We are back from our beautiful trip in Scotland and we are ready to share with you some useful info, starting from our 10 day itinerary!
The map above approximately shows the different stages of our 10 day trip in Scotland, an itinerary that on one hand let us feel and discover the Medieval past of this country through its castles and, on the other hand, let us see a nature so wild that you won't expect it here in Europe.
- Day 1: Milan - Edinburgh
- Day 2: Edinburgh
- Day 3: Edinburgh - Stirling - Stonehaven - Inverness
- Day 4: Inverness - Fort Augustus - Urquhart Castle - Tain
- Day 5: Tain - Wick - Duncansby Head - Tongue
- Day 6: Tongue - Durness - Ullapool - Applecross
- Day 7: Applecross - Portree ( Skye ) - Dunvegan ( Skye )
- Day 8: Isle of Skye
- Day 9: Dunvegan ( Skye ) - Eilean Donan Castle - Fort William - Oban
- Day 10: Oban - Invereray - Luss - Lake of Menteith
- Day 11: Lake of Menteith - Edinburgh - Milan
Our trip in brief
The itinerary starts in Edinburgh, Scottish capital, that you can visit in 2 days, enough time to discover all its main Old Town attractions ( Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Grassmarket, Greyfriars ... ) and to stroll around the New Town relaxing at the beautiful Princes Street Gardens.
Then the real road trip stars with a first stop in Stirling where you can visit the majestic castle and the old town, the heart of the medieval kingdom, and, in the distance, you can see the National Wallace Monument in honor of Sir William Wallace. The next stop is in Stonehaven where you can visit the charming ruins of Dunottar Castle, an ideal place for photographers. In Inverness you can eat, drink and relax strolling along the River Ness in the shade of the city castle.
You'll spend the second day of the road trip discovering Loch Ness on nice panoramic routes. The clou of this day is Urquhart Castle. You'll sleep in Tain, first Scottish Royal Burgh that nowadays offers little more than just a distillery, a nice sunset and a place to sleep.
From Tain you'll follow the North Coast 500, a panoramic route that runs through the Highlands among beautiful coastal landscapes, small towns and castle ruins.
The town of Wick is worth a visit thanks to its distillery ( Old Pulteney ) and to the ruins of Castle Sinclair from where you can enjoy a nice view over the coast.
Not far from Wick, the Duncansby Head is another nice stop to enjoy a wonderful coastal landscape and to see colonies of sea bird on the stacks. The route up to Durness is truly spectacular with nice Caribbean style beaches and gets even more dramatic near Applecross.
It's time for the beautiful Isle of Skye where you should stay at least two days to properly visit its main attractions. Then, going back to Edinburgh, the first stop is the wonderful Eilean Donan Castle, then you pass through real movie settings near Fort William ( Harry Potter's Glenfinnan Viaduct and 007-Skyfall's Glencoe ). Finally stop on the West Coast in the nice town of Oban where you can eat some good fish before reaching Loch Lomond and, in the end, the Scottish capital.
The described itinerary is suitable for people that want to visit Scotland on the road but there's no time for trekking and hiking, so if you want to hike especially in the Isle of Skye you should focus on a smaller part of this country.
Would we change anything?
Yes, we would cancel the night at Loch Lomond that didn't impress us and we would add a night in Aberdeen in order to visit the coastal route between Dundee and Aberdeen.
Budget and costs
In 11 days we spent € 1,500 per person flying with Ryanair ( € 205 per person with a checked luggage ) and sleeping in nice b&bs paying € 50 per person per night. Talking about food, during the day we prepared sandwiches with the stuff we bought at Sainsbury's supermarket while for dinner we spent € 30 per person on average eating in tasty restaurants.
If this budget is too high, keep in mind that Scotland is a free camping nation so you can save a lot on food and on accommodations.
When to go?
We went in Scotland in June when temperatures are around 15 degrees. It's cooler in the Highlands and on the Isle of Skye where temperature can drop to 10 degrees, while it's hotter in Edinburgh where in sunny days temperatures are around 25 degrees.
August and July are not suggested since many people tell about many and many annoying mosquitos especially in Highlands region. The best period is likely Spring when the chance of rain is lower but days are warm and long. Keep into consideration also the hours of light since roads are not always "beautiful" (one lane and many curves) so the driving becomes not so pleasant.
Other useful information
All the roads are perfectly paved and they are mostly state roads that pass through towns, except for the highway between Edinburgh and Stirling.
In Highlands and Skye island roads have only one lane with different passing places which allow the transit of cars in both the direction. So..pay attention! Also because the drive is on the right.
Keep into consideration also that mobile phone coverage is totally absent in many areas of Highlands and Skye Island and also Wi-fi in our guesthouse was not so good!
No problem instead for gas stations; there is one filling station in every town and the price is around£1.13 per liter.
Tourism Board: www.visitscotland.com
North Coast 500 website: www.northcoast500.com
Isle of Skye website: www.skye.co.uk
We hope you enjoyed this post and you found it useful... if you have more questions or if you want to add more... leave a comment!