Scotland’s National Tourist Routes

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  • A brown tourist sign points out attractions including New Lanark with a car, fields, mountains and trees in the background.
    A tourist sign in the Clyde Valley
  • View of Balmoral Castle from the gardens
    Balmoral Castle
  • Looking up at a statue of Robert the Bruce on the castle esplanade with the National Wallace Monument behind, Stirling
    A statue of Robert the Bruce with the National Wallace Monument behind, Stirling
  • Coopers at work in the Speyside Cooperage, Craigellachie, Moray
    The Speyside Cooperage, Craigellachie, Moray

These 12 routes will direct you off the main trunk roads and motorways to discover Scotland’s diverse landscape, towns and villages and find great things to see and do on the way. The routes are easy to follow, vary in length and are well signposted with distinctive brown and white signs.

Angus Coastal Route 

The Angus Coastal Route begins in Dundee, the city of jam, jute and journalism which has top attractions such as the RSS Discovery, and takes you 58 miles (93 km) through Angus and north to Aberdeen, a stunning city of glittering granite. Along the way you will discover the spectacular coastline dotted with picturesque seaside resorts - Broughty Ferry, Monifieth, Carnoustie, Arbroath, Montrose, Inverbervie and Stonehaven.

You’ll also enjoy sandy beaches, championship golf courses, nature reserves, country parks and a fertile countryside reaching inland through the Mearns and the Vale of Strathmore to the scenic splendour of the Angus Glens and the Grampians.

Argyll Coastal Route 

On this 149 mile (238 km) journey from Tarbet on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, you will travel up through Argyll and on to Fort William in the Highlands. As you climb steadily be sure to enjoy the famous viewpoint, the Rest and be Thankful, before descending to Inveraray and continuing on along the shores of Loch Fyne to Lochgilphead.

Turning north, you’ll pass the lovely Crinan Canal and reach the bustling port town of Oban, which is a gateway to many of the west coast islands. Enjoy the fine view across the Firth of Lorn and the Sound of Mull to the Inner Hebrides. From Oban, cross the impressive Connel Bridge and journey on up through Ballachulish to Fort William, which nestles at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

Borders Historic Route

Discover the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Borders on a 95 mile (142 km) journey between the English city of Carlisle and Scotland's capital, Edinburgh. You will travel through an area which has been at the heart of Scotland's history and culture for centuries, and which was a major inspiration for Sir Walter Scott's romantic novels.

Follow in the footsteps of the Border Reivers by crossing the Border between England and Scotland at Scots Dyke and enjoy the peaceful countryside, castles and grand houses of the royal burghs. 

Be sure to stop off to enjoy or even pick up unique crafts and clothing made by artists and designers who have long been attracted to the area’s breathtaking natural beauty ay places like the Borders Textile Towerhouse. You also may wish stock up on tasty treats such as Galashiels Soor Plooms and the Selkirk Bannock before continuing on to Edinburgh.

Clyde Valley Tourist Route

Follow the River Clyde through contrasting landscapes which are rich in history by turning off the M74 at Abington (or Hamilton if approaching from the opposite direction) and following the signs along the 42 mile (67 km) stretch of roads including the A73, A72 and A702.

The route passes the New Lanark World Heritage Site, a beautifully restored 18th century cotton mill set within a lush valley nature reserve, which was a ground-breaking model of industrial community living.

The route also takes in Chatelherault, a magnificently restored former hunting lodge which has over ten miles of way-marked pathways through 500 acres of countryside and woodland. If you want to get your heart racing, you can take advantage of the extensive watersports facilities, theme park and nature trails at Strathclyde Country Park.

In Blantyre, near Hamilton, you will find the David Livingstone Centre where you can find out about Scotland’s most famous missionary and explorer before continuing on to cluster of fascinating museums around the quaint market town of Biggar.

Find out more about Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley.

Deeside Tourist Route

The Deeside Tourist Route begins in the new city of Perth and runs north for 107 miles (171 km) to Aberdeen.  You will travel through the area around Blairgowrie, which has long been associated with the growing of soft fruit, before the Highland landscape takes over and the route climbs 2,182 ft (665 m) on the A93, Britain's highest main road.

Enjoy spectacular mountain views in every direction as you pass through Glenshee, which is home to one of Scotland’s five snowsports centres and offers has an excellent array of other outdoor pursuits, before descending to Braemar.

As you drive through Royal Deeside, you will pass Balmoral Castle, a summer residence of the Royal Family since the days of Queen Victoria and the newest addition to Scotland’s only Castle Trail. Follow the route through the delightful villages of Ballater, Aboyne and Banchory before finally reaching Aberdeen, the Granite City.

Fife Coastal Route

The Fife Coastal Route runs 85 miles (136 km) around the beautiful north east coast of the Kingdom of Fife. Follow the route north from Edinburgh or south from Dundee. Starting from Edinburgh, cross the iconic Forth Road Bridge and stop just before reaching Fife at Deep Sea World where an underwater tunnel will take you exploring far beneath the waves.

Following the signs west will take you further into the Forth Estuary, where, around half an hour from Scotland's modern capital, is the country's ancient capital Dunfermline and the Royal Burgh of Culross, which is an outstanding example of a 16th century town.

The coastal route can also be followed east from the Forth bridges, where you will find lovely sandy beaches such as Aberdour, Silversands and Kinghorn and the picturesque villages of the East Neuk with their distinctive red pantiled roofs, arts scenes and unspoilt beaches. Keep following the route and you will reach St Andrews, the Home of Golf , seat of Scotland's oldest university and a fascinating historic town.

Forth Valley Tourist Route

This short, 40 mile (64 km) route from Edinburgh to Stirling takes in the attractive old burgh of South Queensferry, which is dominated by the mighty Forth road and rail bridges. Nearby are Dalmeny House and the elegant Hopetoun House, one of Scotland's finest Adams' mansions.

In West Lothian, you can take a look around the historic Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born, hop on a train at Bo'ness and Kinneil Steam Railway or enjoy outdoor activities at Beecraigs Country Park. Next on the route, you will reach the bustling town of Falkirk, with its own impressive mansion, Callendar House and The Falkirk Wheel, a stunning feat of 21st-century engineering and the world’s only rotating boat lift.

As you enter Stirlingshire, you will see the rolling Ochil hills in the distance with the villages and towns of Clackmannanshire beneath them. Then you’ll pass Bannockburn, the site of one of Scotland’s most historic and celebrated battles, on the way into Stirling, the city where the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle sitproudly atop the hills. Take a look at the excellent Forth Timeline for more itinerary ideas in the area, including details on the Clackmannanshire Tower Trail.

Find out about Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley.

Galloway Tourist Route

This route stretches for 96 miles (154 km) from Gretna, which has a fascinating history of welcoming runaway couples who wish to wed, through the lush countryside of Dumfries & Galloway and into Ayrshire, in the very heart of Burns' country.

As you travel you will be able to seek out the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop at Gretna Green before continuing on to Dumfries, a quaint market town which is home to the award-winning Robert Burns Centre and Bridge House Museum. At Dalbeattie you can join the Solway Coast Heritage Trail to visit the abundance of castles, abbeys, gardens and harbours further west.

Next on the Galloway Tourist Route, you’ll find Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway's Food Town, which has around 50 local businesses involved in either producing or selling food and drink, and is the ideal place to stop for a delicious meal. On the way out of town you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of colourful Threave Gardens, or ponder over the bloody history of Threave Castle, the ancient stronghold of the Black Douglasses. 

From here you can venture through the expansive countryside of the Galloway Forest Park and can take in the Carsphain Heritage Centre before an area with the industrial heritage, Ayrshire’s Doon Valley.

Highland Tourist Route

From Aberdeen, follow the 118 mile (189 km) Highland Tourist Route to Inverness. On the way you can visit the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford, which offers an insight into the history of transport in the north east.

The route continues through the lovely valley of Upper Donside and the heather-clad slopes of the Lecht,where you will find one of the country’s snowsports centres, and fringes the Cairngorms, where there is another.

Travel into Speyside, the heart of whisky country where you might want to stay a few days to enjoy guided tours around some of the Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail distilleries, and sample a complimentary ‘wee dram’ . The last lap of the route takes you through Grantown-on-Spey, a popular salmon-fishing centre and then on to the city of Inverness, the capital of the Highlands.

Moray Firth Route

The Moray Firth Route takes you round in an 80 mile (128 km) semi-circle from Inverness around three of the most beautiful inlets on the east coast of Britain - the Beauly, Cromarty and Dornoch firths - as it heads north into the heart of the northern Highlands.

The Struie viewpoint over the Dornoch Firth will take your breath away, as well as salmon leaping at the Falls of Shin. Stop at the Storehouse of Foulis to discover your clan history, or see whisky being made at Glen Ord .

Other things that you may wish to do on the route include a walk to the dramatic 18th century arches of the Fyrish monument, a visit to Beauly Priory or learn about the archaeology of the north at Ferrycroft, Lairg. You can also enjoy creative attractions and events along the way.

North & West Highlands Route

This route boasts some of the most magnificent scenery in Europe - wild mountains and lochs, foaming salmon rivers, rugged coastlines with mighty sea cliffs and secluded sandy bays, traditional crofts and large farms, small fishing villages and bustling towns.

Starting at the thriving fishing village of Ullapool, the 140 mile (224 km) route winds its way north through the magnificent mountain country of the northern Highlands, passing the picturesque villages of Achiltibuie, Lochinver and Kinlochbervie as it makes for Durness in the far north west corner of Scotland.

From Durness, the route heads east through gradually softening scenery to John o' Groats, taking you from one end of Scotland's north coast to the other.

Perthshire Tourist Route 

The 45 mile (72 km) route through Perthshire begins just north of Dunblane and takes you to Ballinluig near Pitlochry. A very attractive alternative to the main A9, it runs through rolling farmland before arriving at the pleasant hillside town of Crieff.

As you drive onwards the lush, cultivated landscape changes dramatically and gives way to the rugged splendour of the Sma' Glen, which is a small glen containing all the main features of the Highlands in miniature. Scree, rocks and heather covered slopes tower up on both sides of the glen, which has its connections to Ossian, the legendary Gaelic bard and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Descend from here to the charming Aberfeldy and skirt the fast flowing River Tay on the A827, rejoining the A9 near Pitlochry.

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