Julie Itinerary, Scotland 69 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.

 

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
 
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

10 Day Edinburgh Itinerary

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 Scotland itinerary

Edinburgh | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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

To help you plan your time in Edinburgh (on this Scotland itinerary you will have 2 full days), read our 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary. This itinerary includes maps and lots of important travel planning information, but below I list a quick overview of what you will do on each of these two days.

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 Scotland itinerary

Arthur’s Seat | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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.

Tonight, sleep in Edinburgh.

Don’t miss our article 2 Days in Edinburgh. It is a detailed itinerary of how to spend two days in Edinburgh, with maps, recommendations on where to eat and where to stay.


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 Scotland itinerary

Edinburgh | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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

Dean Village | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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

Tonight, sleep in Edinburgh.


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 Scotland itinerary

View from Loch Ness Castle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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

Eilean Donan Scotland itinerary

Eilean Donan Castle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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, maps, and places to visit along the way, read

Driving to the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye:  Read our Isle of Skye Travel Guide for recommendations on where to stay.


Day 5: The Trotternish Loop, Isle of Skye

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.

Below is a map of the Isle of Skye with several driving routes. For today’s driving route, follow Day 1: Trotternish Loop ONLY.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (places to go and driving routes). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
 
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Today, focus on the Trotternish Loop, which contains many of the highlights in the Isle of Skye. This driving loop starts and ends in Portree. We recommend driving the Loop in a clockwise direction, visiting the sights in this order:

  • Portree
  • Fairy Glen
  • Quiraing
  • Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
  • Brother’s Point
  • Old Man of Storr
  • Portree

In total, it’s 72 km (45 miles) of driving and takes about an hour and a half to drive the full loop. But once you add on time at each sight, this loop will take most of the day. You will be back in Portree in time for dinner. Get more details in our Isle of Skye Itinerary.

Quiraing Scotland itinerary

Quiraing | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

 

Brothers Point Scotland itinerary

Brother’s Point | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

 

Isle of Skye

Old Man of Storr | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Return to Portree for dinner. Sleep in Portree or at another town or B&B on the Isle of Skye.


Day 6: Isle of Skye

Today, you will spend the day visiting more famous landmarks and sights on the Isle of Skye.

Below is the map of the Isle of Skye driving routes. Follow Day 2: Fairy Pools, Talisker, Neist Point.

Today’s loop is 150 km (92 miles) round trip and will take about 3 hours without stops. With time at the Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, and Neist Point, this driving loop will take a full day. 

Start your day at the Fairy Pools, 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

Fairy Pools | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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 Scotland itinerary

Neist Point | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

This evening, sleep on the Isle of Skye (Portree or another town on the Isle of Skye).


Day 7: Isle of Skye or Hiking in the Highlands

Today, you have several options depending on your interests. You can choose to spend more time exploring and/or exploring the Isle of Skye or go hiking 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).

Hike #1: Bla Bheinn

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. This hike is 8 km (5 miles) with 1000 meters of ascent. It’s a challenging hike but if you have clear skies, the views of the Isle of Skye are unbeatable. We attempted this hike in the rain and don’t recommend it unless you have clear weather (you can’t see anything in the cloud cover).

Once finished the hike, drive to and sleep in Glencoe.

Blaven

Hike #2: Kintail Saddle

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. Once finished the hike, drive to and sleep in Glencoe.

Hiking Scotland

Kintail Saddle | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Hike #3: Aonach Eagach

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.

Or, Spend More Time on the Isle of Skye

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. 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.

Tonight, sleep in Glencoe.


Day 8: Glencoe Valley & 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.

Glen Coe Scotland itinerary

Glencoe | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Tonight, sleep in  Glasgow.

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 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

Glasgow | 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

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.

Tonight, sleep in Glasgow.


Day 10: Fly Home

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


How to Modify this Scotland Itinerary

With More Time

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.

With Less Time

If you want to visit Scotland but do not have 10 days, here are some recommendations on how to shorten this Scotland itinerary.

If you only have 9 days, eliminate the extra hiking day (day 7 of this Scotland itinerary). 

If you only have 8 days, combine Glencoe and Glasgow. From the Isle of Skye, drive through Glencoe (you can still see it, but you will have limited time for hiking and the detour to Glen Etive) and spend the afternoon in Glasgow.

If you only have 7 days, drive to the Isle of Skye the afternoon of day 3. 

Here is a sample 7 day Scotland itinerary. It now has a big emphasis on Edinburgh and Isle of Skye. To make it worth the drive, I think that the Isle of Skye needs a full two days and two nights. 

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh
Day 2: Edinburgh
Day 3: Edinburgh in the morning, drive to the Isle of Skye in the afternoon
Day 4:  Isle of Skye
Day 5:  Isle of Skye
Day 6:  Drive to Glasgow, visit Glencoe on the drive
Day 7: Glasgow

Best Time for this Scotland Itinerary

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.

We visited Scotland at the end of July. 

Planning Your Trip

Rental Car and Hotel Reservations

Rental Car

For this Scotland itinerary, you will need to rent a car. You do not need a rental car while in Edinburgh, since most sights are within walking distance of the Royal Mile or accessible with public transportation. Pick up your rental car the morning of day 4, when you drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. We picked up our rental car at the train station in Edinburgh. 

Hotels

  • Edinburgh – 3 nights
  • Isle of Skye (Portree) – 3 nights
  • Glencoe – 1 night
  • Glasgow – 2 nights

Average Trip Costs

Here are some estimated costs (all prices are in USD):

Rental car:  $75 to $150 USD per day for a midsize car
Fuel: $2 USD per liter ($8 USD per gallon)

Budget Hotel/Dorm:  $15 – $75
Midrange Hotel, double room with two people:  $75 – $200
High end hotel, double room with two people:  $200+

Meals can cost $15 to $35 per dish, depending on the restaurant. To save money, only dine in restaurants once per day and buy groceries at grocery stores.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Scotland?

In order to tour the highlights of Scotland (Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, and the Highlands of Scotland), plan on spending 8 to 10 days in Scotland. Eight days gives you just enough time to spend two full days in Edinburgh, drive to and from the Isle of Skye (visiting a few places on the drive), and two days in the Isle of Skye.

When is the best time to visit Scotland?

Early May through mid-June is a great time to visit Scotland.

We did this itinerary at the end of July. June, July, and August are the warmest months of the year, with average daytime hikes of 16°C (60°F). April, May, and June are the driest months of the year, averaging about 10 days of rain per month. The summer gets the most visitors. If you are looking for good weather and lower crowds, plan your visit from early May through mid-June. Expect big crowds in July and August. In September, visitation and crowds go down, but rain chances increase. 

Do I need a car in Scotland?

You can tour Scotland without a car, by taking the train and using other forms of public transportation or group tours. However, it can be very difficult to get around the Isle of Skye without your own vehicle, so for this Scotland itinerary, we recommend renting a car. 


If you have any questions about this Scotland itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

EDINBURGH: Learn about the best things to do and how to plan your time in our 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary. We also have detailed guides on how to hike to Arthur’s Seat, how to visit Edinburgh Castle, and best things to do with kids in Edinburgh.

PLACES TO VISIT IN THE ISLE OF SKYE: For an overview of must-have experiences on the Isle of Skye, read our article Best Things to Do on the Isle of Skye. We also have detailed guides on the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools, the Fairy Glen, Brother’s Point, and the Quiraing.

DRIVING IN SCOTLAND: If your visit to Scotland includes a visit to the Isle of Skye, there are two different routes to get from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

DRIVING IN EUROPE: If you have plans to rent a car in Europe, read our article Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Europe for lots of helpful tips.

 

Planning a trip to Scotland? Read all of our articles in our Scotland Travel Guide.

 

 

Scotland Itinerary 10 Days

Scotland Travel Itinerary Edinburgh Isle of Skye

 

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Comments 69

  1. Avatar for Billie
    Billie

    Question about whiskey distilleries: if you’ve seen one have you seen them all? Is there any reason, if one is not a huge whiskey aficionado, to tour more than one? Is there a ranking of ones you’d recommend or would it be okay to base it on location and just go to one’s that are on our route?

    And I really appreciate all the detailed information you share on your website. Very helpful.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Billie. We only toured three whisky distilleries in Scotland and honestly my favorite experience was the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, since that explained how whisky is made. If you aren’t big into whisky, visiting one, maybe two distilleries is sufficient in my opinion. But for those who are whisky aficionados, it’s not uncommon to spend days touring the distilleries. I recommend picking a distillery that works well with your itinerary (don’t go out of your way but if there is one nearby it might be worth a quick visit and tasting). Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Marina
    Marina

    Hi,

    We will be in Scotland in early Sept. and will be there for 7 full days (8 if you include arriving at 8:30pm into Edinburgh) I’m not sure if Glasgow is worth visiting, I would definitely want to visit Stirling Castle. If we skip Glasgow, how would you recommend adjusting for the 7 day itinerary. I usually love a good hike, but I’ll also be in my 22nd week of pregnancy. So I’ll do the walks, but I’m going to avoid the moderate/strenuous hikes this time around. We are flying in and out of Edinburgh.

    Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      With less time, I recommend skipping Glasglow, one day in Edinburgh, and day #7 which is more time in the Isle of Skye or hiking in the Highlands. I think you need 2 days in the Isle of Skye, to make it worth driving out this way. With those changes, on what is now your day 6, you will drive back to Edinburgh (flying to Ireland on day 7). On that day #6, visit Stirling Castle. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Ashley Kennedy
    Ashley Kennedy

    Hi,

    I love the itineraries! They have been really helpful in narrowing down where we would like to visit. We are visiting at the end of December into the second week of January. This will be our first time in Europe with our two children (12 & 9). We are starting in London for 7 days, and heading to Scotland for 5 full days, coming into Edinburgh. Would you recommend adding on another city, or should we stick to Edinburgh and the surrounding areas for those 5 days? We would love to visit the Isle of Skye but didn’t think there would be enough time for that and it might not be the right time of year. We also plan to come back, so we don’t want to rush a visit.

    Thank you for the detailed posts!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Ashley. If you plan to return to Scotland, I recommend saving the Isle of Skye for that visit. I think more time, and a time of year with warmer weather, would make the Isle of Skye a better experience. So, I like the idea of more time in Edinburgh with day trips, or go to Glasgow. Stirling Castle makes a great day trip from Edinburgh. It’s a place we haven’t been to yet but plan to visit the next time we are in Scotland. Cheers, Julie

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