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No place on earth steals my heart quite like Scotland does, which is why I prominently feature this gorgeous green country on my blog. I believe that no amount of time in Scotland is ever, ever enough.
Scotland’s wonders are endless. You’ll always discover another crumbling scenic castle, hidden loch nestled among emerald-colored mountains, and small town with charming pubs and independently owned hiking shops.
However, even though I wish I could stay in my favorite country forever, 10 days in Scotland still sounds like a dream come true. I’m so excited to write this guide to help new and experienced travelers see Scotland’s great beauty.
Most visitors come to Scotland to see the mystical Highlands. I don’t blame them. The lush richness of Scotland’s wilderness, including the emerald-colored mountains and purple thistles, inspired me to appreciate nature more in my daily life.
Yet, Scotland’s cities feature their own amazing qualities.
My guide for 10 days in Scotland contains a fair combination of both cities and countryside, which will allow you to enjoy a well-rounded experience on your upcoming vacation.
This 10 Day Scotland Itinerary Route
10 Day Scotland Road Trip Map
10 Days in Scotland Itinerary
|1||Edinburgh Arrival and Attractions|
|2||Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, West Highlands, Oban|
|3||Mull, Ioana, Staffa|
|4||Glencoe, Fort William, Ben Nevis, Plockton|
|5||Isle of Skye and Attractions|
|6||Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus|
|7||Explore Loch Ness|
|8||Stirling and Edinburgh|
Scotland Roadtrip FAQ
When to Pick Up a Rental Car?
Renting a car gives you freedom. Sure, Scotland has great trains and buses, but you need to rent a car to see the most remote areas of the country. And the remote areas are beautiful!
You don’t need a car in Edinburgh.
Instead opt to pick up your car at the Edinburgh airport when it’s time to explore Scotland’s Highlands. Cars are headaches in the cities, and you don’t want the additional stress of rush hour traffic and expensive parking.
Advice for Driving in Scotland?
Driving in Scotland might be vastly different than your home country. If you live in the English countryside, you won’t have to adjust to Scotland’s narrow roads or driving on the left side of the road.
Take your time. No one’s expecting you to act like a skilled and savvy driver. If you live in the New York metro area (like me, ha), you might be used to speeding fast in the far left lane. Don’t do that in Scotland unless a speeding ticket appeals to you.
Particularly on narrow roads, be mindful of other drivers and let them pass you if you’re unsure about who goes first on a tiny road.
Guided Tour or Self-Guided?
Of course, driving around Scotland has its own stresses. While you gain freedom, you don’t want to get lost in the expansive Highlands, especially since cellular service isn’t the best in the rugged western part of the country.
I recommend taking a guided tour if you’re feeling anxious about driving. I’ve take tours with the following two companies and loved both!
- Haggis Adventures: If you’re a young solo traveler wanting to make friends, go on a backpacking road
- trip with Haggis Adventures! You’ll meet tons of people and learn a lot about gorgeous Scotland in the process!
- Rabbies Tours: If you want a small tour with passionate local guides, then look no further than Rabbies Tours. This company prides themselves on being eco-friendly and supportive of local businesses. In addition to Scotland, Rabbies Tours also operates in England, Ireland, and Wales.
Scotland Travel Tips
The Best Time to Visit Scotland
Ultimately, I suggest visiting Scotland in summer. You’ll have the best (re: sunniest) weather and long days to explore Scotland’s cities and towns. Festivals are also alive this time of year.
Not to mention, Scotland is so far north that the sun will shine until after ten in the evening!
However, December is another delightful time to venture to Scotland. Edinburgh is so beautiful for Christmas. Not to mention, you won’t want to miss Scotland’s New Year’s Eve fiery tradition: Hogmanay.
Go with whatever season speaks most to your heart.
Scotland Safety Tips
I recommend Scotland all the time to new travelers, as well as people who want to travel alone. Why? Because in addition to its beauty, Scotland is also very, very, very safe.
Still, even though Scotland has low violent crime rates, you don’t want to walk around without regarding your personal safety. It’s important to stay aware.
As a side note, I’ve already extensively written about Scotland safety tips on this blog, so feel free to read that post for more in-depth information about protecting your health and happiness in Scotland.
For brevity’s sake, though, here are my top suggestions for staying safe in Scotland.
- Buy Travel Insurance: Don’t ever, ever, ever skip on travel insurance. You never know when you’ll feel sick or have an injury. I buy my insurance with World Nomads, which is reasonably priced and covers every possible event.
- Charge Your Phone: Bring extra charges to keep those devices fully charged, especially in small towns where electronics may not be for sale at your fingertips.
- Stay Informed. Listen to your embassy’s advice. Furthermore, stay up to date on changes in the weather. Scotland’s weather patterns are intemperate. It’s better to know ahead of time if you’ll experience rough seas on a ferry or torrential rain hiking in the Highlands.
- Tell Someone Your Plans: Like I’ve said, some areas are remote enough that cell service falls off a cliff. Always inform someone of your plans ahead of time, even if it’s just your accommodation.
Scotland Packing Advice
You don’t want to forget anything important for your 10 days in Scotland! I wrote the essentials for any Scottish trip in the bulleted list below.
As a side note, if you’re coming to Scotland in July or August, please check out my Scotland summer packing list for more extensive details.
- A Quality Guidebook: There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned guidebook to help you see everything on your trip. Without a doubt, Scotland’s Lonely Planet guidebook will keep you on track!
- Hiking Boots: You don’t want to skimp on hiking boots in Scotland! Merrell hiking boots are a little pricey, but they’ll protect your feet as you climb Scotland’s rugged and beautiful terrain.
- Insect Repellent: Midges are notorious pests in the Scottish Highlands. Bring some DEET-free insect repellent to keep them far away from you.
- Trekking Poles: If you’re a daring hiker, then you should take extra precautions to keep a safe and steady balance. Use a trekking pole for your more elevated hiking days.
- Windbreaker Rain Jacket: Rain and Scotland go hand-in-hand. My favorite rain jacket is my Northface Venture Jacket! It’s worth the price, seeing that the jacket’s quality holds up for years and years.
10 Days in Scotland: The Ultimate Itinerary
Day 1: Explore Edinburgh
At the beginning and end of your 10 day Scotland road trip, you’ll spend 2 days in Edinburgh in total. I highly recommend checking out my 2 days in Edinburgh itinerary for more information about what to do this cultural city.
You’ll likely arrive in Edinburgh in the early morning if you’re flying from the United States or Canada. Fight off the jetlag by taking a walk around Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Explore the pubs and tourist shops on the Royal Mile. My favorite stop includes the epic St. Giles’ Cathedral that towers in the sky.
I also highly recommend seeing Edinburgh Castle, which is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction. You’ll get great views of the city, as well as see the spectacular Crown Jewels of Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle is huge, so if you want to maximize your time, go on a walking tour of the castle that allows you to skip the line. You’ll learn a lot too!
- Castlerock Hostel: budget and social accommodation located steps from Edinburgh Castle (from $76 on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
- Eden Locke: an adorable condo hotel with cultural programs available throughout the week (from $131 on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
- The Raeburn: this stunning Georgian property is centrally located in Edinburgh’s New Town (from $203 from TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
Day 2: Edinburgh to Oban
Are you ready for your first day on the open road? Let’s go! With these 10 days in Scotland, you’ll do a lot of driving.
As you leave Edinburgh, make sure to stop at the incredible Forth Bridge for photos. Located only 9 miles from Edinburgh, this expansive railway bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so don’t miss it! This bridge is historically significant with construction starting in 1882.
Next you’ll have an introduction to the Highlands in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
In Oban, you’ll enjoy a cute and comfortable base for your next day in Scotland’s islands. Oban is home to many wonderful seafood restaurants and the iconic Oban Distillery.
- Falls of Lora: A fine hotel that offers comfortable beds and a great view of the harbor. (see price on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Oban Bay Hotel: With shoreline views, this is a perfect hotel to relax after your island adventures. (see price on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Perle Oban Hotel: Need a little more luxury? Perle Oban Hotel has a spa! (see price on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
Day 3: Mull, Iona, and Staffa
We’re spending a day exploring three islands that are part of the Inner Hebrides: Mull, Iona, and Staffa.
In the morning, take the ferry to Mull. These ferry routes are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne and run on regular schedule. Check ahead of time to avoid hitting any rough patches!
You can catch the bus upon landing in Mull and go to smaller Iona. Personally, I loved Iona for its incredible history. For example, you definitely want to visit Iona Abbey and Nunnery.
Iona Abbey has existed since 563 AD. Experts even believe that the beautiful Book of Kells was created in this very abbey. So, take your time and walk around. Find peace on Iona’s grounds.
Furthermore, if the unpredictable Scottish weather allows, I’d also highly recommend visiting Staffa. My experience on Staffa is one fond travel memory that I often revisit in my mind. Seeing Staffa’s great basalt columns literally took my breath away. On Staffa, you’ll explore deep caves and possibly see puffins!
Return to Oban for a pleasant night’s sleep. You had a long day and need your rest for tomorrow’s epic drive through the Scottish Highlands.
Day 4: Oban to Plockton
Are you ready for some spectacular scenery? Today you’re driving through the western Highlands, which is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland.
Personally, I think the ruined castles are partly what makes the Scottish Highlands so special. One such example is Castle Stalker, which is dramatically situated on the water. Guided tours are available for you to learn all about this historic castle.
En route to Plockton, make sure to stop at Glencoe for an afternoon walks and some photos! You may even see and hear bagpipers!
Now, although Glencoe is gorgeous, it’s also important to learn about the area’s bloody history. The Glencoe Massacre in 1692 resulted in the brutal slaughter of Clan MacDonald. This bloody part of Scottish history inspired George RR Martin to write the shocking Red Wedding chapters in A Song of Ice and Fire.
By the time you reach Plockton, you’ll be ready for a relaxing dinner and a good night’s sleep.
- The Haven Guesthouse: Plockton is a lovely and cosy town. Personally, I recommend staying in a guesthouse. For example, The Haven Guesthouse has been recently refurbished and will provide you with all the comforts of home (see price on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
Day 5: Explore the Isle of Skye
Are you ready for the Isle of Skye? You should be. The Isle of Skye is, without a doubt, the most famous island in Scotland.
The Skye Bridge is a road that connects the island to the mainland, so all of Skye’s main attractions are easily accessible by car.
The Isle of Skye is a geological wonderland. For example, you have to see the jagged and mystical landscape of Quiraing on your visit! Other wonderful attractions include the Fairy Pools with their cascading waterfalls and the cliffs of The Storr.
I also recommend having a picnic lunch with a dramatic backdrop. Good locations include the cliffs overlooking Neist Point Lighthouse or the Cuillin Mountain Range.
Lastly, enjoy dinner and a drink in Skye’s largest and most colorful town Portree.
- Cuillin Hills Hotel in Portree: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Kinloch Lodge Hotel and Restaurant in Kinloch: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Seafar Bed and Breakfast in Portree: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
Day 6: Plockton to Loch Ness
Let’s go monster hunting! Yes, of course you’d have to search for legendary creatures with your 10 days in Scotland, haha.
Before you visit Loch Ness, though, you need to make a stop at Scotland’s most beautiful castle Eilean Donan.
Eilean Donan frequently appears in photos, as well as films (James Bond, anyone?). The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie. You can snap photos. Or, if you have time to spare, pay to go inside Eilean Donan. Visiting the castle is well worth it!
Also, if you’re not tired of mountains, go to the the Five Sisters of Kintail viewpoint. On a clear day, the reflection on the loch will take your breath away!
As for towns, feel free to visit adorable Fort William in the afternoon. This beautiful village is the gateway to Ben Nevis, which is the highest point in all of the United Kingdom!
- Myrtle Bank Guest House in Fort William: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- The Lovat in Fort Augustus: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Whitehouse B&B in Fort Augustus: (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
Day 7: Explore Loch Ness
With 10 days in Scotland, you obviously need to visit Loch Ness.
My recommendation is to stay in Fort Augustus, which is truly the gateway to Loch Ness, and as a result, is a wonderful base for visiting everything this area has to offer!
First and foremost, you don’t want to miss a Loch Ness Sightseeing Cruise! Even if you don’t believe in the Loch Ness monster, you’ll still have a great time pretending to spot him on the dark waters.
If you want to learn history, go to The Clansman Centre and hear all about Highland traditions!
Urquhart Castle is yet another lovely castle for you to add to your 10 days in Scotland. This ruined loch side fortress was built in the 16th century and provides more scenic views of Scotland’s most famous loch.
Day 8: Loch Ness to Edinburgh
Are you ready for the long drive back to Edinburgh? No worries, you can easily break up your drive to the cultural city with stops in Stirling and/or village of Spean Bridge.
Near Spean Bridge, you’ll pause at the Commando Memorial. This massive and beautiful memorial is dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces in World War II. Pay your respects and appreciate the mountain views.
Later on your drive, in Stirling, you’ll have the chance to see the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.
Most visitors to Scotland have probably seen the movie “Braveheart,” and although the film isn’t exactly historically accurate, I recommend watching it prior to your 10 days in Scotland! You’ll have an even deeper appreciation for the Wallace Monument itself!
Day 9: Day Trip to Saint Andrews
Are you ready to leave Edinburgh again? Don’t worry. You won’t need your rental car for this next Scottish destination: St. Andrews!
Sigh, I absolutely loved the small town of Saint Andrews, which is known for its famous golf course and world class university.
Luckily for you, Saint Andrews is an easy day trip from Edinburgh, thanks to Scotland’s wonderful local train system.
In Saint Andrews, you’ll want to visit both Saint Andrews University and the famous Old Course. Even if you don’t play golf, taking a tour of the Old Course is very interesting. Not to mention, it’s cool to walk through such a famous area!
Day 10: Depart Edinburgh
It’s hard to believe that our amazing 10 days in Scotland have come to an end.
Return to Edinburgh Airport using either the cab or bus. If you’re flying internationally, allow at least three hours to go through border control and security. In the terminal, plan your next trip to Scotland! Because, as you noticed, 10 days in Scotland isn’t nearly enough to see and do everything!
I sincerely hoped this itinerary helped you.
I hope you enjoying reading all about how to spend 10 days in Scotland! What other tips would you add to this itinerary? Would you ever do a 10 day Scotland road trip? Safe and happy travels!