UK, Scotland, Highlands, Glenfinnan viaduct with a steam train passing over it
Destinations

Scottish Highlands Road Trip Itinerary – A Complete Guide

The Scottish Highlands have the perfect ingredients for an epic road trip – gorgeous scenery, charming towns and villages and friendly locals. A Scottish Highlands road trip can vary in length depending how much time you’ve got and what you want to see, from dramatic mountain scenery and Nessie’s home to former battlefields and majestic castles.

Bagpipe player in kilt

Photo| Bagpipe player in kilt| GETTYIMAGES – FUTURE LIGHT

With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve created our own epic Scottish Highlands road trip. On our easy-to-follow itinerary, you’ll have the chance to see rolling green hills, world-renowned whisky distilleries and an adventure-filled national park. We’ve highlighted what to see and do (including a bonus destination) and top hotels nearby.

Edinburgh

Above West Bow, scottish highlands road trip destination

Photo| West Bow in Edinburgh| GETTYIMAGES – RORY MCDONALD

Edinburgh skyline from Calton Hill at dusk

Photo| Edinburgh| GETTYIMAGES – SYLVIAN SONNET

Start your Scottish Highlands road trip in the capital city, Edinburgh. Full of culture, history and beautiful landscapes, this compact, hilly city is a popular European city break known for its annual festivals, historic landmarks and cosy pubs. Capture bird’s eye city views from Arthur’s Seat, see Scotland’s crown jewels at Edinburgh Castle or admire colourful foliage at the Royal Botanic Garden. Alternatively, opt for a day of shopping on Princes Street.

Top Experiences in Edinburgh

  • Walk down Old Town’s Royal Mile for a peek at the iconic Edinburgh Castle.
  • For photo ops and stunning city views, visit Calton Hill at sunset.
  • Learn more about Scotland’s history at the National Museum of Scotland.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh City Centre

Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh City Centre, hotel for a Scottish highlands road trip

Photo|Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh City Centre| Provided by ICE PORTAL

Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh City Centre is in the heart of the historic Royal Mile, just a short walk to top attractions. With stylish rooms, family rooms and spacious suites, in-room perks include a pillow menu, 24-hour room service and bathroom amenities. Enjoy a post-sightseeing massage at Melrose Spa or unwind in the sauna and steam room before sampling local dishes at Itchycoo Bar and Kitchen. Got the kids in tow? They’ll love making a splash in the heated indoor swimming pool.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 153 – USD 548
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 80 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH, United Kingdom

 

Fort Augustus (Loch Ness)

Loch Loyne Snowcapped Mountains Scottish Highlands Winter Scotland, scottish highlands destinations

Photo| Loch Loyne Snowcapped Mountains | GETTYIMAGES – MLENNY

Urquhart Castle ruins, Scotland, UK, scottish highlands road trip

Photo| Urquhart Castle ruins| GETTYIMAGES – MASSIMILIANO BROGGI

Loch Ness is a top destination in Scotland, best known for being home to a certain creature in Scottish folklore. Set on the southern tip of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is a famous monster-hunting spot. A highlight of any good Scottish Highlands road trip is a chance to see Nessie, while the area is also the perfect base for visiting some of Scotland’s most iconic sites.

Top Experiences in Fort Augustus (Loch Ness)

  • Take a loch cruise to try and spot the elusive Nessie in the waters.
  • Discover 1,000 years of history and striking Loch Ness views from the ruins at Urquhart Castle.
  • On your way to the Isle of Skye, pay a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most photographed castles in the country.

Where to Stay in Fort Augustus (Loch Ness)

The Lovat, Loch Ness

The Lovat, Loch Ness, hotle for Scottish Highlands road trip

Photo| The Lovat, Loch Ness| Provided by THE LOVAT, LOCH NESS

The Lovat, Loch Ness

Photo| The Lovat, Loch Ness| Provided by THE LOVAT, LOCH NESS

The Lovat, Loch Ness is an award-winning eco-conscious hotel set in a beautiful Victorian building. In addition to gorgeous Loch Ness views, elegant rooms boast modern furnishings as well as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Upgrade to a Grand Master Bedroom for a sitting area and standalone tub. It’s on-site restaurant Station Road serves gourmet cuisine, while The Waypoint boasts a creative cocktail menu showcasing whisky and gin.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 86 – USD 153
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, PH32 4DU, United Kingdom

Isle of Skye

Old Man of Storr, scottish highlands road trip destinations

Photo| Old Man of Storr| GETTYIMAGES – LIGHTKEY

Fairy Pools

Photo| Fairy Pools in isle of Skye| GETTYIMAGES – SERGIO DEL ROSSO PHOTOGRAPHY

Not only is the Isle of Skye picture-perfect, but it’s also an oasis for hikers and nature lovers. A combination of mountains, lush valleys, waterfalls, beaches and glens, a self-guided tour of this area is a must. Start by exploring the cultural attractions in Portree and make your way to Quiraing, The Old Man of Storr and the Skye Museum of Island Life.

Top Experiences in the Isle of Skye

  • Marvel at the sea cliffs at Kilt Rock and snap photos of the majestic, 51-metre-tall Mealt Waterfall.
  • Enjoy world-famous sunset views at Neist Point Lighthouse, the most westerly point of the island.
  • Enhance your Scottish Highlands road trip experience with a day trip to the sandy beaches on the Isle of Harris.
The City Portree In The Scottish Highlands

Photo| The City Portree| GETTYIMAGES – FABA-PHOTOGRAPHY

Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls , Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK.

Photo| Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls| GETTYIMAGES – CHAN SRITHAWEEPORN

Where to Stay in the Isle of Skye

Skeabost Hotel

Skeabost Hotel, hotel for Scottish Highlands road trip

Photo| Skeabost Hotel| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Offering a jaw-dropping location at the southern tip of Loch Snizort, Skeabost Hotel is the only hotel on Skye with its own golf course. Set on 9 hectares of woodland, its small collection of rooms feature high ceilings, period features and luxury fabrics. Petite Double rooms have stained glass windows or fireplaces, while Garden Superior rooms feature a deck area overlooking Loch Snizort. Grab a pre-dinner drink at the cocktail bar or afternoon tea in the Morning Room before enjoying a meal at West Pier, which has loch views and casual dining.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 260 – USD 484
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Skeabost Bridge, Portree, IV51 9NP, United Kingdom

Fort William

mountain Ben Navis, scottish highlands destinations

Photo| Ben Navis| GETTYIMAGES – LADYOFTHEDAWN

Ben Nevis & Corpach Shipwreck, Scotland, UK.

Photo| Ben Nevis & Corpach Shipwreck| GETTYIMAGES – JOHN FINNEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Dubbed the “Outdoor Capital of the UK” and gateway to the country’s highest peak (Ben Nevis), Fort William is in the western Scottish Highlands. A Mecca for adventure travel, visitors flock here to enjoy scenic trails, mountain climbing and snow and water sports. Low-key activities are also on offer, from wildlife watching and fishing excursions to visiting historic castles.

Top Experiences in Fort William

  • Hit the slopes at Nevis Range Mountain Resort or climb to the summit of Ben Nevis for panoramic mountain views.
  • Walk to the cascading Steall Falls before sampling local whiskey at Ben Nevis Distillery.
  • Visit the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct to see the steam-powered Jacobite train made famous in the Harry Potter films.

Where to Stay in Fort William

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle, hote for scottish highlands road trip

Photo| Inverlochy Castle| Provided by LEONARDO

Feel like royalty when staying at Inverlochy Castle, a beautiful 19th-century castle surrounded by lush greenery in Fort William. Dining at Albert and Michel Roux Jr is a culinary experience, showcasing fine dining using local produce. The small collection of elegant rooms boast loch views as well as flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi. Alternatively, opt for the two-bedroom Gate Lodge with Ben Nevis views. On-site facilities include a billiard room, games room and cosy lounges, while scenic boat trips are available.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 444 – USD 867
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: Torlundy, Fort William, H33 6SN, United Kingdom

Glen Coe

Idyllic scene with mountains and stream in Scottish Highlands near Glen Coe, scottish highlands destinations

Photo| Buachaille Etive Mor and River Coupall, Glencoe| GETTYIMAGES – ULRIKE SCHMITT-HARTMANN

Buachaille etive mor skyfall. Scottish Highlands UK, Europe.

Photo| Vanishing point road on Glen Etive with Buachaille Etive Mor| GETTYIMAGES – JOHN FINNEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Set within the stunning Lochaber Geopark in the Highlands, Glen Coe boasts lush valleys and towering mountains. Drive through its main road through the heart of an ancient volcano to discover rugged mountain peaks carved out by icy glaciers and volcanic explosions centuries ago. The area is also a popular spot with film buffs, as several “Harry Potter” movies and James Bond’s “Skyfall” was filmed here.

Top Experiences in Glen Coe

  • Follow the scenic trail at the Coire Gabhail, or Lost Valley hike to see a wooded gorge and open valleys.
  • Go skiing, snowboarding or sledging at the 200-hectare Glencoe Mountain Resort.
  • Movie fans can stroll the road leading to Clachaig Inn, where Hagrid’s hut was built.

Where to Stay in Glen Coe

Holly Tree Hotel & Swimming Pool

Holly Tree Hotel & Swimming Pool, hotel for Scottish highlands road trip

Photo| Holly Tree Hotel & Swimming Pool| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Holly Tree Hotel & Swimming Pool offers a beautiful seaside location, set at the water’s edge overlooking Loch Linnhe. Not only does it boast an indoor heated swimming pool, hot tub and sauna but also an award-winning seafood restaurant and waterfront rooms. Choose from cosy rooms, sea-view lodges and quaint cottages, or upgrade to the four-bedroom Beach House with a full kitchen and decked terrace with hot tub. Unwind at the Captain’s Bar, which has an elevated outdoor deck with sea views.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 137 – USD 353
Guest Rating: 8.6
Address: Kentallen Pier, Appin, PA38 4BY, United Kingdom

Glasgow

St.Andrews, scottish highlands road trip destinations

Photo| St.Andrews| GETTYIMAGES – PAWEL.GAUL

Glasgow Cathedral from Necropolis

Photo| Glasgow Cathedral| GETTYIMAGES – DAVID CATION PHOTOGRAPHY

Wrap up your Scottish Highlands road trip in Glasgow. Located on the River Clyde, this cultural enclave is home to excellent museums, art galleries and gardens (many of them free to visit). Known as Scotland’s music capital, it’s also famous for its concert venues, including the Theatre Royal (home to the Scottish Opera) and the Concert Hall. While often overshadowed by Edinburgh, the reward of visiting Glasgow is that you’ll find a less-crowded city with authentic Scottish experiences.

Top Experiences in Glasgow

  • Browse notable artwork, including pieces by Van Gogh and Salvador Dali, at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
  • Take a guided tour of the medieval, 12th-century Glasgow Cathedral.
  • Soak up the serene setting at the 146-hectare Pollok Country Park, which features gardens, woodland walks and various cycle routes.

Where to Stay in Glasgow

citizenM Hotel Glasgow

citizenM Hotel Glasgow, hotel for scottish highlands road trip

Photo| citizenM Hotel Glasgow| Provided by CITIZENM GLASGOW

citizenM Hotel Glasgow

Photo| citizenM Hotel Glasgow| Provided by CITIZENM GLASGOW

citizenM Hotel Glasgow is a trendy city-centre hotel in Glasgow, offering high-tech perks and easy access to top attractions. Modern rooms boast XL king-size beds, ambient mood lighting with touch-screen controls and wall-to-wall windows, as well as free Wi-Fi and movies. The 24-hour canteenM is well-stocked with snacks, coffee and meals to go and if you need a space to relax, kick back on the comfy couches in the lobby “living room”. Designer meeting rooms are also available with free stationery and free-flowing coffee.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 99 – USD 133
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 60 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, G2 3BW, United Kingdom

Bonus Trip – The Orkney Islands

Scotland, Orkney Islands, Mainland, Brough of Birsay lighthouse

Photo| Birsay lighthouse, Orkney Islands| GETTYIMAGES – WESTEND61

Ring of Brodgar ancient stones, Orkney, scottish highlands road trip destinations

Photo| Ring of Brodgar ancient stones, Orkney| GETTYIMAGES – LUCENTIUS

Have extra time to explore on your Scottish Highlands road trip? Add the Orkney Islands to your itinerary. An archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland, it boasts a fascinating history, striking landscapes and a long list of outdoor excursions. If you plan a trip in autumn or winter, you might even see the Northern Lights. Feeling adventurous? Take the ferry from Orkney Islands to the Shetland Islands to see some of the most incredible landscapes in the United Kingdom.

Top Experiences in the Orkney Islands

  • See 5,000-year-old sites in the UNESCO-listed Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
  • Catch a sunrise at the ancient Ring of Brodgar, an impressive standing stone circle dating back 5,000 years.
  • Enjoy cliffside walks on the Isle of Hoy or meet the famous sheep on the Isle of North Ronaldsay.
The neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, circa 3000 BC, the best preserved groups of prehistoric houses in Western Europe, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Orkney, Scotland, United Kingdom, scottish highlands road trip destinations

Photo| Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, circa 3000 BC| GETTYIMAGES – PAUL WILLIAMS – FUNKYSTOCK

Where to Stay in the Orkney Islands

Ayre Hotel

Ayre Hotel, hotel for scottish Highlands road trip

Photo| Ayre Hotel| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Located in Kirkwall, Ayre Hotel is one of Orkney’s top hotels. Less than a 10-minute walk from the Kirkwall ferry terminal, the hotel boasts fabulous on-site facilities such as an on-site restaurant and bar serving dishes made with Orkney beef, fish and other local produce. You can rest easy in the modern rooms, which feature flat-screen TVs, comfy chairs, room service and tea and coffee-making facilities. Also, sea-view rooms and self-catering one and two-bedroom apartments are available.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 97 – USD 356
Guest Rating: 8.6
Address: Ayre Road, Kirkwall, KW15 1QX, United Kingdom

Hotel Location

Aberdeen

dunnottar castle aberdeenshire Scotland, scottish highlands road trip destination

Photo| Dunnottar castle, Aberdeenshire| GETTYIMAGES – ANGUS CLYNE

entrance to King's College quad at the Old Aberdeen University campus

Photo| King’s College quad at the Old Aberdeen University | GETTYIMAGES – MASSANPH

Dubbed the “Flower of Scotland”, the next stop on your road trip is Aberdeen. Beloved for its sandy beaches, golf courses and its collection of beautiful parks and gardens, this picturesque port city is worth a visit. Set far up Scotland’s rugged Northeast coast where the Dee and Don rivers meet the North Sea, it’s a pedestrian-friendly city dotted with galleries, museums and incredible architecture.

Top Experiences in Aberdeen

Where to Stay in Aberdeen

Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre

Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre, hotel for Scottish highlands road trip

Photo| Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre| Provided by ICE PORTAL

Close to the action, Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre offers easy access to shopping, The University of Aberdeen and the beach. Start your day with a cooked-to-order breakfast in the on-site restaurant or work up a sweat in the fitness centre. When hunger strikes, dine on succulent steaks and seafood at Native Restaurant. Alternatively, opt for a creative cocktail at Native Bar. Cosy rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, luxe Garden Sleep System beds and flat-screen TVs, while upgraded Suites add separate living rooms.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 101 – USD 145
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 31 St. Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA, United Kingdom

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park , scottish highlands road trip

Photo| Cairngorms National Park| GETTYIMAGES – VWB PHOTOS

Kenmore Bridge

Photo| Kenmore Bridge| GETTYIMAGES – RAY WISE

Twice the size of the Lake District, a visit to Cairngorms National Park is an added bonus to your Scottish Highlands road trip. Catering to all types of travellers, the adventure-filled park has everything from castles and distilleries to exciting outdoor activities. In addition to watersports, snow sports and wildlife watching, nature enthusiasts will love following the various scenic paths dotted around the park.

Top Experiences in Cairngorms National Park

  • Hike the scenic Kingussie Crag for panoramic views of the surrounding valley.
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with whitewater kayaking, mountain biking or cross-country skiing.
  • Enjoy bucket list-worthy whisky tasting in one of the multiple distilleries or sip pints at Cairngorm Brewery.

Where to Stay in Cairngorms National Park

The Rowan Tree Country Hotel

The Rowan Tree Country Hotel, hotel for Scottish Highlands road trip

Photo| The Rowan Tree Country Hotel| Provided by THE ROWAN TREE COUNTRY HOTEL- PHOTOGRAPHERS – ANDRAS SANDOR; BARRY THE HORSE PHOTOGRAPHER; KATHERINE RYNOR

Set in a quaint country house, The Rowan Tree Country Hotel overlooks Loch Alvie in Cairngorms National Park. This Scottish Highlands hotel has just 12 rooms, individually styled and features high-end linens, flat-screen TVs, a refreshment tray and Wi-Fi. In addition, the hotel welcomes well-behaved dogs and has free on-site parking. Enjoy award-winning dining at the on-site restaurant before setting off to your next road trip destination.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 66 – USD 82
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: Loch Alvie 1, Aviemore, PH22 1QB, United Kingdom

Inverness

Inverness In Scotland, scottish highland destinations

Photo| Inverness| GETTYIMAGES – FABA-PHOTOGRAPHY

Ardvreck Castle reflected on the waters of Loch Assynt,

Photo| Ardvreck Castle reflected on the waters of Loch Assynt| GETTYIMAGES – GORDIE BROON PHOTOGRAPHY

Next, stop at Inverness to experience a quintessential Scottish setting. The Highland capital is full of historic sites, where you can retrace the footsteps of soldiers on a battlefield or wander its streets to discover excellent museums, galleries and shopping. Make sure to tick off the Inverness Castle, St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Abertarff House off your list.

Top Experiences in Inverness

  • See where the last battle on British soil played out at Culloden.
  • Catch a show at Eden Court Theatre or shop ’til you drop at Eastgate Centre.
  • Stand in awe of Fort George, an impressive 18th-century military garrison.

Where to Stay in Inverness

Kingsmills Hotel Inverness

Kingsmills Hotel Inverness, hotel for Scottish Highlands road trip

Photo| Kingsmill Hotel Inverness| Provided by LEONARDO

Set in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the 4-star Kingsmills Hotel Inverness offers old-fashioned Scottish hospitality. Romantic Garden Rooms feature private garden patios, while Family Rooms add extra space and Luxury Rooms boast deep soaking tubs. Treat yourself to seasonal dishes at one of the two on-site restaurants, then sip single malt whiskies at the bar or book a pampering spa treatment. Further, world-class golf courses are nearby, including Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart Golf Club and Nairn Golf Club.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 123 – USD 181
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Culcabock Road, Inverness, IV2 3LP, United Kingdom

Create Your Own Scottish Highlands Road Trip Adventure

Highland Cow in Flowering Gorse

Photo| Highland Cow in Flowering Gorse| GETTYIMAGES – GEORGEDECK

Few adventures are as epic as exploring Scotland, and a Scottish Highlands road trip is simply bucket list-worthy. With the help of our comprehensive road trip guide, you can follow Scotland’s most scenic routes to discover ancient towns, imposing mountain scenery and an impressive collection of castles. Make sure to rest and recharge at the conveniently-located hotels along the way that offer warm hospitality and luxe amenities.

When is your next Scottish Highlands road trip? Let us know in the comments below.

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