All the ingredients for a dreamy getaway are in Scotland. For its size, roughly that of South Carolina, it packs a wallop. There’s history at every turn, bustling modern metropolises, breathtaking open spaces, and so many more treasures.
Don’t try to cramp too many sights into one visit. You could spend a month traveling throughout the country and still feel like there’s more to see. Instead, spend some time savoring Scotland’s biggest city before hitting the open road to explore one of the country’s famous national parks and one of its mystical islands. Fly into Glasgow in the spring or fall for the best weather and get ready for fairytale vacation. Here’s our guide to a Scotland road tip that you could do in a long-weekend or stretch out over the course of a week.
Days 1-3: Start Your Scotland Getaway in Glasgow
Handsome old Victorian buildings, stylish bars, amazing whiskey. It’s no wonder Glasgow made The New York Times “52 Places to Go in 2018” list. Fly into Scotland’s largest city and, depending on the length of your stay, plan to spend two to three days exploring.
Wander up and down Byres Road, popping in and out of the various boutiques. If museums are your thing, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the West End is not only free but full of more than 8,000 works housed in gorgeous buildings. The stunning architecture will almost make you forget to look at the art. And then there’s the whiskey. It would be hard to visit Scotland without having at least one glass. Take a whiskey walking tour of Glasgow or create one of your own at one of the city’s pubs, almost all of which will have whiskeys from across the country.
Days 3-4: Get Familiar With One of Scotland’s Many Lochs
After a couple of days in the city it’ll be time to get in touch with Scotland’s stunning nature. Roughly an hour from Glasgow lies Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater lake in all of Scotland and together with the Trossachs National Park covers more than 700 square miles.
Depending on how in touch with nature you want to get you could spend anywhere from an hour, on one of the shorter trails, to a full day, that even includes a night of camping in the park. If you prefer a nice cozy bed to a tent, stay at the Queen of the Loch Hotel in the Loch Lomond Shores area which is home to many shops and restaurants. For Instagram-worthy snaps of the Loch Lomond area, visit the pier on the loch near the Village of Luss. After marveling at the loch, walk around the village full of adorable stone cottages. If you only do one thing in the area, though, make a tour of the loch on the water; there are kayak rentals and also boat cruises that will take you by the islands within the loch.
Days 4-6: Indulge in Delicious Seafood While Exploring the Isles
After a day or two of Scotland outdoor adventures get back on the road for a 90-minute drive north to Oban. Climb McCaig’s Tower to take in views of the bays and Scottish isles before touring Oban Distillery, which dates back to 1794. They offer several types of tours, including a basic which includes a tour of a distillery, tasting, and an overview of the whiskey making process.
After your tours, indulge in seafood. Oban has a long history as a fishing village and is known as Scotland’s seafood capital. Almost every restaurant will have delicious seafood dishes. Walk up and down the small village (it’s all accessible on foot) and pick the one you want.
Oban is a great base for exploring the surrounding area and taking in the views of the castles that seem to spring up out of nowhere. After a night in Oban, take a ferry to the Isle of Mull. The Scottish isle is full of history. It’s been inhabited since the Ice Age, there’s plenty of wildlife to see, including whale watching tours, and there are even golf courses and basket willow weaving courses. You’ll leave Scotland already planning you’re next trip back.
*Featured image at top: Carsaig Arches rocks formation captured from inside cave, Isle of Mull, Scotland