Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye – My Epic Road Trip in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

I went on a road trip in Scotland from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, which was awesome! I'm sharing all my best tips in this guide.

scotland road trip to isle of skye

This travel guide to Scotland is for those who wish to experience some of the best the United Kingdom offers.

In this guide, I’ll share how I planned and traveled around Scotland, where I flew into Edinburgh, rented a car, and drove to the Highlands, with overnight stays in Glencoe and the Isle of Skye.

Planning a last minute trip to Edinburgh? 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Here are my favourite places to stay & things to do in Scotland's capital.

πŸ›Œ Places to Stay:
1. My favourite luxury hotel: The Balmoral
2. My favourite mid-range hotel: Apex Waterloo Place Hotel
3. My favourite cheap hotel: Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile

🎟️ Top Activities & Tours:
1. Day trip to The Scottish Highlands (the nature will blow your mind!)
2. Edinburgh Castle (get skip-the-line tickets & a guided tour here)
3. Take a Harry Potter walking tour through the Old Town
4. Step down into Edinburgh’s hidden history at The Real Mary King’s Close

First, I want to mention that I’ve traveled quite a bit in Scotland and lived in Edinburgh, so I believe I have a pretty good overview of the country.

Scotland Road Trip

I don’t hesitate to say this route is probably one of the best routes for a road trip in Scotland.

The road trip begins in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

I adore Edinburgh and return to what was once my home several times a year.

On this trip, my travel companion and I arrived late at the airport and thus stayed overnight at an airport hotel before picking up our rental car directly from the airport the following day.

We chose Ibis, a chain of hotels found worldwide, where you’re always guaranteed a clean, decent room at a reasonable price.

See the hotel on Booking.com here.

ibis budget Hotel Edinburgh Park

This was also true in Edinburgh, but it’s worth noting that the hotel is a short taxi ride from the airport itself, about 5-10 minutes.

The hotel is called ibis budget Hotel Edinburgh Park, and you could get the tram from the airport one stop to Edinburgh Gateway and walk for a couple of minutes.

Edinburgh is full of things to do
There are so many amazing things to do in Edinburgh!

If you’re planning to spend more time in Edinburgh (which I highly recommend!), be sure to check out my guide on where to stay in Edinburgh or watch my video guide:

Car Rental at Edinburgh Airport

rental car in Scotland
I might not look too pleased here, but I was! It’s just the only picture we got with the car πŸ˜…

I had pre-booked a car through Enterprise to try out their rental service. I’ve previously used Avis in Edinburgh but wanted to have another company in my repertoire, and it worked flawlessly.

We quickly got our car and soon went to Stirling, our first stop.

You can use Expedia Car Rental to get a good overview of car rental prices at Edinburgh Airport.

I booked our car through them and paid around Β£150 for a car rental from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon.

This was for one of the better car models with automatic transmission, as I thought it would alleviate some of the stress of driving on the left side of the road.

Road trip from Edinburgh to Glencoe

Road trip in Scotland, scenic views

Almost immediately from Edinburgh airport, you’re on the motorway, and my route recommendation takes you through the quaint town of Callander.

Callander is a charming ‘gateway to the Highlands’, where you can grab a coffee or shop in the town’s supermarket.

After Callander, the journey changes as you enter Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, and nature begins to reveal its most beautiful aspects.

Already about an hour and a half’s drive from Edinburgh, you find yourself ‘out in the country,’ surrounded by lakes and mountain slopes that make it hard to stick to the speed limit.

A Slower Drive Than Google Maps Suggests

It was my first time driving on ‘the wrong side’ (on other trips around Scotland, someone else drove), so I generally drove a bit slower on this trip than back home in Denmark, but that seems quite normal.

  • I would also recommend that others take it easy and enjoy the views on their journeys through Scotland.

Glencoe is stunning

Kristoffer Fons in Scotland
Yours truly in the Scottish Highlands 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The drive is very scenic, but it becomes truly breathtaking once you reach Glencoe.

glencoe scotland

The road ascends, and suddenly, you’re on a desolate highway with a mountain range on the horizon – that’s Glencoe and The Three Sisters (also known as Bidean nam Bian), the area’s most famous landmarks.

Glencoe Scotland

We continue the drive for about 10 minutes to the town of Ballachulish by Loch Leven.

There, you’ll find a Co-Op (supermarket), a couple of pubs, cafes, and our hotel, the Isles of Glencoe Hotel.

Where to stay in Glencoe? This hotel is excellent

Isles of Glencoe Hotel, best place to stay near Glencoe
This hotel is definitely one of the best places to stay near Glencoe.

After about a 4-hour drive (we had to stop in Stirling to shop for shorts since I had managed to forget swim trunks – on a trip to Scotland, where we were staying at a hotel with a swimming pool), we drove into the driveway of the Isles of Glencoe Hotel.

I was extremely excited to experience this particular hotel, as the pictures from there looked somewhat mixed.

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel indoor swimming pool
The indoor swimming pool at the hotel.

On one hand, it appeared as an idyllic dream with a lovely hotel right by a Scottish lake surrounded by mountains, but there were also pictures where it seemed a bit worn.

loch leven scotland
The hotel’s setting couldn’t be better.

Fortunately, the dream was a reality; the Isles of Glencoe Hotel is a fantastic hotel, where, as mentioned earlier, there’s a swimming pool, a restaurant with a bar (and a cozy pub atmosphere in the evening), and a large outdoor area with benches right by Loch Leven.

We went straight into the hotel’s restaurant, where you get exactly the view you dream of when sitting at home in flat Denmark, dreaming of a trip to Scotland.

isles of glencoe restaurant
Food with a view.

The food is good, there’s a selection of different draft beers, and there’s excellent ‘banter’ between the servers and guests.

Here, I’m truly hit by the superb atmosphere and delighted that I’ve finally embarked on this long-awaited journey to the Scottish Highlands.

We get to our room, and again, I’m pleasantly surprised; it’s large, neat, and has a view over the lake.

See more photos & book online here.

Granted, the bathroom is a bit dated, but it takes more to put you off when you’ve stayed at as many budget hotels in London as I have.

See the best hotels in the Glencoe area here.

Mountain hiking in the Glencoe area

Kris Fons in Glencoe

As always, when I travel ‘for work,’ there is a very tight schedule, so there is little time for relaxation. We change into our hiking clothes and head for the nearest mountain – we agree there must be a path up.

It was a mistake and even a stupid one; I am very familiar with the decidedly brilliant website Walkhighlands, which has routes for walks throughout Scotland.

Scottish forest

Lesson learned the hard way, and we set towards this route after a futile hike along the road, which I have found on the Walkhighlands website.

ruin in Glencoe

We wander a bit off the route deep in this fantastic Scottish forest, and everything is fine again, but darkness is falling, so we find our way home to the hotel.

We are a little sad that we didn’t find a ‘real’ trekking route so that we could get all the way to the top of Glencoe.

I advise driving over to Three Sisters and hiking in that area – I will do that next time I travel to Glencoe.

We eat dinner at the hotel (excellent meal) and have a good night pint before slipping into bed.

meal at Isles of Glencoe hotel

The breakfast at the hotel is an impressively large buffet with everything from ‘full Scottish breakfast’ to various yoghurts etc.

We have just time to swim in the swimming pool before heading for Fort William.

Fort William and Glenfinnan Viaduct (the Harry Potter Bridge)

Fort William

It takes 20 minutes to drive from the hotel to Fort William, which can be described as the ‘big city’ in the area. I’m glad we stayed at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, but I could have easily stayed in Fort William.

Pub food in Fort William
Hot dog at Grog & Gruel.

Here is a main street with several pubs, restaurants and shops (even several sports shops).

Just over 10,000 people live in Fort William, and at the same time, there are trains from Glasgow here, so even if you don’t want to drive in Scotland, you can still experience the Highlands.

In this connection, I can mention that I (when I had a travel agency) made a trip for a customer who wanted to experience both Fort William, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and the Isle of Skye – only with the help of a bus and train journey, so it can easily be done possible.

And the customer loved the ride she got!

Back to our road trip in Scotland.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

We had to see the ‘Harry Potter train’ drive over the ‘Harry Potter bridge’ – in other words, we had to see the Jacobite steam train drive over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

There is a very famous scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry and Ron have stolen an invisible car and fly over the viaduct while the ‘Hogwarts Express’ drives over the bridge.

Harry Potter train in Scotland
The ‘Harry Potter train’ in Scotland.

In the film, the real Jacobite steam train drives over, so now the viaduct has become an (even more) well-known sight in Scotland.

I’ve been to the Glenfinnan Viaduct before, but not while the train has passed over, so I’m looking forward to the experience.

And here it is – the Jacobite steam train heading over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

It’s an impressive sight, but you can also easily take the trip past the remarkable bridge even if you don’t see the train.

Driving to the Isle of Skye

Kris Fons in Scotland

I tell my traveling companion when we are back in the car that he can now look forward to some of the best scenery Scotland has to offer.

It’s just a couple of hours of road-tripping in generally beautiful surroundings, but then suddenly you come to a crossroads, where on the right you come to Inverness, and on the left, you drive towards the Isle of Skye.

Here, nature changes its character again and it becomes even wilder, more beautiful and more impressive.

Eilean Donan Castle

On the drive to the Isle of Skye, you pass Eilean Donan Castle – one of Scotland’s best-known – with good reason. It is an impressive and slightly dangerous sight.

I mean it when I say you should go on a road trip to the Isle of Skye at least once.

I have yet to hear anyone say they have gone to the Isle of Skye but don’t want to go back – as soon as possible.

The Isle of Skye is a wholly unique and hugely impressive destination.

Where to stay on the Isle of Skye?

Whitewave Outdoor Center

First, the Isle of Skye is world-renowned and a destination on many people’s ‘bucket lists.’ This means you have to be out in good time when planning the trip to the Isle of Skye.

I started booking our trip to Scotland in June, and we left at the beginning of September. That meant that most of the hotels on the island were booked.

However, I found an exciting place close to the town of Uig in the northern part of Skye – which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful.

When you drive over the bridge from the mainland to Skye, it takes quite a few kilometers before you hit the completely wild nature and at the northernmost tip of the island, it peaks.

So we checked into the Whitewave Outdoor Center, where we got a small cabin. I have told my traveling companion that we have to leave our comfort zone and live extremely primitively.

However, it turns out that there is everything from a fridge to running water and a gas burner in our little cabin, so we feel fortunate – for the 5 minutes we relax before we go out to fly the drone and climb a mountain.

If you are looking for a place to stay on Skye, I would recommend booking as early as possible.

See the best places to stay here.

Kristoffer Fons in the isle of skye

Again we found a route on the Walkhighlands but chose to deviate from it and march directly towards the top of the nearest mountain.

Then the hardest ascent I have ever tried was waiting there – it pulled out teeth that were pulled and it simply hurt the whole body.

Isle of Skye mountain hiking

As always when hiking in the mountains, the reward was waiting at the top, though – and I even got the drone set up so we could film and take some cool photos.

Things to do on the Isle of Skye

Duntulm Castle
Duntulm Castle

There are of course a number of top sights that you just have to see when you travel to the Isle of Skye.

I think the coolest thing is to drive around and soak up nature and then stop the car when it’s extra nice.

That is also what we do when we get into the car at around 7 in the morning with a few landmarks on the route.

We drove north of Skye and quickly hit Duntulm Castle, where the beautiful morning light helped to set the scene.

At this point, we have gradually had quite a few wild nature experiences, but again, I have to pinch myself in the arm to realize that the scenario here is real. It is simply so indescribably beautiful.

And what does a travel blogger do when something is indescribable?

Trotternish

He must let the pictures of sights on Skye, such as Trotternish, Kilt Rock, and the Old Man of Storr, do the talking.

Kilt Rock
Kilt Rock
Isle of skye road trip
The scenery on the isle of Skye is perfect for a road trip.

The Old Man of Storr was another minor climb, but here, there are stone steps and an excellent track, so it is a climb that can be done by most people who are in reasonable shape and have no injuries.

The view is completely majestic – both over Storr itself, but also over the water to the islands and the mainland.

Kris Fons in Skye
Halfway up to the Old Man of Storr
Old man of storr
Old Man of Storr – one of the most iconic sights in Scotland.

We drive on to Portree, the ‘capital’ of Skye and a place I would recommend staying if you are otherwise out in good time.

Portree Isle of Skye
The harbor in Portree.

In Portree, we have lunch and head for our last accommodation on the journey to Scotland – a small house booked via Airbnb in Broadford.

Broadford is another one of the city’s larger towns, but it is a reasonable distance ‘down’ on the island, which was why I booked the house here.

Then, we could quickly drive off towards the mainland the next day.

Isle of Skye

It has to be said that two days on the Isle of Skye is on the lower end of what I would recommend.

There is enough to see and do on Skye for at least three full days, but it is not a cheap destination and takes some time to get there.

This was our road trip route on the Isle of Skye:

Road trip from Skye to Loch Ness and Inverness to Edinburgh

Inverness
Inverness.

The drive from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh (if it is your final destination in Scotland) is long, and it takes place on roads where it is difficult as a Dane to keep the maximum speed.

Therefore, I recommend driving via Loch Ness and Inverness when you go ‘home’ from the Isle of Skye.

After such an active holiday in Scotland, you may be tired, and the road from Inverness to Edinburgh is, therefore, somewhat nicer to drive on as a lot of it is on a motorway.

Loch ness
Loch Ness.

And yes – what about Loch Ness?

As a child, I was fascinated by Loch Ness, and my spirits were high when I first visited the lake.

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

However, it fell quite a bit. Loch Ness is a beautiful lake, and the surrounding nature is stunning.

But Loch Lomond and Glencoe are prettier, so once you’ve been there and then come to Loch Ness, it’s hard to be super impressed, actually.

However, anyone driving this route from Skye via Loch Ness/Inverness should stop at Urquhart Castle.

It really is just down the road and (again) one of the most beautiful castle ruins in Scotland.

We had a coffee in Inverness, where we had time to stroll around a bit (we drove from Skye at 6:30 in the morning).

Inverness
Inverness.

I had previously been to Inverness, where I had not got a particularly good impression of the city.

It got a little better, and I would say that you can easily do an overnight stay in Inverness on your trip to Scotland, but on the other hand, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get there.

The surprise of the road trip – Pitlochry

 Pitlochry
Great little pub in Pitlochry.

We got up again early in the morning to have plenty of time for the drive from Skye to Edinburgh, where we had to drop the car off at 4 pm before the trip home.

We did, among other things, have time to explore Inverness and, equally, any of the towns in the greater Cairngorms National Park area.

Here we drove into a few different towns, but the one that clearly left the best impression was Pitlochry.

Our last road trip route:

Here, I learned that although I have lived and traveled quite a bit in Scotland, I still have a lot of undiscovered land.

Since then, I have discovered that Pitlochry is a little gem that attracts many tourists – the British Queen Victoria visited in 1842, and the Highland Games have been held there since 1852.

Pitlochry is super cozy, and I hope to come back and explore it before long. The city is relatively close to Edinburgh, so I recommend traveling there on a day trip or for a single night – you can even take the train there.

We had lunch in a pub in Pitlochry and then headed back towards Edinburgh Airport, returned the rental car, and boarded the plane home to Copenhagen with another fantastic trip to Scotland in the luggage.

I hope you could use my travel guide for a road trip in Scotland. Feel free to ask questions about Scotland in the comments section below.

And remember – everyone should travel to the Isle of Skye at least once in their life! πŸ˜€

Websites I use to book my trips πŸ‘‡

β€’ Booking.com has the best offers on hotels and unique places to stay
β€’ GetYourGuide is the best place to book tours & activities with free cancellation
β€’ Omio is my go-to booking platform for trains in Europe
β€’ Welcome Pickups is the best & safest place to pre-book airport transfers

Psst πŸ‘€ Have you subscribed to my Youtube channel and my Instagram where I provide more useful travel tips?