The Best of Scotland on a 7-Day Tour

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Advisor - Melissa Franco
Curated By

Melissa Franco

  • Scotland

  • Arts & Culture

  • Boutique Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Architecture

  • Local culture

  • Hiking

  • Sightseeing

Scotland is a land of rugged landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, where ancient castles meet rolling hills, and the haunting sound of bagpipes echoes through the glens.
Curator’s statement

Scotland is known for its stunning and diverse landscapes, particularly the rugged highlands and many lochs (lakes), but it also has a rich cultural heritage that includes traditional music, dance, literature, and art. From Gothic Cathedrals to quaint villages, homey pubs to award-winning restaurants, hiking trails to international cycling competitions, Scotland has something to entice every type of visitor. Get to know this magical country on a 7-day tour showcasing the best of Scotland.

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Day 1: Welcome to Glasgow

Glasgow Cathedral is a magnificent medieval masterpiece, a symbol of Scotland's history and architectural grandeur, nestled in the vibrant city of Glasgow.

Begin your tour in Glasgow, a port city on the River Clyde and Scotland’s oldest city. Famous for its red sandstone Victorian and Art Nouveau buildings, there are also lovely parks, the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland. Perhaps most impressive is Glasgow Cathedral, built between AD 1136 and 1484 it is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and a fine example of Gothic architecture. Glasgow Cathedral is also the only church on the mainland to survive the Reformation of 1560 intact. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, take a walk along the Clyde waterfront, and stop for a drink at the Champagne Bar located inside the Grand Central Hotel, with views directly over the central train station. Glasgow will be your home base for the first two nights of this tour.

Day 2: Burns Country

Brig o' Doon is a picturesque stone bridge immortalized in literature, spanning the Doon River and evoking romantic charm in the Scottish countryside.

Travel to Burns Country for a visit to the Burns National Heritage Park. Walk through the beautifully landscaped grounds, cross over the Brig o’Doon, visit Rabbie Burns’ home, and stop in the cemetery to see a Viking-era tombstone. Next drive to Ayrshire for a visit to Culzean Castle, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The Castle lies within the Culzean Castle Country Park, a great place to go for a walk and perhaps take your furry companion along. Sitting on Scotland’s west coast, Culzean is surrounded by dense forest and landscaped gardens on one side and the roaring sea on the other – it’s a beautiful spot!

Day 3: The Highlands

Urquhart Castle is a dramatic and historic Scottish fortress nestled on the shores of Loch Ness.

Today you’ll make your way up the west coast toward the Highlands and enjoy the incredible scenery along the way – you’ll see lots of sheep and perhaps some Highland Coos! Your first stop is Loch Lomond, a lovely little village where you’ll enjoy walking around and taking pictures of all the quaint cottages. Then make your way through Glencoe, the Outdoor Capital of the UK where you’ll see lots of hikers along the paths. Now you’re in the Highlands and you’ll be amazed by the towering mountains, some as high as 4,000 ft. above sea level. Glencoe was also the setting for James Bond’s ancestral family home, Skyfall Lodge, so 007 buffs might enjoy visiting this area even if they aren’t outdoorsy types. Continue your trip north to Urquhart Castle on the edge of Loch Ness. The Castle lies in ruins but is an interesting site to visit and offers incredible views of the deep, dark loch below and the mountains surrounding it. From here you can take a cruise on Loch Ness or continue your drive toward Inverness, your home base for the next two nights. Inverness is the cultural capital of the Highlands and the largest city in this part of the country. Spend some time walking through the Old Town where you’ll find the 19th-century Inverness Cathedral and an indoor Victorian Market selling everything from clothing and crafts to food.

Day 4: Isle of Skye

Portree Harbour is a colorful and bustling fishing village harbor on the Isle of Skye, offering stunning vistas of rugged landscapes and serene waters.

Today you’ll travel to the village of Portree on the Isle of Skye. The harbor in Portree is so pretty and picturesque, filled with quaint shops and plenty of restaurants where you can stop for lunch after taking pictures. After lunch, you’ll travel to Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle in Scotland. It is one which you’ve likely seen in some movies and shows – including Outlander. The castle, located on a tiny island at the intersection of three lochs, dates to the 13th century and the views of the Highlands from this spot are stunning.

Day 5: Culloden Moor

Culloden Moor is a solemn and haunting battlefield where the historic Battle of Culloden took place.

The first stop of the day is Culloden Moor, site of the 1746 Battle of Culloden – another interesting stop for Outlander fans and history buffs. Walking through the field you’ll see several tombstones marking the burial sites of different clans, as well as the memorial cairn constructed in 1881 to commemorate all the Scots who lost their lives here. The Culloden Visitor Centre offers a wealth of information and the 360-degree battle immersion theatre puts you in the centre of the action. Here you’ll read the true story of the 1745 Rising, from both the Jacobite and Government perspectives, as you walk through the museum, with weapons and artifacts on display along with detailed descriptions of the events. Next, you’ll begin driving south back toward the Lowlands, spending the night in St. Andrews. This seaside town on the northeast coast is famous for its golf courses, but if that’s not your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy walking through the charming town, the Cathedral ruins, visiting the University and the many nice shops.

Day 6: Whiskey tasting on the road to Edinburgh

Falkland is a charming Scottish village with a timelessly quaint atmosphere, known for its historic architecture, lush surroundings, and links to royal heritage.

Today will be a little more leisurely than the last few, so enjoy a hearty Scottish breakfast before starting the next leg of the journey. The first stop of the day is Kingsbarns Distillery for a fascinating tour where you’ll learn how Scotch Whisky is made, followed by a tasting. Next, you’ll travel to Falkland to visit the lovely village and the Palace. Falkland Palace was built by King James V in 1539 and it became a favourite retreat for Mary Queen of Scots. But, outside the palace there is more for Outlander fans – the little window from which Claire first sees Jamie, and the fountain he walks past as she sees him. After enjoying some time walking through this small village, you’ll drive to Edinburgh, home for the next two nights.

Day 7: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is a majestic and iconic fortress perched on an ancient volcanic rock, overlooking Scotland's capital city, steeped in history and commanding breathtaking views.

After breakfast, get ready for a tour of Edinburgh Castle just be prepared to do lots of walking! The Castle stands on Castle Rock, which has been inhabited by humans since the Iron Age and is one of the oldest fortified places in all of Europe. Once you trek up Castle Hill, you’ll have incredible views over the city from various lookouts. There are a variety of tours you can choose from if you’d like to learn the history of the Castle, and you can also enjoy an Afternoon Tea Experience. Leaving the Castle grounds, you’ll find many shops in this area, especially on Victoria Street, Princess Street, and Lawnmarket. While you’re out walking, be sure to stop at St. Giles’ Cathedral, the “Mother Kirk” of Scotland which dates to the 1140’s. If you’re interested in Medieval architecture or the Reformation, this is a fascinating place to visit. And if you’re into arts and crafts, be sure to visit the Scottish Design Exchange on George Street, and the National Gallery of Scotland located on The Mound, just below Edinburgh Castle.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, An All-Encompassing Tour of Croatia.

Advisor - Melissa Franco

Travel Advisor

Melissa Franco

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Scotland.