Best Scotland Road Trips

Today I have Fiona from Following Fiona with a guest post on the best Scotland road trips. You know how near and dear Scotland is to me and while I love the tourist hubs, it’s so worth it to explore every nook and cranny. These road trip tips will help get you comfortable exploring the country on a deeper level. Thanks, Fiona!

Many people visiting the UK don’t venture further than London, but there’s so much more to the country than its capital. For those with time to spare, Scotland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are some fantastic towns and cities to visit, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, but where Scotland really shines is in the wide open spaces of the moors, mountains, lochs and islands.

Although you can get to most places via public transport it is far easier and much more fun to drive. I’ve done several road trips around Scotland and I’ll return for several more. And of course you can combine some of these trips for an amazing road trip around Scotland (

So here are some of the best road trips you can take in Scotland.

North Coast 500

The NC500 is widely considered to be the ultimate Scottish road trip. 516 miles of coastal roads, in a loop starting and ending in Inverness.

The NC500 has amazing views the whole way, but there are still a few extra special highlights. Bealach Na Ba (The Pass of the Cattle) between Tornapress and Applecross is a winding, narrow steep road with hairpin bends and some amazing views. This road can close in winter as you wouldn’t want to drive it in bad weather.

If you have a fear of heights you might want to adjust your route to skip this section, but it’s fun to drive if you enjoy that type of road. It’s easy to skip it by taking the A896 from Tornapress to Sheildaig instead.

I would also avoid it in anything bigger than an SUV – campervans do take the road but I would advise against that unless you are a very confident driver.

John O’Groats is another great stopping point. It’s a bit of a tourist trap but still good to pause for a bit at the northern tip of mainland Scotland.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is another lovely place to stop. It’s a short detour from Wick, with castle ruins overlooking the sea.

516 miles may not sound like a significant distance, but some of it will be at low speed so it is a long journey. Try to split it over at least 4 days so you have plenty of time to stop and enjoy the views. If you have several days to do it, additional detours can also provide you with great views away from the main NC500 road.

This route is very popular, especially in summer. Once you’ve left Inverness you’ll be travelling through villages and small towns, so it’s important to book accommodation in advance as choices are limited.

North East 250

This 250 mile route takes you from Ballindalloch to Glenshee. It includes the Cairngorms National Park, some coastal sections, and Aberdeen.

This is one of the more varied road trip routes, with views of mountains, coasts and cities.

Highlights include Bow Fiddle Rock, a rock formation off the coast near Portknockie and an unusual museum dedicated to lighthouses near Fraserburg.

If you are interested in Scottish castles this is a good route, as there are several in the area that aren’t just ruins. Most of them will be detours from the official route, but good options include Ballindalloch Castle and Drum Castle.

It also has another good whisky stop, as it takes you through the Speyside region of Scotland, including the famous Glenlivet distillery.

Isle of Skye

Skye is another stunning part of Scotland. It’s an island off the west coast of Scotland, but connected to the mainland by a bridge so you can access it easily.

There are several places you can get to on Skye but one of my favourite things to do there is just take random roads and see where I end up (as long as you have a map or SatNav to get you back!)

In winter and bad weather you need to be more careful about your route. The B885 between Bracadale and Portree is amazing, but can be impassable in winter. I’ve taken the road in summer and for miles and miles was the only car on the road, alone with the moors.

Highlights of Skye include the Talisker distillery, the Old Man of Storr (a rock formation) and the fairy pools.

I recommend at least 2 days exploring Skye, using Portree as a base for accommodation. Although Portree is the biggest town on Skye it is still limited for accommodation and restaurants. Book everything in advance.

On the road towards Skye you’ll pass by Eilean Donan castle – a popular stopping point to see some iconic Scottish ruins. If you are there during the right time of year you may even be able to see the Northern Lights in Skye, although it is much less common than in other places like Iceland.


The A82 isn’t quite as nice a name as some of the others, but the road is amazing. It takes you from Glasgow to Inverness through the Scottish Highlands.

Highlights on this route include Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Ben Nevis and Loch Ness. I also recommend stopping at ​​Urquhart Castle to see the castle ruins on the shore of Loch Ness. If you want to take a boat trip on Loch Ness or get lunch with views of the loch then make sure to stop for a while in Fort Augustus.

It’s an amazing road to take, with lochs and mountains. Just an incredibly beautiful part of the road. On sunny days you’ll get the best views, and rainy days make it atmospheric with mist drifting across the peaks around you.

It’s an easier drive than some of the others on this list as it is a bigger road with faster speeds and without the single-lane sections, but you should still make sure you are aware of relevant UK driving rules (

If you are doing an trip around the Isle of Skye you’ll probably pass through some of this road anyway, as the roads to Skye start from the A82.

If you are looking for the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct from the Harry Potter films, you’ll do a detour from the A82 once you get to Fort William.

Argyll Coastal Route

This route is a coastal detour from the A82 through the south west of Scotland. Instead of continuing north, you’ll take a turn along Loch lomond onto the A83. You’ll end up rejoining the A82 at Glencoe.

The A82 is the perfect route for views of mountains and valleys, but the Argyll Coast Road is better if you want to drive alongside water views for most of the way.

It will take longer than the more direct A82 route, but it really just depends on what sort of views appeal to you more. I tend to pick the A82 for the dramatic mountain views, but the coastal route is gorgeous too.

If you are a fan of whisky, perhaps book a night in Oban and do a tour of Oban Distillery or a tasting session.

How To Get From To Scotland From London

You can fly to Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness from London, but I don’t recommend it from an environmental perspective.

Major cities throughout the UK are well connected by train. Trains from London to Edinburgh take around 4½ hours. To get trains from London to Aberdeen would be around 7½ hours, and then 8½ hours from London to Inverness.

If you want to see more of the UK on a road trip, there are several routes you can drive through from London to Edinburgh ( , through some of the prettiest parts of England.

Driving Tips

  • Get the smallest car you need that can carry you and your luggage. Scotland has some very narrow roads and it is much easier and more fuel efficient in a smaller car. Most of my road trips around Scotland have been in a small Citroen C3, and although a bit more power would be nice, a small car is better for these remote roads.
  • Stop in passing places if there are faster cars behind you. Locals know the roads so will generally be driving much faster – be considerate and let them by when it is safe to do so.
  • Be careful to book an automatic car if you aren’t used to manual/stickshift. Some Scottish roads are quite steep and dealing with clutch and gears on hills when you aren’t used to it can be stressful. Most cars in the UK are manual, so if you want to hire an automatic make sure you specify that with the rental company.
  • Keep your fuel level above 50% – it’s easy to get distracted by the scenery and find that you’ve strayed far from a petrol station and don’t have much fuel left.
  • Watch out for wildlife – you might encounter a range of animals including cows, sheep and deer. If you see animals nearby slow down and be ready to stop.
  • If you encounter farm vehicles going very slowly on the road, be careful about overtaking. They usually aren’t going very far before they turn off the road.
  • Alcohol – drink driving is taken very seriously. If you want to stop at a whisky distillery make sure someone sober is doing the driving.


Wherever you go in Scotland you are guaranteed to find incredible scenes of natural beauty. The road trip for you will generally depend on how long you have, how confident you are on smaller roads, and the types of views you want to see, but there is something for everyone and you can’t go wrong with any of these.



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