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7 Day Highlands and Isle of Skye Itinerary

Written by: Kay Gillespie
Published: 5th March 2021

How to Spend 7 Days in Scotland

Scotland may be small, but it certainly knows how to pack a punch. We have a country of seemingly infinite possibilities, where the landscapes change as quickly as the weather, and new experiences wait around each corner. There is so much to be discovered: vibrant cities, quaint villages, idyllic islands, ancient wonders, wild scenery and everything in-between.

All of this is great, but planning a trip to such a diverse country, with enough bucket-list experiences to last a whole lifetime, can be overwhelming to say the least. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to see too much, and spending your precious time in Scotland rushing from one tourist site to the next.

This 7 day Scotland itinerary is our take on a perfect week of exploration in the Highlands and Isle of Skye: it is varied, it is exciting, and there is still enough wiggle room to add in your own activities, scenic walks, spontaneous detours and photo stops. Your road-trip starts here!

Day 1 – Glasgow to Oban

Embark on your journey from the busy city to the stunning West Coast. It doesn’t take long for Scotland’s glorious scenery to make an appearance on the route along Loch Lomond: a wee taste of what’s to come! Mountains rise up before you, providing a warm and dramatic welcome to the Highlands. Your final destination for the day is the bustling port town of Oban, ‘Gateway to the Isles’ and the perfect place for a Scottish seafood fix.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Luss, Loch Lomond – a lovely pit stop for a wee wander and some photographs.
  • Drover’s Inn – this allegedly haunted inn is full of character and was once frequented by the infamous Rob Roy MacGregor of late 17th Century fame. Grab a hot drink or a bite to eat, and imagine what it would’ve been like over 300 years ago.
  • Oban Distillery – learn all about Scotch whisky and sample a dram or two!
  • McCaig’s Tower – stretch your legs on this steep walk up to Oban’s answer to the Colosseum. Read the story behind its construction on the information boards and watch ferries travelling to and from the Hebrides from the lookout area.

Where to stay in Oban:

  • The Scot Hotel – a small and friendly boutique hotel, just a short walk from the main street and promenade.
  • Perle Hotel – a luxurious hotel right on the seafront, which retains its historic façade but has undergone a modern refurbishment inside.

You can view your route for the day here

Day 2 – Oban to Arisaig

If you haven’t already figured out why they say ‘West is Best’, you will after this epic journey. Follow the coast as you travel further north, and take a very worthwhile detour to one of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring landscapes, Glen Coe. The scenery is non-stop on the “Road to the Isles”, passing the multi-arched bridge made famous by Harry Potter and a string of pristine beaches for which the West Coast is known – and adored.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Highland Titles Nature Reserve – take a walk through the woods to visit your wee plot of land and soak up the surrounding scenery.
  • Glen Coe – learn all about the area at Glencoe Visitor Centre before driving into the breathtaking glen itself. We also recommend lunch at the historic Clachaig Inn and a visit to Glencoe Folk Museum.
  • Glenfinnan Viaduct – this iconic bridge, with its rows of striking arches, is known around the world thanks to the Harry Potter movies. You might even be lucky enough to see the Jacobite Steam Train (AKA the Hogwarts Express) passing over.
  • Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig – one of the most beautiful beaches in all the land and hard to believe the white sand and turquoise sea belongs in Scotland! Stroll, swim or simply sit and watch the sunset.

Where to stay in Arisaig:

  • Arisaig Pods – for something a bit quirky, go glamping in these well-equipped luxury pods with en-suite bathrooms and cooking facilities.
  • Arisaig Hotel – once a coaching inn, this hotel has been welcoming guests for over three-hundred years. There is a bar and restaurant on-site, and live music at weekends.

 You can view your route for the day here

Day 3: Arisaig to Portree, Isle of Skye

Now it’s time to leave the mainland behind and hop over to the enchanting Isle of Skye. Complete your drive on the “Road to the Isles”, stopping for another beach fix before arriving at the fishing port of Mallaig where you will travel over the sea to Skye. Arrive onto Skye’s Sleat Peninsula and travel to the main town of Portree with some obligatory photo stops along the way. You must pre-book your ferry crossing from Mallaig to Armadale on the CalMac website.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Morar Silver Sands – another jaw-dropping beach which could be mistaken for the Caribbean. Squeeze in a wee wander before the ferry, if you can.
  • Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum – learn all about Clan MacDonald, the Vikings, and Skye’s unique geology and island way of life through a range of engaging exhibits. The gardens and ruined castle are just magical too! For more info click here.
  • Sligachan – the river and old Bridge at this tiny settlement offer one of the best photo opportunities on Skye thanks to the backdrop of the otherworldly Cuillin mountains.
  • Neist Point – drive to one of Scotland’s most photographed lighthouses or if you’re too tired, go straight to Portree to settle in for the evening.
  • Portree – spend the night in Skye’s main town. Eat fish and chips at the colourful harbour and have a few drinks with the locals at The Isles Inn.

Where to stay in Portree:

  • The Skye Inn – one of Portree’s newest additions, this lovely, friendly abode has a modern, traditional interior and is just 5-minutes’ walk from Somerled Square.
  • Cuillin Hills Hotel – this 4* luxury hotel sits in a peaceful location with views over Portee Bay and has an award-winning restaurant and impressive whisky collection.

You can view for your route for the day here.

Day 4 – Isle of Skye

Spend a full day exploring some of Skye’s main sights. You can never have too many waterfalls and striking rock formations on this island! Start early for your loop round the Trotterish Peninsula to beat the tour buses and crowds. Later, take a trip over to the neighbouring Isle of Raasay and its special distillery before returning to Portree for your final evening on Skye.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Old Man of Storr – stop for a photograph of this distinctive pinnacle from ground level or take a hike for a closer look.
  • Lealt Falls – follow the series of walkways and viewing platforms to marvel at the waterfalls and undulating cliffs.
  • Kilt Rock – the impressive cliff face, with the cascading Mealt Falls, is said to be shaped like a giant’s kilt, and who are we to argue with that?
  • Quiraing – used as a backdrop in many films, this ancient landslip is like arriving on another planet. Only confident drivers should attempt the hairpin bends to get there!
  • Isle of Raasay – take the short ferry crossing from Sconser over to Raasay to visit the new Raasay Distillery: the first ‘legal’ distillery on the island, if not the oldest.

You can view your route for the day here.

Day 5: Isle of Skye to Inverness

Take in the last of Skye’s magical sights before crossing back onto the mainland via the Skye Bridge and making a compulsory stop at one of Scotland’s most romantic castles. Continue south and marvel at the mountains in every direction, as you leave the coast behind, on your drive towards Loch Ness. Go for a spot of sightseeing around the loch and then continue to your final destination, the city of Inverness.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Kyleakin – make a quick stop in this wee village before you leave Skye for a photo of the Skye Bridge in all its glory.
  • Eilean Donan Castle – this castle is lifted straight from the pages of every brochure promoting Scotland. It’s a beauty and it sits on a wee island at the point where three lochs meet. Venture inside or simply admire from afar. For more info click here.
  • Fort Augustus – this pretty town is popular with tourists thanks to its position on the impressive Caledonian Canal and the tip of Loch Ness. Take a boat trip with Cruise Loch Ness.
  • Invermoriston – go for a walk through the forest to the ‘Summer House’ for views of Invermoriston Falls and the old bridge.
  • Inverness – settle into the ‘Capital of the Highlands’ with a walk along the River Ness followed by dinner and drinks at MacGregor’s Bar and live music at The Hootananny.

Where to stay in Inverness:

  • Royal Highland Hotel – this classic, traditional hotel is right in the city centre and once welcomed Queen Victoria as a guest.
  • Culloden House Hotel – this grand and luxurious hotel, which has connections to Bonnie Prince Charlie, is located just outside the city centre in 40 acres of land.

 You can view your route for the day here

If you have longer to spend at Loch Ness and Inverness, follow our 2 day Loch Itinerary here.

Day 6: Inverness to Pitlochry

It’s time to travel south, but don’t worry, you won’t be leaving the Highlands just yet. Today is all about the history and culture of the Highlands: an ideal way to conclude your time in the area. Visit an important battle site and the ruins of a garrison connected to the same period in history, followed by a unique museum which was used as an Outlander filming location, before arriving into pretty Perthshire for the night.

Recommended Stops & Attractions:

  • Culloden Battlefield – the site of the last battle fought on the UK mainland in 1746 and the story which inspired the Outlander novels. Explore the visitor centre and battlefield to learn about this hugely significant event. Plan your visit here.
  • Clava Cairns – a mysterious ancient site with standing stones and chambered cairns from 2000 BC. Read more on the Historic Scotland website.
  • Ruthven Barracks – these picturesque ruins are where the remaining Jacobites gathered, the day after the Battle of Culloden.
  • Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore – this open-air museum gives a fascinating insight into Highland life and how people used to live, work and dress. There is lots to see there! For more information, click here.
  • Pitlochry – this charming, tourist town has some lovely shops and walking trails. Take a wander along the River Tummel and visit Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre. Go for a hearty meal and some drinks at The Old Mill.

 Where to stay in Pitlochry:

  • Atholl Palace Hotel – once a Victorian spa resort, this impressive building holds much of its original charm and has some lovely walks right on the doorstep.
  • The Old Mill Inn – stay right in the centre of town, where you only have to venture downstairs for dinner, in this family-run accommodation.

 You can view your route for the day here.

Day 7 – Pitlochry to Edinburgh

Discover what Perthshire has to offer before your journey to the big city. There is lots to see in this beautiful region and you don’t have to travel far from Pitlochry. First, grab some scones and treats from Hettie’s Tearoom for the road! Immerse yourself in the wild scenery of ‘Big Tree Country’ on these woodland walks and visit two royal residences and a cathedral town along the way.

  • Blair Castle – this fascinating castle and its vast and elaborate gardens, is the ancestral home of the Atholl family, which is used today as base for the Atholl Highlanders army. Plan your visit here.
  • The Hermitage – take a walk into the forest and into Ossian’s Hall which sits above the crashing Black Linn Falls. A truly magical place!
  • Dunkeld – visit this attractive town and it’s partially ruined Dunkeld Cathedral. There are some fantastic local businesses where you can pick up souvenirs and delicious Scottish produce.
  • Scone Palace – take an optional detour into the city of Perth to visit Scone Palace, the site where Scottish Kings used to be coronated. For more info, click here.
  • Edinburgh – settle into Scotland’s capital city with a walk around the Old Town, followed by dinner and drams at the atmospheric Devil’s Advocate.

Where to stay in Edinburgh:

  • Eden Locke – this stylish, boutique hotel is like an oasis in the city and sits on upmarket George Street in the New Town within walking distance of all the main sights.
  • House of Gods – this boutique hotel in an exciting new addition to the Old Town and is a bit of flamboyant, with a burlesque-style character.

You can view your route for the day here.


About the author

Written by: Kay Gillespie


Comments on this post

  • Russell DePace
    17/03/21 - 19:32

    Thank you! We’ve been trying to sort out an itinerary for a trip to Scotland. This sounds wonderful.

  • Ursula
    17/03/21 - 19:37

    We did the NC500 anticlock-wise in 2019 with our own car. We started in Limburg/Germany and got to Scotland by ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle upon Thyne and continued to Perth. From there to Dornoch, Tongue and Ullapool, Shieldaig, Isle of Skye, Duror, Duck Bay and Morecombe to finish at our friends house in Edingale. It took us in whole 20 days and we saw a lot of the mentioned sights. It was more than amazing and a lot of views were breath-taking. We stayed at B&B´s and had really nice hosts which gave us a lot of tips. From Duror we visited the Highland Titles Nature Reserve where we had a guided tour by Fiona. It´s unbelievable which work they are doing there. We don´t regret buying plots there. This holiday is unforgettable and we are sure coming back again to Scotland if the virus pandemic is over.

  • Lady Faye Helen Wardle
    17/03/21 - 21:38

    What a lovely journey. I have travelled most parts of this lovely countryside and wish I was young enough to follow this again.
    Keep up the good work

    Faye

  • Sandra Zaninovich
    18/03/21 - 07:17

    I’ve been to Scotland many times since my first visit in ‘85, and have done massive research ahead of every visit, so I feel like quite the Scotland expert. I was born in Croatia and we own an apartment on the magical island of Hvar where I have also been fortunate to spend at least part of every summer for most of my life. But when people ask me for advice about where to go and what to do in Croatia, I tell them to look elsewhere, since I only know Hvar. However, I always add that if they ever go to Scotland, I’ll have loads of advice and tips. I heartily agree with this wonderful itinerary, the only thing I’d add is Glen Etive and Castle Stalker, especially if a visit can be booked like I did, and a meal or stay at the Pierhouse in Port Appin. Because of the combination of location, view, and quality of food, it’s my favorite restaurant in the world, with the possible exception of Divino in Hvar. And I’ve had the singular honor of eating at several Michelin-starred restaurants, including the truly astonishing French Laundry in Napa, but still I would not choose any of them over Pierhouse or Divino. Thank you for this itinerary! There are a couple of places on here that I’ve missed, and I plan to save this and rectify that next time I return to visit my plots.

  • Martha G Koelemay
    18/03/21 - 15:26

    Thank you so much! I am hoping to visit Scotland next year (had hoped for THIS year, but, well…..). I am Lady Martha of Glencoe and truly want to visit my little one-square-foot “estate,” as well as so many other sights I was afraid I would have to apply for an extended work visa or something. This sounds like a perfect tour, but I had planned on two weeks, and the “Outlander” tour is to be a large part of my visit. With your guide in hand, the advice of a dear friend whose son lives in Scotland, and the Outlander folks, I am anticipating the visit of a lifetime!

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