With its ancient castles, dramatic landscapes, and folklore, Scotland is one of the most magical countries you’ll ever visit. Although relatively small, there are tons of fantastic places to see.
From the mysterious Loch Ness to the beautiful Isle of Skye, the landscapes on offer will take your breath away. Whether you’re looking to relax, head out on a hike, or look for wildlife, this country has something for everyone.
While many people tend to solely have a few days in Edinburgh when they travel to Scotland, in this Scottish itinerary, we’ll take you a bit further north.
This 5-day Scotland itinerary is going to detail the best places to visit in the Scottish Highlands. This way, you can truly make the most of your trip! If you have less time in the country, you can shorten the itinerary, but you’ll want to spend as much time in Scotland as possible.
5-day Scotland Itinerary, Day One
On the first day of this Scottish Highlands itinerary, you’ll be taking a day trip over to the Isle of Mull from the town of Oban. The ferry takes 46 minutes and you’ll want to catch the first sailing if you can, which is usually around 7:30 am.
Go on a boat tour to Staffa Island
After arriving on the Isle of Mull, it’s time to drive straight up to Tobermory. From the ferry terminal, it’s around a 35-minute drive which means you should arrive with plenty of time to catch a 9:45 am boat tour.
With Staffa Tours, you can catch a boat to Fingal’s Cave and Staffa if you’re visiting in August or September. Out of that season, you’ll find other boat tours available.
Not only will you get to witness epic landscapes, but make sure to look out for marine life along the way!
Tobermory, the Isle of Mull
Tobermory is the island’s capital and is another must for your 5-day Scotland itinerary! Originally built as a fishing port, this quaint town is home to colorful buildings, several great eateries, and plenty of things to do.
While in town, you can visit the Mull Museum, take a look at the shops along the main street, and try some delicious local seafood. There’s also Tobermory Lighthouse, but that’s a 35-minute walk away.
Tobermory Distillery, the Isle of Mull
One place you won’t want to miss is Tobermory Distillery. Located right in town, it’s the only distillery on the island. Not only that, but it’s been around since the 1790s so is one of Scotland’s oldest active distilleries.
While here, you go on a tasting tour (if you’re not the designated driver), or there’s the distillery tour, which will supply you with ‘driver’s drams’, which you can enjoy once you’re back at your accommodation.
Duart Castle, the Isle of Mull
The last stop of today is Duart Castle which has been the seat of Clan Maclean for over 700 years. The views from this castle are absolutely breathtaking, but you’ll also want to head inside so you can learn about the history of this place!
Depending on the day you’re visiting, you can catch a late ferry back to Oban, usually between 7 pm – 9 pm. This way, you can have a relatively early start rather than wait for the ferry in the morning.
5-day Scotland Itinerary, Day Two
Day two of this itinerary will see you wander around Oban in the morning, and then head out to explore the Scottish Highlands. You’ll get to admire the breathtaking scenery along the way and stop in some popular tourist spots.
Often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is located right on the coast, so boasts stunning views. As Scotland’s seafood capital, this town is a great spot for foodies!
Some of the best places to visit here include the Oban War & Peace Museum, McCaig’s Tower & Battery Hill, and the promenade. It’s also a great place to spot local wildlife, including eagles, dolphins, porpoises, and seals, so keep your eyes peeled.
Glencoe is a must for any Scottish Highlands itinerary! The views in this part of the country will take your breath away, and there are several fantastic viewpoints along the way, including Loch Tulla Viewpoint.
To see the best of Glencoe from Oban, head to Clifton along the A85, and then take the A82, which will take you around the valley, all the way up to Fort William. Although it’s the longer route, you won’t regret it.
Fort William is one of the largest towns in the Scottish Highlands, and is the United Kingdom’s ‘Outdoor Capital’. Not only is this place incredibly historic, but Ben Nevis is found here, which is the highest mountain in the UK at an impressive 4,412 feet.
Even better, there are plenty of things to do in Fort William. Some of the most popular attractions include the West Highland Museum, Treasures of the Earth, and Neptune’s Staircase.
To finish off day two of this 5-day Scotland Itinerary, you’ll want to visit Glenfinnan Viaduct. Not only does this place offer striking architecture and incredible views, but the iconic Jacobite steam train runs over here!
Glenfinnan Viaduct gained popularity after being used as a filming location in some of the Harry Potter films. If you can, try and time your visit so that the train’s heading over the viaduct as it’s an amazing sight to see.
5-day Scotland Itinerary, Day Three
Day three of this Scottish Highlands itinerary will see you head even further up in the country. This part of the trip is going to primarily focus on the famous Loch Ness and its surroundings, as there’s a lot to do in this area.
Your first stop is the town of Fort Augustus which is located along the Caledonian Canal, and the Southern tip of Loch Ness. Boasting spectacular scenery, plenty of history, and lots of attractions, this amazing place has so much to offer.
Some of the best places to visit in Fort Augustus include the Loch Ness Viewpoint, The Clansman Centre, and the Caledonian Canal. Don’t forget to try some traditional Scottish dishes during your time here either.
The famous Loch Ness is a must for any itinerary! It’s one of the most famous lochs in Scotland, thanks to the Loch Ness Monster, also known as ‘Nessie’ – a mysterious creature that was first spotted in 565 AD.
The loch itself is beautiful and it’s also the most voluminous lake in the United Kingdom. With so much to offer, this destination isn’t a place that you want to rush.
Go on a Boat Cruise
The best way to explore Loch Ness is by boat! This way you can appreciate the gorgeous scenery, and look out for the Loch Ness Monster – there have been over 1,000 sightings so who knows what you might see?
A popular company is Cruise Loch Ness, as they have several boat trips on offer. These last between 50 minutes to 1.5 hours, and will take you to different parts of the loch.
Standing proud alongside Loch Ness is the majestic Urquhart Castle. Boasting over 1,000 years of history, spectacular surroundings, and an on-site cafe, this place has a lot to offer.
While here, you can climb the Grant Tower which overlooks the loch, visit a historic prison cell, and have a glimpse of the Great Hall. You’ll also get to learn all about the castle’s heritage, so it’s a fantastic spot to visit.
The Loch Ness Centre
Lastly, you’ll want to visit The Loch Ness Centre. This is the place to go if you’re intrigued about Scotland’s most mysterious monster. The 45-minute tour here offers an immersive experience that will cover everything you need to know.
The Loch Ness Centre also offers deep scan cruises of the lake, if you’re looking to search the depths using sonar equipment. Not only that but there’s a cool shop on-site where you can grab a souvenir.
5-day Scotland Itinerary, Day Four
After exploring the mainland for a couple of days, it’s time to visit the Isle of Skye. It’s accessible by road and ferry and is one of the wildest destinations on this 5-day Scotland itinerary.
The charming town of Portree is the island’s capital, so is the largest settlement on the Isle of Skye. Thanks to its location along Loch Portree, the views are beautiful, and you’ll be in a great location for wildlife-watching.
There are ample things to do in Portree like heading out on a boat tour, walking up the Apothecary’s Tower, and trying some of the local cuisine. You’ll also want to appreciate the colorful houses here!
The Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit on Skye! Located out on the Trotternish Peninsula, this huge rock formation dominates the skyline.
To reach Storr, you’ll need to hike there. The route is around 2.4 miles long and it’s one of the island’s most famous hikes. Once you get to the top, take some time to appreciate the views and snap some photographs.
Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls
Just a short drive away is Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls. Kilt Rock is a unique cliff formation, while Mealt Falls is a tall waterfall. As both are seen from the same observation point, you won’t have to travel between the two.
Just keep in mind that parking is limited, and it’s a popular spot. However, no trip to the Isle of Skye is complete without coming here so don’t leave it off your itinerary.
The Quiraing Pass
If you’re planning to hire a car while in the Scottish Highlands, then make sure you drive the Quiraing Pass. This mountain pass is located at around 856 feet above sea level, so naturally, the scenery will take your breath away.
However, it can be quite a hairy drive if the weather isn’t in your favor. You’ll also have to contend with one-land roads and tight bends, so just keep that in mind if you’re not a confident driver.
The Fairy Glen
Another great place to include on your Scottish Highlands itinerary is The Fairy Glen. This is one of the most unique places you’ll find in the country, with its grassy landscapes, cone-shaped hills, and stone circles.
If you’re looking to experience the magic of Scotland, then this is the place to visit. You can easily spend an hour or two hiking around The Fairy Glen and admiring the views from the top of Castle Ewen.
5-day Scotland Itinerary: Day Five
The last day of your trip will see you explore more of the Isle of Skye. You’ll be primarily exploring the Western side of the island, and there’s a lot to see. To ensure you make the most of your day, try to get up early!
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point Lighthouse is a must for any Isle of Skye itinerary! It’s located on the island’s most Western tip and is around a 45-minute walk down from the car park. Just keep in mind that parking can be limited here.
One of the best things to do at Neist Point Lighthouse is to watch wildlife. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ve got a chance of spotting minke whales and basking sharks. If you can, pack binoculars!
Dunvegan Bakery & Coffee Shop
If you’re feeling peckish, then head to Dunvegan Bakery & Coffee Shop. Dating back to 1879, it’s Skye’s oldest bakery and is set within a charming traditional cottage. Better yet, it’s open all year round.
Here, you can pick up a variety of tasty snacks including pastries, pies, and bread. There are also some delicious sweet treats to choose from including muffins and scones. Whatever you fancy, you’re sure to find something here!
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
While exploring the Isle of Skye, don’t forget to visit Dunvegan Castle. Boasting a 42,000-acre estate and 800 years of history, this castle has a lot to offer. In fact, it’s Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited castle.
If you visit, you’ll get to learn all about the castle’s history, but save some time to explore the grounds too. From here, you’ll also be treated to stunning ocean views!
Claigan Coral Beach
Last but certainly not least on this itinerary is Claigan Coral Beach. The shore here is made up of fossilized algae, so the colors are really pretty. You’ll also get breathtaking views of Loch Dunvegan.
It’s a 25-minute walk from the car park to the beach and it’s only around 1.2 miles. Try to time your visit with low tide, as you’ll be able to explore Lampay Island.