Two Weeks in Scotland: The Perfect Itinerary

The Perfect 2-Week Scotland Itinerary

From the dramatic mountain peaks and Munros of the Scottish Highlands to the history-laden streets of Edinburgh, two weeks in Scotland is an adventure you’ll never forget. 

Scotland is a destination that can satisfy even the most experienced of travelers. The beauty of a two-week trip to Scotland lies in its contrasts, as you switch seamlessly from city center sightseeing in Glasgow to hiking in the Cairngorms National Park. 

The same can be said for the Scottish weather. No matter the season, you can enjoy clear skies in the morning only to find yourself shivering atop a hilltop in the afternoon!

Our two-week Scotland itinerary is designed for first-time travelers looking to hit those bucket-list-worthy attractions. You’ll see staggering natural attractions like Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, you’ll walk among Fairy Glens on the Isle of Skye, and you can visit John O’Groats, where mainland Britain disappears into the North Sea.

You’ll also be immersed in Scottish history and culture as you embrace the regal past of Edinburgh, dive into Glasgow’s art galleries, and of course, indulge in a few wee drams of Scotch whisky at the best distilleries in Scotland. Get ready for an action-packed vacation as we present to you our perfect two-week Scotland itinerary!

Two Weeks in Scotland

Preparing for Scotland

Preparing for Scotland: The Perfect Two Week Itinerary

Being fully prepared will make sure your two-week Scotland itinerary goes smoothly. Scotland is a surprisingly vast country, and you’ll love the contrasts between fast-paced urban life in Glasgow and Edinburgh and the relaxed, rural way of life in the Scottish Highlands and islands. 

You can use the itinerary below as a starting point to prepare your own personalized Scottish adventure. If you prefer outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, or mountain biking, then you may wish to spend more days in the national parks and cut down on the time you spend in Glasgow, for example. 

Likewise, the culture vultures out there might want to plan an extra night or two at the start or end of the trip to fully experience all of the fantastic museums and galleries in the cities.

When you’re preparing your itinerary, you may want to factor in extra travel time so you’re not so rushed and plan for any disruptions that could be caused by the weather. In peak season, you always want to book in advance, as the best hotels and tours can quickly sell out. 

Always plan for all seasons in Scotland, even if you’re visiting in the height of summer. The weather can change quickly, particularly if you’re traveling in the Scottish Highlands. Make sure you pack warm and waterproof gear for hiking, and never leave your raincoat or umbrella behind! 


Things to Know Before You Go

There are several useful things to know before your 2-week trip to Scotland begins. This is an exciting destination to visit, but as we’ve already explained, the weather can be unpredictable. 

This means that the majority of visitors tend to travel around Scotland in the summer months, with June, July, and August being exceptionally busy times. Even supposedly “quiet” destinations like the Scottish Highlands or remote locations like the ever-popular North Coast 500 road trip route get seriously packed this time of year.

Instead of visiting in summer, try to plan your trip for the shoulder seasons when there’s more availability and fewer tourists. Sure, you might get rained on, but that’s all part of your Scottish experience. 

You could even plan a winter trip to Scotland, when the national parks are covered in snow, winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing have begun, and Christmas, Hogmanay (Scotland’s New Year), and Burns Night (January 25) are all celebrated. 

Politically, Scotland is, of course, part of the United Kingdom, but it’s important not to conflate the Scots with the English. Scotland has its own unique history, culture, and national government (based in Edinburgh), and Scots are exceptionally proud of this (there’s currently a big independence movement). Although English is the first language, you’ll also hear Scots (a local dialect of English) being spoken, while in more remote island communities, you may encounter Gaelic speakers. 

Scottish culture extends to the cuisine, too. When it comes to traditional Scottish foods, be prepared for either a simple yet filling bowl of porridge for breakfast or a full Scottish breakfast packed with sausages, bacon, tattie scones, and even haggis. Modern Scottish cooking is delightful! 

Fresh seafood is readily available on the coast, and in Glasgow, the fusion of Indian and British cooking is exceptional. There’s the ubiquitous Scotch whisky to enjoy, a great beer scene, and plenty of traditional pubs where you can soak up the culture and cuisine.

Money-wise, Scotland uses the Pound Sterling. This is the same currency in circulation in the rest of the United Kingdom. Although, be aware that Scottish pounds printed in Scotland aren’t always accepted over the border in England (banks in England will always exchange them for free). 

In terms of visas, this depends on your nationality. Many nations have visa-free access to the United Kingdom for short stays, including citizens of the US and Europe. 


Getting Around Scotland

Getting Around Scotland: The Perfect Two Week Itinerary

Your journey will begin in Edinburgh, which has excellent international and domestic connections. There are direct flights to Edinburgh from most major European cities, as well as many US, Asian, and Middle Eastern hubs (like Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, for example). International connections may also transit through London airports, or you can fly into London and take a fast train north (four to five hours travel time to Edinburgh or Glasgow). 

Large towns and cities are well connected by bus and train (Edinburgh is just a one-hour train ride from Glasgow, for example). One of the best sections of your 14-day Scotland itinerary even involves taking the Jacobite Express, a stunning train ride through the Scottish Highlands. 

However, things get a little trickier when you’re trying to reach more remote destinations, including the Scottish Islands. You’ll need to consider ferry times and onward connections, so we’ve tried to keep the itinerary below simple and accessible by public transport where possible. 

However, to really maximize your time in Scotland, you’ll want to consider renting a car for the journey. This allows you to get off the beaten track, explore more rural villages in the Scottish Highlands, and drive the famous North Coast 500 when you’re up in the north of Scotland. 


Scotland Itinerary: 2 Weeks to Explore the Highlights of Scotland

Edinburgh – 2 Nights

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the best cities to visit in Scotland. Teeming with history and packed with sightseeing opportunities, the nation’s capital is the best place to start your two-week adventure. 

You could easily spend weeks in Edinburgh, so you’re going to have a busy two days when you arrive in Scotland. There’s a lot to pack in, so we recommend booking a hotel that’s within walking distance of the Royal Mile. 

Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Mile is the historic heart of the city, and it connects Edinburgh Castle with Holyrood Palace. Along its one-mile-long length, you’ll find historic churches, quirky museums, and traditional pubs.

Start with a walking tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town, where you’ll be shown around by local guides with in-depth knowledge of the city. Many of these tours are free, and you only tip what you think the tour was worth at the end. 

Explore the Edinburgh Castle

Walking tours will take you to Edinburgh Castle, which has sat on a dramatic outcrop of volcanic rock since the medieval period. You’ll explore historic sights like Grassmarket, St Giles Cathedral, and Greyfriars Kirkyard. Depending on your interests, you could book a specialist walking tour, such as a foodie tour, ghost tour, or a Harry Potter-themed tour of Edinburgh. 

Greyfriars Kirkyard

2 Week Scotland Itinerary: Greyfriars Kirkyard

Guided Tour to Greyfriars Kirkyard

National Museum of Scotland

After the tour, take your pick of Edinburgh’s museums for the afternoon. The main attraction is the National Museum of Scotland, which is home to over 12 million objects covering everything from the dinosaurs to modern Scotland. 

Discover the National Museum of Scotland

Other options include the National Gallery, The Writers’ Museum, or The Museum of Childhood. In the evening, head to the pubs on the Royal Mile for a traditional dinner of haggis and neeps, washed down by a dram of whisky.

Calton Hill

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Calton Hill

The next day you’re up bright and early for a stroll along the Royal Mile. Make your way to Calton Hill, where you’ll find Greco-Roman-style monuments built by the Victorians on top of a hill overlooking the city. 

Experience a Pirate Treasure Hunt in Calton Hill

Holyrood Palace

The views are wonderful but don’t stay too long as you need time for a tour of Holyrood Palace. This is where the royal family resides when they’re in Edinburgh, and you’ll love seeing how the other half live!

Holyrood Palace is next to the Scottish Parliament building, and you’ll walk past the home of Scottish democracy on your way to Arthur’s Seat. This dramatic natural feature offers the best views of Edinburgh. It’s an extinct volcano, and it will take you around two hours to walk to the summit and back down again. 

Grab a Holyrood Palace Ticket

Scotch Whisky Experience

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Scotch Whisky Experience

If you’ve got time, you can finish the day with a tour of the Scotch Whisky Experience, where you can delve into the history and nuances of whisky. Enjoy one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh in the evening, with our top picks being Dishoom, Timberyard, and Kanpai

Book a Scotch Whiskey Experience


Glasgow – 1 Night

2 Week Scotland Itinerary: Glasgow

Next up is Glasgow, Scotland’s second city and the traditional rival to Edinburgh. Glasgow is, in fact, the most populous city in Scotland, and it’s just a one-hour train ride away from the Scottish capital.

Take the train from Edinburgh Waverley Station, and you’ll arrive at Glasgow Central Station, where you can check into one of the coolest boutique hotels in Glasgow before exploring the city. 

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Glasgow

As in Edinburgh, we suggest starting with a walking tour. That way, you can quickly find your feet in Glasgow, learn more about the city’s history, and get a few local tips from the guide. Free walking tours start at 11 am from outside the train station where you arrived earlier, or you can sign up to join a foodie tour, graffiti and street art tour, or an art and design tour focused on the city’s Mackintosh architecture. 

Buchanan Street

Walking tours will show you around main sights like Buchanan Street, Merchant City, and George Square, where magnificent public buildings and art galleries line the city center.

Try the Buchanan Street Silent Disco Tour

Merchant City

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Merchant City

Take a Music Tour of Merchant City

You’ll also visit Glasgow Cathedral and the eerie, yet fascinating, Glasgow Necropolis, and you can follow up the tour by walking south to the River Clyde, where you can pop into the People’s Palace, a grand museum dedicated to working-class Glaswegian history. 

If you’ve got time, you can also visit the Hunterian Museum, the Riverside Museum, or the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. Finish the day with a trip to the Clydeside Distillery and a fine dining experience at Hotel du Vin, Ox and Finch, or Shish Mahal.

Clydeside Distillery

2 Week Itinerary Scotland: Clydeside Distillery

Explore The Clydeside Distillery

Hotel du Vin

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Hotel du Vin

Book a Room at Hotel Du Vin


Loch Lomond and The Trossachs – 2 Nights

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

You’ve only got time for one night in Glasgow, and the next day your outdoor adventures really begin in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. 

Loch Lomond

Just a 40-minute drive from Glasgow is the quaint town of Balloch, which sits at the southern end of Loch Lomond. This is the largest freshwater lake in the UK, and its beauty is more surprising given how close it is to the country’s largest cities.

Balloch can be your base, and from here, you can explore the lake on foot, mountain bike, boat, kayak, or paddleboard. This is Glasgow’s adventure playground, and there are hiking and biking trails for any and all abilities, including parts of the long-distance West Highland Way.

Admire the Views of Loch Lomond

Ben Lomond

Scotland Two Week Itinerary: Ben Lomond

If you’re up for a serious challenge, then you can consider hiking to the summit of Ben Lomond. This mighty Munro (a peak over 914.4 meters or 3,000 feet) sits a lofty 974 meters (3,196 feet) above Loch Lomond, and the main “Mountain Path” begins in the Rowardennan car park by the loch and takes some five hours for a 12.5-kilometer (7.8-mile) return hike to the summit. 

If you prefer camping rather than staying in Balloch, you can find camping sites all over the park. We recommend two nights in this beautiful area of the Highlands, but you can vary the itinerary by spending an extra night in Glasgow instead if you’re more of a culture vulture, rather than an outdoorsy person.

Cruise around Ben Lomond


Fort William – 3 Nights

Now you’re traveling deep into the Scottish Highlands, and you’ll notice how the scenery changes with every mile you travel further north. Your destination today is Fort William, which will be your base for the next three days.

It’s a two-hour drive to Fort William, which sits on the banks of Loch Linnhe. The town itself is home to the West Highland Museum, where you can learn more about the history of the landscapes, people, geology, and culture found in the region. 

Ben Nevis

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Ben Nevis

But the real draw of Fort William is its proximity to nature. You may choose to extend your stay here because there’s a lot for you to do. One of the highlights is Ben Nevis, which looks large over the town. The summit of Ben Nevis is 1,345 meters (4,413 feet) tall, making this the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.

You can tackle the summit hike if you’re in shape and the weather is good. There’s a marked trail to the top, and it takes an average of 7 hours to complete (there and back). You’ll need to start early, so you’d have to do this on your second day in Fort William. Get a good night’s sleep the day before!

Glencoe

To the south of Fort William, you can fall in love with the glorious valleys of Glencoe, where you can hike through Highland scenery or drive the dramatic Glen Etive (which you may remember from the James Bond film Skyfall). There’s a darker side to Glencoe, too, and you can learn more about the Highland massacres at the Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Jacobite Express

2 Week Itinerary in Scotland: Jacobite Express

After exploring Fort William and its surroundings, it’s time for an epic train ride to the coast. Hop on the Jacobite Express, and cross epic Highland scenery and dramatic viaducts (Glenfinnan Viaduct features in the Harry Potter movie) before arriving 135 kilometers (84 miles) later in Mallaig. 

If you’ve rented a car, you can leave it in Fort William and return the same day (journey time is about two hours each way). If you’re traveling via public transport, then spend the night in Mallaig and catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye the next day.

Journey on the Jacobite Express


Isle of Skye – 2 Nights

2 Week Itinerary in Scotland: Isle of Skye

Your journey continues as you either drive north and cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye or take the ferry from Mallaig. The Isle of Skye is one of the best places to go in Scotland, and you’ll quickly fall in love with the romantic landscapes and rugged terrain.

Spend a Day in the Isle of Skye

Portree

Scotland Two Week Itinerary: Portree

This is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s the perfect place to escape the mainland. The largest town is Portree (population: 2,300), a colorful loch-side town where you can stay in homey bed and breakfasts.

The Old Man of Storr

The Isle of Skye is all about the scenery, so strap on your hiking boots and prepare to be awed. There are multiple walks and scenic viewpoints you can include in your itinerary. The Old Man of Storr, a unique rock formation that rises vertically from the ocean, is a favorite, as are the myth-shrouded Fairy Pools and the unusual geological history of the Quiraing. 

Take a Fairy Pools & Castles Tour


Loch Ness and Inverness – 2 Nights

Loch Ness

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: Loch Ness

From the Isle of Skye, you’re traveling back to the mainland, where your next destination is Loch Ness. This somewhat infamous loch is one of the top places to see in Scotland. The large freshwater loch is one of the deepest bodies of water in the UK, and legends abound of the Loch Ness Monster that inhabits its depths. 

You’ll want to join a boat trip across Loch Ness as soon as you arrive. There are dedicated monster-spotting trips on the loch if you’re looking for a little fun, but it’s safe to say that the loch itself has more than enough natural beauty to keep you enthralled (with or without the monster!).

2 Week Scotland Itinerary: Boat Trip across Loch Ness

After delving into the depths of the loch, you can explore the banks of Loch Ness on foot or by mountain bike. You could camp out under the stars, rent out a lodge, or book a bed and breakfast. 

Inverness Castle

2 Week Itinerary in Scotland: Inverness Castle

Alternatively, you can base yourself in the city of Inverness to the north of Loch Ness. Here you can explore the slower pace of life at the top of Scotland, day trip to Loch Ness, and visit Inverness Castle, Leakey’s Bookshop, and the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. 

Sail across Loch Ness and take a Castle Tour


John O’Groats – 1 Night (Optional)

2 Week Scotland Itinerary: John O’Groats

Inverness is far north, but there’s still further to go if you’ve got an extra day to spare and enjoy a long but scenic drive. 

You can take the iconic North Coast 500 road trip route north to John O’Groats, where you’ll find yourself at the most northerly point in main Britain. This scenic road trip takes you on a 500-mile loop starting from Inverness Castle, but you’ll need around five extra days to really appreciate the sights along the way. 

2 Weeks in Scotland Itinerary: John O’Groats

Inverness to John O’Groats is two and a half hours each way, so this section of the North Coast 500 is doable on a day trip. There are even a few tour operators running day trips from Inverness for those of you without your own vehicle. 

Enjoy a day tour from John O’Groats


Cairngorms – 2 nights

One of the must-see places in Scotland is the Cairngorms, a stunning national park that begins south of Inverness. The size of the Cairngorms is staggering, and it stretches southward toward Perth and east toward Aberdeen.

River Spey

If you’re road-tripping, then take the Snow Roads Scenic Route through the national park, where you’ll traverse 90 miles of Scotland’s highest altitude and most stunning driving routes.

Braemar

Scotland Two Week Itinerart: Braemar

Visit Highland towns like Aviemore, where ancient stone circles are found alongside the beautiful River Spey, or stop off in Braemar, home of the Highland Games Centre and Braemar Castle

If you’re visiting Scotland in summer, then the Cairngorms is a great place for hiking. Take your pick of the Speyside Way, Deeside Way, or the many Munros located in the park. In winter, the Cairngorms is Scotland’s winter sports haven.

Deeside Way

You can ski and snowboard on the slopes or join backcountry ski or snowshoe tours across the national park.

Once you’ve explored the Cairngorms, your 14-day Scotland itinerary will come to a close. From here, you can travel back to Edinburgh, where you can catch your flight back home or continue your journey onwards to other parts of the United Kingdom!

There you have it! That’s our perfect two-week Scotland itinerary. Where will you be visiting on your trip to Scotland?


Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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