Scotland is one of the world’s best countries for road tripping. 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 itinerary is for you.
Starting in Edinburgh and taking in Stirling, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Loch Ness and Highland Perthshire over 6 days, this tour of Scotland takes in some of my favourite parts of Scotland. Let’s go on a Scotland Road Trip!
Central Scotland Road Trip
Day 1 – Edinburgh to Stirling – the battle of the castles!
Starting in Edinburgh, 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 of the bridge is from just outside the town on the road to the village of Newton. Look out for the car park on the right-hand side, but watch for traffic as you turn.
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.
Returning to the M9 motorway head towards northwards to explore the historic 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!
Day 1 Itinerary
- Driving time – Edinburgh to Stirling – 1 hour
- Visit: Forth Bridges, Blackness Castle, The Kelpies
- You might also want to visit: Linlithgow Palace, The Wallace Monument, and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.
- Where to stay in Stirling*
Day 2 – Stirling to Loch Lomond – discover a National Park
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.
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 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.
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.
Day 2 Itinerary
- Stirling to Loch Lomond Driving time – 1 hour.
- Itinerary – Doune Castle or Inchmaholm Priory, Loch Lomond, Conic Hill
- Other stops you might like: Blair Drummond Safari Park and Glengoyne Distillery.
- Where to stay at Loch Lomond*
Day 3 – Loch Lomond to Fort William – let’s go to Glencoe!
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.
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.
Leaving Glencoe behind head to Fort William for the night.
If you have time for an extra night at Fort William, 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.
Day 3 Itinerary
- Loch Lomond to Fort William Driving time – 1.45 minutes
- Itinerary – Luss, Glencoe
- Where to stay in Fort William*
Day 4 – Fort William to Loch Ness – it is Nessie time…
From Fort William head north to Fort Augustus and Loch Ness where you can watch the boats sail down the Caledonian Canal and tackle the huge flight of locks.
I recommend taking a boat trip out onto Loch Ness to spot Nessie and see Urquhart Castle. Cruise Loch Ness also run RIBs (fast speed boats) that whizz up the loch – great fun.
Day 4 Itinerary
- Fort William to Loch Ness Driving time – 50 minutes
- Itinerary – Loch Ness boat trip
- Where to stay in Fort Augustus*
From Fort Augustus make sure you take time to drive up to Eilean Donan – Scotland’s most famous castle! It is a 1-hour drive from Fort Augustus.
Day 5 – Loch Ness to Pitlochry – fancy a whisky?
Leaving Loch Ness 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.
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.
Day 5 Itinerary
- Fort Augustus to Pitlochry Driving time – 2 hours
- Itinerary – Dalwhinnie whisky distillery, Blair Castle, Queens View, Highland Safaris
- Where to Stay in Perthshire – try Pitlochry or beside one of the lochs – Loch Tay, Loch Tummel…
Day 6 – Pitlochry to Edinburgh – Big Tree Country
Sadly it is time to return to Edinburgh, but there is lots more to take in on your way ‘home’. Before you leave Pitlochry, make sure you take a wander in Faskally Wood – best seen in Autumn!
On your way down the A9 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, alongside beautiful waterfalls.
Visit the crowning place of the King of Scots, Scone Palace – pronounced “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.
Day 6 Itinerary
- Pitlochry to Edinburgh Driving time – 1.30 minutes
- Itinerary – Dunkeld, The Hermitage, Scone Palace, Loch Leven, North Queensferry
- Where to stay in Edinburgh*
Ready to take on your own Scotland road trip?
If you fancy planning your own itinerary have a look at my guide to planning a Scotland road trip.
Scotland road trip accommodation
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