While it's impossible to see all of Scotland in 1 week, if you budget your time well, you'll have a memorable trip—and you'll see quite a lot. One week provides just enough time to get acquainted with the attractions in Edinburgh, its museums and castles, as well as with those in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city and home to some of Britain's greatest museums. With time remaining, you can head to the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, and even visit such centers of the famed Highlands as Fort William and Inverness, which is the capital.
Days 1 & 2: Edinburgh, Gateway to Scotland
Most arrivals in the capital of Scotland are from London, by rail, plane, or bus. Hit town as early as possible in the morning to get in a full round of the city's attractions. After checking into a hotel, head for the Old Town's Royal Mile, stretching from one of the city's major sights, Edinburgh Castle, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You can probably visit only one of these attractions before lunch, saving the other for the afternoon. We suggest you go to Edinburgh Castle in the morning and Holyroodhouse in the afternoon. Then, during the latter visit, you can also check out the new Scottish Parliament building. After all this sightseeing you can clear your head with a stomp up nearby Arthur's Seat for a good workout along with panoramic views of the city and coastline. In the evening, find your way to Stockbridge or one of Edinburgh's other village neighborhoods for dinner.
As the afternoon wanes, head down into the New Town for a walk and some shopping along the fabled Princes Street. In the early evening, drop into an Edinburgh pub for a pint or a wee dram—and for a sample of some local life. Have dinner in one of the New Town's wide variety of restaurants.
On Day 2, which could turn into a very busy day, check out the artistic masterpieces in the National Gallery of Scotland and see the artifact-loaded National Museum of Scotland. Both of these treasure-troves can be seen in 1 busy morning. In the afternoon, and for a change of pace, visit Calton Hill in the east of Edinburgh—it looks like Athens—and the Royal Botanic Garden, one of Britain's greatest botanical gardens. For your final night in Edinburgh, have dinner in one of the ancient restaurants of the Old Town, following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Days 3 & 4: Glasgow, Scotland's Largest City
On Day 3, get an early-morning start and drive to Glasgow, which is only 65km (40 miles) west of Edinburgh. You can arrive in time to check into a hotel and see The Burrell Collection before lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the finest in Britain, and the Glasgow Science Centre, on the banks of the River Clyde. After a visit to a Glaswegian pub, if that's your style, head to dinner in one of Glasgow's restaurants.
On the morning of Day 4, visit the Cathedral of St. Kentigern, which dates from the Middle Ages. You'll still have time to check out the masterpieces at the Hunterian Art Gallery before lunch. For the afternoon, you can explore Glasgow's fascinating Museum of Transport and visit some minor attractions, such as The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour, or take in some shopping along Sauchiehall Street or Argyle Street. In the evening, should you wish, you can attend a performance of opera or ballet at Theatre Royal.
Day 5: Loch Lomond
From Glasgow, on Day 5, At the Riverside Museum, designed by the late Zaha Hadid, trolleys, buses, and other conveyances and accompanying audio commentary richly evoke Glasgow’s 20th-century history. you can head northwest for 32km (20 miles) to Balloch, a good center for exploring the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. The best way to spend a day touring the lake is to take one of Sweeney's Cruisers. If you return in time, you can also explore Balloch Castle Country Park. Overnight in Balloch, which lies at the southern end of the Loch.
This is a day of easy driving through mountain and lake scenery. From Balloch, the road leads north through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, where the forests and glens have been called the realm of “elves, fawns, and fairies.” At Arrochar, 19 miles north of Balloch, take a side trip 22 miles west on A83 to Inveraray. The road passes over the “Rest and Be Thankful” pass with wonderful views across Glen Kinglass and Glen Coe then drops down to wind along the shores of Loch Fyne, with Inveraray slowly taking shape as a tidy collection of white houses tucked onto a little finger of land at one end of the loch. Tour Inveraray Castle and Inveraray Jail, then backtrack toward Arrochar and the A82 to continue north. First though, stop for lunch at the famous Loch Fyne restaurant on the shores of the loch about 8 miles east of Inveraray, for some fish and mussels just hauled out of the waters across the road. From Arrochar, it’s another 53 miles north to Glencoe, your stop for the night. Set amid brooding Highland landscapes, Glencoe is the scene of the infamous 1692 massacre in which members of the Campbell clan murdered men, women, and children of the Macdonald clan, and the event is commemorated in a memorial and the visitor center. The village today is a pretty backwater set amid moors and mountains.
Day 6: Fort William, Gateway to the Highlands
From Glasgow (or Balloch, if you spent the night there), you can strike out for Fort William, 167km (104 miles) north of Glasgow. Located on the shores of Loch Linnhe, Fort William is the best stopover for those traveling between Glasgow and Inverness, in the north. You can arrive in time for lunch, taking in views of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. In the afternoon, visit the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle and Neptune's Staircase. Overnight in Fort William.
Day 7: Inverness, Capital of the Highlands
Fort William to Inverness is a drive of 109km (68 miles). Before reaching Inverness, drive along the western bank of Loch Ness, keeping your eye out for the elusive monster. At Drumnadrochit, there is the official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition, and you can also explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Have lunch in Inverness, and then set out to see the Culloden Battlefield, with its Graves of the Clans, and also visit the Fort George/Queen's Own Highlanders Regimental Museum. Spend the rest of the afternoon walking around and exploring the center of Inverness, which lies on both sides of the Ness River, with scenic walks in all directions. Overnight in Inverness.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.