4 Days in the Scottish Highlands

4 Days in the Scottish Highlands itinerary | Scottish Highlands itinerary | Things to do in the Scottish Highlands | Things to do on the Isle of Skye | Things to do in Loch Ness | Things to do in Glencoe | Best hikes on the Isle of Skye | Best Hikes in Glencoe | Isle of Skye | Loch Ness | Glencoe | Scotland Guide | Scotland Itinerary | United Kingdom | Scotland Travel Guide | Things to do in Scotland #Scotland

Heading to the Scottish Highlands? Keep on scrollin’ to see our 4 day Scottish Highlands itinerary + guide full of tips for your trip, where to stay, where to eat, and the best hikes!

During our United Kingdom adventure this summer we spent 3 magical days in the Scottish Highlands, specifically Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, and Glencoe. And every single minute that we spent there took our breath away.

The lush green grass, the rock formations, coastal views, lakes, and mountains are absolutely stunning! We saw as much as we could in those 3 days, but we wish we could’ve spent more time exploring. There’s so much to see!

Our 4 day Scottish Highlands itinerary includes all of our favorite spots from our trip, but spread out among 4 days instead of 3 so you’re able to enjoy things at a more relaxed pace than we were able to. You’ll get to experience local foods, a variety of hikes, scenic towns, castles, and more!

If you have less time, or aren’t planning to visit all of these areas, you can easily break up this guide by region to fit your overall trip itinerary. Since this guide requires a bit of road tripping around the Highlands and you’ll be in different locations most days, we decided to put our suggestions of where to stay under each day/region.

We hope this Scottish Highlands itinerary helps you plan your own adventure! If you have any questions, please let us know! 🙂

Visiting Edinburgh? Check out our 1 Day in Edinburgh guide!

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

When to visit the Scottish Highlands

We visited the Scottish Highlands in August, which is the peak time, and it was amazing! Although we did experience some rain and had to skip a couple things, we had pretty good weather the entire time we were in this region.

May through September are the most popular months to visit Scotland, as the weather tends to be a little warmer, less rainy, and the days are longer (more time for exploring!). Even though we visited during the peak season, we didn’t find the crowds to be too bad at all. Starting your days early will definitely pay off!

This Scottish Highlands itinerary is catered towards the peak season, as that’s when you’ll have the best chance to do everything on this guide.

Getting to the Scottish Highlands

When we visited the Scottish Highlands, we arrived from Edinburgh, where we had spent the previous day. While we walked or took the bus (super easy!) in Edinburgh, we opted to rent a car for the Scottish Highlands and it was 100% worth it! Driving was a bit scary at first (especially the traffic circles), but once we got out of the city, it was much better!

If you’re visiting Glasgow, that can be another great starting point for your Scottish Highlands adventure! While we didn’t visit Glasgow, we hear great things. 🙂

The drive from Edinburgh to Inverness and Loch Ness was about 3.5 hours and was beautiful! Driving from Glasgow to Inverness and Loch Ness is just a tad farther at 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Your final option is to fly into the Inverness Airport, which has flights around Scotland and also to other destinations in the UK and Europe. This would put you right at the start of this Scottish Highlands itinerary. You would still need to rent a car to get to the other spots on this guide though.

Tips for visiting the Scottish Highlands

Before we jump into our Scottish Highlands itinerary, we wanted to share a few things to know before you go, to hopefully make your trip as smooth as possible!

  • Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great!
     
  • Get Pound sterling from your bank before you go. It’ll save you from having to find a place to exchange money and save you fees!
     
  • The weather changes often, so pack layers! During our hike at the Old Man of Storr alone we experienced sunshine, rain, winds, clouds, and rainbows. It was wild!
     
  • Similar to the rest of the UK, restaurants seem to open later, so if you’re early risers like us, be prepared to wait a little bit for breakfast and coffee!
     
  • There aren’t many gas stations on the Isle of Skye (we almost ran out of gas…oops!) so keep an eye on your fuel gauge! Their hours can also be a bit weird, so make sure you check the hours and plan accordingly.
     
  • Trails are not marked very well (compared to here in Washington) and we found that a lot of hikes had multiple paths you could take to “choose your own adventure.” This was fun, but it definitely made us uncertain at times if we were going the right way.
     
  • Similar to our trip to London and Edinburgh, 10-15% seems to be the standard when it comes to tipping and some restaurants add on a 12.5% service charge (make sure you review your bill!). We had a couple situations where there was no tip line on the receipt and we had to use cash if we wanted to leave a tip.
     
  • We highly recommend getting an international phone plan, it’s worth every penny. We purchased AT&T’s International Day Pass in advance, but hoped to not use it most days and rely on Wifi instead. Although we tried our hardest, it was much easier to get around using data and saved us a lot of headaches!

Scottish Highlands itinerary

In this Scottish Highlands itinerary we’re sharing all of our favorite sights, places to eat, and things to do in the Scottish Highlands. While there is so much more to see than what is on this list, we hope it’s a good starting point for you to plan your own adventure.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end of this guide!

Day 1: Inverness + Loch Ness

  1. Head to the town of Inverness, which is 3 hours from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We recommend heading out right after breakfast so you get there in time for lunch!
     
  2. Grab lunch and coffee at Velocity Cafe & Bicycle Shop, which as the name implies, is a super cool cafe and also a bicycle shop. They make good coffee and also have a small food menu with sandwiches, soups, etc. The food is delicious!
     
  3. After lunch, walk around the town of Inverness and along the River Ness before heading to Loch Ness!
     
  4. While driving along Loch Ness, stop at Urquhart Castle. To fully enjoy this castle, you’ll need to pay £9.00, but you can also view the castle for free from the parking lot (however, the view is somewhat obstructed by trees).
     
  5. Continue driving along Loch Ness until you reach the southern end of the lake and the cute little town of Fort Augustus. There is a great viewpoint of Loch Ness here–can you spot Nessie? There’s also a multi-level lock system, where you can watch boats go through if you’re lucky!
     
  6. Have dinner in Fort Augustus at The Lovat Brasserie or Moriston Restaurant.

WHERE TO STAY

We recommend staying the night in Fort Augustus. Here are a few lodging options to check out:

PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Day 2: Isle of Skye

  1. Enjoy breakfast at Redburn Cafe on your way to the Isle of Skye. While you’re there, make sure you visit and feed the Hairy Coos!
     
  2. Continue the drive to the Isle of Skye. The drive from Fort Augustus to the Fairy Pools is a little over 2 hours, but the is drive is absolutely gorgeous and you’ll want to pull over frequently to admire the beauty!
     
  3. Explore the Fairy Pools, an easy to access spot with small waterfalls and beautiful mountain views. The walk to the pools is very quick, but you can continue on if you’d like to Coire na Creiche, which makes the hike a total of 5 miles.
     
  4. Grab lunch in Portree at  The Isle of Skye Baking Company and walk around the town.
     
  5. While in Portree, pick up groceries for the rest of the week. We recommend packing lunches most days and making dinner if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen.
     
  6. Head north of Portree to Fairy Glen, an enchanting little area with a very cool landscape.
     
  7. Visit Rha Waterfall, a beautiful waterfall in Uig. To get to this waterfall, park on Park Terrace and walk back to the bridge on A855. You’ll see a gap in the stone wall and that’ll take you down to the falls. It’s a quick walk and when we went we had it all to ourselves!
     
  8. Cook a homemade dinner at your Airbnb or enjoy dinner at The Ferry Inn in Uig.

WHERE TO STAY

There aren’t a ton of lodging options on the Isle of Skye. We stayed at The Cowshed in Uig and LOVED it! While it’s technically a hostel, we rented one of the pods, which had a bed, mini kitchen, couch, table, bathroom, and porch. It was incredible! You also have access to the bunkhouse, which has a full kitchen you can cook meals in.

Here are some other options of places to stay for Day 2 and Day 3:

Day 3: Isle of Skye

  1. Kick off the morning with breakfast in Portree at Cafe Arriba. This was Adam’s favorite black pudding of the trip!
     
  2. Hike at The Old Man of Storr, one of our favorite spots of our trip! There are great views along the entire hike and you can go as far as you’d like and still be satisfied.
     
  3. Enjoy great coastal views from Brother’s Point and enjoy a picnic lunch. This spot is a bit hard to find, but worth looking for! The parking lot is small and will be on your left side when coming from The Old Man of Storr.

    After you park, turn right on the road and walk down a little ways until you see a road and small wooden sign on the left side of the road. Follow that path along some houses and you’ll eventually make your way to Brother’s Point!
     
  4. Make a quick stop at the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls overlook.
     
  5. Take a break from hiking and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee at Single Track Coffee. This awesome coffee shop is in a cool building and has amazing views. The owners are wonderful as well! Note: it’s only open Sunday-Thursday from 10:30 AM-4:00 PM.
     
  6. Head over to Quiraing for more hiking and breathtaking scenery. This is another spot where you can “choose your own adventure” and decide how much or how little you’d like to hike. If you’re low on time, don’t worry–some of the best views are at the beginning of the trail!
     
  7. Enjoy dinner in Portree at either Sea Breezes (only open April-October), The Lower Deck, or Scorrybreac (pricier!)

WHERE TO STAY

There aren’t a ton of lodging options on the Isle of Skye. We stayed at The Cowshed in Uig and LOVED it! While it’s technically a hostel, we rented one of the pods, which had a bed, mini kitchen, couch, table, bathroom, and porch. It was incredible! You also have access to the bunkhouse, which has a full kitchen you can cook meals in.

Here are some other options of places to stay (the same as Day 2):

Day 4: Fort William + Glencoe

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  1. Have breakfast at The Red Brick Cafe in Portree, which is inside a hardware store. Don’t let that deter you, they have great food!
     
  2. Visit the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle. You can either pay £7.50 to go inside the castle or just admire it from outside. The great thing about this castle is that you can get very close to it just from the parking lot!
     
  3. Continue driving to Fort William, a super cute town located about 2.5 hours from Portree.
     
  4. Walk around Fort William and make sure to grab some coffee and lunch at The Wildcat. This vegan cafe is incredible and we love their mission to be waste-free!
     
  5. Drive to Glencoe, which is only 30 minutes from Fort William, and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring and hiking. Some of our favorite spots in Glencoe are:
    • Lost Valley Hike–2.5 miles/4 km and 1,099 ft/335m elevation gain.
    • Falls of Glencoe–a quick roadside stop with a waterfall and mountain backdrop.
       
  6. End the day with dinner in Fort William at Garrison West or Blas.

WHERE TO STAY

After hiking in Glencoe you can either stay the night in Fort William or head to wherever your Scotland adventures take you next! If you choose to stay in Fort William, here are a few lodging options:

If you have extra time…

4 Days in the Scottish Highlands itinerary | Scottish Highlands itinerary | Things to do in the Scottish Highlands | Things to do on the Isle of Skye | Things to do in Loch Ness | Things to do in Glencoe | Best hikes on the Isle of Skye | Best Hikes in Glencoe | Isle of Skye | Loch Ness | Glencoe | Scotland Guide | Scotland Itinerary | United Kingdom | Scotland Travel Guide | Things to do in Scotland #Scotland

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6 Comments

  1. Suzanne on August 30, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Breathtakingly beautiful! Can’t even image how much more beautiful it is in person!!!

  2. Elpida on April 6, 2019 at 3:00 am

    Thank you for your recommendations. We’re heading there in one month!

    • Kathryn Frazer on April 6, 2019 at 6:09 am

      You’re so welcome! Prepare to have your breath taken away…it’s an AMAZING place! 😍

  3. Ariane on January 14, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you so much for making this list and including such beautiful photos.

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