By Lottie Gross
Driving in Scotland is simply cinematic. With sweeping glens, towering mountains and long, glassy lochs providing spectacular scenery along almost every route, you’re bound to fall in love with driving around this country.
Stop off along your journey at some of the country’s top spa hotels, or brilliant lodges with hot tubs in Scotland, and your adventure will be all the better.
From supremely popular road trip routes, to lesser-known roads in the more remote corners of Scotland, these are the best driving holidays.
The North Coast 500 Scotland road trip
- Best Scotland road trip for: an epic adventure
- Length: 516 miles
- Time needed: one week
Known as ‘Scotland’s own Route 66’ the North Coast 500 has become incredibly popular in recent years – so much so that traffic jams on its rural roads aren’t uncommon in summer. But don’t let that put you off. This 516-mile route offers an incredible variety of scenery, history and fantastic coastal views – and if you come in early spring or late autumn you’ll have far fewer crowds to contend with.
Starting in Inverness, you’ll drive towards the west coast via Loch Ness, and then up through Torridon and Ullapool. Following the craggy coast, crossing bridges and skirting around countless inlets, the route reaches John o’Groats – the very top of Great Britain where you could even hop off to visit the Shetland Islands. Head south via Dunrobin Castle & Gardens, and don’t miss a visit to the Glenmorangie distillery.
w&h highlight: Take the single-track route via Bealach na Bà for some of Scotland’s most dramatic driving – views from the top to the Isle of Skye are breathtaking.
The Isle of Skye Scotland road trip
- Best Scotland road trip for: wonderful walks and food
- Length: approx 160 miles
- Time needed: 4-7 days
The Isle of Skye is prime road trip country. Driving in any direction promises astonishing scenery, and its winding roads are a pleasure to travel on. From the bridge connecting the mainland, drive through Broadford and up towards the capital, Portree. From here, a minor road circles around the northern fringes of the island, passing waterfalls, ruined castles and through fishing villages, and around Borve you can turn off towards Stein to explore the Dunvegan estate or stop at the exceptional Three Chimneys restaurant.
Spend a long weekend or even a week here moving around the island, exploring its hiking trails and taking boat trips out to see the wildlife. Skye gets busy in summer, so best visit in spring, autumn or even winter. Read our guide to the Isle of Skye here.
w&h highlight: Just minutes from Portree by road, the views of the Old Man of Storr – a striking rock formation on the edge of a landslip – are unforgettable.
The Snow Roads Scotland road trip
- Best Scotland road trip for: mountain scenery and stargazing
- Length: 90 miles
- Time needed: 3 days
Running through the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, the Scottish Snow Roads road trip route is truly spectacular. It begins in pretty Blairgowrie and wends its way north through Braemar and Ballater before ending in Grantown-on-Spey.
Along the way, stop off at Glenlivet and Tomintoul, where the night sky is so dark you’ll see millions of stars in clear weather. Also don’t miss a trip to Braemar Castle and Balmoral, the Queen’s favourite residence.
w&h highlight: Driving through the Cairnwell Pass – on the highest main road in the UK – will absolutely blow you away.
The Fife Coastal Route Scotland road trip
- Best Scotland road trip for: seafood and laid-back vibes
- Length: 77 miles
- Time needed: 3-5 days
This relatively short route packs a lot of punch. Following the Firth of Forth coastal road in the eastern county of Fife, this road trip begins at the Kincardine Bridge, near Stirling, and ends at the Tay Bridge connecting to Dundee. Right near the start of the route, stop in Devilla Forest to stretch your legs and see red squirrels, and further along make a beeline for the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther to learn about Scotland’s historic trade.
It’s all about simple pleasures along this route, with stop-offs in gorgeous little towns such as the Royal Burgh of Culross and pretty fishing villages like Pittenweem and Crail. Golfers and spa-lovers should stop off in St Andrews, where one of the best spa hotels in Scotland sits right on the Old Course.
w&h highlight: Aberdour Castle is thought to be the oldest standing castle in Scotland. Head here for a history lesson, then pop to Aberdour Silver Sands beach afterwards for some coastal fun.
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