Scotland Itinerary

Sheep crossing, Isle of Skye
Humans aren't the only ones keen to explore Scotland.
By Rick Steves

So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my top picks for where to go in Scotland and my plan for your best two-week trip. (If you're considering adding England and/or Wales, see my recommended itinerary for Great Britain.)

Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities:

  • 3 days: Edinburgh
  • 5 days, add: Glasgow, Stirling
  • 7 days, add: Oban, Glencoe
  • 9 days, add: Inverness, Loch Ness, Culloden
  • 11 days, add: Isle of Skye
  • 13 days, add: St. Andrews, Mull/Iona/Staffa
  • 15 days, add: Your choice of sights near Stirling or in eastern Scotland
  • 17 days, add: Orkney
  • 21 days, add: More sights near Stirling, Wester Ross and the north coast, and slow down

The recommended itinerary below gives you an idea of how much you can reasonably see in 14 days, but of course you can adapt it to fit your own interests and schedule.

Nature lovers add extra time in the Highlands for hiking in Glencoe, on the Isle of Skye, and in the Cairngorms near Ballater. Try to fit in a Highland Games or a demonstration of working sheepdogs.

Golfers make a pilgrimage to St. Andrews. Whisky aficionados savor Speyside and Pitlochry (though most towns have a spot for tastings). Prehistorians prioritize Kilmartin Glen (near Oban), the Crannog Centre (Loch Tay), Clava Cairns (near Inverness), and the Orkney Islands.

Those interested in Scotland's industrial heritage check out the Caledonian Canal, Falkirk Wheel, and museums in Dundee.

Rick’s Best Two-Week Trip to Scotland by Car

Day 1:  Arrive Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)

Day 2:  Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)

Day 3:  Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh)

Day 4:  More time in Edinburgh, then train to Glasgow (sleep in Glasgow)

Day 5:  Glasgow (Glasgow)

Day 6:  Pick up car, drive to Oban (sleep in Oban)

Day 7:  Side trip to Mull and Iona (sleep in Oban)

Day 8:  Drive through Glencoe this morning, then to Isle of Skye (sleep on Isle of Skye)

Day 9:  Isle of Skye (sleep on Isle of Skye)

Day 10:  Drive along Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness to Inverness (sleep in Inverness)

Day 11:  Inverness and side trip to Culloden and other sights (sleep in Inverness)

Day 12:  Head south, enjoying your choice of sights in eastern Scotland or St. Andrews (sleep in Pitlochry, Ballater, or St. Andrews)

Day 13:  More eastern Scotland or St. Andrews sightseeing; spend evening in Stirling (sleep in Stirling)

Day 14:  Stirling Castle and nearby sights; drive to Edinburgh or Glasgow (sleep in Edinburgh or Glasgow)

Day 15:  Fly home

With more time, slow down and linger in the Highlands. Stretch out your visit by adding an overnight in Glencoe (more time for hiking) and/or Wester Ross (more scenery). If you do the NC-500 driving loop around the north of Scotland, it's well worth adding a night (or two) on the Orkney Islands.

If you'd like to prioritize the countryside over cities, you could skip Glasgow, or do it at the end of your trip, as a day trip from Stirling or Edinburgh.

By Public Transportation

While the itinerary above is designed to be done by car, most connections can be made by bus, with a few modifications: You may want to rent a car for your time on Skye; consider a package tour for Highland side-tripping from Inverness; and at the end, go from Inverness straight to Stirling (skipping eastern Scotland sights, which are out of the way by public transit).