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How to have an amazing 7 day Scotland Itinerary
If you’re thinking about heading to Scotland for the first time, or want to take a week to explore more, then this 7 day Scotland itinerary is for you! It starts and finishes in Edinburgh. Perfect for arriving either by train or plane and for picking up a hire car.
You will definitely need some sort of personal transport for this 7 day Scotland itinerary, as public transport to some of these locations is limited. The other option is to look into hiring your own camper van, of which there are plenty of options. As I drove in a car, and stayed in hotels, I am not so familiar with the camping spots. But I do know there are plenty around, so you can definitely use this post to plan your route!
One other thing to note, this route covers quite a lot of ground and therefore does involve quite a lot of driving. If you want to catch the highlights, then perfect. If you want to travel a bit slower – I will call out some stops I think you potentially can miss (although, this would be sad).
Day 1 – Edinburgh to Oban
This is going to be the longest day of driving, as you are essentially crossing the country. But there is plenty to see along the way! If you are a big fan of histories and castles, then this is the day for you!
First stop, and this is definitely only for Outlander fans is Midhope Castle. At £5 for entry (and by entry it means you can walk up to the edge of the building but not go in), it is steep for what it is. But for fans of the series – this was the place they shot Lallybroch. From here head to nearby Blackness Castle. From there, and just down the road, is Linlithgow Palace, which was the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots (oh and the filming location of Wentworth prison. Yup Outlander again). Linlithgow village is also a good place to stop for some lunch.
Half an hours drive from Linlithgow is the village of Doune, another good option for lunch. This is also the home of Doune Castle. A medieval stronghold, this one is definitely worth taking the time to view inside. Final castle of the day – the very famous Stirling Castle. Perched on top of volcanic rock overlooking the town, it is a really interesting place to learn about the history of Scotland.
Other castles you can potentially swap into this day include: Craigmillar Castle and Inchmahome Priory.
Starting in Edinburgh? Don’t miss ten awesome things to do in Edinburgh
Fan of castles? Then make sure to take a look at this post! Amazing Castles in Scotland to Visit!
Alternatively if castles are not your thing, there are some other places you might want to stop at. Luss is an adorable little village located in the Trossachs National part. The heart of this park is Loch Lomond. A beautiful loch, which has the largest surface area of any in Scotland.
After an excellent day of Castles or Loch’s settle in for the longest drive to Oban in time for some dinner!
Eat: Etive, Oban for a great tasting menu of local produce.
Day 2 – Oban to Isle of Mull
Oban is the ferry port to getting the ferry over the Isle of Mull. Staying there the night before puts you in the perfect place to get an early ferry over to the island to spend a full day there. You need to arrive at the port half an hour before the ferry departs, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time.
The main thing you are going to want to do on the Isle of Mull, is take a drive around. The road that loops the island provides some of the most stunning landscape! The roads are all single track, so it is an interesting drive.
There are some stops along the way. Don’t miss Eas Fors waterfall, Calgary beach for the whitest sand and Aros park for more waterfalls. Then Isle of Mull cheese (delicious local produce and also home to a lovely cafe). Finally head into Tobermory to check out the distillery and to try Isle of Mull Ice-cream.
INTERESTED IN VISITING THE ISLE OF MULL? DON’T MISS THIS POST: Visiting Isle of Mull, Scotland for 24 hours
Day 3 – Isle of Mull to Fort William
An early(ish) start will give you time to get off the island, via the ferry, in good time to head towards Fort William. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this is the day where you get to see the Jacobite train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct. However, before you head there, make sure you make a couple of stops along the way!
This is a day you could spend dedicated to Harry Potter sights. Steall Waterfall, the location of Hagrids hut (exact Google Map location is here), Clachaig Gully , Loch Eilt, Loch Shiel and are all filming locatins you can try and squeeze into today. Loch Shiel can be viewed from the walk to the viaduct, and Loch Shiel is beyond Glenfinnan. So save this one for after seeing the train.
But the highlight of the day is going to be seeing the incredible steam train cross the impressive viaduct. The train crosses four times a day. Twice on it’s way to Mallaig and twice on it’s return. Just make sure you are there in time to see it cross!
This post will tell you all you need to know about visiting:
After watching the train, take a wander by Loch Shiel. The head out of Glenfinnan towards Mallaig. The scenery along this drive is incredible, so make sure to keep pulling over for the scenery. You will also come. across Loch Eilt, in which the island which is home to Dumbledore’s grave sits.
Depending on yout next day’s plans, either choose to stay in Mallaig or Fort William. If you have a ferry booked over to the Isle of Skye – then stay in Mallaig. If not, head for Fort William.
Day 4 – Fort William to Isle of Skye
If you choose to head to Isle of Skye via the Skye Bridge, a road bridge over Loch Alsh, then you are looking at about a 1 hour 45 minute drive. But, along the way is the most perfect stop! Eilean Donan Castle. This castle is located on a small tidal island, at a point where 3 loch’s meet. It was ruined form 1714 and by 1912 there was hardly any of the original castle left. The current building is due to a meticulous reconstruction in the 20th century. Definitely worth a stop and a wander around. The cafe on site also serves local Scottish food!
Afterwards head over the bridge, which is impressive in itself to arrive on the beautiful Isle of Skye! First place to head on the Isle of Skye is the Fairy Pools. This beautiful walk takes you alongside a series of pools running through the countryside of beautiful turquoise water.
Afterwards head to the main town of Portree for a wander around and a bite to eat. The Lower Deck fish and chips often has specials. One of these is the Venison Burger, which is absolutely delicious!
Stay: Croft No.3. This AirBnB is located about a 10 minute drive away from Portree and is run by the loveliest host, Lesley.
Day 5 – Isle of Skye to Loch Ness
Start early and the day in the right way with a hike up to Old Man of Storr. This will take approximately 2 hours, and the hike is medium difficulty. However, it is definitely worth it. On a clear day you have incredible views. Even if the weather isn’t on your side, the craggy rocks are incredibly atmospheric.
After the hike, head along the A855 road to visit a couple of impressive waterfalls. Lealt Falls and Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock.
If you have more time on the Isle of Skye, and this is one of the places I would suggest carving out more time for, then there are few further places that need to be seen! Neist Point Lighthouse, the Skye Museum of Island Life, Quiraing and Dunvegan Castle are all worthy of a stop.
After your fill of Isle of Skye, it is time to head back across the Skye Bridge and towards Loch Ness. There is time to take in a bit of the Loch and the head to Fort Augustus for a wander around the locks.
Stay: For something a little bit different, book the BCC Loch Ness Log Cabin. You have your own kitchen, so perfect for a cosy evening.
If there was a stop you needed to sacrifice this could be the one. It is great to see the famous Loch Ness, but honestly – there are much prettier loch’s in Scotland!
Day 6 – Loch Ness to Cairngorms
Before leaving the Loch Ness area, make sure to stop by Urquhart Castle for a morning wandering around ruins. This ruin sits right on the bank of Loch Ness, and it is actually a bit of a mystery. The current ruins are from the 13th – 16th century, but they are thought on stand on the site of a medieval stronghold.
After this, take your leave of Loch Ness and head in the Cairngorms. If you have time, stop along the way in Inverness – the capital of the Scottish Highlands. However, you could spend days in the Cairngorms National Park – there is so much to do!
If you are into water sports and hiking, make sure to stop by Loch Morlich. Here you can go kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. There are also tons of hikes around here, as well as routes for cycling. The perfect place to go for outdoor pursuits!
After your fill of the outdoors head towards the Snow Roads Scenic Routes. This is a 90-mile journey which takes you from the picturesque market town of Blairgowrie to the traditional Highland town of Grantown-on-Spey. Along this road there is so much to check out. The beautiful view point of the Watchers, beautiful towns such as Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul to start with. Plus plenty of castles (of course) including Corgraff and Braemar. You can stop at distilleries. And last, but not least, take a look at the Queen’s residence of Balmoral.
Stay: Deeside Inn – for a cosy residents lounge
Day 7 – Cairngorms to Edinburgh
For your final day in Scotland, get up early to head back to Edinburgh to have some time to explore this famous and incredible city! Again, there is so much to do – highlights include the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Victoria Street and Greyfriars Kirk Cemetery. For something a little bit more active, and for incredible views, make sure to make the effort to hike up to Arthur’s Seat!
For something a little more unusual check out the Edinburgh Underground Vaults tour. Under the city there are hundreds of vaults, which lay long forgotten for years. When they were rediscovered it unearthed a whole history of life in the these dark and dangerous places. Absolutely fascinating and highly recommended.
Final thoughts on this 7 day Scotland Itinerary
A 7 day Scotland Itinerary is never going to give you enough time to cover this entire country, so you will definitely have to choose your region – and this itinerary focuses on Edinburgh and the Highlands. It does involve a fair amount of driving, but that is part of the charm – you never know what you are going to come across.
If some choices were to be made, extend your time on the Isle of Skye and add in time in Glencoe! Loch Ness would be the first to be taken off!
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