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Scotland is a country rich in history, culture, and spirit. Whilst it may not immediately occur to you as a holiday or travel destination due to its cold temperatures, just peeking at photos of the lands will change your mind. In 2022 we took a road trip to visit the north of the UK during winter, and despite the cold and short days, we took what we could and this is what we got.


Depending on how many days you have, you can stay as many nights in each destination, as you wish. Below is a guide line.


Note: Car hire

Before leaving for your trip, make sure to reserve a suitable hire car for the time of year you are traveling. In winter, roads can be wet and icy, so it's important to have a vehicle that can handle those conditions. Our hire car was suitable for most of the roads we encountered, but we did struggle to climb up a steep slope in Quiraing during a snowstorm! You can read about that adventure in the latest issue of Nomadikt's magazine, which is currently only available in Spanish.


 

Edinburgh

Days 1, 2 and/or 3


Whilst there are plenty of things to do and see, the city of Edinburgh can also be described as a city that’s just nice to ‘be’ in.


Day 1

Soak up the relaxed atmosphere of the medieval heritage vibes, and wander the streets to get to know Edinburgh, starting off at the mighty Edinburgh Castle. Dominating the city’s skyline, on the top of an extinct volcano, you can explore the building that dates back to the 12th to 20th century.



Come back into the Old Town to refuel at lunch time in one of the many pubs. The Albanach cooks up some good British dishes. Then, after wandering around the Old Town and down the Royal Mile to digest your food, hike up the Calton Hill, in time to watch the glow of sunset spread across the city. Make sure you don’t miss the unfinished National Monument whilst you’re up there.



Day 2

Start the day with a hearty breakfast at the Southern Cross Cafe. Then, hike up to Arthur’s Seat where you’ll be rewarded with views of the city.

If you’re an art-lover, pop into the Scottish National Gallery, or if you prefer museums, the National Museum of Scotland is worth a look. They’re also good spots for when the weather is at its usual!



In the afternoon, head to The Dome where you can admire the handsome building and lavish interiors that was once a physician’s hall. Options to dine in the hall or have afternoon tea in its tea rooms, are available. During the festive season, it’s a beauty! But book ahead!

Step outside and head a few steps into St Andrew’s Square where you’ll find yourself in the fashionable ‘New Town’ of the city. If you fancy doing some shopping Waverley Market is close by, a three-story mall where you can find Scottish gifts, fashion and a food court.


Day 3

Enjoy the city from a choice of options; The Royal Botanical Gardens, The Royal Observatory, Craigmillar Castle and St Giles’ Cathedral.

If you’re around on a Sunday, The Ox offers an excellent traditional British roast (with all the trimmings) made with locally sourced ingredients, and the most delicious sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had!


Stirling

Day 4


Hire a car (book ahead, especially during peak seasons) and head out to the town of Stirling, an hours drive from the capital. Stirling Castle, one of the most historically famous fortresses, is definitely worth a visit, and it's just a short walk from the town centre. Dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, you'll feel as if you're stepping back in time to the era of King Arthur and the Saxons. Walking around the castle, you'll be struck with Braveheart feels.



For views of the city on one side, and mountains on the other, walk up to the Old Town Cemetary. It's worth it!



Glencoe

Day 5 & 6



After checking out in the morning, drive for about 2 hours into the stunning Scottish Highlands towards the town of Glencoe. If the weather is on your side, you'll be treated to amazing scenery along the way. Even in the winter, the landscape is nothing short of magical. If you're a photographer, be prepared for the desire to make a few stops along the way to capture some truly breathtaking shots.



Once you arrive, take a few days to fully immerse yourself in the craggy peaks and stunning vistas of Glencoe. Start by exploring one or more of the Lochan Trails, which are easy routes that wind through the foothills and woodlands of the area. You can find an example trail route here. For those looking for more of a challenge, there are great hill walks available as well. You can find routes at the Visitor Centre or here.



After a day of hiking and exploring, warm up with some of Scotland's finest haggis, neeps, and tatties at one of the local pubs.


Jacobite Viaduct



The Jacobite Viaduct in Glenfinnan is located just 30 minutes away from Fort William by car, and during the summer months, you can witness the Jacobite steam train passing over the viaduct twice a day. This iconic landmark has been featured in films like Harry Potter and TV shows like The Crown, and it's definitely worth a visit. It's a stunning sight to behold and a must-visit spot for any fan of locomotives or cinematic history.


Isle of Skye

Day 7, 8 and 9



The Isle of Skye boasts some of the most breathtakingly, dramatic landscapes in Scotland, with sweeping valleys and rugged mountain peaks that will leave you in awe.


To make the most of the journey from Fort William, set off at a decent hour and allow plenty of time for stops to stretch your legs and admire the stunning scenery along the way. For lunch, stop off at The Whispering Pine Lodge in Loch Lochy. The handsome building boasts typical Scottish hotel with wooden interiors and access to the Lochside Brasserie which is where you can dine with the most amazing view of the (possibly) snowy mountains.



Once you arrive on the Isle of Skye, take advantage of any remaining daylight and visit one of the attractions listed below, and then spend the next couple of days exploring the rest:


Quiraing View



  • Located along Trotternish ridge, the mystical Quiraing features an ancient landslide. You can hike the 6.8km route specified here for great photo-worthy vistas if you have a couple of hours and good weather.

Kilt Rock


  • Found on the eastern side of the island, the waterfall that pours over Kilt Rock is truly impressive. There's a viewpoint where you can capture the magic, or if you have a drone, even better. Parking is available.

Skye Museum of Island Life

  • Located on the northwestern point of the island, this museum features well-preserved huts displaying examples of life on the Isle 100 years ago.

The Old Man of Storr



  • The huge 674m tall landslide will have your camera in a frenzy, and the hike up to it is well worth the effort.

Portree



  • The largest town on the Isle with a port. Take a stroll around the beautiful area, grab a bite to eat, or just relax with a cup of tea and enjoy the view. The Granary is highly recommended for breakfast or lunch, and The Isles Inn is also a good choice.


If you have more time, you might want to consider visiting these other amazing-looking places on the Isle of Skye:

  • Fairy Pools: Multiple waterfalls that look stunning in good weather, to allow the blues and greens of the water to stand out.

  • Distilleries: There are a few different ones that offer tours and whiskey-purchasing opportunities!

Tip!

I recommend staying in one of the many quirky accommodation set ups that are available around the Isle of Skye. I'd recommend this little, but sufficient cabin at the Cowshed Boutique Bunkhouse. There's also a large communal kitchen and lounge space for socialising.



Drive back to Edinburgh

Day 9


Check out from your accommodation on the Isle of Skye and start your journey back to Edinburgh. It's a long drive, so make sure you have a good breakfast and some snacks for the road. You might want to consider taking a different route back to Edinburgh to see more of Scotland's beautiful scenery. Once you arrive in Edinburgh, check into your accommodation and unwind after a day on the road.

Edinburgh -> Home

Day 10

Depending on your travel plans, today you can either catch your flight or train back home. If you have some time to spare, take a stroll around Edinburgh's charming streets and visit any of its famous landmarks that you missed at the start of the trip, such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, or Arthur's Seat. Don't forget to grab some souvenirs before you leave!


 

Tour or Explore?


Verdict : Explore!


You can definitely explore the Highlands of Scotland without the need for an organised tour. Hire a car, and start a bonnie road trip you’ll never forget!


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