Highlands & Whisky Trail Self Drive
- 8 Days
- 8 Days
- Prices From:
- AU$ 1,106
Explore the glorious Scottish Highlands at your own pace. Along the way, discover the beauty of Old Aberdeen, Inverness, and Edinburgh, stop at the distiller's of your choice and visit Loch Ness. While you are unlikely to spot Nessie, you are likely to fall in love with wonderful Scotland.
Go behind the wheel on this flexible 8-day self-drive from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Travel via some of Scotland’s most magnificent scenery, and (responsibly) enjoy a drop of the country’s signature whisky on the way. Choose between 3 and 4 star accommodations en route.
Consider arriving a day or two early to enjoy the world class museums and urban energy of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest and to some tastes, most exciting city. Pick up your rental vehicle and set out for Perthshire. Stop in at Scone Palace – an historic Highland home, not an afternoon tea spot – and drive over the Spittal of Glenshee toward Braemar, a favourite holiday spot for Britain’s royals. From May until July, you can opt to visit Balmoral Castle.
Your next destination is historic Aberdeen, where you can walk amid the stories walls of King’s College and St Machar’s Cathedral. Explore the exotic Winter Gardens, and head out of town to visit Crathes Castle. From here, it’s time to hit the Whisky Trail, with a choice of the country’s most famous distilleries, each of which offers its own informative introduction in addition to tastings at the end of the tour. History buffs will also enjoy Speyside’s wide variety of castles, including Cawdor of Macbeth fame.
Basing yourself at Inverness, escape the ‘Nessie’ themed tourist traps for far more interesting spots such as the fishing village of Ullapool, and Inverewe Gardens, famous for their rhodrodendrons. Loch Ness itself is still an attractive spot of course, made all the more interesting when you learn about the Caledonian Canal, built by Thomas Telford, of which it forms part. See Scottish icons such as Urqhart Castle, Fort William, and Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Glencoe and Rannoch Moor offer an evocative backdrop to your drive to Edinburgh, but try to make time to stop at Stirling Castle en route.
Edinburgh is the shining star of Scotland’s cities, serving as both its capital and central of royal culture and history. Follow the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle, and explore the intimate and mysterious ‘closes’ that await discovery around each corner. In the afternoon, visit Holyrood Palace the Queen’s official Scottish residence. Consider staying an extra day or two to see more of Edinburgh before returning your hire car to Glasgow Airport and meeting your flight.
- 8 Days
- 8 Days
- Prices From:
- AU$ 1,106
Itinerary View Trip Map
Arrival - Perthshire
After arriving at Glasgow Airport, pick up your rental vehicle at the local rental office. Depart for the north of Scotland crossing the Forth Road Bridge if coming from Edinburgh and continue up the M90 to Perth.
Overnight in Perthshire area.
Perthshire - Aberdeen
Following a hearty Scottish breakfast, visit Scone Palace, the family home of the Earl of Mansfield and the site of the famous coronation Stone of Scone, brought there in the 9th century by Kenneth MacAlpine, King of Scots. Continue to Pitlochry, a quaint Highland town. Here, a stop at the Salmon Ladder where you may be lucky enough to see salmon leaping is an enjoyable break in the day. From Pitlochry, travel towards Braemar. Travelling through a scenic and dramatic landscape, you'll drive over the Spittal of Glenshee - one of the highest points in Scotland and also site of one of Scotland's ski resorts.
Later, you'll descend into Braemar which sits in the heart of Royal Deeside, the favoured holiday area for the Royal Family in Scotland. If time allows, a visit Balmoral Castle (open May - July only) is highly recommended, home of Royal Family.
Continue to your accommodation in the Speyside area.
Aberdeen - Royal Deeside
Today, take a trip into Aberdeen. Start by visiting Old Aberdeen, a lovely part of the country and where the university is based. Visit Kings College, a chapel famous for its rich woodwork which dates to the 16th century. Nearby, discover St Machar's Cathedral, built primarily in the 15th century, it is a granite structure of simple austere grandeur. Two notable features are the West Front with its twin castellated towers and the painted wooden Heraldic Ceiling in the nave, dated to 1520. You should also visit Duthie Park and Winter Gardens - a beautifully laid out 50 acre park with floral displays in all seasons including a "rose mountain". There are two boating ponds and many interesting sculptures, and the Winter Gardens feature exotic plants, flowers, birds, fish and turtles.
Outside Aberdeen, visit Crathes Castle, which has royal historic associations dating from 1323 when the Land of Leys were granted to the Burnett family by Robert the Bruce. The castle features some remarkable, late 16th century painted ceilings. There is a large walled garden and the great yew hedges - dating from 1702 - are fascinating examples of topiary.
Return to your Speyside accommodation overnight.
Aberdeen - Inverness
After breakfast, travel northwards towards Inverness. In the morning, follow the Whisky Trail and visit one of the many famous distilleries in the area. You can visit Glenfiddich, McCallan, Grants, Cardhu and many more. Each gives an audio-visual show, followed by a guided tour of the distillery to learn of the processes behind whiskey production. For many, the highlight is a tasting at the end of the tour. The choice of what to see and do in the Speyside area is huge - there are castles - Brodie, Cawdor (made famous by the Shakespeare's Macbeth), and Ballindalloch to name a few.
Also recommended is a visit to Culloden Moor, site of the last land battle on British soil, a wander around Inverness, capital of the Highlands, and a trip aboard the Strathspey Railway from Boat of Garten to Aviemore.
Accommodation in Inverness area.
Inverness - Inverewe Gardens - Inverness
Enjoy a day visiting the West Coast of Scotland. Travel across to Ullapool, a quaint fishing village, then travel down past the dramatic Corrieshalloch Gorge to the Inverewe Gardens, run by the National Trust. These magnificent gardens have a famous rhododendron collection and, wow, who would expect to find palm trees in Scotland!?
Return through the magnificent scenery of the Torridon area and past Loch Maree before driving back to the Inverness area for your overnight stay.
Inverness - Loch Ness - Glencoe - Edinburgh
Today, travel south again going via Loch Ness. Loch Ness forms part of the Caledonian Canal, a feat of some great engineering by Thomas Telford linking East Scotland with West by using a series of lochs linked by a canal system. Make a stop at Urquhart Castle, a very scenic spot and also the place where the most sightings of "Nessie" have taken place. Continue towards Fort William, which nestles beneath the highest mountain in Great Britain - Ben Nevis. If time allows, why not take a ride up in a gondola at Anoch Mor which, on a good day, will offer stunning views over the west coast. From Fort William, start travelling south.
Travel through the beautiful and mysterious Glencoe, which is great for walking and climbing and full of nature. You then travel over Rannoch Moor and into the heart of the Trossachs, known as the "gateway to the Highlands". Stop at Stirling Castle which has played such an important role in much of Scotland's vibrant history. The Great Hall has just been refurbished and the Visitor Centre has a very good audio-visual exhibition explaining much of the history.
Return towards the Edinburgh area where you will stay overnight.
Enjoy a full day in Edinburgh. In the morning, explore the Royal Mile to reach Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the Edinburgh skyline. The Castle is site of the oldest building in Edinburgh - St Margaret's Chapel - as well as the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Continue down the Royal Mile, taking the time to explore the many "closes" which run off this street and which hold so many secrets. There are many restaurants, pubs and souvenir shops on the Royal Mile for a lunch stop.
In the afternoon at the foot of the Royal Mile, visit Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen whilst she is in Scotland. The Palace has a wonderful ballroom and staterooms to visit. To end the day, go into the New Town to admire the Georgian architecture and the well-laid out streets that are in complete contrast to those of the Old Town.
Return to your Edinburgh accommodation overnight.
All good things must come to and end; it is time to leave Scotland. Please return to the airport, returning your rental vehicle en route.
- 7 nights accommodation
- Breakfast daily
- Entrance to Glenfiddich Distillery (Day 4)
- Car Rental
- Travel insurance
- International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
- Visa fees if applicable
- Meals and beverages not mentioned
- Items of a personal nature
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.
11 Oct 2020