7 Day Scotland Itinerary

I loved Scotland.  I actually felt ashamed that I had not explored this country before, having lived in England for 30 years I’d only made a couple of short weekend trips before embarking on a Highland Fling tour with Haggis Adventures.  I spent 7 days in Scotland altogether; 2 days in Edinburgh and 5 days in the rest of Scotland exploring beautiful scenery, delicious food and enjoying true Scottish hospitality.  I’ll share the 7 day Scotland itinerary I followed, which you can adapt to suit your needs – or take the easy option and sign up for a tour like I did!

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I received a complimentary tour from Haggis Adventures, but as usual, all opinions are my own.

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When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland?

Although you can visit Scotland at any time of the year, I’d say that spring and autumn are the best times to travel around Scotland, in particular May and September. 

The weather in Scotland can be very cold and wet, but Spring and Autumn have a mixture of sun and rain, without the crowds that flock here over the summer – and without the midges that plague the countryside during July and August. 

If you choose to take a Haggis Adventures tour, there are some parts of the Highland Fling itinerary that are only included from late May to Autumn, for example, the Harry Potter Jacobite steam train, so check the dates for that if you want to include that option. 

Other things to consider are special events, like Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), which is a huge celebration in Edinburgh, but if you visit Scotland in winter the weather is likely to be extremely cold, with rain or snow in the Highlands and other areas.

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Should You Take a Scotland Tour or Visit Independently?

This depends on how you like to travel, how long you have, and if you are a confident driver.  As a solo traveller backpacking Scotland, joining a group tour with Haggis Adventures was easily the best option for me, as I met some lovely people to travel with and didn’t have to stress about driving everywhere myself. 

There are tours available to cover all price ranges, and most will follow a similar itinerary.  This Scotland backpacking itinerary for Haggis Tours included accommodation in shared dorms, but there are other Scotland tours which include accommodation in hotels as well.

Another advantage of going with a guided tour was visiting places I really wouldn’t have considered including on my own Scotland itinerary, but which I am very glad we visited – Culloden Battlefield for example – so I learned a lot more about Scotland and Scottish history thanks to our guide. 

I wrote an article about my experience with Haggis Adventures which you can read to help you decide which option to take.  In case you do choose to travel independently I’ve also included accommodation options and tips for things to do in each destination.

Our Haggis Adventures Wild and Sexy Yellow Bus
Our Haggis Adventures Wild and Sexy Bus

7 Day Driving Itinerary for Scotland

If you choose to travel independently, you have more freedom about where and when to stop, but arranging car hire (or campervan hire), accommodation and planning the route is a lot more work.  That said, this 7-day tour of Scotland is easy to adapt so you can drive it yourself without the need for a car.

I later returned to Scotland with my campervan Mabel and loved driving around at my own pace, although some Scottish countryside roads are not for the faint-hearted! 

If you are travelling independently, Edinburgh is a good place to hire a car as you can make a loop and come back to the same place to drop it off which is usually cheaper than a one-way hire fee.  That said, play around with the dates and pickup/drop-off locations to find the best deal for your trip.

Book Your Scotland Tours & Accommodation in Advance

Scotland is a beautiful country, and a popular destination, so I would recommend booking your tours or car hire and accommodation ASAP to guarantee you get your preferred dates confirmed. 

Check the cancellation terms before you book, but most tours on GetYourGuide can be cancelled up to 24 hours before departure, and many hotels have flexible policies to give you the most freedom should your plans change.

These are some of the top-rated guided tours, but if you’re travelling independently read on for recommended accommodation in each place.

Recommended Tours of Scotland

If you prefer to join an organised tour of Scotland, these are some of my favourites:

7 Day Scotland Itinerary Day 1: Edinburgh to Oban/Fort William

All of the Haggis Adventures tours start from Edinburgh, which is the most practical place to start any Scotland itinerary if you are arriving from abroad.  Edinburgh is well connected by air and train links, so starting and/or ending your Scotland trip in Edinburgh works well. 

I arrived in Edinburgh the night before our Haggis Adventures tour started and spent 2 days in Edinburgh at the end of the tour, so I will cover Edinburgh last.  Of course, if you arrive in Edinburgh first, you may want to spend some time here before you set off exploring Scotland.

The Kelpies

We all met at the Haggis Adventures office in the centre of Edinburgh at 8.15am and were soon setting off on the road.  Our first stop was the Kelpies, a huge piece of motorway art of two silver-coloured horses’ heads which are the largest equine sculptures in the world. 

There is free parking a few minutes’ walk away from the sculptures, and you can walk around the outside of the Kelpies to see them for free and marvel at this incredible sculpture.

There are also daily tours at 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30 from the visitor centre which gives you more information about the sculptures and the chance to go inside.  The 30-minute guided tours cost £7.50 per adult with 2 free tickets for children.  

The nearby Falkirk Wheel is another interesting stop if you have enough time.  This rotating boat lift connects the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in a half-turn that takes only five minutes!

The Kelpies Sculpture
The Kelpies Sculpture

Deanston Distillery Tour and Whisky Tasting.

Even if you’re not a fan of whisky, a visit to a whisky distillery is an essential Scottish experience.  Deanston offers hourly tours every day from 10am to 4pm, where you can learn more about the whisky-making process and sample some of their whisky.

Distillery tours start from £19.50 per person including 2 drams of whisky to taste, and there is a variety of different tours and tasting options to choose from.  It’s advised to book ahead, check their website for details here.

If you are a whisky fan you might also consider this whisky tasting day tour from Edinburgh!


Callandar is a cute little town with plenty of cafes where you could stop for lunch.   I had a pie in a café called Campbell’s Taste of the Trossachs which was cheap and tasty, or there are plenty of other places to choose from. 

A little further down the road, we took a special stop at Trossachs Woollen Mill to visit some Highland Cows, some of the cutest cows I have ever seen.  Hamish, Hazel and Honey are a handsome hairy family, and you could buy some vegetables to feed them. 

Hazel the Hairy Coo - Big Orange Highland Cow peering over the fence
Hazel the Hairy Coo

We continued driving through spectacular scenery through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where you should stop off if you have time, or carry on to Glencoe as we did.


Glencoe was absolutely stunning.  There are a few parking places on the roadside where you can stop and take a walk or some photos.  James Bond fans might want to take a detour off the main road to try and find the spot where James Bond parks his Aston Martin while he and M enjoy the view. 

We didn’t do that though, but found a beautiful place to stop and have a short walk before taking a break at the Glencoe Visitor centre to use the toilets.

If you want more time to explore Glencoe but don’t have your own transport, a day tour like this one could be a good option for you as it includes two hikes to make the most of the scenery.

Walking in Glencoe - woman in blue coat walks between epic mountain scenery
Walking in Glencoe


We spent the night at Oban, a nice little coastal town. There wasn’t much time to explore during daylight hours so I had fish and chips for tea and walked up to McCaig’s Tower for nice views of the bay before sunset. If you have more time here you can go whisky tasting, stroll along the promenade and do some souvenir shopping.

The real highlight of Oban was a Ceilidh Dance.  The View in Oban hosts traditional Ceilidh nights twice a week (currently on Mondays and Thursdays).  For £10 per person, you can join in for one of the most fun and entertaining nights you’ll have in Scotland!  Check their website for current dates & availability. 

Where to Stay in Oban

$$$: No17 The Promenade: This beautiful hotel is a perfect romantic option for couples.  It’s a 15 minute walk from The View for the Ceilidh, in a quiet location on the seafront of Oban.  Breakfast is included, book a sea-view room if you can! 

$$: Adelphi Villa: This clean and friendly hotel is excellent value and has a great location on a quiet street in the centre of Oban. 

$ Budget: Oban Youth Hostel is the top-rated hostel in Oban and has private rooms available as well as dorms if you like to enjoy the hostel atmosphere and still get a good night’s sleep!

$ Backpackers: Oban Backpackers is where we stayed in Oban and has a range of dorm rooms from 6 to 12 beds, including female-only dorms.  Breakfast is available for an extra fee, or you can grab a bite to eat in Oban before you leave.


However, if you’re visiting Oban on a day without a ceilidh, I’d be tempted to spend the night in Fort William instead as there is more to do here, especially if you have time to spare on your Scotland itinerary.  Keen hikers will probably want to at least see Ben Nevis, about 6 miles away from Fort William, even if you don’t hike up there!

7 Days in Scotland: Day 2 Oban to Skye

The Jacobite Steam Train on The Glenfinnan Viaduct
The Jacobite Steam Train on The Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Jacobite Steam Train

We set off in the morning to the station at Fort William where we would take the Jacobite Steam Train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct to Mallaig.  The train journey is only included in Scotland tour itineraries at certain times of the year as they run from May to October, and often sell out so book as far in advance as you can. 

Hogwarts Express Jacobite Steam Train Tickets are available on the official website here but you can only buy return tickets, not one-way which if you’re travelling independently probably makes more sense as you’ll need to come back to Fort William to collect your car.  Tours usually just include a one-way journey as the bus driver will collect you from Mallaig to continue your tour.

If the train isn’t running when you visit Scotland, you can still drive to Mallaig by car. The Jacobite Steam train is most famous for being featured in the Harry Potter films as part of the journey of the Hogwarts Express and the journey is quite spectacular, especially across the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

If you do end up driving to Mallaig, it is worth stopping off to see Glenfinnan Viaduct along the way.  You can get great views of the viaduct a short walk away from the visitor centre.


We took the 10.15am train from Fort William and arrived in Mallaig in time for lunch (try the Mission Café opposite the train station for tasty meals).  From Mallaig, there are ferries to the Armadale on the Isle of Skye which run regularly (some timetables may change due to low tides).  The ferries also take cars, bikes and motorbikes.  Check details on the ferry website here

Caisteal Maol on the Isle of Skye - Castle ruins in the background across a bay with an old boat and purple flowers in the foreground
Caisteal Maol close to Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye: Armadale & Kyleakin 

Once we were on Skye, we called at the castle ruin of Armadale on our way to Kyleakin, a pretty little village on Skye Coast.  We spent the night here and had time to explore the town and the beautiful bay.  I highly recommend walking up to the ruins of Caisteal Maol for some lovely views.  

Where to Stay on the Isle of Skye – Kyleakin

Kyleakin was a good option to spend the night on the Isle of Skye, as it’s close to the bridge and ferry and you’ll have covered a lot of ground to get here.

$$: Isle of Skye Guest House is a solid option with double, twin and family rooms available. Free parking is included. 

$ Budget: Sky Backpackers is a decent budget option with dorm rooms and private twin and family rooms to choose from.  It’s close to Saucy Mary’s where you can get a meal.   

$ Backpackers: We stayed at Saucy Mary’s, which also has a restaurant and bar serving up tasty meals.  The reviews aren’t great but it was fine for a night!


Scotland in 7 Days: Day 3 – Isle of Skye, drive to Loch Ness

We spent almost the whole day on the Ise of Skye, which is a lovely place.  If you have more time to spend here I could easily spend several days on Skye so you can explore and really make the most of it!  However, this Isle of Skye 1 day itinerary fits in as much as possible to give you a great taste of the island!

We left Kyleakin in the morning to head to Portree, calling at Sligachan on the way to hear tales of Scottish Highland romance, revenge and redemption.  Apparently, putting your face in the waters of Sligachan River will grant you eternal beauty – I didn’t try it myself so I’m sure you’ll be able to tell in a few years! 

Pretty Portree with Colourful Houses in the bay with a boat
Pretty Portree with Colourful Houses


We continued to Portree, another lovely coastal town.  We bought a picnic lunch here from MacKenzie’s Bakery, had a stroll around the town and took some photographs of the colourful port which is one of the prettiest places in Scotland.  While the weather was still good, we carried on to Storr.


Hiking to the Old Man of Storr was probably my favourite activity on the whole trip.  We were very lucky with the weather on Skye and had glorious sunshine to hike to the top of this incredible viewpoint.  If you are a fast hiker, apparently you can get to the top in less than an hour, but I needed an hour and a half, including stops for rests and photos. 

The hike was quite steep but definitely worth the effort!  If the weather is good, sit up here and enjoy your picnic lunch!  The views are unreal.  Unfortunately, parking is limited, and you’ll probably have to park along the roadside, so find a spot as close as you can to the footpath entrance.    

Hiking on the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye - Woman standing looking at the spiky rock formations and view of a loch beneath
Hiking on the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

Lealt Falls & Kilt Rock

These two sets of waterfalls are worth a stop off to see, and especially after heavy rain Kilt Rock waterfall shoots off the top of a cliff and tumbles into the sea below.  An alternative could be to go to the Fairy Pools, although they are about a 2.5km walk from the car park, so it depends how tired you are after Storr! 

Skye Brewery

We also called off at the Isle of Skye Brewing Company for a toilet stop and to stock up on beer and cider for the bus, it was lovely to have a cold refreshing cider after a lovely hike! 

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle from the free Viewpoint across the Bay

Eilean Donan Castle

From Skye, we drove across the bridge to the mainland and across towards Loch Ness.  We passed Elean Donan Castle, which is the most photographed castle in Scotland and has been featured in various films.  You can stop across the bay for views of the castle without paying, but to see it up close there is a parking fee. 

Most tours will take the free option but if you’re driving yourself it is worth the money get closer, and then if you have time I’d also recommend heading up the hill to the Eilean Donan Lookout for a different view!

Where to Stay in Loch Ness – Fort Augustus

We spent two nights at Morag’s Lodge in Fort Augustus on the shores of Loch Ness.  We arrived quite late and spent the whole of the following day in and around Loch Ness, so for this 1 week Scotland itinerary, you’ll need to book two nights here.

Drumnadrochit is another popular place to stay at Loch Ness, but it is more touristy and I preferred Fort Augustus.  Our Loch Ness boat trip left from here too and I highly recommend doing that here as it was a fabulous trip!

$$$: The Highland Club: for a luxurious stay at Loch Ness, the Highland Club is the perfect choice.  The Estate includes Grade A gothic buildings of the original English fortification of Fort Augustus, which later became St Benedict’s Abbey.  The rooms are gorgeous, and there is a spa and indoor pool to enjoy as well. 

$$: Lock Chambers, Caledonian Canal Centre: A clean and comfortable hotel with lovely rooms – some with views of the mountains and/or Loch Ness.

$ Budget: Whitehouse B&B: This cozy Bed & Breakfast gets great reviews for the excellent location, friendly staff and tasty breakfast which is included in the room rates.  It’s great value too!

$ Backpackers: Morag’s Lodge is a fantastic hostel with friendly staff and regular events like pub quizzes to help you meet fellow travellers.  There are private single, double and twin rooms as well as dorm rooms, and breakfast is available for a small fee.


7 Day Scotland Itinerary: Day 4 – Loch Ness & Inverness

Trees for Life at Dundreggan

Haggis Adventures partner with Trees for Life UK to help repopulate an area now known as Haggis Wood.  We planted two trees among the others that previous Haggis tour groups planted, doing a small bit for the environment.  Trees for Life is a wonderful project, and you can volunteer there to plant trees for a week yourself. 

After visiting I decided to donate money for my own grove of trees, and I continue to add to it whenever I can.

Planting Trees in Haggis Wood - Green Countryside with new trees
Planting Trees in Haggis Wood with Trees for Life


It was raining when we stopped off in Inverness, which may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm about the city.  There were plenty of shops and restaurants here, as well as a Victorian shopping arcade, but if you don’t fancy stopping off here you could head to the Cairngorms National Park for the day.  I would still recommend visiting Culodden on the way there.


Culloden probably isn’t somewhere I would have visited by myself but learning about a period in Scottish history I knew nothing about was actually very interesting.  It was sobering to visit the battlefield, which is essentially a mass grave, where thousands of Highlanders were killed in a brutal battle which ended the Jacobite uprising and destroyed the Highland Clan way of life. 

The weather was fitting for the sombre day, grey clouds hung low in the sky and the drizzle fell as we walked around the field.  Our guide Michael explained the circumstances around the battle, and how Bonny Prince Charlie failed the Highlanders.

Stone Monument at Culodden Battlefield
Culloden Battlefield

Clava Cairns

Close to Culodden, these 4000-year-old burial cairns give a fascinating glimpse into Neolithic Scotland.  The stones were carefully placed to allow the sun to shine in specific places on the solstice, and the sight reminded me of the Megaliths in Evora, where the people used their stone creations as a kind of calendar to mark when to sow and reap their crops. 

Loch Ness Cruise

Cruise Loch Ness runs boat tours from Fort Augustus around the Loch, and I loved it!  The guide Shaun pointed out interesting things around the Loch, including a patch of bare rocks where legend has it Nessie tried to escape the Loch, or tried to catch some goats for her dinner.  We also spotted a couple of deer on the bank. 

READ MORE: Things to do in Loch Ness

The most interesting (and entertaining) part of the tour was the talk given by Shaun about Nessie and the various attempts to find the Loch Ness Monster.  If I wasn’t a believer before, I am now!  Keep your eyes peeled as you cruise the water, you never know what you might spot in the depths!

Spotting Nessie the Loch Ness Monster on Loch Ness
Spotting Nessie on Loch Ness

7 Day Scotland Itinerary: Day 5 – Loch Ness to Edinburgh

Day 5 is a heavy driving day, with a few stops along the way.  You could spend more time in the Cairngorms National Park if you prefer, but it’s about 4-5 hours drive back to the centre of Edinburgh from Loch Ness so plan your time carefully.  We left Fort Augustus early to make as much of the day as we could.

Commando Memorial

It was a gloomy morning when we left Loch Ness to return to Edinburgh.  Along the way, we stopped at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge to pay our respects.  Unfortunately, the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and Ben Nevis were shrouded in cloud which was quite fitting for the sombre place. 

The Commando Memorial statue surrounded by clouds
The Commando Memorial statue surrounded by clouds


This pleasant town is a good stop-off point for lunch (and ice-cream!), and you can also visit the Pitlochry Damn with its innovative salmon ladder which allows the fish to pass upstream while the damn can still hydroelectricity.  

Dunkeld & The Hermitage

Another pleasant spot to get some food or a café and pay a visit to the Cathedral along the banks of the Tay River.  Nearby, the Hermitage Waterfall and nature walk through the forest was a lovely place to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. 

A Bridge over the Hermitage Waterfall near Dunkeld
A Bridge over the Hermitage Waterfall near Dunkeld

You can also stop off at the Forth Bridge on your way back into Edinburgh, to see this special 1.5-mile-long suspension bridge up close. 

7 Day Scotland Itinerary: Day 6 & 7 – Edinburgh

I’ll cover the best things to do in Edinburgh in a separate post, but two days in Edinburgh is a reasonable amount of time to see the highlights of this fabulous city. 

Harry Potter fans should definitely take a Harry Potter walking tour to see all of the Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh, and don’t miss walking up to Calton Hill for some of the best views of the City.  I also took a food tour and visited a gin distillery which was fab.  


READ MORE: Fabulous Free Things to do in Edinburgh

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Hotels in Edinburgh

There are lots of hotels to choose from in Edinburgh, but as you might expect, the better the location you choose, the higher the price! Luckily, Edinburgh is quite a compact city, so if you don’t mind walking you can find hotels in Edinburgh that balance price and location with great quality. 

CoDE Pod Hostel has good-value private rooms if you want the social aspect of a hostel with a good night’s sleep.

Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh gets good reviews for a budget hotel in Edinburgh and has an excellent location just off the Royal Mile.

Or you can look through all the hotels in Edinburgh here.


Hostels in Edinburgh

Unfortunately, Edinburgh is quite expensive, compared to other destinations in Scotland.  However, if you are backpacking Edinburgh on a budget there are plenty of hostels in Edinburgh to choose from.
I stayed at High Street Hostel which is just off the Royal Mile, and a short walk (up steps!) from the train station.  I was only there briefly but there were comfy beds, friendly staff, and a reasonable breakfast.  It gets great reviews on Hostelworld so I’m happy to recommend it.  You can check all the hostels in Edinburgh on Hostelworld here.


Apartments & Airbnb in Edinburgh

As I spent 3 nights in Edinburgh I wanted to book an apartment so I could enjoy a private room and cook a couple of meals at ‘home’ to save a bit of cash.  It looks like the Airbnb room I stayed in hasn’t accepted any guests since COVID, but you can browse all Airbnbs in Edinburgh here

There are lots of apartments available on Booking.com as well, which often have better cancellation terms than those on Airbnb so I always check there too.  This apartment on Booking for example gets great reviews and is decent value for the location.


The View from Calton Hill in Edinburgh
The View from Calton Hill in Edinburgh

What to Pack for Scotland

Layers, waterproofs, sunscreen, and a woolly hat!  Among other things, but basically, I’d recommend being prepared for all weathers.  At the very least, your Scotland packing list should include comfortable waterproof shoes for walking (and hiking if that’s your thing), a good waterproof coat, and layers so you can be warm in cold weather, or take off some layers if it is warm.

When I visited Scotland in May for this tour we had a real mix of glorious sunshine, pouring rain and cold wind, so I ended up buying a woolly hat while I was there to keep me warm!  

Have you been to Scotland?  Have I missed anything on this 7 Day Scotland itinerary?  I’d love to hear what you think, please leave your comments below.

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4 thoughts on “7 Day Scotland Itinerary

  1. Claire says:

    Hi Ashley!
    Scotland is amazing, you will love it! I did this route as part of a tour but did drive my campervan around a lot of Scotland last year although that was in the summer. In winter the roads might be difficult depending on the weather so make sure you check the weather forecast and leave plenty of time for driving. If it snows heavily you might not be able to get everywhere but ask locals for advice when you’re there.

  2. Ashley Minzes says:

    Good evening! Planning a trip for December (i know it will be cold) but i only get Chrismas break off…it’s for my sons 21st birthday and I’m so overwhelmed with planning…love this itinerary though! Did you drive yourself or this is all part of the tour?

  3. Michelle says:

    This has been so helpful for planning my trip this summer! Thank you for the clear and concise information!

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