Day 1: Drive to Speyside
Drive to Speyside
Edinburgh is usually where travelers start their trip, but I recommend saving it for the end. Instead, rent a car from the airport and drive to Speyside.
En route, stop for lunch at Blair Atholl Watermill & Tea Room. Order soup and scones at this charming little inn set in an old flour mill building. It’s an easy, casual, quick lunch spot – but so much better than a fast food type of place.
Check in at Boath House
The Boath House is an old Regency House in the country set up in the Highlands. It’s very intimate with a handful of rooms, excellent service and memorable design. After you settle into your room, have a glass of wine and a slice of cake at the Potting Shed in the back garden. If you’re looking for a different type of hotel, reach out to me so that I can help make recommendations on the best one for your travel style.
Head to Nairn
Head to Nairn for a walk on the beach and the pier. You're probably jet lagged, so going out to the water and walking on the pier to get some fresh air while the waves crash will help you settle into the destination. Once you’re hungry, grab an early dinner in town. Many places close early, but Sun Dancer is a great seafood spot open until around 10:30 pm.
Day 2: Whisky tasting
Breakfast at the Boath House
Grab a quick breakfast at the Boath House before getting picked up for a whisky tour. Breakfast usually includes yogurt, granola toast and scrambled eggs.
Hire a driver and take a guided whisky tasting tour in Speyside. Make sure your tour includes a stop at the Glenfiddich distillery and do their Solera Deconstructed tour where you'll create your own blend to take home. You can also have lunch on-site at Glenfiddich.
Dinner at the Boath House
After a long day of whiskey tasting – most tours include at least three distilleries – head back to your hotel to have dinner and hit the hay. The Boath House restaurant is beautiful; have a salmon dish, a must-try dish in Scotland.
Day 3: Castle hopping
Drive to Skye
Have breakfast at the Boath House before checking out and driving to Skye. Take the scenic route that goes along the western coast of Loch Ness lake. There's a lot of viewpoints to pull over, park the car and get out and take some pictures and a few breaths of fresh air. Take your time and leave some room in your schedule to experience the natural landscapes and beauty of the country.
Stop at the Urquhart Castle
This gorgeous castle is situated directly on Loch Ness. What's interesting about this castle is that it’s in ruins; it’s very old and sort of crumbled. The** Urquhart Castle’s **walls are still there and it's a nice place to walk around.
Visit the Eilean Donan Castle
Also situated on the water, the Eilean Donan Castle is very intact. You can visit the dining room, kitchen, and more rooms on a guided tour. It’s very well preserved and gives a sense of what it could have been like to live in that castle in the 13th century. Grab a casual lunch at the on-site cafe.
Hike to Old Man of Storr
Upon arriving on the Isle of Skye, hike to Old Man of Storr before it gets dark. The rock formation is a pretty easy hike, and takes only about two hours round-trip.
Check in to The Bosville hotel
The Bosville is a charming, small, cozy hotel conveniently located in the center of Portree. The guest rooms are very comfortable and they have an on-site restaurant and pub.
Grab a pint and a bite
Have a pint downstairs from The Bosville at Merchant Bar. Several beers from the award-winning Isle of Skye Brewery are on tap, or you can choose from a selection of Scottish gin and single malt whisky. Head into town to find something to eat for dinner or opt to eat at the hotel’s Dulse & Brose seafood restaurant if you want something easy and close.
Day 4: Take in all the sights
Take a picnic breakfast
After you check out of The Bosville, grab some pastries from the hotel breakfast and go for a stroll around the water-front town of Portree. There’s a row of colorful houses right along the water that's very picturesque and worth the time for a leisurely stroll.
Drive the road to the Isles
When you’re ready to leave the island, take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig to get back to mainland Scotland.
From there, drive the road to the Isles, A830. It's a pretty famous drive – you’ll pass by sandy beaches and go through mountain passes. One of the most notable stops is the Glenfinnan Viaduct: the bridge from the train scenes in the Harry Potter movies when the students are going to Hogwarts.** **You can park and go for a short walk to the viewing point.
Lunch in Fort William
Fort William is a town at the end of the road to the Isles. Have lunch at Garrison West, a cozy spot for soup, salmon or chicken pot pie. It’s a very Scottish lunch and a great way to really embrace the warmth and hospitality of the destination.
Check in to Aos Sí Lodges
Aos Sí Lodges are very cute tiny wood lodges with a wood burning stove, clawfoot tubs and porches. It’s very comfortable glamping and is brand new. If glamping is not your style, ask me for some other recommendations in the region.
My favorite spot for dinner is at Lochleven Seafood Cafe. Try the seafood soup and langoustines.
Day 5: Return to the city
Bidean Nam Bian hike
After having breakfast at the lodge, drive along A82 and go for a morning hike in the gorgeous area of Bidean Nam Bian. There are hiking trails everywhere – follow one up the mountain and wander as far as you’re comfortable. It's a breathtakingly beautiful mountain pass with creeks and little waterfalls trickling down the sides of the mountains.
Check in to the Tigerlily hotel
Grab sandwiches to go on the road as you drive back to Edinburgh. Return your rental car then check in to the Tigerlily. Located on George Street, a charming little street full of boutiques and restaurants, the Tigerlily is a hip spot that’s very colorful with jewel tones and sparkly golden mirrors. It’s a totally different vibe from the rest of the trip (which has been focused on serene and beautiful nature). They have a great lobby bar with tasty cocktails, and it’s a fun and comfortable place to start to wind down toward the end of your trip.
Dinner at the Gardener’s Cottage
Gardener's Cottage is a beautiful restaurant in the London Road gardens. It's set in an old gardener's cottage in the park with all these beautiful plants and flowers around. They offer a seasonal price fixe menu with several courses.
Day 6: Shopping on George Street
Grab a quick breakfast and shop
There are many coffee shops on George Street where you can grab something quick to eat for breakfast before strolling the boutiques.
Some of my personal favorite spots are ANTA (where you’ll find Scottish home goods including hand painted stoneware and tartan wool rugs) and Jigsaw (a British brand of women’s clothing and accessories).
You can also hit the Royal Mile for traditional Scottish souvenirs. It's a bit more touristy, but the classic with Gothic architecture and bagpipers are playing on the street create a vibrant, lively vibe.
Dinner at The Scran & Scallie
For a special last dinner in Scotland, head to The Scran & Scallie gastropub. It’s a very cozy spot that’s renowned for their ambiance and menu. Grab a fish pie or lentil burger for your main and don’t skip the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.