Scotland 7 Day Itinerary – The BEST of Scotland

Planning your trip to Scotland? With so many beautiful places to see it’s easy to spend weeks exploring all Scotland has to offer. From the enchanting mountains to spectacular Isles, interesting cities, and cute small towns, there is something for everyone in this Scotland 7-day itinerary.

Table of Contents

Scotland 7-Day Itinerary

Scotland is a big area, and to drive it all takes hours, so it is essential to rent a car. With a car, you are able to easily access the beautiful sights of Scotland on your own time. You’ll notice we skip the Isle of Skye, as that is best suited for a 10-day itinerary.

 

Not renting a car? Consider booking a tour!

With a limited time on your Scotland 7-day itinerary, this itinerary allows you to see the best of Scotland while having time to get out and explore. 

How to Get to Scotland

  • Trail from the South of England
  • Fly in Edinburgh
  • Fly into Glasgow

Quick View of your Scotland 7-day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Edinburgh
  • Day 2: Edinburgh
  • Day 3: Edinburgh to Inverness
  • Day 4: Loch Ness/ Uruque Castle to Fort William
  • Day 5: Jacobite Steam Train and Ben Nevis
  • Day 6: Glencoe to Stirling
  • Day 7: Stirling to Glasgow

Day 1 – Edinburgh

Where to Stay: Edinburgh

Morning – Edinburgh Castle

Depending on where you are traveling from, you may be jet-lagged on your first day in Edinburgh. It is important to stay busy on your first day to help combat your jet-lag. 

Being your Scotland 7-day itinerary with your morning off at Edinburgh Castle, it is best to arrive here 30 minutes before opening, to help manage the crowds. This castle is HUGE and there is so much to explore. As the centerpiece in Edinburgh, it becomes very crowded, very quickly. On busier times of the year, tickets can sell out in advance. Be sure to book your tickets a few days in advance if possible. 

It is best to budget 2 hours for this attraction, although if you are quicker, you may be able to finish in an hour.

See the official website for more details and to purchase tickets.

Want to book a skip-the-line tour of Edinburgh Castle? Book here!

 

Afternoon – Walking Tour/ Grassmarket Lunch

After your Edinburgh Castle visit, grab yourself a quick coffee or snack and it’s time for a walking tour! Walking tours are my FAVORITE way to see a new city, especially on the first day. The local guides are amazing and offer great recommendations on where to eat and things to do.

When booking your walking tour, I HIGHLY recommend this company, Edinburgh Free City Tour.

The tour guides are lovely, and it’s a “pay what you want” tour. Most tip around $11 per person for the tour, but there are great because these tours suit everyone’s financial needs. Loved your tour and want to pay more? Sure! Can’t afford it now, that’s okay, just give what you can.

What tour should you book? If you have an interest in learning about how Scotland made its way into the Harry Potter books, then the Harry Potter tour is great. My group did both the Harry Potter and the Edinburgh city tour and loved them both equally. Both tours are fascinating and offer interesting details and knowledge about the true Edinburgh.

By now, you may be hungry for some food, just a quick 5-minute walk away you’ll find the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket is a beautiful street lined with fun pubs and delicious restaurants.

The Grassmarket is a historic area to have a bite to eat and maybe a drink or two. On a nice summer day, this area becomes very crowded, very quickly, by the locals looking to indulge in the summer sun.

 

Evening – Calton Hill/ Dinner

After your lunch at Grassmarket, it’s time to head to Calton Hill! This iconic spot is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is best to visit at sunset. Calton Hill is about a mile’s walk away from the main shopping area.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, edinburgh

Calton Hill is home to Edinburgh’s Acropolis. It is located right in the heart of the city and is just a few minutes walk to the top. Pack some water for the way up, because there is a small section that can be quite steep.

Depending on the time of year your visit, the time of the sunset can vary greatly. If you are visiting around the end of June, the sunset is very late, and may be hard to catch here due to the time. Nonetheless, Calton Hill is a lovely stop any time of day.

After Calton, it’s time to grab some dinner. Haggis is the traditional food of Scotland and you can find it in most places. Haggis is a mysterious mixture of a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. When in Scotland, you must try it!

Day 2 – Edinburgh

Where to Stay: Edinburgh

Scotland 7-day itinerary, scottish countryside, edinburgh

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

Morning – Arthur’s Seat Hike

Rise and shine! It’s time for day 2 of your Scotland 7-day itinerary in the beautiful city of Edinburgh! This morning is a big one, so get excited!

Start your morning early with a hike up Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat hike is located in Holyrood Park, and is at the end of the Royal Mile. Once you find the Holyrood Palace, turn right and follow the pathway to the roundabout. At the roundabout, cross the street and turn left. Continue to walk until you start to see hiking trail signs. From here, the trail is well-defined with signs and tourists.

Of course, you can always reference All Trails for the start of the hike.

This hike is a 2.4-mile loop and takes about an hour and a half to complete. On a nice summer day, this trail can become very crowded, so it’s best to start early. My recommendation is to begin the hike no later than 9 am. 

Arthur’s Seat Hike is a moderate trail, with almost 900 feet of elevation gain. People in good health should be able to complete the trail, including kids.

Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with 360-degree views of Edinburgh. This includes the city, historic downtown, ocean, and highlands. It is a spectacular sight and one worth seeing.

 

Afternoon – Royal Mile Street Shopping and St. Giles Cathedral

Scotland 7-day itinerary, edinburgh, city, scotland

Once you make your way down Arthur’s Seat hiking trail, you can go back to your room and freshen up or grab a well-deserved treat at Mimi’s Little Bakehouse on the Royal Mile.

Mimi’s Little Bakehouse was recommended to me by a local, and it did not disappoint! Its adorable interior matched with delicious cakes are unbeatable.

Once you’re all freshened up, it’s time to do some shopping on the famous Royal Mile Street! By this point in your trip, you’ve probably walked this street at least once, but now it’s time to take it all in! 

The Royal Mile is the best place in Scotland to get Souvenirs because there are streets lined with so many goodies – you are sure to find something here! Half the fun of the royal mile is wandering until you are lost. Head down some of the many “close” streets to discover picturesque views and a glimpse into the past. A “close” is a Scottish way to say “alley”.

Be sure to wander down the Harry Potter-inspired Victoria Street. Although not confirmed, many of the shops on this street are rumored to play a big inspiration in books and films.

Also on the Royal Mile, you will find the beautiful St. Giles Cathedral. This cathedral, founded in 1124, is free to enter and offers free tours that last around 45 minutes.

Evening – Ghost tour

No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a ghost tour. Whether you believe in ghosts or think its all a bluff, these tours are a lot of fun for the imagination to go wild. Many of the tours are jump scare tours, which means they have workers hiding all around to scare you, while some are more rooted in history. Whichever route you prefer, it is a must to in this haunted city.

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

Book your ghost tour here!

Honorable Mention- Dean’s Village. Dean’s Village is a beautiful village just a 15-minute walk from the top of the Royal Mile. With only two days in Edinburgh it’s hard to see and do it all, but this village is a lovely way to spend some free time. This residential area is best to do it when it’s a nice day outside, as it’s all walking outside with little to no food restaurants. 

Day 3 – Edinburgh to Inverness

Where to Stay:  Inverness

 

Morning and Afternoon – Drive from Edinburgh to Inverness

It’s time to get out of the city and make your way to the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Begin day 3 of your Scotland 7-day itinerary by picking up the rental car, getting your snacks squared away, and begin driving!

Scotland 7-day itinerary, inverness

Today, you’re going to be driving the M90 road from Edinburgh to Inverness. On this route, there are many places to stop along the way. Without any stops, the drive is about 3 hours, but with stops plan on 5-6 hours. Here are the stops I recommend taking along the way.

Check out my blog about the 15 BEST places to visit in Scotland!

  • Pitlochry – This adorable Scottish town is known for its distilleries, theater shows, and picturesque streets. I really enjoyed my quick stop in this town, and wish I could have had more time here. Plan a stop here to enjoy the streets and stretch your legs. Pitlochry is about halfway between Edinburgh and Inverness.
  • Queens Garden – Just a quick 15-minute drive outside of Pitlochry is the stunning view of Queens Garden (as pictured below). Here you will find a well-maintained tourist center, beautiful walking trails, and plenty of parking. The drive from Pitlochry to here is quintessential Scotland with rolling green hills and quaint cottages.
  • Aviemore – Just on the outskirts of Inverness, you will find Aviemore. This small town is packed with beautiful nature, the Cairngorms National Park. Depending on how you are doing with time, check out some of the beautiful nature trails in the area.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, queens garden, scotland

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

These are my favorite stops on the road trip, and I would recommend all of them. Of course, your Scotland 7-day itinerary is customizable to you and your time, so be flexible! If something caught your eye on the road trip, don’t be scared to stop! Scotland is all about slow living and taking in nature.

 

Evening – Arrive in Inverness and Explore

Welcome to Inverness, the “culture hub of Scotland”. Inverness is seriously beautiful, sitting on the River Ness, this beautiful town is smaller than Edinburgh but still packs a punch.

Hopefully, you arrived in Inverness with a few hours of daylight to still explore. While in Inverness, check out the Inverness Cathedral and stretch your legs with a sunset walk along the River Ness.

Once you’ve done a bit of exploring, head to one of the many restaurants in the city center and enjoy a nice warm meal after a long day’s drive. Tomorrow will be another exciting adventure!

Day 4 – Loch Ness/ Fort William

Where to Stay:  Fort William

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

Morning – Urquhart Castle

Start day 4 of your Scotland 7-day itinerary at Urquhart Castle. Located a quick (and beautiful) 30-minute drive away from Inverness you will find the famous Urquhart Castle. This castle, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful and accessible castles in Scotland.

This 1,000-year-old castle is situated on the beautiful Loch Ness and offers a taste of the dramatic Scottish Highlands history.

Most days, the castle opens at 9:30 am, and it’s best to arrive early as it can get very busy! I’d recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before the official opening. 

Additionally, its best to book tickets in advance online, because purchasing online includes parking. You can purchase your tickets here.

Most spend 1-2 hours at the castle.

Once you’re finished touring the castle, grab a snack or bite to eat before your big journey along Loch Ness.

 

Afternoon – Cruise along the Loch Ness

Next up, it’s time to go find the famous Loch Ness Monster during your cruise along Loch Ness. This Loch has always had a mystery surrounding it but resigned in the 1930s when a couple was said to have spotted “Nessie” for the first time.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, loch ness

Since then, millions of tourists come to cruise along Loch Ness to see if it’s all real.

There are many boat tour companies you can take, I recommend booking a tour embarking at Fort Augustus or anywhere near the castle, as it reduces your driving.

 

Evening – Fort William

After your cruise over Loch Ness, continue your drive to Fort William. You should arrive around late afternoon.

Fort William is known as the “The Outdoor Capital of the UK” and has many incredible activities to offer visitors. From hiking, adrenaline activities, steam trains, and more, there is something for everyone in this new cultural hub in Scotland. 

If time (and weather) permits, consider a quick exploration around Ben Nevis. This park is located just outside of Fort William and has so many stunning trails to offer. I’d recommend enjoying the drive and getting your bearings depending on the amount of time you have.

The Benn Nevis visitors center is open until 4 pm every day. If you arrive later, no worries, you can still enter the park.

Steall Falls is my favorite trail in the park and is best to do in the morning or later in the day due to crowds. It can be difficult to find parking.

Other options are to visit the West Highland Museum, Neptunes Staircase, or walk around Old Inverlochy Castle.

Day 5 – Jacobite Steam Train/ Ben Nevis

Where to Stay:  Fort William

 

Morning and Afternoon – Jacobite Steam Train

Begin your morning with a big breakfast, as this will be another big day of sightseeing in Scotland! Once again, start your day early by heading to the Jacobite Steam Train Station. This station is located at the Fort William train station. There are plenty of signs of long-term parking.

The Jacobite Steam Train is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Be whisked away in the fantasy of the Scottish Highlands while onboard a historic steam train.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will recognize this train from its appearance in 3 of the movies, as the way the first-year students arrive at Hogwarts School. 

Additionally, this train is very popular among train enthusiasts, as very few steam trains are still operating today.

This train takes you on a round trip through the Scottish Highlands, with a long stop in the fishing village of Mallaig. While on the train, expect just over a 6-hour round trip journey, with 4 hours on the train. I recommend packing snacks and water for yourself. There is also a limited selection of snacks available for purchase onboard the train. Once in Mallaig, there are plenty of restaurants to have lunch at.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, malliag

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

These tickets sell out months in advance, but you can also book day-of tickets by arriving at the train station 1 hour before the first train is set to depart. See the website for more details

Want more information? Check out my in-depth guide to the Jacobite Steam Train!

 

Evening – Ben Nevis

After being on the train for the better half of the day, you’ll probably want to stretch your legs.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, ben nevis

I recommend driving back into Ben Nevis for some more beautiful nature! As mentioned, Fort William is the outdoor capital of the UK, so the best thing to do here is to get outside! There is no better place than Ben Nevis. Explore the beautiful trails and get outside. This area is so stunning, it’s worth more than an afternoon, but make the most out of your time in Scotland!

When you are finished with Ben Nevis, head back into Fort William and grab dinner and rest up for your next day on this Scotland 7-day itinerary.

Day 6 – Glencoe to Stirling

Where to Stay:  Stirling

Morning and Afternoon – Explore Beautiful Glencoe

Day 6 of your magical journey through Scotland will be one to remember. Head to the famous Glencoe area to explore one of the most beautiful drives in all of Scotland.

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

Head south from Fort William and the beautiful scenery immediately unfolds. 

Many visitors choose to skip Glencoe and head straight for the Isle of Skye, but with limited days, and beautiful nature all around, Glencoe is absolutely worth a day’s stop.

Today is all about the journey and the beauty of Glencoe lies in its nature. Take your time and enjoy the views.

Here are some of my favorite spots in the area.

  • Signal Rock, A Torr, and Hagrids Hut Hike – This magical hike is an easy 2.2-mile loop through the hills of Glencoe. It even is used as the home of Hagrid’s Hut in the Harry Potter films! This trail takes about 1 hour to complete and is conveniently located right off the main road.
  • Coire Gabhail (The Lost Valley) Hike – This hard 2.5-mile out-and-back trail is one of the highest-rated hikes in Glencoe, with good reason! Its stunning views and easy accessibility make it a popular hike for those looking for a challenge. This hike will leave you breathless is more ways than one!
  • Three Sisters Viewpoint – A beautiful stopping point to admire the scenery with a large carp park, or head out on one of a few trails in the area.
  • Loch Lomond – If you can spare an extra 30 minutes of driving, Loch Lomond is a stunning place to visit in Scotland with more beautiful sights of nature.

Scotland 7-day itinerary

 

Evening – Stirling

Once you are finished exploring the beautiful mountains of Glencoe, make your way to the historic town of Stirling. Stirling differs from the other cities in Scotland because the city is built on a hill, which looks up at their castle at the top.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, stirling, scottish countryside

Depending on the time you arrive in Stirling enjoy one, or a few of these activities.

  • Stirling Old Town Jail – this historic jail is situated in the heart of the town and has a deep history. Explore the old historic cells and enjoy beautiful views from the observation deck.
  • Distillery – Scotland is known for its abundance of distilleries, and if this is your thing, Stirling is the right place for you!
  • Explore the beautiful streets – as mentioned, Stirling is a gorgeous town in Scotland. These streets maintain the old European charm with quaint shops and lots to do. Indulge in the local’s life and let the roaming begin!

Day 7 – Glasgow

Where to Stay:  Glasgow

Morning – Stirling Castle

This stunning castle is less crowded, cheaper, and just as beautiful as Edinburgh Castle. I really loved the idea of this castle being more quaint and less tourist. This means you can buy tickets the day of, with no problems. Additionally, it may be a good idea to splurge and buy the audio tour guide to help you understand more of the history around this castle. 

Learn more about the Stirling Castle here. 

Once you finish your trip to Stirling Castle, it’s time to head out to the big city of Glasgow.

 

Afternoon – Glasgow

An afternoon is not nearly enough time to see all that Glasgow has to offer, but this Scotland 7-day itinerary focuses more on history and nature than big cities.

Scotland 7-day itinerary, glasgow, cities, scotland

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, with over 600,000 people! While Glasgow is much more of a business hub than a tourist city, there are still plenty of things to do in this Scottish city.

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – this completely free art gallery is a perfect way to spend a few hours in Glasgow, especially on a rainy day. Explore one of its 22 art galleries and learn more about this side of Scotland
  • Celtic Football Club – no matter what team or sport you support, touring a football stadium is a unique experience. Learn about the history of football in Scotland and what makes this club so special. You can book tours online, or better yet, time your trip around one of the games!
  • Glasgow Science Center Tower – get a 360-degree view of Glasgow from this observatory! Purchase your tickets online here.

 

Evening – Glasgow or Travel

You made it! Your Scotland 7-day itinerary is almost complete. Depending on your travel plans, continue to explore Glasgow, take your flight home, or drive to Edinburgh to complete your full loop of Scotland.

Scotland 7-day Itinerary

This nature-based Scotland 7-day itinerary is the perfect way to see the most amount of Scotland in the shortest amount of time, without sitting in the car all day!

There are many popular spots excluded from this Scotland 7-day itinerary because they simply do not find in the allotted time, like the Isle of Skye, Oban, Isle of Mull, and more!

Visiting Scotland? Read these!

 

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Calton Hill Edinburgh

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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