10 Unmissable Road Trips In Scotland: An Epic Travel Guide
One of the most epic ways to discover Scotland is to embark on one of the many road trips in Scotland. This guide lists the top ten road trips in Scotland.
You can take yourself on a scenic self-driving tour around Scotland to witness incredible attractions and welcoming towns. Also, Scotland offers the most dramatic and moody landscapes, past historic castles, gentle lochs and wild seas.
As you travel through Scotland you will find yourself stopping at many possible photography locations. Also, you might find yourself bagging a Munro, wild swimming in Scotland’s lochs or sea, exploring Scotland’s turbulent history and spotting amazing wildlife.
Road trips in Scotland can be done in a car, motor home or even by bike. You can easily spend a week or two touring just one section of the country.
Also, you can spend a long weekend in one park – either way you will be amazed at the gorgeous surroundings.
Keep reading to find out the top ten unmissable routes to embark on in Scotland. Also, you will find out all the things you should know.
North Coast 500
First on the list, is the North Coast 500 which has been labelled as Scotland’s answer to America’s legendary ‘Route 66‘. The North Coast 500 is one of the most iconic driving routes in the world.
You can follow the circular route clockwise or anticlockwise to get the best view of the east and rugged west coast of the north part of Scotland.
There is no other part of Scotland which matches the untouched wilderness and amazing scenery of the North Coast 500. Along the west coast make sure to stop at Achmelvich Bay and Sandwood Bay.
The beaches are spectacular, the contrast between the crystal white sands and blue sea will take your breath away. Also, you can take your time to dive the into twists and turns of the lofty single-track roads including Bealach na Ba.
Once you reach the remote village of Durness, you can view geological marvels such as the mysterious Smoo Cave. Also, you can fly across Ceannbeinne Beach in the UK’s most northerly zip line.
At the most northerly point in Scotland, you will be greeted with views across the Orkney islands. Also, you can snap a photo at the famous John O’Groats signpost before heading for a small hike at Duncansby Lighthouse and Duncansby Stacks.
Also, on the route, you will encounter many dramatic waterfalls including the highest waterfall in the UK, Clashnessie Falls and Corrishalloch Gorge.
Moreover, you will encounter the French-style chateaux of Dunrobin Castle and many finest malt distilleries including the Glenmorangie and Old Pulteney Distillery.
Keep an eye out on the road as you will be sharing it with other highland traffic such as Highland coos, sheep and deer.
Official Website: North Coast 500
North Coast 500 Guides:
North East 250
The North East 250 is a rival to the North Coast 500 and it is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. This enchanting circular route showcases the best attractions in regions such as Speyside, the Cairngorms, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, the East Coast and the Moray Coast.
Along the route, you can visit some of the most famous distilleries in the world including the Glenlivet Distillery. Also, dozens of Munros are on the route, so you can bag a couple of them.
As the route passes through the east coast, you can add a few of the finest beaches and bays in Scotland to your list. Moreover, the delightful fishing villages are a wonder to see and you can feast on the freshly caught seafood at one of the seafood restaurants.
Aberdeenshire is home to over 250 castles and this route showcases just a few historical castles including Ballindalloch Castle, Balmoral Castle and Braemar Castle. For a more detailed guide to the castles in this area please visit The Ultimate Guide To Aberdeenshire’s North East Castle Trail.
Official Website: North East 250
South West Coastal 300
Heading now to the south of Scotland, how about considering a leisurely drive around the South West Coastal 300. The route is an enjoyable 300 miles which features the stunning countryside of Dumfries, Galloway, and South Ayrshire.
Along the route, you can admire the rugged clifftops, the fantastic stretches of beach and the gently rolling hills which are covered in heather. Also, there are a good few colourful towns and villages to explore.
One of the towns which are great to explore is the art town of Kirkcudbright where you can browse handcrafted artworks.
Also, you can take a deep dive into history and learn about the Vikings, saints and Iron Age life at Whithorn. You can enjoy the beautiful sands and seaside views at Sandyhills Bay.
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory is located on the edge of Galloway Forest Park so you can watch the dazzling starry skies. Also, you can view the romantic ruin of Sweetheart Abbey and the gorgeous gardens.
The South West Coastal has some fabulous attractions and a rich heritage which attracts travellers from across the globe.
Immerse yourself in a new Scotland driving route which is 200 miles long. The route covers the ‘heart’ of Scotland and takes you through Perth and Kinross, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Stirling.
This route features mesmerising scenery and it is filled with history, nature and rivers.
This route covers two of Scotland’s smallest cities and passes through many other small charming towns. There are beautiful winding rivers along the route which feature waterfalls including Bracklinn Falls, Falls of Dochart, Birks of Aberfeldy and Falls of Bruar.
Also, there are plenty of historic castles including Castles Menzies, Blair Castle and Finlarig Castle. Also, there are more unique attractions such as the Soldier’s Leap over the River Garry at Killiecrankie.
Official Website: Heart 200
Snow Roads Scenic Route
The Snow Roads Scenic Route displays the most dramatic views in the Cairngorms National Park. The route is a 90-mile adventure through the snow-capped peaks and rugged glens where you can enjoy delicious food and drink, outdoor adventures and cycle paths.
Moreover, the route features the highest public road in Britain and showcases some of the most dramatic Highland scenery. It is the perfect route to take a slow relaxing drive to soak in the gentle atmosphere and be ready for those photographic vantage points.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to 55 Munros, including the second highest peak in the United Kingdom – Ben Macdui. Also, you can try to bag a few easier Munros, Cairnwell 3, from the Glenshee Ski Centre.
As well, as glorious mountain peaks, you can enjoy wonderful glen walks including Linn of Dee, Linn of Quoich and Glen Lui. Moreover, the route passes through historic granite villages including Blairgowrie, Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul.
For those who are looking for a winter sports playground, there are two ski centres to stop at – the Glenshee Ski Centre and The Lecht. Also, you can take a tour around the Royal Lochnager Distillery.
Moreover, you can travel back in time to the fairytale castles including Corgarff Castle, Braemar Castle and Balmoral Castle. Finally, there are a few hidden gems which you will not find anywhere else in Scotland.
In particular, keep an eye out for Prince Albert’s Pyramid and the biggest hedge in the United Kingdom.
Official Website: The Snow Roads
Fife Coastal Route
The Fife Coastal Path is originally a walking route but it is great to drive too. The route connects the River Forth and the River Tay and covers the golden coastline of Fife.
There are plenty of interesting and cute fishing villages to admire along the way. The villages in the East Neuk of Fife include St Monans, Crail, Pittenweem and Elie.
Tentsmuir Nature Reserve is a wonderful place to walk in the woodlands. Also, you can head to the beach and look out for seals sunbathing on the sands.
Also, you can head to the university town of St Andrews and explore the British Golf Museum, the historical St Andrews Castle and St Rules Tower.
Moreover, you can wander through the cobbled streets of Culross and view well-known locations from Outlander – Culross Palace.
Also, Aberdour Castle is the oldest standing castle in Scotland and is found on the Fife Coastal Path. Finally, you can admire the architecture of Dunfermline Palace and Abbey.
Angus Coastal Route
The Angus Coastal Route is a 68-mile long route which links the cities of Dundee and Aberdeen. The route features charming towns and beautiful nature reserves with views of the Grampian Mountains to the west and the sparkling North Sea to the east as you drive north.
This part of Scotland holds records for the hottest temperatures, the most sunshine hours and the least annual rainfall in the country. Views across the sea will accompany you along almost the whole route.
This route is a favourite for nature and wildlife lovers. Also, there are opportunities for walking along the most golden sand beaches in the country.
The route features historical buildings and a castle with the most famous castle being Dunnottar Castle. Other ancient sites to stop at include Broughty Ferry Castle, Arbroath Abbey and the House of Dun.
Dundee is a culturally rich city which has the Victoria and Albert Museum (the only one outside London). Other important stops along the route include Lunan Bay, Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve and St Cyrus Nature Reserve.
Argyll Coastal Route
Argyll Coastal Route is a 129-mile route which starts in Glasgow and follows through the west side of Loch Lomond. The route continues to Oban and finishes in Fort William.
This is one of the most scenic road trips in Scotland. On the route you can visit a few pretty historical villages including Luss, Tarbet and Inveraray.
The route is spectacular as it combines the coastal fringe of tranquil bays on one side and soaring mountains on the other side which makes it a priceless experience.
Also, it is the perfect place to catch the most glorious sunsets in the British Isles. Soak in the dramatic Highland views, romantic glens, lush forests, empty beaches and plenty of surprises along the way.
Along the route, you will have the chance to admire historical castles including Inveraray Castle, Kilchurn Castle and Castle Stalker. In Oban, you can walk to McCaig’s Tower, explore the Victorian esplanade or catch a ferry to one of the nearby islands.
Also, there are museums which show what life used to be like for highlanders in the area including Inveraray Jail, Auchindrain Township and Glencoe Folk Museum.
Moreover, the remoteness will give you a chance to witness some wildlife sightings and you can stop to enjoy some seafood at the famous Loch Fyne Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Inveraray.
Borders Historic Route
The Borders Historic Route begins at Gretna Green on the border between Scotland and England and finished at Edinburgh. This route is perfect for those who are touring from England and are heading up to Edinburgh. Y
ou can admire the incredible landscapes, bega of ancient history, fascinating culture and more.
The route is one of road trips in Scotland which takes you through the Scottish Borders , Sir Walter Scott country and showcases beautiful countryside, ruined abbeys, castles and country houses.
These ruins are filled with a turbulent history and have many intriguing backstories.
On the route, you can stop by Sir Walter Scott’s beloved home of Abbotsford. Watch as authentic tartan and tweed is woven from scratch at Lochcarron of Scotland and the Borders Textile Towerhouse.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the most popular island and is located just on the west coast of Scotland. Following the roads in the Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful road trips in Scotland.
The island has so much history, along with the Cuillin mountain range. Also, there is plenty of small museums and cosy pubs.
For people who love the outdoors, the Isle of Skye is the perfect place to explore.
You can wander across the rugged landscapes, look out for waterfalls, view historic castles or relax on isolated beaches. The area is steeped in myth and legend, its a place where giants and fairies roam.
One of the most attractive areas of the island is the Trotternish Peninsula. In this part of the island, you can view the Old Man of Storr, Mealt Falls, Kilt Rock and the Fairy Glen.
Also, you can visit the main settlement called Portree which has plenty of restaurants and cafes. Some of my favourite places to visit on the Isle of Skye are Neist Point, Dunvegan Castle and Coral Bay.
Kintyre is a peninsula in western Scotland. The Kintyre 66 is one of the exciting road trips in Scotland which is rich in history and has a unique coastal character.
There is so much to do on the peninsula and you can enjoy the freshest seafood and savour some of the world’s most famous whiskies.
Driving along the Atlantic road you will receive stunning views across the Isle of Islay and Jura. Then you will have amazing views looking over the Isle of Arran while driving along the edge of the Kilbrannan Sound.
Kintyre is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, and the beaches rival anywhere else in the world.
There are plenty of bays with long stretches of sand, and as a bonus, you are extremely likely to have the whole beach to yourself. Some bays that are worth visiting are West Port Beach, Skipness, Carradale, Torrisdale and Saddell.
Also, this part of the country is rich in history, as the same is in almost every part of Scotland. Make sure to check out the rugged ruins of medieval Tarbet Castle and Skipness Castle further south.
For more information, visit the Kintyre 66
What is the most scenic drive in Scotland?
The most scenic drive in Scotland is hard to decide as there are over ten road trips to follow which all show different parts. It all depends on a person’s interests.
You can follow the South Coastal 300 or Scottish Borders Historic Route to explore the turbulent history and countryside of the lowlands of Scotland.
Alternatively, you can join the Snow Roads or North East 250 to explore the ever-changing landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park and Aberdeenshire.
Also, the Fife and Angus Coastal Path have wonderful views across the North Sea and display some of the best fishing villages in Scotland.
The Kintyre 66 and Argyll Coastal Route showcases the best attractions in the western Highlands and you can visit some stunning beaches with crystal clear water and white sands.
Finally, the North Coast 500 takes you on single-track roads along the tranquil north coast of Scotland.
What is the road trip around Scotland called?
The most popular and well-known road trip in Scotland is called the North Coast 500. The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66.
The circular route begins in Inverness and takes you along the twisty single track north of the remote and tranquil highlands.
The route is extremely popular as it showcases the best beaches with the whitest sands and crystal clear waters. Also, you can visit the highest waterfall in Scotland, the Wailing Widow Falls.
Moreover, there are many ruined and enchanting castles where you can learn about the history of this part of Scotland.
As well as castles, beaches and waterfalls, it is impressive enough to drive through the rugged mountainous landscape. The North Coast 500 is home to many Munros, nature reserves and unique geological formations including Smoo Cave.
How long does it take to drive around the whole of Scotland?
To drive around the whole of Scotland I have seen people complete itineraries for between 10 to 14 days. However, the amount of time left to explore each attraction is not a lot, and it appears to be rushed.
To explore a specific area in detail I would recommend doing one of the listed road trips in Scotland in that time frame.
The North Coast 500 is a popular route which I would recommend at least 5 days to drive around, however, I have seen people spend longer here and you can easily do it in two weeks.
The length of a road trip depends on your interests and what places you wish to stop at.
This post shares the top ten best road trips in Scotland. The North Coast 500 is well-known worldwide, however, you may want to try a route that has not peaked in popularity yet.
To round up here is a life of all routes and highlights from each.
- North Coast 500: Wailing Widow Falls, Dunrobin Castle, Duncanby Stacks, Achmelvich Bay, John O’Groats and Sandwood Bay
- North East 250: Gardenstown, Prince Albert’s Pyramid, Bow Fiddle Rock, Glenfiddich Distillery, Slains Castle
- South West Coastal 300: Grey Mare’s Tail, Caerlaverock Castle, Sweetheart Abbey, Culzean Castle, Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
- Snow Roads Scenic Route: Ballater Castle, Braemar Castle, Linn of Dee, Glenshee
- Scottish Borders Historic Route: Hermitage Castle, Melrose Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel
- Fife Coastal Path: Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, St Andrews, Crail, St Monans, Pittenweem, Ruby Bay, Forth Rail Bridge
- Angus Coastal Path: Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve, Dunnottar Castle, Den of Finella, Lunan Bay, Elephant Rock
- Argyll Coastal Route: Luss, Rest & Be Thankful viewpoint, Inveraray Castle, Loch Awe, McCaig’s Tower, Kilchurn Castle
- Isle of Skye: Eilean Donan Castle, Old Man Of Storr, Fairy Pools, Neist Point, Coral Bay, Fairy Glen
- Kintyre 66: Tarbet Castle, Skipness Castle, West Port Beach