Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From stunning mountains to lovely lochs and glens, prettiest castles to popular movie locations, world-famous whiskies to thousands of years of fascinating history – there is so much to see and explore in this small country. We would recommend spending at least seven days to see the best of Scotland and are sharing our recommended 7 Days in Scotland Itinerary with you.
Late spring to summer is the best time to visit this country when the weather stays pleasantly warm and dry, and the days are longer. However, the Scottish weather is very unpredictable – you can get rain any time of the year.
Our 7-day itinerary starts and ends in Edinburgh. It has an international airport and is well-connected with the rest of the world. Glasgow Airport is also not too far from Edinburgh. It’s easier and more convenient to travel by car to follow our itinerary, but it is also possible to do it by public transport.
Day 1 Scotland Itinerary – Edinburgh
What better way to start your journey than visiting the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh? This ancient city’s Old Town and New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Narrow winding streets, imposing churches, medieval buildings, world-class museums, and art galleries – there is an abundance of things to see and do in Edinburgh.
The first stop is at the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, sitting dramatically over an extinct volcano, Castle Rock. Dating back since the 11th century, it has seen many invasions and sieges throughout history. Inside, you will find the National War Museum, the Royal Palace and the Scottish Crown Jewels. Also, you will get an excellent panoramic view of the city from the castle.
After visiting the castle, head down to the Royal mile to see the Holyrood Palace – the royal home of Her Majesty the Queen in Scotland. You can explore the ornate state apartments, throne room, and the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey within the palace garden. Get an audio guide from the reception and listen to the riveting history of the palace.
Did you know that Edinburgh has a close connection with the beloved young wizard, Harry Potter? In a small cafe in the Old Town, author J K Rowling wrote the early books of that series, drawing inspiration from many nearby historical places in the city. Potter fans would love visiting the Elephant House, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Victoria Street – Edinburgh’s Diagon Alley. End your day with some traditional Scottish food. Pop into Arcade Bar Haggis & Whisky House at Old Town and try Haggis – the national dish of Scotland. Where to Stay – Edinburgh
Day 2 Scotland Itinerary – Stirling via Falkirk + Loch Lomond
Today, you will visit a medieval castle, an iconic Scottish heritage site, and a scenic lake surrounded by stunning mountains. Grab a cup of coffee before hitting the road. Leaving Edinburgh behind, drive towards Stirling, with a pit stop to see the Kelpies in Falkirk. Marvel at the two gigantic, metal horse-head sculptures representing the mythical creature (kelpies) from Scottish folklore. Built to remind visitors about the horse-powered industrial heritage of Scotland, they are the tallest equine sculptures in the world. Also take a look at the Falkirk Wheel, a Scottish Canal with a very futuristic design.
Your next stop is Stirling, a city steeped in thousands of years of history. Visit Stirling Castle, one of the largest and best castles in Scotland. Built in the 15th century, this medieval castle was once the primary royal residence in Scotland. It is also one of the most besieged castles in Scottish history. Wander around the Great Hall, Royal Chapel, and the gardens. The breathtaking panoramic view of the countryside, the National Wallace Monument, and the surrounding hills from the castle promenade is not to be missed.
Next on today’s itinerary is Loch Lomond, which without a doubt, is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and a favourite sight amongst locals and tourists. It is the largest freshwater lake by surface in the whole of Britain. Take a boat trip and explore the beautiful villages and islands across the lake. Luss is one such charming village with cute flowery houses. It is considered one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. If you are a fan of water adventures, you will find several options like kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding. Where to Stay – Balloch
Day 3 Scotland Itinerary – Glen Coe + Fort William
Driving through Glen Coe – a mountainous valley in the Scottish Highlands is one the most scenic road trips in the UK. It takes about 1.5 hours to get here from Balloch, Loch Lomond. Be prepared to get captivated by the wind-swept wild landscapes on your way. In addition to this picturesque route, take a short detour via nearby Glen Etive. James Bond movie Skyfall was filmed here.
At the end of your journey, you will reach Fort William – the outdoor capital of the UK. The mighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, towers over the town. There are plenty of fun things to do in Fort William. Pay a visit to the West Highland Museum and learn about the fascinating history of this region, wander around the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle and visit Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal.
But the main attraction of Fort William is the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train, which runs between Fort William and Mallaig. Popularly known as the Hogwarts Express, it was featured in the Harry Potter movies. This 41-miles long train journey is widely considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the World. You will be mesmerised by the postcard-perfect sceneries of the surrounding landscape. One of the highlights of your journey would be crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct – an iconic architectural marvel. The train terminates at Mallaig, a picturesque small port village.
Spend some time relaxing at the harbour. If you are feeling hungry, grab some delicious lunch at the nearby restaurants and cafes before returning to Fort William. Where to Stay – Fort William
Day 4 Scotland Itinerary – Isle of Skye
Of course, a Scotland itinerary is not complete without a visit to the Isle of Skye. Skye is an incredibly beautiful island in the Inner Hebrides, famous for its rugged landscapes. There are two ways to reach Skye from Fort William. You can either drive through the Skye Bridge or catch a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, a village on the southern fringe of Skye.
Your first stop on the island is the magical Fairy Pool, one of the most visited and best tourist attractions on the Isle of Skye. It is a web of small waterfalls in the backdrop of the majestic Cuillin Mountains. If you are visiting here on sunny summer days, you can take a dip into the clear turquoise water of the pool. You can easily spend a few hours here admiring the breathtaking view.
Today our next stop is the Talisker Distillery, the oldest working distillery on this island. Regardless of whether you are a whisky fan or not, visiting a distillery is a must for any trip to Scotland. There are options for guided tours and tastings. You will learn a lot about the history of the distillery and the process of making their whiskies. The guided tour lasts for around 45 minutes.
Just about 30 min drive from the distillery is our next destination – Dunvegan Castle and Gardens. It’s the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. Take a tour of the castle, and wander around its beautiful gardens. You can also go on a boat trip across Loch Dunvegan to visit the Seal Colony. Where to Stay – Portree
Day 5 Scotland Itinerary – Isle of Skye
Portree is a picturesque town on the Isle of Skye. This vibrant town has a beautiful harbour with an array of colourful houses. It is a great place to base and explore most of the attractions on the Isle of Skye. Just drive for about 12-minutes from Portree to visit the Old Man of Storr on the Trotternish peninsula. The iconic pinnacles are one of the best-known rock formations in the whole of Britain. Go on a two hours hike to get close to the mighty Storr – It’s not a very tough walk. If you don’t fancy this walk, you can still get a marvellous view of this imposing mountain on your way to the next destination.
Next, visit the famous Kilt Rock, a 180 ft tall cliff with Mealt Falls flowing down to the sea. Head to the nearby An Corran beach at Staffin to find old dinosaur footprints that date back to millions of years ago. We bet you did not expect to see this in Scotland. They are only visible during low tide.
Pop inside the Staffin Dinosaur Museum to learn about the dinosaur fossils found in this area. Not too far from here is the Quiraing – one of the most dramatic landscapes in Skye. It consists of a large grassy surface (table), a sharp pointy pinnacle (needle), and a unique rock formation that looks like a medieval keep. Enjoy the spectacular panoramic views from here. You can hike the entire Quiraing circuit in a couple of hours.
Must be tired and hungry after all the hikes? Portree has a fabulous seafood scene. You will find award-winning chip shops, many seafood restaurants, and pubs at the heart of this town. Where to Stay – Portree
Day 6 Scotland Itinerary – Eilean Donan Castle + Loch Ness + Inverness
Today you will say goodbye to the magical Isle of Skye and drive to the mainland. If you plan to visit any castle in Scotland, you must include Eilean Donan Castle during your seven days in Scotland. It’s one of the most photographed castles in Scotland and appeared in many movies and TV series. Book a tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating and colourful history.
No visit to Scotland is ever complete without visiting the world-famous Loch Ness. Spanning over a length of around 37 Km, it is the largest freshwater lake by volume in Britain and the home of the mythical Loch Ness monster, Nessie. There are plenty of things to enjoy here. Step inside the magnificent ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness. It has an intriguing history of over 1000 years. The perfect way to appreciate the beauty of this loch is by hopping on a boat cruise. Boat leaves from many different places on the shore of the loch. Sit back, relax and admire the stunning surrounding landscapes. There are a few beautiful small, charming villages dotted around the loch. Fort Augustus is one of them. Take a stroll along the beautiful Caledonian canal here.
Next, head towards the last stop of the day – Inverness. Popularly known as the capital city of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a vibrant and historic city of Scotland. River Ness flows through the heart of it. Admire the view from the imposing Inverness Castle, shop at the Victorian Market, and marvel at many of the city’s stunning churches. End the day at a traditional Scottish pub with live music. Where to Stay – Inverness
Day 7 Scotland Itinerary – Drive back to Edinburgh: Stop at Aviemore and Pitlochry
Well, today is the last day of the 7-day Scotland Itinerary. Take a leisurely walk around the Inverness City Centre. Pop into Inverness Museum and Art Gallery before heading towards Edinburgh. Inverness to Edinburgh takes around three hours by drive. We will stop at a few beautiful places on the way. The first stop would be at Loch Morlich near Aviemore at the heart of famous Cairngorms National Park – about 40 min drive from Inverness.
Enjoy the stunning view of the lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. You can also do kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding if you are into water sports. The next stop is at Pitlochry, a pretty town in Perthshire. Take a walk around the Faskally Woods (especially in autumn), soak in the breathtaking scenery from the Queen’s View.
If you still have time and energy, take a tour at Blair Athol Distillery. There are plenty of independent shops and cafes in the Pitlochry town centre. Buy souvenirs and gifts for your friend and family before the final leg of the journey.
Edinburgh is about 1.5 hours’ drive from Pitlochry. On your way, reminisce all the beautiful memories you have created over the past few days. Hope you will be back again to explore more of this bonnie part of the world.
Moumita and Sankha of Chasing the Long Road are travel bloggers living in Edinburgh, Scotland. They have been extensively travelling in Europe and the UK since 2014 and are very passionate about exploring the world, discovering local cultures and cuisines, and capturing the travel moments. Moumita is an award-winning travel photographer. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.