Recommended itinerary and strategies for traveling through Scotland
Scotland captures your heart with spectacular views of cliffs overlooking the sea, small fishing villages, endless Highlands and enchanted lighthouses. If there is a place in the world where you never feel completely alone, this is it!
To better organize your trip, do a thorough research on the accommodation by looking for the one that suits you best. Book and do it in advance, if you leave during the high season or go on an adventure, more feasible in the low season to make a trip in absolute freedom. You can choose from many types of accommodation, suitable for all budgets from B & Bs to castles. If you are traveling alone, with children or with your animals, remember that you will often have to pay a supplement and not all facilities accept pets and small children. Do not rely only on GPS, always carry a map.
Once the itinerary has been decided, create a plan B, in case unforeseen events or bad weather prevented you from continuing. Choose an area and explore it: "Less is more". Better to see less, but have time. Consider going out of the tourist routes, because that's where you will discover the real Scotland. When you rent a car, check carefully what the insurance package covers and the excess conditions and make sure you have unlimited Km. Pack hiking shoes or comfortable walking shoes, a K-way, a heavier sweatshirt, a down jacket (if you are chilly) and long trousers. I also suggest a hat if you are not used to wind and waterproof clothing.
I propose an itinerary that covers both the most touristic places and more remote areas for a journey of about 20 days. Departure Edinburgh, the capital. Unmissable Old and New Town, the castle and the palace of Holyrood. Calton Hill and the magnificent Arthur's Seat. To sleep: Motel One, or the fantastic The Witchery by The Castle. Eat in a historic pub like The World’s End or The Last Drop and try the haggis! You can't go to Scotland and don't taste it!
Leave Edinburgh, South Queensferry, to admire the 3 bridges over the Firth of Forth. To dine: Orocco Pier. Crossing the Queensferry Bridge, we will pass through North Queensferry and head to Culross, a royal village. Great meals at The Red Lion Inn and Bessie's, desserts and hot drinks. Leaving the area we will explore the East Neuk of Fife. From Elie to St Andrews, via St Monans and Crail. Taste at Anstruther, the fabulous Fish & Chip from Anstruther Fish Bar.
Falkland and its royal palace are impossible. To sleep: The Bruce Inn. Just outside the city, don't miss Balvaird Castle, the visit is free and the landscape is breathtaking. Leaving the area, we will visit Dunkeld and its romantic cathedral along the banks of the Tay. A few days will discover the castles of Aberdeen-shire. I suggest Dunnottar Castle, which can be reached by a walk, from the village of Stonehaven. Following Drum Castle, Castle Fraser, Craigievar Castle and Crathes Castle (There are various passes for attractions, consider them because they could save you money).
Following Braemar, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Here you can visit the Reindeer Center or the Rothiemurchus forest, near Aviemore. At this point we will proceed to Tain to visit the Glenmorangie town and distillery. Along the road to Wick, we will make a stop at the Whaligoe steps, a stairway carved into the rock. We will travel to Dunnet Head the northernmost point of the GB to admire the lighthouse, built in 1831 by Robert Louise Stevenson's grandfather. Not far from here, the Stacks of Duncansby. If you want to sleep in a castle, I suggest Ackergill Tower. We will then embark for the Orkney Islands where we will spend 2/3 days. Unmissable Stromness and Kirkwall, the stone circles, the village of Scara Brae, the marine wrecks and the Italian Chapel, poignant and romantic, linked to Italy. Back in the North by ship, we will visit Thurso and then proceed towards Durness and Smoo Cave, before starting to descend, passing through Tongue. If you are looking for a shelter for the night stop at the Ben Loyal Hotel.
Going down we will touch Unapool and Ullapool, taking care not to miss the Applecross peninsula and the famous Bealach na Ba (also known as Pass of the Cattle). From Ullapool to Kyle of Lochalsh we will follow the coastal road with the Fall of Measach diversion, a waterfall that flows into a deep gorge, known as Corrieshalloch Gorge. Later Eilean Donan Castle. The next 2/3 days we will explore the Isle of Skye, making a counterclockwise circuit from Kileakyn to get to Armadale. Leaving Skye, we will travel the Road to the Isles with a stop at Glenfinnan, to see the viaduct, on which the Harry Potter train passes. One of the last stops will be Stirling, with direction to Doune Castle, known as Castle Leoch in Outlander. Last stop Glasgow or further south, the Culzean Castle.