Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Your Essential Scottish Highlands Trip Itinerary


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Shirline Burnette



Welcome to the stunning Scottish Highlands, a place of rugged mountains, picturesque lochs, and ancient castles. Nestled in the northern part of Scotland, this enchanting region is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and nature lovers alike. With its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and warm Scottish hospitality, the Scottish Highlands should be on every traveler’s bucket list.


When planning your trip to the Scottish Highlands, it’s important to create an itinerary that allows you to make the most of your time in this captivating region. Whether you have a week or more, there are countless attractions and activities to explore. From exploring the historic city of Inverness to embarking on an adventure to the mystical Isle of Skye, each day promises a new and unforgettable experience.


During your trip, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Scotland’s fascinating history, meander through charming Highland villages, and marvel at the untamed beauty of its national parks. Whether you’re hiking through the dramatic landscapes of Glen Coe or searching for the legendary Loch Ness Monster, the Scottish Highlands never fail to leave a lasting impression.


This comprehensive itinerary will guide you through the must-see destinations and top attractions of the Scottish Highlands. Avoiding the crowded tourist spots, we’ll take you to hidden gems and lesser-known locations where you can truly experience the authentic Scottish charm. So, pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the breathtaking Scottish Highlands.


Day 1: Arrival in the Scottish Highlands

Welcome to the Scottish Highlands! After arriving at Inverness Airport or any other point of entry, you’ll begin your journey into this majestic region. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, will be your first stop. From there, you’ll embark on a thrilling exploration of the surrounding areas.


Once you’ve settled into your accommodation, take some time to soak in the atmosphere of this charming city. Stroll along the banks of the River Ness and admire the historic Inverness Castle perched atop a hill. Visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery to gain insights into the region’s rich history and culture.


No visit to Inverness is complete without a trip to Culloden Battlefield, the site of the infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746. This historic battlefield offers a poignant glimpse into one of Scotland’s most significant conflicts and the end of the Jacobite uprising.


In the evening, indulge in traditional Scottish cuisine at one of the local restaurants. Sample haggis, a savory pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes). Wash it down with a glass of fine Scotch whisky, a true Scottish experience!


As night falls, take a leisurely walk along the streets of Inverness and enjoy the beauty of the illuminated city. Retire to your accommodation, rest up, and prepare for the exciting adventures that lie ahead in the Scottish Highlands.


Day 2: Exploring Inverness

Today is all about diving deeper into the historic city of Inverness and discovering its hidden gems. Begin your day with a visit to the iconic Inverness Castle, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the River Ness. Explore the castle grounds, take memorable photos, and learn about its fascinating history.


Next, make your way to St. Andrew’s Cathedral, an impressive Gothic-style structure that dates back to the 19th century. Step inside to admire its stunning stained glass windows and peaceful ambiance.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a must. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Scottish Highlands through the museum’s engaging exhibits. Learn about the region’s ancient clans, archaeological discoveries, and significant historical events.


Afterward, treat yourself to some retail therapy in the city center. Inverness offers a variety of shops ranging from quaint independent boutiques to well-known retail chains. Pick up unique souvenirs, traditional Scottish tartan, or a bottle of fine Scotch whisky to remember your Highland adventure.


No exploration of Inverness is complete without a stroll along the enchanting Ness Islands. Connected by charming suspension bridges, these islands offer tranquil walking paths surrounded by lush greenery. Enjoy the serenity of nature and keep an eye out for wildlife such as otters and herons.


In the evening, savor a delicious dinner at one of Inverness’s many restaurants that showcase the best of Scottish cuisine. Indulge in fresh seafood, hearty traditional dishes, or modern interpretations of Scottish classics.


End the day with a relaxing evening walk along the banks of the River Ness, taking in the picturesque views of the city at dusk. Reflect on the day’s adventures and prepare for the journey to the mystical Isle of Skye tomorrow.


Day 3: Journey to Isle of Skye

Today, get ready for an unforgettable adventure as you make your way to the mystical Isle of Skye. Set off early in the morning from Inverness and embark on a scenic drive through the breathtaking Scottish Highlands.


As you cross the Skye Bridge and step foot on the Isle of Skye, you’ll be greeted by its dramatic landscapes and rugged beauty. Your first stop should be the iconic Old Man of Storr, a fascinating rock formation that stands tall against the backdrop of the Trotternish Ridge. Take a gentle hike to the viewpoint and marvel at the panoramic views of the island.


Continue your journey to the quaint village of Portree, the capital of Skye. Explore its colorful harbor and charming streets lined with shops, cafes, and traditional Scottish pubs. This is the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch, where you can sample fresh seafood delicacies and soak in the maritime atmosphere.


After lunch, head to the iconic Fairy Pools, located in the Cuillin Mountains. These enchanting crystal-clear pools are fed by cascading waterfalls, making them a photographer’s dream. Take a leisurely walk along the path, crossing stepping stones and marveling at the vibrant blue and green hues of the water.


Last but not least, make your way to the famous Neist Point Lighthouse, situated on the western coast of Skye. This picturesque spot offers breathtaking views of the cliffs, the Atlantic Ocean, and, if you’re lucky, the chance to spot seals or dolphins frolicking in the waves.


End your day with a relaxing drive back to your accommodation, taking in the stunning scenery of Skye. Reflect on the day’s adventures and get a good night’s rest, as there are still more wonders of the Scottish Highlands to explore in the coming days.


Day 4: Discovering the Cuillin Mountains

Prepare for a day of awe-inspiring landscapes as you delve into the majestic Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye. Known for their rugged peaks and imposing beauty, the Cuillins offer a paradise for hikers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts.


Begin your day by heading to the Fairy Glen, a magical landscape nestled in the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula. Explore the whimsical cone-shaped hills, enjoy panoramic views from the hilltops, and embrace the mystical atmosphere that gives this place its name.


Next, make your way to the enchanting Talisker Distillery, located on the shores of Loch Harport. Take a guided tour to learn about the whisky-making process and indulge in a tasting session to savor the rich flavors of this renowned single malt whisky.


Continue your journey to the Fairy Pools, a series of crystal-clear waterfalls and pools that meander through the Glen Brittle forest. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a scenic walk, crossing quaint bridges and marveling at the vibrant blue and green hues created by the mineral deposits in the water.


If you’re feeling adventurous and have experience in mountaineering, consider tackling the Cuillin Ridge. This challenging ridge offers breathtaking views and an incredible sense of accomplishment for those who conquer it. However, please note that this route is suitable for experienced climbers only, and proper equipment and knowledge are essential.


For a more leisurely experience, visit the Fairy Bridge, located near Dunvegan Castle. According to local folklore, this bridge is where the Fairy Queen is said to have met and fallen in love with a mortal man. Admire the serene beauty of the surroundings and immerse yourself in the magic of the legends.


As the day comes to a close, find a spot to enjoy the stunning sunset over the Cuillin Mountains. Witness the colors of the sky cast their hues upon the peaks, creating a truly mesmerizing sight.


After a day spent exploring the captivating Cuillin Mountains, head back to your accommodation and rest up for more Scottish Highland adventures that await you.


Day 5: Coastal Adventures in Dornoch

On day 5, leave the Isle of Skye behind and head towards the charming coastal town of Dornoch. Located on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, Dornoch offers a perfect combination of history, stunning beaches, and outdoor activities.


Start your day by exploring the magnificent Dornoch Cathedral, a medieval masterpiece that dates back to the 13th century. Marvel at its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate architecture as you learn about its fascinating history. Take a moment to wander through the peaceful churchyard and soak in the serene atmosphere.


After visiting the cathedral, take a stroll along the award-winning Dornoch Beach, famous for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Enjoy a leisurely walk, search for seashells, or simply sit back and admire the stunning coastal views. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider a horse ride along the beach for a truly memorable experience.


For golf enthusiasts, Dornoch is home to the renowned Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Considered one of the world’s finest links courses, it offers challenging fairways and breathtaking views that will delight golfers of all levels. If you’re not into golf, you can still appreciate the beauty of the course and its surroundings.


Treat yourself to a delicious lunch at one of the local eateries. Sample fresh seafood, indulge in traditional Scottish dishes, or savor a delightful afternoon tea with homemade scones and clotted cream. The local cuisine is sure to satisfy your taste buds.


In the afternoon, visit Dornoch Castle, a historic 15th-century castle that has been transformed into a hotel and restaurant. Explore the castle grounds, admire its grandeur, and indulge in a traditional Scottish afternoon tea or a glass of fine Scotch whisky in the castle’s cozy bar.


If time permits, take a short drive to the nearby Loch Fleet Nature Reserve. This protected area is a haven for birdwatchers, with a wide variety of species to observe. Take a tranquil walk along the nature trails, breathe in the fresh coastal air, and enjoy the serenity of this unspoiled habitat.


As the day draws to a close, catch the stunning sunset over Dornoch Firth or perhaps join a guided ghost walk to discover the town’s haunted history and intriguing tales. Reflect on the day’s coastal adventures and relax in the comfort of your accommodation, ready for more extraordinary experiences in the Scottish Highlands.


Day 6: Exploring the Famous Loch Ness

Day 6 brings an exciting opportunity to delve into the mysteries of Scotland’s most famous loch – Loch Ness. Known for its intriguing folklore and the legendary Loch Ness Monster, this iconic destination offers a mix of natural beauty and fascinating history.


Start your day by driving along the scenic shores of Loch Ness, marveling at the picturesque views and keeping an eye out for any signs of the elusive Nessie. Stop at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit to learn about the history and myths surrounding the Loch Ness Monster. Discover firsthand accounts, scientific explanations, and browse through interactive displays.


A highlight of your Loch Ness exploration is a boat cruise on the loch itself. Hop aboard one of the guided tours available, and venture out onto the calm waters. Admire the stunning scenery, including the impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle, which overlook the loch. Keep your camera ready in case you spot any mysterious ripples or hear tales from the crew about Nessie sightings.


After your boat tour, make your way to the atmospheric ruins of Urquhart Castle. Explore the remains of this medieval fortress, perched on the loch’s edge. Unveil the history of the castle through informative displays and enjoy the panoramic views of Loch Ness from the tower.


Satisfy your appetite with a hearty lunch at one of the charming cafes or restaurants in the area. Indulge in traditional Scottish dishes, such as fresh salmon or hearty Cullen skink (a creamy fish soup), while enjoying the tranquil ambiance of the lochside.


In the afternoon, head to the nearby village of Fort Augustus, situated at the southern end of Loch Ness. Take a leisurely walk along the Caledonian Canal and admire the impressive flight of locks. If you’re interested in underwater exploration, visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, where you can learn about the search for Nessie and even try your hand at operating a remotely operated vehicle.


As the day comes to a close, take a moment to soak in the serene atmosphere of Loch Ness, capturing the last glimpses of its beauty. Head back to your accommodation, energized by the excitement and tales of the famous loch, and rest up for more adventures that await you in the Scottish Highlands.


Day 7: Hiking in Glen Coe

Prepare for a day of breathtaking landscapes as you venture into the stunning Glen Coe. Known for its dramatic and rugged beauty, this glen offers some of the most spectacular hiking opportunities in the Scottish Highlands.


Start your day by driving through the awe-inspiring countryside towards Glen Coe. As you enter the glen, be prepared to be mesmerized by its towering mountains, steep cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. The Glen Coe Visitor Centre is a great starting point, offering insights into the geology, history, and wildlife of the area.


For experienced hikers, tackling the iconic Buachaille Etive Mòr should be on the agenda. This distinctive pyramid-shaped mountain is a favorite among climbers and offers breathtaking panoramic views from its summit. Lace up your boots, pack your essentials, and embark on an exhilarating hike that will reward you with unparalleled vistas.


If you prefer a more leisurely hike, explore the valley floor trails in Glen Coe. Wander along the well-marked paths, taking in the mesmerizing beauty of the glen’s flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for golden eagles soaring overhead or red deer grazing on the hillsides.


For a taste of history, visit the Glencoe Folk Museum. Learn about the area’s rich cultural heritage, including the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, through interactive exhibits and displays. Gain insights into the traditional ways of life in the Highlands and the stories of the local people.


Take a break for a picnic lunch amidst the incredible natural surroundings. Find a spot with a view, breathe in the fresh Highland air, and savor a delicious meal while surrounded by the majesty of Glen Coe.


In the afternoon, consider exploring some of the off-the-beaten-path trails in the area. The Hidden Valley, also known as Coire Gabhail, offers a fascinating and secluded hike among steep rock walls and lush greenery. Alternatively, the Three Sisters of Glen Coe present a challenging but rewarding hike with stunning vistas of the glen.


As the day draws to a close, simply sit back and take in the untamed beauty surrounding you. Reflect on the day’s adventures, capturing the memories of Glen Coe’s magnificent landscapes. Return to your accommodation, rejuvenated by the immersion in nature, and prepare for the next unforgettable day in the Scottish Highlands.


Day 8: Visiting the Beautiful Cairngorms National Park

Day 8 is dedicated to exploring the breathtaking beauty of the Cairngorms National Park, a true gem of the Scottish Highlands. With its wild landscapes, picturesque lochs, and abundant wildlife, this national park promises an unforgettable adventure.


Start your day by driving into the heart of the Cairngorms and make your way to the Cairngorm Mountain Range. Ride the funicular railway up to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Take in the vast wilderness and, if you’re visiting in winter, consider enjoying some skiing or snowboarding on the slopes.


Next, discover the enchanting village of Aviemore, located at the gateway to the national park. Explore its charming streets lined with shops, cafes, and galleries. If you’re feeling active, hire a bike and cycle along one of the many scenic trails that meander through the park, offering a chance to spot wildlife along the way.


For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the RSPB Loch Garten Nature Reserve is a must. Explore the tranquil surroundings of Caledonian pine forest and keep an eye out for the rare and majestic ospreys that nest in the area. Learn about their conservation efforts and discover other bird species that call this reserve home.


No trip to the Cairngorms would be complete without a visit to one of its stunning lochs. Loch Morlich is a particularly picturesque spot, nestled amongst the towering mountains. Take a leisurely stroll along its shores, enjoy a picnic with a view, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore this tranquil waterway.


For those seeking a bit of adventure, consider taking a guided hike or mountain bike ride in the park. With an array of trails to choose from, you can tailor your experience to your preferred level of difficulty and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Cairngorms.


As the day draws to a close, find a cozy pub or restaurant in one of the nearby villages and indulge in some hearty Scottish cuisine. From traditional haggis to locally sourced seafood, the Cairngorms region offers a variety of delicious options to satisfy your taste buds.


Reflect on the day’s adventures, capturing the memories of the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. Return to your accommodation, grateful for the opportunity to explore this natural wonderland, and prepare for one more day of Highland exploration tomorrow.


Day 9: Departure from the Scottish Highlands

It’s time to bid farewell to the captivating Scottish Highlands as you prepare for your departure. Use your final day to reflect on the incredible experiences and memories you’ve made throughout your journey.


If you have some time before your departure, consider visiting one last site that piques your interest. This could be revisiting a favorite location, exploring a nearby castle or distillery, or simply taking a peaceful stroll through the picturesque countryside.


Take a moment to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Highlands one last time. Breathe in the crisp Highland air, admire the majestic scenery, and capture some final photographs as keepsakes of your time in this remarkable region.


Before leaving, don’t forget to indulge in some last-minute Scottish treats. Sample traditional shortbread, try a bowl of warming Cullen skink, or savor a final dram of Scotch whisky.


As you make your way to the airport or your chosen mode of transportation, take one last look at the rolling hills, towering mountains, and picturesque lochs that have captivated you. Reflect on the warmth and kindness of the Scottish people you’ve encountered along the way.


The Scottish Highlands will leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul. It’s a place where nature’s grandeur meets rich history, where legends come to life, and where you can truly immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the landscape.


As you depart from the Scottish Highlands, carry the memories and experiences with you. Allow them to inspire future adventures and ignite a lifelong love for this captivating corner of the world.


Until we meet again, farewell to the Scottish Highlands, where the magic of the land and the warmth of the people will always beckon you to return.