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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.
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.
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.
Best Scotland Road Trip Map
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.
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!
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.
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
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
RELATED POST: North Coast 500 Route Planner + Highlights, Map & Tips
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Grab our two week Scotland itinerary, packed with campsites, attractions, and insider tips.
Get up every morning knowing your day is planned with driving routes, campsites, and attractions marked out for you on your interactive map.
Make the most of your holiday and let us do the planning for you!
The North East 250
Aberdeen – Peterhead – Fraserburgh – Portsoy – Spey Bay – Glenlivet – Braemar – Aberdeen
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
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
The South West Coastal 300 is a one week Scotland road trip for nature lovers and history buffs. With stunning coastlines, lush forests which 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
Top 10 Highlights
The Argyll Coastal Route & Loch Ness
Glasgow – Tarbet – Inverary – Lochgilphead – Oban – Glencoe – Fort William – Glenfinnan – Inverness
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.
Top 16 Highlights
Other UK Road Trip Ideas
Isle of Skye
Ardelve – Broadford – Portree – Trotternish – Duntulm – Dunvegan – Armadale – Mallaig
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).
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
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Borders Historic Route
Edinburgh – Dalkeith – Galashiels – Selkirk – Hawick – Langholm – Gretna Green
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.
Top 11 Highlights
RELATED POST: Edinburgh One Day Itinerary – Map, Tips & Guide
Stirling – Trossachs Pier – Killin – Blair Athol – Pitlochry – Perth – Kinross – Crief – Stirling
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
Kennacraig – Tayinloan – Isle of Gigha – Machrihanish – Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse – Campbeltown – Carradale – Kennacraig
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 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.
Top 10 Highlights
Scotland Road Trip Resources
Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in Scotland.
Information About 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.
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