The Ultimate 7-Day Scotland Itinerary
Scotland is like a total badass when it comes to countries. Picture this: lush green landscapes as far as the eye can see, ancient castles that give off major Hogwarts vibes and a drink called whisky that can warm your soul. And oh boy, don't even get me started on bagpipes and kilts, they're practically the national uniform! Plus, there's haggis for the brave souls willing to try it. Scotland is just one of those places that'll leave you saying, "Damn, this is epic!"
The Fora Difference
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Where to stay
Hotel Fairmont St Andrews - Scotland
Fairmont St Andrews encapsulates luxury, elegance and truly breathtaking surroundings in the "Home of Golf" in Scotland.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
The Balmoral Hotel
Legendary hotel and landmark clock tower, The Balmoral Hotel is a regal and luxurious hotel that is a true love letter to Scotland.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Cuillin Hills Hotel
Overlooking Portree Bay, this hotel boasts elegant rooms and a Scottish restaurant on the Isle of Skye.
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Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh
You'll most likely fly into Edinburgh in the afternoon/evening. Collect your rental car at the airport and head straight into the city center. Check into your hotel and then start exploring!
Where to Eat
Some of my favorite restaurants:
Amarone: Craving Italian? Look no further! Amarone on George Street serves up amazing Italian dishes with a modern twist. Treat yourself to some homemade pasta or a scrumptious wood-fired pizza. And sip on a glass of Amarone wine while you're at it.
Gaucho: Meat lovers, unite! Gaucho is an upscale Argentinian steakhouse in St. Andrew Square. Get ready for top-quality cuts of beef grilled to perfection. With a classy vibe and a killer wine list, this place is steak heaven.
Bertie's Fish and Chips: When you're in the mood for a proper British feast, head to Bertie's on Victoria Street. Their fish and chips are legendary! Crispy batter, flaky fish and chips that'll make you go weak in the knees. Oh, and make sure to save room for the deep fried Mars bar for dessert (you can thank me later).
Other noteworthy spots that are highly rated:
The Kitchin: This place is fancy-pants with a Michelin star to boot! Chef Tom Kitchin brings Scottish flavors to life with local ingredients. It's a posh experience you won't forget.
The Witchery by the Castle: Imagine dining in a 16th-century building next to Edinburgh Castle. It's like stepping into a fairytale! The food here is fit for kings and queens and the romantic vibe is off the charts.
Ondine: Calling all seafood fanatics! Ondine is your go-to spot for the freshest and tastiest seafood in town. They serve up oysters, grilled fish and more mouthwatering delights. Prepare for a sea-sational feast!
Timberyard: If you're after a unique dining adventure, Timberyard is your jam. It's located in an old warehouse and focuses on seasonal and sustainable ingredients. The menu changes often, so you'll always be surprised with something new and delicious.
Day 2: Explore Edinburgh
Start your day by hitting up the iconic Royal Mile. It's like stepping back in time, with all its cool historic vibes. Explore the quirky shops, grab a cup of joe to kickstart your morning and soak in the lively atmosphere. Trust me, the people-watching game here is on point!
Oh, and don't forget to check out St. Giles' Cathedral. It's a stunning piece of architecture that'll make you go "wow!" Snap some pics of the beautiful stained glass windows and take a moment to soak up the peaceful vibes inside.
Now, brace yourself for some serious castle vibes at Edinburgh Castle! This place is the real deal, packed with history and epic views. Stroll through the grand halls, geek out over the ancient artifacts and don't miss the chance to capture that Instagrammable shot overlooking the city. You'll feel like a boss up there!
It's time to refuel, and what better place than the vibrant Grassmarket and charming Victoria Street? Picture this: a lively square filled with cozy pubs and trendy cafés. Grab a tasty bite to eat, whether it's a classic Scottish dish or something exotic. And speaking of vibes, Victoria Street is like a rainbow exploded with its colorful shops. It's the perfect place to score some unique finds and show off your shopping skills. And rumor has it this colorful street is what inspired Diagon Alley - IYKYK!
Calling all Potterheads! You can't miss a visit to the Elephant House. This café is where J.K. Rowling conjured up the magic of Harry Potter. Sit back, relax with a cup of tea and let your imagination run wild. Who knows, maybe you'll even get inspired to write your own epic tale!
After the Elephant House, let's keep the Harry Potter tour going and go on a spooky adventure to the Greyfriars Kirkyard. Yeah, it's a cemetery, but trust me, it's not as creepy as it sounds. It's actually pretty fascinating! Explore the ancient tombstones, hear some eerie stories and who knows, maybe you'll even run into the ghost of Greyfriars Bobby, the famous loyal pup. J.K. Rowling got inspiration for some of her characters from the tombstones in this cemetery, including he who shall not be named. See if you can spot a few familiar names.
As the day rolls on, head to Calton Hill for breathtaking views of the city skyline. It's a short walk and the panoramic scenery is totally worth it. Take in the views, snap some incredible photos, and feel on top of the world!
We can't wrap up the day without a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is where the royals hang out, so get ready to feel like a VIP. Stroll through the lavish rooms, explore the lush gardens and pretend you're living the high life. It's a glimpse into the lives of royalty, and you might even feel a bit fancy yourself!
Day 3: St. Andrews
Today, wake up early and get ready for a fun full day of exploring new places on the way to St. Andrews.
First up, we're heading to see the mighty Kelpies. These colossal horse sculptures are jaw-droppingly awesome! Snap some pics and let the impressive artwork leave you in awe. It's a unique way to kickstart your day.
Next up, it's time to conquer Stirling Castle! Get your medieval vibes on as you explore this historic fortress. Roam through the grand halls, imagine yourself as a brave knight or a fancy noble and take in the panoramic views from the castle walls. It's like stepping into a real-life Game of Thrones episode!
Now, let's pay tribute to the legendary William Wallace at the Wallace Monument. Climb up to the top (no, you don't need a ladder!) and prepare to be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Let's take a detour to Doune Castle, a.k.a. the Outlander castle! Channel your inner time-traveler as you explore this iconic filming location. Pretend you're Claire or Jamie, roam through the medieval halls and let your imagination run wild. Game of Thrones fans might also recognize this castle as the Starks home, Winterfell.
It's time to venture to Falkland, a charming little town that'll transport you back in time. Explore the quaint streets, check out the historic buildings, and soak in the peaceful vibes. It's like stepping into a postcard from the past!
Get ready for some serious golf vibes as we venture to St. Andrews. Feel the history and prestige as you explore the iconic Old Course, the mecca of golf. Even if you're not a golfer, you can still appreciate the legendary status of this place. Take a walk along the sandy beaches, breathe in that fresh sea air and let the coastal beauty recharge your soul.
While you're in St. Andrews, don't forget to check out the majestic St. Andrews Cathedral. Wander through the ruins, imagine the grandeur that once was and let the ancient stones whisper their stories to you. It's a serene spot that'll transport you to a different time.
Day 4: The Highlands
Today is a going to be a long one, but a good one!
Let's kick off the day with a visit to Balmoral Castle. This place is like stepping into a fairytale! Channel your inner royal and explore the majestic halls, wander through the beautiful gardens and imagine what it'd be like to live like a queen or king. Speaking of royalty, Queen Elizabeth would always spend her summer holiday at Balmoral.
Next up, we're heading to the Culloden Battlefield. It's a spot that oozes history. Take a walk on the battlefield, close your eyes and let your imagination transport you to the time of the Jacobite uprising. Feel the weight of history and pay tribute to those who fought bravely.
Embrace the mystical side of Scotland at the Clava Cairns. These ancient stone structures have an enchanting vibe, like something out of a fantasy movie. Walk among the stones and maybe even attempt some ancient rituals if you're feeling adventurous!
Stop in Inverness for lunch before making your way to the next stop of the day.
It's time to search for the legendary resident of Loch Ness, Nessie! Take a boat trip or just hang out by the shores. Who knows, you might just catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. Regardless, soak in the serenity of the surroundings and appreciate the beauty of this famous Scottish loch.
Prepare to be blown away by the majestic Urquhart Castle. It's perched right on the banks of Loch Ness, making for some amazing views. Explore the ruins, climb the towers and let your imagination run wild as you picture the castle in its heyday.
Last but definitely not least, we're making our way to Eilean Donan Castle. This place is like a scene straight out of a movie, and for good reason—it's been featured in many films! Take a walk across the bridge, explore the castle's nooks and crannies, and let the breathtaking views of the surrounding lochs leave you speechless.
Continue on towards the Isle of Skye which will be your home base for the next two nights.
Day 5: Isle of Skye
The early bird gets the worm! At sunrise, lace up those hiking boots and get ready conquer the mighty Old Man of Storr! This iconic rock formation is like nature's way of saying, "Hey, check out this badass landmark!" Scale the heights, snap some epic photos and soak in the jaw-dropping views.
Time to venture off the beaten path and uncover the hidden gem that is Brother's Point. With its rugged cliffs and stunning coastal vistas, it's the perfect spot to unleash your inner explorer. It's like stumbling upon a secret paradise that'll have you grinning from ear to ear.
Brace yourself for some serious jaw-dropping beauty at Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. Gaze in awe at the towering rock formations and let the cascading waterfall take your breath away.
Get ready for a hike that'll transport you to another world. The enchanting Quiraing boasts dramatic cliffs, rolling hills and vistas that'll leave you breathless. It's like stepping into a fantasy realm where every turn reveals a new stunning landscape. Get your camera ready, because this place is pure eye candy!
Prepare to be whisked away to a magical wonderland at Fairy Glen. This whimsical spot is like stepping into a fairytale. With its charming mounds, winding paths and mystical atmosphere, it's a place where dreams come true. Keep an eye out for mischievous fairies playing hide-and-seek among the hills!
Time to take a leap back in time and explore the legendary Dunvegan Castle. With its majestic presence and rich history, it's a castle fit for kings and queens. Wander through grand rooms, stroll in the enchanting gardens and immerse yourself in tales of knights and noble families.
It's time to unwind and soak up the coastal vibes at Portree Harbor. Picture colorful fishing boats gently swaying in the water, cozy pubs lining the waterfront and the aroma of freshly caught seafood in the air. Treat yourself to a delicious meal, enjoy a leisurely stroll and let the seaside charm sweep you off your feet.
Where to Eat
The Granary: This cozy joint serves up a mix of Scottish classics and international dishes. Think hearty seafood chowder, juicy steaks and other scrumptious goodies. Plus, the vibe here is super chill, making it the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy a good meal.
Cuchullin Restaurant: If you're in the mood for a fancy feast, Cuchullin is where it's at. They've got a real knack for whipping up dishes that are as drool-worthy as they are Instagrammable. Get ready for beautifully plated scallops, mouthwatering lamb and a dining experience that'll make you feel like royalty.
Sea Breezes: Seafood lovers, rejoice! Sea Breezes is all about serving up the freshest catches of the day. From their epic seafood platters to their classic fish and chips, they've got you covered. Get ready to dig in and taste the flavors of the sea.
Scorrybreac Restaurant: For a fancy schmancy dining experience with a touch of Scottish charm, hit up Scorrybreac Restaurant. Their menu is all about showcasing the best local ingredients in innovative and delicious ways. Get ready to treat yourself to beautifully presented dishes that'll have your taste buds doing a happy dance.
Day 6-7: Glencoe & Glasgow
Day 6: Glencoe
This morning, hop aboard the Hogwarts Express (well, figuratively speaking) and head to the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct. Remember that bridge from the Harry Potter movies? Yeah, that's the one! Get your cameras ready to capture the magic as the steam train chugs its way across the viaduct. You'll feel like you're part of a wizarding world adventure! Just make sure you time it right so you arrive right before the train crosses the bridge. If you're feeling adventurous you can even book a ticket and take a ride on the Hogwarts Express that departs from Fort William.
On the way to Glencoe, stop in Fort William to grab some lunch and try your luck at spotting some Highland Cattle.
Time to unwind and take a breather at the peaceful and picturesque Glencoe Lochan. This hidden gem offers serene walking trails around tranquil lochs, surrounded by stunning mountain views. It's the perfect spot to reconnect with nature, snap some Insta-worthy shots, and just enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors.
Vroom vroom, we're hitting the road in true James Bond style! Buckle up and get ready to cruise along the famous Skyfall Road. Feel the wind in your hair as you navigate those twisting bends and admire the rugged beauty of the Scottish countryside. Cue the Bond theme music!
Calling all Harry Potter fans! We're making a detour to Hagrid's Hut. Okay, it might not be the real deal, but it's a whimsical little cottage tucked away in the Scottish Highlands that looks just like Hagrid's humble abode. It's like stepping into a magical world, so let your imagination run wild and embrace your inner wizard!
Day 7: Glasgow
Head straight to the airport or do a little exploring of the city depending when your departure flight is and soak up every last minute of Scotland as you can.
Need to Know
Looking for more Scotland magic? Check out Fora Travel Advisor Annie Decker's guide, Experiencing the Magic of Scotland in 7 Days.
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