House of Travel logo

The Northern Highlands – Suggested Self Drive

Sale Period


The Northern Highlands

Home to some of Scotland’s most impressive wilderness and hospitable towns. This itinerary will take you through Cairngorm National Park, towards the least explored areas of the north east and north westerly tip of the country.
Exploring Scotland is easy. In the countryside, the roads are excellent, well signposted and largely toll free. Distances between towns are short and driving is on the left hand side of the road, same as in New Zealand.


Suggested Itinerary
Day 1: Edinburgh
Visit some of Edinburgh’s famous attractions including the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Day 2: Edinburgh – Perth – Aviemore (204km)
Travel north over the Firth of Forth to reach Perthshire’s stunning scenery. In the picturesque Victorian town of Pitlochry visit Blair Athol, one of the oldest working whisky distilleries in Scotland. Explore the Cairngorm National Park on your way up to Aviemore.

Day 3: Aviemore – Inverness – Thurso (221km)
Journey through one of the least explored areas of Scotland, up to Inverness and along the north eastern coast. As the road snakes towards Thurso, be sure to stop at the magnificent Dunrobin Castle.

Day 4: Orkney Islands
Take the ferry to the Orkney Islands to see Skara Brae and Maeshowe, the prehistoric sites that predate the Pyramids.

Day 5: Thurso – Tongue – Lairg (130km)
Travel on the single track coastal road to Tongue. The road will take you south by the mountains of Ben Loyal and Ben Klibeck to the village of Lairg.

Day 6: Lairg – Fort Augustus (128km)
Loch Ness stretches its bitterly cold waters for 38 kilometres between Inverness and Fort Augustus. The shoreline is a beautiful scenic drive.

Day 7: Fort Augustus – Loch Lomond (172km)
Follow the famous Caledonian Canal to Fort William as you head towards Loch Lomond, the largest loch in the whole of Great Britain.

Day 8: Loch Lomond – Glasgow (53km)
Enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Loch’s wooded shores and island vistas before a scenic drive to the energetic city of Glasgow.

Customise this itinerary to travel at your own pace.
Extend your stay on the remote Orkney Islands.

Highlights worth seeing along the way
Climb the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle – The castle dominates the city centre skyline and from the ramparts you can look down on medieval lanes and sweeping terraces that hold over a thousand year of history, mystery and tradition.
Admire the treasures inside Scone Palace – This superb Gothic building is the ancient crowning place of the Kings of Scotland and holds many historical treasures.
Dunkeld Cathedral – Medieval cathedral on the banks of Loch Tay.
See a falconry display at Dunrobin Castle – The gardens, inspired by the Palais de Versailles are a beautiful backdrop to this exciting display.
Admire the Italian Chapel – Built by Italian prisoners of war on the tiny island of Lamb Holm, Orkney.
Discover history in Glencoe – One of Scotland’s most dramatic glens and the scene of the cruel massacre of the Clan Macdonald by Clan Campbell.
Wander through Urquhart Castle – Sitting magnificently on the banks of the famous Loch Ness.
Stroll through Luss – Stop at this picturesque village to admire the cute cottages.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery – View this amazing collection of exhibits.

Our favourite places to stay:
• Pentland Hotel, Thurso
• The Lovat Hotel Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
• The Drymen Inn, Loch Lomond

Choosing your Rental Car
Take into consideration the size of the vehicle you require. We strongly recommend a minimum 1.4 litre for two adults. If the vehicle is to be used for day touring from a central base and not for transporting your luggage, a smaller vehicle may be adequate. We suggest you book your car before leaving home as this will save money and ensure you get the car of your choice.

View for more HOT UK & Europe road trips

Image credit: VisitScotland & Colin Keldie

Terms and Conditions


Talk to a travel specialist and get the best deal now

Please ensure your selected travel dates align with the travel dates for this deal


* required fields

Your privacy is very important to us. By proceeding, you confirm you have read and agree on behalf of all travellers to our Privacy Policy, and consent to the transfer of personal information to overseas travel providers and other supporting entities for the quote and any travel services to be facilitated and processed (acknowledging that they may not be subject to the same standards of privacy protection as applicable in New Zealand).

Sign up for House of Travel emails