Are you planning a trip to Scotland?

This European locale is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, so you can bet you’re in for a treat! 

Like most European countries Scotland is rather small in size, which makes it ideally suited to exploring by car.

Thus, if you’re planning a trip to Scotland, then the best way to see it is on a road trip!

Continue reading to discover a Scotland road trip itinerary for 5 days starting in Edinburgh.

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Day 1

1. Arthur’s Seat

Day 1 of your road trip is all about Edinburgh.

After all, you want to make sure you spend ample time exploring the nation’s capital.

A must-see on any city tour of Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s Seat was formerly a volcano, and today is a beautiful hill that overlooks the entire city.

It is one in a group of hills that makes up Holyrood Park. 

Arthur’s Seat is a popular spot amongst both tourists and locals.

It is a great place to go for a hike, a run, or even just a picnic (it’s especially beautiful at sunset).

There are even some parts of it, like the South Quarry, that are suitable for rock climbing.

  • Address: Edinburgh EH8 8AZ, UK
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Distance: 2.9 mi (4.6 km) via Queen’s Dr  
  • Duration: 16 min from the city center

2. The Royal Mile

No trip to Edinburg is complete without strolling along The Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a group of streets that make up the main part of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

It was given its name after author W M Gilbert published a book in which he referenced Edinburgh and wrote “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between.”

In fact, between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace is exactly one mile.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the busy street has been known as the Royal Mile.

It is easily the prettiest, most historic part of the city.

Plus, it is as lively as can be, with shops, restaurants, and pubs lining it.

  • Address: 109 The Royal Mile Edinburgh EH1 1SG Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1SG, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Distance: 1.5 mi (2.4 km) via Queen’s Dr
  • Duration: 6 min drive from Arthur’s Seat

3. Edinburgh Castle 

The last stop on day 1 of your trip should be Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dates back to the late Bronze Age.

Some parts of the castle were built as far back as the 12th century, while others were constructed more recently.

The castle has been the victim of many sieges over the years, with the last one being in 1745.

Today, it is open to the public, allowing visitors to tour all of the castle grounds.

Upon entering, you will quickly realize what makes Edinburgh Castle Scotland’s number one tourist attraction and the second most popular attraction in all of the United Kingdom.

You’ll especially love looking out from the terrace, as you can see most of the city from here.

  • Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 9.30am-5pm
  • Distance: 0.7 mi (1.1km) via Cockburn Street
  • Duration: 8 min drive from The Royal Mile

Official site

Day 2

4. Forth Bridge

Let the second day of your Scottish road trip begin!

Head out from Edinburgh to the historic city of Stirling.

The first stop is Forth Bridge, located in Inverkeithing, UK.

Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge that spans the Firth of Forth.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered a symbol of the nation, as many consider it to be a feat of engineering.

The bridge was constructed between 1882 and 1889 and opened in 1890.

At the time of its opening, it was the longest cantilever railway bridge in the world.

It was surpassed in 1919 but remains the second longest to this day.

Today, between 190 and 200 trains cross it on a daily basis.

The red-hued bridge is impossible to miss and makes for an excellent photo opp on your road trip.

  • Address: 2J26+7J North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Distance: 14.9 mi (23.9 km) via A90
  • Duration: 53 min from Edinburgh Castle

5. Linlithgow Palace

Roughly 30 minutes from Forth Bridge in the town of Linlithgow, UK is where you will find your next pitstop: Linlithgow Palace.

Linlithgow Palace was originally a manor that was built in the 12th century.

However, over the years it was destroyed and rebuilt due to fires and sieges.

The palace was most recently rebuilt by King James in the early 17th century.

Its main claim to fame is that it was one of the principal residences of the Scottish monarchs in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The palace has been conserved since the 19th century and today is open to visitors year round.

It is managed by the Historic Environment Scotland.

Linlithgow Palace offers tours to visitors, as well as hosts festivals and art shows throughout the year.

  • Address: Linlithgow Palace, Kirkgate, Linlithgow EH49 7AL, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: April-Sept 9.30am to 5.30pm, Oct-March 9.30am to 4pm
  • Distance: 12.8 mi (21.4 km) via A90
  • Duration: 29 min from Forth Bridge

6. Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

Next stop on your road trip is none other than the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.

The Battle of Bannockburn was a famous battle that took place over the course of two days in 1314.

It was a battle fought in the First War of Scottish Independence, in which the army of King of Scots Robert the Bruce defeated the army of King Edward II of England.

It was an important battle then and continues to hold national significance.

That is why there is an entire museum devoted to it, known as the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.

The centre offers a range of informative and interactive exhibitions that allow guests to explore the medieval battle site.

  • Address: Glasgow Road, Whins Of Milton, Stirling FK7 0LJ, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 10am-5pm
  • Distance: 16.8 mi (27 km) via M9
  • Duration: 29 min from Linlithgow Palace

Day 3

7. Stirling Castle 

Sterling Castle

Stirling is a great place to spend the night, but before you leave in the morning, remember to check out Stirling Castle.

This historic medieval castle dates back to the 12th century, with some parts being built up to the 16th century.

It is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland.

The castle sits on Castle Hill and overlooks the city of Stirling down below.

It has been the subject of at least eight sieges over the years, with the last attempted siege being by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746 (it was unsuccessful).

Today, it is open to visitors who can walk around the castle grounds and through its many grand rooms.

Whether you are a history buff or not, you will surely be able to appreciate this stunning attraction.

  • Address: Castle Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 9.30 am-5pm
  • Distance: 2.9 mil (4.6 km) via Burghmuir Road/A9
  • Duration: 13 min from Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

Official site

8. Doune Castle 

Doune Castle

Doune Castle is the next stop on your road trip.

It is located less than half an hour from Stirling Castle, however, it is much more modest in size than Stirling Castle.

Doune Castle is a medieval fortress that was originally built in the 13th century.

It was badly damaged in the Scottish Wars of Independence and rebuilt, though not to completion, in the 14th century.

The layout of the castle is quite unique for its time.

Originally, an inner courtyard was planned, however, only the northern and north western buildings were completed.

There are two towers, one of which is where the Lord and his family would have resided.

Today, visitors can walk around the remains of Doune Castle and admire the 14th century stonework for themselves.

  • Address: Castle Hill, Doune FK16 6EA, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 10am-4pm
  • Distance:8.4 mil (13.5km) via M9 and B824
  • Duration: 20 min from Stirling Castle

9. Deanston Distillery 

Deanston Distillery

Less than 10 minutes from Doune Castle lies Deanston Distillery.

Scotland is known for whisky, which is why stopping at a local distillery should be a no-brainer.

Deanston Distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery located on the River Teith.

The site began as a cotton mill in 1785, but was transformed into a distillery in 1966.

Due to the supply of water from the nearby river, Deanston Distillery is the only distillery in Scotland that runs off of a hydro-electric facility on-site.

Deanston Distillery only opened to the public in recent years and has quickly become known as one of the most unique distilleries in the nation.

This is owing to its use of traditional distilling techniques and the fact that its whisky is organic.

  • Address:Teith Rd, Deanston, Doune FK16 6AG, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 10am-5pm
  • Distance: 1.4 mil (2.3 km) via A84
  • Duration: 7 min from Doune Castle

Official site

10. Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

To explore Scotland’s natural beauty, you have to stop at Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond is a lake in the south of Scotland.

It is located in a highlands area, surrounded by rolling, green hills.

The region is ideally suited to hiking, cycling, and camping. 

There are many footpaths and cycle trails that take you through the hills and around the lake.

Keep your eyes peeled for native red deer and plenty of quaint stone cottages along the way.

You can even stay overnight here, at the Lodge on Loch Lomond.

For something more rustic, stay at the Luss Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

Alternatively, if you don’t plan on spending the night here, be sure to at least see the lake from your car.

Note that there isn’t a road that goes directly around the entire lake, but the west shore is accessible by car.

  • Address: Loch Lomond & The Troussachs National Park, 20 Carrochan Rd, Balloch, Alexa
  • Opening Hours: 8.30-5pm, Weekends 9.30-4pm
  • Distance: 6.9 mil (11.1 km) Via A84
  • Duration: 11 min from Deanston Distillery

Day 4

11. Glencoe


For an authentic Scottish experience in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, be sure to make a stop in Glencoe.

Glencoe is a village that lies in the beautiful Glencoe Valley.

Waterfalls, scenic trails, and dramatic mountains are what the area is known for.

Two of the most popular hiking trails will take you to the peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian.

While hiking, be on the lookout for local golden eagles and red deer.

In addition to outdoor activities, Glencoe has a charming village centre that is home to the Glencoe Folk Museum.

To learn more about the region and especially the the Glencoe massacre of 1692, visit the museum.

There are also quaint shops and pubs in town.

  • Address: Glencoe, Ballachulish, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Distance: 28.7 mil (46.1 km) via A 82
  • Duration: 37 min from Loch Lomond

12. Cruise Over Loch Ness & Visit to Inverness


End the second last day of your tour in Inverness.

Inverness is the capital of the Scottish highlands and the closest major town to the famously mysterious Loch Ness.

Before you get settled for the night in Inverness, be sure to take a drive to this popular natural landscape.

The freshwater lake is 16 meters deep and is known for being the home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, known to locals as “Nessie.”

There are plenty of boat tours, from larger cruises to small zodiacs, that will take you out on the water.

But even just driving up to the lake is worth it.

In Inverness, there are plenty of attractions to visit, including Inverness Castle, Inverness Cathedral, and the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

  • Address: Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness, Inverness-Shire, 1V63 6TU
  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Distance: 65.6 mil (106 km) via A 82
  • Duration: 1 hr 49 min from Glencoe

Day 5

13. Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

Day 5, the final day of your Scottish road trip has arrived.

By the end of today, you will arrive back where you started: in Edinburgh!

But before you’re back in the capital, there are a few more stops worth checking out.

The first being Balmoral Castle.

Balmoral Castle is located in Ballater, and has been one of the residences of the British royal family since 1852, when it was purchased by Prince Albert.

The estate is an example of Scottish baronial architecture and is classified as a category A building.

While not one of the oldest castles in Scotland, having just been completed in 1856, it is one of the most significant owing to its connection to the British monarchy.

Today, Balmoral Castle spans over 50,000 acres and is a working estate.

It features grouse moors and farmland, on which there are herds of deer, Highland cattle, and ponies.

The castle’s grounds and gardens are open to the public daily.

  • Address: Balmoral Estates, Ballater AB35 5TB, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 11am-pm Wed, Sat & Tue, Closed Thur, Frid & Sunday
  • Distance: 69.8 mil (112.3km) via A9 and A939
  • Duration: 1 hr 46 min from Inverness

Official site

14. Queen’s View

Queen's View

For a view of Scotland unlike anywhere else, visit the Queen’s View in Pitlochry.

Queen’s View is just that – a viewpoint.

However, it is regarded as one of the best in the country as it offers panoramic views over Loch Tummel and the surrounding Tay Forest Park.

It is believed to be named after Queen Victoria who visited the area in 1866.

In addition to the expansive lookout spot, Queen’s View also has a cafe, tea room, and visitor’s centre for guests to enjoy.

This makes it a perfect pitstop, as you can soak up the view, learn about the area’s history, and grab a cup of tea all in one place.

Lastly, if you want to stretch your legs, there are a range of woodland walks available in Tay Forest Park, suitable for all fitness levels.

  • Address: Pitlochry PH16 5NR, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: 10am-4pm
  • Distance: 54.9 mil (88.3km) via A93
  • Duration: 1 hr 32min from Balmoral Castle

15. Loch Leven

Loch Leven

Before you arrive back in Edinburgh, it’s time for one last stop.

This time it’s a stop at Loch Leven, a scenic freshwater lake in Kinross, Scotland.

Loch Leven is triangular in shape and stretches 6 kilometres long.

There are seven islands on the loch.

The largest is St. Serf’s Inch, but it is another island on which Loch Leven Castle sits.

This is most famous for being the site where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567.

The island can be reached by ferry during the summer months.

In addition to its historic appeal, many scientists consider Loch Leven to be one of the greatest natural sites in the nation, owing to the diverse ecosystem it supports.

It is an especially great spot for bird watching, but it’s also a beautiful place to go for a walk if you wish to get some fresh air before getting back in the car.

  • Address: Loch Leven, Kinross, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Distance: 26.4 mil (42.4km) via M90
  • Duration: 38 min from Queen’s View

By now, you probably know why Scotland is considered one of the most fascinating and picturesque parts of the UK.

Don’t miss out by flying in between cities when you can get a much better feel for the country on a road trip.

From sipping whisky at the Deanston Distillery to exploring Stirling Castle and Balmoral Estate, we hope this list has inspired you on your upcoming trip to Scotland.

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