The Blog

6 Can’t-Miss Drives Across Scotland

Whether you want to see majestic mountains, rolling farmland, rugged Atlantic coastline, or romantic islands, a drive through Scotland’s landscapes offers scenery as diverse as it gets.

So what are you waiting for? Prep the GPS system, grab some roadside picnic goodies and jump in the car – your great Scottish road trip starts here!

This is by no means a complete guide to Scotland’s best driving routes – there are simply too many! But no matter which one you choose, you’ll have plenty of ‘WOW’ sights along the way:

1. Glasgow or Edinburgh to Glencoe

The Three Sisters, Glencoe

The route through Glen Coe is one of the most famous driving roads in Scotland – and quite rightly so. Towering mountains loom overhead as you wind your way through this majestic glen. Stop at the Glencoe Visitor Centre to find out how the glen was formed and discover its clan connections.

Coming from either Glasgow or Edinburgh are both great Glencoe driving routes. Travelling from Glasgow will take you along the banks of Loch Lomond or if you choose to travel from Edinburgh you’ll pass The Kelpies – famous horse sculptures created by Andy Scott – as well as Stirling Castle.

  • Distance: 92 miles from Glasgow/119 miles from Edinburgh
  • Departure and destination points: Glasgow or Edinburgh to Glencoe
  • Approximate time to drive: 2 hours 10 minutes from Glasgow/2 hours 50 minutes from Edinburgh

Why not extend your trip with and travel on to Fort William, another great Glencoe drive? It only takes 30 minutes to drive from Glencoe to Fort William, where you can see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, tour Ben Nevis Distillery and discover enthralling stories of the past at the West Highland Museum.

2.  Glasgow to Inveraray, via the Rest and Be Thankful pass

A post shared by Vivek Bhatt (@vivekbhatt) on

Drive from Glasgow to Inveraray, hugging the shoreline of beautiful Loch Lomond. You’ll pass the towering Arrochar Alps  before reaching the Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint in Glen Croe.

Pull off at the roadside viewpoint and picnic area to stretch your legs and soak up the stunning vistas. From here you can see the old military road which runs below the modern road that is used today. This was built by General Wade in 1750 following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

Carry on to Inveraray where you can visit Inveraray Castle, Inveraray Jail and the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.

  • Distance: 64 miles
  • Departure and destination points: Glasgow to Inveraray
  • Approximate time to drive: 1 hour 30 minutes

3. Stornoway to Seilebost, Outer Hebrides

Seilebost, Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides.

Drive your car onto a ferry and set sail for Stornoway in the stunning Outer Hebrides. Join the A859 as you head out of the town and admire the beautiful island landscapes around you as you travel down through the Isle of Lewis to the Isle of Harris.

Stop off at the Isle of Harris Distillery to learn how whisky is made before travelling on to Seilebost, where you can admire the breathtaking seascapes at Traigh Seilebost beach and the white sands of Luskentyre.

  • Distance: 46 miles
  • Departure and destination points: Stornoway to Seilebost
  • Approximate time to drive: 1 hour 10 minutes

4. Edinburgh to St Andrews, via the East Neuk of Fife

St Andrews seen from East Sands

Drive across the Forth Road Bridge to Fife and follow the scenic coastal route around the East Neuk. Some of the quaint fishing villages you’ll pass include Elie, with its long stretch of golden sands, and Anstruther, where you can take a boat trip to the Isle of May.

Carry on to Kingsbarns Distillery, where you can learn how to make whisky and gin, before reaching St Andrews. Some of the places you can visit in St Andrews include the British Golf Museum, where you can find out why the town is known as The Home of Golf, St Andrews Botanic Garden, with it’s beautiful glass houses teeming with exotic plants, and much more.

  • Distance: 64 miles
  • Departure and destination points: Edinburgh to St Andrews
  • Approximate time to drive: 2 hours

5. Lochcarron to Applecross, via The Bealach Na Bà

View over to the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye from the top of Bealach na Bà - The Road to Applecross

Begin on the shores of Loch Carron before winding your way through beautiful countryside to the famous Bealach Na Bà (Pass of the Cattle),one of the most famous driving roads in Scotland.

Known as the Road to Applecross, the route reaches 2,053 ft (625.7 m) and offers stunning views out across the whole of Wester Ross, the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides. With its tight bends and single track road (with passing places) this road isn’t for the faint hearted but the views from the top are astonishing.

  • Distance: 17 miles
  • Departure and destination points: Lochcarron to Applecross
  • Approximate time to drive: 40 minutes

6. Aberfoyle to Callander, via the Three Lochs Forest Drive

Loch Drunkie seen from the Duke's Pass in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

Venture through the woodlands of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park on this quiet forest road. Stretching almost 8 miles, the route is one-way, and takes you past three enchanting lochs – Lochan Reòidhte, Loch Drunkie and Loch Achray.

It’s easy to get to; the entrance to the Three Lochs Forest Drive is accessible from the A821 (known as the Duke’s Pass) just north of Aberfoyle. You can follow this forest road from Easter to October. There are several car parks along the route as well as picnic areas. If you fancy a walk, there are some delightful short trails too.

Make it a day out with the kids and take advantage of the great facilities and attractions nearby, including the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle and Loch Katrine.

Note: The drive is only open to vehicles from March to October, though you can walk or cycle all year round. Driving the route costs £2 per vehicle.

  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Departure and destination points: Aberfoyle/Callander
  • Approximate time to drive: 1 hour 15 minutes

Need more inspiration?

Read our blog on 5 incredibly scenic weekend road trips or check out Scotland’s National Tourist Routes. Do you have a favourite driving route in Scotland? Let us know in the iKnow Community forum.

Why not explore Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 with a variety of activities, events and festivals taking place throughout the year?

 

Comments

  • Shirley Johnston

    Just love my native scotland. It has some of the best beaches in britain. Lewis,harris,the uists and berneray are some of my favourite places. Really is god’s country !

  • Neutral909

    Hmmm, I guess favourite road trips partly come down to the ones that have the best memories as well as scenery but I wouldn’t have 2 of these in my favourite drives in Scotland. I have done 3 of the 4 journeys (Isle of Harris being the exception) in my short life of car driving and I would have to say that although the Forth Road Bridge itself, St Andrews and some of the small villages like you have mentioned, plus Crail, are nice the actual east Fife coastal road is horrendous, still passes through some right shabby towns and feels like a right drag (never again!). The Rest and be Thankful is another one that I enjoyed but didn’t really captivate me like some other drives I have embarked on have.

    Personally, the Isle of Skye from Fort William is a mountainous route I hold in much higher esteem than The Rest and Be Thankful and the same can be said of the journey up the A9 past Inverness toward Thurso as a nicer coastal route than the East Fife tourist route. The Dukes Pass and some of the roads in the Cairngorms also rate highly in my list of scenic drives.

  • Tim Auger

    Cairn o’ Mount – go there in daylight then go back after dark and prepare to have your breath taken away

  • Windy Miller

    Yes enjoy the scenery as soon as you can please, it won’t be like that for much longer as Alex Salmond is covering the Highlands of Scotland with Windfarms.

  • Rob Stables

    Cabrach is motoring Nirvana!

  • Mark Dickie

    another route from aviemore to blairgowrie via the lecht is amazing both ways like the alps in miniature taking care when exiting Tomintoul distillery if you drank one of them.

  • Great article, Aldona!

    The Road to Applecross is our all time favourite bit of Scottish tarmac. You just can’t beat that super quick 600 meter ascent (or the descent!) and the views at the summit are out of this world.

    If you fancy some more driving inspiration, we’ve written about our favourite roads here: http://www.caledonian-couriers.co.uk/best-driving-roads-scotland.

    All the best,
    Everyone at Caledonian Couriers

    • Hi everyone at Caledonian Couriers 😉 Great to see you share the enthusiasm for our beautiful Scotland and spread the love on your page! Best, Aldona.

  • Siobhan Liddington

    One of the best drives for amazing views is the one from Ballantrae to Alloway where you hug the coast and feel as if you can just put out your hand to touch the sea! You are also treated to amazing views to the iconic Ailsa Craig, Isle of Arran and across to the Mull of Kintyre. On a good day the sunsets are truly spectacular and there are some great places to stop along the route to take photographs or to grab something to eat. Enjoy!

    • Brill suggestion, Siobhan, the Ayrshire coastline is truly stunning 🙂 Thanks for your comment! – Annierose

  • Hi Sue, sounds like a wonderful trip is in the works 🙂 We have lots of Scotland itineraries you might find interesting here: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/itineraries/, there’s more information about pet friendly holidays here: https://www.visitscotland.com/holidays-breaks/pet-friendly/ and if you’d like more suggestions for your trip, check out our community where lots of travellers share their experiences 🙂 community.visitscotland.com. Have an amazing time! – Annierose

  • Jemma Coulstock

    Hi I am planning to hire a motor home at the beginning of December any tips on routes etc

  • Hi Jan, sounds like a great plan! The signposted tour in the area is the Borders Historic Route, however this doesn’t got near Duns: https://roadtrips.visitscotland.com/routes/borders-historic-route

    We’d recommend visiting the iKnow Community to see if anyone has posted any information on this, or post your question: https://community.visitscotland.com

    You Might also want to check out our pages on the Scottish Borders for more general information: https://www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/scottish-borders/

    Happy travels!
    Miriam

  • adrian Agius

    Hello, booked a 2 week holiday for next august. landing at Aberdeen airport with wife and an 11 year old daughter. Can you recommend me an itinerary for a driving holiday? thanks

  • Denis

    Hi adrian i think the best route it is north coast 500 starting from inverness and finish in inverness.

  • Anne-Marie Bourque

    Hi, we will be in Scotland for 2 weeks, hiking Glen Coe for one week, then driving (9 days) through western Scotland before leaving for home from Glasgow. Wondering which scenic route would be best which would include a stay in Edinburgh?

    • Hi Anne-Marie, this sounds like a great trip! With nine days of driving there are lots of options that you could take. You may wish to continue north through the Cairngorms National Park and on to Inverness before following the east coast through Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Fife and then Edinburgh. These are our official routes through Scotland, which may provide some inspiration: https://roadtrips.visitscotland.com/routes
      Please also consider asking your question on the iKnow Community, where experienced travellers will be able to help: https://community.visitscotland.com/

  • BE0458243935 gino van muylem

    Hi we are looking to make a roadtrip for 10 days in scotland, starting from Edinburgh
    What can you advize?

  • Antony OBrien

    what is a reasonable daily mileage on the Scotland 500. The googlemaps just use the speed limits which are never do-able on minor roads as they are 60mph. My friend thinks we’ll cover 140miles in around 3 hours, i’m not convinced Thanks

  • Hi Lara,
    That sounds like a great plan for a holiday in Scotland!
    We have quite a few Itineraries that might help you plan where to go and how to get there, as well as our driving in Scotland page, which has more information about car hire and best options for getting around Scotland.
    https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/itineraries/
    https://www.visitscotland.com/travel/getting-around-scotland/driving/
    Hope these help!
    Mairi.

  • Tom

    Hi – I’m planning a 4 night visit to Scotland with my wife and 8 & 6 year old sons. We will have a night in Edinburgh and then would like to take a scenic drive… Glencoe, Cairngorms or Trossachs for three nights (staying in a lodge, cottage or cabin ideally?) ending in Glasgow for our (late) return flight home. As well as taking in the stunning scenery… some fun activities for the young ones would be a bonus… not to mention some fine food for Mum & Dad! Any recommendations appreciated!

  • Glherme Silva

    Hi. I’m planning a roadtrip through the scotish highlands with my girlfriend this summer and can’t quite understand how far can I travel by car in 1 day and be able to see and do the wonderful stuff Scotland has to offer, not just be exhausted. For instance, how long would it take to go from Glasgow to Fort William (100miles/160km)? Would it be about 2:30 hours as it says in Googlemaps?
    Thanks for the help and the beautiful country.

    • Hi Glherme. You could easily drive the Glasgow to Fort William route in 2.5 hours, maybe a little bit longer if there is traffic. But you’re right – you shouldn’t rush through one of Scotland’s most scenic road trips! The A82 offers some spectacular views, including the panoramic views of Loch Lomond https://bit.ly/2H8FMiR and Glen Coe https://bit.ly/2uzOqPV. It’s really a fab day out – hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to share you pics with us using #ScotSpirit 🙂 -Aldona

  • Hi Shakeel. There is so much you can see and do with nine days in Scotland. Right, a good starting point to plan your trip would be having a look at our website at https://www.visitscotland.com/, which is packed with itineraries https://bit.ly/1oNEMFO and road trips suggestions https://bit.ly/1UqtwNS as well as info on Scotland’s National Tourist Routes https://roadtrips.visitscotland.com/. You’ll also find lots of inspiring ideas on things to see and do https://bit.ly/1qUyru3, family holidays https://bit.ly/1pX0Xdb and practical information on getting around Scotland by car https://bit.ly/2Ejm6We. To find castles that offer accommodation, check out our page on Stay in a castle https://bit.ly/2tfha. I hope this helps, but let us know if you have any other questions. Or why not ask our experts on Scotland on our iKnow Scotland community page https://community.visitscotland.com/? Wishing you a fabulous holiday! 🙂 -Aldona

  • Hi Greer. The minimum age restriction to rent a car in Scotland solely depends on the rental company. Some companies will add a young driver surcharge for drivers below 25 (usually major national companies), while others may do it under 21 with a surcharge (smaller local companies). Different age limit will apply also depending on the type of vehicle, and often one needs to be 30 or above to rent Full-Size MPVS, Premiums, or Four-Wheel Drives. Hope this helps. -Aldona

  • Hi Cruz, thanks so much for commenting!
    Here is a selection of our road trips which may be of interest to you: https://roadtrips.visitscotland.com/

    Also, you might want to check out the iKnow Community, where experienced Scotland travelers can provide you with suggestions: https://community.visitscotland.com/

    Happy road tripping!

  • Sanah Zeb

    Hi, im wanting to drive up from Glasgow to Loch Lomond, but want to stick to the driving route through Loch Lomond and see all the views from the car. What would be the best route for me to take to see the best views?

  • Tasha

    Hi I will be visiting Scotland in a few weeks and have plans to spend two days in Loch Lomand I then have three days before needing to be back in Edinburgh and wondered what might be the best route to take to see the rugged coastline, cliffs, mountains etc. Orkney Islands looks interesting but seems far from the Loch. given the time I have and would love to stop and spend time enjoying each scene which is the best coastline to head for?

    • Hi Tasha. Loch Lomond is a great choice! With regards to the best route to take to see the best of Scotland’s landscape, take a look at our 7 days in the west of Scotland itinerary here: https://bit.ly/2IXjHbb. Day 3 of the itinerary starts in Loch Lomond and then takes you to Oban on the west coast and Isle of Mull, then onto Fort William via Glencoe, Isle of Skye, taking in Eilean Donan Castle on the way back to central Scotland. We also have a fantastic Island hopping itinerary on the west coast https://bit.ly/2JiuETW, and if you were thinking about going to Orkney then check out our Short break in Orkney itinerary here: https://bit.ly/2skkyrR I hope you will have a fabulous time in Scotland when it comes, Tasha. Don’t forget to share your pictures with us using #ScotlandIsNow 🙂 -Aldona

      • Tasha Chen

        Aldona! Thanks for your reply, as I only have 3 remaining days I decided to do the east coast and travel up to Aberdeen from Loch Lomand , and possibly beyond. What would be great is if you could recommend 1 or two towns that are best for overnight stays on that route and any other tips for that route! Thanks so much Tasha

        • Hey Tasha! Our East of Scotland itinerary will whisky you away to Aberdeen taking in the East Neuk of Fife, St Andrews, Dundee and lots of other charming towns and villages along the way. Take a look here: https://bit.ly/2onWAf0 There is so many fantastic places to stay and things to see and do that you will be spoiled for choice – it all depends on what you like really! 🙂 -Aldona

  • Hi 🙂 This does sound like a fantastic road trip! Why not share your suggestion on our iKnow Scotland community at https://community.visitscotland.com/ Many thanks 🙂 -Aldona

  • Prasanth

    HI I am Planning to take road trip(car) from

    Day 1 – Glasgow — >loch Lomond –> Fort Williams (Stay in Fort Williams)

    Day 2 – Fort Williams to Inverness ( Stay in Inverness)

    Day 3 – Inverness to Isle of Skye or Falkirk wheel

    Could someone suggest the best spots on above locations
    …..

  • Hey Amy. Uuu, west coast trip sounds amazing! Have you seen our 7 Days of Iconic Sightseeing in the West of Scotland itinerary? If not, you will find it here https://bit.ly/2IXjHbb – lots of fab attractions and activities to be had in that corner of Scotland! For info on camping and glamping go to https://bit.ly/2pVc5u3 and https://bit.ly/2tV9LW1 respectively – there is lots of cool and quirky tipis, wigwams, yurts and pods to choose from, and camping in Scotland is hard to beat too! Hope you find what you’re looking for there, and don’t forget to share your pics with us using #scotlandisnow 🙂 -Aldona

  • Hi eyestosee. Oops, we’ve had a wee delay in responding to your query, sorry about that! There are frequent sailings between major ferry ports of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and once there you would drive across the border to Ireland. We would advise that you do a live search for driving from the Northern Ireland ferry entry point of your choice to the Republic of Ireland to get the most up to date information, as well as familiarise yourself with driving laws in Ireland as may differ to Scottish. It’s hard to advise on how long it will take as this will very much depend on the speed you will be driving with, traffic, etc. hope this helps. -Aldona

  • Michele

    Hi We are travelling in UK in late September/October and will spend about 10 days in Scotland. I would like to include Edinburgh and some of the best islands for scenery and history in our road trip. I hoped to visit either Skye, Mull or Iona. We would love to visit the Orkneys if it is feasible but I suspect this make require more time than we have available. We are Australians and comfortable with driving 6 hours a day. We are also used to mountain driving and not deterred by challenging roads! I expect to stay in a location for 2-3 days and take daily road trips to explore the region. Is it possible to visit the Orkneys in this timetable?

  • Heng

    Hi
    We are planning for a road trip from Edinburgh to Glencoe via Callander/Stirling and back via Connel and Inveraray and Loch Lomond. Can anyone advice if this should be done clockwise or anticlockwise? We are keenest on scenary and lakes.

    • Hi Heng. Going in both directions clockwise and anticlockwise will give you stunning views and many amazing photo stops. What you might want to consider when planning the trip is opening time of attractions if you’re planning to visit any 🙂 -Aldona

  • Heng

    Hi
    We are planning a round trip from Edinburgh to Glencoe and back via Inveraray, Stirling and Edinburgh. We are interested in scenary. Would you recommend a clockwise or anticlockwise route? Thanks

  • Judith

    Hello,
    I’m holidaying by car to Scotland for 15 nights in total, 2nd week in Sept, stopping in different areas, already pre booked accommodation.
    I would appreciate information on the places I will be mentioning, re, Scenery, Lochs, Gardens, History and Eateries.

    1st Stop:- Moffat for 2 nights B&B
    2nd Stop:- Isle of Skye 3 nights S/C near Staffin
    3rd Stop:- Ferry to:- Isle of Harris/Lewis for 3 nights S/C Calloway
    4th Stop:- Ferry to Ullapool, then onto Bonarbridge 2 nights S/C
    5th Stop:- Netheybridge 2 nights B&B
    6th Final Stop:- Galashiels 3 nights S/C, do plan on Traquir House & Abbotsford

    Information on what I have asked for, re scenery etc, in some scenic order, would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Hi Judith, thanks for your comment, sounds like an amazing trip! We’ll send some suggestions over via email 🙂 – Kind regards, Annierose

      • Judith

        Thank you Annierose, looking forward to you itinerary re our trip in Sept.

        • You’re welcome, Judith 🙂 We hope you received our suggestions last week and that you find them useful. Enjoy your trip when it comes 🙂 – Annierose

  • Hi Paula. Have a look at our website for ideas and inspiration on what to see and do along this route! We’ve got tones of great itineraries on https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/itineraries/ asnd an amazing road trip planning guide and tool at https://roadtrips.visitscotland.com/ hope this helps, and wishing you an amazing holiday when it comes! Oh, October is also amazing for leaf peeping – find some amazing break inspirations here too https://www.visitscotland.com/holidays-breaks/autumn/ -Aldona

  • Jack Ang

    I am planning to do a 5 day road trip, starting from Glasgow and ending in Edinburgh. What would be the best route to take to get most of of the trip?

Cookie Policy

VisitScotland uses cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By using our website you consent to our use of cookies. Please read our new privacy and cookies statement for more information.