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Driving in Scotland: Itineraries for the 7 Best Road Trips + Tips for First-Time Drivers 

Driving in Scotland – 7 best road trips

Scotland is a small country, but after you see how much time you’ll be spending driving, you’ll do a double take—did it suddenly get bigger?!  

I address Scotland’s driving distances, along with some other driving tips and rules, at the end of this article.  

But let’s get to the good stuff first—Scotland’s best road trips! To be honest, just about every drive you’ll take in Scotland will seem like scenic drive material. The views, the vastness, the stunning lochs and mountains…pair those with the fog, clouds and the rain and you’re in for a drive of a lifetime.  

That, and sometimes you’ll just be happy to be able to experience it all from the dryness of your own vehicle. The weather in Scotland can beat your butt!  

Read about the weather, the clans and the haggis in my Fun Facts about Scotland article.  

Ready to roll? Try these 7 scenic roads in Scotland: 

1. Lochinver to Ullapool (A837 and A835) 

Lochinver to Ullapool scenic drive in Scotland
Click over to Google Maps for the Lochinver to Ullapool scenic drive map

Distance: 60 km/37miles
Start/end: Lochinver/Ullapool
Time: anything from an hour to a full day, depending on which stops you make
Road type: tarred, mostly two-lane
Driving difficulty: very easy  

This drive is a bit longer than others, but it connects some of the best places to see in all of Scotland—Assynt was our favorite part of the country!   

If you stop at all the highlights along the road, not counting the long hikes, you’re still looking at a full day of things to do. If you just drive without stopping (but why would you??), you’ll be done in an hour.   

Stops along the way 

Stops along the way to Ullapool, Scotland 
Photos are from: 1. Suilvien hike, 2. Achmelvich Beach, 3. Ardvreck Castle and 4. Knockan Crag Geopark

The road starts in Lochinver, which is where you can hike Suilven, one of the most famous mountains in Scotland. The hike is long and strenuous at 20 km (12.5 miles) and 1370 m (4500 ft) elevation gain. It’s out and back and will take 6–7 hours to finish, but you could also just embark on the first half, since the views are the best there anyway. After that it gets a tad repetitive.  

Or, you could drive 15 minutes off the road to Achmelvich Beach, a very nice, tropical-like beach (unfortunately not temperature-wise). There’s an optional 5 km hike in the area around the beach that includes views and a hermit’s castle (that’ll take you about 2 hours to complete), OR, you can skip the walking and go straight to beaching, since the parking lot is right there.  

Shortly after the beginning of the scenic drive, you’ll be driving along the very pretty and dramatic shore of Loch Assynt. Towards the end of the lake stands the picturesque ruins of Ardvreck Castle and a 2000 year tomb nearby. The stop at the tiny ruins will take you about 30 minutes. There are no guides available, but you do get some signs with interesting information.

A tourist in Ardvreck Castle, Scotland
A stop at Ardvreck Castle.

Roughly in the middle of your drive you can stop at Bone Caves, great for a slightly exhilarating little hike. We had a reservation at a restaurant, so we didn’t stop there (because restaurant reservations are a must in Scotland!), but hear it’s well worth it.  

About 20 minutes before you reach Ullapool, check out the last top—Knockan Crag Geopark. This is where we got caught by a blizzard (in the middle of July, wearing just t-shirts), so mind your clothes!  

Knockan Crag is a very worthwhile stop—we were there for about 1.5 hours and walked the 2 km interpretive trail about geology and the Knockan Crag fault. It explains why Scotland is geologically part of the Americas, in turn making sense of the fact that it reminded us so much of the northwesten United States.  

It is probably the best educational trail I’ve ever been on, and me being geeky I even put it among the best places to visit in Scotland.  

Details on all the stops on this scenic drive:  

Best places in the Northern Highlands
7-Day Scottish Highlands Road Trip Itinerary 

Best places to stay in Ullapool 

Aultguish Inn, accommodation in Scottish Highlands 
Aultguish Inn on the left, Harbour House on the right

The road ends in the scenic city of Ullapool, which not only has a cool name, but is the best base for the nights you’ll be spending in Assynt as it’s reasonably big and has a good selection of restaurants and shops.     

I had an amazing night’s rest at Aultguish Inn, about 30 minutes away from the city in a really peaceful area. It’s owned by Romanians which adds some attractiveness to the cuisine in their restaurant.  

Alternatively, Harbour House is in an awesome location right on the water right in Ullapool, so I wouldn’t hesitate staying there next time, either.   

They are both similarly priced at around GBP 150 (USD 170) for two people with breakfast. 

As far as restaurants in Ullapool go, we really enjoyed Seafood Shack. They make dishes out of the local fishermen’s catch of the day, so you never know what’ll be on the menu, but it’s always delicious.  

2. Isle of Skye drive (A855)  

Isle of Skye A855 scenic drive map
Click over to Google Maps for the Isle of Skye A855 scenic drive map

Distance: 55 km/33 miles or 43 km/27 miles when cutting it short past Quiraing
Start/end: Portree/Uig
Time: anything from an hour to a full day, depending on which stops you make 
Road type: Asphalt in the south, gravel in the north, sometimes single lane
Driving difficulty: easy to moderate 

The A855 is an iconic drive in northeastern Isle of Skye, full of the most popular spots on this already very popular island. Expect lots of people and lots of cars. Like a lot a lot.   

The road itself is only about 55 km (33 miles) long, or 43 km/27 miles if you leave out the very top bit and drive past Quiraing and then right to Uig. It could theoretically be done in an hour, but realistically it’ll take you all day, because this is where Isle of Skye’s highlights lie. So depending on where you stop, you could easily spend all day on this small portion of the island.  

Stops along the way  

Drive through Isle of Skye, Scotland 
Photos are from: 1. The Old Man of Storr walk, 2. Lealt Falls and Kilt Rock, 3. Brother’s point, 4. Scenery of Quiraing

I’ve put together a detailed account of all the stops on the A855 in the first part of my 2-day Isle of Skye itinerary, including parking locations, prices and insider tips. Hop on over to that article if you’re in the planning stages if your trip.  

The first “big” stop on the A855 is the Old Man of Storr walk. It’s one of the famous Skye walks full of classic Scottish views of green mountains, lochs and rugged rocks. And a giant’s thumb protruding from the ground. The full walk takes about 2 hours to complete

Next up are Lealt Falls and Brother’s Point, two 20-minute stops that very close to each other. Both provide you with incredible coastal views just a short walk from the parking area.  

Another 5 minutes driving later and you’re getting out of the car again. This time stopping at Kilt Rock for a peak at the basalt columns over the sea and also at the awesome waterfall over the sea.  

You’ll probably be ready for a bite at this point, which is perfect timing, because The Black Sheep Food Truck is stationed at the parking area at Kilt Rock. You can eat in the car or take your snacks to the next stop:  

An Corran Beach is where you can get down to the water. Have your snacks there while searching for the 19 dinosaur footprints. You’ll have tough luck if it’s high tide, but otherwise you should be able to find at least a few.  

The road to the parking at An Corran is where you’ll drive on the first single-lane section of the drive. This requires patience, because it requires a lot of stopping and passing other vehicles in very narrow spots.  

After An Corrac you’ll veer off the A855 onto a little (again single-lane) road towards Quiraing. This is the second “big” stop on this scenic drive, so you should be excited if you’ve gotten this far!  

There is no landscape more Scottish than this. What you see during the Quiraing Walk is what you imagine when you hear the name Scotland—epic, grassy cliffs that dramatically tower up over the sea, getting lost in the clouds.   

The views start at the parking lot and never end. The actual Quiraing Rocks are near the end of the 2-hour circuit walk and aren’t the highlight. It’s one of those spots where the journey is the destination. It’s spectacular.

Tourist on a Quiraing Rocks, Scotland
Me, enjoying the Quiraing Walk

You can also opt for the shorter Prison walk (1 hour there and back, basically just the end of the circular walk). 

After Quiraing, you can either backtrack towards An Corran to re-join the A855 and drive along its northernmost section, or just keep going straight through to Uig. That’s what we did.  

The last stop on most everyone’s drive is Fairy Glen. Fairy Glen is a valley full of little bumps and rolling hills that looks like fairies would have a blast on. There are some legends about this apparently “otherworldly landscape” that I just didn’t appreciate for some reason. I’d skip it next time around.  

Right after Uig, make sure to stop to eat at the Galley Seafood Café near Fairy Glen. It’s so good!  

Details on all the stops on this scenic drive:  

11 Best Things to Do on Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye Itinerary for 2 days 

Best places to stay in on Isle of Skye

The best places to stay on the Isle of Skye
Cuillin Hills Hotel in Portree on the left and Greshornish House Hotel near Dunvegan on the right

Here are all the hotels on the Isle of Skye if you want to do your own research. We think it makes sense to change bases for the exploration of the southern part of the island (see all my hotel recommendations in my Isle of Skye itinerary), but for the north, my choices are:  

The 4-star Cuillin Hills Hotel in Portree. It has views over Portree Bay and the mountains in the background, and has a great restaurant where you can taste the award-winning whiskies. Plus you’re just 10 minutes away from the Old Man of Storr.  

Rooms are spacious and traditionally decorated with a modern touch and have large windows.  

Prices from GBP 170 (USD 190) per night including breakfast.   

Greshornish House Hotel is another 4-star, located a 25-minute drive to the west of Portree towards Dunvegan Castle, which is where you’d continue after the A855 scenic drive.  

It’s a classic Scottish house with garden and lake views. There’s a welcoming sitting area with a fireplace for those chilly evenings, and a wonderful breakfast room and outdoor sitting area, too.   

Prices from GBP 130 (USD 150) per night including breakfast. 

We make a small commission if you end up booking any hotel through one of our affiliate links. There’s no extra cost to you, but it helps us with costs. We appreciate the love!   

Tip: The Isle of Skye was the place where it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant to sit down to eat in without a reservation. Always, always make reservations, ideally at least a day in advance, if you want to be sure you’ll be able to get anything other than a sandwich to go.  

3. Glencoe Valley scenic drive (A82) 

Glencoe Valley scenic drive map
Click over to Google Maps for the Glencoe Valley scenic drive map

Distance: 75 km/45 miles
Start/end: Fort William/Trossachs National Park
Time: 1 hour for just the drive, at least 2 days for all the stops 
Road type: two lanes, tarred, pretty straight most of the way
Driving difficulty: very easy 

Be ready for heavy traffic as this is the most popular scenic drive in Scotland.  

This drive starts in Fort William and ends in the Trossachs National Park. There are multiple hikes along the way, so in reality, you’ll probably drive on this road more than once if you want to see everything.  

You’ve probably seen scenery from this drive if you’ve ever browsed pictures of Scotland—there’s UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, on one side and then the Trossachs National Park on the other, with mountains and crazy cool views everywhere in between.  

It reminded me of so many places all at once—South Africa, Wyoming…err, Scotland.  

Stops along the way 

Scenic drive around Glencoe, Scotland
Photo are from: 1. The Ben Nevis hike, 2. Pap of Glencoe, 3.Hidden Valley hike, 4. James Bond Ride

The Ben Nevis hike starts very close to Fort William. Climbing it takes up the better part of a day (7–9 hours)—see trail details here—which leaves no time for anything else on this road trip. But it can be done by beginners.  

Tip: When you summit Ben Nevis, you can cross off your first Munro and take up a new pastime—Munro baggin! If you want to know why you are now baggin’ things and why it’s a popular hobby for the British, check out our Scottish fun facts.    

The next stop on this scenic drive is another hike, the Pap of Glencoe. This one is hard, though.  

Known as Sgòrr na Cìche in Gaelic, the Pap of Glencoe has a tough trail—it’s either muddy (even in sunny weather!) or super rocky the whole time. It took us 2 hours up and about 1.5 hours to get back down. I definitely wouldn’t take kids or dogs on this trail. Do wear proper footwear. 

Full details about both hikes are available in my 7-day Scottish Highlands itinerary.  

An easier stop is Signal Rock. If you’ve read our 32 Fun Facts About Scotland article, you know about the MacDonald Massacre. Signal Rock is supposed to be the place where the signal was given to start the massacre.  

There is a path that leads to the rock that takes you through pretty woods, small gorges and across rivers. It’s an easy 1.5 hour walk (total). More in my Glencoe Guide.  

After this though, there’s more hiking. There are many options to choose from, but we did the Hidden Valley hike and the Lairig Gartain hike. Both take 2–3 hours to complete, but can be made much longer depending on how far you continue.

Lairig Gartain hike, Scotland
Me, on the Lairig Gartain hike

Arrive early to the hikes if possible, we had trouble parking since the trail starts at a small parking area which has the best views around. Many people just stop here to look at the views and then drive further, so traffic is an issue. 

The last point of interest on the Glencoe Valley scenic drive that I’m going to mention is like a bonus scenic drive—James Bond Road. Famous for being featured in the 2012 James Bond movie, Skyfall, is a scenic road of 20 km (12.5 miles) between the A82 and Loch Etive.  

It’s easy to navigate, but it is single lane, so be prepared for it to take time to drive through while letting others pass or stop to take photos. You then need to drive the same way back again, so don’t hurry and just take in the magnificent views of Glen Etive.   

There are a few lesser-known hikes along James Bond Road as well.  

Details on all the stops on this scenic drive:  

11 Best things to do on in Glencoe
7-day Scottish Highlands road trip itinerary

Best places to stay in Glencoe Valley 

The best hotels in Glencoe Valley
The best places to stay in Fort William: Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant on the left, Clan Macduff Hotel on the right 

I would always choose to stay at Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant, because the restaurant is absolutely incredible and the hotel is excellent value. Both the restaurant and some of the rooms have views of the highest peak in the UK (and one of the best places for a hike in Scotland!), Ben Nevis.   

Prices start at GBP 120 for 2 people per night with breakfast.  

Alternatively, Clan Macduff Hotel also looks like a great choice and is honestly only other hotel I would consider in Glencoe. If you want reasonable-looking and still reasonably priced, this could be it.    

It looks more like a hotel and less like a Cottage. It is 4-star, clean, and with a great staff. Some rooms come with loch views and balconies.    

Prices start at GBP 230 for 2 people per night with breakfast.    

4. Bealach na Ba scenic road (Applecross Pass) 

Bealach na Ba scenic drive map
Click over to Google Maps for the Bealach na Ba scenic drive map

Distance: 18 km/11 miles
Start/end: Tornapress/Applecross
Time: 1.5 hours driving time (there and back), extra time for a stop in Applecross
Road type: single-lane, tarred road
Driving difficulty: moderate because of all the stopping and passing and elevation gain 

This is one of the shorter, faster scenic drives in Scotland, because there aren’t any extra stops along the way.  

Bealach na Ba (the Pass of the Cattle) is a scenic road between Tornapress and Applecross, a small coastel town. It’s one of the best drives in Scotland, I absolutely loved it.  

Realistically, one way takes about 30 minutes, but I bet you’ll take at least an hour to get there just because of all the stops you’ll be making in order to take in those views. You’ll be faster on the way back (same route).  

It’s single-lane, so take your time. There are a lot of winding parts, especially in the beginning, but I always felt safe.  

Make sure to take photos in the first third of Bealach na Ba, because this is where you’ll get the best views down to Lock Kishorn.   

There are also a few hikes along the way, which might be worth it to extend your enjoyment of the fantastic scenery.  

Best place to eat in Applecross 

Applecross Beach in Scotland 
Imagine enjoying your meal in such a peaceful environment (Applecross Beach)

The end of the road is in Applecross with the famous fish bistro Applecross Inn with fish ice cream, homemade beer and some of the best seafood in England. Be sure to make reservations as this place gets crowded in top tourist season.  

If you’re lucky, you’ll even see dolphins in Applecross!   

This scenic drive is really close to the Isle of Skye so you can check out Bealach na Ba road on your way there or back to the island. You’ll probably be staying the night on the Isle of Skye. Like I mentioned above, I recommend the Cuillin Hills Hotel in Portree.  

Details on all the stops on this scenic drive:  

Best places in the Northern Highlands
Things to do on Isle of Skye (for hotel details) 

5. Isle of Skye to Fort William (A87)

 Isle of Skye to For William scenic drive map 
Click over to Google Maps for the Isle of Skye to For William scenic drive map

Distance: 120 km/75 miles
Start/end: Skye Bridge/For William
Time: 1.5 hours just for the drive, more for stops
Road type: two-lane, asphalt
Driving difficulty: easy 

This is when it starts feeling like all of Scotland is one big scenic drive—if you connect this Isle of Skye to Glencoe drive to Skye’s A855 and then continue through Glencoe Valley to Trossachs, you’re almost all the way across the country!  

The drive from the Isle of Skye to Fort William (or on to Glencoe) is easy, with good roads, no single lanes, and lots of nature surrounding you. You’ll be passing many lochs, often with forests on one side and mountains on the other. Pretty.  

Stops along the way 

 Isle of Skye to Fort William drive, Scotland 
Photos are from: 1. Eilean Donan Castle, 2. The Loch Ness lake, 3. The Loch Ness Visitor Center & Exhibition, 4. The Commando Memorial

Right after you cross the bridge from the Isle of Skye, there’s a castle that’s super special—Eilean Donan. I have personally loved this castle since I was a kid watching Highlander in the 90s, but I think it genuinely has genius loci.  

Maybe it’s the fact that it sits on its own little islet, connected to the mainland by a hefty stone bridge, or that when the fog rolls in, it’s nothing short of magic. It’s very popular for weddings (check the castle website before you visit to make sure it’s not closed for someone’s nuptials!). 

Set aside 2 hours to see the interior, which is very much worth it, and then have a coffee at the cafe. Don’t forget to visit the viewpoint above the castle! More details about Eilean Donan in my Best Castles in Scotland article.  

Next up is the legendary Loch Ness. You’ll need to stray off the A87 just a bit to get to it, but would you really miss a chance to see what all the fuss is about?  

Loch Ness is a big lake—it has a larger volume than all of the lakes in England and Wales put together!  

For starters, pop into the Loch Ness Visitor Center & Exhibition to learn all about the famous lake, from its geology to the legends and mysteries surrounding it.  

Then, stop by for a chat with the Nessie Hunter. Steve’s been permanently looking out for the Loch Ness Monster for 30 years straight right from his research van on the shore of the lake.  

Then you can treat Lock Ness as any other loch and just have a niceday out in nature. The lake is circled by the Loch Ness 360° trail. Rent a bike, walk, or get on one of the tour boats.    

Last but not least, about 15 minutes before you reach Fort William, make a stop at the Commando Memorial

The Commando Memorial is a bronze statue of 3 army men dedicated to the British Commando Forces that fought during World War II. The memorial overlooks the former training ground of the soldiers.

Commando Memorial. Scotland
Commando Memorial, a statue of 3 army men from WWII

It’s popular not just because of the memorial itself, but also because of the views surrounding it. In good weather, you can even see Ben Nevis.  

Besides the statue, a circular Garden of Remembrance sits nearby, with individual plaques of soldiers that have died in later years—either WWII veterans, or those that fell in more recent conflicts.   

It’s a beautiful place that is easy to visit. 

You can continue on to Fort William, or, if you follow my recommendation, you’ll be staying at the Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant, which is conveniently right by the Commando Memorial.  

Details on all the stops on this scenic drive:  

Best things to do in Glencoe
Scotland’s best castles

Best place to stay and eat in Glencoe 

Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant in Scotland
I’ve already shown you a couple photos of the hotel part of the Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant, so here’s the amazing restaurant.

I’ve already mention the Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant, which would be my top hotel choice in Glencoe. I just really loved the setting of the place, and eating at the restaurant was one of my favorite food experiences in Scotland.  

Expect fine dining and a degustation menu at a very good value for money. We paid about GBP 100 for the two of us (5 courses and 2 drinks per person).    

Plus, it’s in Spean Bridge, right at the last stop of this scenic drive.  

6. The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park drive   

The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park drive map 
Click over to Google Maps for the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park scenic drive map

Distance: 160 km/100 miles
Start/end: Tyndrum/Crainlarich
Time: 2.5 hours without stops
Road type: mostly two-lane, tarred
Driving difficulty: easy 

The Trossachs National Park is only 1.5 hours away from Edinburgh (and even closer to Glasgow) making it a great day trip from the city. It’s also where the Glencoe Valley drive (above) ends, so it’s another opportunity to extend your Scotland driving fun!  

Tip: Interested in more things to do close to Edinburgh? Read our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh. It also includes extra details on the hikes and activities in Trossachs NP.  

Come here for hiking opportunities, the views, and the beautiful beaches and water sports at Loch Lomond.  

The Trossachs are 1900 km2 (720 square miles), which is a lot of national park to cover on foot! Luckily, you can drive around and partially through the park in your car.  

Stops along the way 

The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park drive. Scotland
Photos are from: 1. The Trossachs National Park, 2. Ben Aan, 3. Loch Lomond, 4. Stirling Castle

If you go for the full loop drive—I’ve started it in Tyndrum and then continued around almost all the way back to Crianralich, you’ll be driving on the A85, A84, A821, A81, and then back up on the A82.  

Tip: There are 4 very cool viewpoints along the route that were designed by young Scottish architects in 2015. See their locations and what they look like on the Trossachs National Park’s official website.   

On the A821 is where you’ll want to stop for the best hiking route of the Trossachs—Ben Aan. You park right off the A821 and the 5 km (3 mile) return trail starts right there and takes about 2 hours total. It has an elevation of about 350 meters (1100 ft) and can be steep at some points, but the great views (that never stop!) totally beat any feelings of fatigue along the way. The path is in very good condition, so I think it is the right fit for almost everyone—even the unfit. 

Following the Ben Aan parking area is the start of the Duke’s Pass, a formerly private road that connects Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine and is now super popular with tourists because of the scenery you get to witness from it.  

You can take a boat tour on a steamship on Loch Katrine if seeing things from the car just doesn’t seem good enough.  

After the Duke’s Pass, you are on your way to Lock Lomond. Loch Lomond is one of the largest bodies of freshwater in Britain, so it provides plenty of room for paddling in a rental boat or just relaxing or walking on some of the beaches. You can also ride a jet ski, cycle along the lakes, swim, or go kayaking. For more information check out the Loch Lomond website

Got more time?  

If you are up for a long day (or split the drive into more days), take a detour to Stirling Castle. It’s right on the A84, about 30 mins past where you’d turn right onto the A821.

A tourist at Stirling Castle, Scotland 
Stirling Castle is one of the 13 Best Castles to Visit in Scotland

Stirling Castle is the most important castle in Scotland’s history (and the top castle to visit in Scotland in my opinion!) as it’s the most strategically located and for a long time it was the seat of Scotland’s kings. The place was so important that during the 1300s it changed hands 8 times—everyone and their uncle wanted a go at getting this crib!  

If you do decide to visit Stirling Castle, read the visit details here and don’t forget you can easily spend 5 hours there.  

Further reading:  

Best castles to visit in Scotland
Best places in Scotland for couples 

The best places to stay in Trossachs National Park 

The Benoch Lomond Castle in Trossachs National Park, best accommodation
You can rent an aparment @ Benoch Lomond Castle

Want to stay in a castle? You can! Either in an actual castle or in houses and lodges that look like castles. They’re beautiful, honestly.  

A night in the Benoch Lomond Castle apartment will set you back GBP 180 (USD 210), but you’ll feel like the king or queen of Loch Lomond while you stare at its shores from your balcony. It is self-catering.

Interior of the Loch Lomond Villa B&B 
This b&b isn’t shy about it’s style! @ Loch Lomond Villa B&B

A little further from Loch Lomond, but with extra royalty vibes is Loch Lomond Villa B&B .    

The over-the-top décor is a bit much for my personal taste, but if you’re into an unapologetically castle-type feeling, you will be excited to stay at this place. It’s GBP 130 (USD 150) per night.  

7. Fife coastal drive   

Fife scenic drive map
Click over to Google Maps for the Fife scenic drive map

Distance: 130 km/80 miles
Start/end: Kincardine Bridge/Tay Bridge
Time: 2.5 hours without stopping
Road type: two-lane, asphalt
Driving difficulty: easy 

I didn’t do this drive because I ran out of time—there’s so much to see in Scotland, you’d need a month to see it! Read about my favorite places in Scotland here (from the ones I’ve seen so far).  

The Fife coastal drive is one of the most varied of them all. Depending on which stops you choose, you could spend time at beaches, in museums, at palaces and in fishing villages.  

It’s easy to visit Fife from Edinburgh. The start of the scenic drive is in Kincardine, which is about a 40-minute drive from central Edinburgh. The Kincardine Bridge is almost right behind the Kelpies (huge steel horse heads), which I’ve mentioned in my best day trips from Edinburgh article.  

Stops along the way 

Fife coastal attractions, Scotland
Photos are from: 1. Deep Sea World, 2. Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, 3. Royal Burgh of Culross, 4. Scottish Fisheries Museum

We’ve established that Fife has something for everyone. Most importantly, it has some amazing coastal views, which is what Scotland does so well. 

There’s even the world’s largest collection of sharks at Deep Sea World and red squirrels at the Devilla Forrest.   

If you’re less into fauna and more into man-made structures, you might want to stop at Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, which is where Robert the Bruce’s final resting place is. This King of Scots was one of Scotland’s most famous warriors that lead Scotland against England during their fight for independence.   

Or, especially for Outlander fans, take stroll through the Royal Burgh of Culross, a picturesque village full of yellow houses.  

There’s also the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther or Kirkcaldy Galleries in Kirkcaldy.  

Further reading: 

Best day trips from Edinburgh
Best places in Edinburgh 

Best place to stay in Edinburgh 

The Leonardo Edinburgh City is the best place to stay in Edinburgh Scotland 
The Leonardo Edinburgh City ticked all the boxes

The Leonardo Edinburgh City is where we stayed when we visited Edinburgh and I would stay there again. I don’t think there’s anything comparable in Edinburgh as far as bang for your buck.   

Room size was large for Scotland and the exterior was so typically Scottish with its stone façade. The location is great, about 800 m (0.5 miles) from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, and breakfast was good.   

Not to be confused with at least 2 other hotels in Edinburgh under a similar name.   

Prices for two start at GBP 140 (USD 160) per night including breakfast.   

Driving in Scotland for the first time: tips and rules 

Driving in Scotland 
Driving on the left is easy when it’s a nice two-lane road like this. But in a single-lane…you’ll break a sweat!

The best car rental from Edinburgh Airport  

The rental companies that are available in Scotland are generally the ones you know from around the world—Europcar, Alamo, Hertz, etc.—and they are all rubbish with all the usual scams you are used to.  

Actually, there is one exception—Arnold Clark (this is not an affiliate link, I just honestly thought they were superb!). It’s a Scottish company that’s the largest independent car retailer in Europe. You’ll see it all over the place. They sell, rent and repair cars.  

If you check their reviews, you’ll see others agree. Arnold Clark’s reservation system is very straightforward. There’s a 5-minute shuttle from the Edinburgh airport that’ll take you to their office (so no big deal), their prices are comparable to others and the cars are very good. I mean we got a Skoda Karoq (which is a terrible car), but it wasn’t the fault of Arnold Clark. Checkin and check out took us about 10mins both.   

Make sure you make a car reservation really early if you’re visiting in prime tourist season—we didn’t, and that’s how we ended up with a Skoda Karoq. 

Car rental prices in Scotland are high, I would guesstimate about 2x–2.5x the price of a rental in the US. Again though, if you book early you’ll get a better price.  

Driving on the left  

Tips on driving in Scotland 

Well—surprise, surprise. Scotland drives on the left. Which for the (most of the) rest of the world brings some trouble. Generally, driving on the left is easy, just be careful on roundabouts and single lane roads (of which there are many!)—you give the right of way to your left.  

It sounds obvious, but it’s hard to re-wire your brain and you’ll be mumbling “right to the left” to yourself plenty of times! I was constantly driving to the right when letting someone else pass, which Scots find understandably annoying and it’s the only time when they were a little nervous on the road. Sorry, guys!    

Another slight annoyance, with all the stopping and deciding where left it, could be driving a manual. Just rent a car with an automatic transmission to give yourself one less thing to think about.  

The good thing is that Scots are very polite drivers and, unless you don’t know how to let them pass on a single-lane road, you won’t feel stressed or under pressure.  

Imagine if they drove on the left in Turkey, it would be an apocalypse.  

Driving distances in Scotland  

Scotland is about 78.000 km2, so it’s exactly the same size as Czech Republic (my beloved homeland) or South Carolina in the US, so it’s not that big by size. But boy is it big by distances!  

There are endless fjords and mountains meaning slow driving and driving around things constantly. Our average driving speed was about 50 km/h or 35 miles/h, which is pretty sluggish. If something is 100 km/60 miles away, it’ll take you 1.5–2hours of driving, which is a significantly longer time than in most other EU countries.   

The roads are in exceptionally good condition so it’s not that. It’s just nature that’s getting in the way of your speed. And even though there’s plenty of rain, sometimes all day long, you don’t have to worry about slipperiness as Scotland’s got you covered by building their roads with special anti-slip tar.  

We easily spent 5 hours of driving per day in Scotland. It reminded me of the driving in the western United States.  

Tip: Besides the scenic drives in this article, you can also check out the 7-Day Scottish Highlands Road Trip Itinerary. But basically any part of Scotland can be made into a road trip! The scenery is just insane.  

Do I need a 4×4 in Scotland? 

The short answer is no. I haven’t seen a single road where I’d find it especially useful. It’s always tar roads. The few bits of gravel weren’t ever too bad or anything a regular vehicle couldn’t manage.  

And we drove all the way up to Assynt.  

Police and tickets in Scotland  

The Scots are very polite and they follow rules. And so should you. Obviously because of good karma, but also because there are cameras everywhere and fines are sky-high.  

Do yourself a favor and follow the Scottish rules of the road. I usually don’t and get plenty of tickets, but in Scotland I felt compelled to. The police in Scotland, unlike other countries I’ve driven in (looking at you Mexico and US!) are very friendly and I think they take their motto—help and protect—seriously.  

The population density is very low. The higher north you go, the sparser the people are. In the Northern Highlands, you probably won’t ever see a police officer, but you’ll certainly meet cows and deer on the roads, so be careful.    

Scotland’s drink drive limit 

Drink drive limit in Scotland

Don’t drive under the influence, that’s rule number one. But Scots like their whisky (you will, too, if you visit the fascinating Torabhaig Distillery on the Isle of Skye), so there is a tolerance of about 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, or 0.05%. That’s about 1-2 beers, or 1 whisky, but it can vary. A big dude and a petite dude can’t drink together and then each drive home with equal blood alcohol levels.   

This post may contain affiliate links. We earn a small commission if you make bookings through my links, at no additional cost to you. This helps us keep this blog free, thank you!    

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