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SCOTLAND - Road trip (with map)

A road trip around Scotland through valleys and along the coast, stopping in medieval castles and visiting the main cities.


I had visited Scotland many years ago and fell in love! Since then I always wanted to go back to do a road trip. I was so exited when my boyfriend Daniel got me the trip as a surprise. And so when Easter holidays came, we packed our bags, and went to Scotland.


Click HERE for the map with pins

The itinerary

Driving throught scotland

The plan at first was to rent a caravan but we rapidly found out that they were quite expensive in Easter time. We ended up renting a car and booking all our stays in local B&Bs.


We were in Scotland for 8 days and started our trip in Edinburgh, then Glasgow, then continued up to Inverness and finally drove down back to Edinburgh along the coast.


The roads

Driving in Scotland can be a challenge especially as you get further away from the big cities. You can expect narrow roads full of dangerous curves alongside cliffs, or straight roads in the most spectacular landscapes.

A bit of an advice, you should put fuel in the car every time you pass by a gas station, even if you're not empty on gas yet, because sometimes you drive and drive and there's just nothing.

Lets not forget that they drive on the left hand side of the road so we had to get used to that as well.


The journey

I truly think that the journey is the most important thing here. Try not to plan a lot where to stop or where to go. Make a general plan and then stop along the way every time you see something that you like, if that's either an unexpected castle, a trail or an scenic picnic spot.


Edinburgh

A capital that stopped in time

I always tell people that if I could live somewhere else in Europe it would be in Edinburgh.

While you roam the streets of the city you get this feeling that you went back in time to the medieval age. The architecture is amazing and full of history!


The food

The food from the United kingdom is one of my favorites. I'm not really talking about the fish and chips... I'm a sucker for pies, Sunday roasts and sausages with mash.

For me, the best food is served in pubs! Just go to the most hidden and typical pub you can find and ask for the daily menu.

One of the great things about Scottish pubs is that besides the great food you also get great music, a lot of fun and sometimes even a new friend.


We also decided to try a fancier meal and went to the Forage & Chatter for lunch. They had a great and not expensive, lunch deal. The menu had 4 courses and the food was exquisite! We loved it so much we went back the next day.


City center

We were only two days in Edinburgh so we sticked to the city center and visited all the touristic spots: the Castle, Calton hill, the National gallery, Holyrood house, the Scott monument, etc. There's so many things to visit! We didn't get to see everything we wanted so I advise you to stay in Edinburgh at least 3 days.


One thing we did do and loved was the night guided tour through the "haunted" underground city Galleries. The tour guide was completely in character and guided us through these dark tunnels telling all sorts of scary historical stories.

We also really wanted to go on the Mary King's Close tour but unfortunately it was sold out. So if you have the chance to go, please book it in advance.



Glasgow & Stirling

Freeeeeeedom!!!!

We left Edinburgh and headed to Glasgow. In the way we made two stops, one to see the Kelpies, and another to visit Stirling.


The Kelpies

This was a place I randomly found out about while searching for things to see in our trip. We really didn't know what to expect but since it was on the way we decided to stop by.

I don't think I have ever seen such an enormous sculpture like this one! Two giant metallic horse heads, in a very dramatic position, placed in the middle of a park with a water canal. Their eyes seemed to be looking right at us at all times. It was worth the stop!


Stirling

This was one of the places I've been in my previous trip and it was so meaningful to me that I had to take Daniel there.

Stirling is known by "the gateway to the highlands" and it is said that "he who holds Stirling, holds Scotland".

Stirling town is lovely but the main attraction is definitely Wallace Monument in Abbey Craig hilltop. The tower commemorates Sir William Wallace, a Scottish hero (yes, the one from Braveheart). It is a "museum" tower where you can go up the 246 step spiral staircase until you reach the top which has a spectacular view overlooking Stirling.


Glasgow

Although Edinburgh is the capital, many consider Glasgow to be "the real capital". For me it does feel more like a capital in the way that it feels bigger, is very busy, more modern, and has so many things happening.

We walked around the city center and visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, the Riverside Museum, the Botanic Garden and my absolute favorite, the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis.

Our favorite restaurant in Glasgow was without a doubt the Chaakoo Bombay Cafe.


The Devil's pulpit, Glencoe & Eilean Donan castle

Breath taking views

Driving from Glasgow to Eilean donan castle we passed by a lot of sheep and through stunning landscapes, including the famous Glencoe Valley where many GOT scenes where filmed.


The Devil's Pulpit

The Devil's Pulpit was something I really wanted to visit! It wasn't the easiest place to find. Even google maps was very confused. After some back and forth driving on the same road we decided to randomly park and try to find the beginning of the path on foot.

We entered through a hole in a fence and followed a very fainted path in the woods, not really sure if it was leading us the right way. We finally found a steep wooden staircase down a split in the ground.

At the bottom a curvy red river crossed between tall green walls and I felt like I just came inside of the mountain. It was magical!


Eilean Donan castle

This might be one of the most famous Scottish castles. I have seen so many pictures and was very exited to see it in real life. The tie was very low when we were there, so it was very different from what I was expecting but nonetheless, still beautiful.

To be honest I can't really remember how it was on the inside. I think the best part is looking at the castle and it's bridge, both standing so perfectly on the landscape.





Inverness, Cromarty, Lockness & Dunrobin castle

The beauty of the Scottish highlands

The north of Scotland (the highlands) where my favorite part of this trip. The weather can be a bit rough but I think that is just part of what makes this place so incredibly beautiful.


Lock Ness

We didn't spend a lot of time in Lock Ness. There is not a lot to do, to be honest. And no, we did not see the monster. But we did take a horse riding tour along the lake shore. This is something I really recommend!


Inverness

Inverness really surprised me in a good way. I was expecting it to be bigger and busiest but it is more like a traditional small town with a couple of streets with local stores and amazing restaurants. I felt like it was a very family oriented place, where everyone knew each other and lived a simple life. It was also a big connection to nature and a lot of history.


Cromarty

On our way to Dunrobin Castle we stopped for lunch at a small fisherman town called Cromarty. This is definitely not a touristic town so the residents were all very curious about us. It was nice walking through the small streets and along the coast.


Dunrobin castle

Dunrobin Castle was my favorite castle of the whole trip! This is one of the few castles that is not in ruins and that is still the home of a real life Earl. When the owners are away, they open part of the castle to visitors. Inside it is like time has stopped in the 14th century. Definitely one of the best preserved castles I have ever visited.


Elgin cathedral & Dunnottar castle

Chilling ruins

The last part of our trip was basically returning to Edinburgh along the coast. We had some time to visit a Cathedral and a Castle that were completely in ruins.


Elgin cathedral

This huge Cathedral from the 12th century suffered several fires and despite all the efforts to it's reconstruction during the centuries, it was left in ruins in the end.

I don't think the Elgin cathedral is very famous among tourists. We were the only people there and every time we asked about it no one knew what we were talking about.

The cathedral is absolutely huge so seeing such thing in ruins really gives you the chills.


Dunnottar castle

Dunnottar castle was also a high peak of our trip. I felt like a character from Game of thrones and that at any moment a dragon would fly by.

The location of this castle is jaws dropping, no doubt! Just standing there in all it's glory, at the edge of the cliff, surrounding by water from every side and unfortunately, left in ruins.

This is one of those places you cant miss when visiting Scotland!



Watch the videos of my Scotland trip here:



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