Let’s go on a west coast of Scotland road trip!
With spectacular white sandy beaches, soaring mountains and beautiful islands it’s no wonder that Scotland’s west coast is the first place many people think of when planning a trip to Scotland. Explore the best bits of the west coast of Scotland on this itinerary ferry hopping from the Isle of Skye, Ardnamurchan, Mull and Oban before returning to Glasgow.
West coast of Scotland Road Trip Map
A west coast of Scotland road trip itinerary
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. Book hopscotch ticket HOP7 – Skye to Mallaig, Kilchoan to Tobermory, and Craignure to Oban.
Video guide – West Coast of Scotland Road Trips
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, join this west coast of Scotland road trip and head south from the NC500 route to cross over the sea to the Isle of Skye.
On the way, I highly recommend:
- Stopping at Strome Castle on Loch Carron, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s little gems.
- Exploring the beautiful family run Attadale Gardens, a late 19th century garden on the Attadale estate. The gardens are so peaceful – and you might catch the artist owner for a chat.
- Visiting 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!
Leaving Plockton, cross over the Skye bridge, to reach Scotland’s most famous island.
The Isle of Skye
Seeing the Black Cullin, the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing, Neist Point Lighthouse, Loch Coruisk, Dunvegan Castle and discovering Talisker whisky will be high on your list of things to do in Scotland.
The Isle of Skye might be mind-blowing and deservedly popular, but Skye is heaving in summer, and remote in winter, which means visiting can be a challenge. Please visit the island sustainably, park sensibly, learn how to drive on a single track road and book your accommodation in advance.
Stage 2 – Remote Ardnamurchan
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 – the most western part of the British mainland. Get off the beaten track and discover Ardnamurchan and the remote regions of Morvern, Ardgour, Moidart and Sunart – home to just 2000 people.
Many of the beaches here compete against the best in the world, so make sure you visit Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig or Sanna. Driving across Ardnamurchan’s volcanic caldera gives an incredible view of the small isles of Eigg and Rum and on a clear day, back to the Cullins on Skye.
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.
Stage 3 – Exploring The Isle of Mull
From Kilchoan catch the short 40-minute ferry across to the bustling town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.
Tobermory is a great place to base yourself for a short visit to the island as it is a bustling and lively place, with lots of busy harbour bars – try the food at the excellent Macgochans. Whisky fans will want to visit the Tobermory Distillery, located right on the waterfront – no need for a designated driver here.
However long you have on the island there are lots of things to do on Mull, including visiting beautiful Calgary Bay. The beach is stunning – you can see why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Scotland.
Want to explore on foot? The only Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) on an island (after from the Cullin on Skye) Ben More stands 966m above Loch Na Keal – the ‘loch of the cliffs’. With views across to the Isle of Ulva to Ben Cruachan, Ben More is a great island viewpoint even if you don’t climb to the very top!
Stage 4 – Fish n ships at Oban
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.
Oban is a fantastic town to spend an evening – there are seafood restaurants aplenty, and great beer and pub food at my favourite, the Cuan Mor. To 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 an Instagram shot and the Oban Distillery.
- Where to stay in Oban*
Stage 5 – Loch Fyne and Inveraray
Leaving Oban drive south into Argyll to discover historical settlements and pretty villages – and the marvel that is the Crinan Canal.
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.
- Where to stay near Inveraray*
Stage 6 – The Road 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’s 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!
Have you done a west coast of Scotland road trip? Where would you recommend?
Love, from Scotland x
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