Road Tripping Scotland’s Stunning West Coast (a NC500 Extension!)

Road Tripping Scotland’s Stunning West Coast (a NC500 Extension!)

Thinking about touring Scotland? How about visiting Skye, Mull, and Oban? With spectacular white sandy beaches, soaring mountains and famous islands it’s no wonder that Scotland’s west coast is the first place many people think of when planning a trip to Scotland. Let’s go on a west coast of Scotland road trip!

This ferry hopping road trip also makes a great extension to the North Coast 500.

A west coast of Scotland road trip

West coast of Scotland road trip itinerary

  • Stage 1 – North Coast 500 to the Isle of Skye
  • Stage 2 – Ardnamurchan and Mull
  • Stage 3 – Mull to Oban
  • Stage 4 – Oban to Inverarary
  • Stage 5 – Inverarary to Glasgow

Ferry Hopping on the west coast of Scotland

For this road trip you will need to buy a ferry hopping ticket from the west coast of Scotland ferry company CalMac. For this trip you will need to book hopscotch ticket HOP7 – Skye to Mallaig, Kilchoan to Tobermory, and Craignure to Oban. 

Let’s go!

Stage 1 – North Coast 500 to the Isle of Skye 

The North Coast 500 leaves Scotland’s west coast at Strathcarron before completing the loop back east to Inverness – but your west coast of Scotland trip doesn’t have to end here. Instead head south from the NC500 route to cross over the sea to the Isle of Skye.

On the way, I highly recommend exploring the beautiful family run Attadale Gardensa late 19th century garden on the Attadale estate. The gardens are so peaceful – and you might catch the artist owner for a chat.

Next, head to the village of Plockton, where the mild climate allows palm trees to prosper on the waterfront. The weather might even be nice enough to have lunch outside one of the friendly Plockton pubs!

west coast of Scotland

Leaving Plockton, and crossing over the Skye bridge, you reach Scotland’s most famous island.

Deservedly popular, Skye is heaving in summer, and remote in winter, which means visiting can be a challenge. However, seeing the Black Cullin, the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing, Neist Point Lighthouse and Loch Coruisk will be be high on your list of things to do in Scotland.

Enjoy your trip to Skye, but please visit the island sustainably, park sensibly, learn how to drive on a single track road and book your accommodation in advance. For more information check out my guide to the Isle of Skye.

On Skye, I like to stay at Carbost where you can discover Talisker whisky and east seafood at the Oyster Shed. It’s also out of the way of most tour groups, and by 9pm it is quiet enough to only have the dreaded migies for company!

Stage 1 Itinerary

Stage 2 – Ardnamurchan and magical Isle of Mull

It is time to ferry hop! Leaving Skye, forget the Skye bridge and jump on a Calmac Ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. This is where your west coast adventure really begins as you are heading for remote Ardnamurchan and Morvern – which are just simply stunning. Many of the beaches here compete against the best in the world, so visit Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig or Sanna.

On your way south pop into the Glenuig Inn for lunch (note, they don’t serve lager on tap, just real ale and ciders!) before exploring Tioram Castle and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse which sits on the most westerly part of the mainland UK. Check out my guide to more things to do in Ardnamurchan.

Stage 2 Itinerary – Ardnamurchan and Mull  

  • Driving time – 5 hours including ferry crossing
  • Stay at the gorgeous Cuil Moss Cottage

Stage 3 – Mull to the seafood capital of Scotland – Oban

From Kilchoan catch the short 40-minute ferry across to the bustling town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The town is a great place from which to explore the island. However long you have on the island there are lots of things to do on Mullincluding taking a day trip to the Isle of Iona.

You might also like...  How to explore Wester Ross (and why you really should!)

west coast of Scotland

Leaving Mull, catch the ferry from Craignure to Oban. The crossing takes around 55 minutes and must be booked in advance, especially in Summer. The views from the crossing are gorgeous and include Lismore Lighthouse and Duart Castle.

west coast of Scotland

Oban is a fantastic town – there are seafood restaurants aplenty, and great beer and pub food at my favourite, the Cuan MorTo walk it all off climb up to McCaig’s Tower for a fab view of the Isles. In the local area is Castle Stalker which graces many a Instagram shot and the Oban Distillery. 

Stage 3 Itinerary – Mull and Oban 

Stage 4 – Oban to Inveraray – a coast of historical marvels

Leaving Oban drive south into Argyll to discover historical settlements and pretty villages – and the marvel that is the Crinan Canal.

Leaving Oban head south along the A816 towards the Mull of Kintyre. Your destination is Crinan, but on the way you can visit Kilmartin Glen for a wander around the standing stones and ancient burial chambers.

For lunch stop at either the Lord of the Isles pub at Craobh Haven or the Loch Melfort Hotel where you can also take a stroll in the Arduaine Gardens.

Further south is Crinan, one of Scotland’s hidden gems, with its canal and pretty seafront village. Head down to the Crinan Canal basin, grab a coffee and watch the boats sail up and down the canal. Make sure you visit the village for views across to Jura. Leaving Crinan make sure you stop in the township of Auchindrain and the beautiful Crarae Garden.

The next stop on the route is Inveraray where you can visit Inveraray Castle and Inveraray Jail and grab fish and chips to eat on the loch side. The George Hotel is famous for food and drink and a great atmosphere.

Stage 4 Itinerary

  • Driving time – Oban to Inveraray – 1 hour
  • Where to stay near Inveraray*

Stage 5 – Inverarary to Glasgow – Inns, lochs & very local brews

Taking in both Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne, as well as driving the Rest and Be Thankful, your final day on the road is a spectacular end to your trip.

Leaving Inverarary drive along the A83 in the direction of Loch Lomond. It is worth popping into Fyne Ales Brewery for a pie and a pint – or to pick some beer up for later if its too early; their beer Jarl is award-winning.

It is then time to tackle one of Scotland’s most famous roads, the Rest and be Thankful. The road winds its way through the Arrochar Alps, if you have time and the weather is on your side, climb The Cobbler – remember to be prepared for bad weather and have waterproofs and proper hiking boots handy! 

From Arrochar head to Tarbet and Loch Lomond, park up at the village of Luss and take a wander down to the lochside among the pretty cottages. For a great lunch overlooking the water visit the Lodge on the Loch Lomond Hotel, or 10 minutes further north, The Inn on Loch Lomond is more casual. 

Finally it is time to head to Glasgow – and to explore all this city has to offer!

Stage 5 Itinerary

  • Driving time – Inveraray to Glasgow –
  • Visit: Loch Fyne, Loch Lomond
  • Where to stay in Glasgow*

Have you done a west coast of Scotland road trip?
Where would you recommend? 

Love, from Scotland x

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2 Comments

  1. 17/11/2017 / 8:15 pm

    I think you’ve ticked off all my ‘must see’ places. Maybe I’d head out to the end of Skye at Neist Point, to watch the sun set over the Outer Hebrides, or a drive across the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ to Seil, but otherwise I’d just like to spend more than 5 days on the trip 🙂

  2. 06/12/2017 / 9:36 pm

    Wow wow wow. I really want to explore this stunning countryside – thanks for the tips!

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