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Let’s road trip! – the ‘best bits’ of central Scotland

Scotland is one of the world’s best countries for road tripping. Whilst most visitors head north to the Scottish Highlands, visiting Wester Ross, Speyside or driving the famous North Coast 500 if you only have a short time in Scotland but still want to get a taste of the ‘best bits’ then this central Scotland road trip is for you.

Starting in Edinburgh and taking in Stirling, Loch Lomond, Glencoe and highland Perthshire over 4-5 days, this road trip takes in some of my favourite parts of Scotland. I have popped the route onto a google map with all the stops marked.

Let’s go on a Scotland Road Trip!

Road trip Scotland

Edinburgh to Stirling

Day 1 is all about the battle of the castles! Leaving Edinburgh it is time to head north to Stirling via the Firth of Forth. First on the itinerary is visiting the stunning town of South Queensferry. Whilst you could spend a day admiring the Forth Bridges, the best view (above) is from just outside the town on the road to the village of Newton.

Forth Bridges 2

Stop for a few snaps before heading to Blackness Castle, just west along the A904. Blackness Castle, otherwise known as the ‘ship that never sailed’ was also used as Fort William in the TV series Outlander.

Blackness Castle

Leaving Blackness, it is time to join the M9 motorway for a visit to the largest equine sculpture in the world – The Kelpies. Set beside the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk, there is also a cafe on site for a morning pick me up.

The kelpies

Returning to the M9 head towards northwards to explore the historical town of Stirling with its famous castle and the Wallace Monument. Stirling is your base for the night, so park up before you head off to explore Stirling’s Old Town. I’ll leave it to you to decide which castle is better – Edinburgh, Blackness or Stirling!

  • Edinburgh to Stirling Driving Time – 1 hour
  • Stay at Stirling 
  • Itinerary – Forth Bridges, Blackness Castle, The Kelpies, Stirling
  • Other stops you might like – Linlithgow Palace, The Wallace Monument, and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.

Road trip Scotland 4

Stirling to Loch Lomond

Leaving Stirling behind it’s time to head into the beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, but on the way, you have a few options for stops. For Outlander fans, Castle Leoch otherwise known as Doune Castle is just to the north of Stirling, and to the west Inchmahome Priory sits peacefully on Scotland’s only lake.

Highlands of Scotland Tour

If you prefer to head straight to Loch Lomond take the A811 to Balloch. Loch Lomond is the UK largest inland stretch of water, and the best views of the loch in my opinion are from the wilder east side of the Loch. Visit the tiny (but popular in the summer) villages of Rowardennan and Balmaha, find a spot on one of the beaches or get active climbing Conic Hill for incredible views of the Loch.

Ben Lomond

For those who fancy bagging a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) then try the 3195ft high Ben Lomond. Before you think about bagging a Munro have a look at my beginner’s guide to climbing a Munro.

  • Stirling to Loch Lomond Driving time – 1 hour. 
  • Stay – Loch Lomond 
  • Itinerary – Doune Castle or Inchmaholm Priory, Loch Lomond, Conic Hill
  • Other stops you might like: Blair Drummond Safari Park and Glengoyne Distillery.

Road trip Scotland (3)

Loch Lomond to Fort William

It is time for a real taste of the highlands as we head north to Glen Coe. However, before you leave Lomond make sure you stop at  Loch Lomond Shores to pick up some presents and then visit the small village of Luss with its quaint cottages and waterside setting before joining the A82 north via Crianlarich and Tyndrum.

Stop at either the very quirky Drovers Inn or the Green Welly Stop for a coffee break before you drive the most spectacular part of this road trip. Let’s go to Glen Coe!

three-sisters-glencoe

Glencoe is Scotland’s most famous glen, and home to Buachaille Etive Mor, one of Scotland’s most photographed mountains. Whilst climbing the mountain is not for the faint of heart, there are lots of walks you can do in Glencoe without breaking a sweat.

Stop for a selfie with the glen’s friendly deer or in front of the Three Sisters (above) or discover one of my favourite walks around Glencoe Lochan.

glencoe-lochan

Leaving Glencoe behind head to Fort William for the night.

  • Loch Lomond to Fort William Driving time – 1.45 minutes
  • Itinery – Luss, Glencoe 
  • Stay – Fort William

glenfinnan-viaduct

If you have more time to stay in the Highlands, spend an extra night in Fort William and head east to explore Glenfinnan to watch the Harry Potter train go over the viaduct or visit the eight canal locks at Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal. Mountaineers won’t want to miss climbing Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

Road trip Scotland 5

 Fort William to Pitlochry

Leaving Fort William to the north on the A82 towards Spean Bridge and then turn east back across Scotland to discover highland Perthshire. The road will take you past Loch Laggan where I recommend stopping for a photo of Ardverikie Castle, now a private venue.

Reaching the A9, it’s time to visit my favourite distillery in Scotland – Dalwhinnie. Don’t miss out on a tasting tour, although sadly the driver will have to miss out. The A9 south is one of Scotland’s busiest roads so spend your time exploring off the A9 as you drive south.

Highland-Safaris-Red-deer-2

Options include Blair Castle, feeding red deer or going out in a 4×4 with Highland Safaris, stopping for photos at the gorgeous Queen’s View over Loch Tummel or visiting Loch Tay. For the evening stay by one of the lochs or in the pretty Perthshire town of Pitlochry.

Loch tay 3

  • Fort William to Pitlochry Driving time – 1.45 minutes
  • Itinerary – Dalwhinnie whisky distillery, Blair Castle, Queens View, Highland Safaris
  • Stay – Pitlochry or beside one of the lochs – Loch Tay, Loch Tummel…

Road trip Scotland 7

Pitlochry to Edinburgh

Sadly it is time to return to Edinburgh, but there is lots more to take in on your way ‘home’. There are more pretty towns to explore, including the lovely Dunkeld. From Dunkeld take a walk up into The Hermitage, one of Scotland’s best pleasure gardens, along side beautiful waterfalls. 

Ossian-Hall-The-Hermitage

After lunch, visit the crowning place of the King of Scots, Scone Palacepronounced “Scoon” – with its peacocks wandering the grounds or head to Loch Leven and discover Loch Leven castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned before she was beheaded.

At Loch Leven you take a 13mile walk around the loch to RSPB Loch Leven where along with the birds you can spot Highland Cows.

Return to Edinburgh via the M80, before a final stop at North Queensferry to view the Forth Bridge from close up – the perfect last memory of your central Scotland road trip!

  • Pitlochry to Edinburgh Driving time – 1.30 minutes
  • Itinerary – Dunkeld, The Hermitage, Scone Palace, Loch Leven, North Queensferry

Forth Rail Bridge

Ready to take on your own Scotland road trip?

Before you head off make you have a look at my guide to planning a Scotland road trip.

I’ve popped all the stops and directions – and a few recommended places to stay, eat and drink in central Scotland on the map below. For booking accommodation:

Night 1 – Stirling
Night 2 – Loch Lomond
Night 3 – Fort William
Night 4 – Pitlochry or Loch Tay

 My best tip, as always, for road tripping is to just keep stopping, Scotland’s scenery is spectacular…

Love from, Scotland x

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Central Scotland Road Trip

 

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