Scotland – 5 Day Self-Driving Rental Itinerary
Crowning the top of Britain, Scotland is a destination rich in history and natural beauty. It's also perfect to discover by road thanks to its forests and lochs, as well as the many charming towns along the way. To get in touch with the country's intrepid spirit, jump in a hire car and set out on your very own Scottish road trip with a little help from the good people at DriveNow.
On this journey, you'll travel in a loop around the heartland of Scotland, starting from either Edinburgh or Glasgow whichever may takes your fancy. Whichever way you decide to go, you're in for a real treat with iconic Scottish locations such as St Andrews, Inverness, Aberdeen, the Isle of Skye and Loch Lomond.
- St Andrews
- Fort William
- Lock Lomond
Distance: 605 miles
Day 1. Edinburgh - St Andrews - Aberdeen (3 hours 10 mins)
Welcome to Scotland! If you've landed at Edinburgh Airport, one of the first things you'll need to do is pick up your rental vehicle. Fortunately, if you book your Scotland hire car with DriveNow this should be a breeze. Simply cruise on over to your hire car provider, pick up your pre-arranged vehicle and take the wheel to head towards the centre of town on the A8, which turns into Glasgow Road.
Once you're here, there's plenty to do in Edinburgh. Get a hearty Scottish breakfast from Mimi's Bakehouse or Urban Angel to start your day, before taking your pick of attractions. Arthur's Seat is a perennial favourite for locals and visitors alike, and grants one of the most picturesque views of Edinburgh. When you've come back down to earth, pop by the Scottish National Gallery to admire the world class collection, or swing by the wonderful Edinburgh Castle.
After spending the morning in Edinburgh it's about an hour and a half drive to St Andrews. Head out on the A90 and you cross the Forth Rd Bridge across the Firth of Forth onto the M90. At Junction 2A take A92, turning right at the junction with the A921. Take the first exit left at the next three traffic roundabouts to join the A915 before it becomes the A916. As you approach Craigrothie, take the fork left onto the B939 which will take you all the way into St Andrews.
Spend your afternoon visiting St Andrews castle, which served as a bishop's palace during the Protestant Reformation. Catch the sea breeze down at West Sands beach and grab some lunch at one of the great local pubs. If you already ate on the road, you can always enjoy a spot of afternoon tea at Rocco restaurant. Afterward, you'll be taking the A91 and A92 through Dundee all the way up to Aberdeen via the A90.
Day 2. Aberdeen - Inverness - Portree (5 hours, 20 mins)
We hope you had a restful night in Aberdeen, as today you'll want to set off early to make the drive through the Cairngorms National Reserve en route to Inverness. One of Scotland's most scenic routes, the Old Military Road through the reserve is a peaceful way to explore the mountains and pastoral fields. Once you emerge onto the A9 on the other side of the reserve, it's smooth sailing all the way to Inverness.
Take the opportunity to stop for lunch and stretch your legs with a stroll along the Ness River. On the way to your next destination in the Isle of Skye, you'll be driving via the A82 past the renowned Loch Ness. Stop by the centre to catch a close up view of the loch (and maybe even a glimpse of Nessie!) before continuing along the A82 until you reach the turnoff for the A887. Watch as the countryside transforms before your eyes as the A887 becomes the A87, which takes you over the Skye Bridge and into Portree, your final stop of the day.
Day 3. Portree - Fort William (3 hours, 20 mins)
Waking up in the Isle of Skye certainly has its benefits. You're in the heart of this wonderful Scottish Isle, whose very hills are alive with centuries of history. The sparseness of the countryside shelter wonders such as dinosaur footprints, churches and 2000-year-old Iron Age broch towers.
Once you've spent the morning admiring the beauty of the rugged and isolated Isle of Skye, you can head further afield to discover Dunvegan Castle - Scotland's oldest castle and seat of the head of the Clan MacLeod. Heading south from Dunvegan on the A863 and the B8009, you'll find the enchanting Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle. When you're ready to move on, you'll need to take the A851 down to Armadale. From here, you can catch a car ferry across to Mallaig on the mainland.
Head along the A830, also known as the Road to the Isles, a scenic drive through the highlands to Fort William, which is the gateway to the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It's here in the shadow of this magnificent peak where you'll be spending the night.
Day 4. Fort William - Loch Lomond (1 hour, 45 mins)
Take your time to explore this beautiful area's attractions such as the West Highland Museum, Lochaber Park and the Jacobite Steam Train - a real-life working steam train which moonlighted as the fictional Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.
After a lunch at one of the excellent restaurants or pubs here, find the A82 again and follow it down all the way to Loch Lomond where you'll stop off for the night.
Day 5. Loch Lomond - Glasgow via Stirling (1 hour, 40 mins)
Loch Lomond is Britain's largest inland lake (Loch to Scots), and a beautiful one at that. Take your time to soak in the natural beauty of the area before you climb back into your trusty hire car for the next leg down the A811 en route to the historic town of Stirling. Complete with cobbled streets, a magnificent castle and well preserved Old Town, Stirling is a must-see on your way to Glasgow.
Stop here for lunch before making the final leg into Glasgow. As you roll into the city, you'll have your pick of incredible attractions to discover, from the People's Palace to the Glasgow Cathedral. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is another top pick, set up in a Victorian era building that houses fine art and animal exhibits alike - don't forget to say hi to the elephant!
In addition to being one of the UK's best shopping destinations, Glasgow is also a treat for foodies with a dynamic culinary scene - don't miss The Ubiquitous Chip, a renowned eatery showcasing modern Scottish cuisine. There are also some fine craft breweries here such as The Vintage at Drygate. Grab a pint at the end of your epic Scottish road trip - you've earned it!
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