Scotland Itinerary

10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Julie Itinerary, Scotland 28 Comments

On a map, Scotland may look small. But don’t let that fool you…there is a lot to see and do here. From visiting castles to sipping whisky to bagging some Munros to exploring the mystical Isle of Skye…there is enough to keep you busy for weeks. In this Scotland itinerary, you will be able to see the very best of this amazing country.

Day 1

Arrive in Edinburgh

Your grand tour of Scotland begins in the medieval city of Edinburgh. Depending on where you are arriving from, you may have limited time (and energy) today.

Check into your hotel and take a quick nap if you need it. Spend the afternoon and early evening getting acquainted with Edinburgh. We recommend strolling the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh. Take in the sights and have dinner at one of the many pubs. Dive right into Scottish cuisine by ordering haggis or blood pudding along with a pint of beer.

Cheers! You are in Scotland!

Edinburgh

Where We Stayed in Edinburgh: The four of us stayed at the hub by Premiere Inn Edinburgh Royal Mile. We LOVED it here. For a budget accommodation with a brilliant location that is clean, modern, friendly, and quiet, you cannot beat this place. The rooms are small but their storage solutions are innovative. From a touchpad by the head of the bed we could control our lights, TV, and air conditioner. The hotel is located just one block off of the Royal Mile. There is a café in the downstairs lobby that serves excellent food. I really have nothing bad to say about this place (and that almost never happens). We would stay here again, no doubt about it.

Day 2

Edinburgh

With two days you have just enough time to visit the best spots in Edinburgh. We have a very detailed two-day itinerary on Edinburgh, complete with recommendations of where to stay and where to eat.

Edinburgh, Scotland: Two Day Itinerary

Your first full day in Edinburgh is a very busy day. Start at Edinburgh Castle, the centerpiece of the city. It’s best to get here before opening time at 9 am to beat the crowds. This castle is one of Edinburgh’s most important historical sites and provides great views over the city. It’s a great starting point to really get to know Edinburgh.

Read more to have the best experience:

Edinburgh Castle: Things to Know before you go

Spend the middle of the day strolling the Royal Mile, visiting places like the Scotch Whisky Experience, St. Giles Cathedral, the Camera Obscura, Real Mary King’s Close, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.Finish at Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano with some of the best views over Edinburgh. For full details on how to do this, read our post on Arthur’s Seat.

Arthurs Point

Your day ends with dinner. We highly recommend The Scran & Scallie. This local restaurant is located off of the Royal Mile in a local neighborhood in Edinburgh. Use Uber or take a taxi to get here. This was our best meal in Edinburgh and had us dining on local dishes such as meat pies, roasted bone marrow, and ox tongue. It was surprisingly delicious!

Take a look at their menu and consider making a reservation in advance if dinner at the Scran and Scallie interests you. Visit their website here.

You can end your day here, or, if you still have enough energy to keep going, visit one of Edinburgh’s many pubs.

Day 3

Edinburgh

Start your day at one of Edinburgh’s best museums. Your choices include The National Museum of Scotland (great if you are traveling with kids), The Surgeon’s Hall Museum, the Scottish National Gallery, or the Royal Yacht Britannia.

For lunch, head over to the Old Town of Edinburgh, to the area around Grassmarket and Victoria Street. There are many great restaurants to try in this area. For our list of recommendations, visit our Edinburgh Itinerary post.

Old Town Edinburgh

After lunch, spend the afternoon at Dean Village. Dean Village is a small, residential area in Edinburgh. It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, and it’s off the beaten path. For more info, read our full post on Dean Village.

Dean Village

End your day with dinner in one of Edinburgh’s many amazing restaurants.

Day 4

Road Trip through Scotland

In Scotland, the journey is just as good as the destination. This is a great country for a road trip.

Scotland road trip

If you drive from Edinburgh directly to the Isle of Skye, it takes between five and six hours with 235 miles of driving. If you are willing to make a 50-mile detour, you can also visit Loch Ness.

To allow yourself enough time, leave Edinburgh no later than 9 am (although earlier is better). Along the way visit Pitlochry, the home of Edradour, Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery. Your scenic drive then continues on to Invergarry with a detour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. Not sure if you want to visit Loch Ness? Read this post before you go:

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle: Are They Worth Visiting?

 

Loch Ness

Continue on to Eilean Donan Castle, a castle that looks like it belongs in the pages of a fairy tale.

Eilean Donan

From Eilean Donan Castle, you are just ten miles from the Isle of Skye. Most people stay in Portree, one hour away from Eilean Donan Castle.Get settled into your hotel or bed & breakfast and get ready to explore the awesome Isle of Skye.

For full details on this drive, including directions and places to visit along the way, read

Driving to the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Where We Stayed on the Isle of Skye: We stayed at the Quiraing Guest House. This small, budget B&B is located just outside the city centre of Portree. They offer six comfortable, very clean rooms and a delicious Scottish breakfast every morning.

Day 5

Isle of Skye, the Trotternish Loop

The Trotternish Loop contains the most popular, most epic scenery on the Isle of Skye. From Portree, drive clockwise, going against the heaviest tourist traffic. Today you will visit the Fairy Glen, the Quiraing, Mealt Falls, Brother’s Point, and the Old Man of Storr.

Quiraing

Quiraing

 

Brother’s Point

Brothers Point

 

Old Man of Storr

Isle of Skye

Return to Portree for dinner.

For full details on how to do this, read

The Perfect Isle of Skye Itinerary

Day 6

Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools is an extremely popular place to visit on the Isle of Skye. Get here early (before 9:30 am) to avoid the worst of the crowds. From Portree, it takes about 35 minutes to drive to the Fairy Pools.

Fairy Pools

After the Fairy Pools, visit Talisker Distillery, the only whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye. Take a tour, do a tasting, or purchase some whisky in the souvenir shop.

Have lunch at the Old Inn, which is within walking distance of Talisker Distillery.

Spend the afternoon touring Dunvegan Castle and then watching the sunset at Neist Point.

Neist Point

Day 7

Go Hiking or Spend More Time on the Isle of Skye

Today, you have several options depending on your interests. You can choose to spend more time exploring the Isle of Skye or choose one of several hikes located on the Isle of Skye or back on the mainland, in the Highlands of Scotland. Either way, your day will end in Glencoe, where you will sleep tonight.

For hikers, we have three recommended hikes in the area (although there are many more options).

Bla Bheinn (Blaven) is one of the most spectacular hikes on the Isle of Skye. From the summit, you will have 360° views along the Cuillin Ridge and over the Isle of Skye.

Read more: Our Attempt on Bla Bheinn

Blaven

Hiking option #2 is the Kintail Saddle. This is another spectacular hike and gives you the option to bag not one but two Munros. Located in Shiel Bridge, it is about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive from Portree, but it is on the way to Glencoe.

Read more: Hiking the Kintail Saddle

Hiking Scotland

Hiking option #3 is the legendary Aonach Eagach. This is a challenging, somewhat dangerous hike. Tyler and Kara were too young to do this hike on our visit to Scotland, but it is the first thing we will do on a return trip here. This hike is located in Glencoe. Today, drive to Glencoe and explore Glencoe, with plans to do the hike tomorrow.Read more about the hike on the Walk Highlands website.

If hiking is not your thing, you can spend today exploring more of the Isle of Skye, and then make your way to Glencoe.

To get from the Isle of Skye to Glencoe, take the ferry from Armadale on the Isle of Skye to Maillag on the mainland. It is highly recommended that you book your ferry tickets at least several days in advance, especially during the busy summer months. View the timetables and purchase your tickets on the Caledonian MacBrayne website.

On the drive to Glencoe, you will pass the Glenfinnan Viaduct. For Harry Potter fans, this is well worth it. The Glenfinnan Viaduct was used in the filming of the Hogwart’s Express.

Arrive in Glencoe.

Day 8

Glencoe Valley and Glen Etive

Spend most of the day exploring the gorgeous Glencoe Valley and Glen Etive. Scenic drives and short hikes will fill your day. In the afternoon, make the drive to Glasgow, two hours away.

Read more: Postcards from Glencoe

Glen Coe

Day 9

Glasgow

Glasgow is often an overlooked destination in Scotland. Whereas Edinburgh is perfect for tourists, with its castle, medieval architecture, and historical background, Glasgow is a city centered around the people who live and work here.

Glasgow

There are tons of options to fill your time in Glasgow. Visit museums, explore the parks, and tour the art galleries. Or, you could go pub hopping, like we did.

Read more: Glasgow: 24 Hours of Fun for the Whole Family

Where We Stayed in Glasgow: We stayed at the Premier Inn Glasgow City Centre Buchanan Galleries. This budget hotel has a five star location, being within walking distance of most sights in the city. The rooms are small and nothing fancy but the hotel is clean and quiet. Consider this hotel if you need a budget price with an excellent location.

Day 10

Fly Home

Begin your travels home. Or, for those with more time, continue on to your next destination.

With More Time

Options to extend your travels

Malt Whisky Trail. Drive the whisky trail for several days, visiting places like Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and so many more. You can add the Malt Whisky Trail into the above itinerary between Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye.

Orkney or Shetland Islands. The Orkney and Shetland Islands are groups of many smaller islands stretching off the northern coast of Scotland. Incredibly scenic, this is definitely getting off the main tourist trail in Scotland.

Best Time to go to Scotland

Spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons to visit Scotland. Summer is peak season, so expect large crowds of tourists and some difficulty finding hotel accommodations, especially on the Isle of Skye. August brings the Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.

If you want to avoid most of the tourists, late spring and early fall are your best bets.

For more information, see all of our posts on Scotland.

Post updated April 2018.

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Comments 28

  1. Hello,

    This is a wonderful itinerary. I have a couple of questions:

    I will tweak it a little bit and add a visit to a Whisky Distillery. Do you have recommendations there??

    Also, What are your recommended changes to the Itinerary, if i am travelling there during Christmas break??

    Thanks in Advance.

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      Talisker on the Isle of Skye and Edradour on the drive to the Isle of Skye are easy to add. If you have extra time you could also go north to Glenlivet and surrounds…a big whisky area in Scotland. There are different regions of Scotland that produce different whisky, so if there is a certain type you like you might want to do some advance research on where to visit. Over Christmas, I would imagine that cities will be busier and maybe a little more expensive. I don’t honestly know what the Isle of Skye would be like that time of year. Double check the opening hours of attractions, especially on Christmas and New Years…some places may be closed. Cheers, Julie

  2. Thank you so much for this guide! Planning few months ago, I was overwhelmed with narrowing down activities and this is perfect! We’re SO exited for our trip at the end of June! A couple questions for you- do you have any recommendations for avoiding midge bites? Places to avoid or products that work especially well ? And based on what you did over 10 days about how much money would you recommend each traveler bring ? I’m trying to determine how much £ to order so I don’t need to use my credit card very often (other than hotels and car ). Thanks again !

    Laura

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      Hello Laura. We are excited for you, too! As for midge bites…the best things to do are to keep moving, avoid wet areas (like near streams and rivers), and wear Avon Skin So Soft. We were only plagued by them when we stopped near the edges of water, like at the Fairy Pools and while stopping to rest while hiking in the Highlands. In general, you could average $50 – 100 per person for food and activities per day, and that could be a low estimate, depending on where you plan on eating and if you will drink alcohol. Most of the time you will be able to pay with your credit card. You could also use the ATM’s to get cash out as you need it. There are bank cards that allow you to take money out without a fee (we have a Charles Schwab card). We usually take out $200 (or its equivalent) when we arrive in the airport and visit the ATM again if we need it. Rarely do we take out more than $500 per 10 day trip for the four of us (but we also use our credit card for most purchases). If you want to avoid using your credit card, you might want to start with $75 – $100 per person per day. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie,

    I love the way you have described each and everything here. Very helpful.

    I am planning to visit scottland in July-end this year, with my wife for 10 days. I was wondering if you could help me with few more doubts I have-

    Can I rent a car from edinburgh and drop it in glasgow?
    How difficult is the driving? I have never driven in hilly areas- so just a bit confused.

    Again, thank you so much for putting this together.

    Sumit

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      Hello Sumit. Yes, you can rent a car in Edinburgh and drop it in Glasgow. That is what we did. Rental car companies usually charge an extra drop fee for dropping it off at a different location. In this case, since Edinburgh and Glasgow are near each other, this fee might be low. Tim does our rental car reservations. He prices out Hertz, Budget, Avis, and sometimes Europcar and Sixt and then chooses the company with the lowest price. Online, you enter in your dates and pick up and drop off locations to get a price estimate. Or you can call the companies directly.

      For the most part, it’s easy driving around Scotland. Most roads are wide with good visibility, even in the hilly areas. The only place that we saw that was “difficult” was on the Isle of Skye. Many roads are the width of a single lane, which means that you have to pull over frequently to let oncoming traffic pass, and sometimes you may have to reverse into one of these pull-offs to let cars pass. And remember, they drive on the left in Scotland (that can be a little tricky at first).

      By the way, if you are going to the Isle of Skye, don’t wait to book your hotels. I just checked hotels for the summer and they are mostly sold out already.

      Cheers, Julie

  4. Great information. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit on expenses. Did you pre-pay for your rooms? How expensive were tours of castle’s lastly food expenses.

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      We typically book our hotels in advance on Booking.com or directly through the hotel (so yes, that is pre-paid). For tours of castles you can check their websites for up-to-date pricing. But to give you an idea of the cost, it currently costs 17 euros to tour Edinburgh Castle. Cheers, Julie

  5. thank you soo much!!!
    this has been of great help. I am from India, and will be attending a 4 week summer school at the University of Sussex, UK following this i plan to visit Scotland for 10 days. It looks soo pretty and therefore i was soo confused too…so this has been of great help !
    justa quick check, would you suggest renting a car for say two people ? ..does it makes sense economically?

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      Author

      If you want to visit the Isle of Skye and see some of Scotland between Skye and the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, I think a car is worth it. Having a car is so much more convenient and you get to do things at your own pace. From what I know, getting around the Isle of Skye can be very difficult using public transportation. Renting a car is more expensive but I think you will get so much more out of your 10 days. Cheers, Julie

  6. This post is really helpful, can’t wait to plan my trip with the guides here! I’d be in London end May and was thinking of extending a week for a road trip up to Scotland. Would you recommend making the drive up to Scotland from London? Or would it be better to take a train to Scotland and start the road trip in Edinburgh instead?

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      I think you would save time if you took a train between London and Edinburgh, although I am not 100% about that. Check Google for driving times and look into how long a train takes between these 2 cities. We have not been through England yet, so I don’t really know what you would be missing, however, I do know that Scotland is amazing and I’d recommend spending as much time here as possible. Cheers, Julie

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      In Edinburgh we stayed at the hub by Premiere Inn and it was a phenomenal mid-range hotel in a great location. On the Isle of Skye we stayed at the Quiraing Guest House, a decent place in Portree. We did not stay in Glencoe, we stayed closer to Isle of Skye in order to hike the Kintail Saddle. We stayed at the wonderful Grianan Guest house located in the Inverinate of Kintail (near Eilean Donan Castle). Finally, in Glasgow we stayed at the Premier Inn Glasgow City Centre Buchanan Galleries, another good midrange hotel with a great location. All of these places were good, and the hub in Edinburgh was by far our favorite. Cheers, Julie

  7. This is all so helpful in the planning of my trip 🙂 Quick question, I may have missed it, but what time of year did you visit here? Thanks!

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      1. Thanks! I just booked tickets yesterday morning for 12 days in May 😀 So excited and this itinerary will be a great reference.

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  8. I have so appreciated reading all your posts about Scotland. My 5 kids (ranging 21-13) and I will be traveling it for 8 days and I’m torn. We are hoping to camp/hammock in some places so when looking at rentals, we’re considering a minivan vs a Adria motorhome. At first the motorhome seemed the smartest choice b/c it’s not much more to rent and then we can have places to sleep if raining and also prepare/keep food cheaply. But I’ve read some articles that it actually is difficult to travel Scotland roads in such a big vehicle, and that oftentimes the people in the area don’t look too kindly on a camper pulled off the road somewhere vs wild camping. I don’t want to do the camper if its really going to be harder to find a spot to sleep. We plan on coming up thru Edinburgh and going to Isle of Skye and then up coast a bit. What would you recommend? we leave for our trip in a couple of weeks.

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      Hi Charli. I honestly do not know much about camping in Scotland since we didn’t do it. However, we drove around quite a bit. On the Isle of Skye and in the Highlands you will be on narrow, one lane roads. Many times you will have to drive into the pull-offs to let cars pass. At times, you will have to drive in reverse into these turnoffs as well. If you are considering driving a motorhome, make sure you are comfortable doing this. We did see a bunch of motorhomes on the Isle of Skye, so it’s not that uncommon of a thing to do. I just don’t know where they pulled over at night. To me, it sounds more convenient to have the motorhome, because of the advantages you listed, even given the hassle of driving it around. Have you talked with the rental company about what to expect? Sorry I can’t provide more information! And yes, midges can still be around in September. Cheers, Julie

  9. Just commented on the Ireland Itinerary – we did a week there and a week in Scotland and I can’t say enough how great these guides were!! We only had a week in each – unfortunately, so this definitely helped to cherry pick what we wanted to focus on. Great stuff!!

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        I wish I could say yes, but with one week, I’d pick one or the other. One week is just barely enough time to see one of the main cities (Dublin or Edinburgh) and then go on a road trip. Cheers, Julie

  10. I want to thank you for the great write-ups. We just returned from a 10 day tour of Scotland with our 3 kids (12, 11, 8) and found much of what you wrote very helpful. I prefer the format in your blog to the guidebooks we referenced so many thanks for your help. I look forward to our next trip that hopefully you have been to!

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      Yes we did. Usually they bothered us when we were near water and standing still. While hiking Bla Bheinn our daughter got torn up by the midges. She had itchy bites on her face and neck for the next several days. We had the biggest problems with midges on the Bla Bheinn hike and at the Fairy Pools, not so much at the other locations. – Julie

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