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Best Weekend Road Trips in Scotland

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There’s no doubt about it, Scotland is an awesome place to go for a drive. Endless long hills leading up to panoramic vistas, gentle winding roads through the quiet countryside and routes where you might not pass another car for miles (although perhaps the occasional wandering sheep) – what more could you possibly wish for on a road trip in Scotland? You may have heard that Scotland boasts some of the best weekend road trips in the UK, and it’s true!

We’ve picked a few short routes in Scotland that you can do over a long weekend road trip, or just a couple of days, depending whereabouts in Scotland you’re starting from. Or if you’d prefer, you can expand these short road trips to create a one week road trip in Scotland, so you can take your time and truly enjoy everything the country has to offer.

CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS

The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. Please follow any current restrictions – you might need to save these ideas to try later on a future trip. 

Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering a future trip. You can search for businesses that are open, and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Short weekend road trips: 1 – 2 days

If you’re pressed for time on your trip to Scotland, there is still plenty you can see, do and explore in the few days you have here. Enjoy a weekend road trip exploring the west coast, a 2-day road trip on Scotland’s immaculate islands, or plan a short road trip around the iconic Highlands of Scotland – you won’t be disappointed.

Glasgow to Oban

McCaig's Tower above Oban town centre

McCaig’s Tower above Oban town centre

Flee the city and drive from Glasgow for a weekend road trip on the west coast. Travelling north west from Glasgow, along the A82, your first stop has got to be Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, one of the great places to go for a drive from Glasgow. As well as Munros, lochs and forests to explore, the National Park has some beautiful drives of its own, with uniquely designed viewpoints installed throughout the landscape, including the An Ceann Mòr at Inveruglas.

Hop back in the car and continue onwards to Oban, where you’ll pass many beautiful sights along the way; the highest point on the road is called the Rest and Be Thankful, where you can stop to ogle the Instagram-worthy views, say hello to the hairy Highland cattle dotted across the countryside, or have a wee break in the traditional town of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne.

Once you arrive in Oban, many islands are right on your doorstep with regular ferry connections to the Isles of MullIonaStaffaTiree and many more.

Over the sea to Skye

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye’s intoxicating scenery, with its windswept mountains, sheer cliffs and other-worldly geological features, make the whole island a fabulous short road trip destination. It doesn’t matter which direction you take, exploring the length and breadth of Skye will be a weekend well spent.

The A855 road loops around the northernmost region of the island – the Trotternish Peninsula – which is framed by the majestic Quiraing mountain range. To the north west lies Dunvegan Castle and beautiful coral beaches, while in the south you can see the spectacular Cuillin mountains and visit Armadale Castle.

Tip! During the peak summer season finding accommodation on Skye can be tricky. Visiting out-with peak times and booking in advance is the best way to get the accommodation you want and you can see the island when it’s quieter.

Inverness to Moray Speyside

Nairn beach

Nairn beach

This drive will take you right across whisky country, into the peaceful countryside of Aberdeenshire where you’ll cruise past castles, rivers and of course, distilleries. Travelling from Inverness to Nairn, make a stop at Nairn Beach, a pristine white sandy beach ideal for picnics!

From Nairn, keep heading east into the Moray Speyside region, where you can admire the area’s vast history at Brodie Castle in Forres and Elgin Cathedral, before sampling some of the local larder – the area is famed for its seafood as well as its whisky and craft beers.

From here, you’re also on the cusp of the Cairngorms National Park, if you’re looking to add a little adrenaline to your weekend adventure. Why not head south and explore the magnificent mountains, perfect for mountain biking in the summer, and snowsports in the winter.

Long weekend road trips: 3 – 4 days

If you’ve ever though of having a long weekend road trip in Scotland, good choice! There are hundreds of locations to experience. Venture on a 3-day Scotland road trip to uncover some of the most magnificent sites and attractions on offer, or stay a little bit longer with a 4-day road trip in Scotland to explore our stunning coastal seascapes during the Year of Coasts & Waters 2021.

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail

Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie

Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie

If you like a good dose of fresh sea air, the north east of Scotland won’t fail to deliver. Follow the signposted Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail for plenty of coastal wonders, including dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches, fascinating wildlife and quaint harbour towns.

There are lots of wonderful days out to choose from along the route, including a visit to St Cyrus National Nature Reserve and the majestically ruined Dunnottar Castle. North of Aberdeen check out the long stretches of pink sands and rolling dunes at Cruden Bay or travel on to the Moray Coast and stop at Portknockie to see Bow Fiddle Rock, a 50 ft high sea arch which sits just a short distance from the shore.

Scotland’s Castle Trail

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Did you know that royal region of Aberdeenshire is home to over 260 castles, stately homes and ruins? Scotland’s Castle Trail is the perfect way to explore these ancient and intricate spots on the map, with a detailed itinerary to follow so you can make the most of your long weekend road trip.

From Dunnottar Castle proudly perched on the Aberdeenshire coastline, featuring elusive wildlife to spot and was used as a set for Franco Zeffirelli’s 1991 film Hamlet, to Kinnaird Head Castle in Fraserburgh which is home to the interesting Museum of Scottish Lighthouses and boasts immense coastal views.

This unique trail is the perfect way to enjoy your weekend road trip, with each castle in easy driving distance of each other, you can cover so many in just a short space of time.

Harry Potter Locations Itinerary

Glenfinnan Viaduct and Jacobite Steam Train

Glenfinnan Viaduct and Jacobite Steam Train

If you’re an avid Harry Potter fan, you’re in the right place! Immerse yourself in the enchanting Wizarding World and explore all the iconic Scottish locations where this world-renowned franchise was either filmed at or inspired by.

From the Elephant House in Edinburgh where it all started and J.K Rowling wrote the first pages of the Philosopher’s Stone, to hopping aboard the Hogwart’s Express and journey across Glenfinnan Viaduct, just as Harry and his friends did to start a new year at Hogwarts. Why not explore the Gothic architecture in Glasgow? Some of these incredible buildings may just remind you of the details seen in Hogwarts.

Check out more of Scotland’s driving routes and road trips, read some of our tips on driving in Scotland and more ideas for short breaks. Why not try the North Coast 500? This long distance route travels 500 miles around the northerly tip of Scotland, starting and finishing in Inverness.

As always, don’t forget to share the pictures from your road trips with us using the hashtag #visitscotland.

 

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