Pit stops and jaw drops: the perfect road trip across the Scottish Highlands

There are few places left on the planet that feel truly wild and unexplored. Among those that do exist, the Scottish Highlands are surely the ultimate in untamed beauty. From breathtaking peaks to serene mist-covered lochs, it’s not difficult to feel a sense of real adventure during a visit here. Rich in history and with an abundance of local wildlife, the Highlands are full of life and teeming with character. 

Home to the UK’s highest mountains, this region in Scotland offers challenges aplenty to those looking to conquer the ruggedly beautiful peaks of Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui. Happily, there are also an abundance of more gentle sights and activities to enjoy; everything from whale and dolphin watching to taking in the incredible sights on one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. With stunning hidden bays and quaint fishing villages to explore, the Highlands offer a rare opportunity to get off the beaten track and create once in a lifetime holiday memories.

If you want to explore as much of the awe-inspiring scenery as possible in one visit, a road trip is a fantastic choice. Venture to the heart of extraordinary national parks, rejuvenate on a refreshing loch boat tour, and stop for a pub lunch in some of the many charming towns along the way. All you need to do is plan your perfect route. Whether you’re exploring the region in a car or campervan, here is our pick of the spots you absolutely should not miss for the very best Scottish Highlands road trip.

Loch Ness

What would a Scottish Highlands road trip be without a visit to the world’s most famous loch? Climb aboard a boat tour to enjoy the spectacular scenery from the water, whilst of course keeping a look out for Nessie herself. History aficionados will want to explore the medieval ruins of Urquhart Castle, complete with prison cells and watch tower. A relatively new addition, the Loch Ness Trail winds all the way around the loch, providing ample scenic routes for walking and cycling, while the nearby village of Drumnadrochit offers activities such as horse riding and fishing charters.

 

 

Isle of Skye

Another worthy addition for the best road trip, Scottish Highlands style, has to be the Isle of Skye. Start your visit exploring the waterside pubs and independent shops of Portree town, before heading out to explore the island’s iconic landscapes. Set out on a hike to reach its famous natural attractions such as the Old Man of Storr, or take a more forgiving route along the stunning coastline. Cool off and refuel with a picnic at the much-loved Fairy Pools then discover the island’s fascinating history through its many medieval castles, prehistoric sights and the wonderful Skye Museum of Island Life. 

If you’d like to explore more of the region’s stunning isles, take a look at our guided tour of the Hebridean Islands.

 

Moray Firth

There’s nothing quite like seeing wild dolphins frolic and play in their natural habitat, and that’s why some time spent exploring this large inlet is a fantastic addition to your Scottish Highlands road trip itinerary. Around 130 bottlenose dolphins call the Moray Firth home, and they’re not alone; a boat trip here also means the chance to spot other local creatures including whales, seals, otters and ospreys. For those that love wildlife, a stopover here is an absolute must.

 

 

 

Fort William

If you’re looking to add some thrilling outdoor activities to your Scottish Highlands road trip route, a stop at Fort William is a necessity. Explore the waterfalls and spot red deer in Glen Coe valley, spend a day on a canoe wilderness tour, or try your hand at laser clay shooting or even quad biking. A stop here also provides the opportunity to experience the last leg of the West Highland Line, often hailed as one of the world’s best train journeys. 

If you'd rather save energy driving and soak up the views instead, take a look at our Highlands railway journey tour.

 

Achmelvich Bay

With a camping and caravan site nearby, this picturesque bay is an ideal spot to stopover for the night. The white sandy beach and clear turquoise waters make a pleasant change from the contrasting mountainous scenery - not that we could ever get bored of that - and there are some lovely harbourside restaurants nearby for the ultimate respite. Those fond of fishing will find ample opportunities here, with haddock, cod, and mackerel among the common catches of the day.

 

 

 

Cairngorms National Park

When it comes to planning the very best road trip, Scottish Highlands scenery is hard to beat. A stop at Cairngorms National Park is further evidence of this. Home to Ben Nevis and a number of other mountainous peaks, this expansive untamed park is bursting with forest trails, tranquil lochs and wildlife spotting opportunities. It needn’t be non-stop action, however; there are also the cosy local villages and their cafes, bookshops, and distilleries to wander through.

 

 

 

Smoo Cave

If you plan to venture all the way up to Sutherland as part of your Scottish Highlands road trip route, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the staggering natural wonder that is Smoo Cave. Set just outside of the sleepy village of Durness, this vast sea cave is something to behold. Enter through the 50ft opening, then explore the floodlit cave with its majestic caverns and freshwater streams. Once your inner adventurer has been satisfied, head to one of the pristine nearby beaches, with picture-perfect sandy coves set against the dramatic cliff scenery.

From dolphin spotting in the Scottish Highlands to exploring WWI history in Jersey or a city tour of Belfast, the UK has plenty of fantastic experiences on offer. Take the stress out of trip planning with one of our guided UK holidays. We plan all of our tours in meticulous detail, and with no driving required you’re free to sit back and truly unwind as you take in all of the incredible sights that make one of our trips so special.

 

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