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Scotland for Beginners – 5 Days in Scotland Tour by Car

Do you want to travel Scotland but you have no idea where to start planning? I had the same problem before my trip of 5 days in Scotland! That’s why I’ve asked for tips on the JustTravelous Facebook Community and also asked some friends who’ve been there before. And I got some great tips, and I think my Scotland trip was the perfect 5 days in Scotland tour for beginners!

5 days in Scotland for Beginners – From Edinburgh through the Highlands to Inverness by car

I think the best way to travel in Scotland is by car. I just loved to drive around in the Highlands and to decide spontaneously where to go, which is easy if you have a GPS, which will bring you back on the right route. I took 5 days in Scotland to do the tour, and I think for a first impression you need at least five days, if you have more time: even better!

Blue Mountain Landscape with a cloudy sky with a white car on the road driving through 5 days in Scotland Roadtrip

Day 1 – Edinburgh

My Scotland trip started with a 1 day Edinburgh Itinerary. Edinburgh is a really pretty city. If you only plan to stay for one day – hope for good weather, walk around in the old town and enjoy sitting in one of the many parks!

Picture of a park in Edinburgh with people out enjoying the sun with a castle and ferris wheel in the background

In the evening, I recommend you to take one of the comedy ghost tours! I’ve joined Ken from GhostTours for a tour around the city and its vaults and it really gave me the creeps! The tour is a comedy show telling haunting stories about grave robbers, plague victims, and the ghosts that reside in the most haunted city in Europe. Definitely recommend for a unique experience!

Smiling Man telling a ghost story in a cave in Edinburgh Scotland

I’ve stayed at The Bonham in Edinburgh. A really beautiful boutique hotel with its very own charm. If you decide to stay some more days in Edinburgh make sure to check out the Edinburgh tips on Budgettraveller by my friend Kash!

Luxury bed with gold curtains at the Bonham hotel in Edinburgh

Day 2 – Doune Castle, Glencoe

The next morning, I started by 5 days in Scotland Roadtrip on my way to Doune Castle. All Monty Python, Game of Thrones, and Outlander fans might know this castle! Yes, Doune Castle is often used as a filming location! Monty Python and the Game of Thrones had episodes filmed here.

But that’s not the only reason why you should visit Doune Castle. It’s a natural beauty, and if you go there during the week, there’s a good chance there will be fewer tourists around. Tip: take the audio guide and enjoy some Monty Python insiders while touring the castle!

Doune Castle with a large tower and some castle ruins

Next stop: Glencoe. Usually, the drive takes around two hours, but the journey is the destination, right? That’s true for this drive. The town of Glencoe didn’t really convince me, but Glencoe Valley and the whole drive there were unbelievably beautiful! Definitely take your time!

Glencoe Valley in Scotland with a shallow river surrounded by low moutains and bushes

Glencoe Valley

Red Coach with flower pillow with a beautiful Scotland landscape behind of mountains and a lake

The view from the living room in Creag Mhor Lodge

I highly recommend staying at the incredibly charming, Creag Mhor Lodge. Perfect location, perfect view, lovely interior and lovely owner! And it was that evening, I fell in love with Scotland! When I found this place, just a short two miles walk away from the Creag Mhor Lodge:

Blue Sky reflected in a very blue river with a small house in the corner at Onich Beach

Day 3 Glenfinnan Viaduct, Eilean Donean Castle

It was really hard for me to leave the next morning… but I wanted to see more of Scotland! If you like hiking, I highly recommend spending the day hiking Ben Nevis. There is also a gondola to the top so you beautiful view from the top!

Glennfinnan Viaduct shown among green mountains and a blue sky

The next stop is the Eilean Donan Castle. The castle is a bit off the road, but the views are just stunning. I’ve stayed that night in a tiny little village called Strathcarron. This small hotel  is beautiful, the staff is super friendly, and gave great recommendations of the surrounding area.

Day 4 Highland Games

I was lucky enough to visit Scotland during the Highland Games in July and August. You can check out when and where here. I’ve decided to go for small village Highland Games, as I hoped to get the real “local” feeling, and Lochcarron was definitely a great choice!

Man wearing kilt throws large log at the highland games

If there are no Highland Games to visit during your stay, I recommend to use this day to drive deeper into the Highlands to appreciate more of the 5 days in Scotland.

That night, I finally made my way to most famous loch in Scotland: Loch Ness!

Day 5 Loch Ness/Inverness

If you’re staying at The Loch Ness Clansman Hotel there’s a huge chance you’ll meet Willie Cameron. He’s known as “Mr. Loch Ness (and director of the Clansman hotel).

Scotland Willie Cameron Loch Ness

He knows ALL the stories about Nessie and loves to tell them. His father saw Nessie in 1965. Willie himself hasn’t seen Nessie – yet. But he believes in Nessie!

If you want to do something other than the typical Loch Ness boat tour, I recommend taking your car and driving up and down Loch Ness. There are many beautiful streets (but be careful: some of them are single-lane only!) but you’ll be rewarded with views like this:

Scotland Loch Ness

Inverness itself didn’t impress me, but that might be because I fell in love with the Highlands so much I wasn’t that much into a civilization that day… my favorite place in Inverness is the Ness Islands. Perfect for a walk in the evening! And if you have some more time to spend, you should see Culloden, not only if you’re a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Saga.

I love a good roadtrip to explore the unique places in any country like our Croatia Roadtrip. Here’s a little map of my 5 days in Scotland road trip… as you can see you COULD drive this tour in one day, but take time for the journey across this beautiful country.

If you do not want to rent a car?

If you do not want to rent a car, this 3 day tour of the highland country side is beautiful and captures most of the locations shown above. It makes for a great trip combination with a few nights in Edinburgh for a perfect 5 days in Scotland. Highly recommend.

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