of the most famous castles in the West of Scotland: Eilean Donan. It is open from May to October and the bridge is a great spot for an Instagram pic. See my travel photography tips here. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

If, like me, you’ve finished all of the snacks bought in Fort William, then grab a bite to eat at The Clachan or pick up some delicious baked goods at Manuela’s Wee Bakery.

Eilean Donan is our last stop on the mainland before crossing over to the Isle of Skye, where the mountains and lochs give way to stunning coastline, white sandy beaches and rugged rocky pinnacles. 

After crossing Skye bridge, follow the coastal road east toward Portree. This is the largest town (albeit still very small) on the island, and your best bet for accommodation. However, for those enjoying the campervan life, continue through Portree to the Old Man of Storr. Snag yourself a spot at the overnight car park at the base of the Storr walk. While pay and display in the daytime, at night this car park is free to stay in and provides the perfect place to wild camp in Scotland and begin your sunrise hike to the Old Man of Storr, before the crowds arrive. See all the best things to do on the Isle of Skye here. 

Day 5 & 6: Isle of Skye

  • Driving time: 3-5 hours (across two days, depending on where you decide to explore)

You’ve made it to the Isle of Skye and you’re halfway through your west Scotland road trip. Time to really enjoy this historic place and enjoy some of the best things to do on Skye !

Unlike most of the trip, we’re now on a very small island so it’s much easier to get around and explore! My top 5 things to do on the Isle of Skye are:

  • Stroll through Portree, the main town on the island and a great place to grab coffee and top up on supplies. 
  • Head to the beach for a swim or enjoy a picnic at either Corran or Coral beaches.
  • Hike to the infamous Old Man of Storr. The hike starts at this car park and takes 2-3hrs there and back, depending on how long you spend enjoying the epic views.

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

  • Take the Quiraing Pass up to the Quiraing Loop Hike.  Much like the Storr, this landmark is a needle-like rock formation and one of the most photographic spots on the Isle of Skye. This 2hr walk is actually twice the distance as the Old Man of Storr hike, but without the steep inclines. However, if you’re just looking for a good view then it’s hard to beat the car park, which is where the picture below was taken.
  • Sunset at Neist Point Lighthouse. This is the most westerly point of the island, where the wind is gnarly but the views across the Atlantic Ocean are mind blowing.

If you want to set off early in the morning, try and stay overnight on the south of Skye near Armadale, as this is where we are taking the ferry from on day 7 of our west Scotland road trip. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

see my ISLE OF SKYE travel guide here

Days 7: Camusdarach

  • Ferry crossing (Armadale to Mallaig): 45 minutes
  • Driving time: 10 minutes

Take the ferry across from Skye to Mallaig on the mainland.

Then take the short drive down to Camusdarach. Spend the night at one of the many campsites that line the beaches here, the most ‘luxurious’ being Silversands Caravan & Campsite. Many won’t in fact have websites to book, so it might be a case of calling around to see what is available.  There are lots of great places to swim here, so it’s a relaxing day today! 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Days 8 & 9: Isle of Mull

  • Driving time: 3-3.5 hours (including a ferry)

From the coast of Arisaig, it’s a 3-4hr drive south to the postcard-perfect Isle of Mull, where beaches like Calgary Bay and Langamull wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean. Toward the south-west there are more beaches in Knockvologan, Traigh Gael and Tinkers Bay – all beautiful, secluded places to spend the night. These are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland, so make sure you don’t miss these on your Scotland road trip!

Other notable places to visit on/near the Isle of Mull are:

  • Iona (a small island off the west coast)
  • The Inner/Outer Hebrides (a small yet striking archipelago of islands, with impressive views!)
  • Ben More (the highest mountain on Mull)

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 10: Oban

  • Driving + ferry time: 1.5 hours + your journey home

It’s easy to spend a few days on Mull, but we’ve run out of days on our west Scotland road trip, so it’s time to hop back over to the mainland, via Oban. Take the ferry from Craignure to Oban and enjoy a morning stroll through this seaside town, or even book onto their infamous distillery tour!

Most campervan rentals will need to be returned by midday, so from Oban continue south toward Loch Lomond and onto Glasgow or Edinburgh , depending on where you picked up your camper. For those heading back to London or the south, let the long journey home begin.

It is so easy to spend more time in this beautiful part of the world, but this is the end of our ultimate 10-day west Scotland road trip. 

  • See my guide to planning your Scotland road trip here. 
  • Buy my Scotland Google Map legend here. 

Have you been on a Scotland road trip?

Where are your favourite things to do in Scotland? Anything you’d add?

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Did you find this post helpful? I’d love you to share it for me.

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A 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland...​

IT’S LOVELY TO MEET YOU

I’M MOLLIE AND I STARTED THIS BLOG BACK IN 2013 WHEN I HEADED OUT ON MY FIRST BACKPACKING ADVENTURE. 

I’D LOVE TO SHARE THE JOURNEY WITH YOU, WE’VE GROWN A LOT SINCE THEN!

best road trip west coast scotland

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A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip

By: Author [email protected]

A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip

Let’s go on a west coast of Scotland road trip!

With spectacular white sandy beaches, soaring mountains and beautiful islands it’s no wonder that Scotland’s west coast is the first place many people think of when planning a trip to Scotland. Explore the best bits of the west coast of Scotland on this itinerary ferry hopping from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye, visiting Oban, Mull and Ardnamurchan along the way.

A west coast of Scotland road trip itinerary

  • Stage 1 – Loch Fyne, Cowal and Inveraray
  • Stage 2 – The Mull of Kintyre and Oban
  • Stage 3 – Exploring   The Isle of Mull
  • Stage 4 – Remote   Ardnamurchan
  • Stage 5 – The Isle of Skye

This ferry hopping road trip also makes a great extension to the North Coast 500 . The North Coast 500 leaves Scotland’s west coast at Strathcarron before completing the loop back east to Inverness – but your west coast of Scotland trip doesn’t have to end here. Instead, join this west coast of Scotland road trip and head south from the NC500 route to cross over the sea to the Isle of Skye.

Ferry Hopping on the west coast of Scotland

For this road trip you will need to buy a ferry hopping ticket from the west coast of Scotland ferry company CalMac. Book   hopscotch ticket HOP7  – Oban to Craignure on Mull, Tobermory to Kichoan on Arnamurchan and Mallaig to Skye.

For more advice on island hopping in Scotland – read my guide to Scotland’s Hebridean islands .

best road trip west coast scotland

Day 1 – The road north – Inns, lochs & very local brews

Starting in Glasgow or from Edinburgh, your first day on the west coast of Scotland takes in both Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne, as well as driving the famous Rest and Be Thankful, a spectacular start to your trip.

Your first stop of the day is Loch Lomond , so park up at the village of Luss and take a wander down to the lochside among the pretty cottages. For a great lunch overlooking the water visit the   Lodge on the Loch Lomond Hotel , or 10 minutes further north,  The Inn on Loch Lomond  is more casual. 

From Loch Lomond head to head to Tarbet and Arrochar. If you have time and the weather is on your side, climb   The Cobbler  – remember to be prepared for bad weather and have waterproofs and proper hiking boots handy!

It’s then time to tackle one of Scotland’s most famous roads, the Rest and be Thankful. The road winds its way through the Arrochar Alps to Inveraray. It is worth popping into   Fyne Ales Brewery  for a pie and a pint – or to pick some beer up for later if it’s too early; their beer Jarl is award-winning.

Stop for your first night in Inverarary where you can visit Inveraray Castle  and  Inveraray   Jail  and grab fish and chips to eat on the lochside. The George Hotel is famous for food and drink and a great atmosphere.

Where to stay near Inveraray

best road trip west coast scotland

Day 2 – The Mull of Kintyre

Leaving Inveraray your first stop of the day is of   Auchindrain Township  and the beautiful   Crarae Garden  before visiting Crinan, one of Scotland’s hidden gems, with its canal and pretty seafront village.

Head down to the Crinan  Canal  basin, grab a coffee and watch the boats sail up and down the canal. Make sure you visit the village for views across to Jura. 

Then head north along the A816 towards Oban – along  Kilmartin Glen  for a wander around the standing stones and ancient burial chambers. For lunch stop at either the  Lord of the Isles   pub at Craobh Haven or the   Loch Melfort Hotel  where you can also take a stroll in the  Arduaine Gardens .

Oban is a fantastic town to spend an evening – there are seafood restaurants aplenty, and great beer and pub food at my favourite, the   Cuan Mor . To walk it all off climb up to McCaig’s Tower for a fab view of the Isles. In the local area is Castle Stalker which graces many Instagram shots and the Oban Distillery.

Where to stay in Oban

Where to   stay in Oban *

Ferry leaving Oban Scotland

Day 3-4 – Exploring The Isle of Mull

It is time to ferry hop! Leaving Oban, catch the ferry from Oban to Craignure on Mull. The crossing takes around 55 minutes and must be booked in advance, especially in Summer. The views from the crossing are gorgeous and include Lismore Lighthouse and Duart Castle.

T obermory is a great place to base yourself for a short visit to the island as it is a bustling and lively place, with lots of busy harbour bars – try the food at the excellent   Macgochans .  Whisky fans will want to visit the   Tobermory Distillery , located right on the waterfront – no need for a designated driver here.

Read more:   24 hours on the Isle of Mull

However long you have on the island there are lots of things to do on Mull, including visiting beautiful Calgary Bay. The beach is stunning – you can see why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Scotland.

Want to explore on foot? The only Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) on an island (after from the Cullin on Skye) Ben More stands 966m above Loch Na Keal – the ‘loch of the cliffs’. With views across to the Isle of Ulva to Ben Cruachan, Ben More is a great island viewpoint even if you don’t climb to the very top!

Where to stay on Mull

Scotland travel blog

Day 5 – Remote Ardnamurchan

From Mull catch the short 40-minute ferry across to Kilchoan. You are now heading for remote Ardnamurchan – the most western part of the British mainland. Get off the beaten track and discover Ardnamurchan and the remote regions of Morvern, Ardgour, Moidart and Sunart – home to just 2000 people.

Many of the beaches here compete against the best in the world, so make sure you visit Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig or Sanna. Driving across Ardnamurchan’s volcanic caldera gives an incredible view of the small isles of Eigg and Rum and on a clear day, back to the Cullins on Skye. 

On your way south pop into the   Glenuig Inn  for lunch (note, they don’t serve lager on tap, just real ale and ciders!) before exploring Tioram Castle and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse which sits on the most westerly part of the mainland UK.

Read more :  things to do in Ardnamurchan Where to stay:   Ardnamurchan Bunkhouse  /  Kilchoan Hotel  /  Mingarry Park *

What's top of your list when you think of visiting Scotland? The Isle of Skye, Eileen Donan Castle, Loch Ness and the North Coast 500? They are all rightly famous worldwide. However, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of blindly following a top ten list and missing out on the really good stuff - and taking the same photos as everyone else! Fancy getting a wee bit off the beaten track? Here are my best places to visit in Scotland

It’s time to take your next ferry – jump on a Calmac Ferry from   Mallaig to Armadale  on the Isle of Skye. 

Day 6-8 – The Isle of Skye

Seeing the Black Cullin, the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing, Neist Point Lighthouse, Loch Coruisk, Dunvegan Castle and discovering Talisker whisky will be high on your list of things to do in Scotland.

On the east coast – in the height of summer it may feel like a conveyor belt of hire cars, the east coast of Skye will be filled with campervans and tour buses on their day out – but don’t let you put that off. You often have the road to yourself and the Old Man of Storr, pretty Portree harbour and the mighty Quiraing are well worth a visit.

On the west coast – visit Dunvegan Castle, home of Clan MacLeod to learn not only about the history of this clan but also the role of clans today – as well as their most famous member, Dame Flora MacLeod. The Castle sits in a stunning location on the seafront, and the gardens are also lovely to wander around.

On the south coast – with rolling lush green landscapes and views over the sound to Morar, Knoydart and Glenelg, the Sleat Peninsula is one of Skye’s hidden gems. Often bypassed by those arriving on the Skye ferry the peninsula is also one of Skye’s quieter corners – which makes it perfect as a base to explore. 

Get off the beaten track – if you like life a little more sedate the Cuillin is also viewed in all its magnificence from a walk to Camasunary Beach on the Elgol (or to give it its proper name) Strathaird Peninsula. Take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk right into the heart of the mountains. Take a walk around Loch Coriusk for the most incredible views of the mountains, before catching the afternoon ride back – magical.

The Isle of Skye might be mind-blowing and deservedly popular, but Skye is heaving in summer, and remote in winter, which means visiting can be a challenge. Please visit the island sustainably, park sensibly, learn how to drive on a single track road and book your accommodation in advance.

Read more: a guide to the   Isle of Skye

Where to stay on Skye

west coast of Scotland

Fancy a longer road trip? The North Coast 500

Have you driven the   North Coast 500 ? If not, why not? Scotland’s most famous road trip takes in 500 miles around the north coast of Scotland taking in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world – there’s no wonder they call it Scotland’s Route 66.

The west coast of the NC500 route takes you through the dramatic mountains of Assynt before reaching Wester Ross. Don’t miss visiting Lochinver, Ullapool and climbing Stac Pollaidh and Suilven. 

To get to the north coast 500, leave Skye by the Skye bridge, to reach the pretty town of Plockton where the mild climate allows palm trees to prosper on the waterfront. The weather might even be nice enough to have lunch outside one of the friendly Plockton pubs!

I also highly recommend stopping at   Strome Castle  on Loch Carron, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s   little gems  and exploring the beautiful family-run   Attadale Gardens ,  a late 19th century garden on the Attadale Estate. The gardens are so peaceful – and you might catch the artist owner for a chat.

Then drive north to beautiful  Applecross Peninsula  where you end your trip driving the famous Bealach na Bà, past fiord-like lochs to the huge Torridon mountains and the north coast of Scotland.

Read my   complete guide to driving the North Coast 500 . 

Video guide – West Coast of Scotland Road Trips

Have you done a west coast of Scotland road trip? Where would you recommend?

Love, from Scotland x

*Article contains affiliate links

best road trip west coast scotland

The travel blogger and photographer behind Love from Scotland

Jessi (@2feet1world)

Wednesday 6th of December 2017

Wow wow wow. I really want to explore this stunning countryside - thanks for the tips!

Mary Mayfield

Friday 17th of November 2017

I think you've ticked off all my 'must see' places. Maybe I'd head out to the end of Skye at Neist Point, to watch the sun set over the Outer Hebrides, or a drive across the 'Bridge over the Atlantic' to Seil, but otherwise I'd just like to spend more than 5 days on the trip :)

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Scotland Info Guide

A Guide to the Scottish Highlands Islands and Mainland

The Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route – Driving the Entire West Coast of Scotland

October 4, 2014 By Ron 33 Comments

The Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route

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Scottish Weather and Climate When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland The Highlands 140 – Highlands Driving Tour

We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I will use Stranraer in Dumfries & Galloway as the most south-westerly tip of our journey and Durness in Sutherland as the most north-westerly point. The distance between Stranraer and Durness, as the crow flies, is 254 miles (355 kms). To travel this distance over the shortest route by car via Glasgow, Perth and Inverness is 356 miles (573 kms), roughly a 8 hour drive.

Culzean Castle

And then there is the Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route as I like to call it, covering almost every road on the Scottish west coast, including three islands, from Stranraer to Durness via the Isle of Arran , the Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye . That particular route, my personal choice, is 549 miles (884kms) long with a total road travel time of 20 hours, which is calculated by navigation software. As I have not counted in the time you spend on the various ferry crossings, five in total, and the time you need to rest and sleep, this journey will take you roughly four to seven days to complete. (See link to detailed map at bottom of post)

There are many accommodation opportunities along the way, from campsites to Bed and Breakfasts and Excellent Hotels . This journey is also suitable to travel with a motorhome. For a motorhome itinerary and campsite tips visit this page . Below I will explain in detail which logical stages make up this best Scottish driving tour.

best road trip west coast scotland

Stranraer to Oban

The first stage starts at Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway. The A77 north follows the beautiful Ayrshire coast and as you pass the beautiful Culzean Castle and Country Park you head north to Ardrossan to take the ferry to the Isle of Arran. From Brodick on Arran you can follow the north coast over the A841 to Lochranza and take the wee Calmac ferry to Claonaig in Kintyre. From there you can follow the A83 to Lochgilphead and the A816 to Oban. The journey over the road is 166 miles (267kms) and is approx 6h 15 min. As there are two ferry crossings it’s very unlikely to make this stage in one day.

The Silver Sands of Morar near Mallaig

Oban to Mallaig via Mull and Ardnamurchan

In Oban take the ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Close by is the beautiful Duart Castle. 5 miles further down the road to Tobermory there is another ferry crossing awaiting you, the one from Fishnish to Lochaline in Morvern crossing the Sound of Mull. From Lochaline to Mallaig it’s a 2 hour drive through some spectacular scenery via Strontian, the Moydart peninsula and Arisaig which nearby beaches at Morar were featured in the movie Local Hero . This stage is only 86 miles (138km) and the total travel time over the road some 4 hours, but with two ferry crossings it’s more realistic to use two days for this stage.

Cottage at Upper Loch Torridon near Shieldaig

Mallaig to Shieldaig over Applecross

This stage will take you over one of the most challenging roads in Scotland, the Pass of the Cattle to Applecross . In Mallaig, where this route overlaps our Highlands 140 Driving Route , take the ferry to Armadale on the Isle of Skye and drive north over the A851. Then head east over the A87 and cross the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. Keep driving east and take the A890 to Lochcarron. From here head west in the direction of Shieldaig and then follow the signs to Applecross. This is actually the place where our coastal route joins the north coast 500 route.

From Applecross take the coastal road north along the Inner Sound where you have amazing views over Raasay and Skye until you head east and follow the shore of Loch Torridon until you reach Shieldaig. This stage is 110 miles (177kms) and 4 hours travel time over the road. As you have another ferry crossing in this section it is realistic to use one day for this stage.

Sunset from the beach at Arisaig

Shieldaig to Durness

This is the only stage without a ferry crossing and the stretch to Durness also covers a part of the north coast 500 route. It offers amazing scenery as you travel through Wester Ross and the far north-west of Scotland. Spectacular mountain scenery and breathtaking views over the sea are yours in what is probably the most beautiful part of Scotland. It all starts at Glen Torridon which you follow until Kinlochewe. From there head west along the shore of stunning Loch Maree to Gairloch, the pretty and rather touristic village with its many restaurants and shops. From Gairloch keep heading north along the dramatic coastline until you reach Ullapool, the pearl of the north. From Ullapool the scenery changes with the mountain formations becoming ever more breathtaking. Head west following the signs to Lochinver , a nice fishing town, and continue on the single track road until you reach the A894 and head north. From here it’s one beautiful road all the way to Durness, the end of the Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route. This stage is 187 miles (300kms) with a total road time of around six and best enjoyed if you do it in two days to have plenty of time to properly enjoy the stunning scenery.

Bay of Stoer near Lochinver

Visiting Cape Wrath

When you’ve arrived in Durness you might want to visit Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly tip of the Scottish Mainland. Before Durness at Keoldale Pier is the Cape Wrath Ferry, foot passengers only, over the Kyle of Durness. This crossing takes approx 15 mins. On the other side is a minibus waiting for you which can bring you in approx 50 minutes to Cape Wrath Lighthouse. Total round trip is 3 hours. The Cape Wrath Ferry Service runs 7 days per week May to September. Tel. 01971 511246 or email [email protected]

Kyle of Durness

Ferry and Fuel Costs

Cliffs at Durness

  • Ardrossan to Brodick (Isle of Arran) – £54.50
  • Lochranza to Claonaig (Kintyre) – £39.30
  • Oban to Craignure (Isle of Mull) – £51.10
  • Fishnish to Lochaline (Morvern) – £21.05
  • Mallaig to Armadale (Isle of Skye) – £33.20

Interesting Detours:

  • From Stranraer to the lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway – 36 mile (58 kms) roundtrip
  • Circular tour over Kintyre Peninsula from Claonaig via Campbeltown to Tarbert – 70 miles (113 kms)
  • Knapdale circular tour via Kilberry from Tarbert – 36 mile (58 kms)
  • Instead of the A835 and A837 north to Lochinver take the single track road from Drumrunie to Lochinver and save 6 miles.
  • Halfway between Lochinver and Durness is a turning to the west coast, to Tarbet, where you can get a small passenger ferry to the Isle of Handa, a stunning nature reserve.

More useful links

The Sign at Sango Sands Durness

  • Link to route on Google Maps
  • www.calmac.co.uk for ferry bookings
  • Scotland Info Guide covering the entire area
  • Motorhome Tips and Campsites
  • Tips for detours along the route
  • Touring Map of Scotland
  • Island Hopping in Scotland
  • Paperback Guide To Highlands and Islands
  • Hotels in the West of Scotland

Reader Interactions

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October 6, 2015 at 3:21 am

Sounds lovely! Are the times quoted actual proven real-world driving times, or are these Google Maps estimates? For instance, is the last leg from Shieldaig to Durness really 5 hours (excluding stops) allowing for fair-weather road conditions, typical traffic, and cattle, etc?

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October 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Hi Jon, I have done this journey myself and everything is based on what I’ve experienced myself. For me, the 5hrs+ from Shieldaig to Durness are actual driving hours and they do not include stops, taking pictures, sight seeing, overnight camping etc. That’s why I wrote that you would ideally need two days to fully take in the landscape and the villages, which is something I would very much recommend. I hope this answers your question!

October 6, 2015 at 6:13 pm

It does, thank you!

November 24, 2015 at 2:50 am

This tour looks like a terrific trip. I have a quick question about your site, why is there nothing about Aberdeen and the Northeast of Scotland? Did it all fall into the North Sea? There are many castles, gardens, stone circles, and cute towns and villages. And the third largest city in Scotland is ignored while Perth and some others are included?

November 24, 2015 at 8:23 am

Good point Marjory, the section about the north-east is somewhat thinner than the one of the West coast, which is where I live. The site started off with a focus on the west of Scotland but we now aim to focus on the entire country. As it’s a work in progress there will be more info on the Northeast as well, including Aberdeen. 🙂

January 16, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Hi Marjory, as promised… Our new page of Aberdeen is now ready 🙂

April 2, 2017 at 8:44 am

How frequent are the ferry crossings for this trip to the Isle of Arran, the Calmac ferry & Obain to Mallaig? Any need to pre book for May?

April 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Please check Calmac Timetables here https://www.calmac.co.uk . Most routes have several crossings per day and booking in advance is advised 🙂

April 10, 2017 at 12:35 am

Would traveling the last week of May and the first week of June require booking B&B’s in advance or is same day booking likely?

April 10, 2017 at 7:32 am

It depends a bit on where you are and how many B&B’s there are. It’s always a choice between the freedom of deciding at the last minute where to sleep, with running a risk of searching longer than you had anticipated, or to book in advance and know where you sleep that night. I always choose the latter for what it’s worth 🙂

September 11, 2019 at 5:53 am

Hi all As a new motorcycle rider ok am planing a trip to cover the outline of Scotland main land on a motorbike starting at Glasgow airport then over bridge to Dumbarton down West side to oban , cambeltown then up West side over the top down East coast round the borders over Dumfries and Galloway back up an Ayrshire round by largs free-kick back to start point This is what I am going to do ,when I seen this it made me want it more Thank you on my mind Hope you all enjoy you trip take it easy take it slow count to five and a away you go Enjoy, First short trip Rannock moor over the top And the resting place of Glen Coe It’s not just mountains ,you will feel it

John From Glasgow

April 29, 2017 at 11:31 am

A very informative guide and just what we needed to spur us to deciding on this trip later in the year. Just one question….. is there any problem with mosquitoes? SAJ

April 30, 2017 at 9:08 am

Thanks! You might run into midges here and there, depending on the season and weather conditions. The wee buggers don’t like wind and daylight but usually come out on quiet evenings/mornings. We have a good page about midges and How to avoid them 🙂

August 5, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Looks like a good route. Do you have a .gpx file of it? Google automatically shows me the most direct and won’t be persuaded to show your route

August 6, 2018 at 5:31 am

There’s a link to the route on Google Maps at the bottom of the page 🙂

September 22, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Came across this route when we were planning our Scotland road trip and we thought this appeared to be the best route we had found, and it proved to be a great find. We followed this route over a couple of weeks in May 2017. We were lucky with the weather but what a fantastic route. I like planning these trips but would never have neen able to plan this route especially with the island hopping. The beauty is you never retrace you route and always following new roads or new ferry routes. Also ferries much cheaper than stated due to subsidised fares. Found some great b&b,s and hotels by this route. Fantastic holiday on the fantastic route. Thank you

September 25, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Please continue to Dumfries via Glen Luce, Port William, Isle of Whithorn, Wigtown, Newton Stewart, Gatehouse, Kirkcudbright, New Abbey & etc – then you will have done the complete west coast and not missed some lovely bits

October 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm

On your website page about the west coast driving route it says: There are many accommodation opportunities along the way, from campsites to Bed and Breakfasts and Excellent Hotels. This journey is also suitable to travel with a motorhome. For a motorhome itinerary and campsite tips visit this page. Below I will explain in detail which logical stages make up this best Scottish driving tour.

BUT in the second to last sentence, where it says: … ‘campsite tips visit this page’ … The ‘visit this page’ link dies not work!

October 29, 2018 at 11:59 am

Hi Jackie, thanks so much for the heads-up. Turned out more links on this page were going nowhere… Everything is back to normal 🙂

January 6, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Hi, the link to the map works as it takes you to google maps, but, it defaults to the shortest journey between the two points, is there any way round this?

January 6, 2019 at 10:15 pm

That’s indeed the default way for Google. I just dragged parts of the route to what I really drove, not what Google suggested 🙂

January 6, 2019 at 9:44 pm

Wish you had printed this some years ago, although in all fairness, in those days we were as much interested in walking as sightseeing. Stayed at Ballachulish for about 10 years, but on the last stay I was in a wheelchair, and little to inspire us. Now, after a break of 15 years, we are ready to come back. We have booked accommodation near Lochaline, a chance to explore Oban and Mull more thoroughly, but also the beautiful Ardamurchan area. In a wheelchair, you learn to sit and enjoy what you see, and even on the coast of Devon, you can’t beat the air quality of the area. I tire quickly, but we can do excursions on alternate days furthe afield. Any tips, please, on things not to miss, especially off the usual tourist route?

February 24, 2019 at 10:18 am

I wouldn’t recommend taking a large campervan over the Bealach nam Bo..6

May 28, 2019 at 8:04 am

Hi Is all of this route suitable for a Motorhome

May 28, 2019 at 8:36 am

Hi Carl, I did this myself in a motorhome, an average sized one. I would not really recommend some parts to inexperienced drivers though but most parts are fine!

March 1, 2020 at 8:33 am

Hi Love the look of this route and planning on doing it this year over the summer, what are your thoughts about doing a more direct drive to Durness from Durham, then doing the route in reverse?

March 1, 2020 at 9:46 am

Hi Christine, it’s a stunning route to drive, you won’t regret it. And I don’t think there is one bit of difference in driving it the other way round ?

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July 18, 2020 at 1:11 pm

I’m inspired… 10 days booked off work late August 2020 and will pack the RT1150 up and try and wild camp the trip – all tips and advice most welcome

August 23, 2020 at 8:06 am

This is just what I’m looking for. I would like to do this trip with my toy poodle. Do you know if the hotels and B&Bs accommodated dogs and can dogs travel on all the ferries?

Thank you Sharon

August 26, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Hi Sharon, dogs can travel on the ferries without problems, there usually is a special area on the ferries for folk with dogs! Not all accommodations take pets, best to check in advance 🙂

September 7, 2020 at 11:37 am

Well – just returned…

I tried the suggested trip, but due to Covid19 all the ferries were booked up a week in advance. I did not feel I could get on any ferry just in case the other dependency ferries were already booked. I feel just at this time the “just turn up and we’ll squeeze a bike on” days are behind us. My first day took me from Manchester to Stranraer , but after finding out about the ferries I ended up by Loch Lomond which was a huge detour and a very long day in the saddle. I carried on and did the standard North Coast 500. Again due to the Pandemic it seems Scotland was very very busy but none of the attractions were open so it was just push on day after day. so that in 5 days I covered 1800 miles

June 19, 2021 at 10:27 am

I have some leave booked from work, but only 5 days between shifts at my 2nd job… Wondering what you’d say is an unmissable stretch of the route that might be achievable in that time…?

June 21, 2021 at 5:03 am

Not sure where you live but the North-west, starting at Applecross, is particularly beautiful 🙂

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Best road trip around the west coast of Scotland

If you’ve never taken a west coast scotland road trip, it’s time to add it to your travel list famous around the world for its breathtaking scenery and remote landscapes, scotland’s west coast is a place where you can really get off the beaten track. , best road trip around scotland’s west coast: 10 places you can’t miss.

best road trip west coast scotland

1. Isle of Arran

best road trip west coast scotland

2. Loch Fyne

best road trip west coast scotland

4. Isle of Mull

best road trip west coast scotland

5. Isle of Skye

best road trip west coast scotland

6. Applecross Peninsula

best road trip west coast scotland

7. Gairloch

best road trip west coast scotland

8. Ullapool

best road trip west coast scotland

9. Lochinver

best road trip west coast scotland

10.  Outer Hebrides – Lewis and Harris – Stornoway

best road trip west coast scotland

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The superb drive from glasgow to mallaig, west coast waters part i.

camusdarach drone

A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip to Remember

Most of September saw me on the road as I ducked and dived, weaved and charged over the length and breadth of our western Highlands and Islands. So begins a 4-part west coast of Scotland road trip blog series that will detail the highlights along the way and that will unearth the best activities on, in and overlooking our coastlines and lochs. That will pick out some of our finest seafood restaurants. That will alert you to our most promising up-and-coming distilleries. And that will paint a picture of a part of the world that lives long in the soul.

West Coast of Scotland Road Trip Day 1

Glasgow to fort william.

Several hundred journeys departing Glasgow on Great Western Road have not detracted from its appeal in the slightest. Like a dog that knows he’s off to the park, this is a route that brings up excitement and anticipation for this traveller every time. As I depart my city , the West Highland call begins.

Having passed the majesty of Loch Lomond and the barrenness of Rannoch Moor, interspersed with the odd sumptuous vantage point, the immediate, immersive appeal of the Highlands is clear. This is what you were promised in the guide books. This is Scotland with its soul laid bare.

The misty peaks announcing the approach to Glen Coe signal something else. Enter now the land of the warrior poets, where legends reign and tragedy lingers. Knowledge of the 1692 Massacre means Glen Coe will forever be a melancholic place, similar in atmosphere to a war grave. Listen hard, you may still hear the pipes. You may still feel the desperation.

glen coe road trip scotland itinerary

The familiar roadside stops notwithstanding, the Glen remains a place of hidden alcoves, still lochans and deep calm. And where better to experience that calm than on those lochans, under the watchful gaze of its peaks and guarded on all sides by its knowing trees. Rugged Paddleboard are located near Glencoe village and offer multiple locations for boarding in the vicinity. Perfect for beginners and enthusiasts alike, the effortlessly graceful paddleboard may be the perfect middleman to make the introductions between you and this most powerful of glens.

rugged paddleboard scottish highlands

Crannog Restaurant, Fort William

I’ve long been a fanatic about the excellent Loch Leven Seafood Café whenever road tripping through Lochaber and I can now safely add this little beauty into the mix for competition. Sat right on the water in Fort William, crannog-style, the quality of produce is magnificent. Expect the residents of the deepest depths of local waters to make their way onto the menu in what is an almost-too-convenient stop for travellers passing the urban town.

crannog restaurant fort william

West Coast of Scotland Road Trip Day 2

The road to the isles.

Departing the Outdoor Capital of the UK, the road now leads west. A well-named road at that as the Isles start their own call. And it’s a call with a hint of Jacobite defiance as this is where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed pursuit of the throne both started and ended. A 46-mile stretch densely packed with magnificent scenery, you’ll slowly observe yourself slipping from Highland to Island mindset.

The compulsory stop (chaotically mobbed during the summer season be advised) is of course Glenfinnan. Both Charlie’s Monument and the now-even-more-iconic Harry Potter viaduct overlook the effortless Loch Shiel. One of the most visually impactful spots in Scotland, it joins Glen Coe in pairing natural beauty with complex history leaving you staring down the barrel of this most Scottish of scenarios. Reach for the hip flask and take a moment.

glenfinnan viaduct harry potter

Arisaig Area

Offering a delicious sweet spot between rugged, un-explored peaks and pristine sands, interspersed with machair and rocky islets, lies dainty little Arisaig. The Silver Sands of Morar dot the coastline between here and Mallaig further north. The call of a departing ferry may tempt you to pass through this stretch at pace, but it would be a dire mistake.

Camusdarach

My favourite mainland beach in Scotland, this one’s special. A short walk over dunes from the same-named campsite, Camusdarach is compact enough to feel intimate yet big enough to render you insignificant. Ben’s Beach in Local Hero , it retains a cult following in 80s movie circles and haunts and captivates today’s visitors just as much as it did the film’s besotted Texans.

west coast scotland road trip arisaig

A truly unforgettable sunset elevated the beach to another level. I rarely have the time or opportunity to enjoy sunsets doing what I do (who does?) so to find myself on the sand, speechless and entirely captured, I watched a spectacle of natural light that would silence Parliament. The distant silhouette of the Rum Cuillin, more on Rum and the Small Isles (minus Canna which I couldn’t squeeze in this time) later , bore the full intensity of the fiery sunset behind. The blacks, blues, turquoises, oranges, pinks, yellows and reds battle for supremacy in the last of the day’s light. The sand is soft, the water temperate. The breeze is kind and the waves gentle.

It’s just you and Scotland. Make this a memory.

west coast of scotland road trip sunset

Back on the Water

This stretch of coastline could hardly have been better suited to kayaking and the Arisaig Sea Kayaking Centre obliges. Various, weather-dependent, routes are possible that all aim to give you an alternative understanding of the terrain, the wildlife and the natural vibes. Half and full day trips, under excellent expert supervision, are available and they provide all the gear. An activity that tends to lull me off into a relaxed, contented slumber, you’ll want to try and keep your eyes peeled for seals, hidden inlets and caves, soaring eagles and maybe even the odd coastal rainbow.

west coast scotland road trip kayaking

Dinner at Arisaig House

Another of the Highlands’ most impressive dining options, the seafood here is up there with the best I have tasted. In ever. Fresh-off-the-boat langoustines and lobster, an excellent wine list and locally sourced ingredients rule. Set in a beautiful Country House Hotel, the leafy grounds and terraced gardens ease you into an evening of luxury. Enormously talented chef Colin, warmly welcoming owner Sarah and a friendly and efficient team guarantee a wonderful meal.

arisaig house seafood road to the isles

The Practicalities

This first chunk of my west coast circuit can be done in as little as 2-3 days but don’t let my pace influence you in the slightest. The Road to the Isles is big enough to absorb easily double that, particularly for hikers and water activity fans. I based myself at Fort William and Mallaig for logistical ease as much as anything but there are several more intimate options between the two. While the route makes for a fabulous Scottish road trip, there are trains running all the way between Glasgow and Mallaig, via Fort William, as an additional transport option.

Next up in this series

Stay tuned for more next week, same time, same channel, as I head to Knoydart and the Small Isles ……

This blog post is the result of a sponsored marketing campaign with West Coast Waters , promoting the endless highlights of Scotland’s west coast. The West Coast Waters 2020 Campaign is a partnership initiative and has received funding from the Visit Scotland Growth Fund – more information at https://www.westcoastwaters. co.uk/about .

All experiences had and any recommendations within are, though, based purely on passing the test of my considerable experience working in this industry and exploring my homeland. I’ll stick my neck out and say that you’ll not be disappointed with what awaits you. 

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A Quick Hello From Scotland

More incredibly helpful information, Neil! Notes taken, and these will undoubtedly factor into the planning of more adventures. You apparently had perfect weather as the sunsets forecast – “Red at night, sailors delight”! The food, the beaches and hauntingly beautiful Glen Coe, which I can explore again and again, along with the sweeping beauty of Rannoch Moor. Many thanks, and I look forward to the next installment.

Charlotte Merriam Cole

Thanks Charlotte and this stretch of the country is right up there – visually spectacular with bags of personality!

Beautiful. Especially the seafood. Thanks.

West coast seafood is out of this world…..

Gobsmacked & mesmerised by this vignette of the best of the West Coast ❤️

It does have that effect! 🙂

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SCOTTISH TRAVEL BLOG

Scotland West Coast Road-Trip: Ardnamurchan, Morvern and Mull

West coast of scotland road-trip route: ardnamurchan, morvern & mull.

Scotland’s West Coast is ideal road-trip territory. My adventure focused on Morvern, Ardnamurchan and Mull, and it was nothing short of amazing! Discover my suggested road-trip route, with ideas on where to eat, sleep and explore – plus inspiration for some island-hopping, along the way.

Ben More, Isle of Mull

This blog is part of a paid campaign to promote Scotland’s West Coast Waters

West Highland Peninsulas and the Isle of Mull are like a match made in heaven . They sit side-by-side, like super-scenic neighbours, and are connected by regular ferry crossings over the Sound of Mull. The range of sights, sounds and experiences between the two is enough to blow your wee socks off! If you’re planning a road-trip around Scotland’s West Coast, it would be rude not to show them both some love.

I don’t drive, and I have no intention of changing that anytime soon , so my version of a road-trip usually involves trains, buses and lifts from locals. There are pockets of Scotland which are largely inaccessible by public transport however, and that’s where my friends come in. Kim from Adventures Assemble stepped in as road-trip pilot for this trip, and took to the wheel with ease and confidence; while I did my best to read Google Maps correctly.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

While part of this route follows the well-beaten path into the Highlands – with several iconic locations along the way – this is largely a journey through blissfully remote and stunningly beautiful destinations . Every time I locked eyes with the landscape, I felt a sharp tug on my tartan heartstrings. This is a spectacular loop, by land and sea. I loved it, and I know you will too.

I’ve deliberately not written this post as a day-by-day itinerary, so that you can choose how long to spend in each destination. Instead, I’ve detailed each section of the journey with practical information and ideas for things to see, do and experience. My advice, as always, is to take your time.

Seat with a view at Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

How long will this West Coast road-trip take?

To do this road-trip justice, and ensure that you’re not rushing around, allow yourself at least 7 days to complete this route at a leisurely pace . If you have less time than this, you could just focus on individual sections, for example:

  • Combine Section 1 & 4 for a West Coast road-trip on the mainland
  • Section 2 to focus on Morvern & Ardnamurchan
  • Section 3 to explore the Isle of Mull – and visit nearby islands

There are numerous opportunities to extend your adventure onto other islands , so be sure to account for any additional island-hopping. On this trip, I also visited Tiree and Coll, and I’ve included more suggestions throughout the post.

Buckle your seatbelt, turn the tunes on, and let’s get going.

Hairy coos on the Isle of Mull

2020 is the Visit Scotland Year of Coasts & Waters, and as an avid island-hopper, you can imagine how much this floats my boat. West Coast Waters focuses specifically on the regions across Scotland’s West Coast; from Loch Lomond & the Firth of Clyde, all the way to the Outer Hebrides. The campaign promotes the many ways you can #ImmerseYourSenses, and I hope I can inspire you to do exactly that.

Table of Contents

SECTION ONE: EDINBURGH TO MORVERN

Our journey into the Highlands was a breeze: the excitement of our forthcoming adventure carried us seamlessly through the first long drive. The brightness of the blue sky was unwavering, and the visibility was so perfect, I could see every wee detail of the mountains, and ripples on the surface on the water. Stepping outside the car, I breathed in the cool, crisp air and felt the unexpected warmth from the sun on my skin.

View from the Corran Ferry crossing over Loch Linnhe

STOPS/THINGS TO DO

Doune Castle – if you’re a fan of Outlander or Monty Python & the Holy Grail, this well-preserved 13th century stronghold is worth a visit. The castle was also featured in Outlaw King, and in the pilot series of Game of Thrones as Winterfell.

Doune Castle

Callander – this pretty tourist town sits at the gateway to the Highlands, the mountains ahead guiding you north. There are a couple of supermarkets where you can pick up supplies, and if you’re feeling peckish I highly recommend one of the steak and haggis pies from Mhor Bread. If you need to stretch your legs, go for a walk to beautiful Bracklinn Falls.

Loch Lubnaig – not far beyond Callander is one of my favourite lochs in Scotland. Loch Lubnaig is a taste of the scenery to come, and the water is often so glassy-still, it perfectly reflects the mountains, trees and sky. I often grab a hot drink from The Cabin then sit near the water’s edge.

Loch Lubnaig

Glencoe – after driving through the vast wilderness that is Rannoch Moor, you will arrive into one of Scotland’s most dramatic and breath-taking landscapes. Glencoe is very popular, and for good reason. If you can’t get a space in one of the two car parks, continue through the glen until you can find somewhere to stop, or go to Glencoe Visitor Centre to see the view from there.

Stunning Glencoe

Glencoe Village – Glencoe Café is a lovely wee lunch stop. I recommend the cheese & chive scones and homemade soup. Just across the road is the Glencoe Folk Museum which is well worth a visit if you have time, or if you decide to stay overnight in Glencoe. For more ideas on what to do in the area, including Glencoe Lochan, check out my blog post on Glencoe here.

Glencoe Village

Corran Ferry – when you’re ready to travel over to Morvern, catch the Corran Ferry from Nether Lochaber over to Ardgour on Ardnamurchan. This super-scenic short journey over Loch Linnhe only takes around 10-minutes and costs £8 per car (passengers are free). Please note you can’t pre-book the ferry; just turn up and wait in the queue. For more information visit the CalMac website .

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION

Clachaig Inn, Glencoe – if you would like more time to explore the Glencoe area, I would recommend staying in this historic inn which is surrounded by mountains. Expect crackling fires, an impressive whisky collection, and good, hearty food. If you’re staying on a Friday or Saturday, there’s a good chance you’ll hear some live music.

  • Read more about my experience at the Clachaig Inn here , or search for accommodation in the Glencoe area here.

Outside the Clachaig Inn

SECTION TWO: MORVERN & ARDNAMURCHAN

Once you’ve arrived on these remote peninsulas, all your worries slip away . You’ll also feel inevitably smug when you don’t have to negotiate your way through crowds of tourists or queues of traffic to immerse yourself in the wild surroundings. Every time I locked eyes with the landscape, I felt a sharp tug on my tartan heartstrings. My love for Scotland intensified with every loch, mountain, and wee settlement.

A sheep on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula

STOPS/THINGS TO DO IN MORVERN

Ardtornish Gardens – these pretty gardens are wrapped around Ardtornish House, showing off a variety of vibrant foliage and flowers. The enchanting towers extend upwards from the house, peeking out over the treetops, with views right down Lochaline and across to Mull.

Ardtornish Gardens, Morvern Peninsula

Nc’nean Distillery, Drimnin – this tiny, small-scale distillery is a real hidden gem. Nc’nean is Scotland’s first organic whisky distillery, and the team are working on a few exciting ideas and initiatives. They are expecting their first bottling of single malt to be ready in 2020, but in the meantime, you can do a tour of the distillery, which includes cake, cocktails, and a taste of the ‘new make’ spirit. Pre-booking is necessary.

Nc'nean Distillery, Drimnin

Clach Na Criche Wishing Stone – this unusual stone dyke juts out from the rock, and has a naturally-formed hole the middle. It was once used to mark the border between Gaelic and Pictish lands, and medieval church parishes. It is believed that you’ll be granted a wish if you manage to pass through the hole three times without touching the sides. Worth a try! Personally I’d be scared to try… Outlander and all that!

Clach Na Criche Wishing Stone

Whitehouse Restaurant, Lochaline – lunch or dinner at this culinary gem is an absolute must when you’re in the area. The dishes change daily, and you can choose between two and six courses from the tasting menu, which features beautiful seasonal ingredients which are sourced or foraged from the local area. The food is unbelievably good!

Goats cheese panna cotta at the Whitehouse Restaurant, Morvern

STOPS/THINGS TO DO IN ARDNAMURCHAN

Kayaking with Otter Adventures – since launching the company in 2017, Karl’s kayaking trips on Loch Sunart have already been listed as one of the top things to do in the area. I you’re a first-timer, Karl is very experienced in outdoor education and will make sure you’re well looked after. The surrounding scenery is absolutely stunning, and the whole experience is good for the soul. The trips leave from Otterburn B&B in Strontian and advanced booking is recommended.

Me kayaking on Loch Sunart

Resipoles Studios Art Gallery, Acharacle – this fine-art gallery and artists’ studios are housed within a bright and beautiful converted farm building, showcasing the work of numerous artists. The gallery is a member of the ‘Own Art’ scheme which aims to make art more accessible to all, by offering an interest-free loan for 10 months for purchases from £100 up to £2500. Very tempting!

best road trip west coast scotland

Puffin Café, Kilchoan – this friendly wee café is a great stop on your way to Sanna Bay and Ardnamurchan Point, or for a refreshment before the ferry to Tobermory. I had a lovely cappuccino and a ‘pizza’ toastie. Yum!

Pizza toastie from the Puffin Cafe at Kilchoan

Sanna Bay – this beautiful beach is an absolute jaw-dropper. Sand dunes give way to the picturesque bay with sweeping white sands and turquoise sea; it even looks that colour on a grey, overcast day. A perfect place to clear your head, as you listen to the waves.

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan

Ardnamurchan Point – visit the most westerly point on the UK mainland, and its iconic lighthouse, which has been a prominent – and very important – feature of the landscape since 1849. Have a coffee and some home-baked treats in the quirky Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Coffee Shop, then purchase your very inexpensive ticket to go up to the top of the lighthouse. The views are amazing!

Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse

Kilchoan Ferry – take the small car ferry from Kilchoan over to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The journey takes around 35 minutes, and costs £8.90 for the vehicle and £2.85 per passenger. You can’t pre-book this ferry, and it is first-come, first-served so make sure you arrive in plenty of time – particularly for the last sailing! You can view the timetable on the CalMac website.

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION IN MORVERN/ARDNAMURCHAN

Ardtornish Estate, Morvern – accommodation in this neck of the woods doesn’t come more interesting than this Victorian mansion. Beautiful from the outside, and with a truly unique interior, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you stay here. Make sure you go in search of the original bells which were used to call the servants.

One of the rooms in the Ardtornish Estate

Island Add-on: Isle of Carna

If you’d like to have an extra-special experience during your time in the area, you can book to stay in a cottage or house on the private Isle of Carna . The island sits on Loch Sunart, between Ardnamurchan and Morvern, and is accessed by boat from the wee hamlet of Laga.

There’s no WiFi, no TV, no cars and no phone signal . In the house, there’s also only one electric light, and the rest are gas. I can’t think of a better place to switch-off, have a ‘Digital Detox’, and immerse yourself in the wonders of the West Coast. You can read more about my time on the Isle of Carna in my full blog post about Ardnamurchan and Morvern, here .

Our house on the Isle of Carna

SECTION THREE: ISLE OF MULL TO OBAN

I have been to Mull several times, but I had never had I seen it quite like this . Dark, heavy clouds hovered above the land, while the sun beamed brightly through the vacant patches of clear sky. As well as the bright autumn colours, the sky swiftly shifted from bold blue to the moodiest of greys; stark contrasts with equal amounts of eye-popping beauty. I also saw a part of the island I had never been to before: the ‘scenic route’ round the west coast was something special.

The 'scenic route' from Salen to Ross of Mull

STOPS/THINGS TO DO ON MULL

Tobermory – your arrival point is the colourful port of Tobermory, which is the main settlement on Mull. Browse the independent gift shops, go for a seafood lunch or dinner at Café Fish (advance booking is necessary) and pick up any supplies at the COOP Supermarket. Check out my blog post for more things to do in Tobermory .

The colourful harbour in Tobermory

Am Birlinn, Dervaig – if you’re staying in the north of the island, this dinner venue is a must. The striking chalet-style building looks beautiful at night with the inviting glow from the interior lights and fairy lights outside. The front of the menu details exactly where (in miles) all their local produce is sourced, including their very own Highland cattle from, literally, across the road. The portions were very generous, and everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing. I can personally recommend the seafood stew and the sea bass.

Seabass, dauphinoise, and ratatouille at Am Birlinn, Isle of Mull

Calgary Bay – this bonnie beach is one of the most popular on the island, and for good reason. White sand stretches out between rocky chunks of land, and the colour of the water is a dream. Pop into Calgary Arts for a look around the gallery, walk the woodland sculpture trail (£2 entry), or opt for a coffee and a bite to eat in the lovely café.

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

Traigh na Cille – this unusual black sand beach is something of a local secret – until now! On the drive towards Torloisk, you go over a wee stone bridge and you’ll see a wooden gate on your right sand side, which you can pull in next to. Walk down the farm track until you reach the hidden beach.

Traigh na Cille, black sand beach on the Isle of Mull

The Hen House, Ulva Ferry – on the way to Ulva Ferry, look out for a wee wooden cabin on the left side of the road. Inside you’ll find a local lady Anne, and a selection of homemade treats: soup, scones, sausage rolls, jams, and the best meringues – served with cream for extra naughtiness.

The Hen House, Isle of Mull

Eas Fors Waterfall – this picturesque spot boasts a triple whammy of waterfalls! The viewpoint for the Upper Falls is the easiest to get, and the other two require a bit of (muddy) downhill walk. The final cascade drops off the cliff face into the sea, so please keep a safe distance from the edge. The views along the rocky coastline are stunning!

Eas Fors Waterfall, the Isle of Mull

Isle of Ulva –take the wee ferry from Ulva Ferry over to the community-owned Isle of Ulva. The system for summoning the ferry is a novelty in itself! After a short crossing, you arrive at The Boathouse, where you can collect a map of the walking trails on the island. If you’re short on time, you can simply have a delicious seafood lunch or some home-baking.

The Boathouse, Isle of Ulva

Mull Charters – the west coast on Mull is a hotspot for sea eagles and marine life. Mull Charters offer regular wildlife cruises from Ulva Ferry. We sadly missed our trip due to a road accident and it being close to the departure time, but the trip is high on my list for the next time I visit Mull.

Take the ‘scenic route’ – The journey takes you along the banks of Loch Na Keal, with the imposing Ben More towering over the landscape. Further round the coast, mighty chunks of rock jut out from great heights, and waterfalls cascade from the cracks and crevices. This isn’t the quickest route round to the Ross of Mull, but it is definitely the most beautiful.

On the scenic drive to the Ross of Mull

Fionnphort – go for a walk on the picturesque Fionnphort Beach to admire the pink granite rocks and bright blue water, then grab some seafood from The Creel. Fionnphort is the departure point for the Isle of Iona, and for trips to the Isle of Staffa; if you’re travelling in summer you can see the puffins! You can also visit the tidal island of Erraid from just outside the village, which is mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’. I’ve yet to visit.

Isle of Iona – leave the car behind, and hop on the ferry from Fionnphort to Iona, which takes just 10 minutes. This serenely beautiful island with capture your heart before you’ve even stepped off the ferry. My top recommendations are: visit Iona Abbey, climb Dun I and walk round to the beaches on the north-west. If you’re staying for dinner, the Argyll Hotel is fantastic but must be booked in advance. I would allow at least 4 hours to properly see the island, or even better – an overnight stay.

The row of wee cottages on the Isle of Iona

Loch Buie Standing Stones – on the drive to Craignure to catch the ferry to the mainland, take a detour past Loch Spelve and Loch Uisg. The stones are very much hidden. So much so, that we found a small stone circle and thought that was it! I will return to find the actual standing stones, but the location we stumbled upon was an enchanting find nonetheless.

The woodland near Loch Buie standing stones

Craignure – this is the departure point for the ferry from Mull to Oban. Pre-booking your car onto the ferry is essential, and you can do this on the CalMac website. It is also advisable to arrive at the ferry terminal around one hour before departure.

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION ON MULL

Ross of Mull Bunkhouse – this lovely bunkhouse is the best I’ve come across on my travels. Housed within a newly renovated, historic cottage, it was SO cute and cosy! The rooms were spacious with comfortable bunks, and the brand-new bathrooms with hot power showers were such a treat. There’s a well-equipped kitchen for self-catering, and I loved relaxing on the Chesterfield couch with the fire roaring.

The lounge at Ross of Mull bunkrooms

Island\s Add-on: Coll and Tiree

If you’re not quite ready to leave behind the island way of life, you can replicate my trip by also adding in a visit to Coll and Tiree. I did this part of the trip solo, and without a driver, but having a car would allow you to cover more ground in less time.

I would recommend travelling to Tiree first, for a couple of reasons. It’s the furthest away, taking 4-hours from Oban, so you can get the longest journey out of the way first. It is also more action-packed (if you want it to be) than Coll.

Tiree is famed as the Surf Capital of the UK, and the beaches are absolutely stunning! There are a number of adventurous activities you can try: paddle-boarding, windsurfing, or surfing with Wild Diamond Tiree, exploring on an electric bike from Tiree Fitness, or taking a high-speed boat trip with Tiree Sea Tours. For more details, check out my blog about activities on Tiree , which includes where to eat and stay.

When you’re ready to slow down and relax, the Isle of Coll awaits . The ferry journey from Tiree to Coll takes just under an hour. Coll almost instantly became one of my new favourite islands. The main village of Arinagour has everything you need; two shops, a Post Office, a café, the community centre, the bunkhouse, and the hotel/pub. The rest of the island is rocky landscapes and breath-taking beaches. Read my separate blog about all the things I love about the Isle of Coll to help you plan your trip.  

Balevullin Beach, Tiree

MORE ISLANDS TO VISIT FROM OBAN

Oban is the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ so you’re spoiled for island-hopping options . You can take a day trip to the Isle of Kerrera, and walk to the Kerrera Tea Garden , or visit Lismore and explore by bike. You could visit The Slate Islands , hop between Colonsay, Islay and Jura in The Southern Hebrides or go even further to the Outer Hebrides, with direct ferry links to the Isle of Barra and Lochboisdale, Isle of South Uist.

Kerrera Tea Garden

SECTION FOUR: OBAN TO EDINBURGH

Back on the mainland, Loch Awe served as a gentle stepping stone back into reality . The whole trip – and even this last leg of the journey back to the city – more than lived up to the notion that ‘West is Best’. Not only is this section the perfect finale to a West Coast Waters road-trip, all these destinations are also served by public transport from Glasgow.

Blue skies over Oban

STOPS/THINGS TO DO IN ARGYLL

Oban – this bustling seaside town is the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ so there’s always a buzz in the air! My favourite lunch spot is Food from Argyll at the Pier , which proudly displays a list and map of all their local suppliers. I highly recommend their steak sandwich or the mac ‘n’ cheese, which is made with Mull of Kintyre cheddar. Take a walk along the waterfront, and up to McCaig’s Tower, which looks like Oban’s answer to the Colosseum.

McCaigs Tower, Oban

Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe – this iconic castle has sat on Loch Awe since the 15th century, but has lain in ruin since the 18th century. It’s still such a bonnie sight to behold, and you can only try to imagine how it looked in its former glory; complete with a five-storey tower-house. For the best photos of the castle, drive round to the other side of the loch. You can also hire a boat to explore or go fishing on the loch from Loch Awe Boats, who are based in Dalmally.

Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe

Inveraray – this picturesque town sits on Loch Fyne, and for such a small place there are numerous attractions. Visit Inveraray Jail, walk through the lavish interior and glorious gardens at Inveraray Castle, and climb up to Dun na Cuaiche for stunning views. Check out my blog for more things to do in Inveraray .

Inveraray

Rest and Be Thankful – the drive on the A83 towards Loch Lomond is an absolute cracker. You can really savour scenic Argyll at this famous viewpoint before arriving back to the city. Outlander fans may recognise this view from the opening credits in season one!

Glasgow – if you have some time to spend in Glasgow at the end of your trip, read about all my favourite things to do and places to stay in the city in my Glasgow blog post .

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION IN ARGYLL

Ben Cruachan Inn, Loch Awe – stay in one of the attractive rooms in the main building, or in a modern Garden Suite with views out to the loch. For dinner in the restaurant, expect good quality and huge portions. My chicken burger was outrageous – and so good! I also recommend the vegetarian breakfast, purely for the addition of the halloumi cheese (for the record, I’m not veggie).

Garden Suite at the Ben Cruachan Inn

Inveraray Inn – The Inveraray Inn opened in 1755, and it has since undergone a major refurbishment, which finished in January 2018. The interior is tastefully Scottish and charming, with bright and comfortable rooms, and there’s an on-site bar/restaurant. Inveraray is a lovely place to spend the night once the road-trip traffic has died down and most of the visitors have left in tour buses.

Inveraray

  • To enjoy even more of this route to yourself, consider travelling in the off-season. I travelled at the end of September and the autumn colours were breath taking.
  • If you’re not used to driving on the left-hand side, or on single track roads, please take some time to educate yourself in driving etiquette. The most important things to remember are to keep left, use the Passing Places, and allow other drivers to overtake you.
  • Print off the route map before you leave, as it’s likely some areas won’t have any internet connection to use Google Maps.
  • Take the suggested driving times on Google Maps with a pinch of salt; the roads are often narrow and winding, and if there is any traffic you will need to stop regularly in passing places.

This post is sponsored by West Coast Waters. As always, all content, opinions & chaotic behaviour are my own.

Happy travels, kay 💙, the west coast waters 2020 campaign is a partnership initiative and has received funding from the visit scotland growth fund – more information at west coast waters., 2 thoughts on “scotland west coast road-trip: ardnamurchan, morvern and mull”.

You really do a fantastic job Kay. Too old to make trip Although sure could not run across a better guide & usher. A true pathfinder. Do you really need 39 million cups of coffee. Very good stuff, Thanks,

Thanks so much Andy. I love what I do, which definitely helps! 🙂

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Argyll & Isles , Inner Hebrides , Isle of Colonsay , Isle of Islay , Isle of Jura , Itineraries , Kintyre Peninsula , The Isles

Itinerary for the west coast of scotland [1- & 2-week options]: the west coast waters of argyll.

When you think of Scotland do you envision epic cliffs and coastlines? Towering mountains and sprawling glens? Crystal clear waters and sandy beaches? Delicious whisky and tasty local produce? This 2-week itinerary for the west coast of Scotland covers all that and more. Follow this route and take in some of the most beautiful places in the Inner Hebrides and Argyll – a trip to the west coast you will remember for a lifetime!

This post contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. Find out more here . All opinions are my own.

This post is part of the West Coast Waters campaign and focuses on Wild About Argyll . Regions all along the west coast of Scotland have joined forces to promote the country’s beautiful west coast from Argyll to Wester Ross. 2020 is the Year of Coast and Waters – the perfect excuse to plan a trip and immerse yourself in the sounds, views, aromas and textures of Scotland’s west coast!

If you ask me, nothing beats an escape to the west coast of Scotland. What could be better than being surrounded by mountains, yet never far from a Caribbean-looking beach or a lush blooming garden? Every time I visit, I am blown away by the diversity of landscapes and things to do near the coast. 

My trip to ring in the Year of Coasts and Waters brought me to one of my favourite regions in Scotland – Argyll and the Isles. Not only is it easily accessible from cities like Glasgow or Edinburgh, but it also has the longest coastline of all Scottish regions – two good reasons to plan a trip here and follow my footsteps!

This blog post contains everything you need for your extended trip to the Scottish west coast: from travel info for the region to a day-by-day itinerary for your holiday. I kept the description of each destination deliberately brief in this post, but make sure to click through to my destination guides for more detailed accounts of what to see & do. Don’t worry, it’s still a “monster post” with lots of practical advice and inspiration!

Without further ado, let’s hit the road!

If you are here for inspiration for a Scotland staycation, you should also read my guide to adding oomph to your staycation .

Need help finding cheap airfare to Scotland? Check out  my tips for booking flights to Scotland !

Dreaming of Scotland? Listen to my immersive travel podcast Wild for Scotland !

The sandy beach at Balnahard Bay on Colonsay in Scotland

Table of Contents

West Coast of Scotland Road Trip Video

Travel Info: Argyll & Inner Hebrides

Where is argyll.

Argyll is a large region in the west of Scotland and covers an area spanning from Kintyre peninsula in the south, across the Isle of Bute and Cowal to the western shore of Loch Lomond in the east, up towards Bridge of Orchy, Loch Etive and Loch Creran in the north, and Oban in the west. Additionally, the region also contains most of the Inner Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland. The Heart of Argyll, or Mid-Argyll, which is covered in this itinerary lies south of Oban and includes places like Loch Awe, Kilmartin Glen, Loch Fyne, Inveraray, Crinan Canal, Knapdale Forest and Tarbert.

What are the Inner Hebrides?

The Hebrides are an archipelago of islands off Scotland’s west coast and are split into the Inner Hebrides, closer to the mainland and the Outer Hebrides also called the Western Isles. The Isle of Skye is the largest and possibly the most famous Inner Hebridean island. 

The Inner Hebrides that are part of Argyll are the Isles of Mull, Coll, Tiree, Islay, Jura and Colonsay and a vast number of smaller islands such as Kerrera , Lismore, Iona, Staffa and Gigha. 36 islands in the Inner Hebrides are inhabited and this itinerary takes in seven of them .

Explore the Inner Hebrides with my ready-made Island Hopping itinerary !

Map of the Inner Hebrides & Argyll

Check out my interactive map below or click through. I’ve marked all the places I mention in this itinerary, including places to stay, natural points of interests such as beaches and hills, things to do such as distillery tours and outdoor activities, where to grab a bite to eat, and a few practical places to know such as petrol stations and shops.

Transport for this itinerary

Hire car | I hired a car for my west coast adventure. This trip is conceptualised with a car in mind and ideal for a Scotland road trip.  I covered about 470 miles on the road and took eight ferry crossings, some of which must be booked in advance with a car. 

Check out my practical guide to renting a car in Scotland .

Nervous about driving? Learn about UK traffic rules & etiquette with the useful online guide by Tripiamo .

Ferries | Regardless of how much time you spend on this itinerary (see below for shortened suggestions), it is important to check ferry time tables. Not every crossing mentioned in this itinerary is available every day of the week and winter timetables (roughly Oct to April) can vary significantly from summer schedules (roughly May to Sept).

Don’t miss my practical guide to island hopping in Scotland !

TOP TIP It makes sense to check ferry schedules before you book your flights in order to choose the best arrival/departure days accordingly.

Public Transport | Most places on this itinerary are also accessible by public transport. However, keep in mind that not having a car will slow you down and limits how many stops you can fit into one day. Bus services on islands can be limited (Islay, Jura) to non-existent (Colonsay), so it’s important to be realistic and prepare for active days without motorised transport.

Cycling | You can cycle to the majority of destinations on this route or hire a bike to explore individual islands. Colonsay and Gigha for example, are perfect to explore by bike because they are small and there is very little traffic on the roads.

Cara Island Bay

How much time to spend in Argyll & the Inner Hebrides?

I actually did this itinerary in 10 days, but it was a tour de force . Additionally, I had been so some of the regions before, so I didn’t mind picking some activities over others I had done in the past. If this is your first trip to the Scottish west coast, I, therefore, recommend spending 2 weeks on this route (13 nights/14 days). This allows you to slow down a little and experience each destination to the fullest.

Here is a quick overview of this itinerary: Kintyre Peninsula | 3 nights Isle of Islay |  2 nights Isle of Jura |  2 nights Isle of Colonsay | 2 nights Heart of Argyll (=Mid-Argyll) |  3 nights Glasgow |  1 night

What if you only have one week? 

If you only have one week to explore the west coast of Scotland in Argyll, I recommend cutting one of the island destinations from this itinerary (Islay, Jura or Colonsay) and reducing your time in Kintyre and Mid-Argyll by one night. If you fly out on the next day and unless you have a very late flight, I recommend sticking to the final night in Glasgow instead of racing to the airport from Argyll – just in case there are issues with traffic. 

What if you have even less time?

Of course, you can visit Argyll with less time at your hand – that’s the beauty of its proximity to Glasgow! If you have less than a week – say 3 to 5 days – I recommend choosing one or two destinations to focus on.

You could stay on the mainland and explore Kintyre and Mid-Argyll, like I did for this 3-day Argyll itinerary , or mix it up a little and choose one mainland region and one island. Islay and Jura work well in combination with Kintyre or Mid-Argyll, as the ferry terminal in Kennacraig is easy to reach from north or south. Colonsay is better reached via ferry from Oban and thus best to combine with Mid-Argyll.

Two cars standing on line at a ferry jetty by the sea

Two Weeks on the West Coast of Scotland

Visit the kintyre peninsula (3 nights).

Kintyre is also known as Scotland’s only mainland island. Looking at the map of Argyll, Kintyre is the long finger-shaped mass of land separating the Firth of Clyde from the Atlantic ocean. 

Legend has it, that in a dispute between the Norwegian king Magnus Barefoot and the Scottish king Malcolm III, Malcolm told Magnus that he could rule over all land he could encircle by boat. Up for the challenge, Magnus made his men drag his boat across the 2-mile strip of land that connects Kintyre to the mainland and thus claimed authority over the entire peninsula. It was only a few years later that Malcolm’s younger brother invaded Magnus’ stronghold on the Scottish west coast and won back the isles, Kintyre and the mainland region of Knapdale. 

While signs of this early medieval Viking rule in Kintyre remain tangible today – from place names to archaeological finds – the region offers a quintessentially Scottish experience, which is perfect for anyone looking to discover Scotland off the beaten track without missing out on all things “typically” Scottish.

Spending three nights in Kintyre allows you to explore the peninsula in-depth. I suggest a road trip to Southend on the first day, a day on the east coast, a day trip to the Isle of Gigha and a day on the west coast to fully immerse yourself in everything Kintyre has to offer.

You might also like: 13 Things to do on the Kintyre Peninsula

Day 1: Arrive in Kintyre + Road trip to Southend

After landing in Glasgow and picking up your rental car, make your way to Campbeltown – see the yellow Travel Essentials box below for two different route options.

From here, head out on a road trip to Southend , the southern tip of Kintyre, and the Mull of Kintyre . Don’t forget to download Paul McCartney’s song Mull of Kintyre and play it on full blast along the way – if you are like me, this song will be stuck in your head until you move on to the next region… There are several things to do at the Mull of Kintyre, including a walk to the historic lighthouse from where you can see the coast of Northern Ireland – at least on a clear day. In Southend, pay a visit to St Columba’s Chapel and his Footprints . St Columba landed in Kintyre before continuing his journey to Iona. Across the bay, stop by the ruins of Dunaverty Castle , a former stronghold of the MacDonald clan, the Lords of the Isles.

After refreshments? Stop at Muneroy Tearoom for a full meal and/or home baking. 

In the late afternoon, make your way back to Campbeltown or on to Carradale , a charming village along the east coast of Kintyre – the perfect starting point for tomorrow’s adventures.

Beach on the Mull of Kintyre

Day 2: East Coast of Kintyre

Today you will spend time on the east coast of Kintyre. From Carradale, head out to Torrisdale Bay to take in the views of the beautiful beach and explore the rock pools to the north. At the nearby Torrisdale Estate, book a tour at Beinn An Tuirc Distillery of Kintyre Gin. The distillery produces small-batch craft gin and is entirely powered by a hydro-electricity plant on the estate. Pretty green and very delicious! 

For lunch, head back to Carradale for a soup and sandwich at the lovely Drumfearne Tearoom . 

Driving south once again, stop at the entrance for Saddell Castle . Park your car near the gatehouse and walk the rest of the way towards the sea. The castle is privately owned and rented as a holiday let, but the beautiful bay is open to the public. Soon you will, without doubt, stumble across Antony Gormley’s cast-iron statue which is perched on the rocks of the bay, exposed at low tide, submerged in waves at high tide. It’s eerie, but a beautiful encounter with public art in nature. 

Finally, make your way to Campbeltown for a tour at Glen Scotia Distillery . Campbeltown was once the most prolific whisky region of Scotland, with more than 30 distilleries in the same town. Today, there are only three left. Glen Scotia was founded in 1832 and is one of Scotland’s smallest whisky producers. Distillery manager Iain McAlister showed me around the distillery and brought out the big guns – a tasting of several drams drawn straight out of the casks at the distillery’s Dunnage Warehouse. The Managers Tour is available for £75 per person, but the standard tour starts at only £7.

Torrisdale bay in Kintyre

Day 3: Day Trip to the Isle of Gigha

The Isle of Gigha lies just 3 miles off the west coast of Kintyre and is connected by a regular ferry to Tayinloan (multiple crossings per day) – about 30 minutes from Campbeltown. It makes for an easy and rewarding day trip in the Kintyre region. You can either bring your car across or hire bicycles on Gigha to get around – there are only a few roads on Gigha and very little traffic.

After the short crossing, head north to some of Gigha’s beautiful beaches. The Twin Beaches at Eilean Garbh can be reached via an at times muddy footpath from the main road (park on the grass near the wooden sign for the beaches). The two sandy beaches lie back to back and open up to two beautiful bays and views across to Islay and Jura. Take plenty of time to explore along the coastline and keep an eye open for birds and seals. 

For lunch, heat to Gigha Hotel who have a wide range of meals including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.

In the afternoon, choose between a trip to the surprisingly exotic Achamore Gardens and Leim Beach in the southwest of Gigha; or charter a local fishing boat to take you to Cara Island . I found my own captain in Stuart McNeill, a local fisherman, who took me out on his boat ( phone to book: +44 78860 07090 ). We sailed past Gigalum Island (which made me giggle a lot), seals sunbathing on the rocks exposed by the low tide and on to Cara, where I went on land to explore the bays in the north. 

The beach near the village (Johnny’s Shore) is a great place for wild swimming and snorkelling.

You could spend your third night in Kintyre on Gigha or around Tayinloan, or return – like me – to your accommodation in Campbeltown for a fresh start tomorrow.

You might also like: A practical guide for snorkelling in Scotland

Twin beaches on Isle of Gigha

Day 4: West Coast of Kintyre

Spend your final day in Kintyre on the peninsula’s west coast. If you are curious and active, book a surf lesson with Pete’s Surf School at Westport beach . The surf is great here and on a good day, there are always plenty of others out in the water. Pete is a great teacher, very reassuring, and keen to make sure you’re having a great experience on the board. I really enjoyed myself!

Another beautiful beach in this area is Machrihanish Bay , which is also great for birders. The Seabird Observatory provides a hide for wildlife enthusiasts.

Hungry after my surf lesson, I drove to Glenbarr Cafe for a delicious and rewarding vegan meal.

In the afternoon, head back to the east coast one last time and visit Skipness Castle – or hang around Glenbarr for a little longer and get your energy back after a tiring morning (which is what I did). In the evening, make your way to Kennacraig to catch the day’s last sailing to the Isle of Islay.

Woman in a wet suit with a surf board at the beach

KINTYRE TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Kintyre | There are two ways to get to Kintyre: by land or by water. I chose the latter and boarded the Calmac ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown – an hour’s drive southwest of Glasgow. Taking the ferry does not necessarily save time (either way it takes about 3-4 hours to reach Campbeltown), but it did save me exhausting driving time on the same roads I would travel on later during my trip. Additionally, taking a ferry is simply the best way to start a trip to Scotland’s west coast! The Ardrossan to Campbeltown ferry runs only in summer (May to September) and frequents six times a week on four different days. Check the timetable here .

Vegan food in Kintyre | The Kintyre peninsula is very remote, but it was surprisingly easy to find vegan food! Both accommodations where I stayed made an effort to stock vegan-friendly supplies for breakfast and created delicious plant-based evening meals for me. Read more about them below. I also enjoyed two delicious lunches at Drumfearne Tearoom in Carradale (east coast) and Glenbarr Cafe (west coast). I also was not disappointed on the Isle of Gigha and had a great lunch at Gigha Hotel , which also offers vegan evening options.

Kintyre Accommodation | I tried two very different accommodations in Kintyre during my trip. Carradales Guest House is a five-star bed & breakfast in Carradale, a stretched-out village on the east coast of the peninsula. I also spent two nights at the Seafield Annex of Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown. In addition to spending time on the mainland, I recommend trying to book a night on the Isle of Gigha to allow more time on the island. There are many options, such as the Gigha hotel, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation and glamping pods.

Visit Islay and Jura (2 nights each)

The Isles of Islay and Jura are often visited together. They are very different, very close and well connected, but an additional factor is surely that Jura does not have its own car ferry connection to the mainland – although, there is a passenger ferry during the summer. 

Islay, also known as the Queen of the Hebrides or Whisky Island, is the third-largest island in the Inner Hebrides and offers a huge variety of landscapes, activities and attractions. From the obvious – whisky distilleries – to the new and exciting, such as fat-biking on the beach or sampling wine made from barley; Islay does not get boring. 

Jura is its rugged neighbour to the north. While it is over half the size of Islay, it counts less than 10% of its population. Only about 200 people call Jura their home and most live in the bustling village of Craighouse. Most of Jura is mountainous, bare and boggy, which makes for stunning, but challenging days out on the trail. A small ferry commutes between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin on Jura. Many visit Jura on a day trip from Islay, but I recommend staying a while to immerse yourself in the wilderness – and the welcoming local community.

You could consider visiting during the Islay whisky festival Fèis Ìle, but the island is super busy then and it may not be the best time for in-depth distillery tours.

You might also like: Unique Experiences on Islay, Jura & Colonsay

Day 5 + 6: Isle of Islay

Begin your first day on Islay at the island’s Whisky Coast , where three distilleries – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg – lies within just a few miles from each other. All the distilleries on Islay are open to the public and offer tours and tastings – it is a must to visit at least one! My personal favourite is Ardbeg Distillery , which produces some of the peatiest whisky in the world. Their visitor centre has a lovely cafe with delicious vegan options.

In the afternoon, tour some of the other distilleries, taste locally produced wines at Islay Wines in Port Ellen, visit Kildalton Cross or go for a rewarding walk to the American Monument on the Mull of Oa .

On your second day on Islay, get active. Book a half-day activity with Kayak Wild Islay . Together with Dave, you can either head out in sea kayaks – or if the water is choppy or you’re up for a new activity, try fat biking on one of Islay’s beautiful beaches!

For lunch, treat yourself to a meal at The Machrie Hotel , overlooking the golf course and the ocean beyond. The vegan food here was my favourite of the entire trip, but of course, there are also plenty of non-vegan options!

In the afternoon, take in Islay’s beaches in the north. Saligo Bay will make your jaw drop, as will Machir Bay a bit further south. And why not visit Islay’s newest distillery Ardnahoe – you might not be able to taste their whisky yet, but from the tasting bar and the still room you get the most beautiful views of your next destination: the Isle of Jura!

At the end of the day, catch a ferry across to Jura and drive to Craighouse for the next two nights.

You might also like: A 4-day Whisky Tour to Islay with Rabbie’s [Review]

A woman cycling a fat bike on a beach

ISLAY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Islay | Calmac operates four to five daily ferry crossings from Kennacraig on the mainland to the Isle of Islay. Ferries alternate between Port Ellen in the south and Port Askaig in the north. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Port Ellen to Port Askaig, so in terms of where to stay, it barely makes a difference. You can find the full timetable here .

Vegan food on Islay | Like anywhere in Scotland, vegan food is becoming more popular and easier to come by on Islay. I highly recommend the restaurant at The Machrie Hotel , because the chef is actually vegan himself and prepares some of the most creative and mouthwatering meals I’ve ever tried. There are also vegan options available at Lagavulin and Ardbeg Distillery on the south coast, as well as Peatzeria in Bowmore. I also ate at Islay House Hotel, where the chef created an indulging vegan menu just for me.

Islay Accommodation | There is absolutely no shortage of accommodation on Islay, but I highly recommend booking far in advance to avoid disappointment. For anyone who is looking for self-catering accommodation with stunning views of Lagavulin Bay, I highly recommend Storm Pods . For the indulgent couple, Islay House Hotel near Port Askaig is the right choice!

Day 7 + 8: Isle of Jura

You will arrive on Jura late on Day 6 and leave early-ish on Day 8, which means you have one full day to spend on Jura. Make the most of it!

Craighouse is the bustling centre of the island and great for a little shopping sprawl, for example at the Whisky Island Gallery & Studio and a tour at Jura Distillery . Their tasting room is certainly one of the most beautiful and impressive I’ve ever seen! There are several walks you could do near Craighouse too – for example to the village viewpoint (description here ), to Market Loch (description here ), the distillery’s water source, or along the bay to Corran Sands , one of Jura’s most beautiful and easily accessible beaches. Along the way, you can often spot seals perched on the rocks exposed at low tide – they look like upside-down bananas!

If you’re a bit more adventurous, you could climb the highest peaks of the island, also known as the Paps of Jura (description here ). The hike takes about 10 hours, so make sure you leave early in the day and tell someone about your plans. 

If you are visiting in September, try to schedule your stay on Jura during the Jura Music Festival , which has been going on for many years and brings local, national and international musicians and visitors together for a weekend of beats and rhythms.

After two nights on the island, on Day 8, head back to Feolin in the morning. Get the ferry to Port Askaig, only to board yet another boat to take you from Port Askaig to the Isle of Colonsay.

Corran Sands beach on the Isle of Jura

JURA TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Jura | While there is a passenger ferry from Tayvallich on the mainland to Craighouse on Jura during the summer, most visitors arrive via the small ferry between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin on Jura. You can find the timetable and price information here . This ferry allows cars and the crossing only takes about 5 minutes.

Vegan food on Jura | I had a couple of nice meals on the Isle of Jura: at The Jura Hotel, where they always have a few options; and at The Antlers Bistro , which also has a nice deck for sunny days.

Jura Accommodation | There is significantly less choice for accommodation on Jura, so booking in advance is essential. I spent a night at The Jura Hotel , which offers stunning views over the Small Isles Bay, has a lovely restaurant and lively pub – the only one on the island!

Visit Colonsay (2 nights)

Depending on the seasonal ferry schedule, you might get to Colonsay around mid-day (summer timetable), in the late afternoon (Nov, Jan, Feb) or early in the morning (Dec, Mar).  I arrived on a Saturday around 1.30 pm, which gave me enough time to spend the afternoon exploring parts of the island. The ferry back to Oban leaves at 7 pm on Day 10, which means you might actually have 2.5 days on Colonsay if you stay 2 nights.

Day 9 + 10: Islay to Colonsay

The ferry arrives in Colonsay’s main village of Scalasaig , which is also home to most of the islands 124 inhabitants. Even though you can see Mull, Islay, Jura and the mainland from Colonsay, it feels like you are at the end of the world – it’s so remote. But also breathtaking!

One of Colonsay’s most famous beaches is Kiloran Bay , a vast stretch of sandy beach on the north of the island. From Kiloran, you can climb Carnan Eoin , the highest point of the island or explore a series of caves in the next bay over (description here ). Alternatively, you can follow the broad farm track leading north to Balnahard Bay , hands-down one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Watching the crystal clear water from the wind-sheltered sand dunes, one could easily forget that they are in Scotland and day-dream of swaying palm trees and rum cocktails with little umbrellas. Scotland or the Caribbean? Who knows!

Colonsay also has a very productive larder, especially when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Wild Thyme Spirits , who produces Colonsay Gin , offers tours and Gin Retreats at their stunning house in Upper Kilchattan. In Scalasaig, you can visit Colonsay Brewery and Wild Island Botanic Gin for a tour and a taste.

Another absolute highlight is a trip to Oransay – or Oronsay – in the south of Colonsay. You can reach this island by foot – but not via a bridge or causeway, but when the tide retreats and reveals a land-bridge across The Strand.* 

TOP TIP Wear wellies or brave the cold and cross The Strand in bare feet as there is usually remaining water in the bay. It only takes about half an hour, but it’s better than getting to Oransay with wet shoes!

Kiloran Bay beach

* Note, that the crossing is only safe at low tide and current time tables are available at the local post office, The Pantry, the Colonsay Hotel and other local businesses. It is important that you know when it is safe to cross and don’t attempt to outrun the tide. 

COLONSAY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Colonsay | There is a regular ferry service from Oban to Colonsay operated by Calmac, but for this itinerary, you need to coordinate your plans with the crossing from Islay to Colonsay. Due to the timetable, Day 8 must be a Wednesday or Saturday, as these are the only days of the week when the ferry goes from Islay to Colonsay. It’s Saturday only on the winter timetable! Find the full timetable here .

Vegan food on Colonsay | If you stay at The Colonsay Hotel, they are happy to accommodate you and offer vegan options. A true gem is The Pantry near the ferry terminal, which actually won a Hidden Gem of Scotland award in 2019!

Colonsay Accommodation | I stayed at The Colonsay Hotel , a lovely boutique hotel near the ferry terminal with comfortable rooms, a restaurant with stunning views, a bar and plenty of space in the lounge area. 

Visit the Heart of Argyll (3 nights)

You will get to Oban late on Day 10, so it is up to you where you want to spend the night – either in Oban or closer to next day’s activities. 

Day 11 + 12: Heart of Argyll

Despite a late night on Day 10, I rose early on Day 11 and made my way to Ellenabeich on the Isle of Seil . I joined a boat trip with Seafari Adventures to visit the Gulf of Corryvreckan , which is the third-largest tidal whirlpool in the world. An adrenaline- and fun-packed morning!

After the boat trip (approx. 2 hours) you could spend more time on Seil or cross over to the small, car-free Isle of Easdale for a wander. 

Next head south to Arduaine Garden , which features a wide variety of rhododendrons, magnolias, Himalayan lilies and more. There are several trails crisscrossing the garden and stunning viewpoint over the bay below.

Stop for lunch – or check-in for a night – at Loch Melfort Hotel next to the Garden. Spending a night in one of their sea-facing rooms will make for a morning view you will never forget! 

On the next day, it is time to deep-dive into Scottish history. Drive south to Kilmartin to visit Kilmartin Museum and a collection of Sculptures Stones at the cemetery. The glen below the village is home to a huge number of ancient and prehistoric monuments from standing stones to cairns and carvings. The Nether Largie Standing Stones are a must to see, and from there you can follow the farm track to the Temple Wood Stone Circle and one of the Nether Largie chambered cairns. Further down the glen, make sure to stop for a walk up Dunadd Fort , the former seat of the ancient Scottish Kingdom of Dalriada.

Find out more about these and more things to do in Kilmartin Glen !

Boat in the Corryvrecken Whirlpool

HEART OF ARGYLL TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to the Heart of Argyll | In this itinerary, you will take the ferry from Colonsay to Oban and drive south to the Heart of Argyll. In general, the Heart of Argyll is just a 2-3 hour drive from Glasgow. Perfect getaway material!

Vegan food in the Hear of Argyll | I had a delicious vegan meal at Loch Melfort Hotel, stayed at a vegan B&B in Kilmartin and enjoyed a dinner at Cairnbaan Hotel right on the Crinan Canal.

Heart of Argyll Accommodation | I recommend spending the first night on or near the Isle of Seil. I spent a magical night at Loch Melfort Hotel , which is a pure treat, and my final night in Argyll at Kingsreach Vegan B&B with gorgeous views of Dunadd Fort. Read my review of the B&B here ! 

Day 13: Argyll to Glasgow (1 night)

Today is your final day on the road and it is time to return to Glasgow. From Kilmartin, it is a 2-hour drive to the city, but there is a lot to see along the way! That’s why I recommend driving back to Glasgow on Day 13 and heading to the airport from there on Day 14. 

Leaving Kilmartin behind, you will make your way through Lochgilphead and up the coast of Loch Fyne. You could stop at Crarae Garden or in Inveraray to visit the Castle. My favourite place for a walk is Ardkinglas Woodland Garden which is home to some of the biggest and tallest trees in the UK. The Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint makes for a scenic stop to enjoy a peaceful glimpse of Highland scenery. The final stretch of the route leads along Loch Lomond , where you could stop for lunch and a wander in the scenic village of Luss, or join a boat cruise on the loch from Tarbet.

Before you know it you will be back in Glasgow, looking back at an eventful 2-week journey to the west coast of Scotland.

You might also like: Money-Saving Budget Tips for Scotland

Purple flowers in front of Inveraray Castle

Day 14: Departure Day

Time to head back to the airport and bid farewell to bonnie Scotland – haste ye back!

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This 2-week itinerary for the west coast of Scotland takes in some of the most beautiful places in the Inner Hebrides & Argyll - for the trip of a lifetime!

The West Coast Waters 2020 Campaign is a partnership initiative and has received funding from the Visit Scotland Growth Fund – more information at https://www.westcoastwaters.co.uk/about .

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best road trip west coast scotland

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How to Road Trip the West Coast of Scotland

Wild, rugged, steeped in history and inherently beautiful, the west coast of Scotland has all the ingredients for an unforgettable road trip. It’s no surprise, then, that travellers from across the UK and around the world choose these winding roads for a holiday like no other.

There’s no right way to undertake a road trip. They are personal journeys and experiences that only you can shape.

At Bye by Car, we embrace this idea. We know you want to discover the UK and Ireland at your own pace, but with the reassurance that comes with having an established tour company behind you.

We provide carefully crafted, self-guided tours in Scotland , allowing you to explore our country in your own time.

Read on to find out how you can explore the stunning scenery that awaits. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us .

The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

Loch Lomond is a Great Starting Point for a Road Trip Along the West Coast of Scotland

Numerous variables influence every road trip along the west coast of Scotland. You may have 7 days to work with, or 10, or even 20. You likely have non-negotiable must-see sites, but other things that you would be willing to sacrifice.

All these variables will shape your entire trip, including its starting point. For many travellers, though, Loch Lomond makes a great place to get the adventure under way. 

A short drive from Glasgow, Loch Lomond gives a fantastic welcome to the spectacular landscapes and fresh air of rural Scotland. If you have the time, the area is a wonderful hiking spot.

Both Loch Lomond and Oban (mentioned below) feature in our popular road trip tours in Oban, Loch Lomond and Glasgow .

best road trip west coast scotland

Head to Oban for the Isle of Mull and Delicious Fresh Seafood

Further up the west coast is Oban, a small seaside town with a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay. The town itself is backed by mountains and has a rugged coastline. 

Due to its location, it’s easy to find restaurants along the harbour serving ingredients hauled straight from the sea and onto your plate!

From Oban you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Mull. The island has a healthy population of white-tailed sea eagles and golden eagles. In fact, Mull has become known as ‘Eagle Island’.

For whisky aficionados, the island is home to the Tobermory Distillery. 

If you have ample time on your road trip, you can take a boat to the geological wonder that is the Isle of Staffa, with its hexagonal basalt columns and Fingal’s Cave.

Trips Around Scotland

Head into the Highlands for Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Fort William

As your road trip along the west coast of Scotland heads into the Highlands, the scenery becomes even more striking and awe-inspiring. Approaching from the south, you will arrive at Glencoe first.

Driving along the A82, you will travel through a deep valley carved out by ancient glaciers and volcanic activity. The valley ridges towering over either side of the road will make you feel small, but they also hint at the incredible hiking trails you can enjoy in the area.

Further north along the A82 you will find Fort William. On the shores of Loch Linnhe and in the shadow of Ben Nevis, this town in the Western Scottish Highlands has something for everyone. It’s also a great place to stock up on supplies. 

If you’re planning a road trip in summer, include midge spray. You’ll thank us later!

Further to the north of Fort William is Glenfinnan Viaduct, as featured in the Harry Potter films –  and our own Harry Potter-themed road trip tours of Scotland . 

This is where you can witness the magical sight of the Hogwarts Express puffing its way across the curved viaduct.

You can find the best viewpoint at the end of a dirt path not far from the visitor centre. During the high season of mid-June to late-September, the train passes over the viaduct 4 times a day. This drops to twice a day during the low season.

best road trip west coast scotland

Tourists Love the Rugged Landscapes on the Isle of Skye

You can reach Skye by road via a bridge connecting the island to Scotland’s northwest coast. Alternatively, you can hop on the Mallaig – Armadale ferry. 

But however you get there, a world of picturesque fishing villages, medieval castles and rugged landscapes awaits.

There is plenty to see and do on the Isle of Skye over multiple days, with highlights including:

  • A leisurely stroll through the main town on the island, Portree
  • Relax and recharge on the sandy An Corran or Coral Beaches
  • Hike up to the iconic Old Man of Storr and enjoy the amazing views
  • Track down some of our famous Highland cows (or coos!)
  • Marvel at the crystal clear blue fairy pools on the River Brittle
  • Head to Neist Point Lighthouse for yet more gorgeous views looking out to sea

Back on the mainland, via the A87, you can stop off at one of Scotland’s most photographed castles: Eilean Donan. This is a great spot to just sit and take in the beauty of the scene for a few peaceful minutes.

With so many things to do and so many landscapes to explore, the Isle of Skye is always among Scotland’s best road trips .

best road trip west coast scotland

Our Self-Drive Tours in Scotland Make Everything Simple and Hassle-Free

The route along Scotland’s west coast is long and winding. It passes through jaw-dropping scenery and by an array of landmarks, sights and vistas. Taking the DIY approach can become stressful and there’s a high chance that you’ll miss many of the hidden gems off the beaten track.

At Bye by Car, our Scotland self-drive tours offer a truly unique experience. Visitors can make the most of our incredible country, but all while enjoying the privacy and freedom of travelling alone.

For added peace of mind, we offer telephone support in English throughout your journey should you encounter any problems or have a query. 

Are you ready to start preparing for your road trip on the west coast of Scotland? Get in touch with our friendly team with all your initial questions.

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best road trip west coast scotland

best road trip west coast scotland

17 Best Places to Visit on the West Coast of Scotland

Posted by Francesca Brooking | Scotland | 0

From volcanic peaks and long sea lochs to ancient landslides and mystical castles, West Scotland offers a landscape filled with drama. 

If you’re looking for the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland, you’re truly spoiled for choice. 

On the southwest coast, you’ll find one of Europe’s stargazing locations. Further north are the West Highlands which are characterized by rugged mountains and wild glens. 

Lively port towns brim with whisky and fresh seafood while scenic railways traverse the landscape. 

Across the sea, Scotland’s Inner and Outer Hebrides have some of the best beaches, wildlife and scenery in the country. 

Read on to discover 17 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in West Scotland and some of my favourite spots you won’t want to miss. 

Map of Scotland’s west coast

Mainland scotland .

Wondering how to get around? If you don’t drive, the West Highland Line will be your best friend when touring the west coast of Scotland, alongside long-distance coaches and buses.

1. Glen Coe 

The craggy mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor with a snow-capped mountain at the back and waterfall running down the side. A small white farmhouse sits in the foreground in Glen Coe.

One of the most famous places in Scotland, Glen Coe is a valley ringed by steep mountains. It’s located in the West Scottish Highlands close to the shores of Loch Leven. 

Its dramatic landscape is characterised by ancient volcanic lava floes and glaciers that shaped the land thousands of years ago. Don’t worry, all volcanoes are long extinct! 

Glen Coe is a popular place to go hiking with famous peaks including, Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian.

You can also stop for a coffee at Glencoe Village. There’s a Glencoe Folk Museum with traditional, 18th-century thatched cottages and a Visitor Centre where you can learn about the brutal massacre of Clan McDonald in 1692. 

  • Climb up Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian
  • Visit the Glencoe Folk Museum and Visitor Centre 

2. Fort William 

A jetty juts out into a Loch Linnhe near Fort William on a misty day. Fort William is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for hiking.

Fort William is a town located on the shores of Loch Linnhe, a sea loch which sits partway along the Great Glen Fault. Its most famous neighbour is Ben Nevis, aka the highest mountain in the UK. 

The town is referred to as the Outdoor Capital of Scotland thanks to having iconic landmarks such as Ben Nevis, Glen Nevis Valley and Glen Coe nearby. 

Fort William is one of the best places to stay on the west coast of Scotland for exploring the West Highlands and islands. Visitors often make the town their base on their way to the Isle of Skye – I did! 

You can also ride the Jacobite Steam Train (the Hogwarts Express for some). It starts from Fort William and travels to Mallaig via the Glenfinnan Viaduct.   

  • Ride the famous Jacobite steam train (aka the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter). It’s one of the most popular things to do in West Scotland!

3. Ben Nevis 

best road trip west coast scotland

Standing at 1,345 metres above sea level, Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK. It belongs to the Grampian Mountains, one of the three main mountain ranges in Scotland. 

Ben Nevis is located on the western end of the Grampians and towers over Fort William. It’s a popular hike and it takes about 7-8 hours to reach the summit and climb back down again. 

It’s not a trail to take lightly though. Always bring the right equipment and do a group tour if you’re not confident on your own. 

If you would prefer a more relaxed walk, ride the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola nearby. It takes you up Aonach Mòr Mountain (the 8th tallest mountain) and offers spectacular views of Ben Nevis and the Great Glen. 

Highlights 

  • Hike up the tallest mountain in Britain (safely and weather conditions permitting)
  • Ride the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola for an easy way to get great views 

4. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park 

A girl in a red jacket stands and looks down on a loch from a hilltop. The grey loch is dotted with islands. View from Beinn Dubh on Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs is a national park which spans 720 sq miles across its four main areas. It features high mountains in the highlands to the north and rolling hills in the lowlands of the south. It’s a must-stop on your West Scotland itinerary. 

Loch Lomond is the largest lake in Great Britain by surface area and the second largest by volume after Loch Ness. It resides in the shadow of Ben Lomond mountain which is popular with hikers. 

An easier walk is the smaller Conic Hill. It’s fairly steep but it rewards you with gorgeous panoramic views of the loch and surrounding mountains. 

The national park is situated about an hour north of Glasgow and is connected by the West Highland Line. 

  • Do a one-hour boat trip on Loch Lomond 
  • Climb Ben Lomond for panoramic views of the Trossachs National Park (moderate difficulty) 

5. Glenfinnan 

View from a red steam train (the Jacobite) going over the cement arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland.

Glenfinnan is a small hamlet in Lochaber on the edge of Loch Shiel. 

It’s famous for the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line which the Jacobite train trundles over depending on the season. The best place to watch it is at Glenfinnan Viewpoint. 

The area is also home to the Glenfinnan Monument which was erected to remember the Jacobite Rising in 1745 and the Highlanders who lost their lives in the Battle of Culloden. 

Glenfinnan has a visitor centre where you can grab a bite and some beautiful walking trails around the local area. 

  • Photograph the Jacobite train going over Glenfinnan Viaduct. The viaduct is still pretty cool too!
  • Visit the Lone Highlander at the top of Glenfinnan Monument 
  • Take a stroll along Loch Sheil for serious Harry Potter vibes 

Editor’s tip: This group tour from Edinburgh takes you to Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glencoe on a full-day tour. It’s handy if you’re short on time and want to see the best of the West Highlands.

6. Oban 

View of Oban with McCaig's Tower on the hill above. Known as the Seafood Capital, Oban is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland.

Tucked on the Firth of Lorn, Oban is a resort town which is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Isles.’ You can catch a ferry from here to the Isle of Mull and the Outer Hebrides. 

Oban is still a destination in its own right. Scotland’s Seafood Capital is packed with award-winning seafood restaurants, making it one of my favourite places to see on the west coast of Scotland. 

There’s also a whisky distillery, McCaig’s Tower, Dunollie Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle and more to explore. 

  • Eat seafood! Fuss-free Oban Seafood Hut absolutely knocks it out of the park (or sea?) with the best fresh catch of the day
  • Have a wee dram at Oban Distillery 
  • Take a ferry to the Inner Hebrides 

7. Eilean Donan Castle 

View of Eilian Donan Castle and its bridge on a grey cloudy day.

On the road to the Isle of Skye on a small islet where three sea lochs collide is Eilean Donan Castle. The 13th century castle is a strategic fortress and photographing it has become one of the best things to do on the west coast of Scotland. 

It’s joined to the mainland by a bridge (the fourth version) and is set against a stunning backdrop of the forest-covered Kintail Mountains. 

The site was first established in 634 CE by Bishop Donan as a monastic cell. It was later turned into a fortress in the 13th century by Alexander II to ward off Viking invasions. 

It was used in a Jacobite revolt in 1719 and its ruins were restored between 1912 and 1932. You can buy a ticket and have a look inside but many people say it’s not worth it. I can’t comment as I’ve only seen it from the road!

  • Take a photo of the famous castle 

8. Mallaig 

View of the harbour in Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland.

Mallaig is a small port town on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the last stop on the West Highland Line and the only stop for the Jacobite Steam Train. 

You can catch a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye which is a short distance across the Sound of Sleat. 

There are some excellent seafood restaurants, a bakery and a heritage centre here. The Mallaig Circular Walk is a pretty stroll or you can walk up to the Morar Cross. 

  • Eat fresh seafood. The Cornerstone is popular for its scrumptious fish and chips 
  • Go beach hopping in the local area. The closest one is Camusdarach Beach 

9. Ullapool 

A mountain rises up from the coast near Ullapool on the northwest coast of Scotland.

Tucked on a sheltered sea loch on the west coast of Northern Scotland is Ullapool. The port village only has about 1500 inhabitants but it’s still one of the largest settlements for miles around. 

Ullapool is one of the stops on the famous North Coast 500 (NC500), a scenic 516-mile road trip around the North Coast of Scotland starting and ending in Inverness. You can also get a ferry here to Stornaway on Lewis and Harris. 

Things to do in Ullapool include mountain biking, wildlife boat trips, golfing, kayaking, hiking and taking art lessons at Bridgehouse Art. 

  • Use this pretty fishing village as a base from which to explore the Northern Highlands 
  • Ullapool is also a stop on the famous North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland 

10. Glasgow 

The terracotta coloured building of Kelvingrove Museum with a manicured lawn and hedges on a cloudy day in Glasgow.

Glasgow is a port city on the River Clyde in the western lowlands of Scotland. If you’re thinking “Hmm but is it REALLY on the west coast?”

I’ve included it here because I consider it a gateway to Scotland’s west coast – particularly for non-drivers like me! 

It’s also a great place to start your Scotland west coast road trip. 

The city is the start of the West Highland Line, a scenic railway line which runs to Oban or further north to Mallaig. It links up many of the places in this guide. 

As for Glasgow itself, the Cultural Capital of Scotland is home to the Scottish Ballet, the National Theatre of Scotland and a lively music scene. It’s also known for its Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture. 

  • Explore Glasgow’s West End, one of the ‘coolest districts in the world’ according to Time Out
  • Take a walking tour of Glasgow City Centre with top sites like the Botanical Gardens, Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

11. Dumfries & Galloway 

The lighthouse on the edge of the Mull of Galloway on the southwest coast of Scotland.

Dumfries & Galloway is one of the top places to visit in South West Scotland. The council area extends from the Scottish Borders and juts out into the Irish Sea, extending to the Mull of Galloway.  

It’s a bit of an underrated gem. It might not have the dramatic highlands of the north but if you love castles, stargazing, history and hiking, you’ll want to stop at Dumfries & Galloway. 

The area is home to Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s only Dark Sky Park and one of over 100 designated dark sky places worldwide. On a clear night, you can see over 700 stars and planets with the naked eye! 

Another must-see is the ruins of Caerlaverock Castle on the Solway coast. The 13th-century castle is surrounded by a moat. 

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point and it’s a beautiful spot for beaches and walking. For Robert Burns enthusiasts, the Burns House Museum in Mauchline is dedicated to the poet. 

  • Go stargazing! Galloway Forest Park is one of over 100 Dark Sky Places in the world and it’s one of the best places in the UK to enjoy the night sky
  • Go castle hopping! There are around 100 castles here with the top ones including Drumlanrig Castle, Cruggleton Castle, Dunskey Castle, Threave Castle and Caerlaverock Castle 

Scotland’s West Islands 

Island-hopping is one of the top things to do on the west coast of Scotland. Most of the main islands are accessible via the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferries. Visit the website to book tickets and find the most up-to-date information on timetables. 

Some like Skye are reachable by road and others like Lewis and Harris have tiny airports. 

12. Isle of Skye 

Fairy Glen stone circles from above on the Isle of Skye, one of the most popular places to visit on the west coast of Scotland.

The Isle of Skye is probably the most famous of all Scotland’s islands. It’s the largest island in the Inne Hebrides and it’s joined to the mainland by the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. 

Skye’s rugged landscape attracts millions of visitors every year and it’s a must-do on your west coast of Scotland itinerary. 

Some of its most beautiful scenery is on the Trotternish Peninsula , where you’ll find the Old Man of Storr, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock and an ancient landslide known as the Quiraing. 

Other popular landmarks here include Neist Point Lighthouse, Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, Skye Museum of Island Life and Sligachan Old Bridge. 

The main town on Skye is Portree at the base of Trotternish. 

  • Explore the Trotternish Peninsula including Fairy Glen, the Quiraing and the Storr 
  • Visit Fairy Pools and Dunvegan Castle 

Editor’s tip: You will need some form of wheeled transport (bike or car!) to see the best of Skye. If you don’t have either, I recommend getting to Portree by bus and then doing a full-day tour of Skye from there.

13. Isle of Mull 

The colourful houses of Tobermory surrounded by trees and with a harbour in front on the Isle of Mull.

The Isle of Mull is the second-largest island in the Inner Hebrides. It lies just off the west coast of Scotland with Kilchoan to the northwest of it and Oban to the south. 

Mull is characterised by hills and lochs, and its lone mountain Ben More. It also has some beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters that look almost tropical. The not-so-tropical breeze gives it away though… 

The main town on Mull is Tobermory with its colourful houses, award-winning fish ‘n’ chips and pretty coastal walks. Don’t miss out on Isle of Mull Cheese Glass Barn, a cafe with a living vine growing inside it. 

From Mull, you can also take a boat to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles or to Iona just off its coast. 

  • Visit Tobermory, the capital of Mull (and the inspiration for Balamory if you watched that children’s TV programme way back when)
  • Eat at Isle of Mull Cheese Glass Barn, this beautiful cafe is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for foodies 

14. Iona 

Iona Abbey with Mull behind on a grey day in Scotland.

The tiny island of Iona located just off the Ross of Mull is best known for being the site of one of the oldest known Christian religious centres in Western Europe – aka Iona Abbey. 

In 563 CE, St. Columba and his companions came to Iona from Ireland and founded the monastery. It became one of the most influential religious sites in the British Isles. It’s still a place of pilgrimage today.

Iona also has a community with restaurants, art galleries, sandy beaches and a graveyard which is the final resting place of about 48 medieval kings from Scotland, Norway and Ireland. 

Even Shakespeare’s notorious King Macbeth is buried here!

  • See Iona Abbey, one of the oldest Christian religious centres in Western Europe 

15. Treshnish Isles 

A large basalt rock cave on Staffa Island in the Treshnish Isles in Scotland.

Are you a puffin fan? Get yourself to the Treshnish Isles. The archipelago of small, uninhabited islands and skerries is located to the west of the Isle of Mull. 

They’re a haven for marine life and seabirds including puffins which make a home on Staffa from April to July. 

Staffa is also famous for its intriguing Fingal’s Cave made out of hexagonal basalt rock. The cave has surprisingly good acoustics and it was the inspiration for the composer Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture. 

You can do a tour of the Treshnish Isles from Tobermory on Mull or Oban on the mainland. You’ll see minke whales, dolphins, cormorants, seals and more!

  • Walk inside Fingal’s Cave on Staffa. It’s known for its incredible natural acoustics
  • See the puffins of Staffa (seasonal) and the sea life of the Treshnish Isles including whales and dolphins. It’s one of the top places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for wildlife lovers

16. Outer Hebrides 

White sands and golden grasses of Luskentyre Beach on Harris in the Outer Hebrides with mountains behind.

Endless white sand beaches, turquoise waters and ancient Neolithic history are key features of the Outer Hebrides. 

The chain of interconnected islands on the outer edge of the west of Scotland includes Barra, Uist, Lewis and Harris. The islands are inhabited and the biggest town is Stornaway on Lewis and Harris. 

Some of the best things to do in the Outer Hebrides include the Bronze Age Callanish Standing Stones , Luskentyre Sands, Gearrannan Blackhouse Village as well as hillwalking, wildlife spotting and boat tours. 

Another archipelago in the Outer Hebrides is St. Kilda. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated 40 miles west-northwest of North Uist. If you can make the distance, it’s one of the most rewarding things to do on the west coast of Scotland. 

It’s been uninhabited by humans since 1930 but over a million seabirds have made it their home instead. 

  • Visit Luskentyre Sands in Harris. Enjoy soft white sands and crystal-clear waters. It’s rated as one of the best beaches in the UK 
  • See the Callanish Standing Stones and other Neolithic sites in Lewis

Editor’s tip: Confusingly, Lewis and Harris is one big island but you might come across ‘Isle of Lewis’ and ‘Isle of Harris.’ The Harris part is to the north while the Lewis part is to the south. 

17. Islay and Jura 

A horned highland cow stands near a fence on Islay with Jura in the background.

Enjoy your whiskies? Islay and Jura offer the perfect conditions for whisky production. Currently, there are nine working distilleries on Islay and one on Jura. 

The two southernmost islands in the Inner Hebrides are separated by the Sound of Islay, a channel which is less than a mile wide. They’ve both been inhabited since 10,000 BCE!

Islay has rolling hills, a rugged coastline and more people than Jura. Jura is less populated but features mountains and red deer. 

  • Go distillery-hopping on Islay, one of the best places in Scotland for Scotch whisky
  • Go hiking on Jura and see Barnhill, the house where George Orwell finished his most famous novel, 1984 

The best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland: Final thoughts

The bumpy basalt rock of Staffa island with grass on top in the Treshnish Isles.

If you’re still wondering, “Where should I go on the west coast of Scotland?” You can’t go wrong with starting from Glasgow and following the West Highland Line north to Mallaig. From there, it’s up to you. 

The west of Scotland is home to some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes. From ancient landslides and volcanic peaks to white-sand beaches and glass-like lochs, it’s got it all. 

Add historic castles, skies free of light pollution and remote islands inhabited for millennia and you’ll have no trouble falling in love with Scotland’s west coast. 

I hope this guide has inspired you to visit some of these places on the west coast of Scotland and see this beautiful corner of the world for yourself.

Looking for more Scotland travel tips? Check out these posts!

  • 10 Days in the Scottish Highlands: The Ultimate Itinerary
  • 13 Awesome Day Trips From Edinburgh By Train Or Bus
  • Complete Scotland Packing List: What To Wear For Every Season
  • A Complete Guide to Scotland: Everything You Need to Know
  • Caledonian Sleeper Review: Is This Train Worth The Hype?
  • The Best Time To Visit The Isle Of Skye For The Perfect Trip

This post may contain affiliate / compensated links. As an Amazon Associate, I also earn from qualifying purchases. For full information, please see my disclaimer here .

About The Author

Francesca brooking.

Francesca Brooking is the Founder of Little Lost Travel. A travel expert with a passion for the planet, Francesca is on a mission to help you travel well. From Costa Rica to Jordan, she's travelled all over the world. When she's not off on an adventure, she's reviewing sustainable travel products and writing travel guides.

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best road trip west coast scotland

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Last Updated on 25/05/2024

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Scotland Road Trip: 8 Incredible Routes for an Epic Trip

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The Best Scottish Road Trips

Scotland is a place made for road trips. Sweeping roads wind their way through dramatic and moody landscapes, past historic castles, gentle lochs, and wild seas. Ancient myths and rich history thread through Scotland’s fabric, making the country a wonderfully diverse and fascinating place to visit.

A road trip in Scotland showcases the dramatic landscapes, historic cities, lochs and glens, and beautiful coastlines, like no other way to travel does.

As you road trip through Scotland, you’ll find yourself stopping regularly for Insta-worthy images, and along the way, you’ll find fantastic adventures to try like hiking Munroes, wild swimming in Scotland’s lochs and seas, exploring Scotland’s turbulent history, and spotting amazing wildlife.

In this Scotland travel guide, you’ll find a round-up of all the best road trips in Scotland, with Scotland travel tips and information to help you plan and prepare. Come with us as we share eight unmissable Scotland road trip itineraries and highlights.

Scotland road trip

Scotland Road Trip Map

Scottish road trip map

Is this your first time visiting Scotland and the UK? Get all the information you need in our United Kingdom Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there, and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Scotland’s Top Eight Road Trips

Whether you’re driving in Scotland in a car, motorhome , campervan, or riding a motorbike, our Scotland roadtrip itineraries give you a basic route to follow and highlights to visit.

The highlights for each Scotland driving route can be followed with the map – they are in the order in which you travel.  Scotland is packed full of bucket-list things to do  along these routes and it will help to use a navigational app to explore each area in more detail.

Whether you’re planning a quick 7 day Scotland road trip itinerary, or have extra time for a leisurely ramble around several of these routes, there’s a Scottish road trip here for you!

The North Coast 500

Inverness – wick – john o ‘groats – thurso – durness – lochinver – ullapool – gairloch – applecross – inverness.

  • Distance: 516 miles
  • Duration: 10-14 days
  • Drive Time: 15 hours

Scottish Highlands Road Trip Itinerary and Map

Considered by many to be one of the best road trips in Scotland , the North Coast 500 really is the ultimate Scottish Highlands road trip, taking in windswept beaches, ancient ruins, beautiful views, and historic castles in stunning landscapes.

The Highland Tourist Route is one of the few road trips in Europe that is as much about the destination as the drive, Scotland’s very own Route 66. If you don’t have much time, it is possible to do the NC500 in seven days, but there wouldn’t be much opportunity to stop and explore the deep and closely held history and raw nature of this visceral place. 

This Scotland Highlands road trip itinerary could be a 10 day Scotland road trip, but 14, or even 21 days gives you plenty of time to fully appreciate this special part of the country. 

You can tackle this Scottish highlands itinerary either way by starting from Inverness. Our itinerary assumes you will head north up the east coast. Check your map regularly for Scottish attractions, natural wonders, glorious beaches, and historic points of interest, some of which will require a detour from the route.

If you’re visiting in late autumn or winter, Applecross, Lochinver, and Ullapool are all top places to see the Northern Lights.

Top 16 Highlights

  • Spend your first day in Inverness, finding your feet and shopping for souvenirs. Highlights in the city center include Inverness Castle, the 19th century Inverness Cathedral, and the mostly 18th century Old High Church. There is also a popular indoor Victorian Market and the contemporary Inverness Museum and Art Gallery traces local and Highland history.
  • Follow the age-old tradition of hunting the famous Loch Ness monster. Hire a boat and head out onto the water with a picnic and camera. You might not see Nessie, but you’ll enjoy stunning scenery, clear air, and space to unwind in one of  Scotland’s most beautiful places .
  • Visit the haunting battlefield of Culloden, the site of the final and bloody confrontation of the Jacobite rising and defeat of Charles Stuart’s army in 1745. You can learn more about this seminal time in the history of Scotland at the nearby  Culloden Visitor Center .
  • Explore the dramatic 15th century ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, perched high on a cliff above the steely North Sea.
  • Love the challenge of bagging any of the 37 Munros (mountains over 914m) along the route. If they’re a little too high, try bagging one of the 43 Corbetts or 38 Grahams (mountains over 762m), or just enjoy viewing them from the winding roads.
  • Admire the lofty grace of  Dunrobin Castle , the historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, which dates from around 1275.
  • See the mysterious Hill O’Many Stanes, where 200 thin stones were laid out in a radiating pattern over 4,000 years ago …and no one really knows why.
  • Enjoy the sea air and a five mile hike from John o’Groats to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point on the British mainland, and continue along the spectacular coastal path to see the two dramatic pointed sea stacks.
  • Visit the  Castle of Mey , which was restored by The Queen Mother when she bought it in 1952 and saved it from abandonment. A fascinating glimpse into a castle that served as a holiday retreat for the royal family, and with wonderful gardens, this is a truly beautiful place.
  • Explore the various and fascinating brochs on the route. The broch is an imposing stone tower and ancient dwelling, built as early as 500 BCE, found only in Scotland. Dunbeath Broch and Nybster Broch are both excellent examples and are close to the  Caithness Broch Centre , where you can learn more.
  • Take (another) bracing walk in the wild and untamed landscape of  Dunnet Head , the RSPB nature reserve and the most northerly point in mainland Britain. This is the perfect place to see puffins in this noisy sea-bird nature reserve, especially if you visit during the breeding season, from late spring to early summer.
  • Enjoy visiting and tastings at the whisky distilleries on the route, including  Glenmorangie , famous for its single malt since 1843. You’ll find many more distilleries along the way, just one of the pleasures of touring the Scottish Highlands!
  • Visit the beautiful beaches, bays, and coves of the north coast, including the most north-westerly point, the raw and wild Cape Wrath (only accessible  by ferry  or  minibus ) the Smoo Cave, a sea cave complete with its own waterfall, and  Sandwood Bay  (hike only, no vehicular access) for the incredible sight of the Am Buachaille sea stack, a remnant of when the Highlands and North America were connected, millions of years ago.
  • Go whale watching from Gairloch, you might also see dolphins, porpoises, and sharks, as well as seals, otters, puffins, and perhaps even the white-tailed eagle. The best time to see whales on the west coast of Scotland is from mid-June to late September.
  • Drive the legendary Applecross Pass, one of the best and highest roads in Scotland . Bealach na Bà is a narrow slip of a road, with hairpin sharp bends and steep gradients – not one for the faint-hearted, but absolutely worth it!
  • Take to the sea in a canoe, in one of the many lochs and inlets along the route. Enjoy a different perspective and get up close with the local wildlife

RELATED POST: North Coast 500 Route Planner + Highlights, Map & Tips

Kearvaig Bay on the North Coast 500 Scotland

2 Week Motorhome Itinerary Scotland

Let us do the planning for you and grab our Scotland motorhome itinerary, packed with campsites, off-grid spots, attractions, and insider tips.

Let us do the hard work for you! Get up every day knowing your trip is planned with driving routes, overnight stops, and attractions marked out for you on your interactive map.

The North East 250

Aberdeen – peterhead – fraserburgh – portsoy – spey bay – glenlivet – braemar – aberdeen.

  • Distance: 259 miles
  • Duration: 5-7 days
  • Drive Time: 7 hours

Scottish Highland road trip route and map

If you have just one week in Scotland , the North East 250 is the perfect 7 day self-drive tour of Scotland for lovers of coastlines, mountains, and whisky.

Designed to be joined from Aberdeen Airport, you can go clockwise or anti-clockwise and wend your way through the dramatic countryside and towns of Speyside, Royal Deeside, Cairngorms, the east coast, and the Moray Firth coast. This route also picks up most of the major attractions from the  Deeside Tourist Route .

The most stunning bit of this route is the stretch from Tomintoul to Blairgowrie, which makes up a large part of the Snowroads scenic route . This stunning road through the eastern Cairngorms officially starts in Grantown-on-Spey, before traversing the highest public road in Britain, to Blairgowrie.

The Snowroads don’t need to be driven in a hurry. There are steep hills, blind summits, tight bends, and single-track roads with passing places – take extra care if you’re in a large motorhome.

This tourist route is fairly new, launched in 2017, and is not always signposted as such. As with all road trips, keep a close eye on whichever mapping and navigation tools you use to work out what’s on the route and what will require a little detour.

Our itinerary takes you north from Aberdeen towards Peterhead, but you can do the route whichever way you wish.  If you had a few more days, you could also pick up the Perthshire Tourist Route from the most southerly point of the NE250 and continue south for a short but spectacular drive.

Top 10 Highlights

  • Admire the powerful architecture of the glittering city of Aberdeen and its rich maritime history.
  • Enjoy the whisky distilleries along the NE250 route including Tomintoul, Glenlivet, Royal Lochnagar, and Strathisla.
  • Partake in some dark tourism at the fascinating  Peterhead Prison Museum , which was an operational prison until 2013.
  • Visit the truly brilliant  Museum of Scottish Lighthouses  at Fraserburgh, where you can tour Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, the very first lighthouse built on mainland Scotland in 1787.
  • Love the bracing air and dolphin spotting from the clifftops near Portknockie, where you can also see the iconic Bow Fiddle Rock, and sometimes the Northern Lights.
  • Enjoy Cullen Skink in Cullen! The thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions is a delicious local specialty.
  • Visit the stunning ruins of  Elgin Cathedral . Built in 1224 and known as the ‘Lantern of the North’, it was one of the most spectacular medieval cathedrals in Scotland.
  • Drive through the magnificent  Cairngorms National Park , home to deer, eagles, and atmospheric Corgarff Castle.
  • Enjoy some of the best outdoor activities Scotland has to offer, including white water sports, climbing, hiking, cycling, and much more.
  • Spend a day at the splendid royal  Balmoral Castle , home to the nation’s former Queen Elizabeth II and now King Charles III and their family since 1852.

Bow Fiddle Rock on the NE250, one of the best driving tours of Scotland

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Scotland . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

The South West Coastal 300

Prestwick – ballantrae – cairngaan – isle of whithorn – kirkudbright – dumfries – lockerbie – moffat – dalmellington – prestwick.

  • Distance: 302 miles
  • Drive Time: 8 hours

best road trip west coast scotland

The South West Coastal 300 is a one week Scotland road trip for nature lovers and history buffs. With stunning coastlines, lush forests that stretch over rolling hills, and dramatic moorlands, this quiet corner of Scotland will woo you until you fall in love with its gentle charms.

This is a well-located road trip in Scotland for those driving north from the rest of the UK and can be joined at Lockerbie, within a 20 minute drive of the Scottish border. 

The route is also easily accessible from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, or from Glasgow International Airport if you fancy a few days in the cultural and welcoming city at the start or end of your visit to Scotland. 

Our itinerary assumes you will travel south from Prestwick along the coast, but this route can be driven either way – at times it also crosses the  Galloway Tourist Route  which runs through the middle of Galloway Forest Park

  • Dip into  Galloway Forest Park , the only Dark Sky Park in Scotland, and a top spot to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
  • Our favorite beach on this road trip, the small but perfectly formed Dunure Beach has dark sand and shingle with great rock pooling and stunning views of Ailsa Craig from the ragged ruins of Dunure Castle.
  • Admire the dramatic clifftop  Culzean Castle , designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century and full of treasures, opulence, and history.
  • Climb to the Robert Louis Stevenson-designed  Mull of Galloway lighthouse , at the southernmost tip of Scotland on the wild Rhins of Galloway peninsula. Go at dusk for spectacular sunsets.
  • Visit the charming Isle of Whithorn (no longer an island) to see the ruins of the chapel built by St Ninian, who founded the first Christian church in Britain around AD390.
  • Spend a day in lively  Kirkcudbright  (pronounced kir–coo–bree) and follow the Arts and Crafts Trail. Home to generations of creatives, ‘the artist’s town’ has a flourishing community of painters and craftworkers. You might also hear bagpipes here as they have lots of parades.
  • Head for Kirkbean to walk on the vast empty expanse of Southerness beach, with breathtaking views across Solway Firth to the Lake District. Visit Southerness Lighthouse at the western end of the beach, one of the oldest in Scotland.
  • Find your inner child at  Moat Brae , the inspiration for JM Barrie’s famous character, Peter Pan. The author lived in Dumfries from 1873 to 1878 and called the gardens ‘enchanted lands’.
  • Stop off in Moffat for a spot of hiking on the scenic Southern Upland Way or the most northerly point on the Annandale Way, both of which pass through this pretty and historic town.
  • Visit the  Scottish Dark Sky Observatory  at Dalmellington to use their powerful telescopes to observe the night skies – stargazing without light pollution is an incredible experience.

Culzean Castle, a must see on any Scotland driving holiday

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts and road trip songs for the journey!

The Argyll Coastal Route & Loch Ness

Glasgow – tarbet – inverary – lochgilphead – oban – glencoe – fort william – glenfinnan – inverness.

  • Distance: 263 miles
  • Duration: 7-10 days

Scottish road trip map showing some of the best roads to drive in Scotland

The official Argyll Coastal Route ends in Fort William, but we couldn’t leave you there, with the magnificent Glenfinnan to the west and the superb A82 to the east, waiting to take you to Inverness. 

From sea shores, loch-sides, and mountain tops, the ultimate west coast of Scotland road trip is for seafood gourmets, sunset lovers, and those who want to get under the skin of Scotland and feel its turbulent history in the air and glens of the incredible landscapes. 

Starting in Glasgow and finishing in Inverness allows you to make the most of this linear west coast Scotland route as you cross the Highland Boundary Fault and enjoy the gentle lowlands giving way to the dramatic and wild highlands.

  • Be intrigued by the gritty, yet cultured, Victorian city of Glasgow. Must-sees include medieval Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, for a dose of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish artist and designer.
  • Visit the viewpoint at  An Ceann Mor , in the  Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park , to get a sense of the sheer size and incredible beauty of Loch Lomond.
  • Enjoy fresh seafood at some of the best restaurants in Scotland along this route. Of particular note, the original  Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd  have been selling fresh oysters at the roadside since 1978 and you can now enjoy them in the bar or to take away from their delicatessen.
  • Stop off at Inveraray to visit the  Inveraray Jail  and  Inveraray Castle , home to the Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell.
  • Learn about Scotland and some of the Highland’s darkest hours at  Auchindrain , a living museum and Scotland’s last inhabited Highland farming township before the Highland Clearances, which took place between 1750 to 1860.
  • Visit  Kilmartin Museum  to find out about the 800 cairns and monuments that dot the landscape of Kilmartin Glen and see fascinating 2,000-year-old artifacts from local archaeological digs. In the glen itself, you can enter some of the cairns, see carved gravestones, and reach the top of what remains of  Dunadd Hill Fort , where the first kings of Scotland were inaugurated.
  • Spend a fantastic day wildlife watching from Easdale Island. With whale spotting trips, excursions to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, and a tour of a local seal colony there’s lots to do, as well as keeping your eyes peeled for porpoises, dolphins, eagles, and otters along the way.
  • Oban Distillery  is one of the smallest and oldest distilleries in Scotland and makes whisky that reflects the character of its coastal location – definitely worth a stop!
  • Stopping to take photographs of  Castle Stalker , from the shores of Loch Linnhe. Located on a tidal island to the north of Port Appin, this iconic castle and its surroundings make for atmospheric and moody photographs.
  • Explore  Glen Coe , the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, when members of the Campbell clan murdered members of the MacDonald clan on the orders of the English Crown. Or follow the Glen Coe Geotrail to learn more about the ancient volcanic history of this other-worldly place. Shaped by glaciers and fiery volcanic explosions millions of years ago, Glen Coe is a landscape full of natural wonders.
  • Spend some time in the  Lochaber area , dominated by Ben Nevis and known as the outdoor capital of the UK. Activity lovers will be in their element here; you can mountain bike, hike, climb, abseil and enjoy all manner of water sports on the loch.
  • Be in awe of  Neptune’s Staircase , the longest staircase lock flight in Scotland. This flight of eight locks on the Caledonian Canal is an amazing feat of engineering that raises the canal by 19m over 1/4 mile. It takes around 90 minutes for a boat to travel the locks. This is the perfect spot to practice your ‘gongoozaling’ – the activity of watching boats and activities on canals for pleasure!
  • Visit the magical  Glenfinnan Viaduct . Made famous by the Harry Potter films, this railway viaduct has carried trains on the West Highland Line since 1897. Glenfinnan is also the spot in which Bonnie Prince Charlie called for the local clansmen to assemble in 1745, proclaiming the throne of Great Britain to be denounced and rightfully returned to his family, the Stuarts.
  • Head east and pick up the legendary A82 road. Around the Bridge of Orchy, you’ll drive a section of the infamous Skyfall road, from the Bond film of the same name, and one of the most dramatic and scenic drives in Scotland. Time for a photo opportunity!
  • Make a stop at the very pretty village of Fort Augustus, the gateway to Loch Ness and the most southerly tip of this famous body of water. It is also the point where the  Caledonian Canal  leaves Loch Ness, cutting through the small village on its way south.
  • Visit Urquhart Castle at Drumnadrochit, halfway up Loch Ness. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw much conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress, especially during the Wars of Independence. 

Castle Stalker, a must see on any Scottish Highland tours

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Isle of skye, ardelve – broadford – portree – trotternish – duntulm – dunvegan – armadale – mallaig.

  • Distance: 276 miles
  • Duration: 3-5 days
  • Drive Time: 6 hours

Skye road tip map with some of the best scenic drives in Scotland

Surrounded by sparkling seas where towering cliffs defend the island from crashing waves, Skye is a real balm for the soul and one of the best places to visit in Scotland by car.

This road trip surely has to be one of the most picturesque in Scotland, with jagged mountains, heather-carpeted moors, and myths and legends aplenty. There are lots of  things to do on Skye  too, so expect to be busy on this road trip, even though it’s a short route!

You can drive to Skye from Inverness in around two and a half hours. From Glasgow, it will take five to six hours. Just getting to Skye is an incredible trip in its own right, maximise your time by flying into Inverness and out of Glasgow (or vice versa). 

Check out the Argyll Coastal Route and North Coast 500 itinerary for ideas of what to do on the way to the Isle of Skye.

Use the  Skye Bridge  to cross Loch Alsh, or go over the sea to Skye the old-fashioned way and get a  CalMac ferry from Mallaig . Our itinerary assumes you will drive from Inverness over the bridge and get the ferry back to the mainland, but you can follow the route in either direction.

Skye has to be one of the busiest places in Scotland in summer, so go out of season or head out of the main tourist areas of Portree, Trotternish, and Dunvegan to find solitude and space.

Top 11 Highlights

  • Not on Skye, but just a few miles before the Skye Bridge, is  Eilean Donan Castle , one of Scotland’s most iconic images and one of the most photographed castles in the country. Situated on an island at the point where the three great sea lochs of Alsh, Duish, and Long meet, the striking castle is surrounded by magnificent scenery and is full of history.
  • The 2.3 mile hike up to the  Old Man of Storr  on the Trotternish peninsula is one of the must-dos on Syke. The ‘Old Man’ is a large spike of rock that stands high and can be seen for miles around. Created by an ancient landslide, the Storr is one of the most photographed places in Scotland.
  • Off the beaten track and much less known, but no lesser for it, is Rubha nam Brathairean (Brothers’ Point), a dramatic headland that marks the easternmost point of Trotternish. Not far from here, you’ll also find Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls – epic views that you can get to within a few minutes of walking from the free parking.
  • Visit  The Quiraing  for a great 4.5 mile hike with spectacular landscapes and beautiful views, or get a feel for this strangely named area from the car park.
  • The Fairy Glen is a curious rock formation just inland from Uig. Formed by an ancient landslide and shaped by glaciers over thousands of years, the Fairy Glen is best photographed from above to fully appreciate the weird and wonderful shapes of the landscape.
  • Visit Skye’s most famous historic building,  Dunvegan Castle , the seat of the chief of Clan MacLeod. In a beautiful position at the edge of Loch Dunvegan, the castle gardens are a hidden oasis of beautiful plants.
  • Catch an amazing sunset from  Neist Point , where there is also a lighthouse of the same name. The most westerly point on Skye, this beautiful spot also affords fantastic views of the Outer Hebrides.
  • Stop off at the world-famous Talisker Distillery for a tour that finishes with a wee dram of their peaty single malt.
  • Try a spot of wild swimming (we would advise a wet suit!) in the bracing Fairy Pools, beautiful crystal clear pools, and waterfalls at the foot of the Cuillin mountains, on the river Brittle. Take the 1.5 mile walk from the small parking lot to find this series of magical pools, formed 50-70 million years ago!
  • Take one of the most scenic Scotland roads from Broadford to the village of Elgol, for incredible views of the dark and brooding Cuillin mountains.
  • Get out on the water in a canoe or take a boat trip to get acquainted with local wildlife. You’re likely to see seals, dolphins, porpoises, and lots of different species of sea birds, as well as find hidden coves, cliff waterfalls, and sea caves.

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Isle of Skye, a wonderful driving tour of Scotland

Borders Historic Route

Edinburgh – dalkeith – galashiels – selkirk – hawick – langholm – gretna green.

  • Distance: 88 miles
  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Drive Time: 3 hours

The Borders Tourist Route map, a great road trip to Scotland

This Scotland road trip from Edinburgh will take you through the lush and hilly countryside of the lowland Scottish Borders, through charming villages and small towns to famous Gretna Green, and the border with England. 

Learn about Scottish industrial heritage and the vibrant arts and crafts scene, still alive and kicking in this mostly rural region. 

This road trip is the best option if you plan on spending time in historic Edinburgh and want to see a bit of Scotland as part of your trip. If it’s a one-way drive, Newcastle Airport is an hour and a half away by car from Gretna Green, making this an ideal linear route. 

  • Visit historic Edinburgh , the capital city of Scotland. With wonderful medieval and neoclassical architecture and a great vibe, this is a city in which to spend at least a full day. Take a city center guided tour to see Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill, the National Museum of Scotland, and the famous Royal Mile, the main road through Edinburgh’s old town, where you can shop for tartan and enjoy locally made fudge.
  • Harry Potter fans will want to visit Victoria Street. With its unusual shape and collection of quirky shops, it’s said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the J.K. Rowling books. 
  • Enjoy a locally brewed craft beer at  Stewart Brewing , an independent craft brewery on the outskirts of Edinburgh. You might even see the team hard at work brewing while you enjoy your beer!
  • Stop at  Dalkeith Country Park  for easy walks and bike rides on the trails through the natural beauty of the 1,000-acre estate and working farm. You might spot Roe deer, otters, buzzards, foxes, badgers, hares, and rabbits here.
  • Visit Lady Victoria Colliery, one of the best and last surviving Victorian collieries in Europe, and now the  National Mining Museum of Scotland . Explore the machinery used to mine and take coal to the surface, imagine what a miner’s life was like, and experience the sights and sounds of a working pit on a fantastic tour of the pit head.
  • Go back in time to Robert Smail’s Printing Works in the pretty village of Innerleithen. Try your hand at typesetting, and discover the origin of everyday phrases such as ‘mind your Ps and Qs’ as you discover how printing was carried out by highly skilled printers, with individual letters of type set by hand, presses operated with foot treadles and power generated by a waterwheel.
  • If you love gardens, then  Harmony Garden  in Melrose is a horticultural delight and a tranquil escape from life on the road. With colorful borders, beautifully manicured lawns, and a thriving kitchen garden, Harmony is perfectly in tune with nature. An added bonus is the superb views of Melrose Abbey and the nearby Eildon Hills.
  • Admire the creativity and skill of the glassblowers at work in  Lindean Mill Glass . This innovative glass studio was established in 1978 by David Kaplan and Annica Sandström, whose work has been exhibited at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh and the V&A in London.
  • Take a mill tour, a great way to see Scottish tartan being woven from scratch, at Lochcarron of Scotland in Selkirk, one of the biggest names in the Scottish Borders’ textile industry, which has been weaving high-quality tartan for over 100 years. The Dress Act of 1746 attempted to bring the warrior clans under government control by banning the tartan along with other aspects of Gaelic culture.
  • Continue your textiles education at the  Borders Textile Towerhouse  and discover more about the area’s role as a producer of sought-after fabrics. Designers such as Chanel, Dior, and Vivienne Westwood have used fabric produced in the Borders in their designs for many years. The gift shop here is perfect for finding a unique present or Scottish souvenir.
  • Discover exciting and tumultuous borderlands history at  Gilnockie Tower , a fine example of a defensive peel tower that dates from the 16th century. Located on the River Esk, it’s home to the Clan Armstrong Centre, the ancestral home of the Armstrong Clan, and is packed with fascinating clan heritage.

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Edinburgh, a great place to stop as you travel Scotland

Stirling – Trossachs Pier – Killin – Blair Athol – Pitlochry – Perth – Kinross – Crief – Stirling

  • Distance: 232 miles

best road trip west coast scotland

The new kid on the Scottish road trip map is Heart 200, a two-hundred-mile-plus romp around the center of Scotland. This route offers the best of all the other routes combined as you travel through Scotland’s iconic, ever-changing landscapes.

Chuck in the historic cities of Perth and Stirling, and you’ve got a road trip perfect for first-time visitors to Scotland, or those that want to see the best of this glorious country. 

Divided into six sections, this road trip covers the forests of the west, the Highlands to the north, the rivers of the east, and the historic south, along with Stirling and Perth.

Along the route are places of historical interest, world-class golf courses, ancient castles, loch and river-based water sports for adrenalin seekers, and a few whisky distilleries, of course!

You’ll explore the remarkable history and culture of the region, from antiquity to the modern day, and learn more than a few surprising insights along the way.

Over millennia, Scotland has made its mark on history thanks to famous figures ranging from the ancient Celts and the Roman Empire to King Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots, via Bonnie Prince Charlie, Rob Roy MacGregor, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Queen Victoria, all of whom have connections to the heart of Scotland.

For a longer trip pick up the Fife Coastal Route, which follows the shore of the Firth of Forth from Kincardine to Dundee, where you can head back inland to Perth. This route takes in pretty fishing villages, historic golf courses, castles, and distilleries along 77 miles of meandering coast road – well worth adding to your itinerary

Top 13 Highlights

  • If you fly into Edinburgh Airport, make a quick stop to see the magnificent Kelpies at Helix Park in Grangemouth. The Kelpies are 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures depicting kelpies, a mythical shape-changing aquatic spirit of Scottish legend, and will start your Heart of Scotland road trip off on the right note.
  • Whilst in the area, explore the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in a half-turn that takes only five minutes!
  • Stirling is the first stop and at the heart of the old town is medieval Stirling Castle, dominating the city from its craggy volcanic rock. Other attractions not to be missed are the 19th century National Wallace Monument that overlooks the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace (famously played by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart ) defeated the English, and the Battle of Bannockburn Experience has interactive 3D displays on the history of the 1314 conflict.
  • Visit the imposing  Doune Castle , a popular film set. Used as a set for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as Castle Leoch in Outlander, and as Winterfell in Game of Thrones, this medieval stronghold could tell a few stories!
  • Find out everything you ever wanted to know about sheep and wool at The Scottish Wool Centre in Aberfoyle, with live sheep shows and hands-on demonstrations of spinning and working sheepdogs.
  • Stop at Killin, a small village at the southern point of Loch Tay. Famous for the Falls of Dochart, a spectacular series of rapids where the River Dochart rushes towards the Loch at the confluence of the rivers Dochart and Lochay, the best view is from the Bridge of Dochart in the village. This is also a great place to base yourself for local hiking.
  • Take in the iconic Queen’s View along Loch Tummel, which is named after Queen Victoria, who visited the region in 1866. The vantage point at the  Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre  offers a breathtaking vista of Schielhallion, one of Scotland’s most famous mountains.
  • Visit in August for the Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games, which always take place on the third Saturday of the month. Hosted by the local community, you can watch caber tossing, hill racing, and lots more traditional Highland games events, as well as listen to the bagpipes being played.
  • Aberfeldy makes a good base for exploring local attractions including the Tay Bridge, Black Watch Monument, 16th century Castle Menzies, Cluny House Gardens, Lundin Farm Stone Circle, and Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.
  • A mecca for thrill-seekers, the white water rapids on the River Tay at Grandtully offer opportunities for kayaking, rafting, and canyoning, with lots of local companies providing access and equipment, whatever your level of skill or knowledge.
  • Historians should stop at the Gorge of Killiecrankie, the site of one of the bloodiest battles during the Jacobite Risings in 1689. Take a walk up to the viewpoint at Soldier’s Leap, where a Redcoat soldier is said to have jumped 18 feet across the ravine to escape the pursuing Jacobites.  Salmon can often be seen jumping around the falls here and keep an eye out for red squirrels and woodpeckers which are quite prolific during fall , when the colors are spectacular.
  • Admire the listed historic house of  Scone Palace , situated near the village of Scone and the city of Perth. Scone Palace was the crowning place of Scottish kings where Macbeth, Robert the Bruce, and Charles II were once crowned. Nowadays, this red sandstone palace is among the very finest surviving examples of the late Georgian Gothic style in the United Kingdom. 
  • Visit the wildlife at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling. Widely acknowledged to be one of the  best safari parks in the UK  for breeding and conservation (and the only one in Scotland), the park is set across 120 acres and is home to 350 animals including lions and southern white rhinos.

best road trip west coast scotland

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip, or check our our favourite Europe road trips for ideas and inspiration!

Kennacraig – Tayinloan – Isle of Gigha – Machrihanish – Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse – Campbeltown – Carradale – Kennacraig

  • Distance: 115 miles
  • Drive Time: 5 hours

Kintyre 66 map

Another newcomer to the Scottish road trip scene is Kintyre 66, or K66, as it’s becoming known. If you’ve ever watched Paul McCartney and Wing’s video of the song ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and been inspired by the landscape, then this road trip in Scotland is for you.

An easy hop from Glasgow Airport, the K66 is perfect for a long weekend. Start in Tarbert, a pretty village at the top of Kintyre. Just a narrow strip of land a mile wide connects the peninsula to the mainland, making Kintyre Scotland’s only mainland island.

The landscape and beaches are pristine and unspoiled, the seas huge, the night sky clear and the wildlife abundant – this really is a trip for outdoor lovers. Kayaking in the turquoise waters is a popular pastime and hiking some of the incredible trails, with their spectacular views, is a must.

Local produce and food are also a highlight of this trip, with seafood at the top of the list. You’ll also find whisky and gin distilleries and several breweries in Kintyre, making sure that local food and drink sustain all your activity!

The official K66 is, unsurprisingly 66 miles long, but we’ve added on the far south of Kintyre to include the iconic Mull of Kintyre lighthouse.

The single-track route there meanders over the rolling moors before helter-skeltering down a steep cliff to the lighthouse – don’t be put off, it’s an amazing drive with breathtaking views right across to Ireland.

  • A visit to the Beinn an Turc Distillery near Torrisdale to sample their Kintyre gin is a must! This sustainable distillery, which uses its own power generated by a hydroelectric plant, creates a delicious gin using botanicals and water from its own land.
  • Head to Saddell Bay to see GRIP, a cast iron sculpture created by British artist Antony Gormley to mark the Landmark Trust’s 50th anniversary. The human form stares out over the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran from the rocks below Saddell Castle. Originally, the sculpture was placed for just a year, but thanks to a generous donation, it will remain indefinitely.
  • Visiting the glorious beaches of the peninsula is a real treat. Unspoiled and often with no one else around, some of the best beaches in Scotland can be found here. Our favorites are Carradale Bay and close-by Torrisdale Bay.
  • At the very north of Kintyre is the colorful and lively harbor town of Tarbert. With plenty to do, including Tarbert Castle, which sits high above the town, this is a great place to spend a day
  • The enchanting Isle of Gigha can be reached in just 20 minutes on a ferry from Tayinloan and is a fantastic day trip destination. Kissed by the gulf stream, the beautiful Achamore Gardens feel exotic, whilst in contrast, a hike up Creag Bhan, the highest point on the island, showcases the best of the raw and wild landscape.
  • Westport boasts a sandy beach, perfect for surfing. There is a surf school in the village where you can hire equipment and take lessons if this is your first time on a board. You’ll need a wet suit, whatever the weather – the water in these parts is pretty chilly!
  • The next stop just down the coast is Machrihanish, a village most famous for its iconic beach-side golf course.
  • An absolute must-do is a visit to the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse, on the very far southwest tip of the peninsula. The views are pretty special and the drive there is dramatic, but not for the faint-hearted.
  • The ruins of Skipness Castle lie at the far north of the peninsula. The castle was originally built in the early 1200s by the MacSweens. It later fell to Clan MacDonald and has been rebuilt several times over the centuries.
  • The seafood caught, prepared, and served on Kintyre is out of this world. Fresh from the boat in the morning, you’ll find scallops, mussels, lobsters, crabs, langoustines, and clams on every menu. Another local taste is Gigha halibut, which you can enjoy in the West Loch Hotel, on the A83 out of Tarbert.

top Scotland road trip

Scotland Practicalities

When to take a scottish road trip.

Scotland’s weather is generally moderate but changeable. As the topography of Scotland varies greatly, you’ll notice differences between highland and lowland weather, as well as coastal influences.

Late spring is a great time for planning a trip to Scotland. The countryside comes alive with wildflowers and baby animals as the warmer weather beats back winter.

With good weather and summer averages of around 20°c, this is one of the best times for touring Scotland. The downside is that popular routes, attractions, and hotels will be busy, so a road trip of Scotland in the summer months will require a little more advance planning. 

July and August are also the worst months for the infamous biting midges, especially if you’re planning on camping in a motorhome or tent on the West Coast, where they are generally at their worst.

A wonderful time for driving holidays in Scotland, the fall colors are some of the most dramatic in the world. Autumn is also deer rutting season, with lots of opportunities around the Highlands to see this mighty display.

Plan trips to Scotland during the colder months for winter sporting opportunities, dramatic scenery, and the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights, or ‘Mirrie Dancers’ as they are sometimes called in Scotland.

There are an average of 15-20 snow days a year, rising to over 100 snow days in the Highlands – head to Aviemore in the Cairngorms if you’re looking for the white stuff, or just enjoy this fantastic winter destination for the scenery.

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Whenever and however you visit Scotland, always follow the  Scottish Outdoor Access Code . The code helps you to get the best from your Scotland itinerary and ensures that the flora and fauna of this beautiful country are not harmed.

Getting to Scotland

Scotland has six main airports, and the good news is that one of them will be the perfect starting point for your ultimate Scottish road trip itinerary. We recommend booking through  Skyscanner  for live deals and the best prices.

  • Edinburgh Airport (pronounced Ed-in-bruh if you want to sound like the locals!) for the Borders Historic Route  and Heart 200 .
  • Glasgow International Airport for the South West Coastal 300 ,  Argyll Coastal Route , Isle of Skye and Kintyre 66 .
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport for the  South West Coastal 300 .
  • Aberdeen Airport for the  North East 250 .
  • Inverness Airport for the  North Coast 500 ,  Isle of Skye  and  Argyll Coastal Route .
  • Dundee Airport for the  North East 250 .

You can hire a car  at any of these airports and be on your chosen Scotland driving tour route within a one hour drive. Book your rental car well in advance and use a car hire booker like Rentalcars.com  who will provide the best deals from all the top car hire companies.  How?  Because they have such a large market share, they’ve got way more buying power than individuals and can negotiate much harder on price.

For a real adventure , hire a motorhome or campervan in Scotland. We recommend Motorhome Republic , an aggregate booking site who pull together all the best deals from a number of rental agencies, to offer you a wide choice of options alongside an excellent English speaking expert motorhome Concierge Team.

For those planning a  Scottish staycation from the rest of the UK, get public transport like the train or even coach from  London  to Edinburgh and hire a car from there, or drive yourself to Scotland.

Driving in Scotland

Whether you roadtrip Scotland in a car, camper, or motorbike, make sure you’ve got all your documents handy and your spare tire is in good condition.

If your Scotland road trip itinerary is longer than a few weeks and you’re planning on using your own vehicle, you may want to consider a service before you go, and breakdown cover is probably a good idea. 

  • Remember to drive on the left during your UK trip!
  • Drivers from non-EU countries may require an International Driving Permit. The general rule is that if your license is not in English, then an IDP will be required. Check with your hire company or embassy if you’re in doubt.
  • If you’re not a British citizen, you should carry your passport or ID card at all times as you road trip around Scotland.
  • You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle. Update August 2021 – you no longer require a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance cover when if your vehicle is registered outside the UK.
  • Your car must be considered legal and roadworthy in the country in which it is registered.
  • Your headlights must be adapted for driving on the right if your vehicle is registered outside the UK.
  • Unlike France, the UK does not have laws that require you to carry certain equipment in your car, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Being prepared in the event of an accident or a breakdown is invaluable. The best way is to carry a reflective jacket, a warning triangle, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher.
  • If you’re hiring a car, book well in advance and use a care hire booker like  Rentalcars.com  who will provide the best deals from all the top car hire companies. How? Because they have such a large market share, they’ve got way more buying power than individuals and can negotiate much harder on price.
  • Understand insurance options, mileage limits, and fuel policies before booking.
  • Check the car for damage on collection and make sure anything you spot is noted, and the same again when you drop it off.

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Scotland road trip guide

5 of the best road trips in Scotland

James Smart

Mar 6, 2024 • 7 min read

best road trip west coast scotland

Be inspired by these stunning road trip routes in Scotland © iaminut / Shutterstock

The cities of  Scotland  may be full to the brim with history and atmosphere, but it's the countryside in between that captures most visitors' hearts.

Quintessentially Scottish landscapes of lochs, glens and mountains begin right on the limits of Edinburgh, Glasgow and other major cities, setting the scene for road trips to rival James Bond's flight across the Highlands in Skyfall (2012).

Scottish roads are generally well-maintained, and driving is a great way to get off the beaten track and escape the crowds who mob the most famous sights. En route, you can stop off in charming country pubs, drop into ruined castles and ancient kirks (churches), wander on windswept beaches and find solace in silent glens far from the maddening crowds. 

These five road trip itineraries take in the epic grandeur of Skye, culture-packed Edinburgh and the whisky distilleries of Speyside, amongst other classic Scottish experiences. Along the way, you'll pass rolling farmland, heather-burnished hillsides, ruined castles and eerie lochs, as the stories of Scotland unfold right in front of you.

A family of three sit on the open trunk of a car parked by a lake changing shoes following a paddle

1. An Isle of Skye driving loop

Best for making family memories Fort William–Fort William; 310 miles (498km); allow 4 days

So long as you’re not after guaranteed sunshine, Skye has it all. This atmospheric island off the west coast is a riot of craggy peaks, towering sea stacks and waterlogged shorelines, famed for its Gaelic culture and vibrant food scene. This round-trip route from Fort William allows you to take the bridge to the island in one direction (passing grand Eilean Donan Castle en route), returning to the mainland via the ferry to Mallaig.

Once you’re on the island, a classic counterclockwise loop starts with a visit to Skye’s largest town, Portree , with its pretty harbor, before roaming over the volcanic cliffs of the Trotternish Peninsula . Next, the Duirinish Peninsula offers wild hiking country and some excellent restaurants, while the jagged ridges of the Cuillin Hills are a destination in themselves for hikers and photographers.

In between, there are castles , almost Caribbean-looking beaches and some of Britain’s best wild swimming spots, plus side trips by ferry to the surrounding Small Isles, which offer great bird-watching, particularly in spring and autumn.

A bridge with a solo car on it connects two islands

2. North Coast 500

Best for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure Inverness Castle–Inverness Castle; 516 miles (830km); allow 7 days

Scotland’s wild northern coastline is the star of the country’s most famous driving route. The North Coast 500 begins and ends in Inverness , the likable capital of the Highlands , making a giant loop around the north end of Scotland along the deeply indented coast.

If you follow the route counterclockwise (saving the best scenery till last), you’ll head past the moors and sandy beaches of the east coast before hitting John O’Groats and nearby Dunnet Head – mainland Britain’s northernmost point. The north coast has a windswept beauty that gets increasingly rugged as you continue west past bogs, cliffs and crofting villages. The views as you head down the loch-strewn west coast are perhaps Britain’s finest, with sweeping vistas of mountains and islands.

Taking the route at a more leisurely pace will give you the chance to seek out fine local foodstuffs such as venison, smoked fish and craft beer, while activities such as sea kayaking on the west coast or scrambling up the lonely peaks of Assynt are a great way to throw yourself into Northern Scotland’s epic landscapes.

Planning tip:  When planning a road trip in Scotland, be aware that many places to stay on popular routes, such as the North Coast 500, will only accept bookings for two or more nights in the summer peak season. Book accommodations well ahead of time.

A road weaves through a hilly landscape with a purple hue from blooming lavender

3. North East 250

Best for whisky distillery touring Spittal of Glenshee–Spittal of Glenshee; 257 miles (414km); allow 4 days

Northeast Scotland is famous for its whisky distilleries, Braemar (the home of the Highland Games ) and Balmoral Castle (the Scottish home of the British Royal Family) – so yes, it's as Scottish as it gets. The North East 250, a route inspired by the success of the North Coast 500, takes in these big-ticket attractions, but also shines a light on an often-overlooked region of photogenic glens, farmland and wave-lashed shorelines.

The village of Spittal of Glenshee (a popular base for skiing in winter) is a good starting point and easily accessible from Edinburgh and Dundee. Taking the route clockwise, you’ll head through the Cairngorms National Park , the biggest national park in Britain, which includes some of the UK’s highest peaks and offers phenomenal hiking opportunities.

The North East 250 then cuts through Speyside before hitting the Moray Firth coastline and the oil-rich city of Aberdeen . It’s a route lined with castles, beaches, small villages and historic estates; stop along the way to sample local delicacies such as Cullen skink (a thick, warming fish soup) and sweet, peaty whiskies.

Local tip:  Do your research when choosing which whisky distilleries to tour – if you try to hit them all, you’ll be here for months.  Balvenie in Dufftown is a good choice: its small-group tours visit one of Scotland’s last remaining malting floors.

A mountain biker follows a trail in the Scottish borders

4. Borders Historic Route

Best for a short route through moorlands Carlisle–Edinburgh; 97 miles (156km); allow one day

There are more famous road trips than this easy itinerary that follows the A7 north from the English border past Hawick and Galashiels to Edinburgh , but there is plenty to engage body and spirit along the way. This rolling landscape of villages and farmlands was once a battlefield for cross-border raids, and it finishes at Edinburgh’s hulking castle .

The area’s industrial history is showcased by educational centers celebrating tweed, tartan and glasswork, as well as an interesting mining museum . The landscape provides opportunities for varied activities – anglers can cast flies in the hope of snagging salmon along the Tweed’s wooded banks, while mountain bikers can hit the trails at Glentress and Innerleithen.

Ruined abbeys and author Walter Scott’s fabulous country house, Abbotsford , are more cerebral highlights, although the undulating moorlands of the Scottish Borders are arguably the star of the show.

A hiker looking over Loch Katrine in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Scotland

5. Clyde Sea Lochs and the Argyll Coast

Best for mountains and lochs Glasgow–Fort William; 240 miles (386km); allow 3 days

Visitors to Scotland are often surprised by how close the country’s most populous city is to the rugged terrain of the Highlands. Glasgow’s high culture and lively pubs are worth an overnight on any trip to the region, but don’t stay up too late – you'll want to be clear of the suburbs by mid-morning to see the hills turn to mountains and lochs eat into an increasingly rugged coastline.

This route (combining two official tourist trails ) winds north and west, taking in the popular walking country of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. En route, you can enjoy majestic views, excellent seafood, ancient standing stones, historic towns, kayaking on the lochs and whale-watching offshore.

But the biggest hitters come at the end: Glen Coe has aching natural beauty and a tragic backstory of Highland betrayal, while Fort William is the striking point for ascents of 4413ft (1345m) Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak – a challenging climb of seven to eight hours from the visitors center.

Tips for driving in Scotland

Note that while some of the road trips follow major "M" or "A" roads, others rely on smaller roads for long stretches. These are often tight and hedge-lined, with few places to overtake, and they can be blocked by snow in winter (read our tips for getting around in Scotland ). The police in Scotland take speeding and drunk driving seriously, so stay below the limits. Petrol stations can be widely spaced in the Highlands and on the islands – fill up when you get the chance.

Be ready to take your time, pausing for a day or two to explore the local area at each overnight stop. Our route durations assume you'll be taking diversions to see more of the region and making regular stopovers, so the distances provided are not direct between the start and end points.

This article was first published Jun 9, 2021 and updated Mar 6, 2024.

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Scotland’s most scenic driving routes

If you’re looking for top scenic drives in Scotland for touring by car, these driving routes will take you through some of the country's most awe-inspiring landscapes, and you'll find plenty of fantastic attractions and charming towns and villages to visit along the way.

Each route varies in length and offers a scenic alternative to main trunk roads and motorways - ideal for a self-drive tour of Scotland. These driving tour routes are easy to follow and well signposted - simply look out for the distinctive brown and white signs.

Don't forget … all these scenic routes can also be done in reverse!

Moray Firth route Inverness to Loch Fleet

best road trip west coast scotland

Covesea Lighthouse on the Moray Coast Trail

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

On the Moray Firth Route, journey through the north east corner of the Highlands on this scenic semi-circle from Inverness around the Beauly, Cromarty and Dornoch firths.

  • Length of the route: 80 miles (128 km)
  • Start and finish: Inverness/The Mound on Loch Fleet
  • Time to drive: 1 hour 50 minutes

Deeside tourist route Perth to Aberdeen

best road trip west coast scotland

Cyclists on the Deeside Way, Ballater

On the Deeside Tourist Route, travel along Britain's highest main road - the A93 - from Perth, via the Cairngorms National Park, to Aberdeen.

  • Length of the route: 108 miles (174 km)
  • Start and finish: Perth/Aberdeen
  • Time to drive: 2 hours 55 minutes

Angus Coastal Route Dundee to Aberdeen

best road trip west coast scotland

The beach at Lunan Bay

© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Stretching from Dundee to Aberdeen, the Angus Coastal Route takes in the spectacular coastline and countryside of the east of Scotland.

  • Length of the route: 68 miles (103 km)
  • Start and finish: Dundee/Aberdeen
  • Time to drive: 1 hour 40 minutes

The Snow Roads scenic route Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Spey

best road trip west coast scotland

The Watchers in the Cairngorms National Park

Admire the drama of The Snow Roads Scenic Route through  the eastern portion of the Cairngorms National Park. It gets its name by traversing the highest public roads in Britain which are the first to close due to snowfall.  

  • Length of the route: 90 miles (144.8 km)
  • Start and finish: Blairgowrie/Grantown-on-Spey
  • Time to drive: 3 hours

Argyll coastal route Tarbert to Fort William

best road trip west coast scotland

Ardkinglas Woodland Garden on Loch Fyne

© VisitScotland / Stuart Brunton

Absorb stunning mountain landscapes and glittering loch views as you travel through the majestic west coast of Scotland on a scenic drive through the Argyll Coastal Route.

  • Length of the route: 129 miles (208 km)
  • Start and finish: Tarbet/Fort William

Borders historic route Carlisle to Edinburgh

best road trip west coast scotland

Melrose Abbey

Discover the lush scenery of the Scottish Borders on this historic route through the south of Scotland.

  • Length of the route: 89 miles (143 km)
  • Start and finish: Carlisle/Edinburgh
  • Time to drive: 2 hours 20 minutes

Galloway tourist route Gretna to Ayr

best road trip west coast scotland

The Mull of Galloway, Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway

© VisitScotland / Visit South West Scotland / Damian Shields

Stretching from Gretna to Ayr in south west Scotland, the Galloway Tourist Route weaves through the picturesque landscapes that inspired Robert Burns.

  • Length of the route: 92 miles (148 km)
  • Start and finish: Gretna/Ayr
  • Time to drive: 2 hours 10 minutes

The South West Coastal 300 South west

best road trip west coast scotland

Culzean Castle and Country Park

© Barry Dawson / Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Group

The South West Coastal 300 is a wonderfully scenic route around one of Scotland's most picturesque coasts. If you want stunning scenery, pristine coastline and plenty of things to see and do, this is the road trip for you.

  • Length of route: 300 miles (482.8 km)
  • Start and finish: Ayr
  • Time to drive: 5-6 hours

Fife coastal route Kincardine to Newport

best road trip west coast scotland

West Sands, St Andrews

Enjoy views of the impressive Forth bridges as you drive along sparkling coastline on the Fife Coastal Route. You'll pass rolling farmland, picturesque seaside towns and beautiful beaches.

  • Length of the route: 77 miles (124 km)
  • Start and finish: Kincardine/Newport on Tay

Highland tourist route Aberdeen to Inverness

best road trip west coast scotland

Cawdor Castle and Gardens

If you're looking for more good places to drive in Scotland, follow the Highland Tourist Route through the heart of the Highlands, passing through the rugged landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park and charming Highland towns.

  • Length of the route: 116 miles (187 km)
  • Start and finish: Aberdeen/Inverness
  • Time to drive: 2 hours 50 minutes

Clyde Valley tourist route Abington to Hamilton

best road trip west coast scotland

Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve

Follow the River Clyde on the Clyde Valley Tourist Route through lush farmland and rolling hills as you journey to the bustling town of Hamilton, close to Glasgow.

  • Length of the route: 38 miles (61 km)
  • Start and finish: Abington/Hamilton
  • Time to drive: 30 minutes

North and west Highland route Ullapool to John o'Groats

best road trip west coast scotland

You'll travel through some of the most magnificent scenery in Europe on the North and West Highland Route - wild mountains and lochs, foaming salmon rivers, rugged coastlines with mighty sea cliffs and secluded sandy bays.

  • Length of the route: 158 miles (254 km)
  • Start and finish: Ullapool/John o’Groats
  • Time to drive: 3 hours 45 minutes

Forth Valley tourist route Edinburgh to Stirling

best road trip west coast scotland

The Kelpies in Helix Park

The Forth Valley Tourist Route makes for a brilliant day out discovering some of Scotland's top attractions and historic towns.

  • Length of the route: 43 miles (69 km)
  • Start and finish: Edinburgh/Stirling
  • Time to drive: 1 hour 30 minutes

Perthshire tourist route Greenloaning to Ballinluig

best road trip west coast scotland

Den of Alyth, Perthshire

Enjoy views of lush, cultivated landscapes followed by the rugged splendour of the Sma' Glen, Aberfeldy and Grandtully on the Perthshire Tourist Route.

  • Start and finish: Greenloaning/Ballinluig
  • Time to drive: 1 hour 15 minutes

North Coast 500 North coast

best road trip west coast scotland

Driving the Bealach na Ba

Widely regarded as one of the best driving roads in Scotland, the North Coast 500 route offers the ultimate Highlands road trip experience.

  • Length of the route: 500 miles (805 km)
  • Start and finish: Inverness
  • Time to drive: 13 hours 35 minutes (note: this is without stopping. We recommend taking several days to complete the NC500)

Planning your trip

Please remember to plan your trip in advance. It is crucial for the wellbeing of Scotland's landscapes, as well as for local residents and businesses, that the areas around these routes are respected and looked after properly.

 A few things to keep in mind:

  • Take all litter, waste and rubbish away with you to dispose of correctly.
  • Book your accommodation in advance; don't park or stay outwith designated camping/caravan areas.
  • Follow the  Scottish Outdoor Access Code  to ensure the landscape is left how you found it.

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A Foodie’s Road Trip on Scotland’s West Coast

Home > Blog > A Foodie’s Road Trip on Scotland’s West Coast

“Eat local, eat fresh, eat natural.”

It’s a mantra resounding across the foodie world and, luckily, an easy goal to strive towards in Scotland. The entire foundation of Scottish food culture and identity is based on natural ingredients easily found in our great outdoors – think Scottish raspberries in a traditional cranachan dessert, haddock that abounds in the surrounding seas used to create our traditional fish soup Cullen skink, or a Scottish roast beef accompanied by local root vegetables grown in Scotland’s fertile green spaces.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Porter & Rye (@porterandrye) on Jun 2, 2018 at 7:13am PDT

While haggis may spring to mind when you think of Scottish cuisine, what epitomises our cooking is not the stereotypical dishes but rather our fresh, natural produce. By the end of this blog, you may be sick of me using the words “local” and “home-made”, for they chime out of tiny cafes and large restaurants across Scotland.

Scotland’s west coast offers jaw-dropping scenery and some of the very best Scottish food experiences, and this is my guide to making the most of this foodie coastline. The incredible seafood bars and Michelin-recommended restaurants feature, of course, but so do smaller cafes that serve up a hearty slice of cake and a creamy cappuccino. It’s all about exciting your palate and warming your heart as you drive this stunning country …

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Stacy Smith (@stacy__j__smith) on Feb 16, 2019 at 7:59am PST

First nibbles …

Starting from Glasgow, my foodie journey begins by heading north to beautiful and mesmerising Loch Lomond – the biggest expanse of inland water in the UK and the perfect spot for a picnic. Take a stroll up one of the iconic hills close at hand such as Conic Hill beside Balmaha, or the Cobbler at Arrochar. Here you can have a welcome stretch of the legs ready to pack in as much food as possible.

At the picturesque village of Luss, stopping for refreshments at the  Coach House Coffee Shop  is compulsory. Here they fill their teapots to the brim and their cakes come in generous slices.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Coach House Coffee Shop (@coachhousecoffeeshop) on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:15am PDT

Loch Fyne …

Venturing on towards the shores of Loch Fyne along the A83, you’ll travel past the iconic beauty spot the  Rest and Be Thankful . On the shores of Loch Fyne is the legendary  Loch Fyne Oyster Bar , a Scottish gastronomic icon where clean and unfussy seafood allows you to delve wholeheartedly into the fresh flavours and beautiful views. The menu continuously changes depending on the season and the catch brought in by fishermen each day.

The restaurant focuses on supporting the local community through the provision of the very best seafood sourced with the least environmental impact possible. Some favourite dishes are the oysters served with smoked anchovies and parmesan and the Tarbert scallops, smoked bacon and garlic butter – a sublime culinary experience.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Home of Good Eats & Recipes (@that_foodguy_scotland) on Jan 23, 2019 at 3:42am PST

Close at hand the exemplary seafood can be washed down with a beer from  Fyne Ales Brewery , made using water from the hills surrounding their spectacular Glen Fyne location.

Stock up on some bottles for later or perhaps choose to try the succulent steak pie served up in their bar, made using beef sourced from their own herd of highland cattle.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Fyne Ales (@fyneales) on Nov 21, 2016 at 4:34am PST

Heading up the coast …

The coast now beckons, but along the way I’d visit picture-perfect Inveraray for some sightseeing at the 19th-century Jail. A caffeine and cake hit is again needed upon passing Lochgilphead – the thick chocolate tiffin from The Square Peg would be my traybake of choice.

From here it is just 15 minutes to Crinan where the renowned seafood bar of the Crinan Hotel awaits. Dinner is served just 50 yards from the pier where the freshest seafood is landed each day. Dine on jumbo prawns, crayfish, clams, lobster, mussels or oysters as you watch the bustling life of the sea lock.

Upstairs, the Michelin recommended Westward Restaurant offers five-course gourmet dinners overlooking the sea towards the Isle of Jura and the whirling Corryvreckan. Their seasonal menu features delights such as Sound of Jura lobster and whole Loch Crinan langoustines with garlic aioli, as well as non-seafood dishes such as a roast rack of mouthwatering Argyll lamb.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Crinan Hotel (@thecrinanhotel) on Jul 4, 2018 at 5:28am PDT

On to Oban …

Meandering up the coastline to my next eating destination, stop for some culture at Kilmartin Glen. This is a special place and one of the most important archaeological sites in Scotland – start at the museum and be sure to visit their stone barn cafe and courtyard. The homemade (of course) white chocolate and cranberry scones are unequivocally delicious.

Reaching Oban, ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital’ – the choice of seafood and classic fish and chips is overwhelming. By the ferry terminal, you can purchase langoustines plucked fresh from the sea. Nearby, a hot smoked salmon sandwich from the Oban Seafood Hut or Food From Argyll at The Pier may be the best bread and filling combination you’ve ever eaten.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Shehnaz Bashir RD ???????????????????????????? (@gutsy_dietitian) on Jul 22, 2018 at 12:13pm PDT

Along the main street, you can buy salt and vinegar-laden chips and look out to the harbour.

For something to satisfy that undeniable post-savoury sweetness craving, the  Oban Chocolate Cafe  serves up white and milk chocolate fish and chips in a newspaper-lined box, Irn Bru and whisky truffles, and chocolate orange waffles topped with handmade chocolate flakes.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Oban Chocolate Company (@obanchocolate) on Dec 16, 2018 at 1:00pm PST

Hopping across to the Isle of Mull …

Having sat staring out to sea admiring the beautiful views and basking in the joy of trying some of the best seafood in Scotland I wouldn’t yet be content. The sea itself calls and my next stop is across the water.

A 45-minute ferry from Oban, the Isle of Mull is famous for wildlife, the coloured houses that line the pretty harbour of Tobermory and most importantly, its wonderful, locally-produced food and drink.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Hidden Scotland (@hiddenscotland) on Feb 9, 2019 at 5:44am PST

Mull is home to the world-famous  Isle of Mull cheddar  – a brand synonymous with premium quality. At the island’s dairy farm you can watch firsthand as the ivory-coloured cheese is crafted to create a distinctively sharp and fruity flavour.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by bridgeland market (@bridgelandmarket) on Dec 3, 2018 at 1:51pm PST

A visit to Mull would be incomplete without visiting the amazing  Cafe Fish  in Tobermory where the portions are enormous and quality sublime.

Set idyllically overlooking the harbour, their menu is scribbled onto a board each day and features the freshest ingredients possible. Their Sound of Mull scallops with a Malaysian coconut and turmeric laksa sauce are the perfect fusion of international spice and sea flavours.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Luca Magaró (@lucamagaro)

Off the beaten track …

Would you take a ferry just to reach exceptional food? A delicious idea to me! Getting to  The Whitehouse Restaurant  by Lochaline is not easy, but after the Corran ferry and a 12-mile drive south, your tastebuds will be richly rewarded with a menu underpinned by locally-foraged ingredients and simple flavours. They offer a carefully-sourced 4 to 6-course tasting menu that is worth every picturesque mile.

Perhaps try smoked mackerel terrine, Gigha halibut exquisitely decorated with edible flowers, or crab and smoked salmon ravioli … need I say more?

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Whitehouse Restaurant (@thewhitehouserestaurant) on Sep 5, 2017 at 11:24pm PDT

Inland to Fort William …

For the crème de la crème of Scottish dining experiences, head to the opulent  Inverlochy Castle Hotel  for a once in a lifetime meal in magnificent, royal surroundings. Their fine dining rooms are charmingly decorated with decadent furniture gifted by the King of Norway and their 3 AA rosette restaurant runs seamlessly under the expert rule of legendary father and son duo Albert and Michel Roux. Not to mention the setting …

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Inverlochy Castle Hotel (@inverlochycastlehotel) on Jul 20, 2017 at 2:28pm PDT

The menu focuses on modern British cuisine with French influences, created using the best local produce. Their tasting menu is a fabulous option to trial your taste buds on exquisitely presented and mind-bogglingly creative dishes such as their recent seaweed cured sea trout or roast Atlantic cod.

If you fancy a truly British experience you could also book in for  afternoon tea   for a memorably indulgent end to your Scottish foodie adventure.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Inverlochy Castle Hotel (@inverlochycastlehotel) on Mar 3, 2018 at 6:51am PST

Eat Your Way Around Scotland

If you are a foodie like me I highly recommend basing your holiday around a few iconic Scottish culinary experiences. Didn’t I mention you’d be sick of me saying that everything is local? Come and see for yourself!

Caitlin Rush

P.S.  Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in  self-drive holidays  in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job – we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one.  Send us an enquiry  now and start planning your delicious trip to Scotland!

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10 Scotland Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

A beautiful blue sky over the rugged highlands of Scotland on a road trip

Scotland is a rugged and beautiful country that’s perfect for exploring on a road trip. The craggy coasts, placid lochs, and rolling hills make it a dream to discover. There are countless historic castles, iconic distilleries, and postcard-perfect islands at your fingertips.

I absolutely love Scotland. It’s stunningly beautiful and I can never get enough of the countless changing landscapes, Scotch distilleries, and warm, welcoming locals.

Having been to Scotland over a handful of times in the last decade, I think taking a road trip is the best way to explore the country. Home to just 5.5 million people, it’s a sparsely populated land, so much of your driving here will be out in the countryside. The country is just built for it.

But there are still a few things to keep in mind before you depart.

Here are 10 Scotland road-trip tips (plus my favorite routes) to help make your drive better, safer, and more fun (based on my experience at least):

Table of Contents

1. Get Travel Insurance

2. rent the right vehicle, 3. be ready to drive on the left, 4. understand roundabouts, 5. know the speed limits, 6. add in time for scenic stops, 7. download the right apps, 8. bring a paper map, 9. understand how to drive on single-track roads, 10. don’t rush, suggested routes, scotland road trip faq, get your in-depth budget guide to europe.

I never leave home without travel insurance . And I never rent a car without comprehensive insurance either.

I know, it’s an added expense. And chances are you won’t even need it.

But what happens if you do need it and it’s not there? You’ll be paying out of pocket for damage. And that could cost you thousands.

Scotland has lots of narrow, rugged, or single-track roads (more on those later) that can be tricky to navigate. Tire and windshield damage is common. Throw in the ever-changing weather, and you’ve got recipe for trouble.

That’s why I strongly encourage you to take out car insurance for your road trip. The peace of mind is worth it.

When it comes to renting a car, I recommend Discover Cars . When you book, it’s easy to add car insurance onto your purchase with the click of a button. The site makes it clear what is covered and how much it costs.

You essentially have two choices when it comes to renting a vehicle in Scotland — and choice will drastically impact your trip. Your options are a car or a campervan.

A car will be cheaper and use less gas, but you’ll have to find accommodation each night. A campervan/RV will be more money and require more fuel, but you can sleep inside the vehicle and thus save money on accommodation. (It’s not my jam but to each their own.)

Both options make for an amazing trip, so there is no wrong answer. Just keep in mind that manual transmissions are the default in Scotland, so if you want a vehicle with automatic transmission, you’ll need to specify that while booking.  

Traffic in Scotland flows on the left, just like the rest of the UK. This is the opposite of the US, Canada, and the majority of Europe (only Ireland, the UK, Malta, and Cyprus drive on the left in Europe).

If you rent a manual vehicle, you’ll be switching gears with your left hand instead of your right, which has a bit of a learning curve. (Personally, I prefer an automatic).

Old habits die hard, so if you’re used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, drive cautiously. Driving on the left can be especially challenging when you arrive at a roundabout (more on that below) or in a city. Take it slow at first, until you adjust.  

Roundabouts are a traffic circles that serve as intersections, instead of stop lights or stop signs. They force vehicles to slow down without stopping the flow of traffic. While they aren’t especially common in the US, they are incredibly popular in Europe (they reduce serious traffic accidents by upwards of 90%).

Roundabouts are very common in Scotland. And they flow in the opposite direction (clockwise) than do those in the US (counterclockwise). When approaching a roundabout, slow down drastically and yield to traffic in the roundabout until you have an opening to enter the traffic circle. All traffic flows the same direction in a roundabout.

If there are multiple lanes, you’ll need to be on an outer lane when exiting. The inner lane of the roundabout is for cars not exiting immediately.

When you’re ready to exit the roundabout, signal so cars behind you know you will be turning.

If you’re not comfortable when you arrive at a roundabout, just take it slow and signal your intentions. They are much easier to handle than you think!  

Posted speed limits in Scotland are written in miles. While this is helpful for Americans like me, travelers from countries that use kilometers will want to pay extra attention.

Common speed limits are:

  • Built-up areas: 30 MPH
  • Single roadways: 60 MPH
  • Dual roadways: 70 MPH
  • Highways: 70 MPH

These numbers are just guides, however. Always follow local signage to ensure safety. When in doubt, it’s always better to go slower rather than faster until you verify the speed. I’d write down some common conversions so you can have them handy if you get confused.  

I know a lot of travelers like to really plan out their routes and itineraries. When you only have a few days, it can be tempting to plan everything to a T (I used to do this a lot). However, there are lots of diversions to explore in Scotland, from quaint towns to scenic vistas to short hikes.

You’re going to want to pull over every few minutes for a vista, mountain, loch, or abandoned castle. The landscape is so beautiful that even the average sights are Insta-worthy. For that reason, build in buffer time in your itinerary so that, if you decide to stop or take a little diversion, you’ll have the time. I can’t recommend this enough. Sometimes, the best parts of a trip are the ones you stumble into. And you definitely don’t want to be rushing from sight to sight either, so plan to be diverted.  

I know, when you head out on a road trip, the point is to get away from your phone so you can enjoy the local culture and stunning views. However, there are lots of apps out there that can help you save money, stay safe, and save time. Everyone road-tripping around Scotland should have the following apps downloaded to their phone:

  • Met Weather – This is the best weather app for the UK. Conditions can change drastically in Scotland, so plan accordingly.
  • Google Maps – The best app for looking up directions. Make sure to download your maps so you have them for offline use.
  • Park4Night – A helpful app for finding spots to park for your RV or campervan (including free ones).
  • Flush – A helpful app for finding public restrooms.
  • Petrol Prices – An app for finding and comparing nearby gas prices for when you need to refuel.

Whenever I go on a road trip, I always bring a paper map . I know, Google Maps is easy and free, and mobile data coverage in Scotland is generally reliable. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know when your phone is going to break, if your signal will be lost (likely to happen if you’re driving through remote areas), or if there will be an emergency.

Give yourself peace of mind: bring a paper road map, and just leave it in the glove box. You likely won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it (they make nice souvenirs after a trip too).  

Once you get out of the cities, you may encounter single-track roads. These are essentially two-way roads that only have space for one vehicle. This means that if you encounter oncoming traffic, there is no room for you to pass one another.

Fortunately, these roads usually have passing areas built into them at regular intervals, allowing cars to pull over to make room. Take advantage of these when you see traffic coming, so that you can easily pass one another.

Additionally, take it slow around corners on single-track roads. Accidents can occur here because you can’t see oncoming traffic (with whom you’re sharing a lane). So, drive slowly, and always be prepared to stop.

Lastly, keep in mind that many single-track roads are a bit rugged. Blowing a tire can happen easily, especially if you’re pulling off to the side to make room for passing vehicles. For that reason, make sure you have a spare tire and that you also have insurance coverage for your tires, just to be safe.  

While Scotland isn’t huge, there are still a lot of things see and do here. It may be tempting to rush, so you can pack more into your itinerary, but I strongly encourage you to not do so. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game. I’ve been on countless road trips around the world, and slower is always better. That means driving less and spending more time at each stop. Do that, and you’ll be able to soak in a lot more of Scotland’s unique culture.

Furthermore, chances are you’ll be driving on a lot of smaller, winding roads here, often surrounded by ambling farm animals to watch out for. That means, for safety reasons, you’ll need to slow down and really focus on the drive. Admire the sights, leave room for spontaneous detours, and forget about rushing from sight to sight. You won’t regret it!  

There are a few popular road trip routes in Scotland. They each offer different things to see and do, and each require different amounts of time to complete. To make the most of your time, pick the route that best suits your travel interests.

Here’s a quick look at a few of the best road trip routes in Scotland:

North Coast 500 – This is probably the most popular road trip route in the country. It loops around the northern tip of Scotland, usually starting and ending in Inverness. Popular stops include Bealach na Bà, Cape Wrath, Smoo Cave , John o’ Groats, and Dunrobin Castle.

You’ll want at least five days, though seven days would be preferable. Just keep in mind that it can get busy in the summer.

Edinburgh/Glasgow to Glen Coe – Glen Coe is a picturesque valley in the Highlands that’s both a National Scenic Area and National Nature Reserve. It’s a popular spot for photographers and hikers, and a must-visit location for anyone exploring the Highlands.

Glen Coe is just 2-2.5 hours from Glasgow and Edinburgh , making it an easy day trip (though I suggest stopping overnight, so you can really soak up the views). It’s also a part of several road trip routes, including the Argyll Coastal Route (listed next).

Argyll Coastal Route – This route along the west coast of Scotland stretches for 129 miles (208 kilometers), from Loch Lomond to Fort Williams. It’s a great alternative to the North Coast 500, as it’s less popular (and thus less crowded). Popular stops along this route include the Inveraray Jail, the cairns of Kilmartin Glen, Glen Coe, and Ben Nevis.

While you could easily drive the distance in a single day, plan to spend at least three days. That will give you time to see the highlights without rushing.

Highlands Tourist Route – Cutting across the eastern side of the country, from Aberdeen to Inverness, this route is a popular choice for history buffs, as there are numerous castle and museum stops, as well as the site of the last battle on British soil, the Battle of Culloden (1746).

The route is just 116 miles (187 kilometers), but at least three days are needed to take it all in.  

A rugged shores of Scotland on a beautiful day exploring on a road trip

If you pick a shorter route or just want to do a weekend road trip to camp, three days will suffice.

What is the most scenic drive in Scotland? Some of the most scenic drives in Scotland include the Argyll Coastal Route, the entire North Coast 500, and the Highlands Tourist Route.

Is driving in Scotland difficult? While driving in the cities can be a pain, once you get out into the countryside, it is very easy. Just use caution on single-track roads and in roundabouts — and remember that you have to drive on the left!

Can you drive onto the Isle of Skye? Yep! It’s connected to the mainland via a bridge.

What is the best month for a Scotland road trip? Generally, April-October is the best time to visit. Personally, I like the autumn, as you’ll get to see the changing leaves. It won’t be as warm, but prices will be lower and everything will be less busy.

Scotland is a beautiful destination and perfect for road trips. With stunning scenery, historic sights, plentiful hiking opportunities, and possible Loch Ness monster sightings, I think renting a car to explore is the best way to experience the country. Whether you want to discover the rugged coast or weave about the Highlands, having a car or campervan will make it both possible and affordable. Just follow the tips above and you’ll be sure to have an amazing time!

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Book Your Trip to Scotland: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Scotland? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Scotland for even more planning tips!

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Bucket List: The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World

  • Road trips offer freedom and flexibility, allowing travelers to explore at their own pace and stop as long as they want. No schedules or time constraints to worry about.
  • The world is full of incredible road trip routes, from scenic coastal drives to traversing challenging mountain passes. There are options for every type of traveler.
  • Some of the top road trip routes include Route 66 in the US, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Ocean Road in Australia, Trollstigen in Norway, and the Ring Road in Iceland. These routes offer amazing views and unforgettable experiences.

Traveling by train, like enjoying an adventure on Amtrak's epic sleeper train routes around the world , can be a comfortable way to explore a destination (and multiple, at that!). However, there's far less freedom when traveling by rail because passengers are limited to the time constraints and stops on the journey. What's better than rail travel for folks with wanderlust hoping to be free from the clutches of time limits? Road trips, of course!

Going on a road trip is an amazing way for travelers to discover the world at their own pace; explorers can go wherever their hearts desire and stop for as long as they wish without having to worry about schedules. Moreover, there are countless options for road trip routes that range from scenic coastal drives to traversing rugged mountain passes and immersing oneself in the culture and history of an area (or an entire country, in many cases).

For aspiring roadtrippers looking to see the world, here are the top ten best road trip routes around the globe to add to the bucket list. From the breathtaking vistas of Scotland's North Coast 500 to the remote and challenging terrain of Pakistan's Karakoram Highway, these amazing bucket list road trips offer unforgettable experiences and awe-inspiring views for those who crave adventure on the open road.

UPDATE: 2023/11/30 12:40 EST BY NOAH STAATS

Who's Up For A Drive? These Are Some Of The Most Beautiful Routes To Take

This list covers a number of the most beautiful road trips in the world (in other words, the best!). However, there's always room for more! As such, this article has been updated with two new bucket list road trip routes, both in the US and the most beautiful to embark on ASAP. From Route 66 across the Western United States to the Blue Ridge Mountain Drive, there are endless places to travel by vehicle. Have fun!

Related: Road Trip Bucket List: 12 Major Cities To Stop At Along Route 66

Route 66, United States

Welcome to the wild west: route 66 is the perfect desert adventure.

One of the most famous road trips in the world is Route 66 in the United States. Not only has this iconic road-inspired movie like Cars , but it also boasts endless scenery, history, and communities worth stopping in for the night. Most notably, Route 66 offers tons of epic stops and spans over 2,400 miles across states like Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico and ends in Los Angeles, California.

This is undeniably one of the best driving ideas for a road trip itinerary and should keep everyone occupied from mile one to 2,488. Moreover, Route 66 boasts an eight-state coverage, with something to see and do at nearly every turn. However, much of this route goes through desert landscape, so make sure and bring plenty of water!

  • Distance : 2,448 miles
  • Time to Drive: 10 days (minimum) , but 2 weeks is an ideal timeframe

The Blue Ridge Parkway, United States

This road trip route is known to be the most scenic drive in the united states.

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most stunning drives in the United States and arguably North America. Here, people can embark on a 469-mile adventure through this famous mountain range, traveling through states like Virginia and North Carolina. Moreover, the Blue Ridge Parkway detours into places like Shenandoah National Park and the Smoky Mountains National Park system. This makes it a perfect choice for mountain lovers and hikers, plus it is a pretty scenic route from start to finish.

It's also worth noting that while on this road trip route, you will drive through countless towns, including Linville Falls, Blowing Rock, Boone, Sparta, Roanoke, Virginia, Bryson City, Mouth of Wilson (Grayson Highlands State Park), West Jefferson, and so on.

  • Distance: 469 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9-10 hours

The Blue Ridge Scenic Highway through North Carolina is another epic US road trip route in this region!

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Coastal views and cliffside driving make the great ocean road a top road trip.

Covering a distance of 413 miles, The Great Ocean Road is a picturesque coastal route that starts from Torquay and ends in Allansford, near Warrnambool, located on the southeastern coast of Australia.

Constructed by Australian soldiers in remembrance of their fallen colleagues, the road is renowned for its scenic beauty, with stunning oceanic views, cliffs, and rainforests. Exploring this road with its gorgeous scenery is one of the best things to do in Australia.

  • Distance: 413 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9.5 hours

Trollstigen, Norway

Get ready to turn (a lot) in norway while driving trollstigen.

Trollstigen, which translates to the "Troll's Path" or the "Troll's Road", is a mountainous road located in western Norway, running from south to north from Sylte in Fjord Municipality to Åndalsnes in Rauma Municipality. It is approximately 20 kilometers long and contains 11 hairpin turns that ascend the steep mountainside, with gradients as steep as 10%.

The road was built between 1925 and 1936 and has since become a popular tourist attraction due to its breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, earning a spot on many lists of the world's most scenic drives. Even though it is not included as one of the things travelers should not miss out on in Norway because it's a bit off the beaten path (and tourists without a car will have to rent one), it provides a breathtaking experience for road trip fans.

  • Distance: 31 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~1-2 hours

Ring Road, Iceland

Also called route 1, this route offers glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and falls.

The Iceland Ring Road, also referred to as Route 1 or simply the Ring Road, is an 828-mile-long highway encircling the entire island country of Iceland. The road provides access to some of Iceland's most popular tourist spots, such as volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.

Completed in 1974, the Ring Road has emerged as a major tourist attraction in Iceland, offering visitors stunning vistas of the country's diverse landscapes and unique geological formations. Several charming towns and villages in Iceland (other than Reykjavik) dot the road, providing essential services and accommodations to travelers. From Icelandic culinary adventures to marveling at Iceland's unique beaches , Iceland's Ring Road is worth the bucket list because it promises a deep exploration of the entire country.

  • Distance: 828 miles
  • Time to Drive: Approximately 6 days in summer and 12 days in winter , at a minimum

The Garden Route, South Africa

190 miles of beaches, mountains, lagoons, and forests.

Located on the south-western coast of South Africa, The Garden Route is easily one of the most scenic drives in the world; it's a 190-mile-long scenic route between Mossel Bay and Storms River, passing through a range of breathtaking landscapes such as lush forests, pristine beaches, towering mountains, and tranquil lagoons.

As a popular tourist spot, The Garden Route offers visitors an array of attractions and activities throughout the journey, making it an ideal road trip destination. Drive down this road and discover what South Africa is really like .

  • Distance: 190 miles
  • Time to Drive: 2-3 hours (but it's recommended to take a few days to complete it and appreciate the sights along the way)

Amalfi Coast, Italy

High-class living and mediterranean views make the amalfi coast an upscale road trip choice.

The stunning Amalfi Coast is a 31-mile road that winds along the southern coast of Italy, connecting the cities of Sorrento and Salerno. The road passes through a series of charming coastal towns, such as Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi, each with its own unique character and attractions.

The narrow, winding road features hairpin turns and steep drops, providing breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and cliffs. Travelers can stop at scenic overlooks, indulge in local cuisine, and explore historical sites and cultural attractions.

  • Time to Drive: ~2 hours

A82, Scotland

Catch a glimpse of the lochness monster on scotland's a82 route.

In Scotland, the A82 is a major road that spans approximately 167 miles from Glasgow to Inverness, passing through some of Scotland's most stunning landscapes, such as Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and Loch Ness.

Initially constructed in the 18th century as a military route to the Highlands, it has become a vital transport link and popular tourist route. The A82 goes through several towns and villages, including Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain in the UK.

  • Distance: 167 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~3 hours (but it's better to take one's time to enjoy the stops and views along the way)

Related: Discovering The Beauty Of The Palisades Parkway: A Road Trip Adventure In Northern New Jersey

The Karakoram Highway, China/Pakistan

Peaks, glaciers, and valleys from kashgar, china to islamabad, pakistan.

The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway, is one of the best travel routes for road trippers on this list for those who crave adventurous terrain. The route spans over 1,300 kilometers from Kashgar in China to Islamabad in Pakistan. The road traverses through some of the most remote and rugged terrain on earth, including the Karakoram mountain range, which houses some of the world's highest peaks, such as K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

The construction of the Karakoram Highway was completed in 1986, and it is recognized as a remarkable engineering feat involving the construction of numerous bridges and tunnels through some of the planet's most challenging terrain. The highway provides breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and deep valleys while also providing an opportunity to experience the culture and history of the region.

  • Distance: 810 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4-5 days (but travelers can spend longer if they wish to take their time)

Related: From Canyons To Wildflowers: Discovering Anza Borrego On A Scenic Road Trip

The North Coast 500, Scotland

Castles, cliffs, pubs, and water views in the scottish highlands.

The Scottish Highlands is a picturesque region in Scotland that boasts natural beauty, rugged landscapes, and historical landmarks. Many scenic routes and roads are scattered throughout the area, offering visitors breathtaking views of the region's unique culture and history. However, none are quite as enchanting as the North Coast 500 drive, which easily earns its place among the world's best road trips for its scenery alone (and the quintessential Scottish pubs en route!).

One of the best road trips in Scotland (or indeed the UK overall) is the North Coast 500, a 516-mile road trip showcasing some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery. The journey begins and ends in Inverness, taking travelers through small villages, historic towns, dramatic mountain ranges, and rugged coastlines. There are plenty of ancient castles, scenic overlooks, and traditional Scottish pubs to stop and enjoy along the way.

  • Distance: 516 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~ 8 hours 30 minutes

The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys, USA

This is the drive between the florida keys and miami beach.

The Overseas Highway , located in the Florida Keys of the USA, is a 113-mile-long road that connects Miami to Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. The highway spans a series of islands, providing awe-inspiring views of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Originally built as a railroad track in the early 20th century, it was later converted to a highway to connect the Keys' islands. Today, the highway is one of the best road trips in the world for coastal scenery, passing through several towns and villages, including Islamorada and Marathon, each with its own unique attractions and activities.

  • Distance: 113 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4 hours one-way

Related: From Waterfalls To Wildlife: Exploring The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway On A Road Trip Adventure

The Atlantic Road, Norway

This route in norway makes its way to the little island of averøy.

The Atlantic Road in Norway is a 5.2-mile road that runs along Norway's coast, connecting the mainland to the island of Averøy with eight bridges. It passes through some of Norway's most stunning coastal landscapes, offering views of the open sea, rugged cliffs, and tiny islands.

This road is an engineering marvel, completed in 1989, as it required the construction of several bridges and causeways in one of the most challenging marine environments in the world. The Atlantic Road is a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery to those visiting Norway.

  • Distance : 5.2 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~10 minutes

This road is short but sweet; however, if travelers want to extend it, they can drive the whole of the super scenic Route 64 ( Route 64 includes the Atlantic Road ). Doing so will add around an hour and 15 minutes to the journey.

Bucket List: The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World

From Baja to British Columbia, these are the 101 best West Coast experiences

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COMMENTS

  1. The West Coast of Scotland

    7 days Scotland West Coast Itinerary. Here's how I would spend a week road tripping the West Coast of Scotland: Stop 1: Glencoe. Stop 2: Fort William. Stop 3: Glenfinnan Viaduct. Stop 4: Arisaig, Camusdarach, & Morar. Stop 5: Isle of Skye. Stop 6: Isle of Raasay. Stop 7: Kyle of Lochalsh.

  2. The BEST west Scotland road trip itinerary: 10 days of adventure!

    Driving time: 3.5 hours. Get your playlist ready and hit the road early for day 4 of our west Scotland road trip! Follow the A82 north out of Fort William, before turning onto the A87 where you'll be driving through an endless stretch of lochs: Loch Gary, Loch Loyne and Loch Cluanie (which is especially beautiful).

  3. Scotland West Coast Itinerary: How To See The Best Of The West Coast In

    Quick answer: Scotland West Coast itinerary. Day 1: Arrive in Fort William. Days 2 & 3: Isle of Skye. Day 4: Spean Bridge via the Jacobite Steam Train. Day 5 & 6: Isle of Mull. Day 7: Staffa, Fingal's Cave & the Treshnish Isles. Day 8: Glasgow via the West Highland Line. Day 9: Bonus day in Edinburgh.

  4. A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip

    A west coast of Scotland road trip itinerary. Stage 1 - Loch Fyne, Cowal and Inveraray. Stage 2 - The Mull of Kintyre and Oban. Stage 3 - Exploring The Isle of Mull. Stage 4 - Remote Ardnamurchan. Stage 5 - The Isle of Skye. This ferry hopping road trip also makes a great extension to the North Coast 500. The North Coast 500 leaves ...

  5. The Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route

    And then there is the Ultimate Scottish Coastal Route as I like to call it, covering almost every road on the Scottish west coast, including three islands, from Stranraer to Durness via the Isle of Arran, the Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye. That particular route, my personal choice, is 549 miles (884kms) long with a total road travel time of 20 ...

  6. 7 Days of Iconic Sightseeing in The West of Scotland

    Day 5 The Road to Skye. Transport: This exciting section of the trip will take you past some spellbinding Highland landscapes before crossing over to the Isle of Skye. Stop the car to take in the views at Glen Sheil, before taking the A87 across the Skye bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh to discover this famous isle. 13.

  7. Best road trip around the west coast of Scotland :: Camplify

    Best road trip around the west coast of Scotland :: Camplify. Best road trip around the west coast of Scotland. Discover the best places to visit on a West Coast Scotland road trip with our expert recommendations - from off the beaten track gems to must-do attractions.

  8. A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip to Remember

    West Coast of Scotland Road Trip Day 2 The Road to the Isles. Departing the Outdoor Capital of the UK, the road now leads west. A well-named road at that as the Isles start their own call. And it's a call with a hint of Jacobite defiance as this is where Bonnie Prince Charlie's doomed pursuit of the throne both started and ended. A 46-mile ...

  9. Scotland West Coast Road-Trip: Ardnamurchan, Morvern and Mull

    Combine Section 1 & 4 for a West Coast road-trip on the mainland. Section 2 to focus on Morvern & Ardnamurchan. Section 3 to explore the Isle of Mull - and visit nearby islands. There are numerous opportunities to extend your adventure onto other islands, so be sure to account for any additional island-hopping.

  10. West Coast of Scotland Road Trip

    Instant access: £9.99 - West Coast of Scotland. This West Coast of Scotland road trip travels through spectacular scenery, including craggy mountains, and steep-sided glens. Discover history and heritage along the way with ancient castles and historic connections. A great route for wildlife spotting across the sea, land and in the air ...

  11. A west coast Scotland road trip

    Recently I undertook an epic adventure around the North West Highlands and Islands on a west coast Scotland road trip. Starting in Wester Ross, I crossed over the sea to Skye before taking a ferry to Harris and continuing on my journey to Lewis. The circular driving route around the west of Scotland eventually brought me back to Wester Ross ...

  12. 2-Week Itinerary for the West Coast of Scotland

    If this is your first trip to the Scottish west coast, I, therefore, recommend spending 2 weeks on this route (13 nights/14 days). This allows you to slow down a little and experience each destination to the fullest. Here is a quick overview of this itinerary: Kintyre Peninsula | 3 nights. Isle of Islay | 2 nights.

  13. The 13 Best Road Trips in Scotland: Epic Scotland Road Trip Guide

    Portree - Old Man of Storr - Staffin - The Quiraing -The Fairy Glen - Coral Beach - Dunvegan Castle - Neist Point Lighthouse - Talisker Distillery - Fairy Pools - Elgol. Experience every corner of the enchanting Isle of Skye with a road trip to the north, west and centre of this natural wonderland.

  14. How to Road Trip the West Coast of Scotland

    Head into the Highlands for Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Fort William. As your road trip along the west coast of Scotland heads into the Highlands, the scenery becomes even more striking and awe-inspiring. Approaching from the south, you will arrive at Glencoe first. Driving along the A82, you will travel through a deep valley carved out by ...

  15. 17 Best Places To Visit On The West Coast Of Scotland

    Explore Glasgow's West End, one of the 'coolest districts in the world' according to Time Out. Take a walking tour of Glasgow City Centre with top sites like the Botanical Gardens, Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. 11. Dumfries & Galloway.

  16. West Coast of Scotland Island-Hopping Itinerary

    An island hopping holiday on the west coast. Get ready for seven unforgettable days of island adventure! Discover what it means to island hop across the western islands of Scotland. This itinerary takes you from Arran in the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Skye in The Highlands. As you explore, you'll discover top attractions, see incredible ...

  17. Scotland Road Trip: 8 Incredible Routes for an Epic Trip

    Considered by many to be one of the best road trips in Scotland, the North Coast 500 really is the ultimate Scottish Highlands road trip, taking in windswept beaches, ancient ruins, beautiful views, and historic castles in stunning landscapes.. The Highland Tourist Route is one of the few road trips in Europe that is as much about the destination as the drive, Scotland's very own Route 66.

  18. Scotland's West Coast 500 Road Trip

    While the North Coast 500 has achieved incredible popularity as a kind of Caledonian Route 66, Scotland boasts so many other wonderfully scenic meandering roads. To help you discover them on your own Scottish self-drive tour, we've designed a glorious West Coast 500 Road Trip, an odyssey through Argyll and the West Highlands.

  19. 5 of the best road trips in Scotland

    2. North Coast 500. Best for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Inverness Castle-Inverness Castle; 516 miles (830km); allow 7 days. Scotland's wild northern coastline is the star of the country's most famous driving route. The North Coast 500 begins and ends in Inverness, the likable capital of the Highlands, making a giant loop around the ...

  20. Scotland's 15 Most Scenic Drives & Routes

    The South West Coastal 300 is a wonderfully scenic route around one of Scotland's most picturesque coasts. If you want stunning scenery, pristine coastline and plenty of things to see and do, this is the road trip for you. Length of route: 300 miles (482.8 km) Start and finish: Ayr. Time to drive: 5-6 hours.

  21. Best Scotland Road Trip Itineraries 1-5 Days

    Join my free Scotland Facebook group to ask questions about your trip to Scotland. Scotland Road Trips 3+ Days Most Top Popular Road Trip - NC500 Quick Paced North Coast 500 In 3 Days. As self-drive Scotland routes go, Scotland's answer to route 66 is the one that everyone wants to do.

  22. A Foodie's Road Trip on Scotland's West Coast

    Scotland's west coast offers jaw-dropping scenery and some of the very best Scottish food experiences, and this is my guide to making the most of this foodie coastline. The incredible seafood bars and Michelin-recommended restaurants feature, of course, but so do smaller cafes that serve up a hearty slice of cake and a creamy cappuccino.

  23. Scotland west coast road-trip itinerary

    If you are looking for a longer itinerary then my West Coast Scotland Road-trip blog covers a circular route around Wester Ross and the islands of Skye, Lewis and Harris which is ideal for a 10 -14 day trip. DAY 1 - MILTON OF CAMPSIE TO GLEN SHIEL. APPROX 160 MILES. With no sign of the torrential rain easing, I decided that our planned walk in ...

  24. 11 Scotland Road Trip Tips to Know Before You Go

    Here's a quick look at a few of the best road trip routes in Scotland: North Coast 500 - This is probably the most popular road trip route in the country. It loops around the northern tip of Scotland, usually starting and ending in Inverness. ... Argyll Coastal Route - This route along the west coast of Scotland stretches for 129 miles ...

  25. Bucket List: The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World

    One of the best road trips in Scotland (or indeed the UK overall) is the North Coast 500, a 516-mile road trip showcasing some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery.

  26. 101 best West Coast experiences of 2024: Road trips, hidden gems, tips

    From Baja to British Columbia, these are the 101 best West Coast experiences. Walk the vast salt flats of Death Valley. Enter a den of magic and mystery on a Hollywood hilltop. Sidle up to a whale ...