Guest post by Dina6040
Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
Completed this road trip in October, 2019. Highly recommend it! We drove from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and departed on American Airlines at 8:30 PM. All went smoothly and the flight was nice and arrived early!
Day 1: Arrival into Edinburgh
We arrived in Edinburgh, United Kingdom ahead of our scheduled landing at 8:30 AM. Took a taxi to Waldorf Astoria who allowed us to check in early at around noon. We had coffee and breakfast in the lobby, checked in and had showers and naps. Around 3 in the afternoon we went out, explored the New town, Uber’d to Grass Market for drinks and had dinner next door to our hotel before going to sleep early.
Day 2: Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Castle
- Royal Mile
Good, fun day! We started at the castle, had tea and lunch there, proceeded to walk the Royal Mile down to Holyrood Palace (which we were too late to get into). We spent most of the day doing the royal mile and castle. We found a pub for pints before going out for dinner.
Day 3: Aberdour
- Aberdour Castle
- Guildford Arms
- Calton Hill
We Uber’d to nearby town of Aberdour and explored the ruined castle there. One of our favorite things in Scotland! Afterward we headed back to Edinburgh by train and had dinner at Guildford Arms which was a very nice, historic tavern with okay food too. We then walked up Calton Hill and photographed the city during sunset and twilight. Great day!
Day 4: Castles
- Stirling Castle
- Doune Castle
Departed the Waldorf Astoria and picked up our rental vehicle. Then, we headed toward Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Callander, Route A84 and A82 toward Glancoe. We stumbled upon the amazing Clachaig Inn and were lucky to get a room. The Inn is in the most beautifully scenic place I can imagine. There are 2 pubs on site and we had a very good dinner and drinks before going to sleep. The drive to Glencoe was fantastic – we drove by many lochs and mountains and the scenery was impressive!
Day 5: Glencoe
We could not get a second night at the Clachaig Inn but we did a short hike near the hotel and had the hotel’s breakfast. Then we did a hike in the area we believe was the Lost Valley Hike, it was stunning and we saw stags rutting on the hillsides above us. We had lunch and dinner at the Glencoe Gathering restaurant attached to the hotel. The hotel had a very nice lobby and bar area. There was a pretty lake right across the street we enjoyed at sunset and a very old church nearby which was photogenic. We loved the Glencoe area!!
- Fort William
- Eilean Donan Castle
This was a fun day but one with lots of driving. We departed Glencoe and soon came to Fort William. There was a large, free parking lot we used. We walked around the town which had a Main Street called, High Street. We had coffee and breakfast rolls and walked around the town. There were ruins of the old fort which we checked out before continuing on our way. The castle Eilean Donan was pretty from the outside but we did not go inside. We photographed it and continued on toward Skye. We had great weather and made many, many stops today to take in and photograph the scenery. We found the Portree Hotel and were able to get a nice room. The main square in Portree is small but the harbor is a short walk. We enjoyed the little harbor area which is very, very pretty. We had an EXCELLENT dinner at the Portree Hotel – hands down the best food of the trip!
Day 7: Isle of Skye
- Old Man of Storr
- Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
- Fairy Pools
Fantastic day and we lucked out with another day of great weather. We drove the Trotternish Peninsula stopping everywhere. It was a full day and we did not get back to the Portree Hotel until after dark. Really stunning scenery with blue, sunny skies. We had dinner again at the hotel since it was so good.
Day 8: Ullapool
We left Skye and headed north to Ullapool. We were kind of tired today and did not take the Applecross detour. In retrospect, maybe we should have. The drive was scenic but not spectacular. We arrived in Ullapool and the rain started. We found a hotel which was a short walk from town and had a nice restaurant. The hotel was more than adequate although very basic. However, they served very good food in their restaurant and was one of the better meals we had. This was kind of a low-key day.
Day 9: Inverness
- Falls of Rogie
- Urquhart Castle
- Loch Ness
A good day!! We woke up in Ullapool and headed toward Inverness. Along the way, we stopped at 2 waterfalls which we enjoyed. We toured Urquhart Castle which was my favorite castle of the many we saw this trip! It is mostly ruined and right on the shores of Loch Ness. We spent a couple of hours at least wandering around here, reading the history, and taking pictures. After arriving in Inverness, we checked into our hotel which was perfectly situated. We were a little tired of Scottish food so found a Turkish restaurant – Aspendos – which was FANTASTIC. The food was good enough to write home about. We enjoyed walking around Inverness after dark and then retired to our room which was comfortable and pretty big. The hotel was old and had a really nice lobby area where we had a drink before heading up to bed.
Day 10: Culloden Battlefield and Grantown-on-Spey
We had breakfast at the hotel which was pretty good. Then we drove to Culloden Battlefield which was nearby. This was a good stop and the museum is really well done. It told the story of the battle and the lead up to the battle very well. We then walked around the battlefield itself which is nice, but a little short on actual things to see. Unfortunately, when we were at our farthest point from our car, a downpour broke out. We got drenched and ran for the car. All in all, we were pretty lucky to make it this late into a trip to Scotland before we got really rained on! The weather did make a turn for the better after that and we headed toward the Cairngorms National Park. We stayed the night in Grantown-On-Spey which I would not really recommend. Maybe the town has more life in the summer but it was DEAD and not particularly scenic or charming. Most of the restaurants and bars were closed. We walked around the town and had a lackluster dinner at the Garth Hotel (where we stayed). Then we walked a path toward the river which was pretty until it got too dark. The hotel room itself was very large but could probably do with a deep clean. This was not our favorite overnight stay by a long shot.
Day 11: Aviemore
- Glenmore Forest Park
- Loch Morlich
8 YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!! We celebrated our anniversary today and were treated to some fantastic scenery and a beautiful rainbow in honor of the occasion! We left Grantown and arrived in Aviemore. Aveimore was definitely a larger town which seemed devoted entirely to outdoors tourism. It was not what you’d call “charming” so we had breakfast and moved on. We drove up high into the Cairngorms and to Loch Morlich in the Glenmore Forest Park. Rain was threatening but it cleared up periodically for some fantastic views and full rainbow. From the higher elevation we had great views when it wasn’t too cloudy. It was very cold and windy up here. Afterward, we drove toward Pitlochry with an ultimate goal of Ballater on the eastern side of the Cairngorms. We arrived in Pitlochry hungry for a non-Scottish lunch and had a great meal at an Indian Restaurant. We walked around the town a bit and realized it was a really cool place. We checked into Fisher’s Hotel for the next 2 nights! From our hotel, we walked down to the Palace Hotel which had hiking trails on the grounds and checked out the shops in the town. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and desert at the hotel. Not a bad way to celebrate an anniversary!!
Day 12: Ballater
The hotel had a pretty nice breakfast which we ate before driving to Ballater. We spent most of the day driving there and back, stopping all along the way to take in the spectacular scenery. This was the best scenery we had seen since we left the West Coast. The landscapes were rugged, wild, and reminiscent of Iceland. We took many pictures and enjoyed the drive leisurely. Ballater was alright but we were glad we were staying in Pitlochry. We had a good lunch in Ballater and did the return drive just as amazed by the surroundings. Near Pitlochry, we hiked to a waterfall. This was another really good travel day! We had pints before dinner at Mackey’s which is a nice place. Dinner was at a Mediteranean restaurant which was tasty.
Day 13: Back to Edinburgh
Today we had to return to Edinburgh and prepare to fly home tomorrow. We dropped off our rental and checked into he Royal Scots Club. We took one last walk around the Royal Mile in the afternoon. In the evening we went to a pub we had read about and enjoyed some local beverages before having a good dinner at a Greek restaurant. We got caught in the rain on the way home but that was a fitting ending. This was a fantastic trip and one of the best 2 week periods of my life!!