Scotland brings to thoughts visions of medieval castles, gorgeous landscapes, and centuries-old historical past and heritage. This 12 months, I made a decision to plan a street journey in Scotland to expertise its magic. My husband and I really like the liberty and independence of driving holidays, and he has loads of expertise driving on the left from earlier adventures.
Placing collectively a top-notch Scotland driving tour is like weaving a fantastically intricate quilt. Looking for the fitting items is vital, and all of the locations and actions should match collectively seamlessly into one advanced, cohesive construction. It takes time, data, and ability. When carried out proper, every thing comes collectively right into a wealthy tapestry of memorable experiences.
Brendan Vacations not too long ago hosted me on a self-driving tour of Scotland, and I now perceive why having specialists plan your journey to this extraordinary vacation spot makes all of the distinction. Brendan’s specialists helped us plan a custom-made itinerary that labored exceptionally effectively, they usually included a variety of genuine experiences we wouldn’t have discovered on our personal. The journey exceeded our expectations, and I returned with so many great recollections to share. The individuals we met and the locations we visited alongside the way in which stayed with us lengthy after the journey was over.
Listed below are my favourite experiences on our 11-day Scotland street journey:
1. Discovering Edinburgh With Locals
Our personalised itinerary included a number of excursions with locals, which offered cultural insights and immersive experiences. In Edinburgh’s Outdated City, we walked alongside the Royal Mile with a improbable native information. She took us off the crushed monitor to hidden locations alongside the busy route and introduced historical past to life by means of her tales. Touring historic Edinburgh Castle was a spotlight, and we have been capable of skip the road as a part of this tour.
Whereas Edinburgh is understood for its historical past and landmarks, it additionally has a vibrant culinary scene. Getting off the vacationer path is important to search out a number of the greatest regionally produced Scottish meals and drinks. On our foodie strolling tour, our native information led us to reserved tables at distinctive venues and eateries all through Edinburgh’s Outdated and New cities. We sampled superb dishes and spirits, together with the very best haggis and black pudding of our total journey.
Professional Tip: Make journey plans early in the event you’d like to incorporate the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place at Edinburgh Fort in August.
2. Beautiful Landscapes
Scotland’s beautiful surroundings attracts 1000’s of holiday makers annually, and searching for out the nation’s greatest views was excessive on our record. Our itinerary included a few of Scotland’s most breathtaking places, together with Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Glenfinnan, North Berwick, and Perthshire’s stunning mountains and moors. We frolicked mountaineering within the Scottish Highlands and liked seeing the purple heather that blooms from July by means of September.
The Isle of Skye was one of the vital spectacular locations we visited in Scotland. It’s a fascinating wonderland crammed with jaw-dropping vistas and picture-perfect spots. Our journey took us to dazzling waterfalls, ragged peaks, dramatic cliffs, unimaginable castles, and quaint seaside homes painted in rainbow hues.
Professional Tip: Plan to take a guided tour if a full day of driving alongside Skye’s slim, winding roads may be too difficult.
3. Legendary Castles
Scotland’s iconic castles have been one of many highlights of our journey, and our itinerary included fairly a number of of those gems. Historic Edinburgh Fort is Scotland’s most well-known fortress, however others have been additionally necessary to us for numerous causes. Awe-inspiring Stirling Castle was a residence of Scotland’s kings and queens, and this fantastically restored fortress is effectively price touring. Outlander and Sport of Thrones followers will need to go to close by 14th-century Doune Castle, which was additionally featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
I used to be completely captivated by the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle within the Scottish Highlands, which appears to be like like one thing from a fairy story. This iconic gem is about on an island on the convergence of three beautiful lochs and is among the many most photographed castles on this planet.
Professional Tip: E book tour instances for every fortress upfront, significantly in the course of the summer season.
4. Biking Alongside Loch Lomond’s Bonnie Banks
Biking excursions are an effective way to remain lively and see extra of a vacation spot, so we have been thrilled when Brendan Holidays included biking round Loch Lomond in our itinerary. We loved biking alongside the comparatively flat West Loch Lomond Cycle path, often stopping to soak up the beautiful surroundings. E-bikes made your entire expertise stress-free.
Better of all, our biking journey included an elaborate picnic full with Scottish cheeses, crackers, chutney, fruit, and a s’mores package for the proper dessert. It was an effective way to spend the day, and the picnic made it much more memorable.
Professional Tip: Scotland’s climate can change shortly. Carry alongside a water-proof backpack and rain gear, simply in case.
5. Historical past, Heritage, And Traditions In St. Andrews
St. Andrews is a must-visit vacation spot for golfers and historical past lovers. Golf has been performed at St. Andrews for greater than 600 years, and we loved studying extra on our very good strolling tour of St. Andrews Hyperlinks’ fabled Outdated Course. Our skilled information regaled us with insights and tales, bringing the legends of those famend fairways to life. We additionally hiked alongside gorgeous West Sands Seaside, the place scenes from Chariots of Fireplace have been filmed.
Scotland’s oldest college is positioned in St. Andrews, and this centuries-old city additionally served as an historic pilgrimage website. Our native information took us on a strolling tour of the city’s most important sights, and we traveled by means of time as she stuffed us in on St. Andrews’ historical past, heritage, and traditions. Stopping at family-owned Jannettas Gelateria made our leisurely stroll much more enjoyable.
Professional Tip: St. Andrews Hyperlinks’ golf tee instances needs to be reserved far upfront. Much less-than-expert golfers can play a spherical at The Himalayas, the Outdated Course’s placing course.
6. The World-Well-known Jacobite Steam Prepare
All aboard! The 84-mile experience on the Jacobite Steam Train has been referred to as one of many “biggest railway journeys of the world,” and it lives as much as the billing. The prepare navigates by means of a few of Scotland’s most breathtaking surroundings, providing picturesque views of Ben Nevis, glistening lochs, and charming villages. It’s additionally a bucket-list journey for Harry Potter followers for the reason that prepare was featured because the ‘Hogwarts Categorical’ within the movies.
We liked your entire journey, together with our in-depth conversations with Scottish individuals we met alongside the way in which. The 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct featured in Harry Potter films is likely one of the stars of this rail journey. For pictures, the very best views of the prepare crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct are on the left-hand facet on the way in which to Mallaig and the fitting on the return.
Professional Tip: Arrive in Fort William effectively earlier than departure to permit loads of time for parking and pictures.
7. Iconic Animals
Whereas spectacular surroundings and historic locations topped my Scotland bucket record, I additionally longed to see sheep and goats rambling freely by means of the hills and spot Scotland’s large-horned Highland cattle — often known as Highland cows or “furry coos.” Fortunately, these targets have been met within the Scottish Highlands.
We took a superb multi-hour land rover safari with an skilled information, who navigated from the valley ground excessive up into misty ridges seeking wildlife. Alongside the way in which, we noticed herds of magnificent crimson deer, hovering golden eagles, and woolly sheep and goats roaming the craggy highlands. Personal hill tracks took us by means of forests and into the mountains, and the surroundings was breathtaking. On one other day, we frolicked with pleasant Highland cattle exhibiting off their shaggy waterproof coats in numerous hues.
Professional Tip: If on the lookout for locations to see Scotland’s Highland cows, try these high locations.
8. Avenue Artwork In Glasgow
Glasgow is an unimaginable metropolis crammed with improbable leisure and cultural sights, together with a number of the nation’s greatest museums and artwork galleries. I used to be most stunned by the gorgeous murals discovered all through Glasgow’s metropolis middle. Brendan Holidays organized an excellent city artwork–targeted strolling tour led by a educated native information, who took us to see murals by numerous artists and offered insights into Glasgow’s artwork tradition. The road artwork is gorgeous, and it was nice to be taught concerning the tales and artists concerned in each bit.
Professional Tip: Whereas in Glasgow, step into the stately Glasgow Metropolis Chambers constructing to marvel on the opulent marble staircases. They’re extraordinary.
9. Freedom And Flexibility
Highway journeys provide freedom and adaptability, plus the prospect for day by day adventures. We liked taking our personal street journey in Scotland, and we discovered ourselves consistently stopping for photos and scones alongside the way in which. It helped to have a rental automotive with a built-in GPS system, and utilizing our cell telephones for navigation helped as effectively.
We lined quite a lot of floor on this journey, and the Brendan Holidays staff did an excellent job of factoring driving time into our itinerary. There have been additionally loads of alternatives to veer off for spectacular views and extra historic sights we had time to go to, together with Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns, and Rosslyn Chapel. Driving a few of Scotland’s single-track B roads generally offered a little bit of an adrenaline rush, however it was enjoyable to take the scenic route.
Professional Tip: The Philip’s Navigator Scotland street atlas is a useful asset for Scotland self-driving journeys.
10. Fort Accommodations And Nation Homes
Whereas touring Scotland’s magnificent castles was excessive on my want record, so was staying in a single. Baronial Atholl Palace Hotel in scenic Pitlochry match the invoice, and our keep there provided simply the correct quantity of grandeur. So did Cameron House on Loch Lomond, a splendid castle-like mansion set on 400 acres providing very good delicacies, luxurious lodging, and a wealth of actions and adventures.
Scotland presents a big selection of lodging decisions, and each place we stayed was distinctive and particular. Rufflets St Andrews, a beautiful nation home surrounded by gardens, offered a peaceable retreat on our journey. The culinary experiences and attentive service at Ness Walk Hotel in Inverness have been distinctive, and Marine North Berwick’s gorgeous seaside views completely capped off our journey.
Professional Tip: Make all eating and excessive tea reservations upfront.
11. Scotch Whisky
Whisky is Scotland’s nationwide drink, and the nation has over 130 working distilleries. I’ve by no means been a giant whisky fan, however my experiences on this journey fully modified my thoughts. I found that Scotch is available in multiple smoky taste, and I discovered distinctive whiskies I liked at specialty venues and distilleries. Edinburgh’s academic and entertaining Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour experience was the proper place to begin. The classes and tastings right here taught me rather a lot about Scotch whisky and helped me “discover my taste.”
Scotch whisky performs a component within the nation’s tradition, and we related with locals at bars and pubs all through the journey. Whereas whisky could assist battle off winter’s chill, the heat of the Scottish individuals will steal your coronary heart. After just some days in Scotland, we have been already planning our return.
Professional Tip: After the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour expertise, take the elevator to the 1820 Rooftop Bar and benefit from the spectacular views of the town and Edinburgh Fort.
For extra inspiration in your Scottish journey, see: