The Perfect 10-Day Scotland Itinerary

The Perfect 10-Day Scotland Itinerary

Seeing all the amazing sites in Scotland in one trip is pretty much impossible. There’s simply just way too much to see. I’ve been to this beautiful country two times now and traveled all over it but still feel as if I have only scratched the surface. 

I warned you before, Don’t go to Scotland! But if you refuse to listen, here’s some hlpful advice.

Things to consider when planning your Scotland trip

Length of time

People ask how much time they should allow for a trip to Scotland. That’s a difficult question to answer. Short answer is, how much do you want to see? If you want to try and hit all the highlights, I suppose you could do it in a week but that would be tight. I would suggest 10 days minimum, but 2 weeks would be great. It would allow you to see a lot without feeling as if you are constantly on the go.

Time of year to visit

Another thing to take into consideration is the time of year in which you visit. Although the summer months will be more crowded and more expensive, you have much more daylight to work with in order to fit more in. In the winter it gets dark around 3 or 3:30, but in the summer sunset isn’t until about 11:30. That’s quite a huge difference! In addition, it rains a lot, especially in the spring. Factoring in an extra day or two in case plans get altered due to weather would be wise. However, because the weather fluctuates so much in Scotland, things rarely stop due to rain, fog, and the like. Just pack accordingly and proceed with your schedule as planned whenever possible. Layer, layer, layer and make sure those layers are as waterproof as possible.

What type of trip are you looking for?

Do you want to focus primarily on city life, natural beauty, history, or a combination? There are countless types of trips one could take to Scotland. It’s a country that offers many different types of things to see. This itinerary incorporates some city and natural sites so you can get a bit of a feel for both. In my mind, I wouldn’t be able to choose between all the different options. There’s just so much fascinating history, architecture, stunning natural scenery, and awe-inspiring different things to see and do in this amazing country. 

Here’s a post that may help you narrow down the important things to see (all of which are in this perfect 10 day itinerary!)

Top 10 Bucket List Worthy Things to See in Scotland

If you’re visiting Scotland for the first time, it may be best to simply try to see a bit of everything and hit as many highlights as you can. If that sounds like a good plan, here is 

The Perfect 10-Day Scotland Itinerary

Day 1-2: Edinburgh

Let’s begin in Scotland’s capital city. One could easily spend a week in Edinburgh alone, but we’ve got lots to do so this trip will just be about getting your feet wet. Let’s hit the highlights. Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, and King Arthur’s Seat are all must-dos. Edinburgh is going to be your home base for a few days so pick accommodation that’s comfortable and relatively close to the Royal Mile or Waverley Station if you will be relying on trains for transportation.

Bonus! Here are the top 10 things to do with families in Edinburgh

Overnight accommodation: Edinburgh

Day 3: Stirling

A day in Stirling is a wonderful way to spend your time. Visit the amazing Stirling Castle, shop, eat, and explore the beautiful city. Stirling can easily be reached by train from Edinburgh.

Overnight accommodation: Edinburgh

Day 4: Glasgow

Like Edinburgh, one could spend a week in Glasgow however, this trip is about maximizing our sites so once again, let’s hop on a train from Edinburgh (50-minute ride) and head out to explore the city. Don’t miss the Glasgow Cathedral, the Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow University, and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Overnight accommodation: Edinburgh

Day 5: St. Andrews

It’s time to pack your bags because today we head to beautiful St. Andrews, home of golf and the oldest university in Scotland. Enjoy meandering the streets and be sure not to miss West Sands Beach to try your hand at recreating the opening scene from Chariots of Fire.

https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/photo-gallery/42944000/image/42948362/1981-Chariots-Fire

Overnight accommodation: St. Andrews

Day 6: Dufftown

Get an early start because today will be an exciting day! You’re heading to flavor town, aka Dufftown, close to famous whisky distilleries such as The Macallan (this newly redesigned distillery’s 4D whisky experience is something to behold!) and Glenfiddich, a beautiful traditional distillery. Stop in Aberdeen for brunch along the way, because drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea! 

Overnight accommodations: Dufftown

Day 7: Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns, and Loch Ness

It’s impossible to get a good grasp on the events in history that changed the face of Scotland forever without visiting the somber site of Culloden Battlefield. Walk the steps of those that fought gallantly for their beloved country, then step even further back in time by making a quick trip over to Clava Cairns, an ancient bronze-age burial site. After that, look for Nessie as you drive along Loch Ness on your way to Ft. William, a great place to shop and eat after a long day of adventuring.

Overnight accommodation: Ft. William

Day 8: Glenfinnan and Skye

These are my two favorite places to visit in Scotland. They are so beautiful and hold history as well as literary interest. Ever heard of Harry Potter? Of course, you have! The Glenfinnan Viaduct was traveled on by the Hogwarts Express. After a visit to Glenfinnan, head over to the Isle of Skye, a mystical, beautiful island off the country’s northwest coast. 

Overnight accommodation: The Isle of Skye

Day 9: Skye

Today will be a day of nature. Get your hiking shoes ready because the best way to see the Isle of Skye is on foot. Places you must see are The Old Man of Storr, the Quirang, Fairy Glen (on a side note, this blog post about Fairy Gen is really good and I didn’t even write it-haha!), and the Mealt Waterfall near Kilt Rock

Overnight accommodation: The Isle of Skye

Day 10: Loch Lomond, the Trossachs National Park, and Doune Castle

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Today it’s time to pack up once again and head back to Edinburgh-sigh. As you drive from the Isle of Skye you’ll meander through the beautiful Trossachs National Park and along the banks of Loch Lomond. If you’re feeling like you need one last adventure, make a stop at Doune Castle, a site everyone loves. It’s been featured in popular shows and movies including, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, and Outlander.

Overnight accommodation: Edinburgh

Thoughts and Things

  • The second half of this itinerary requires a car, which is easy to hire from Edinburgh airport. No international driver’s license is necessary, but you must be at least 25 years of age to avoid steep extra charges. Roads are easy to drive, although getting used to left-hand driving can be challenging if you aren’t used to it. Many roads on the Isle of Skye are single track. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, look up and prepare yourself for lots of pulling over to let oncoming cars pass. Read this blog post to find out more (and to get a little chuckle): White Knuckles, Curb Hopping, and Coo Crossing, OH MY! Our Family’s Adventure Driving Through Scotland.
  • Book accommodations early, especially if traveling in the summer months. Places like Dufftown and the Isle of Skye are very limited in lodging options so booking early is key. We usually book a B&B or self-catered cottage through VRBO or Airbnb.
  • I highly recommend purchasing an Explorer Pass through Historic Environment Scotland. This will give you entry to many of the sites listed in this itinerary as well as provide discounts on souvenirs purchased in their gift shops.
  • Although it stays light later in the summer, shops and some restaurants in small towns still close early. Think 5 or 6. Take this into account when planning your shopping or dining in the evening and plan ahead. No one likes to miss dinner!
  • Be sure to pack appropriately for your trip. Check out Scotland Bound: 8 Essentials to Pack In Your Suitcase for some great tips!
  • If you want more help planning your trip, Absolute Escapes is a fantastic travel agency that will meticulously help you plan every detail.
  • If you are lucky enough to have more than 10 days to enjoy Scotland, I highly recommend adding these places to your itinerary:

The Isle of Mull

The Isles of Staffa and Lunga

The Isle of Iona

Inveraray

The perfect 10-day Scotland itinerary!

So there you go, planning done. If you follow this 10-day Scotland itinerary, you will be busy, but will also have the opportunity to hit most of the highlights this amazing country has to offer. However, let this be a warning to you. If you’re like me, it will only make you hungry for more. I’m currently in the process of planning my third visit back, and am just as excited as the first time I went. Enjoy, and let me know all about how your trip goes!

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