Scotland is one of those countries that will leave you wanting more. There are so many incredible sights to see from mountains to beautiful beaches and very aesthetic roads that you will be stuck for choice on where to go first.
We would recommend spending at least 10 days in Scotland. However, if you only have five days to spend in Scotland, then we have compiled our favourite things to do in that time, including a variety of everything that there is to see.
Summary of the trip:
Day One – Glasgow to Glencoe, Glen Etive, The Kings House, The Three Sisters
Day Two – Fort William, Corpach Shipwreck, Glenfinnan Viaduct
Day Three – Isle of Skye – Portree, Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Fairy Glen, Uig
Day Four – Isle of Skye – Neist Point, Fairy Pools, Sligachan Bridge, Eilean Donan Castle
Day Five – Loch Lomond – Falls of Falloch, Inveruglus Pyramid, Devils Pulpit, return to Glasgow.
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5 Day Scotland Itinerary - A Short Scotland Road Trip
A Scotland road trip is a bucket list experience. This country has so much to offer, from mountains to lochs to beautiful beaches you are spoiled for choice. If you only have 5 days to spend in this stunning country, then we have picked out the must see sights for you on your itinerary. This includes –
- Fort William
- Isle of Skye
- Loch Lomond
- Preparing for your trip to Scotland
Day 1 – Starting in Glasgow
Glasgow is a great city but to see the best of what Scotland has to offer, you need to get out of the city and into the wild. Today you will be driving through one of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses, Rannoch Moor, where you can learn the way of life for the locals in this harsh and unforgiving place.
Become James Bond in Glen Etive
This part of Scotland is not only incredibly photogenic but it is also a hugely popular area for Hollywood movies. The surrounding landscape here has been the scene of multiple Hollywood blockbusters, such as “A Lonely Place to Die” and James Bond’s “Skyfall”.
If you continue along the winding road towards Glen Etive you can find the iconic spot in the Skyfall movie when M wakes up to find James standing outside the car in a misty Glen.
This also happens to be one of my favourite spots in Scotland for wild camping, as my dad used to take me here when I was very young for weekend adventures. Unfortunately, due to the growing popularity of this part of the world, tent spaces are becoming ever rarer and you have to be very early or very lucky to find a camping space for yourself.
Meet Wild Deer at the Kingshouse Hotel
This is one of the most unique experiences you will have so you need to make sure it’s on your Scotland bucket list. Take a quick detour into the Kings House Hotel car park and be amazed by the Scottish nature. It is here that the wild deer come down from the mountains and spend time with tourists, getting up close and personal with the visitors to Scotland.
Although the views combined with these beautiful animals is a breathtaking experience, the reason for the deer being here is actually quite sad. Over the last decade, the wild deer have become so used to tourists feeding them that they have become reliant on humans for food and survival.
It is a stark lesson of why you should not feed wild animals, no matter how hungry you think they look. Learn this lesson, enjoy the beauty of nature in Scotland and please ensure that you do not feed animals away from the Kings House Hotel in case the same thing happens again.
Visit the Three Sisters
As you pass through the barren and deserted mountains of Glencoe, try to imagine what life in this wilderness would have been like hundreds of years ago. The weather was foul, the food scarce and the people hard. Despite this, the locals of Glencoe and the surrounding villages have always been full of warmth and welcome to visitors and tourists and this continues till today.
The next stop as you pass-through Glencoe and the towering mountains is at the Three Sisters Viewpoint, just south of Glencoe. These three mountains are what remains of a very active set of volcanoes that existed thousands of years ago, each of which helped to shape the glens and mountains to what they are today.
Pull in at the side of the road and enjoy the feeling of being in the presence of giants as you crane your neck to gaze at the misty peaks of the mountains before you. If you have time, have a wander down the path to the river that lies at the bottom and enjoy the natural beauty of the Glencoe region.
Spend the night in Fort William
Once you have seen these incredible sights, it’s time to head north to spend the night in Fort William. Unless you are camping then we would highly recommend pitching up somewhere in Glencoe.
Luxury – Imagine coming to Scotland and staying in a castle. Sitting in the the beautiful Scottish West Highlands scenery, 19th-century Inverlochy is an award-winning luxury hotel and restaurant. This castle sits only 4 miles outside of the town of Fort William.
Mid-range – Highland Stays – Rooms, Pods & Jacuzzi Pod is a fantastic place to stay only a 15 minute walk from the town of Fort William. With beautiful mountain views at a very reasonable price, it is a no brainer that you would want to stay here.
Budget – The Ben Nevis Hotel and Leisure Club is a fantastic budget place to stay. Your stay here will include gym and swim facilities in a 3 star hotel only 1 mile out of the city centre of Fort William.
If hostels are more your scene, you can check out the hostels available in Fort William here.
Day Two – Glencoe to Isle of Skye
Spend the morning in Fort William, wandering around the small town and marvelling at the impressive Ben Nevis towering over the town. This is Scotland’s highest Munro sitting at 1345m high, towering over the small town below.
Whilst you are in the area, we would recommend heading around 4 miles north to the Corpach Ship Wreck.
One of Scotland’s best, hidden gems and one of the most photogenic spots in the country lies just outside of the popular highland town of Fort William. Located in Corpach, the Old Boat of Caol sits proudly on the stony beach of Loch Eil, with a backdrop of the stunning Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak. This tranquil spot is every photographer’s dream location, with glasslike water to your right, the towering peak of Ben Nevis in front and the mystery of the Corpach Shipwreck as a frame.
Ride the Harry Potter Steam Train
The Fort William to Mallaig Jacobite steam train crosses one of the most popular bridges in the world, the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This 84-mile trip is one of the most stunning routes in Scotland taking you through Scotlands most incredible scenery.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was made famous in the Harry Potter movies and is visited by many every year. You can either choose to take the train journey or park at the Glenfinnan Viaduct and snap a photo of the train steaming past there.
Now it’s time to head to Mallaig to catch the ferry over to the Isle of Skye. You will only need a single ticket for this trip as the return journey we will take is over the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. The Caledonian McBrayne boat runs throughout the day and takes 45 mins to get from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye.
The cost for single tickets are as follows:
Adult £3.10, Child £1.55, under 5’s go free.
Prices for a single trip for vehicles are as follows:
Car £10.30, Motorhome between £10.30 and £20.60 depending on height.
When you arrive on the Isle of Skye it’s time to head towards Portree.
Spend the Night in Portree
As your home for the next two nights, Portree is the perfect central hub for exploring the highlands of Skye. Situated right at the southern end of the Trotternish Peninsula, Portree is one of the most popular spots for accommodation for visitors to the island. It is therefore full of comfortable and cosy options for you to choose from for your stay.
Luxury – If you are looking for a comfortable apartment stay to come home to after a day exploring, Quayside Apartment is the perfect place for you. With spectacular views and a good central location, this accommodation is comfort plus for your next trip to Skye.
Mid-range – The Portree Hotel is a great central location for your stay in Skye. This hotel overlooks the main square in Portree and in the winter months there are wood-burning stoves to keep you warm after a day of exploring.
Budget – If you are looking for a budget place to rest your head but still have a great view, The Pink House is the place to stay just for that. A continental breakfast is included in your stay and you can book a room with a great view out to sea.
If hostels are more your scene, you can check out the hostels available in Isle of Skye here.
Day Three – Isle of Skye
Its time to explore the world-famous and ever mystical lands of the Isle of Skye. Also known as the Mist Isle, the Isle of Skye is one of the best examples of Scotland’s rugged, harsh and insanely beautiful landscape. With towering peaks, crashing waterfalls and tales of Giants and Warriors, the next two days on this island are going to be incredible.
Enjoy the Peace of Portree Harbour
To kick the day off in Portree, head down to the harbour nice and early and watch the golden sunlight bring Skye to life. If you are visiting during the summer, the sun will rise early enough for you to witness the harbour in full swing with fishing boats heading in and out, bring the fresh catch to Portree.
Hike to See the Old Man of Storr
To start the day, the next stop is one that you simply can’t miss on your Isle of Skye itinerary. Just north of Portree is the car park for the Old Man of Storr, a famous and iconic sight of the Isle of Skye.
In order to reach the viewpoint of the Old Man of Storr, you will need to face a pretty demanding, 45-minute walk up the steep hillside. Take your time, bring food and water and wear comfortable shoes for this hike and you will find it easy enough and definitely worth the effort.
There is a lower viewpoint and an upper viewpoint that you can visit, so if you are running out of time or do not fancy the second leg of the hike then the lower one is perfect for you. However, if you have a beautiful, blue sky and a cracking, clear day the upper viewing platform delivers one of the most spectacular views in Scotland.
Marvel at the Natural Landscape of the Quiraing
Heading away from Portree, you will be driving along the thin, winding roads that are so unique to Scotland. Take your time, enjoy the view, watch out for livestock and wildlife, and make sure you use the passing places to give way to oncoming cars.
When you reach the cliff overlooking Uig, you will want to take a left turn towards the Quiraing pass. Park up in the car park at the top of the hill and take a quick walk across the road to the Quiraing viewpoint for one of Skye’s most beautiful views.
The Quiraing is a mountain range that is the result of a massive, prehistoric landslide, which has created a dramatic and unique landscape. This is one of the Isle of Skye’s most dramatic views and is hugely popular for photographers and tourists alike. Take care as you explore the region, as the ground can be boggy and the cliffs are steep and high up.
Discover the Mystery of the Fairy Glen
Head away from the Quiraing on the road that you came along This time you will want to head down that windy road towards Uig. Right on the northern end of the Trotternish Peninsula is the fabled Fairy Glen. Take your time and enjoy the views along the coast. Arriving at the small town of Uig, you can either park your vehicle here and take the 30-minute walk to the Fairy Glen or (if you have a small car) you can drive closer and park at the glen.
The Fairy Glen is a magical part of Skye that gets its name from the mystical landscape that was formed by thousands of years of glacial movement in the area. Although there is no actual link between fairy mythology and this place, the fairytale beauty of the Fairy Glen makes it a beautiful place to explore.
Fall in Love with the Small Town of Uig
After you have explored the natural surrounding landscape of Uig, it is time to head back into the small town and grab a coffee (and maybe even a beer). One of Uig’s best visitor attractions, aside from the peaceful harbour view, is the Isle of Skye Brewery.
This craft beer brewery produces a huge range of different beers to suit all tastes and occasions, and if you book in advance you can even get a tour of the brewery. The gift shop sells a wide range of souvenirs and clothing items, and the coffee shop is a perfect place for a morning pick-me-up before we hit the road again.
Day Four – Isle of Skye
Capture Scotland’s Rugged Beauty at Neist Point
The first stop on the second day of this jam-packed itinerary on the rugged Isle of Skye is perhaps one of the most impressive on the island. Sitting right on its most westerly point, where the rocky cliffs collapse into the sea, is the beautiful view of Neist Point Lighthouse. This jaw-dropping cliffside viewpoint is akin to the dramatic landscape of the Faroe Isles and is a spectacular place to enjoy the true, natural beauty that Scotland has to offer.
To reach the best viewpoint of the lighthouse, head to the Neist Point car park on the western edge of Skye. The car park is right at the end of the road, from which you will have to continue by foot to reach either the lighthouse itself or the viewpoint at the top of the hill. Once you park your car. head to your right (facing towards the lighthouse) and begin to climb the hill.
The walk will take around 10-15 minutes and the conditions can be slippery underfoot, so make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes and take your time. The weather in this part of Scotland is some of the fiercest in the country due to the harsh winds and rain coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, so take care during this walk so you don’t get blown off the cliff. Take particular care if you are visiting the Isle of Skye in winter.
Trek to Find the Fairy Pools
It’s now time to head to one of the Isle of Skye’s most popular spots, the fabled Fairy Pools. This is one of our favourite things to do on the Isle of Skye. Formed over thousands of years, these mystical rock pools as a result of the Cullins famously wet landscape, with the water pouring down from the mountains and carving out the rock below.
The Fairy Pools are a collection of rock pools that lie along the River Brittle and are a hugely popular tourist attraction on Skye. When you reach the parking area for the Fairy Pools, you will then need to walk around 20-minutes along the stone path to reach the river.
Once you reach the River Brittle, you can either stop and admire the view or you can continue along the path to find the most impressive rock pools closer to the mountains. If you are feeling brave, the Fairy Pools are also an excellent place for a swim, with deeper pools sitting further along the river that are still and perfect for cooling off.
Dip Your Face at the Old Sligachan Bridge
On this itinerary, we will leave the Isle of Skye on the bridge over to Kyle of Lochalsh. As you head over Heading further south, the Old Sligachan Bridge is a truly beautiful part of Skye and is once again draped in folklore and mythology. Surrounded by the towering Cullin mountain range, the Sligachan Bridge was originally built in the 19th century as a means of crossing the Sligachan river.
Although a new bridge was installed for vehicles, the old bridge has been preserved for pedestrians and tourists to visit and enjoy the surrounding views.
Now, Sligachan is officially the wettest region in Skye, due to the rainfall that happens as the clouds pass over the Cullin mountains, and there is a tale that links fairies to the river. It is said that if you dip your face in the river for 10 seconds you will be granted eternal beauty, so it is up to you if you wish to brave the freezing cold water to freshen up a bit.
Take a Photo with Scotland’s Most Famous Castle – Eilean Donan
Scotland’s most photographed castle is your next stop, Eilean Donan Castle. This famous castle has been the setting of many Hollywood films, including James Bond and the Highlander. Today, it is a tourist attraction that is open to the public (for a paid admission), and it is also available to rent the grand castle for occasions such as weddings.
If you are not interested in paying the entrance fee to the castle, the best vantage point of the castle is actually from across the water at the “All the Goodness” coffee shop car park. Continue along the road with the castle on the left and cross the bridge after the castle. The car park for the viewpoint is on the left directly after the bridge.
At this car park, there is also a toilet that you can use for free and the beach here is a lovely place to stretch your legs and admire the beautiful views of the surrounding hills.
Spend the Night in Killin
It is quite a drive to get to this overnight spot from Isle of Skye, however, the views along the route will ensure that you are never bored with the drive.
Stop off whenever you want to enjoy the stunning scenery, although don’t take too long as we have a long way to go to Glasgow.
If you are wanting to get a head start your Loch Lomond road trip the following day, we would recommend heading to Killin despite the long drive. It is a lovely small town to spend the night in as well. If you are looking for somewhere to heat up at the end of the day, head into the Falls of Dochart Inn where you can sit by the warm fire and enjoy the views of the waterfall from the warmth.
Maragowan Caravan Club site sits nestled on the banks of the River Lochay and is within walking distance of Killin. Many walks can be enjoyed in this area up the nearby Munros or corbets, or even just around the local area. There are cycling routes in close proximity to the campsite and mountain bikes can be hired from Killin.
If you fancy something a little more luxurious, here are your best options for this area.
Luxury – The Falls of Dochart Inn is a great central location in Killin. With a hot fire and a great menu, this is a top place to stay in the area. Sitting right across from the Falls of Dochart, this is the perfect place to stay if you want to watch the morning light illuminate the beautiful tow of Killin.
Mid-Range – Killin Hotel overlooks the River Lochay and is complete with a riverside bistro and a local pub. In the summer months, there is a conservatory and sun terrace and in winter there is a warm log fire. So whichever season you visit you will feel right at home.
Budget – The Bridge Of Lochay Hotel is a cosy hotel with a fireplace in Killin. The bedrooms are en suite and there is a restaurant onsite.
If hostels are more your scene, you can check out the hostels available in Killin here.
Day Five – Explore Loch Lomond
Go Swimming at the Falls of Falloch
Our first stop of the day is right at the northern end of Loch Lomond at the natural swimming hole of the Falls of Falloch. This beautiful waterfall is somewhere you must visit in Loch Lomond Just a short walk from the car park, the Falls of Falloch is a magnificent waterfall away from the busy road to the north. The plunge pool at the bottom is also a very popular spot for keen (and sometimes crazy) locals to go swimming in the fresh mountain water.
Marvel at Loch Lomond’s Best Viewpoint – Inveruglus Pyramid
As you begin your drive south along the western coast of Loch Lomond, take care on the narrow and winding roads of the loch. About halfway down the coast of the loch, you will find the resting point of the Inveruglus Visitor Centre. Pull in here to stretch your legs and admire what is, in my opinion, the best viewpoint of Loch Lomond that you will find.
At the top of the hill behind the visitor centre, you will find the newly installed “Inveruglus Pyramid” also known as the An Ceann Mor. This 8-metre tall viewing platform sits right on the peaceful banks of the bonnie Loch Lomond, with incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
This point was actually our favourite cheap date night location, just 1-hour north of our homes, for those broke and money-saving weekends from University. If you have time, take a wander down to the rocks on the edge of the loch, take a seat and simply admire the peace and tranquillity of this part of the world.
Go Full Outlander at the Devil’s Pulpit
Our final stop on the journey south through Scotland’s rugged highlands is the fascinating and mystical location of the Devil’s Pulpit. This deep ravine in the middle of the rolling countryside is the setting of the “Liar’s Spring” from an episode of the famous TV show “Outlander”.
This 100ft gorge lies within Finnich Glen and is like nothing you will have seen yet on this trip. Once you are down within the gorge, you are transported to a different world, sheltered from the above weather and sounds, surrounded by thick, mossy walls of mud, the only noise being that of the blood-red river that flows through the pit.
First things first, if you plan to climb down what is called the Jacobs Ladder to get into the gorge you will want to make sure you are prepared, as this spot can be dangerous, slippy and very muddy. This means wearing sturdy, waterproof and excellent gripping shoes. It also helps to wear clothes that you do not mind getting dirty, as chances are you will slip into the red mud.
To find the Devils Pulpit, you will need to look out for more natural signs, as there is not much sign postage for the Devils Pulpit. You can park up in one of the two laybys at the side of the road for free, both of which are shown on the map below. Be aware that this road can be busy and cars can come around the corner at some speed, so take your time when walking around this area.
If you wish to view the waterfall, you will need to wade through parts of the water to get further upstream. We took our shoes and socks off to get through the water, however, it was freezing. If you have a pair of wellies then you would be best to wear them for this part. There are some parts of the water that are extremely deep, so please be careful if you choose to wade through the water.
Return to Glasgow
We understand this 5 day Scotland itinerary is jam-packed and when you reach Glasgow it may be time for you to leave Scotland. However, since it’s our home city and we love to share it, we have added a couple of the free things to do in Glasgow for you to experience if you have time.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, full of culture and good vibes. From the fascinating history of the old port town to the buzzing high streets filled with tourists and locals sharing laughs and memories, Glasgow is a must-visit city on your trip to Scotland. As the saying goes, “People make Glasgow“, and when you step foot into this vibrant city you really get a feel for that as you are welcomed with open arms and smiles.
The Glasgow Mural Trail
The mural trail in Glasgow has become incredibly popular over the last few years. The colourful artwork spread throughout the centre is helping to brighten up the city and waken up the tired-looking buildings, making lanes and alleyways more inviting.
There are 29 colourful pieces of art around the city, each with a story to tell. The mural trail is within walking distance and will take around 2 hours to complete.
You can read more about the city centre mural trail here.
The Lighthouse is an exhibition centre dedicated to the famous architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Situated in the heart of Glasgow, the centre boasts creative art and culture, as well as a truly magnificent view over the city. The Lighthouse hosts events and exhibitions promoting design and architecture to those who visit.
This is an ideal spot to watch the sunset, and end your Scotland road trip.
It is open to visitors Monday- Saturday 10.30-17.00 and Sunday 12.00 – 17.00. For one of the best views over Glasgow, we can recommend heading up to the viewpoint, especially if the sun is setting.
Before You Leave for Scotland
Before you head off on your Scotland trip, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.
How Do I Get Around Scotland?
Given the remote location of many of the incredible sights in Scotland, we would recommend driving, or even better in a campervan!
As for public transport, there are trains and buses around Scotland but they can be few and far between the more remote you go. However there are tour companies that you can book onto that tour around Scotland.
If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your 5 day itinerary in Scotland, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. We toured with these guys around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in Scotland’s central highlands and could not believe the comfort and customer service we experienced with their vans.
What Should I Pack for Scotland?
When it comes to packing for a trip to Scotland there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 5-day Heart 200 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.
As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around the highlands of Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, your ultimate itinerary for 5 days in Scotland. If you are visiting this incredible country and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! What spot was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
Also remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing adrenaline experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this bucket list activity.
If you are planning a Scotland trip soon then check out our other Scotland content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your Scotland itinerary and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.
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