Planning a trip to Scotland? Begin here!

Hello from Scotland!

I’m sure you cannot wait to visit Scotland – after all, it is a dream destination of yours, or else you would not be here!

But planning a trip to Scotland can be a daunting task – whether it is your very first overseas trip or the umpteenth time abroad – and that is because Scotland is not only awe-inspiringly beautiful but also incredibly diverse. There are many different regions in Scotland and they all have something different to offer. Each of them is big enough to keep you occupied for weeks on end, but I’m sure you would like to see a little bit of everything, especially if it is your first time in Scotland.

This page will guide you through the jungle of planning your perfect Scotland trip, includes overviews of the different regions of Scotland, suggestions for itineraries and lots of practical advice and tips for your holiday. But first, let’s cover some of the basics.

Where to begin?

If you are right at the beginning of planning your Scotland vacation, start by familiarising yourself with some of the foundations of travelling Scotland. Before you get into routes and itineraries, you will have to decide when you want to visit, how long you’d like to stay, how you plan to get around, what kind of accommodation to book and how to cut corners when it comes to deciding on activities.

That’s a lot, right? Luckily I have just the post for you, which covers answers to all these questions and more:

Visiting Scotland 101: How to plan a trip to Scotland

 

 

Scotland Itineraries

Now that you have decided on the basics, it is time to put together your Scotland itinerary. What you want to include in your route depends on a lot of things, first and foremost on your preferences and personal interests, but also on the things I discussed before – the time of the year, the duration of your trip and your mode of transport. Here are some suggestions for itineraries that I have developed and tested myself:

need more help? 
Let me help you to plan your Scotland itinerary! Get in touch NOW!

 

 

Overview: Scottish Regions

Edinburgh

In Scotland’s capital, you will find medieval cobbled lanes, a castle throning on an extinct volcano, views of the sea from the city’s viewpoints, great local hikes and lots of history to indulge in.

Glasgow

Scotland’s largest city is an underdog but makes for a perfect city trip. If you love grand architecture, free museums, tasty food, atmospheric pubs and live music, Glasgow is for you. The city has a thriving arts scene and there are always new markets or happenings to explore.

Central Scotland

There is more to Central Scotland than the two cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The counties of Lanarkshire and Lothian and the areas around Falkirk, Linlithgow and Stirling also have a lot to offer – from the rolling hills of the Pentlands to magnificent castles and palaces.

Scottish Borders

The border region in the south-east of Scotland – also called the Scottish Border – is characterised by rolling hills, Roman ruins and excavations, magnificent chapels and abbeys and quaint medieval market towns.

dumfries & Galloway

The south-westernmost region of Scotland is called Dumfries and Galloway. The new South West 250 (SW250) route is the ideal itinerary to discover the beautiful coastal towns of the region, but there is more to see inland, such as the Galloway Forest Park – one of Scotland’s Dark Sky Parks.

Ayrshire & the Isle of Arran

Ayrshire, south of Glasgow, is the home of Scotland’s national bard, Robert “Rabbie” Burns and offers a plethora of seaside towns, castles and parks for outdoor activities. The Isle of Arran, off the coast of Ayrshire, is also called Scotland in Miniature – and not for nothing!

Argyll & The Isles

The region of Argyll encompasses the south-western Highlands between Loch Lomond and Oban and includes an array of islands and peninsulas, such as Bute, Cowal, Kintyre, Mull, Islay and Jura. Visit here if you love mountain vistas, endless lakes and lochs, outdoor activities and quaint fishing villages.

PErTHSHIRE

Perthshire lies in the heart of Scotland and is also known as Big Tree Country. It is covered in widespread forests and woodlands, dotted by numerous lochs and rises high with multiple mountain ranges and Munro peaks. Perthshire is a great getaway for the active and indulgent types – close to the big cities, beautiful Highland nature and countless romantic hotels & food experiences.

Scottish Highlands 

The Scottish Highlands are without a doubt on any visitor’s bucket list. They stretch from the south near Loch Lomond to the very far north of Sunderland and Assynt, from the eastern hills near Aviemore to the western peaks on the Isle of Skye. Some of the most popular destinations in the Scottish Highlands include Glencoe, Fort William, Loch Ness and the area around Torridon and the North Coast 500 (NC500).

Isle of Skye 

The Isle of Skye is Scotland’s most popular island, not at last because it is easy to reach via the Skye Bridge, but also because of its breathtaking landscapes and lovely people. While it gets busy during the summer months, it is still a perfect off-season destination with plenty of things to do.

Aberdeenshire & North East Scotland

The northeast of Scotland is a hidden gem that many leave aside in their itinerary plans – big mistake! Aberdeenshire and surrounding regions, such as the Moray Coast, the Angus Coast and Dundee are well worth a visit, home to beautiful harbour towns and the Scottish Castle Trail.

Speyside & Cairngorms 

At the heart of Scotland lies the Cairngorms mountain range and from it flow the rivers that feed Scotland’s most cherished heritage:  the whisky. The Speyside whisky region has the highest density of distilleries in Scotland. Whisky lovers and outdoor junkies will find all they need in this region.

Kingdom of Fife 

While St Andrews has always been a visitor magnet, Outlander and The Outlaw King have put the rest of Fife on the map in recent years as well. The Kingdom of Fife is home to many film locations and historically meaningful places, but also wonderful coastal paths and views of the Forth bridges.

Outer Hebrides / Western Isles 

The Outer Hebrides or Western Isles are a group of islands off the west coast of Scotland that can only be reached by ferry or plane. The islands are as diverse as far-flung from the standing stones of Lewis and mountainous Harris to the endless beaches of the Uists and sheltered bays of Barra. This is also where you will still hear Gaelic spoken as a living language.

Orkney & Shetland 

Orkney and Shetland are two island groups in the north of Scotland. Orkney lies close to the north-western tip of Scotland and is comprised of several islands. Shetland lies further north in the North Sea. Both boast important archaeological sites, Viking excavations and unique mix of Scottish and Scandinavian traditions.

 

Active Travel & Hiking in Scotland

Scotland is a top-notch hiking destination. From the rolling hills of the southern regions to the rugged peaks of the western and northern Highlands, there are trails to suit any level of experience or fitness. You could book organised walking holidays or mix and match day hikes to fit your road trip itinerary.

Apart from shorter hiking trails and high summits, there are many long-distance walks in Scotland, which leads eager hikers far off the beaten track and through some of the country’s most beautiful and isolated landscapes.

But hiking is not everything – Scotland offers many other outdoor activities, such as sea-kayaking, coasteering, rock climbing, mountain-biking, wild-camping and more – you name it!

Finally, if you like spending time outdoors and want to see wild animals in Scotland, check out this post with the best places for wildlife tours in Scotland.

Before you book, read up on these 18 amazing outdoor activities in Scotland!

Practical advice for Scotland

You have made your itinerary and decided all the key points of your Scotland holiday – you are good to go, right? Well, not entirely! There are still some open questions, like what to pack, what to expect of the weather or how to stick to your budget. You might wonder whether you have all the essential Scotland experiences for first-timers covered in your itinerary, or what it’s like to travel Scotland along as a woman. But don’t worry – I’ve got your back!

Now you are good to go – welcome to Scotland!