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planning a trip to the scottish highlands


Here is my 5-day road trip itinerary to the Scottish Highlands. Braemar Castle, however, is located in the heart of Cairngorms, and you might need to take a brief detour to see it. Here, Country Living speaks to VisitScotland's Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead, who shares his reaction to the news and the best places to visit the in the area. Who: Couples, Families, Groups and Solo Travellers. As we made our way along Scotland’s infamous single lane roads we noticed a tea shop and decided to grab a coffee! This point is where you will find a pod of dolphins that come in every time the tide rises. It’s wilderness and big skies. Pin this 4 Days in the Scottish Highlands itinerary to help plan your trip! To fully experience the awe-inspiring natural wonders of the region, include a leisurely road trip in your itinerary. After lunch we decided to drive over to the Isle of Skye and explore a bit so we found a great camping spot just outside of Portree and we decided to spend the next day exploring a bit of Skye! When they arrive in Scotland, they need to be inspected and repaired before they can be used for whisky. Search for a topic, destination or article, We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. The scenery got more and more wild as we left Tongue the next morning. As we were leaving Skye we opted for a bit of a detour to go and visit Dunvegan Castle, just know that this castle is all the way at the northern tip of Skye and its not just a short drive! Visit the Setting of Outlander. Rita and Susie are here to help give you the inside track. During my Scottish Highlands expedition last winter I explored this region that was on my road trip wish list. If Stirling Castle inspires you, you can even drive another 15 minutes north to visit Doune Castle, which you might recognize from the iconic opening scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was definitely worth it. With so many ancient towns, castle ruins, and imposing mountains scattered throughout this vast landscape, it can be tough to know where to start, or how to plan the most scenic route so you don’t miss anything. We ended up making camp around a small area named Tongue we found a quiet spot off the main road and made camp there, we spent the evening seal spotting and listening to the water lapping against the rocks! Stay a night in Kirkwall, Orkney’s largest town, and spend the next day exploring Skara Brae — the ruins of a Neolithic settlement on the west coast — or the ancient Midhowe Broch. Before setting out from Edinburgh, explore everything the city has to offer. In the Scottish Highlands, you’ll inevitably come across a few mountain ranges. We definitely missed a few things due to our lack of planning. The largest national park in the British Isles, Cairngorms is home to castles, gardens, and a plethora of hiking and biking paths. Arriving and departing from Inverness Airport in September. Visit Dunnet Beach Strathy Beach Armadale bay Make camp around Tongue. Keep your eyes peeled as the seals like to sunbathe on the rocks! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) We had gone from beautiful lush green sheep farms over on the east and north, but now it truly felt like we had reached the Scottish Highlands. If you get the chance to take one road trip in the United Kingdom, this is definitely it. People planning a Scottish Highlands itinerary generally plan to spend some time walking, hiking, or climbing on at least part of their holiday. One of the most annoying creatures in Scotland has to be the highland midge, which is a small flying … The Scottish Highlands and Islands were included in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel list for 2019 – the only region in the UK to make the cut. The moody, romantic Scottish Highlands start at Loch Lomond just north of Glasgow. Under an hour’s drive west from Inverness will bring you to Fort Augustus, a town on the shores of the famous Loch Ness. Bluetooth speaker, cables and car charge port and more…. Prepare yourself before you tackle those Scootish highlands roads! We paid 12 pounds each to visit Dunrobin Castle which was well worth the price. We definitely missed a few things due to our lack of planning. When you’ve had your fill of rugged adventure, the coastal town of Inverness is just an hour’s drive north. Visit Corrieshalloch Gorge Applecross Camp on Isle of Skye. This includes personalizing content and advertising. When Coronavirus meant their overseas holiday was cancelled, they decided to go on a road trip to the Scottish Highlands. If you didn’t know, Scotland is home to Harry Potter and Glenfinnan is home to the famous Hogwarts Express! If you have more time to spend in The Scottish Highlands, you can go all the way north to the Orkney Islands, which are accessible by ferry from Aberdeen. Our day on Skye started with bright beautiful sunny weather, so we drove to the Old Man of Storr for a hike! It was a 12 pound entrance fee which we decided not to bother with. This whole area is well manicured and beautiful, you can’t pull over and sleep in your van but there is a camp site nearby where you can relax and wait to see some dolphins here! Never forget a thing for your road trip! We ended up driving quite a way but decided to commit and find the castle. They have lots of boat tours and all kinds of fun things happening. Take your time and explore as many of the bays as you can, our favourite was visiting Dunnet Beach which is apparently home to lots of dolphins (we didnt see any!) Since wild camping was more our thing for this trip, we left Chanonry Point and found a hidden away wooded area where we parked up early and made camp. Designed By Sun Kissed Studio | Copyright 2019: Wandering Bajans. — This post contains affiliate links, this means when you purchase one of the items below, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you —. 9 Days. Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is just a 45-minute drive south. Enjoy a road trip with an accredited driver-guide as you explore the Highlands of Scotland. The scenery got better and better with every turn and we were able to cover Skye because we had extra time! You’ve learned to drive on the left-hand side (or coerced a British friend into driving), secured a car, and you’re ready to begin your road trip through the Scottish Highlands. Considered the cultural capital of the Highlands, it’s the perfect place to rest after a long day and a convenient launching spot for tomorrow’s activities. If you are nervous about a road trip through Scotland then read our tips for driving in Scotland. When you’re done exploring the lake, it’s time to return to civilization. The coastal drive from Dunrobin Castle to John O’Groats was stunning, it easily took us about 2 and a half hours as we kept stopping for pictures! Use the town of Portree as your base and explore from there. Hi y’all! Oban on the western seaboard is a great journey by road or rail and, as an important ferry gateway, could tempt you out to the Scottish islands. You can start your trip pretty much anywhere, but Scotland’s capital city is a natural launching point. Glenfinnan is a small town just north of Fort William, and this is where you will find the famous bridge from Harry Potter, also known as the Glenfinnan Viaduct! This includes numerous castles, lochs & the Harry Potter train, the Trossachs, Fort William, Oban & Glencoe as well as the islands of Skye & Mull. After you’ve spent your morning among the rocks, head a half-hour south of Portree to the Fairy Pools. On the shores of Loch Linnhe, this town is a perfect base for intrepid hikers looking to climb Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak at 4,413 feet. It was raised during World War II. We met two years ago on Tinder and have been together ever since. Date: July 17th to 26th… Stacey is a personal trainer and Jason works in signage. Located on the country’s western extremity about two hours from Fort Augustus, Skye is brimming with natural beauty, from ancient rock formations to sweeping ocean vistas and pools straight out of a fairytale. These crystal clear pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins mountain range are famous for their mini-waterfalls and magical aesthetic. This is the Route 66 of road trips guys. Before official lockdown, our South Africa adventure was cancelled on the day we were meant to be flying so we were left with bags packed, ‘out of offices’ on and no holiday to go on. Definitely worth a visit if you have time, the train passes around 10am and 3pm. After Glenmorangie we made a stop off at a castle! The capital of Skye has a whopping 2,500 residents, and it’s perfectly located for seeing everything the island has to offer. Pin it! A journey through the Highlands is a journey through the history of our planet, as the ancient rocks were … Our Trip Planner function is now no longer available, but don't worry! Scotland Itinerary 10 Days: Getting to the Scottish Highlands and Getting Around. We would highly recommend 7 days for this trip at least, so you can take your time and explore and hike. There are biking, hiking, and camping opportunities for those who aren’t quite finished roughing it in the Scottish wilderness. Required fields are marked *. It sits right on Lochness, so of course you can go and look for Nessie. To venture even farther, take the eight-hour ferry from Kirkwall to the Shetland Islands. From these two, you can take day trips to the locations across the Highlands. Planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands? Hike Old man of Storr Visit Portree Visit Dunvegan Castle. In the winter, some activities, particularly castles and other estates, are closed for visitors, so if you’re planning a trip in the colder months, plan ahead for what you want to see and be sure to double check what will be open to visit. It’s the last large city you’ll be seeing for a while. Whether you decide to hike the mountain or just stop for a few photos, continue south through Glencoe, a glen full of striking mountains and waterfalls. Accommodations in the Scottish Highlands range from private bed and breakfasts, budget hotels, to luxury lodges. We researched Scotland’s North Coast 500 and decided this was our trip! Corrieshalloch gorge is basically a gorge about 1.5km long and 60m deep! 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Hailed as one of the best coastal touring routes in the world, the North Coast 500 is a must do if you’re planning a Scottish Highlands road trip. All Rights Reserved. Expecting Fort Augustus to be totally devoid of tourists and gift shops would be a little unreasonable, but the kitsch isn’t too overwhelming, and you can take boat tours of the lake for around $18. Active Scotland: One-week itinerary for hiking and kayaking in the Scottish Highlands City Trip to Edinburgh: 2-day itinerary for Edinburgh City Trip to Glasgow: 1-day itinerary for a perfect day in Glasgow Argyll: 3-day itinerary for Argyll on the Scottish West Coast Isle of Mull: 3-day itinerary for the Isle of Mull & surroundings We started with some breakfast and then a walk to Duncansby Head, the most north easterly part of the British mainland! The next highlight of our day was the best fish and chips we’ve ever had at a little food truck in Applecross! We didn’t do much research before we came so we just figured we’d check it out! Journey into the Scottish Highlands—famed for picturesque hills, lakes, and centuries of history—and then onwards to the Isle of Skye on this 3-day tour from Edinburgh. You could spend a couple of days exploring the Isle of Skye, but if you’re short on time, begin heading south along the coast until you reach Fort William. Scotland’s North Coast 500 The North Coast 500 or the NC 500 is Scotland’s route 66. Our second day consisted of us drinking whisky in the morning and exploring a castle in the afternoon before driving all the way up to John O’Groats for some evening fish and chips! We arrived at John O’Groats around 4pm and went straight to Seaview Hotel for some fish and chips because the weather was so cold and windy! Fans of the popular television series Outlander won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to take a first-hand look at some of the more well-known locations from the show on their trip to the Scottish Highlands. The travel experts selected the region for its whiskey, wildlife and scenery. about us. If you feel like venturing a bit further south, the seaside town of Ayr is worth visiting or take a detour to Stirling to visit its famous castle — about halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our drive from the Kingdom of Fife to the Western Highlands might as well have been called “the trip that just wouldn’t end.” Who knew 139 miles could literally take six hours to drive? We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. This itinerary assumes that you start your Scotland road trip in Glasgow and finish it in Inverness. Investment is piling in along the route and elsewhere, as local businesses realise the benefits of extending … You can drive around the park at your leisure and take in the landscape with your eyes, or spend the day exploring by foot. There are still plenty of ways you can dream up and plan your exceptional trip to Scotland. 10:30 Drive Strontian – Ardgour: Make sure to head straight to the ferry terminal, you can’t miss it – the drive takes around 25-minutes. Our top tip would be to get there super early, we arrived around 8.30am. The same applies to Fort William, below Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland - another gateway or route centre, giving you further touring options. As you look out to sea the most iconic part of this location is the stacks out in the water! This may be the final leg of the trip, but that doesn’t mean the scenery gets any less impressive. After a few snacks and scenic stop offs along the way, we stopped at the very touristy and busy area called Smoo Cave. A 13-minute drive north of town will bring you to the Old Man of Storr, a set of jagged, iconic rock formations formed by an ancient landslide. Even if you don’t give much weight to the legend of Loch Ness, it’s still pretty cool to sail around the loch, and the ship’s crew is extremely knowledgeable about local history. Make sure you check out our guide to driving in Scotland as well so you can prepare yourself! We decided to also grab a snack and they had the best gluten free brownie ever! The most remarkable of them is Ben Nevis (1344m), which is the highest not only in Scotland but in all of the UK. Of course in good old Scottish fashion, it poured on us so we hit the pub and had a couple drinks and lunch before heading back to Inverness to drop off our vehicle! The oak barrels used for aging the whisky are always used barrels, mostly bourbon barrels from the United States. We decided to take the north coast 500 route backward and make our way to John O’Groats from Inverness. Here are four suggestions to help you get started planning your trip to the Scottish Highlands. It’s worth getting up early on day 3 of our Scottish Highlands itinerary to make the most of this beautiful trip to the Isle of Skye. Scottish Highlands: Day 6 09:30 Breakfast: As with your picnic the day before, head to the Sunart Centre for a tasty Scottish Breakfast. and seals! Its fifty shades of green lured me into forests, brick bothies were captured with my cameras, and we explored the mountains in search of Highland cattle. The Scottish Highlands are a mixture of history, culture and mind-blowing landscapes. If you are planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands these few travel essentials suggestions could become handy when packing your suitcase, or even better a backpack (if your holiday includes a lot of walking you definitely want to be comfortable)! Scotland has several typical pests that you may encounter depending on the time of year of your travels, including ants, ticks, mosquitoes, and wasps. 1) Be very careful driving When driving in Scotland, you’ll drive on the left. There’s only one problem: the Highlands are huge. Just don’t expect the water to be warm. For the first part of the journey, we’ll be retracing our steps on the A82 as far as Invermorrison. For a more active take on the region, hike the West Highland Way or visit the … Here’s how to plan a truly unforgettable road trip through the Scottish Highlands. You can find this spot about 20km south of Ullapool and we highly recommended this stop off! Keep reading for fantastic outdoor activities, cosy accommodation, scenic road trips, Harry Potter railway tours, inspirational itineraries, and historic city breaks, to name a few! There might not be a ton to do on these far-flung isles, but the landscape is out of this world, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve ventured pretty much as far north as you can go in Scotland. This also gives you more practice on the Scottish roads before being thrown into narrow single lane roads through mountains passes like Applecross! 1. Our random distillery stop was at Glenmorangie distillery, one of Scotland’s largest distilleries! You can also check out Balmoral Castle in the northeast of the park — one of the Royal Family’s holiday residences. The shop was run by this sweet old man! Track your monthly income and expenses, estimate your travel expenses and see how long you need to save up for that dream trip! Follow the road past Dunvegan Castle and you will find a great view of this medieval castle and you may even spot a seal or two in the bay! On the first day, we stopped at the Commando Memorial; a monument dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces. We both love travel and sharing our adventures with you! The route takes you from Inverness to Fort Augusts and north towards Applecross, from there it continues east along the coast until John O’Groats and then back down to Inverness. Before setting out from Edinburgh, explore everything the city has to offer. Our top tip for planning your Scottish highlands road trip would definitely be to do it how we did it, backwards! This castle is definitely a stop we would recommend on your Scottish Highlands road trip because it was massive and so beautiful! Our goal was also to make it over to the Isle of Skye if we had time. The remote Isle of Skye is a complete destination in itself, and you could easily spend a few days losing yourself in the wilderness of Cairngorms National Park. When our New Zealand trip fell through we really wanted to go on a road trip. Both Glasgow and Inverness are good points to stop and start a tour of the Scottish Highlands. Don’t fear – we’ve lined up an array of itineraries to help you get planning your ideal trip, be that a day in the capital, a week’s island-hopping, or a three-day tour of Highland castles. Scottish Highlands Holiday Planning Guide The rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, at once formidable and beautiful, are the reason why Scotland looks like nowhere else in the world. Your email address will not be published. 1. The north coast of Scotland was just filled with beautiful bay and amazing cliff views that we ended up driving so slowly through this part! Seeing it all might seem like an insurmountable task, but rest assured — it’s completely doable, and well worth it. This impressive gorge is also home to the stunning Falls of Measach. There is also a swing bridge that you walk across to a viewpoint further down! Drive an hour south from Glencoe, and you’ll arrive at Loch Lomond, a massive loch with several hiking trails. Definitely a must see if you are driving the North coast 500! Ullapool was our next big town we would reach so we made our way to the nearest gas station and grabbed some much needed snacks and some gas! Few adventures are as memorable as exploring the northern reaches of Scotland by road. mobile app. Meg shares her route and top tips on what to see and do and where to stay. Europe - Planning A Trip To Scottish Highlands - Looking for recommendations for a 3-day stay in the Scottish Highlands. We would highly recommend 7 days for this trip at least, so you can take your time and explore and hike. Let the Scottish Highlands – its sights, songs, stories, and spirit delight your eyes, touch your soul, and fill your heart to bursting. Check out Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Princes Gardens, and stumble home through the cobbled alleyways after a night at one of Edinburgh’s famous pubs. Scottish Highlands. Here are my top 12 tips for planning a road trip to the Scottish Highlands! North Coast 500: the best Scottish road trip for the ultimate getaway. Our top tip would be to make sure you fill up with gas at Thurso as some gas stations further along may not be open depending on the time of year! Comprising a slew of mountain ranges, this sparsely populated land is best seen by train on the West Highland Line. living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! Pin it! It’s busy but the spectacular scenery will blow your mind!” The Scottish Highlands is the mountainous region in the North West of Scotland. Planning Your Loch Ness Visit in the Scottish Highlands. Unfortunately for us we were tired and cold so we didn’t have the patience to sit around for too long. Planning a trip to Scotland? One of my favorite stops on this road trip was the Eileen Donan Castl… We recommend spending at least a night here to get a true feel for what this vibrant city has to offer, including seeing the Glasgow Cathedral and Botanic Gardens and maybe treating yourself to a shopping spree on Buchanan Street. Get ready for jaw-dropping landscapes, gorgeous waterfalls, lochs, century-old castles and beaches that look like they are straight out of the Caribbean. Blair Castle is easily accessible, just past the town of Pitlochry at the southern edge of the park. We are sharing our Scottish highlands road trip itinerary with you! Planning Your Loch Ness Visit. The Scottish Highlands are well worth a visit. In some cases, we earn commissions from affiliate links in our posts. We booked flight up to Inverness and decided to go on a Scotland road trip! These are the world’s best, Download the Just an hour and a half north from Edinburgh you’ll find Cairngorms National Park. As with most other destinations, a trip to the Scottish Highlands can be as expensive or – well, not cheap but – as doable as you are willing to make it. This hike takes about 2 hours and it’s mostly uphill to get the view point. Scotland was such a mystery to us. Travelling the Scottish Highlands. Scotland isn’t exactly known for its sunny blue skies, but this is one place where a gray, low-hanging mist seriously adds to the otherworldliness of the scene. Believe me; it’s worth it. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. It’s whisky without an ‘e’ and meeting some of the friendliest people. You can really have a wide range of experiences here. Wandering Bajans uses cookies to improve your experience. Verdant green rolling hills, majestic mountains and dramatic landscapes, historic castle ruins and ancient megaliths — the Scottish Highlands has them all. Once you’ve hiked the 1.5 miles to the pools, you can even take a dip. The traffic and buses tend to pile up after that time! Glencoe is one of the Highlands’ most beautiful regions, particularly famous for a group of three massive peaks called “The Three Sisters.” There are several turn-offs where you’ll be able to park and photograph the stunning landscape. If castles aren’t your thing and you’d rather plunge into nature, the park has several hiking trails that lead through the woods. As we left Ullapool, we came upon Corrieshalloch Gorge, we knew nothing about this spot and it was a crazy cool hidden gem! The ride back to Edinburgh shouldn’t take more than an hour, so when you’re ready to return, take your time. 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