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6 Can’t-Miss Drives Across Scotland

Aldona Reyes Mallet - View Comments

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

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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

The top of Bealach na Bà – The Road to Applecross – looking over to the Isle of Skye

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 from the Duke’s Pass, 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?