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Best Scotland Road Trip Itinerary, an epic 2-week self-drive tour

Road trips are the best way to explore a new destination, and in this case, particularly in Scotland. Renting a car, doing a self-drive around Scotland gives you the flexibility to wander off-the-beaten-path and linger in the many unbelievable spots along the way. Another bonus about driving in Scotland is that it’ll give you the flexibility to stop as often as you wish to snap beautiful pictures of the spectacular landscapes, and trust us you will stop and click!

Furthermore, there’s nothing like having the autonomy to set your own Scotland driving travel itineraries, adapted to your unique pace, interests, and style. The following insights of our 2-week driving tour of Scotland will convince you that driving in Scotland is the best way to explore this amazing country.

Now, let’s make one thing clear, Scotland might look small in relation to North American geographical standards. But there’s so much to see and do in this small country, you need to get ready for your days to be fully filled. And especially with all of the historical sites, castles, museums, distilleries and natural sights to take in, you’ll have enough to keep you plenty busy on a 2-week self-drive in Scotland.

Get ready for an epic Scotland self-drive tour!

Day-by-Day Scotland Driving Itinerary / 14 days

While on this amazing Scotland road trip itinerary I got to see many magnificent historic sites, places like the Dunnotar Castle, which protected the Crown Jewels from destruction and also the Melrose Abbey. We also visited my ancestor’s clan chiefs burial site and ferried over to Orkney where we explored many neolithic sites. In addition, we drank one too many drams during our discovery of Speyside’s distillery tours and even drove through the spectacular Isle of Skye. Our Scotland self-drive tour begins in Edinburgh and ends in Glasgow which allows plenty of time to explore the Fort William and Glen Coe regions.

Traveling to Scotland for the first time? Get in this other article our Scotland travel tips with packing recommendations and money-saving advice.

Here’s what you’ll get from this post

  • Scotland Road Trip Itinerary

  • Tips for Taking the Ferry to Orkney 

  • Highlights & Advice

  • Driving Tour of Scotland Map 

  • Driving & Safety Recommendations

This 2-week Scotland road trip itinerary is a self-drive starting in Edinburg in a counterclockwise route. 

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Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh / 1 night 

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Royal Mile / Edinburgh Castle

With two major airports in the country, your choice of arrival cities will be between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Actually, the two cities are quite close in proximity and easily accessible as they are linked by a quick train ride, so choose your arrival based on best airfare rates to either city.

In this case, the itinerary begins in Edinburgh,  the capital city of Scotland. Plan to arrive early to enjoy the day, visiting the many highlights this historic place has to offer. Try to rest on your the flight or catch a quick nap before you tackle this first day.

The city centre is pretty compact, you can easily visit the Edinburgh Castle (avoid the lines and get your tickets online), stroll the Royal Mile and explore other attractions in one day. At night, hit a local pub, dive into Scottish culture and order a dram and maybe even try some Haggis!

Welcome to Scotland… Slàinte!

Tip: Have a bit of extra time? You’ll be happy to know that most museums in Scotland are free!

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Day 2 Drive to Perth / 2 nights 

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Rent a car / Kelpies Helix parc / Perth

Obviously, you can get a rental at the airport upon arrival. In our experience, it often isn’t the best solution. First off, because of its convenience and airport taxes, rates are usually higher. In addition, the parking situation in Edinburg is known to be expensive and difficult. Not a great way to start your driving in Scotland tour. Grab a cab or Uber directly to your lodging, drop off your bags and go out exploring by foot instead of fussing about car parking. Anyhow, having a car in this medieval city is far from essential. 

Generally, rental car agencies, situated slightly out of the city centre have better rates. As was the case with Europcar Edinburg West we used. It had great rates plus its ideally located, with direct access to the highway, making for a perfect start to your grand Scotland road trip. Europcar is well established in the rental car business with over 60 years experience, operating in 140 countries. Check here for up to 25% on Europcar Rentals  

Whichever company you choose, make sure you get 24-hour roadside assistance and be vigilant for any hidden charges. We also used Europcar during our Ireland self-drive itinerary and we can highly recommend their service and rates. 

PLAN YOUR TRIP WITH EASE

Hit the Road Jack!

Start driving in Scotland, make your way out of the city to discover some local attractions and then head to Perth. You could also plan to stay in Edinburgh for multiple nights and do the following excursions as day-trips with your vehicle. You have many opportunities to explore in the Edinburgh region.

– Explore the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
Visit the Stirling Castle  Did you know that this Scottish fortress was used in the movie “Braveheart” ?
– The Kelpies Helix parc

Our best packing recommendation for this Scotland Tour: Waterproof shoes such as these Columbia Women’s ATS Trail FS38 Outdry Hiking Shoes are essential! They made our trip so much more enjoyable. Nobody likes wet feet while exploring.

READ RELATED ARTICLE:  A Fabulous 14 days Ireland Self Drive Itinerary

Day 3: Explore Perthshire

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Killin / Crieff / Rob Roy’s grave

Once you hit the countryside, you’ll quickly be enchanted with driving in Scotland. Not included often enough on the typical Scotland travel itineraries, Perthshire is a great base to visit many great attractions. For us, a unique opportunity to dive into some personal ancestry took center stage. Finding out that the McNabb Chief’s clan burial site was within the region, I visited Inchbuie, a cemetery isle in Killin.

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Insider Tip: Stop in Crieff for lunch, an authentic Scottish town. 

Did you know that you can see the folk hero and legend Rob Roy’s grave in Lochearnhead?
Day trip options from Perth:  St-Andrews Golf Fife region.

Day 4 Drive to Speyside / 3 nights 

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Cairngorms / Balmoral

Crossing the 100 miles from Perth to Speyside through the Cairngorms National park can be done in roughly 3 hours. Leave yourself some time for lunch along the way in the Balmoral region and enjoy the stunning vistas Scotland is famous for.

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Day 5-6 Explore Speyside and the Malt Whisky Trail

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Malt Whisky Trail / Speyside Cooperage / Skeet Shooting

Speyside is the mecca of malt, the biggest concentration of whisky distilleries in Scotland, the epicentre of Scotch Whisky. Get ready for some amazing tastings.

Dufftown is right at the centre of the Malt Whiskey Trail. Most lodgings are in this town and close to a few restaurants and pubs. Actually, I was surprised by the lack of venues to eat out but did enjoy a wonderful meal at the Stuart Arms with friendly service. I stayed in Aberlour, a neighbouring village, in a comfortable Airbnb, close to the Spey river, a very convenient base for discovering the region. A well-stocked Larder and Coop Minimart made preparing meals easy and affordable.

Activities and day trip possibilities

–  Malt Whisky Trail including; Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Aberlour, Cardhu, Balvenie and more…
– Inverness and the Culloden battlefield is only 1 hour away
– Speyside Cooperagelearn how the barrel making tradition lives on
– Try some fly-fishing or skeet shooting

Tip: Planning on visiting Diageo distilleries? Get your passport and save entry fees.

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Part of traveling as a couple sometime means making concessions. It’s important to understand each other’s travel objectives, expectations and to respect them. In our case, Phil being such a huge Malt Whisky amateur meant spending 3 days in Speyside in order to visit as many distilleries as could be packed in.

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READ RELATED ARTICLE:  Southeast Asia Itinerary [3 months]

Day 7 Ferry to Orkney / 2 nights

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Dunnotar Castle / Aberdeen City Center

Because of their remoteness, the Orkneys are often left out of a standard Scotland road trip itinerary. You have a few options to reach the land of the Vikings, by ferry or by plane. Depending on your budget and time allowance, you can take a small aircraft from Inverness or Aberdeen in under 1 hour. But you’ll need to rent a car once on the island or hire a driver during your stay.

If you plan to use the North Links ferry, you can save up to 30% by joining the Friends & Family Saver (certain date restrictions apply). The traditional route is to take the 3 hour-long lunchtime ferry from Scrabster to Kirkwall. But another option is to embark on the 6-hour transfer on the late afternoon ferry from Aberdeen.

This option gives you all day to enjoy the Aberdeen region, visit such places as the amazing Dunnotar castle. The ferry is well appointed and you can even reserve a cabin on board if you wish. With this option, you’ll be arriving in Kirkwall by 11 pm.

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Day 8 Explore Orkney 

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Kirkwall / Ring of Brodgar / Skara Brae / Churchill Barriers / Italian Chapel / Highland Park Distillery

This itinerary includes only one full day in Orkney, so we do suggest making the best of it by hiring a private guide. Browse through the Orkney Tourist Guides Association to book one ahead of time. We can recommend Helen, who planned a custom tour for us, according to our specific requests and interests.

Is One Day Enough to Explore Orkney? Find out in our Orkney Post

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Marquestra Scotland Road Trip itinerary | Traveling Scotland by car | Self Drive Scotland Tour #Scotlanditinerary #14dayScotlanditinerary #2weekScotlanditinerary #Scotlandroad tripitinerary #2weekScotlandroad tripitinerary #14dayScotlandroad tripitinerary #RoadTripScotland #Selfdrivescotland #TourofScotlandroute #scotlandroadtripideas #drivinginscotland #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland

Explore more of the North Coast before heading to the Isle of Skye with this NC 500 itinerary

Day 9 Drive to Isle of Skye / 3 nights 

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Dunrobin Castle / Highlands 

The 6:30 AM ferry from Stromness to Scrabster will get to you to the mainland in time for a full day of travel. This will be the longest haul during this Scotland road trip itinerary, with over 200 miles of driving to do in one day.

You can break up the drive with some attractions along the way. We suggest stopping at the magnificent Dunrobin castle and catch the falconry show… It was spectacular!

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Marquestra Scotland Road Trip itinerary | Traveling Scotland by car | Self Drive Scotland Tour #Scotlanditinerary #14dayScotlanditinerary #2weekScotlanditinerary #Scotlandroad tripitinerary #2weekScotlandroad tripitinerary #14dayScotlandroad tripitinerary #RoadTripScotland #Selfdrivescotland #TourofScotlandroute #scotlandroadtripideas #drivinginscotland #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland

Day 10-11 Explore Isle of Skye

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Old Man of Storr / Skyeskins / Talisker Distillery / Portree

The Fairy Pools, the Man of Storr and many other hikes can be enjoyed on the island. Actually, options are rather plentiful. But if, like us, hiking is not really your thing, simply driving around and taking in the stunning beauty of the island is in itself extremely satisfying. The Isle of Skye is without a doubt a magical place where one will want to take it in for as long as possible. Choose a self-catering accommodation around Portree, an ideal location as a base to explore the island.

I loved the place so much that I’d consider moving there! The “Coup de Coeur” was the Waternish/Trumpan region and its phenomenal views.

Tip: Stop by Skyeskins for a free tour of the tannery and enjoy a great cappuccino at the yurt café.

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Marquestra Scotland Road Trip itinerary | Traveling Scotland by car | Self Drive Scotland Tour #Scotlanditinerary #14dayScotlanditinerary #2weekScotlanditinerary #Scotlandroad tripitinerary #2weekScotlandroad tripitinerary #14dayScotlandroad tripitinerary #RoadTripScotland #Selfdrivescotland #TourofScotlandroute #scotlandroadtripideas #drivinginscotland #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland

Day 13 Explore Glen Coe & Oban

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Oban Distillery / Glen Coe

This is another great area to explore, with fantastic views and extraordinary landscapes. Fort William is usually seen as a base for hikers looking to climb the highest peak in Scotland, Ben Nevis. But this little town is also perfectly situated for day trips to explore Glen Coe and Oban. You can find many restaurants, pubs and a few souvenirs shops along the easily accessible pedestrian main street.

Tip: Don’t want to visit another distillery? Drive 50 miles North and try to spot Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

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Marquestra Scotland Road Trip itinerary | Traveling Scotland by car | Self Drive Scotland Tour #Scotlanditinerary #14dayScotlanditinerary #2weekScotlanditinerary #Scotlandroad tripitinerary #2weekScotlandroad tripitinerary #14dayScotlandroad tripitinerary #RoadTripScotland #Selfdrivescotland #TourofScotlandroute #scotlandroadtripideas #drivinginscotland #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland

Day 14  Drive to Glasgow / 2 or 3 nights 

Sky Fall Locations / Kelvingrove Museum / Ashton Lane

On your 2-hour drive to Glasgow, why not make several stops along the way to spot the many Skyfall movie-filming locations

You won’t be disappointed. This route will get you through the beautiful region of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, another part of driving in Scotland you won’t soon forget. Once settled in Glasgow, make some time to visit the Kelvingrove gallery.

This gallery has many different types of exhibits, from natural science to impressionist galleries and of course, a full section dedicated to Scottish art.

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I even found one of my McNabb ancestors proudly hanging on the wall!

Finish your day at Innis & Gunn Pub on Ashton Lane for some great food and fun times. Rest up for your final day tomorrow.

Day 15 Explore the Borders

Scottish Borders / Melrose Abbey

This is your final opportunity, how about one last go, driving in Scotland. Head South to the Scottish Borders, this region is filled with lamb grazing pastures and many quaint medieval villages with typical stately manors. It’s also home to many historical buildings such as the wonderful Melrose Abbey and the Abbotsford House.

Day 15 or 16  Final Day

Glasgow Cathedral / Riverside Museum

On your final day, unwind and get a drive-free day. The subway system in Glasgow is efficient and super easy to use. Head to The Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel or the Glasgow Cathedral

If you want to explore more of Glasgow, get some expert insights from resident blogger Kathi from Watch Me See 

I scoured the web for the best airfare to get us to Scotland and found Skyscanner always provided with the best options and rates.

Fly for less with Skyscanner, hundreds of Airlines can be searched in one place

READ RELATED ARTICLE:  Scotland Travel Tips

Conclusion

Driving in Scotland is truly epic. I’ve been on many road trips in the past, but this Scotland tour is one of my favourites. If you had any doubts about driving in Scotland, don’t! Go and explore this small but amazing country. Need some travel guides to inspire you? Get these ones on Amazon.

We know a thing or two about road trips, get these best driving tips from 20 countries on the road. 

Tips and Advice on How to plan a Scotland Road Trip from Love from Scotland.

Driving in Scotland Requirements, Rules & Safety tips

  • A valid drivers license from your country is fine – no need for an International Driving License

  • Driving is done on the left side of the road.

  • Not used to driving on the left side? Keep the white line over the steering wheel, you’ll be fine.

  • Planning on touring some distilleries? Consider the Alcohol limit at 50mg/ml

  • No mobile use while driving

  • Wear your seatbelts; they are compulsory for driver and passengers

  • Watch out for farm and wild animals on the road.

  • Rain showers can be unpredictable, don’t hesitate to stop during a downpour.

  • There are many single lanes in the countryside. Look ahead and pull up in passing places to give way.

  • Don’t park in passing places!

Have you visited Scotland? 
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…

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Marquestra Driving in Scotland Road Trip Itinerary & Map
Marquestra Scotland Road Trip itinerary | Traveling Scotland by car | Self Drive Scotland Tour #Scotlanditinerary #14dayScotlanditinerary #2weekScotlanditinerary #Scotlandroad tripitinerary #2weekScotlandroad tripitinerary #14dayScotlandroad tripitinerary #RoadTripScotland #Selfdrivescotland #TourofScotlandroute #scotlandroadtripideas #drivinginscotland #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland
Scotland Driving Itinerary, 2-week perfect route to explore the country. Renting a car and doing a self-drive around Scotland gives you the flexibility to wander off-the-beaten-path and linger in the many unbelievable spots along the way. While on this amazing Scotland road trip itinerary we got to see many magnificent historic sites, places like the Dunnotar Castle. We even ferried over to Orkney #scotlandroadtrip #scotlanddrivingitinerary #explorescotland #discoverscotland