Best places to visit in Scotland! We drove around Scotland and this is the best way to see this glorious country. A road tip is very enjoyable and the drive easy and roads not crowded. Do not hesitate to hire a car and drive or drive up from England as we did on this trip.
Drive Around Scotland – 4 Day Driving Tour Itinerary:
Too many visitors to Scotland do not leave Edinburgh! Get out and explore. We drove from England and this is our route via M64 to Glascow then M80 and A9 to Pitlochry.
- Pitlochry – Stay overnight and explore the area
- Drive to Inverness and stay in the Highlands
- Explore Loch Ness by boat
- Hike in the Highlands
- Visit Scottish Castles
- Drive to Stirling then Falkirk
- Visit The Kelpies
- Drive home
PHOTO: The Kelpies, Falkirk
The reason I wanted to explore Scotland? The Kelpies, pictured above. A magnificent sculpture that did not disappoint in real life. In fact it exceeded my expectations and is without doubt the best sculpture I have seen for a long time. It is magical!
A 30 metre high sculpture depicting The Kelpies, situated next to the Forth and Clyde Canal and Helix parkland. Situated in Falkirk, about an hour from Edinburgh and 20 minutes from Stirling Castle.
I enjoyed some superb meals during the trip. Here are some Scottish Specialities for you to try during your visit to Scotland:
Scottish Food and drink Specialities
- Salmon – Scotland is world famous for its Salmon. Smoked is my favourite
- Kippers – a must try for breakfast, Kippers are served buttery with toast for breakfast. They are smoked Herring.
- The fresh, clean sea around Scotland mean great seafood and Lobster
- Haggis – If you eat meat, a must try! Made from Sheep offal and mixed with oatmeal and spices and suet stuffed into the lining of a Sheep stomach.
- Neeps and Tatties – An old Scottish dish from the days when food was not so plentiful and is a Turnip and Potato mash.
- Porridge – Super healthy breakfast made from cooked oats.
- Grouse – Traditionally shot from the glorious 12 August onwards for a few weeks. A small bird eaten roasted.
- Scottish Tablet – a sweet treat traditionally taken on a hike for energy.
Scotland is heaven for Whisky lovers of course! There are many small distilleries along the route to stop off and sample some Scotch Whisky.
Situated right in Stirling and one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. We stopped off because it was close to The Kelpies, but it was absolutely packed with tourists, tour buses and a long queue! Scotland has lots of gorgeous castles that are not inundated by tourists, so we decided not to join the crowds. PLUS dogs were not welcome, which is a problem. What were we supposed to do with the dogs?
PHOTO: Stirling Castle, Best places to visit in Scotland
The Scottish Highlands have been on my bucket list for some time. We were not disappointed and loved Pitlochry, the surrounding area with beautiful hikes. A stay near Pitlochry also breaks the long journey to the Northern Scottish Highlands. Stay near Pitlochry and explore the Castles nearby, I went on lovely walks and stayed here:
There are lots of interesting Castles nearby, including Blair Castle pictured below. Luckily this was less popular with tourists and I enjoyed exploring the Castle basically by myself! A traditional Sottish Bagpiper played the pipes as I left the Castle.
Dogs are allowed in the grounds of this Castle.
PHOTO: Blair Castle, The Highlands Scotland
Blair Castle was a delight to stroll around the magnificent gardens and explore the Castle. The oldest part of the Castle dates from 1269 and the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl and the head of the Murray Clan. The Castle is near to Blair Atholl village
PHOTO: Inside Blair Castle
Are you watching the TV series Victoria on ITV? This was filmed at Blair Castle! See if you recognise any of the scenes with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert! They even have Highland cows grazing, it is an idyllic setting.
PHOTO: Scottish Highland Cattle at Blair Castle
Also nearby, on the road to Blair Castle is the fabulous House of Bruar
House of Bruar is a good place to stop off on your road trip. It has ample free parking, a big restaurant and tea room plus shops selling House of Bruar Scottish made clothes. You will find everything from Cashmere sweaters to a tartan jacket here and all great quality. Check out the outlet shop too!
There is a big self service restaurant with all sorts of Scottish specialities to choose and out side a Fish and Chip shop. Another good place to stop for a break and buy some Cashmere and even a Kilt!
PHOTO: House of Bruar, Pitlochry
We were staying a short walk away from this pretty, quintessentially Scottish town. Lots of little shops and places to eat here and you can also park here and hike. We walked to the town and it is very pretty.
PHOTO: Pitlochry Town Centre
Next we headed North to Inverness from Pitlochry which is about a two hour drive through the magnificent Highlands. My advice would be to avoid high season (this is always my advice everywhere!) This trip was in April and the weather was perfect and The Highlands were not crowded with people.
Then pass by a few distilleries to stop off and sample some whisky, if that is your favourite tipple. The drive from Pitlochry to Inverness takes about 2 hours. It is a very beautiful route through the Highlands. Our next stop was twenty minutes from Loch Ness. We stayed here:
A boat ride on Loch Ness is a must do! I think everyone has heard of the fabled Loch Ness Monster. However, we took a boat ride for the beauty and peace and quiet of the loch rather than to find the Loch Ness monster, but to experience this magnificent Loch. The Loch definitely has mystical qualities and is very beautiful and it is 37 kilometre long too!
PHOTO: Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness
This is definitely on my best places to visit in Scotland list! However, I would imagine that it is packed in Summer. Also visit Urquhart Castle while you are there, although this is a ruin and best observed from a boat in my opinion.
Our dogs were allowed on the boat, but not in the Castle grounds, so this is the closest we could get. Rather annoyingly, Scotland is very dog friendly but they are not allowed in some of the attractions.
ViPHOTO: Plodda Falls, Caledonian Canal and Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness
As you travel further North, the landscape becomes wilder and more beautiful. We enjoyed some lovely hikes and walks here. A favourite was Plodda Falls, pictured above.
Super for a hike, ancient Caledonian woodlands within a nature reserve. About 20 minutes from Eagle Brae and trails for everyone from long hikes to short walks. The drive to Glen Affric is spectacular alongside the river Affric.
We chose to walk to Plodda Falls, the largest waterfall in Scotland and very beautiful, definitely worth a visit.
PHOTO: On the way to Blair Affric
We saw hardly anyone and enjoyed a fabulous day. The riverside above is a perfect spot for a picnic. See if you notice the memorial to the first ever Labrador Retriever ever bred.
Travelling with dogs in Scotland:
Our dogs were very welcome in the places we stayed. They came on hikes, the boat on Loch Ness (Some boats allow dogs) and were allowed in the grounds of Blair Castle. However, BEWARE they were not allowed even in the grounds of Stirling Castle or Urquhart Castle and quite a few other Scottish attractions. SO we did have to modify our itinerary because of the dogs.
It is not safe to leave them in the car for various reasons including the heat in the car. However, if you are not too bothered about visiting some of the attractions do take your dog along and have a great time. There is more than enough to do with the dogs. To be honest, we didn’t miss much not being allowed into the grounds of Urquhart Castle. It is only a ruin and you can get great shots from the Loch or the road.
My dogs are tiny and will fit in a bag but were still not allowed!
Falkirk to Stirling, Stirling to Pitlochry, Pitlochry to Inverness, Inverness to Struy
With thanks to Visit Scotland for the Press Pass