Top 5 Scenic Drives in Scotland

| August 31, 2012 | 41 Comments

If you want to experience Scotlands spectacular scenery then choosing one of, or all of, our top 5 scenic drives in Scotland is the way to do it. We often jump in a car and head away from Edinburgh for a long weekend.

Whether it is north through the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Skye or west to the rugged Atlantic coastline there is so much to see. Ruined castles, jagged mountainsides and empty fields as far as the eye can see will greet you on your travels.

And with very little traffic you won’t feel any pressure from other motorists and can take it all in at a slow pace.

So grab a coffee, some roadside picnic goodies, hire a car in the UK and get started on the top 5 scenic drives in Scotland. You might even get lucky and see one of these cute wee Highland Cows

Cute Highland Cow pictures

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

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Glasgow to Oban

While driving in Glasgow is nothing to write home about, the scenery to the northwest is. Head north along the A82 towards Loch Lomond. This should also be the first stop on your journey.

There are plenty of roadside bays for taking pictures and admiring the views at the foothills of the Scottish Highlands. And it is around here that you will enter Loch Lomond and the Trossochs National Park. There are lots of mountain biking and hiking trails running through these hills so take your time!

After buggering yourself from your adventures, continue north before turning west onto the A85. Slicing through the rugged terrain this winding road will eventually spit you out onto the coastal roads above Oban. One of our favourite towns in the whole of Scotland.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Edinburgh to Berwick-Upon-Tweed

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The coastal route between Edinburgh and the northeast of England can be very dull and dreary if you stick to the A1. Instead of driving in straight-lines why not get off the main road and duck and dive between the cutest villages overlooking the North Sea.

While considerably longer, it is a lot more fun and beautiful.

Get out of Edinburgh towards Musselburgh via the A199 or A1. What you are looking for is the much more scenic A198 which will deliver you through Dirleton and on past North Berwick. The best sights along the way are two of the finest Castles in Scotland, Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle.

Both castle are mostly in ruins but are open to visitors.

Jump back on the A1 for a short blast before diving off onto the A1107 towards Eyemouth. The perfect place to stop for your lunch overlooking a very cute coastal village and rocky shoreline. And from here it’s not far to the border of England and Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Isle of Skye

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While we have shown a circular route for the Isle of Skye, there is really no wrong or right route here. All of the Isle of Skye is fantastic to drive around.

If you have a few days to spend in the Isle of Skye, which you should definitely make time for, then our only recommendations are to keep your driving distances short and get out of the car.

There are so many hiking trails around the Isle of Skye, like the Fairy Pools below, that will keep you busy for most of your visit.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Isle of Arran

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The Isle of Arran has some of the best mountain biking trails in the whole of Scotland. It is just a little harder to get to than some of the other spots around. Crossing over the Firth of Clyde on the ferry is the only option and you really do want a car to explore the coastal route.

Disembarking the ferry head south on the A841 (one of the only roads on the Isle of Arran) and spend the evening around Whiting Bay. There are lots of Bed and Breakfasts to choose from along the shoreline. The breakfasts will also fuel you for an epic day of exploring the coastal road that circumnavigates the Isle of Arran.

Make sure you stop near the ruins of Kildonan Castle to visit the seal colony. As well as take a hike out to the King’s Cave where Sir Robert the Bruce is rumoured to have hid out. Access is from the A841 near Blackwaterfoot via a coastal path.

Scottish Highlands

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One of the most scenic drives in Scotland has to be through the Scottish Highlands. Dramatic mountain ranges are split by narrow winding roads running next to shimmering lochs. There is not even any point in suggesting a route through the Scottish Highlands as there are so many excellent options.

Just make sure you don’t skip stopping for morning cake and coffee in Callander or driving through Glencoe.

Scenic drive in Scotland Glencoe

Would love to hear your suggestions for top 5 scenic drives in Scotland!

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (41)

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  1. Laurence says:

    Wow, some seriously thorough routes, great work guys. It’s weird that I lived up in Newcastle for so long and never really spent much time up in Scotland. I’m going to blame the fickle weather I think. Great resource post if I do make it though!
    Laurence recently posted..That time I nearly died in the Outback

  2. Wow, these are some great drives (we did a few during our vacation in Scotland). I love the high quality pictures, especially of the highland cow calf!
    Evan McDonald recently posted..A Review of Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica

  3. Such a great round up! We did the Glasgow to Oban and up through the Highlands once a few years ago (thanks to 10GBP return flights to Glasgow from London). What an amazing time. No matter where we are in the world, we see a beautiful setting (usually green, mountainous, etc) and we say to each other, hey this looks like Scotland! One of the most beautiful places in the world!

  4. Most. Adorable. Cow. Ever. And the road trips look pretty cool too…
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Dinosaur Bones and Cow Udders – Above Metapán, El Salvador

  5. Gina says:

    I looooved seeing the Highland Cows when I was in Scotland, but I never saw a baby one!!! That picture is so cute I can’t stand it.
    Gina recently posted..Photo Tour Friday: Muir Woods

  6. Turtle says:

    They all sound like great drives… but, more importantly, the cow!! How cute!
    Turtle recently posted..Restoring the faith

  7. Great drive…this sort of trip through Scotland is on our bucket list. Of course, I’ll have the golf clubs in tow:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Blogger Relay – My Top 3 Travel Memories

  8. I remember taking the train from York to Edinburgh, and while it wasn’t exactly a road trip, the view were absolutely stunning. I’m guessing it’s even better by car so you can stop anytime you want for photos!
    EurotripTips recently posted..Getting the gift of the gab at Blarney Castle

  9. Angela says:

    Beautiful pictures, the first one is spectacular 😉
    Angela recently posted..A trip, a photo – In Rio, the trendy and the favela

  10. Ali says:

    These all look really great! I’d love to visit Scotland, and a scenic drive sounds like the perfect thing. Although I’m not sure how I’d handle driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road!
    Ali recently posted..My Top Sunset Photos

  11. Oh my gosh… That animal!!!!!
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Get Teaching Traveling Monthly e-Newsletter: Don’t Miss Out!

  12. These are some really great ideas for routes guys, thanks so much for sharing! The picture of the cow is just beyond cute too!
    emma@greenglobaltravel recently posted..INTERVIEW: Kiva Director of Global Portfolio Giovanna Masci on Ending World Poverty

  13. Vicky says:

    Lovely pictures and great ideas for scenic drives.


    Celebrating the Great British Coastline
    Vicky recently posted..KYLEAKIN

  14. Very envious of this! I love Scotland! I’ve gone to the Scottish festival here the last couple of years and it’s made me want to go visit even more. It’s probably the top destination on my list. This post made me want to go even more now!
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Interviews and Irish culture at a college football game in Ireland

  15. Candice says:

    Great info! I highly recommend the Isle of Skye (as you do), it is so beautiful.
    Candice recently posted..5 Longest Passenger Flights

  16. Aww…that’s an adorable cow! Great scenic places in Scotland. Love the Isle of Skye and Tantallon Castle.
    Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog recently posted..Bora Bora Resorts On The Water

  17. cheryl says:

    Ahhh, you make Scottland look stunning. I really really must visit there soon. Love the photo of the cow, so so much cuter than the average cow. :)
    cheryl recently posted..My Love Affair With Alpe Di Siusi (In Photos).

  18. Nice story. We went on a Scottish road trip this summer, Edinburgh to Glasgow, via the Isle of Skye and John O’Groats. Gorgeous country.
    Michael @ Changes In Longitude recently posted..Fending off pickpockets on the Buenos Aires subway

  19. sally says:

    We are planning a trip to UK for mid next year, with a week to be spent in Scotland. Do you think we can fit in all five suggested drives? Our time is a little flexible though at this stage. If not what should definitely not be missed?
    I want to incorporate at least one or two walks (say 2-4 hours) any suggestions of how to incorporate those?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  20. Scotland is high on our list for 2013. Thanks for the great tips!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..Winding Down 2012 With Our Biggest Eco Adventures Ever!

  21. Liz says:

    Love these pics! I think it’s actually impossible to get a bad pic at Glencoe. Scotland is really amazing, and the people are so nice. A
    Liz recently posted..A Midwestern Life: What It’s All About

  22. OH MY!! I’ve just fallen madly in love with that baby cow! (and I’ve saved it on my desktop so this virtual love cannot by forgotten!)

    I guess Scotland looks okay too 😉
    Shing @ The Culture Map recently posted..HAVE A ‘SCREAM’ OF A TIME IN THE EDVARD MUNCH MUSEUM

  23. David Estarita says:

    THANK YOU this was so useful in deciding our itinerary. While we were a bit constrained on time, we did this drive in approx. 4 days. It allowed time for on average three 2 hr. walks every couple of days. Strongly recommended!! Your country is stunning, i had heard of it but seeing it with your own eyes is something else. I’m singing Scotland’s praises to everyone!!

    All the best, David & Samantha (Singapore),0,11702133022089977535&ei=-jm_UbnDC4WtrAeg3oEQ&ved=0CIgBEPwSMAA

  24. Amanda says:

    Wow, the calf! We’re taking your advice, will post photos on our blog once we’re done. Hopefully we get some shots as nice as yours:).

  25. Liz says:

    Road trips in Scotland are some of the best. We just fell in love with the place. Our favorite was driving in the highlands, specifically the Glencoe area. We can’t wait to go back!

    And…there are some Geocaches up in those hills! Great hiking off the beaten path to find them!

    Happy Travels!

    Liz & Josh

  26. Suzanne D says:

    Wow, these are some beautiful drives! I’m heading to Scotland this spring and wondering if you have a recommendation on the three main routes from Inverness to Durness (west via A835 through Ullapool and along the west coast, via A837 along River Oykel, or via A838 through Lairg)? A838 is the faster choice by a bit, but I’d love to hear if one is superior for beauty!

    Can’t wait to be there!

    • Hey Suzanne,
      Thanks for your comment :) I would recommend going up the West Coast but I love the seaside and how Scotland meets the ocean there. Very rugged! Stay off the main roads (without getting lost) and you will love it.

  27. D.K. says:

    Can the Glasgow to Oban trip be a day trip from Glasgow? Or is it too far to get there and back within a day? Thanks.

  28. I love the recommendations! Thank you. Our son is dong a university internship in the Scottish Parliament and we get to stay with them — so free lodging! We will be taking LOTS of day trips. We want ruins and villages. Not castle tours and typical tourist travel. Can you name a few villages that seem to be untouched, and castle ruins that we’d love? We have two weeks. We’ll visit Highlees mount in Ayrshire because that’s where my ancestors worked and lived until 1750 when they left for North America and ended up in Canada.

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