One week in Scotland: Which Itinerary for 6, 7 or 8 Days?
You’re planning to visit Scotland during your next trip and you’re looking for the best itinerary?
You’re at the right place!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this 1 week Scotland itinerary. During your 6, 7 or 8 days trip, you will visit Edinburgh, do a road trip through the Highlands, and discover the magnificent Isle of Skye.
In this guide, in addition to the best things to do and must-see attractions, I will also give you all my best tips as well as my list of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, how to spend a week in Scotland?
Let’s find out!
- One week in Scotland: Which Itinerary for 6, 7 or 8 Days?
1) Edinburgh (2 days)
If you want to visit Scotland in a week, the best is to arrive in Edinburgh, the capital.
As 1 week is quite short and you don’t want to waste time with public transports, you should really rent a car (unless you plan to go there with your own, of course!).
Personally, I always use the Rentalcars.com website for my car rentals. Here is why:
- You can easily compare all car rental agencies rates and reviews for a given location. You’re 100% sure to get the best price for your 1 week car hire in Scotland.
- You can opt for their “Full protection” insurance, to be fully refunded in case of accident or theft. Tested and approved – they refunded me more than 1300€ in total! The refund process is very quick and simple. 1 Email with the info they ask for and you get your refund in less than 5 days.
- Cancellation or modification of your reservation is free of charge!
You need to rent a car for your trip? If you know your travel dates, your should really compare the rates and rent your car as soon as possible. It’s the best way to get the best price (car rental prices only go up with time).
After getting your car, drive to the city center of Edinburgh, the first stop of your one week road trip in Scotland.
Edinburgh is a city of history and the place of many legends.
The city is divided into 2 parts:
- Old Town, the medieval city
- New Town, the contemporary city
The great thing is that both can easily be visited on foot!
For this first day of your 1-week itinerary in Scotland, you should start with a visit to Old Town district and its iconic main street: the Royal Mile. The street runs from Edinburgh castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
I suggest you to start with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, the most famous monument of the city.
Perched on an ancient volcano, it majestically dominates the town and marks the beginning of your tour in Old Town. The visit is very interesting and you should plan at least 2 hours to see everything.
Also, keep in mind that it’s often crowded at Edinburgh Castle, especially in summer!
So the best is clearly to buy your skip the line tickets online here, so you don’t waste time waiting in line.
Just past the castle, at the beginning of the Royal Mile, you will find one of the oldest attractions in the city: the “Camera Obscura and World of Illusions”. It’s well worth a visit, especially if you’re traveling with your children.
In this unusual museum, you will discover the amazing world of optical illusions through several activities, including an animated panorama of Edinburgh. The visit takes 1 to 2 hours.
Just like for the castle, you should really buy your tickets for the Camera Obscura in advance by clicking here.
You can then walk down the Royal Mile.
With its unspoiled medieval architecture, this beautiful cobbled street takes you back to the Middle Ages. Don’t forget to explore the numerous small perpendicular alleys on either side of the avenue.
Here are the most important monuments to see on the Royal Mile :
- Saint Gile’s Cathedral
- Canongate Kirk
- The Real Mary King’s Close (this guided tour is amazing!)
- Milne’s Court
- Dunbar’s Close Garden
- White Horse Close
- Scottish Parliament House
You will also find several free museums:
- The Museum of Edinburgh, about the history of the city
- Writer’s Museum focusing on Scottish literature
- Museum of Childhood and its collection of antique toys
- The People’s Story, as its name suggest, tells the story of the people of Edinburgh
And if you’re up for a snack, you should stop at Clarinda’s Tearoom. There, you will be able to enjoy a tea in a “so British” atmosphere, with small flower tablecloths, lace and porcelain dishes. Located almost at the end of the Royal Mile, at 69 Canongate Street, this tea room closes quite early (4:30pm).
After this sweet break, you should visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse: located at the very end of the Royal Mile, it was the prestigious home of Mary Stuart and is today one of the Queen’s second homes.
You can visit the interior, the art galleries, the abbey ruins and the gardens. Here too, the best is to buy your ticket in advance.
Behind the Palace of Holyroodhouse, you can also walk to Arthur’s Seat. This lovely short hike in the moors will take you to the top of an ancient volcano dominating the city. You will for sure love the stunning 360° view from the top of the hill!
At the end of the day, for your first dinner in town, you can for example go to David Bann restaurant. A great place to enjoy delicious, light and original cuisine at an affordable price in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s located on St Mary’s Street (you should book in advance).
To end the evening with a typically Scottish visit, why not take a night stroll through the picturesque Greyfriars Cemetery, located on Candlemaker Row? It’s said to be the most haunted cemetery in the world!
Guided tours are organized every evening, you need to book yours right here.
After a good night’s sleep, for your second day of your one week tour in Scotland, you will head to the contemporary districts of New Town.
The modern side of Edinburgh was built at the end of the 18th century and stretches around 3 main avenues: Princes Street, Queen Street and George Street.
Vast elegant squares, green spaces and typical Georgian architecture await you for this day of sightseeing!
In New Town, you shouldn’t miss:
- Princes Street Garden: this vast garden mark the border with Old Town. It offers large lawns, shaded areas and a beautiful view over the castle and medieval city.
- Charlotte Square: one of the most beautiful areas of New Town. You can see the official residence of the Prime Minister (Bute House, at No. 6), a typical Georgian house (Georgian House, No. 7 – You can visit it!) and very pretty streets in a poetic setting.
- Calton Hill: this small hill located in the Regents Garden offers a nice view over Old Town and the sea.
- The Museums (free): The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery
- Dean Village: in this old millers village, you can enjoy a nice walk along the river. It can be reached on foot from Edinburgh city center in 15-20 minutes.
- Royal Botanic Gardens: admire the world’s largest collection of rhododendrons, discover a Chinese garden, greenhouses, an arboretum and wander through the flowers with your new squirrels friends 😄 – These are just some of the things you can do in these beautiful 28-hectare gardens.
Spend your last night in Edinburgh and get up early to hit the road the next morning.
You can find more information about Edinburgh in my detailed article: The 20 things to do in Edinburgh.
Where to stay in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located only 800 meters from the train station and Princes Street. Bed in a dormitory from 30€ per night, breakfast at 6€. Strong points: cleanliness, great location, friendly staff.
- Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket: Located in the city centre, 10 minutes walk from the castle. Contemporary and elegant double room from 90€, breakfast included. Strong points: the very helpful staff, the spacious rooms, the very comfortable bed. It is my favorite for its amazing value for money!
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh: Located on the historic Royal Mile Street, 10 minutes from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Chic and refined double room from 200€ per night, breakfast at 14€. Strong points: central location, spa, heated indoor swimming pool, gym, and the excellent breakfast!
- Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh: 5 star hotel located on the Royal Mile, 600 meters away from the castle. This luxury hotel offers comfortable and elegant double rooms starting at 300€ per night, breakfast at 18€. Strong points: located in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic centre, the interior design, very helpful staff, absolute comfort. This is the best hotel for a luxury stay in Edinburgh!
2) Discovering the Highlands (3 days)
For the 2nd part of your 1 week itinerary in Scotland, you will spend 3 days exploring the Highlands, one of the most beautiful regions of the country.
You will for sure love the Highlands mystical and fairy-tale atmosphere, with its endless moors, hills, numerous castles and lakes (the famous lochs!). There is a good reason that so many films have chosen this splendid region as a backdrop.
So, don’t miss the Highlands during your one week road trip in Scotland!
In this region there, are very few houses, lots of sheep and a huge wilderness. The program for the next 3 days is therefore mainly dedicated to hiking and discovering wonderful natural places.
By car, it will take you about 2.5 to 3 hours drive to reach the Highlands from Edinburgh. By bus, the journey takes about 4-5 hours with the Scottish Citylink buses.
First, head to Glencoe, a charming village located in the heart of Glen Coe Valley. This place is especially famous for its magnificent mountains dotted with small waterfalls.
Glencoe is the starting point for many hikes, including the Lochan Trails. These short forest walks (about 1 hour) are perfect to get a first grasp of the Scottish landscapes!
If you’re motivated, you can also do the superb Pap of Glencoe hike that leads to the top of the mountain of the same name.
The ascent isn’t very difficult, even if it’s quite a climb, and the panoramic view over the valley and loch Leven from the summit makes this hike one of the best in Scotland. Plan about 4 hours for the round trip.
If you have the time, or if you don’t want to do “Pap of Glencoe” hike you can also do:
- The walk on the hill of Signal Rock. This beautiful 45 minutes hike starts close to Glencoe Visitor Centre.
- The Lost Valley Hike starts about 9km from Glencoe. It will take you around 3 hours round trip.
At the end of the day, your should head to Port Appin to admire the charming Castle Stalker, located in the middle of Linnhe loch. It was build during the 14th century and it’s one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
It can only be reached by boat, but you will have a great view over Castle Stalker from the small beach located nearby and from the road.
Spend the night in one of the hotels I recommend a bit below.
After your amazing first day in Glencoe, you shoud devote your second day in the Highlands to a visit to Glenfinnan.
This charming village, located only a few kilometers from Glencoe and Fort Williams, has been very popular among tourists since the release of the Harry Potter films. A few major scenes were actually shot there!
You will be able to admire the beautiful 21-arch viaduct that appears in the movie “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.
For a great view over the viaduct, you can follow a path from Glenfinnan Station Museum that brings you close to the viaduct in less than one hour.
It’s the best place to see the Jacobite Express steam train (Hogwarts Express’s real name) passing by.
The train passes every morning around 10:30 and in the afternoon around 15:00.
Here are a few other points of interest to see in Glenfinann, Scotland:
- The Glenfinnan Monument, built on the edge of the Loch Shiel in honour of those who fought in the Jacobite Risings. It’s possible to climb to the top of the tower (with a guide) to enjoy a beautiful view of the loch and the surrounding hills.
- Glenfinnan Church: an authentic and charming Gothic church overlooking Loch Shiel
- Glenfinnan Station Museum: This tiny museum located in the ancient train station will allow you to learn more about the viaduct and history of Scottish railways
- Walks from the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre: These nice 45 minutes to 1 hour loops will allow you to visit the surroundings.
At the end of the afternoon, your should return to Fort William, only 30 minutes by car or bus from Glenfinnan.
You can spend some time to discover this quite touristic city, with its cobbled streets, pubs and very nice bookstore.
And if you want to enjoy a bit more nature, you should really go to the Steall Falls, about 20 minutes drive from downtown Fort William.
Here you can enjoy a beautiful walk in the midst of sparkling nature with waterfalls, streams and lush green moorland. Not often mentioned in travel guides, it’s nevertheless a great walk to do during your 1 week trip in Scotland!
Spend a second night in the Highlands.
For this third day in the Highlands, you will go to the famous Loch Ness. Impossible to visit Scotland in a week without going there!
Of course, everyone has heard about it and its famous monster. I must however admit that Nessie is quite shy, and you will have little chance to see her 😅.
With a surface of 56km², Loch Ness is actually the second largest loch in the country. It’s located between Inverness (the capital of the Highlands, in the North) and Fort Augustus (in the South).
In the morning, head for Fort Augustus, about 50 minutes drive from Fort William.
This pretty village built on the southern tip of Loch Ness offers great views over the lake. From there, you can take a cruise: by Zodiac for speed enthusiasts, or on a small cruise ship. It’s an activity you should really do during your 6, 7 or 8 days trip to Scotland!
Have lunch at Fort Augustus, then drive along the lake towards Drumnadrochit (40 minutes drive) and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the road.
The village of Drumnadrochit is cute, with pretty terraces and an interesting museum about the myth of the Loch Ness monster. It’s also the starting point of a few beautiful walks, including one going to Glen Urquhart.
If there is just one thing you should do in Drumnadrochit, it’s clearly the visit to Urquhart Castle, located just outside of the town. You can visit the ruins of this medieval castle built on the edge of the Loch Ness and enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake.
To combine the 2 best things to do at Loch Ness (the cruise and the visit to Urquhart Castle), you can also opt for a tour for only €25 per person. It includes a 1 hour boat trip on Loch Ness and a visit to the castle. You need to book it in advance right here.
After your visit, drive up to Inverness, where you can make a stop, and then go to Dores about 13 km south on the east bank of the loch. This charming village has a lovely pebble beach and offers a beautiful view over the loch Ness.
Here, you can also meet Steve Feltham, the famous “monster hunter” who has lived here since 1991 and continues his relentless quest to find Nessie. He sell small clay figurines to finance his activities.
After this day around Loch Ness, it’s time to return to Fort William and spend one last night there.
You can learn more about the Highlands in my detailed article: The 20 best places to visit in the Highlands.
Where to stay in Fort William
- Fort William Backpackers: Located in the center of Fort William. Bed in a dormitory from 22€. Strong points: the atmosphere, the welcome, the location. The best choice for backpackers!
- Ben Nevis Hotel & Leisure Club: Located 1.5 km from Fort William. Scottish style double room starting at 100€/night with breakfast included. Strong points: indoor heated swimming pool, the free parking, the breakfast.
- Nevis Bank Inn: Located on the banks of Nevis river, 10 minutes away from Fort William’s town center. Large double room from 190€, breakfast included. Strong points: pleasant staff, very clean and a good restaurant.
- Inverlochy Castle Hotel: 5-star hotel located 6 km away from Fort William. The place is actually a small castle that offers double rooms with a view on the gardens and the peak of Glen Nevis. Prices start at 550€ breakfast included. Strong points: the extraordinary setting, the amazing breakfast and the wonderful staff. The best choice for a luxury trip to the Highlands!
3) Isle of Skye (2 days)
For this last part of your 1 week stay in Scotland, you will spend 2 days on the Isle of Skye, one of the most amazing places to visit during your road trip in Scotland.
2 days is the minimum to make the trip from the mainland: there are a lot of things to see on this beautiful island.
During these two days, you will tour the island by car, walk through moorland and bogs, along steep cliffs, and discover breathtaking waterfalls.
To get to the Isle of Skye from Fort William, the easiest way is to take the ferry from Mallaig, 1 hour away.
Mallaig is a cute small fishing port, with some nice snack bars and restaurants. It’s also the arrival destination of the Jacobite Express from Fort William.
You should go to Mallaig early enough in the morning to take one of the first ferries and have as much time as possible on Skye. There are 9 crossings a day. Count about £6 per passenger round trip and £20 for the car.
For this first day, you will discover the South West of the Isle of Skye
Upon arrival, take the road towards Sligachan: you will probably take a few breaks to admire the views over moors, mountains, lochs and waterfalls.
You should make a short stop in Sligachan to take pictures of its photogenic stone bridge, with the beautiful Cuillin Hills in the background.
Not far from Sligachan, about 20 minutes drive away, don’t miss the Fairy Pools, located in the heart of the Cuillin Hills mountain range. This succession of waterfalls cascading into a turquoise water pool takes on a tropical look as soon as the sun shines through the clouds.
To reach the Fairy Pools, you will need to park your car and walk for about 30 minutes in the middle of nature. And if you’re there around lunch time, it’s really a magical place to stop at for a picnic.
You can then continue to explore the Cuillin Hills, whose landscapes are among the most beautiful on the island.
In the afternoon, you can drive back to Dunvegan and visit its castle (£14 entrance fee for the castle and gardens) and/or go on a boat trip to meet the seals (from Dunvegan Castle, around £7 per person).
You can also go to Neist Point Lighthouse, the famous lighthouse you can see on many postcards of the island.
At the end of the day, head to the town of Portree where you’ll spend the night.
On the next day, you will continue your one week itinerary in Scotland by discovering the North-East coast of the isle of Skye.
From Portree, take the A 855 road along the coast. You will make several stops during your journey.
Your first stop will be to see the Old Man of Storr, a beautiful natural site located about 10 km north of Portree. You can just admire it from the road, or stop at the car park, which is also the starting point for a nice hike.
The hike will take you closer to the Old Man of Storr, an impressive 50 meter tall vertical rock. It will take you 2 to 3 hours to do the round trip, photo breaks included!
The Old Man of Storr is also know to be one of the best photo spots of the Isle of Skye: the site is splendid and offers amazing viewpoints over the Trotternish peninsula.
After your hike, you should head to Kilt Rock waterfall, about 15 kilometers further north. This impressive waterfall flows directly into the sea from a high cliff!
After your visit, keep heading north and go to Quiraing mountain range covered with moorland and peat bogs. There are some beautiful hikes to do here, and you can enjoy great views over Staffin Bay.
Continue on the road and you will soon reach the ruins of Duntulm Castle, abandoned in front of the sea.
You can get close to the castle, but the ruins aren’t accessible to the public for safety reasons. In this enchanting setting, it is time to let yourself be lulled by the gusts of wind and to soak up the mysterious atmosphere of the place.
Not far from Duntulm Caste, you can also visit the Skye Museum of Island Life to discover a group of typical 19th and 20th century thatched cottages and immerse yourself in the former daily life of Scotland’s rural population (admission is £2.5 per person).
After this long epic journey, get back to Portree where you will spend your last night on the island before taking the ferry back to Mallaig on the next day.
It will then be time to head back to Edinburgh or Glasgow to catch your return flight!
However, keep in mind that you will need around 4 hours to drive back to Edinburgh from Mallaig (and this does not include the return ferry crossing).
So if your flight leaves early, it might be better to remove one day from this itinerary (for example spend only 2 days in the Highlands) to devote the penultimate day of your 1 week road trip in Scotland to the return journey.
You will thus make sure that you don’t miss your flight the next day!
For more info about the Isle of Skye, you can read my detailed guide: The 20 best things to do on the Isle of Skye.
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye being very touristic, I strongly advise you to book your accommodation as early as possible. Here are those offering the best value for money!
- Portree Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located in the center of Portree. Dormitory bed from 23€. Strong points: ideal location, cleanliness, staff. The best Youth Hostel of the island!
- Sky Lodges: Located at 2.9 km from Portree. You will stay in small, well-equipped and tastefully decorated wooden chalets starting at 130€ per night. Strong points: the ecological concept, the modern facilities, the cleanliness.
- Cuillin Hills Hotel: Located in a 6 hectare estate facing the bay of Portree. Double room with traditional decoration from 210€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: the magnificent view, the succulent meals, the charming staff. My favorite hotel for its excellent location on the Isle of Skye!
- Skeabost House Hotel: Located on Loch Snizort, in Portree. Very cosy double room with view on the park or Loch from 270€, breakfast included. Strong points: the superb view, the comfort of the rooms, the very warm atmosphere, the golf course. This is my recommendation for a romantic stay on the Isle of Skye!
Scotland Tours: 1 week
On Voyagetips.com, I give you all my best tips and itineraries to plan your trip to Scotland by yourself. (All my Scotland travel guides are here)
However, if you prefer to book a 7-day Scotland tour with a travel agency, I recommend you to check the 10 best Scotland tours by clicking the button below:
Scotland travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Scotland guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Scotland guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
You’re traveling to Scotland? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Scotland: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Scotland are listed there.