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Although Scotland is a small country, it's beauty and history make it one of the best countries to visit. I've planned the perfect Scotland itinerary for you whether you're here for just a few days or want to spend a week traversing the Highlands and cities.

With so much to offer it can be hard to pick what to do in Scotland, but my personal 7 day itinerary will help you plan the perfect trip.

I fell in love with the beauty of Scotland before my plane even touched the ground. The lochs, coastlines, rivers, lush forest, and tree-covered mountains filled the small, oval window as I practically pushed my face against it to look as far as I could in every direction. Scotland is a country that I could probably explore forever, but this time, I only had seven days, and I was determined to see as much of this completely postcard-worthy country as possible.

I packed my days in Scotland with scenic drives, ferry rides, mountain views, delicious cafes, and yes, Scotch whisky. This complete seven-day guide will take you throughout Scotland. I’d recommend this exact route to anyone hoping to see a heck of a lot of Scotland in a short amount of time.

There's a lot more to Scotland than the Loch Ness monster. In fact, so much so I suggest a full 7 days to explore all its beauty. But if you only have a few short days I've got a guide for you too.

One Week Scotland Itinerary:

If you only have a few days then stay in Edinburgh and explore this incredibly historic, beautiful, and interesting city. But if you have more time, like this 7 day itinerary, then I suggest hitting the road and going straight to the Scottish Highlands.

You'll find exactly where to go in Scotland, and the must see sights, castles, and history behind it all!

 

Know Before You Go

As with most of my itineraries, I suggest renting a car. Especially with this journey through Scotland, in order to see as many cities in a short amount of time, I suggest driving. Just be aware you'll be driving on the left!

The roads can become pretty narrow and you might find yourself in between a stone wall and a passing truck, so take your time while driving. Compared to England, however, I found the roads to be fairly manageable.

When packing keep in mind that Scotland can be a pretty rainy, no matter the time of year. So bring a good raincoat and even waterproof shoes.

Day 1 – Oban

Since we had both been to Edinburgh before we decided to head straight out of the city and into the countryside. Day one was a partial day, but it offered plenty of opportunity to introduce ourselves to Scotland. We landed at Edinburgh Airport, grabbed our bags, and started the roughly three-hour drive west to Oban. This was our first chance to see Scotland’s beauty on the ground, and I felt like I was watching a tennis match the entire time — my head shifting back and forth between the windows, trying to take in an impossible amount of beauty.

If you plan to stay in Edinburgh first, skip down to days six and seven and then come back. Preferably, I like leaving Edinburgh at the end of the itinerary so you can hit the ground running in the country side.

Day one was short, but like all days hopping from airport to airport, it was exhausting. Fortunately, we crashed at the Fairhaven B&B in Oban. The central location of the bed and breakfast is ideal and breakfast was included for £88. I was thoroughly impressed with this place and location (and price!)

Day 2 – Three Island Tour

Breakfast at the Fairhaven was a perfect fit on day two, as we were excited to fill our bellies and get out exploring. Our first endeavor was to take the three island tour out of Oban. Having ordered our tickets online beforehand, we were ready to head to the ferry terminal and board the ferry.

The first ferry ride was a 45-minute long jaunt to the Isle of Mull; however, the ride felt drastically shorter, as every minute was filled with snapping photos and admiring the scenery. Upon arrival on the Isle of Mull, we took a coach on the single-track road toward Staffa with a knowledgeable guide. The stretch in the coast was about an hour long, and I actually wished it was longer.

The drive alone was a tour of hidden castles, rolling green hills, a beautiful purple flower (which I now know is foxtail), and workers farming mussels on the lochs. We spotted odd stones that appeared as though they were tossed along the hillsides, and our guide informed us that these were leftover structures from the ice age. Amazing!

While on the Isle of Mull, stopping at the Inverlussa mussel farm is an absolute must. The mussels are of the highest quality and served in a rich garlic and butter mixture. Best of all, 5 kilos of mussels cost just £5. We all know I don’t like to pass up a good deal.

Although, there’s far more to the Isle of Mull than the deliciously fresh mussels. Mull is the second largest of the Inner Hebrides islands (following Skye) off Scotland’s west coast. Wildlife can be spotted practically everywhere you turn on this isle, from dolphins to the gorgeous white-tailed sea eagles. The 3,000-foot-tall Ben More, Scottish Galeic for “great mountain,” stands tall as Mull’s highest mountain offering bird’s-eye views of countless islands, coastlines, and more. People have lived on the Isle of Mull for roughly 6,500 years, and it’s amazing to imagine what this land and its people have seen.

Our next ferry was to the Isle of Iona. Another scenic journey that attempted to distract Michael and I from the business meeting we had almost the entire way. For the 45-minute ride, we talked about life, and business, and future plans while feeling small against the giant beauty of our surroundings. Once we arrived at Iona, there was no more talking about life plans, as adventure awaited.

We ate fresh mussels in a garlic and white wine sauce at Martyr’s Bay Restaurant. Cheap and absolutely divine, I could have stayed here all day! But we went on to check out the perfectly preserved, 350-year-old nunnery and abbey. St Columba brought Christianity to the island in 563 AD, and the island continues to a beacon for the Christian religion. However, you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy the rich culture and history the island has to offer — oh, and the crystal-clear, Caribbean-like waters surrounding it. 

Iona is a tiny 3-mile-long island with a permanent population of 120. Fitting with the size of the island, we hopped aboard a tiny boat to the Island of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave to view the massive basalt columns that truly look like something out of a movie.

The highlight of this part of the journey for me was the puffin sightings, TONS of puffins! Of course, we were there during prime puffin-spotting season (April to September), so if possible, aim your visit for one of these months. In 1986, Jock Elliot of New York purchased the volcanic island of Staffa for his wife, and once you see this isle, you’ll find it hard to believe that she was unimpressed and donated it to Scotland. I, on the other hand, am happy this precious island hasn’t been privatized.

We returned to Oban exhausted but with an entirely new understanding of just how magical this country is.

To cap off the day we took a long hike in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. This is where the famous and bloody massacre occurred. Following the Jacobite uprising in 1692, Aside from the terrible tragedy, the clan of MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces after not pledging allegiance to the new Monarch.

Despite it's harrowed past, this area is beautiful and steeped in history. Glencoe is located within the Lochaber Geopark in the Highlands. Withe deep valleys and tall mountains, it makes for a picturesque scene.

This area is known for its waterfalls and one of the most historic glens in Scotland.

Day 3 – Isle of Skye

Day three started in the center of Oban. It was time to move on, but we had one more thing to do before leaving — make a pitstop at the Tesco supermarket. If you’ve never been to Tesco, you’re truly missing out. The famous Tesco meal deal includes a main dish, a side, a dessert pudding, and the choice of a soft drink, wine, or beer for just £10. It’s more than enough food for two, so we filled up before the three-hour drive to the Isle of Skye.

Along the way, we stopped to snap photos of the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, named for the Celtic saint Donnan of Eigg. The castle is so photogenic you may find it familiar, as it has been featured in countless movies and TV shows. Of course, we took this as an opportunity to try a local cafe, where we snacked on sticky buns.

Skye is the largest island of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, named for the Norse word skye meaning cloud and island, or misty island, but that name doesn’t do it justice. Skye is known for its natural beauty, which is claimed to be the most stunning in all of Scotland. Rocky mountain peaks are blanketed with fluorescent green grass and mirror-like lochs are nestled into valleys. It is said that the island has been inhabited for more than 7,000 years, and it’s crazy to imagine that people have been taking in this island’s beauty for that long.

On our third day in Scotland, it was time to check off a bucket-list item — drinking whisky at an authentic Scottish distillery. Fortunately, there are 120 distilleries in the country, so they’re not hard to come by. The Talisker Distillery is the Isle of Skye’s oldest distillery and the location on the shores of Loch Harport is worth seeing alone.

However, I would never suggest skipping the distillery tour. Here, we saw a cask that holds 53,000 liters of whisky, and learned that the wood of the cask has a major effect on the flavor of what’s inside. We also learned how to properly taste a whisky, and to open our mouths when smelling to avoid burning our noses. Be sure to book your tour 48 hours ahead of time to secure a space.

Once we’d smelled and tasted enough whisky for one day, we headed to the Fairy Pools, a famously scenic area with swimming holes and waterfalls. This is a great place to take an easy hike and even go for a swim. Michael bravely walked barefoot for over two miles from the Fairy Pools back to the car, just to prove he can. Ha!

Having had a full day of adventure we headed to the Seumas bar where we filled up on fish and chips and caught a glimpse of Jack Lowden and Saoirse Ronan. We retired to our Airbnb, admiring the giant moon and countless sheep along the way.

Day 4 – Isle of Skye

Day four began with a drive to Dunvegan Castle. The gardens here are award-winning, and they’re what grabbed my attention most. We spent some time walking the grounds of the estate, which in the oldest parts, dates back to the 14th century.

Before grabbing a bite and moving onto the next portion of our sightseeing day, we stopped by the Skyeskyns Tannery. Here, you can take a free guided tour and witness real sheepskins and leather being made.  Of course, you can buy plenty of souvenirs to take home too.

We also stopped on our drive for some furry coos (cows!). They are so photogenic.

Our next stop was the Skye Museum of Island Life, which is far more than a museum and will entertain even the most stubborn museum-goer. This museum is more like a trip back in time to an old Highland village, with a variety of buildings housing different things, like a barn, a shop, a house, and more. I loved seeing how people used to live in the old Croft houses, smelling of pete, and with roughly 12 people inside.

Now, it was time to grab some grub, so we cruised to the Duntulm seapoint, where I saw a shark and Michael bought a lamb burger from a man in a converted food car from 1920. With a bit of hunger still lingering, we stopped at the grass-roofed Single Track Cafe for desert. 

From here, we drove to the Quiraing and hiked a while to take in some of the most impressive views in the country, filled with rugged stone walls, green valleys, and peaceful lakes.

The Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls viewpoint is also just 10 minutes south of Quiraing and is more than worth a stop, as the vertical basalt columns (resembling a kilt) drop straight into the sea. The Malt Waterfall also falls 60 meters into the Sound of Raasay, a sight that’s beauty has to be seen to be believed. I can’t imagine a better place to watch the sunset and end another day in Scotland.

We also were also treated to a Scottish bagpipe show.

Lastly, on Skye, you can head to Portree, which is the capital of the Isle of Skye and a pretty, colorful town.

Check out this one day, best of Skye tour if you're short on time.

Day 5 – Lochness and Inveraray Castle

Finally, a day I had been anticipating since we landed — the day to uncover the mystery of the Loch Ness monster. The legend dates back to 1933 when news articles emerged, and people started calling the mysterious creature a monster. Roughly 1,000 reliable eye-witnesses claim to have seen it. The lake itself, like all of Scotland, is gorgeous, with the deepest part near Urquhart Castle, measuring 230 meters deep. I didn’t get a chance to be an eye-witness of the monster, but I had a great time learning more about the mystery, the loch, and its surroundings. The Loch Ness exhibition is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The afternoon of day five was spent at the Highland Games. We watched and hooted and hollered as the athletes threw axes, wrestled, danced, and tossed 175-pound tree trunks, known as caber. This was one of my favorite ways we took in the Scottish culture, partying with the locals.

After that we explored the beautiful castle of Inveraray. It's the beautiful ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. I was immediately enthralled with the cool Gorthic Revival architecture and pops of pink flowers. Its well maintained grounds are perfect to stroll around. You can also go inside for a fee to tour the castle.

Days 6 – Edinburgh

With our visit to Scotland nearing an end, we planned to spend the final two days in the capital city of Edinburgh. In the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s hard to believe pristine green, rolling hills, lochs, caves, and cliffs are just a short distance away. Exploring the city on foot is an absolute must, starting with a walk along the Royal Mile, from the castle to the palace, in Old Town. The ancient architecture will continuously stop you in your tracks, as well as the mixture of restaurants, pubs, and shops.

Of course, no trip to Edinburgh is complete without a walk inside Edinburgh Castle. You'll have to walk up hill to Castle Rock, but it's worth it for the views. There has been human occupation here since the Iron Age! The castle is now home to the Scottish National War Memorial as well as the Crown Jewels. I suggest getting tickets ahead of time to avoid the (very) long line here.

Next, head over to St. Giles Cathedral. Founded in the 12th century it's a beautiful church right by the castle.

A great place to stop for lunch is Oink. There might be a line but don't worry, it moves fast. This is also a beautiful area to walk around with rainbow colored buildings on Victoria Street.

Not to be missed is the National Museum of Scotland, filled with treasures of Scottish antiquities, the building itself is an art form. It's a great place to learn about Scotland's history. Save time here as you could spend about half a day just touring this museum!

As you're coming out of the museum, right near the Edinburgh Waverly station, make sure to check out the Scott Monument. It's a huge monument dedicated to Sit Walter Scott.

Palace of Holyroodhouse is where you should definitely take a guided tour to learn about the official residence of the Brits monarch when in Scotland. You can explore 14 different historic and state apartments as well as the ruins of the 12-century Holyrood Abbey. If you still have some time, head over the the Royal Yacht Britannia is a former royal yacht.

Our last stop for the day is Calton Hill for the most picturesque views of Edinburgh!

Day 7 – Edinburgh

When in the heart of the city, we paid a visit to the Museum of Edinburgh, a stop that will give you more insight into the unique culture and history of the city. Edinburgh is known for its countless myths and legends, including one that took place in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. For 14 years, a dog sat by his master’s grave. He became a regular figure in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, and the locals began feeding him and providing shelter. Eventually, Sergeant Scott trained Bobby to return at the same time every day for his dinner at Traill’s Restaurant, 6 Greyfriar’s Place. Bobby’s daily appearances became a spectacle, and a statue of him now stands at the Kirkyard gates.

The museum is full of interesting stories like Bobby’s, and I know this museum visit made me enjoy the rest of my time in the city even more. I discovered that the new Edinburgh was established in 1767, because officials felt the city was becoming too busy and decrepit. A competition was held to create blueprints of the new town, and a man named James Craig won. The public viewed Craig’s blueprint as a picture of modernity, and wealthy people began flocking to the city, bringing even more industries. Scotland finally had a worthy capital, and the blueprint can be viewed in the museum today.

Other sites we visited, which I don’t think anyone should miss are Dean Village, the Floral Clock, and Camera Obscura. Dean Village is a historic neighborhood, complete with cobblestone roads, ancient bridges, and architecture that looks like it belongs in a storybook. Lush greenery lines the river and creeps up the quaint houses, providing countless opportunities to snap photos or simply gaze.

As a lover of gardens and flowers, the Floral Clock was an absolute must for me, but you don’t have to love plants to find this site amazing. Within the Princess Street Gardens is a giant clock made of flowers, the first of its kind in the world. The design of the clock changes twice per year, taking two men five weeks and 30,000 flowers to complete.

If you love Harry Potter, make sure to head to The Elephant House Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote the beloved books over coffee and cake! If you're interested, there's a Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh, check it out here.

Traveling with kids? Or adults, like me, that love to feel like kids? Go to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. It may sound like a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” tourist trap, but it’s definitely not. It’s a look into everything quirky that is Edinburgh, and the owners collaborate with technical wizards, inventors, artists, and more to wow visitors with five floors of hands-on exhibits that explore Edinburgh and many of its attractions in the most interesting ways possible. Take a tour of the city streets without moving, then puzzle your brain with mind-boggling illusions. This place is just pure fun!

But one of my favorite things we did was to go on a tour of the Real Mary Queen's Close. This was such an interesting look at Edinburgh's past and the crazy conditions such as the Black Plague that ran rampant in Medieval times. The history seems frozen in time in this come to life museum.

We rounded out our seven days in Scotland with one final must-have in any city — ice cream. Scotland’s characteristically drizzly weather doesn’t stop Edinburgh from having an abundance of cute and delicious ice cream shops. In my opinion, no trip is complete without ice cream, and Mary’s Milk Bar has some of the best in the city. 

Have extra time?

Head to Glasgow! Many people don't think of Glasgow when they think of Scotland. They think of the lush, rolling hills of the Highlands, the pretty city of Edinburgh, or Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. But when I traveled to Glasgow for a quick weekend I found a fun, vibrant city filled with great museums, awesome music, and plenty of lively bars and restaurants.

Our seven days in Scotland were packed with everything from some of the most magnificent natural scenery I’ve ever seen (and tons of puffins) to ancient castles and plenty of whiskey. The only thing I would change about our trip is to make it another seven days longer.