Road Tripping the ‘Best Bits’ of Central Scotland

Road Tripping the ‘Best Bits’ of Central Scotland

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

I have popped the route onto a google map with all the stops marked.

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.

After a few snaps head 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.

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.

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!

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.

You might also like...  Dollar Glen & Castle Campbell

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.

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!

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

Night 1 – Stirling
Night 2 – Loch Lomond
Night 3 – Fort William
Night 4 – Loch Ness
Night 5 – Pitlochry or Loch Tay
(Affiliate links)

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Scotland Road Trip

 

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44 Comments

  1. laurenza88
    25/02/2017 / 6:40 am

    You really know how to make a girl feel homesick! I’m from Aberdeen & been away almost a year…your photos sum up perfectly how beautiful Scotland is…..although i don’t care what anyone says…the Forth Road Bridge will ALWAYS terrify me!

  2. 25/02/2017 / 10:26 am

    Scotland is still on my bucket list! I still haven’t managed to plan a trip there, bad me! Your photography skills are amazing, the photo with the bridge covered in fog is just breathtaking!

    • Love from, Smidge
      01/03/2017 / 2:56 pm

      Thanks so much. I am so lucky that my bucket list is the place I actually live!

  3. 25/02/2017 / 11:04 am

    Great tips here! I’ve been to all of these but iy would be cool to do it in 1 road trip! I might do just that actually when the weather clears up. X

  4. 25/02/2017 / 11:20 am

    Just came back from Scotland, it’s a wonderful wonderful wonderful place indeed! Saw quite a few of these spots, but missed Blackness, which I now regret. But well, I’m probably going to be back again in Scotland at some point, so we’ll save it for next time!

  5. 25/02/2017 / 11:28 am

    I love Scotland, and actually Edinbourgh is one of my favourite cities in the world, really! Now you made feel like hitting the road again 😀

  6. 25/02/2017 / 3:58 pm

    This really does sound like the ultimate road trip. We have been contemplating heading this way – sounds delightful. Your images and information really help to capture the feeling of the place 🙂

  7. 25/02/2017 / 8:00 pm

    Nice. I really loved exploring Scotland and did most of the things you listed. However, that huge horse statue, this is the first time i’ve even seen it! Wow, that is huge! Nice recommendations. 😉

    • Love from, Smidge
      01/03/2017 / 2:58 pm

      You should see them in real life – they are spectacular!

  8. 26/02/2017 / 2:53 am

    I really hope to make it to Scotland this year. Your photos are amazing– this is exactly how I think of Scotland when I imagine it. Fingers crossed I make it this year!

  9. 26/02/2017 / 8:31 am

    Your pictures are just incredible – whilst everyone opts for a city break or an Isle/Highlands trip I love how you have highlighted that there is so much more to offer. Castles are amazing to see, and with so much unspoilt greenery it is hard not to fall in love!

  10. 26/02/2017 / 11:52 am

    One of my favourite places! Did part of that trip last autumn on the way to Aviemore. It’s a stunning drive! Lucky you to see deer too 🙂

  11. 26/02/2017 / 12:13 pm

    I love road tripping in Scotland and had an awesome time going to the top of the mainland before driving around Orkney Islands. Loved every minute of it and loved reading this post and seeing hte photos, brought back many happy memories 🙂

  12. 26/02/2017 / 12:47 pm

    I agree, road tripping Scotland is the way to go. It seems there is so much beauty that you stop often! I love those reflections.

  13. 26/02/2017 / 9:04 pm

    I still need to visit Scotland, Ialways mean to but my plans change. I think I need to make sure they don’t change again.

  14. 26/02/2017 / 11:46 pm

    What a wonderful road trip! Scotland is one of my FAVORITE places in the world. It changed my life.

    • Love from, Smidge
      01/03/2017 / 3:06 pm

      I honestly couldn’t live anywhere else!

  15. 27/02/2017 / 1:47 am

    The beauty of Scotland is best experienced in a road trip I am sure. This itinerary is lovely and takes one through some spectacular landscapes and charming towns. The Lochs are simply magical. Hope to get to Scotland some day.

  16. Stunning pictures – my in laws are planning a road trip around Scotland in the summer so I’m sending them your blog to read 😀

    We stayed by Loch Ness last summer and fell in love with the Scottish countryside.

  17. 27/02/2017 / 10:53 am

    Love your photos! It’s been a while since I road tripped Scotland I can’t wait to get a car so I can go out even more. I haven’t been to some of these spots and others like Doune Castle and Glen Coe are my favourites! I actually need to stop at the Kelpies one day haha.

  18. 27/02/2017 / 11:17 am

    We’ve never been to Scotland and every time I see pictures like yours I think ‘we really need to go”. Hopefully some day soon… It’s definitely on our bucket list! #MondayEscapes

  19. 27/02/2017 / 11:45 am

    Looks like exactly the roadtrip my husband and I have been talking about doing! Saved! #MondayEscapes

  20. 27/02/2017 / 12:10 pm

    great advice! maybe I use it one day:) #mondayescapes

  21. 27/02/2017 / 12:49 pm

    That is an amazing itinerary. I did part of it when I lived in Scotland but I need to come back for more.

  22. 27/02/2017 / 1:46 pm

    I did the western part of your road trip but starting from Glasgow. I missed Mount Nevis because of the weather and Edinburgh so I will probably go back and pick up some of your suggestions. Thanks!

  23. 27/02/2017 / 9:05 pm

    we are going to Scotland in May and cant wait. I bookmarked this for all the driving info. Great guide. Do you recommend and car rental places?

  24. Okay, my love of Scotland definitely started AFTER Outlander. But my interest in traveling there has grown even more because of the show! There are just SO many stunning and historic places and landscapes to behold. Beautiful post and photos. Bookmarking for the future – thanks for sharing!

  25. 28/02/2017 / 12:43 pm

    I love road trip itineraries like this. They’re such a help when planning a trip! I’d be partial to the castles. Doune Castle looks so interesting. I’d also appreciate seeing the natural parts of Scotland. The walks around Glencoe Lochan looking so pretty! What a great way to get out of the car and stretch your legs!

  26. 28/02/2017 / 12:49 pm

    My word, what an amazing route and so much to do there! You could easily just spend months touring Scotland and drinking in its beauty. In fact, there’s an idea… #mondayescapes

  27. 28/02/2017 / 5:55 pm

    Some great photos here – I really must get round to doing a road trip in Scotland. Inspiring stuff! #MondayEscapes

  28. 28/02/2017 / 9:13 pm

    Great Itinerary! Cant beat the safari park for a day out. Scotland is stunning…we still have a lot of exploring to do! #MondayEscapes

  29. 01/03/2017 / 5:11 am

    Totally agree that Scotland is a great country for a road trip – awesome itinerary! We did a Haggis tour back in 2010 and drove around the country in a small bus – I would love to travel back and make my own way though, so much more flexibility for stopping off and finding hidden gems along the way, or hiking if the scenery so inspires it!

  30. 01/03/2017 / 2:50 pm

    The largest equine sculpture in the world?! That’s so cool! Scotland has SO much to offer. I absolutely love the highlands. Scotland is definitely on my 2018 list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  31. The Roaming Renegades.com
    02/03/2017 / 5:50 pm

    This is awesome, we’ve only ever been to Edinburgh and Fort William for Ben Nevis north of the border, but I keep saying we need to go back up and have a proper adventure in Scotland, such a beautiful part of the UK.

  32. 04/03/2017 / 10:07 am

    This post contains the most beautiful photos you really have made me want to book a trip round Scotland in the summer. Fabulous. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  33. travelingchristie
    08/03/2017 / 8:24 pm

    Oh my I love Scotland so much and your post has made me want to explore even more and I want to go to the Forth Bridge that photo is utterly breathtaking. Thanks so much for linking up #Mondayescapes xx

  34. 09/03/2017 / 11:56 am

    What a beautiful place! Thank you for your sharing!

  35. 12/03/2017 / 8:08 am

    Ooooh I really want to try this! I spent 3 days driving Edinburgh > Aviemore > Inverness > Aviemore > Edinburgh and absolutely loved that trip – I really want to get over to the West side now!

  36. Errol Saldanha
    23/03/2017 / 9:03 pm

    Doing a road trip across Scotland in April and this is a brilliant guide. It covers part of the route I intended so saved me from lot of hassle to research about the places… Cheers.

  37. 24/08/2017 / 9:19 pm

    So helpful thank you! Planning a spontaneous four day road trip up to Scotland next week and I’ll definitely be taking a few ideas from this, can’t wait!

    • Love from, Smidge
      28/08/2017 / 11:59 am

      I hope you had a fab road trip. Let me know where you end up!

  38. 25/10/2017 / 4:34 pm

    Hello there, a great post and very decent website by the way. I’ve seen the featured photo of the castle on this blog so many times over the past couple of years. And I keep saying that I’m going to go there. After reading this travel blog I’m going to use it to motivate me to get there in the next few months. Thanks for posting.

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