A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.
Itineraries Scotland

The Classic Itinerary: Scotland In One Week

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Last updated on November 11th, 2017 at 02:30 pm

Scotland might be small, but there are a lot of destinations on your average Scotland travel bucket list. How will you possibly manage to visit Edinburgh, Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye in a mere 7 days? My Classic Scotland Itinerary for Scotland in one week should give you an idea of how to see the major touristy spots in Scotland without having to sweat it!

Scotland is the kind of place where you could travel around for weeks and weeks and you still would not have seen all the highlights and only scratched the surface of understanding what’s going on in a Scot’s head. And that is even though the country is so small. But there is no denying that you don’t always have months to spare to travel a place, so finding a way of squeezing as much of Scotland as possible into a week or two becomes a skill for many people planning a trip to Scotland.

While after three years in Glasgow I am still far from ‘having done it all’ I have been on several trips with visiting friends and family to see some of the most essential must-do’s that Scotland has to offer – the classic Scotland itinerary, so to say. Loch Ness, Edinburgh, Skye – these are only a few places you must not miss on your first trip around Scotland, so I thought a little one-week itinerary based my own experience could be a great start for your own research! Prepare for a tour de fource through Scotland!

This itinerary includes:

  • Intro: How to get around Scotland
  • Day 1 : Glasgow
  • Day 2: Loch Lomond, Glencoe & Fort William
  • Day 3: Road to the Isles, Glenfinnan Viaduct & Isle of Skye
  • Day 4: Isle of Skye
  • Day 5: Loch Ness
  • Day 6: Blair Castle, Pitlochry & Edinburgh
  • Day 7: Edinburgh

How to get around Scotland:

This itinerary is written with a rental car in mind – you can travel Scotland by public transport, but you might have to cut a few stops due to time limitations, or simply because the bus/car doesn’t stop there.

I always find the best deals at AutoEurope because they compare prices from a variety of rental car agencies, find the best price and add affordable carefree-insurance on top!

You can find more info on how to get around Scotland in my Scotland 101 – How to Plan a Trip to Scotland guide, and some tips for driving on the left-hand side in my Scotland Driving Tips.

Day 1: Arrive in Glasgow

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

Whether your plane actually lands at Glasgow airport or in Edinburgh, hardly matters because the cities and their airports lie so closely together and are so well-connected by bus, that it is easy to start your trip around Scotland in the one city even if you land in the other. To save your some driving on your way up to the Highlands I recommend to base yourself in Glasgow for the first night. If you have some daylight left, who not hop on board the City Sightseeing Bus (read my REVIEW) to get an overview of the city, and then head for dinner and drinks in town for get a feel for the city.

Glasgow Travel Essentials:

Where to Stay | Hotels are super affordable – I summed up my favourites for all budgets here. AirBnB is a great option if you prefer your own place. You can use my referral to get £25 off your first booking!

Getting around Glasgow | Glasgow is a very walkable city, but you can get busses or the subway for longer distances. Black taxis can be a bit expensive, so use Network Private Hire!

What to Do | Check out my 50 Travel Tips for Glasgow!

Where to Eat | There are more restaurants on Glasgow than sand on a beach. For Scottish food try Two Fat Ladies in the City, the Red Onion (vegan menu available) or Gandolfi Fish. I also love Sarti & Paesano (both Italian), Nippon’s Kitchen (Japanese, sushi) and Babu Bombay Street Kitchen (Indian curries).

Where to Drink | Glasgow’s pubs deserve a city trip in itself. Try Sloan’s, the Pot Still, the Griffin or Babbity Bowster for a taster – and a dram!

Day 2: Loch Lomond, Glen Coe & Fort William

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

Leave Glasgow right after breakfast to make your way up north. You will be happy to have the entire day at your disposal, because even if the drive from Glasgow to Fort William theoretically  takes less than 3 hours, the scenic stops along the way and the windy roads will slow you down significantly.

Stop 1: Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is Scotland’s largest lake (or loch, as the Scots call them) and it’s southernmost end lies only 45 minutes drive from Glasgow. Most tour busses will stop either in Balloch or in Luss, but I personally prefer the scenic points further north along the Loch, particularly the car park in Inveruglas. Either way, wherever you stop along Loch Lomond, make sure to take in the stunning views. Maybe you can even spare some time for a little cruise starting in Tarbet.

Stop 2: Glen Coe

Glen Coe is the kind of place that dreams are made of – or James Bond films. You chose which one you prefer. Driving through Glen Coe is like traveling back in time; there are so many stories to be told about it. It is one of Scotland’s mst famous landmarks, a valley surrounded by some of the country’s roughest peaks and most popular hikes, such as the Three Sisters, the ridge of Aonach Eagach or Buachaille Etive Mòr. Earn some plus points if you manage to pronounce these!

Anyway, pressed for time you won’t manage to actually climb any of these, but a quick stroll to Scotland’s most photographed cottage, Lagangarbh Hut at the foot of Buachaille Etiv Mor, is the least you could fit in. #lonelyhouse

Stop 3: Fort William

To be honest, Fort William is less exciting as a town, but even more so for its surroundings. This is where the famous West Highland Way ends (key: plenty of outdoor equipment shops) and the highest mountain range of the UK begins: the Ben Nevis Range. It takes only 15 minutes to drive from Fort William to the car park of the Nevis Range Mountain Resort from where a gondola brings you further up the mountain Aonach Mor, right beside Ben Nevis. With too little time for the strenuous hike up Ben Nevis (this is not a tourist trail!) this is the next best alternative to climbing the UK’s highest peak.

Fort William Travel Essentials:

Where to Stay | Fort William offers tons of accommodation options. I’d recommend Minaig B&B a little bit before you reach the town centre, or West End Hotel in the middle of Fort William.

Where to Eat | For lunch on the way you could stop at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum for fish & chips, or at the Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe for an excellent pub meal! In Fort William I’d recommend Crannog Seafood, because the chef is happy to whip up a vegan meal for you!


Note: You might not be able to fit in long stops at all three destinations on just one day – so chose wisely where to spend more time!

Day 3: Road to the Isles & Isle of Skye

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

This road is a highlight, not only for Harry Potter fans. Although, if you are already here, head to the tourist office in Fort William to find out at what times the famous Jacobite Steam Train will be crossing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and plan your road trip accordingly.

The Road to the Isles is one of my personal favourites and the views you get from the passenger seat are absolutely stunning! Make sure to visit the Glenfinnan Monument and climb to its top for even better views of Loch Shiel. Once you have arrived in Mallaig get your ferry ticket sorted (ideally you’d book this in advance, especially during the busy  summer months) and kill some time with a takeaway of fresh fish & chips – but beware of the sea gulls at the harbour

The ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye only takes around half an hour but offers a stunning vista of Skye and the Small Isles, namely Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck.

Once on Skye make your way to the south-west of the island, the area around Glenbrittle, Carbost and Talisker. This is were you will find the famour Fairy Pools which offer themselves for a stunning hike below the Cuillin Mountain Range. Alternatively (or if it rains) visit the Talisker Whisky Distillery in Carbost to learn everything about Scottish Single Malt Whisky and get a taster too!

Check out this post with more highlights of Isle of Skye!

Isle of Skye Travel Essentials:

Where to Stay | We booked a B&B far off the beaten track to get some peace and quiet, Fineviews B&B in Carbost – to be more central I’d recommend to stay in Portree!

Where to Eat | The Isle of Skye might be big, but many villages are rather small. You will find the greatest variety eating out in Portree, but we also had a lovely meal at Taigh Ailean Hotel in Carbost.

Day 4: Isle of Skye

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

The Isle of Skye requires all your attention, especially if you want to visit such iconic places as the Old Man of Storr, Dunvegan Castle or the lighthouse at Neist Point. The earlier you can start your day, the better – it will be a long one.

Stop 1: Trotternish Peninsula

There are actually more than one stop at the Trotternish Peninsula because this is where some of Skye’s most popular landmarks are located. The Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the Quiraing are all situated on this peninsula and of course also all worth a stop!

Stop 2: Dunvegan Castle

While this castle is often left out of traditional Skye itineraries, I think it is an absolute staple, especially if you  are into landscape gardening and wildlife watching. 2 reasons: seeing the beautiful castle gardens in full bloom; and taking a boat trip to the local seal colony!

Stop 3: Neist Point

Scottish lighthouses are there to impress (well, and to guide boats obviously) and Neist Point is no exception. While I haven’t been lucky to see this lighthouse on a clear and dry day yet, I will keep trying and so should you!

You might also like: 5 things to do on the Isle of Skye

Day 5: Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness & Inverness

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

Leaving Skye behind early in the morning you come past the gorgeous castle of Eilean Donan Castle – how could you nt stop for a few photos?

Then you make your way east to one of Scotland’s most legendary places: Loch Ness. Hardly any other place has had scientists and wannabe-scientists wonder about the contents of its water as much as this lake – and who could resist the myth of Nessie. I like to picture her as a friendly dinosaur-like creature that hides away until this world is finally friendly enough to welcome people/animals/creatures that are different. Until then, the myth lives on!

While I’m not one for the two (!) Nessie museums in Drumnadrochit, I could be convinced to go on a monster hunting cruise, although I haven’t tried this yet. What I have done though is visit the castle ruins of Urquhart Castle from where the views over the loch are particularly beautiful.

Final stop for the day is the town if Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Base yourself here for the night, for a pole position for your way back south on the next day.

Loch Ness Travel Essentials:

Where to Stay | To save yourself some time on the road, base yourself in Inverness, but both times I visited I actually stayed in Drumnadrochit, close by Urquhart Castle!

Where to Eat | Options in the smaller villages and towns are limited, but even if you don’t stay in Inverness, it’s worth the drive there for a Scottish meal at the Castle Tavern!


Day 6: Blair Castle, Pitlochry & Edinburgh

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

The drive from Inverness back down to Edinburgh takes around 3-3.5 hours, but how boring would it be not to stop anywhere on the way?!

Stop 1: Blair Castle

While I’m not one for endless castle tours, the forest and gardens surrounding Blair Castle are worth the ticket and make for a great pit stop to stretch your feet after a couple of hours in the car.

Stop 2: Pitlochry

Picturesque as anything, Pitlochry is a very popular weekend getaway for many Scots. A highlight is the Edradour Whisky Distillery, one of Scotland’s smallest, which alone makes this town worth the stop.

Stop 3: South Queensferry

One final stop before you arrive in Edinburgh: South Queensferry, from where you get a great view of the iconic Forth Railway Bridge!

You might also like: The essential guide to trying Scottish whisky


Arrive in Edinburgh

What better way to end your tour of Scotland’s highlights than in its capital: Edinburgh. Considering that you will probably arrive here in the late afternoon, give yourself a break and relax for a little while! Have a leisurely dinner and a sunset stroll up Calton Hill, maybe grad a drink in the Old Town, but other than that don’t stress yourself.

Edinburgh Travel Essentials:

Where to Stay | Hotels in Edinburgh can be very expensive, but I’ve summed up my favourites for every budget here. Again, you might consider AirBnB instead – you can use my referral to get £25 off your first booking!

Getting around Edinburgh | Edinburgh is a very walkable city, but you can get busses for longer distances. Taxis can be a bit expensive, but there is also Uber!

What to Do | Edinburgh has a lot to offer! Check my Edinburgh archive for inspiration!

Where to Eat | There are so many restaurants in Edinburgh’s Old Town, it can be quite tricky to tell the gems from the tourist traps. I recommend Civerinos, The Edinburgh Larder or Ox184.

Where to Drink | Some of my favourite pubs in the Old Town are Whistlebinkies and the Halfway House, one of Edinburgh smallest pubs!

Day 7: Edinburgh

A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

There is much to see in Edinburgh, but luckily everything is close by, so that you can easily get a good glimpse of it all in one day. Note that if you want to visit multiple museums, the castle and other attractions you should consider adding one or two full days to your itinerary. Here are some suggestions of how to fill your day in Edinburgh:

– Get a great overview in very little time on board the Edinburgh City Tour by Rabbie’s – a small-group bus tour around the city in a convertible bus! Read my review of the tour here and book your spot!

– Visit Edinburgh Castle (save time with a skip-the-line ticket!)

– Test your senses at the Camera Obscura, a museum of optical illusions

– Visit the National Museum of Scotland and make sure to go all the way up to its viewing platform

– Escape the crowds by visiting the glasshouses in the Royal Botanic Gardens 

– Shop all the vintage you can find in and around the Grassmarket and the Stockbridge area

– Patrol the Royal Mile and count how many bag pip buskers you can find

Avoid waiting in line and book your tickets for Edinburgh activities in advance!



More Edinburgh recommendations:

Lunch & Coffee in Edinburgh | My top two cafe’s in Edinburgh must be Lovecrumbs and Hula Juice Bar in the Grassmarket area. For really nice falafel head to Palmyra Pizza close to the National Museum of Scotland.

Dinner grabs | Time to branch out and head to The Kings Wark in Leith, right by the shore of Leith Water! The newly opened vegan restaurant Harmonium gets raving reviews too!

Cocktail time! | The ultimate cocktail bar in Edinburgh is called Panda & Sons, a little speakeasy bar covered up as a gent’s barber shop! Try to find it!

Day 8: Goodbye Scotland!

After an eventful week it is time to say goodbye again and make your way back to the airport. Next time you visit Scotland make sure you bring a bit more time with you!

Realistically you could easily fill two weeks with this itinerary and do everything in a more relaxed manner, spend more nights in each location or add a few days in beautiful locations such as Oban, the Isle of Mull, the Cairngorms National Park, the Royal Deeside, Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire or St Andrews – to name just a few.

For more inspiration check out my Scotland 101 – How to Plan a Trip to Scotland guide!



Have you ever been to Scotland? What was your favourite experience or place to visit?


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A week in Scotland is barely enough to scratch the surface, but see how many highlights you can fit with the classic itinerary for Scotland in one week.

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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

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  1. This seems like the perfect itinerary for us! I’m so happy I found it. After planning we realized we have one more day to just take it easy, so where would you suggest we spend a little extra time? Thanks!

    • Hi Becca, happy you found my itinerary helpful! I would suggest to either spend two nights in the Fort William or one in Glencoe, one in Fort William to allow more time for Glencoe and Ben Nevis area! If you wanted to squeeze another destination, spend Day 2 driving from Glasgow along Loch Lomond to Oban (my favourite coastal town and a great wee road trip through Argyll), and on Day 3 drive through Glencoe (definitely do the detour of driving through the valley) to Fort William! Cheers, K

  2. Pingback: How to Plan a Trip to Scotland | WatchMeSee.com

  3. Hi Kelly – Great info. We are staying in St. Andrews for a week in october for a golf trip. Do you have any recommendations as far as food/pubs go? Any must sees in St Andrews besides the golf? This will be my first trip to Scotland so I want to be sure I get the most of it! Thank you!

  4. Hi Kathi,

    I love this itinerary! My mom and I will be going in October, but we were hoping to actually be able to do at least one of the hikes (maybe the three sisters, though a recommendation would be appreciated) and visit St. Andrews for a day, as well as see the isle of skye and glen coe. We have 7 days – do you think this is possible? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  5. Hi Kathi,

    I read your itinerary and found it pretty exciting. However, me and my husband from India would be travelling in October 1st week but we have already finalized our stay at all places starting from Edinburgh to Inverness to Glasgow. Can you help us further with the best places we can cover in a week accordingly? It would be great if you can provide me with your email id to discuss it further.

    • Hi Surbhi, I’d be happy to help with suggestions! If you send me your itinerary (like how many nights of accommodation you’ve booked where and your mode of transport) I can come up with some ideas. It’s kathi@watchmesee.com Cheers, Kathi

      • Hi Kathi,

        Thanks for your reply. I have mailed you the details.
        Let me know if you need more info.
        Thanks, Surbhi

  6. Hi! This post is perfect as I’ll be traveling to Scotland in a couple weeks. I’m traveling alone from the US and was a little worried about driving (left side, being alone, stopping on the side of the road for pictures, where to get gas, etc.). Do you have any tips for the solo traveler? Or maybe suggestions on attempting this itinerary on public transport?!

    • You would definitely be able to do this itinerary by train and bus, but it would mean that you might have to leave out a few sights and stopping along the road for photos would be harder/impossible. I’d still suggest a rental car, and simply taking it slowly until you’re used to the left-side traffic – happens faster than you’d think. There are always plenty of lay-bys for photo stops and people are used to tourists on the roads – you won’t be the only one 🙂 There are petrol stations in most towns and villages along this route, and distances aren’t so far, that you’d run into trouble if you drive for a whole day without filling up. I hope this helps you gain some confidence and go for the rental car – it’s simply the most flexible mode of transport!

  7. I did the same itinerary about a month ago, in a little bit different order. I’d spend more time in Skye hiking the coast lines and Glen Coe hiking the other trails there. I can agree with your comment on Ft. William. Spent one too many days there, that I wish I would habe spent on Skye instead. There’s always next time!

    • Sounds like you had a great time in Scotland! Any additional day for hiking is a winner 🙂 Where did you hike in Glencoe?

  8. Hi Kathi, my fiance and I just finished a trip to Scotland following your 7-day itinerary, and I just wanted to say a big thank you! Each day’s drive had so much to see and covered enough ground, which made the whole experience a lot of fun. We also may not have stopped by Blair Castle if not for your recommendation, which would have been a shame; it was simply stunning! My fiance is a big whisky fan, so before we left Inverness, we took a small detour to take in a little of the Malt Whiskey Trail and check out some distilleries. Overall, it was such a great experience. Thank you so much for posting such a detailed guide and Google map, complete with food stops and ideas. It was super appreciated!
    Much love from Canada!

    • Hello Ada, thank you so much for your feedback! Sometimes I feel like this blog is taking up so much of my spare time, I doubt whether I spend too much time on it – comments like yours prove me wrong 😀 I’m glad you had a fantastic trip and managed to see so much of Scotland! The whiskies from Speyside are probably my favourites, but I’ve never visited a Distillery up there – which one dod you go to?

  9. Hi, I am coming to Scotland in May, thanks for putting otgethere such a comprehensive itinerary, thislooks amazing. I arrive Saturday around 10am and leave the following Friday so It seems like if I follow this itinerary I will have one day to do either Glasgow or Edinbourgh. Any advice on which to skip? or another place you would cut out instead? Also, any advice on how to do this or a similar itinerary without a car?? Thank you so much!

    • Thanks for your comment! Instead of spending a night in Fort William and taking the ferry to Skye via Mallaig, you could drive on after Fort William and head to Skye via the bridge which is faster and cheaper. That already save you a night. You could also instead of spending a night around Loch Ness, visit the Loch/Castle ruins on your way from Skye to Edinburgh – that can easily be done in one day of driving! Another night saved. Hope this helps! Cheers, Kathi

      • Thank you so much! I was also wondering if you have any distillery suggestions

        • I have by far not visited all of them, but I really liked the Edradour distillery in Pitlochry as it’s tiny – I think the smallest operating one in Scotland – and they had delicious whiskey liqueur, which tasted like Bailey’s but better. There is also Talker on Skye, which is great for a rainy day activity, and Glengoyne near Glasgow which is the southernmost distillery in the Highlands and has a great 18 year old to try! There is also a distillery in Fort William, Ben Nevis, but I’ve not been yet!

  10. Great post! We are motorhoming around scotland in June and I have taken note of your suggestions to plan our amazing itinerary!


    • That’s so cool – I’ve always wanted to do that! How much time do you have! If you need any help planning your itinerary, let me know!

  11. Hello Kathi,
    We will be in Scotland for a week and we would like to assume your classic one week itinerary.
    We will arrive to Edinburgh airport in the night and we will sleep in a hotel in the airport, so our first day will start there.
    Do you advice to spend all the first day in Glasgow or maybe to begin/finish the day somewhere else?
    Thank you,

    • Hi David, I think Glasgow would be a great day 1 – it’s such a great city that gets overlooked way too often. It’s also a great starting point to drive up north from, as it’s so close to Loch Lomond and the Highlands. If you have a rental car you could also spend the day exploring Stirling Castle, the Kelpies and or the Trossachs – and then spend the evening in Glasgow and go to a cool pub 🙂 Let me know if you need any more help planning!

      • Hi Kathi,
        Thank you for your response.
        How much different are the Trossachs from Loch Lomond area?
        Do you think that it is possible to visit the Trossachs for the first half of the day and then have enough time for the shopping areas in Glasgow?
        We will have a rental car and it seems to be an hour drive from Edinburgh Airport to the Trossachs and an hour from there to Glasgow.
        Thank you,

        • Hi David, well the Trossachs are basically the hills east of Loch Lomond. The drive from Callander to Aberfoyle via Loch Achray is gorgeous – you could easily do that in the morning and then drive down to Glasgow for some shopping in the afternoon!

          • Hi Kathi,
            Are the Three Sisters, the ridge of Aonach Eagach and Buachaille Etive Mòr possible to see in a one week Itinerary? you mentioned that we will not have time to climb any of these but will it be possible to stop somewhere near road A82 and visit these places?
            Thank you,

          • Hi David, absolutely! Buachaille Etive Mòr lies just at the entrance of Glen Coe – just before actually – and there’s a carpark from where you get a great view; the other two can both be seen from the same carpark in the glen a little further down the A82. The views are gorgeous and most travelers stop at these carparks to get some photos 🙂

  12. This is a great itinerary! I’m definitely going to save it and break it down into some weekend trips from London. We’ve been meaning to see more of Scotland, but it’s so hard to decide where to start! Isle of Skye seems so far out and complicated to get to, so I like your ideas of stopping at places along the way so it doesn’t seem so bad.

    • Hey Kelly, yeah, for Isle of Skye is not really something I’d recommend for a weekend trip – it’s just too far to drive (although there are busses). I guess its biggest advantage is that you can reach it over a bridge and you’re not bound to specific ferry times necessarily! Either way, I hope you enjoy your weekend trips to Scotland – there’s so much to see 😀 Thanks for your comment!

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