The Scottish Highlands should be on everyone’s bucket list. Do you want to discover the very best of the Scottish Highlands without breaking the bank? Well, here’s the ultimate guide for an absolutely epic roadtrip, so fasten your seatbelt and let’s GO!
The Scottish Highlands undoubtedly offers one of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. With their wild mountains and rivers, their decadent castles, and their impressing history, Scotland can indeed offer something for everyone. However, you don’t have to splurge out on a tour company in order to fully explore the Highlands – in this jam-packed guide I will offer you a full 3-day itinerary, optional excursions, and suggestions for overnight stays.
Should you book a trip with a tour company?
There are lots of tour companies out there that will let you roam the Highlands with them for a (rather high) fee, and that’s perfectly fine if you like being gently shuffled from one scenic view to another. If this sounds like something for you, then Haggis tours might just be a perfect match. As some of you might remember, I had the pleasure of exploring Isle of Skye with them last year. There is absolutely no shame in loving tour companies – trust me on this, I’ve tried basically all of them! However, there are some experiences that might just be a wee bit more budget-friendly and offer a better experience if you do it independently. A roadtrip through the Scottish Highlands definitely falls under that category. I don’t think there’s any doubt about the fact that the Highlands are best discovered in your own pace…
Should you go rogue and ditch the tour company?
In my opinion – HELL YES! After two years in Scotland, I have roamed the Scottish Highlands both with tour companies and with a rental car. My favorite is certainly the latter.
This guide is for those of you who want to discover the beauty of Scotland in your own pace. All you need for this epic roadtrip is a rental car, an amazing playlist on Spotify, and a rather great group of friends (or just yourself if you prefer your own company). This itinerary starts in Glasgow, but it is also easily accessible from Edinburgh.
If you follow this itinerary, you will
- fall in love with bonnie Loch Lomond
- be enchanted by Glencoe’s wild nature
- search for Nessie in Fort Augustus
- explore a Victorian spa village in Strathpeffer
- taste the best fish and chips in the UK in A…
- Roam around the scenic streets of St Andrews
Does this sound like something for you? Well, then grab yourself a cup of coffee and keep on reading!
DAY 1: Loch Lomond to Fort Augustus
Starting from Glasgow, you will be on the road for exactly 40 minutes before you arrive at your first stop of the day – the bonnie shores of Loch Lomond. Here you can grab a coffee in the picturesque village of Luss, and take a stroll down to the shore. Alternatively, you can bring your hiking shoes and attempt to conquer one of the many surrounding mountains.
Is Loch Lomond so beautiful that you want to stay for longer? Well, perfect – the shores of Loch Lomond are packed with a great selection of spa hotels and several golf courses!
Optionally, instead of staying in Loch Lomond you can head a bit further up to the quaint. beautiful city of Stirling. Here, you can find a wee guide to the best things to do in Stirling (and how to conquer the castle!).
Are you ready to get back in the car? Excellent! The next part of the roadtrip will take you through the absolutely stunning scenery of Glencoe – this is undoubtedly one of my favourite places in the UK. Dramatic mountains, wild nature, terrifying history… Glencoe has it all! You can read more about the stunning area of Glencoe here. And hey, don’t forget to occasionally stop for photos!
Your last stop of the day will be in the quaint village of Fort Augustus. Perfectly situated on the shores of Loch Ness, this is a brilliant place to end your day with a search for Nessie. Furthermore, Fort Augustus offers accommodation suitable for every budget. Here you can find swanky hotels and cozy hostels – and basically everything in-between.
DAY 2: Fort Augustus to Strathpeffer
Rise and shine, babe! Are you ready for day 2 of the ultimate roadtrip in the Scottish Highlands?
Today’s drive will be a lot shorter as we are only headed towards the wee village of Strathpeffer. However, there are options for this part of the tour: the stunning Isle of Skye is just a few hours drive away from Fort Augustus. If you are looking for things to do on Isle of Skye, you should check out this brilliant guide by Jordan at Inspired by Maps. Alternatively, you can drive to Ullapool and take the local ferry over to Isle of Lewis. Both of these islands are absolutely breathtaking, and they definitely deserve that you spend a day or two (or even four!) there.
However, we are headed further north towards another famous village, Fort William. Here we will also find our first stop of the day: the Glenfinnan Viaduct! Or, as it is perhaps more known as, the Harry Potter bridge! The viaduct is located near Loch Shiel in the West Highlands, and it is definitely worth a visit if you’re a Potter fan (I certainly am!). During summer, you can even travel on the very popular Jacobite Steam Train and pretend that you’re headed to Hogwarts!
After photographing the crap out of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you should direct your car towards Inverness and the decaying remains of Urquhart Castle. The castle, located on the shores of Loch Ness, was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent it being used by Jacobite forces, and today it’s actually one of the most visited historical castles in Scotland!
Your journey today will end in the wee village of Strathpeffer, a village that once used to be a Victorian spa town. This is the perfect place to relax and unwind after two days on the road as there is absolutely nothing to do here. Besides a tiny coffee shop and the Red Poppy – the only restaurant in the village – Strathpeffer offers nothing but beautiful sceneries and lots of serenity. We stayed at the rather decadent Ben Wyvis Hotel, but there’s other budget-friendly options available.
DAY 3: Strathpeffer to St Andrews
Brace yourself for a long car drive, hun! Today, we are headed from Strathpeffer to St Andrews! Of course, there are lots of places to stop on the way, but I would recommend driving directly so that you can spend as much time in St Andrews as possible.
However, on your way to St Andrews, I recommend one specific stop. Your stop will be located in the wee village of Anstruther, only a few miles outside of St Andrew, and you will stop for a very good reason: the best fish and chips in the UK.
Yes, it’s true. Like, I’m not even joking. The Anstruther Fish Bar was voted the best Fish and Chips in the UK for seven years. Seven years, folks, how crazy is that! I’m as far from a fish and chips expert as it’s possible to get (this was actually my very first fish and chips while being sober…), but my friends, who are all experienced fish and chips tasters, all vouched for its greatness. The only downside is the huge queue outside the fish bar – but I reckon that’s a sign of quality, right?
From Anstruter, the beautiful city of St Andrews is just a quick drive away. With it’s cobblestoned streets, lush and green gardens and a beautiful beach area, this is definitely a place to fall in love with. If you’re a fan of the royal family, you should stop by the university area where Prince William and Kate met and fell in love! There’s also great accomodations offers in St Andrews for those of you who wish to spend the night.
After exploring the streets of St Andrews, which definitely resembles Oxford, we bought gelato and headed down to the beach in order to watch the sunset. And oh wow, I’m so glad we did that!
We sat on the beach until the sunset had faded away and been replaced by a starry evening sky. It was such an incredibly beautiful end to an absolutely amazing roadtrip.
Are you planning on exploring the Scottish Highlands anytime soon? Hopefully this itinerary will help you along the way xx
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, it probably won’t earn me more money than a wee cup of americano on monday morning.
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