Scotland, Driving from Edinburgh to the Highlands

Icon Share


Advisor - Natalie Sopher
Curated By

Natalie Sopher

  • Nature Escapes

  • Couples Travel

  • Scotland

  • Relaxation

  • Romantic

  • Insta-Worthy

Scotland, Driving from Edinburgh to the Highlands
Curator’s statement

The location of our two hotels we stayed at was perfect. The rooms were outstanding and the service was beyond exemplary. You receive the warmest of welcomes the moment you pull up. Which, if you drive into the city like I did (on the opposite side of the road as accustomed), is one of the most amazing things to pull up to. They are ready to take your bags and valet your car. You can let any stress melt away. The Balmoral has a grand entrance that will take your breath away, and every detail of the hotel is hospitality at its finest. The Kimpton Charlotte Square hotel has a warm and cozy welcome with a beautiful urban garden with café selection in the center. You can also relax and enjoy a nice weekend brunch here.

The Fora Difference

Book with Natalie to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

[object Object]
Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

[object Object]
Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

[object Object]
Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Unlock perks by contacting Natalie to book your trip.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with a rich history. The castle stands above, looking over the gorgeous medieval city, allowing for many amazing photo opportunities. From the Castle, take the walk down the Royal mile. This walk is well worth it, lined with cute shops and restaurants and the stunning St Giles’ Cathedral, which happens to play part in the most recent Avengers movie. Harry Potter fans will love the city as there are many locations that inspired the author JK Rowling while writing her books. She even stayed at The Balmoral Hotel while writing the last book. You can even stay in the room that she did! Edinburgh has many stunning aspects, but no trip to Scotland is complete without a trip to the beautiful Highlands. I highly recommend traveling up into the highlands for awe-inspiring landscapes and adorable highland coos. We traveled via rental car, but you can also take the train instead! On our drive up through the Three Sisters Mountains, we were struck by one of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen. The views are every bit worth the trek up. If you’re driving, be ready to pull off at any of the car park areas for picturesque views! Another fun fact for Harry Potter fans! The train they used to film the Hogwarts Express is enchanting, and you can even ride it from Fort William to Mallaig. This trip takes you over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, known for the scene in the second movie while Harry and Ron are driving the flying car to Hogwarts. If you are like me and a total Potter Head, you can don your robes and take pictures in front of the Train. If you don’t have time for the full train ride, you can head to Glenfinnan Viaduct and stroll the short hike to view the Train as it comes across. You can see it coming and going four times a day (subject to train schedule).

Looking down into the courtyard of Blackness Castle

Looking down into the courtyard of Blackness Castle, Inside a side room of St Giles Cathedral looking up into the rafters

Keeping watch of the city, Edinburgh Castle looks regal from the fountain at Princes St Gardens

Keeping watch of the city, Edinburgh Castle looks regal from the fountain at Princes St Gardens, From our Stay in Fort Augustus, Loch Ness reaches far in the distance.

Traveling up to the Isle of Skye is a long trek, so I suggest staying over if time allows. The island is spectacular but there are many one-way roads so it can take you twice the time you expect to get to places, especially if you are driving. The Fairy Pools were the only site we could see on our trip to the Isle of Skye, but any spot you choose will bring breath-taking views. On your way there, don’t miss Eilean Donan Castle. An impressive castle on the water, rich in history and a picturesque landscape. Travel across to Inverness and spend the day shopping in this beautiful town. It has a great shopping mall only blocks away from Inverness castle. On the way, I suggest stopping by Fort Augustus at the tip of Lock Ness. They have an assortment of great little shops where you can pick up a unique glass-blown Nessie to commemorate your trip! Urquhart Castle is also located on the lochand is well worth seeing as it sits right on the lake. We will just make sure to get tickets ahead of time! There are many amazing sites to see on the way back to Edinburgh.

The outside of The Balmoral Hotel is an impressive site as you walk the streets of Edinburgh

The outside of The Balmoral Hotel is an impressive site as you walk the streets of Edinburgh, I'm ready for my trip to Hogwarts!

The Birks of Aberfeldy is a stunning hike with gorgeous waterfalls. The hike doesn’t take long and the views are phenomenal. We also stopped by The Hermitage, where you can take a short 15 min walk to another stunning waterfall. You can continue hiking through the beautiful forest or move on to your next stop. We made our way to Sterling Castle, which is another hilltop castle overlooking the town of Sterling. This castle has a rich history filled with famous Monarchs. Close to Edinburgh you will find Blackness Castle, which wasa filming site of a well-known show, Outlander. Make sure to ask for the pamphlet showing all the locations in Scotland that were used for the filming of Outlander. Linlithgow Palace and Lauriston Castle rounded out our first day in Scotland as we made our way into the city from the airport.

Need to Know

There is no shortage of options in this magnificent country and especially close to Edinburgh. I would recommend anyone looking for breath-taking mountain and waterfall views, Harry Potter and Outlander fans, history fans, or anyone who has fallen in love with European architecture, to make Scotland your next Bucket List visit.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Scotland. In need of further inspiration? Check out Jessie West’s guide, From Edinburgh to the Coast: 1 Week in Scotland.

Advisor - Natalie Sopher

Travel Advisor

Natalie Sopher

Get in touch with Natalie

Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.

You can normally expect a response from Natalie within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).