We are definitely people who don’t like long stays in one place. Arriving at the hotel and exploring the area? It’s not for us! We prefer quick trips without unnecessary luggage and expensive accommodation. That’s why road trips are the perfect solution for us. Find out if it’s something for you, what it’s all about and where is the best place to go in Scotland.
What is a Road Trip?
The road trip is a general phrase that describes a long trek made in a vehicle for pleasure. Usually you drive long distances (sometimes even all day) and make stops at places that you want to see. It requires very good planning of the route and the places that you are going to visit, but it’s definitely worth it.
7 Tips to Plan Your First Road Trip
- Choose a place where you would like to go. If this is your first trip of this type, it would be better not to go too far. You can extend the distances of your travels over time. For example, choose a location that is only a few hours away from your home. You will enjoy a nice drive to your destination, spend some time in a new place, and drive back home all in one day.
- Choose a route. In such journeys, it is very important that the road itself is pleasant and full of interesting views. This is a good time to include the places you want to visit (if there are more than just your destination). The most convenient way to do this is to use the Google Maps app. There you can mark the entire route with stops, and then save it on your phone or share it with your friends. It’s also worth checking on the map if there are any other interesting places near your route, where it would be worth staying.
- Consider your vehicle. Some cars may not be suitable for a long journey due to their size or travel costs. Make sure your car has enough space for all passengers, remember that you will spend many hours inside the vehicle. Also try to choose a vehicle that gets great petrol mileage to reduce the cost of your trip. We always travel with our Vauxhall Corsa, it’s a very compact car and provides sufficient comfort for the two of us + our dog.
- Prepare your car. If you are planning to go on a road trip for several days, it’s worth considering visiting a mechanic to check your car before you go. Get your oil changed, refill screen wash fluid and make sure all lights are working. This will reduce the chances of surprising you with something during the trip.
- Prepare yourself. Even if it’s just a one-day road trip, don’t forget to take clothes for changing with you. You never know what the weather will be like, where you are going. What if you accidentally get dirty? You certainly wouldn’t want to spend your entire trip like that. I always take an extra t-shirt, trousers and socks with me. As well as a raincoat, mountain boots and a hat. Also, do not forget about food and drinks. If you are travelling with your dog, bring bowls, food and water too.
- Make stops. It’s very important to take breaks from your travelling every 2-3 hours (especially if you’re travelling with your dog). If you see any interesting place, park, shop or restaurant, stop there. It’s all part of the experience!
- Don’t forget to have fun. It’s important to remember that the drive is the most important part of a road trip. Don’t be in a rush. If there is something interesting you would like to stop and see, do it. Remember that not everything has to go with plan, and sometimes it’s worth improvising.
The Best Scottish Road Trip for Beginners
As I mentioned before, we love road trips, and we have our favourite route on Loch Ness. However, this time we decided to add a few more stops to it. I think it’s a perfect idea for a weekend trip if you are from Edinburgh or Glasgow. I’ll try to guide you along our route and list the most interesting stops on it.
Departure from Edinburgh
We left Edinburgh at 4:00 am and we drove towards the M9. Our first stop is always on the end of Loch Lubnaig. It’s a very beautiful loch hidden behind the trees on the street side. It’s worth stopping there, because it looks very beautiful, especially at 6 am when the fog is still slightly rising above the surface of its water. I recommend stopping at the last car parking where there is no fence, and you can easily walk to the beach. Next we set off towards Fort William. Another interesting place on this tour is The Green Welly Stop, it’s so popular place in Scotland. Why?
The Green Welly Stop is a third generation family owned business that prides itself on providing Good Food and Fine Shopping. The retail shops and restaurant endeavour to have something for everyone covering all spectrums of age, gender and travelling method, thus making it “the perfect spot for a halfway stop”.www.thegreenwellystop.co.uk
It’s on of our favourite places to a bit longer break and taking a small nap 😉
The Meeting of Three Waters
It’s not on our map, but if you’re driving this route for the first time, it’s definitely a place to stop. It’s a waterfall view point situated at the foot of the Three Sisters of Glen Coe – a popular hiking and skiing area. Water is collected from three different sources that meet at this waterfall.
If you have more time, across the road there is next place which you should see. After 15 minute climb you’ll see a Ralston Cairn. Here you can read the exact history of this place along with tips on how to find it.
Fort William is a place where we almost never stop. Mainly because the city is so interesting, so I think it’s worth going on a trip focused on just this one. But one place worth fast stop there is Corpach Shipwreck. This great fishing vessel rests on Caol Beach, overlooked by Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the whole of the United Kingdom.You can find the route on Google Maps under the name “Old boat of Caol, Ben Nevis”.
Glenfinnan Viaduct is only 30 min by car from Fort William, and it’s a must-have for Harry Potter fans! This is your only chance to see the real Hogwarts Express 😉 I’m talking about the Jacobite Steam Train, which together with the viaduct appeared in a series of movies about the famous wizard. The train crossing the viaduct four times a day around 10:15, 12:45, 15:30 and 18:30 (you can see the current timetable here). Be aware that there is a charge for parking at this location (around £4).
Eilean Donan Castle
After seeing the viaduct, we usually go straight to the Loch Ness area, but this time we decided to change our route a bit. When we saw that Eilean Donan Castle is only one hour away from us, we decided to extend our route a bit and go there. I mean, an hour away is a long way, but we’ll never be any closer than now, right? This beautiful castle has appeared in many movies, but the most popular one is Highlander. You can check the opening hours, exhibition dates and ticket prices directly on the castle website. We decided to be a little more spontaneous when we saw that Skye Bridge was only 13 minutes away by car. Why not crossing the bridge? So we did it, and stopped in the first car parking on the left after the bridge. We stayed on Isle of Skye just for a moment to enjoy the view, and then we went back to Loch Ness’ road.
Except the most popular places on Loch Ness like Inverness and Urquhart Castle there are a lot of beautiful views around all loch, so it’s worth drive all this way. One of our favourite stop is Fort Augustus, it’s a small village, but with amazing view point for all Loch Ness. There is also a small bay where you can admire shipwrecks and sailboats.
We had a plan to find a place nearby to park the car and spend the night there. It was getting darker, and we didn’t want to go back to Edinburgh at night. Unfortunately, all car parks were occupied or closed due to pandemic restrictions. Finally, we stopped at Loch Lochy, which is 20 minutes from Fort Augustus on the A82 road. The parking is very large and has convenient access to the beach. Falling asleep there, we listened a very tiny waterfall right next to it and the sounds of an owl, and at 6 am we were greeted by a wonderful view of the entire lake. In the morning we headed towards Inverness for breakfast and a hot coffee, taking a slightly more attractive route via the B852, next to Loch Tarff. If only you have the opportunity, choose this route too, the views and wild animals you see are unforgettable.
And that’s the end of our trip, after breakfast we went back to Edinburgh, and we were at home around 11 am. It was a great one-day road trip, sometimes you don’t have to go far to have great memories!
This small adventure gave me a lot of inspiration, I saw many beautiful places and wild/farm animals. Some of them inspired me to create illustrations for my Scottish Collection which are now available to buy in my shop. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it will be helpful for you.