Scotland's Castles & Gardens | 7 Day Self-Drive

Scotland was made for culture, castles, and all things breathtaking. This tour showcases them front and center, so you’ll want to have your camera ready. Admire the beautiful gardens and discover the history of each unique castle as you journey aroun

Day 1: Royal Botanic Gardens & Dirleton Castle

Arrive in Edinburgh and check into your accommodation. Begin exploring all that Edinburgh has to offer such as its famous Royal Botanic Garden. You can also find Malleny Garden with its ancient yew trees, old-fashioned roses and dazzling herbaceous borders at Balerno on the city outskirts. Edinburgh also makes a good base for exploring other castles of the Lothians, including Dirleton Castle, a medieval fortress originally built by an Anglo- Norman family. It also has a very attractive garden below the old walls, its herbaceous plantings are at their best in high summer. Enjoy dinner in the evening and return to your hotel.

Overnight in Edinburgh

Day 2: Kellie Castle & Branklyn Garden

Get an early start this morning and head over the Forth Bridge towards the historic county of Fife. As you continue on your journey, be sure to turn east along the coast to reach the photogenic East Neuk fishing villages. Make a stop near the small town of Anstruther at Kellie Castle. Wander through the garden and admire its herbaceous borders filled with organically grown fruit and vegetables. 

Next, return westwards by way of Falkland Palace, favorite hunting lodge of the Stuart monarchy. Continue north-west across Fife to join the M90 for Perth and the small-scale, intimate plantings at Branklyn Garden. Make your way through this attractive garden while checking out the exotic plants and rare species. Finally, leave and make the drive back to Edinburgh. 

Overnight in Edinburgh

Day 3: Pitlochry & Blair Castle

Today you will drive north along the A9. The Scottish Plant Collectors’ Garden at Pitlochry makes its tribute to more than a hundred collectors of Scottish origin or descent who discovered many of the species which are the mainstays of British gardens today. After some exploring, continue north.

Arrive at Blair Castle, a historic fortress and ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl. On the estate you can see Diana’s Grove, with trees planted more than a century ago as newly introduced American conifer species. They now represent the tallest grouping of trees in the UK, with at least 20 above 150 ft (46m), including several British record breakers.

Next return briefly south to take the A827 west for Aberfeldy. Beyond the town on one side of the River Tay is Castle Menzies, while on the other is Bolfracks, a country- house garden demonstrating the sheer range of plants which can be grown in Perthshire’s temperate climate.

Continue west by Loch Tay. Look for signposts to Ben Lawers, above the loch, noted for its alpine plants. Further on, Finlarig Castle is a ruined fortress in Killin at the west end of Loch Tay. After a full day of exploring, drive back to Edinburgh, stop for dinner, and then return to your hotel.

Overnight in Edinburgh

Day 4: Kilchurn Castle & Dunstaffnage Castle

Continue west through Glen Dochart to reach Loch Awe. Arrive at Kilchurn Castle, a former Campbell stronghold with a four-story tower and the first purpose-built barracks in Scotland. The castle offers magnificent views over loch and mountain. Next continue to Oban where you’ll find Dunstaffnage Castle – the temporary prison of Flora MacDonald in 1746 – as another option on the way. Continue on to your accommodation in Oban and spend the rest of the day exploring this lovely town.

Overnight in Oban

Day 5: An Cala & Carnasserie Castle

After breakfast this morning, take the A816 south from Oban. Among the garden options in the vicinity is An Cala, with it’s meandering streams, winding paths, Poulsen roses, Japanese cherry trees and banks of Ghent azaleas. The garden, set snugly into a horseshoe of surrounding cliffs, overlooks Easdale Island with its fascinating slate-mining heritage. Noting Carnasserie Castle, a 16th century tower-house, seen from the main road south, continue down, via the prehistoric sites in Kilmartin Glen, to the ferry across Loch Fyne from Tarbert, reaching Cowal at Portavadie. Drive east by the lovely Kyles of Bute, taking the ferry at Colintraive for the Isle of Bute.

Overnight in Glasgow

Day 6: Mount Stuart & Brodick Castle

Visit Mount Stuart, a grand Gothic stately home five miles south of Rothesay, set in gardens built on a grand scale. Return to the mainland via the Colintraive ferry again, taking the scenic road east for Dunoon and the Benmore Botanic Garden, one of the most spectacular on the western seaboard. If time permits, this tour can be continued southward via the Dunoon-Gourock ferry connection for Ayrshire and the island of Arran, reached by ferry from Ardrossan. The rhododendron collection at Brodick Castle is world-famous and definitely worth a visit. Enjoy your last night as you please.

Overnight in Glasgow

Day 7: Return Home

Return you rental car at Glasgow airport and fly home.

Price on Request

Departure days

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

January — December

Contact details

Crystal Travel & Tours

100 Spring St

Tour information


  • Edinburgh


7 Days


  • Air
  • Driver guide
  • Self drive


  • Bespoke
  • Private
  • Small Group (1-16)


  • English


  • Castles
  • City
  • Food and drink
  • History
  • Landscapes

Tour Stops

Crystal Travel & Tours

Tour company information

Crystal Travel & Tours

Crystal Travel & Tours is a tour operator based in Boston specializing in custom vacations to Scotland and Ireland. A family-owned business, Crystal Travel was founded in 1985 by Jim & Teresa Kelly and since that humble beginning it has grown into a trusted resource that has helped tens of thousands of people better enjoy their travel.

Opening times

Mon - Fri | 8am - 6pm
Sat | 9am - 5pm

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