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Islay Whisky Adventure Tour

Islay Whisky Adventure Tour

  • Tour ID: 1074
  • Tour theme: Whisky Tours ,
  • Duration: 4 Days / 3 Nights
  • Starts from: Edinburgh

This tour takes you away to Scottish island paradise of Islay. Stunning scenery, ancient history, traditional culture and 8 Scotland finest whisky distilleries.

Recommended Tour

West Highlands and Jacobite Experience Tour

West Highlands and Jacobite Experience Tour

  • Tour ID: 1097
  • Tour theme: Group Sightseeing Tours (Multi-days) ,
  • Duration: 2 Days / 1 Night

Tour to Loch Ness, the Highlands and all aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, a great 2 day tour to the western highlands of Scotland including Glencoe and more....

Best of West Highlands and Oban Day Tour Experience

Best of West Highlands and Oban Day Tour Experience

  • Tour ID: 1105
  • Tour theme: Glasgow Day Tours (Group Tours) ,
  • Duration: 1 Day - 9 hours 15min approx.
  • Starts from: Glasgow, Edinburgh

Experience the Gateway to the Isles, the best of the Western Highlands, and Oban Tour from Glasgow, including Kilchurn Castle, Inveraray, Loch Awe, Loch Lomond.

Skye Discovery and Fairy Pools Tour Experience from Inverness

Skye Discovery and Fairy Pools Tour Experience from Inverness

  • Tour ID: 1562
  • Tour theme: Day Tours from the Highlands ,
  • Starts from: Inverness

One day tour to the Isle of Skye and the famous Fairy Pools from Inverness.

Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glencoe Tour from Edinburgh

Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glencoe Tour from Edinburgh

  • Tour ID: 1590
  • Tour theme: Edinburgh Day Tours (Group Tours) ,
  • Duration: 1 Day - 12 hour approx.

Glenfinnan tour begins in Edinburgh. Glencoe features in James Bond Skyfall, and is the backdrop to Harry Potter. main attraction of the day; Glenfinnan Viaduct to see the Harry Potter Steam Train.

Hebrides, Skye and Far West Experience Tour from Edinburgh

Hebrides, Skye and Far West Experience Tour from Edinburgh

  • Tour ID: 1567
  • Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

Join this 8 day tour to Scotlands West Coast. Visit the islands of Skye, Harris and Lewis on this guided tour of Scotland. Stunning views and landscapes.

Small Group Tour

Outer Hebrides and Scottish Highlands Tour

Outer Hebrides and Scottish Highlands Tour

  • Tour ID: 1571
  • Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights

Take a tour to the Outer Hebrides, once part of the Viking Kingdom. Visit Lewis and see the ancient standing stones at Callanish then go to mountainous Harris with its white sandy beaches.

Outer Hebrides Tour Experience from Inverness

Outer Hebrides Tour Experience from Inverness

  • Tour ID: 1263
  • Tour theme: Group Sightseeing Tours (Multi-days) , Day Tours from the Highlands ,
  • Duration: 3 Days / 2 Nights

Explore Scotland largest island on a tour to the Outer Hebrides of Lewis and Harris from Inverness. 2 nights in Stornoway sightseeing tours of the islands ...

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A West Coast of Scotland Road Trip

Let’s go on a west coast of scotland road trip.

With spectacular white sandy beaches, soaring mountains and beautiful islands it’s no wonder that Scotland’s west coast is the first place many people think of when planning a trip to Scotland. Explore the best bits of the west coast of Scotland on this itinerary ferry hopping from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye, visiting Oban, Mull and Ardnamurchan along the way.

A west coast of Scotland road trip itinerary

  • Stage 1 – Loch Fyne, Cowal and Inveraray
  • Stage 2 – The Mull of Kintyre and Oban
  • Stage 3 – Exploring   The Isle of Mull
  • Stage 4 – Remote   Ardnamurchan
  • Stage 5 – The Isle of Skye

This ferry hopping road trip also makes a great extension to the North Coast 500 . The North Coast 500 leaves Scotland’s west coast at Strathcarron before completing the loop back east to Inverness – but your west coast of Scotland trip doesn’t have to end here. Instead, join this west coast of Scotland road trip and head south from the NC500 route to cross over the sea to the Isle of Skye.

Ferry Hopping on the west coast of Scotland

For this road trip you will need to buy a ferry hopping ticket from the west coast of Scotland ferry company CalMac. Book   hopscotch ticket HOP7  – Oban to Craignure on Mull, Tobermory to Kichoan on Arnamurchan and Mallaig to Skye.

For more advice on island hopping in Scotland – read my guide to Scotland’s Hebridean islands .

tour west coast scotland

Day 1 – The road north – Inns, lochs & very local brews

Starting in Glasgow or from Edinburgh, your first day on the west coast of Scotland takes in both Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne, as well as driving the famous Rest and Be Thankful, a spectacular start to your trip.

Your first stop of the day is Loch Lomond , so park up at the village of Luss and take a wander down to the lochside among the pretty cottages. For a great lunch overlooking the water visit the   Lodge on the Loch Lomond Hotel , or 10 minutes further north,  The Inn on Loch Lomond  is more casual. 

From Loch Lomond head to head to Tarbet and Arrochar. If you have time and the weather is on your side, climb   The Cobbler  – remember to be prepared for bad weather and have waterproofs and proper hiking boots handy!

It’s then time to tackle one of Scotland’s most famous roads, the Rest and be Thankful. The road winds its way through the Arrochar Alps to Inveraray. It is worth popping into   Fyne Ales Brewery  for a pie and a pint – or to pick some beer up for later if it’s too early; their beer Jarl is award-winning.

Stop for your first night in Inverarary where you can visit Inveraray Castle  and  Inveraray   Jail  and grab fish and chips to eat on the lochside. The George Hotel is famous for food and drink and a great atmosphere.

Where to stay near Inveraray

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Day 2 – The Mull of Kintyre

Leaving Inveraray your first stop of the day is of   Auchindrain Township  and the beautiful   Crarae Garden  before visiting Crinan, one of Scotland’s hidden gems, with its canal and pretty seafront village.

Head down to the Crinan  Canal  basin, grab a coffee and watch the boats sail up and down the canal. Make sure you visit the village for views across to Jura. 

Then head north along the A816 towards Oban – along  Kilmartin Glen  for a wander around the standing stones and ancient burial chambers. For lunch stop at either the  Lord of the Isles   pub at Craobh Haven or the   Loch Melfort Hotel  where you can also take a stroll in the  Arduaine Gardens .

Oban is a fantastic town to spend an evening – there are seafood restaurants aplenty, and great beer and pub food at my favourite, the   Cuan Mor . To walk it all off climb up to McCaig’s Tower for a fab view of the Isles. In the local area is Castle Stalker which graces many Instagram shots and the Oban Distillery.

Where to stay in Oban

Where to   stay in Oban *

Ferry leaving Oban Scotland

Day 3-4 – Exploring The Isle of Mull

It is time to ferry hop! Leaving Oban, catch the ferry from Oban to Craignure on Mull. The crossing takes around 55 minutes and must be booked in advance, especially in Summer. The views from the crossing are gorgeous and include Lismore Lighthouse and Duart Castle.

T obermory is a great place to base yourself for a short visit to the island as it is a bustling and lively place, with lots of busy harbour bars – try the food at the excellent   Macgochans .  Whisky fans will want to visit the   Tobermory Distillery , located right on the waterfront – no need for a designated driver here.

Read more:   24 hours on the Isle of Mull

However long you have on the island there are lots of things to do on Mull, including visiting beautiful Calgary Bay. The beach is stunning – you can see why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Scotland.

Want to explore on foot? The only Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) on an island (after from the Cullin on Skye) Ben More stands 966m above Loch Na Keal – the ‘loch of the cliffs’. With views across to the Isle of Ulva to Ben Cruachan, Ben More is a great island viewpoint even if you don’t climb to the very top!

Where to stay on Mull

Scotland travel blog

Day 5 – Remote Ardnamurchan

From Mull catch the short 40-minute ferry across to Kilchoan. You are now heading for remote Ardnamurchan – the most western part of the British mainland. Get off the beaten track and discover Ardnamurchan and the remote regions of Morvern, Ardgour, Moidart and Sunart – home to just 2000 people.

Many of the beaches here compete against the best in the world, so make sure you visit Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig or Sanna. Driving across Ardnamurchan’s volcanic caldera gives an incredible view of the small isles of Eigg and Rum and on a clear day, back to the Cullins on Skye. 

On your way south pop into the   Glenuig Inn  for lunch (note, they don’t serve lager on tap, just real ale and ciders!) before exploring Tioram Castle and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse which sits on the most westerly part of the mainland UK.

Read more :  things to do in Ardnamurchan Where to stay:   Ardnamurchan Bunkhouse  /  Kilchoan Hotel  /  Mingarry Park *

What's top of your list when you think of visiting Scotland? The Isle of Skye, Eileen Donan Castle, Loch Ness and the North Coast 500? They are all rightly famous worldwide. However, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of blindly following a top ten list and missing out on the really good stuff - and taking the same photos as everyone else! Fancy getting a wee bit off the beaten track? Here are my best places to visit in Scotland

It’s time to take your next ferry – jump on a Calmac Ferry from   Mallaig to Armadale  on the Isle of Skye. 

Day 6-8 – The Isle of Skye

Seeing the Black Cullin, the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, The Quiraing, Neist Point Lighthouse, Loch Coruisk, Dunvegan Castle and discovering Talisker whisky will be high on your list of things to do in Scotland.

On the east coast – in the height of summer it may feel like a conveyor belt of hire cars, the east coast of Skye will be filled with campervans and tour buses on their day out – but don’t let you put that off. You often have the road to yourself and the Old Man of Storr, pretty Portree harbour and the mighty Quiraing are well worth a visit.

On the west coast – visit Dunvegan Castle, home of Clan MacLeod to learn not only about the history of this clan but also the role of clans today – as well as their most famous member, Dame Flora MacLeod. The Castle sits in a stunning location on the seafront, and the gardens are also lovely to wander around.

On the south coast – with rolling lush green landscapes and views over the sound to Morar, Knoydart and Glenelg, the Sleat Peninsula is one of Skye’s hidden gems. Often bypassed by those arriving on the Skye ferry the peninsula is also one of Skye’s quieter corners – which makes it perfect as a base to explore. 

Get off the beaten track – if you like life a little more sedate the Cuillin is also viewed in all its magnificence from a walk to Camasunary Beach on the Elgol (or to give it its proper name) Strathaird Peninsula. Take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk right into the heart of the mountains. Take a walk around Loch Coriusk for the most incredible views of the mountains, before catching the afternoon ride back – magical.

The Isle of Skye might be mind-blowing and deservedly popular, but Skye is heaving in summer, and remote in winter, which means visiting can be a challenge. Please visit the island sustainably, park sensibly, learn how to drive on a single track road and book your accommodation in advance.

Read more: a guide to the   Isle of Skye

Where to stay on Skye

west coast of Scotland

Fancy a longer road trip? The North Coast 500

Have you driven the   North Coast 500 ? If not, why not? Scotland’s most famous road trip takes in 500 miles around the north coast of Scotland taking in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world – there’s no wonder they call it Scotland’s Route 66.

The west coast of the NC500 route takes you through the dramatic mountains of Assynt before reaching Wester Ross. Don’t miss visiting Lochinver, Ullapool and climbing Stac Pollaidh and Suilven. 

To get to the north coast 500, leave Skye by the Skye bridge, to reach the pretty town of Plockton where the mild climate allows palm trees to prosper on the waterfront. The weather might even be nice enough to have lunch outside one of the friendly Plockton pubs!

I also highly recommend stopping at   Strome Castle  on Loch Carron, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s   little gems  and exploring the beautiful family-run   Attadale Gardens ,  a late 19th century garden on the Attadale Estate. The gardens are so peaceful – and you might catch the artist owner for a chat.

Then drive north to beautiful  Applecross Peninsula  where you end your trip driving the famous Bealach na Bà, past fiord-like lochs to the huge Torridon mountains and the north coast of Scotland.

Read my   complete guide to driving the North Coast 500 . 

Video guide – West Coast of Scotland Road Trips

Have you done a west coast of Scotland road trip? Where would you recommend?

Love, from Scotland x

*Article contains affiliate links

tour west coast scotland

I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.

Jessi (@2feet1world)

Wednesday 6th of December 2017

Wow wow wow. I really want to explore this stunning countryside - thanks for the tips!

Mary Mayfield

Friday 17th of November 2017

I think you've ticked off all my 'must see' places. Maybe I'd head out to the end of Skye at Neist Point, to watch the sun set over the Outer Hebrides, or a drive across the 'Bridge over the Atlantic' to Seil, but otherwise I'd just like to spend more than 5 days on the trip :)

10 Stunning Stays in Scotland

14 wonderful wildlife tours to book in scotland.

tour west coast scotland

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

© VisitScotland / John Duncan

An island hopping holiday on the west coast

Get ready for seven unforgettable days of island adventure!

Discover what it means to island hop across the western islands of Scotland. This itinerary takes you from Arran in the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Skye in The Highlands. As you explore, you'll discover top attractions, see incredible coastline and scenery, and get a taste of island life. A good network of ferry services makes getting around pretty straightforward.

So, what are you waiting for?!

  • Distance 292 Miles 467 km
  • Transport Car
  • Main theme Islands

Day 1 Isle of Arran

And so you're off! Take the ferry from the Ayrshire port of Ardrossan and spend today discovering the charms of Arran, a small island with bags going on. Arran's one of Scotland's most accessible islands and the isle can be reached entirely by public transport. The ferry crossing takes just 55 minutes - so what are you waiting for?!

When it comes to dining out in the evening, choose from one of the many eateries - we recommend trying the island cheese if it's on the menu!

Brodick Castle and Country Park Brodick

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Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park

© National Trust for Scotland

Head to Brodick Castle and Country Park, the only island country park in Britain. Traditionalists will love it; it's the quintessential Victorian Scottish estate. Steeped in history, the castle was the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton and houses a fabulous collection of artefacts, from silverware and paintings to even sporting trophies. Explore the garden to see the famous collection of rhododendrons or follow one of the woodland trails - you might even spot rare red squirrels.

Afterwards, set off along either the coastal road north or south to get a real feel for the island's geography. Let the kids blow off some steam at the Isle Be Wild adventure play area and for the adults, take it easy as you stroll through the formal gardens on the Silver Garden Trail.

  • Pets Welcome
  • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
  • Hearing Loop
  • Cafe or Restaurant

Machrie Moor Standing Stones Machrie

tour west coast scotland

Get a breath of fresh air and explore an ancient wonder, the stone circles of Machrie Moor. The site dates back 4,500 years and is an archaeologist's dream.

There are standing stones taller than those at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis, and the walk through isolated moorland is simply splendid. From the stones, you can see Goatfell, Arran's mountain, and views across the sea.

Arran Distillery Lochranza

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Lochranza Distillery

Head to Lochranza for a distillery tour and discover the story of whisky on the Isle of Arran, see the distilling process in action, and sample the malt whisky and Arran Gold, a delightful, creamy whisky-based liqueur.

Day 2 Islay

Hop from Arran back to the mainland and make your way to Kennacraig to catch the ferry to Port Ellen on bonnie Islay, where fine malt whisky, pretty villages and beautiful beaches await!

When it's time to unwind in the evening, you can tuck into fresh seafood and other island produce in restaurants and pubs - and try a couple more whiskies, of course!

Bowmore Bowmore

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The circular church at Bowmore, a fishing port on the east side of loch Indaal, Islay.

© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins, all rights reserved.

It would be criminal to come to Islay without paying a visit to a distillery. The island is a whisky region in its own right, renowned for producing malt whiskies which are peaty in character. The only trouble is that with eight active distilleries, it might be hard to choose which ones you visit!

How about Bowmore Distillery, north of Port Ellen on the A846? It's the oldest legal distillery in Scotland, set up by John Simpson in 1779.

Museum of Islay Life Islay

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A Motorhome Parked By A Beach Near Port Ellen On The Isle Of Islay

© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Time to delve into the past! Housed in a former church, the museum is filled with a whole range of curios and objects from different periods, from carved grave slabs dating from 1400-1600 AD to maritime memorabilia recovered from shipwrecks, as well as photographs covering Edwardian and Victorian times.

Loch Gruinart Bridgend

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A huge flock of Barnacle Geese in flight.

Loch Gruinart is a working farm as well as a nature reserve.

Visit Loch Gruinart, a nature reserve which offers gentle walking past quiet beaches with views out to Colonsay. Whatever the season, you're bound to see some of the island's majestic wildlife - wading birds, secretive corncrakes and colourful butterflies. Perhaps you'll join a ranger on a guided walk or pop into the visitor centre to discover the island's natural heritage?

  • Level Access

From Islay, take the short ferry crossing from Port Askaig to Jura. It will feel like you've got away from it all.

George Orwell even described it as, 'the most un-get-at-able place' whilst penning  1984 . This island has one road, one distillery, one hotel, not many people - and LOTS of red deer! It's a perfect getaway and ideal place for spotting wildlife.

Paps of Jura Jura

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The Paps of Jura

Add a challenge to your west coast adventure and climb the Paps of Jura, the distinctive island peaks which can be seen for miles. Scaling the paps will probably take most of the day, so you could find an alternative walk if you're keen to get a distillery visit in, or explore more of the island.

Jura Distillery Jura

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Isle of Jura Distillery

We'd recommend a visit to the famous Jura Distillery. A chat with one of the distillery team is a great way to get an insight into island life. They are a friendly bunch who relish the opportunity to recount stories from the past - once, you've been, you'll want to become an honorary  Diurach . And the whisky is pretty wonderful stuff, too!

There's a bit of retracing your steps as you head back to beautiful Islay, and then back to Kennacraig on the mainland before driving north to Oban. 

Alternatively, you can take the ferry from Islay to Oban, via Colonsay, on certain days. But you won't get long to pause for breath - you are off to the largest of the Inner Hebridean islands, the Isle of Mull!

Duart Castle Mull

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Duart Castle

A visit to the tearoom for a hearty slice of home-baked cake.

Discover the dungeons and state rooms of Duart Castle, a clifftop fortress which is the ancestral home of Clan Maclean. It's a building steeped in history - the Keep dates from the 13th century. Perched on a crag overlooking the Sound of Mull, you can drink in spectacular views from the battlements.

  • Accessible toilets

Eagle watching on Mull Mull

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Mull Eagle Watch

Mull is one of the best places in Europe to spot white-tailed sea eagles. Take a guided walk to the bird hide at Glen Seilisdeir and look out for the largest bird of prey in Britain - their wing span can stretch as much as 8 ft! In addition, there are many local experts on the island offering wildlife safaris, or if you're interested in marine life, why not take a boat trip?

Day 5 Mull & Iona

Most of today will be spent on the charming Isle of Iona, situated off the south west of Mull. It's a small island, defined by its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful beaches, and has a fascinating history.

Cross on the ferry to Iona, which takes foot passengers only. Then embark on an exhilarating ferry crossing from Oban to Craignure, and keep your eyes peeled for Duart Castle in the distance, or even a few seals bobbing out at sea. When you arrive, catch the bus and go north to the isle's "capital" of Tobermory.

Iona Oban, Mull and Lorn

tour west coast scotland

Iona Abbey Is Located On The Isle Of Iona The Abbey Was A Focal Point For The Spread Of Christianity Throughout Scotland Since Columba Arrived There I

Explore Iona Abbey, built by St Columba in the sixth century and the burial site of early Scottish kings - it's considered by many to be one of the most sacred sites in western Europe. Afterwards, take a walk and discover the island's beautiful sandy bays.

Tobermory Tobermory & North Mull

tour west coast scotland

A sea plane glides over the multicoloured houses along the pier at Tobermory, with the hills of North Mull over the water in the distance

Explore this wee port town with its distinctive row of pastel-coloured houses. There is a distillery, a local museum and several pubs here too. 

Leave Mull on the ferry from Tobermory to Kilchoan, continuing on the B8007 through the beautiful scenery of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Then follow the A861 and the A830 to the port of Mallaig, where you can take the ferry to Armadale on Skye.

Armadale Castle Armadale

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Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum of the Isles

© Armadale Castle

Make your way to Armadale Castle and Gardens, located near Ardvasar on the most southerly point of Skye. Built on the ancient lands of Clan Donald, the castle is very much a ruin, but it's surrounded by some wonderful restored historic gardens and woodland walks. 

Delve into the history of one of the country's most famous clans - you might even find you've got some ancestral connections of your own.

  • On Public Transport Route

Broadford, Elgol & the Cuillin Hills Cuillins & central Skye

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The Cuillin

Head to Broadford, a village with a range of craft outlets. From Broadford, take the B8083 to Elgol, where there is a signposted walk from the car park on the hill before the harbour. The first part of the walk is gentle and you can enjoy magnificent views of the Cuillin hills across Loch Scavaig.

Day 7 North Skye

Time to experience the majesty of Skye! Today you'll get to see some of the most iconic Scottish landscapes and explore Skye's thrilling past and stunning natural heritage.

Dunvegan Castle Dunvegan

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Dunvegan Castle and Gardens

© Talisker Distillery / Jakub Iwanicki

The clan treasures - the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag, a sacred banner which comes with its own legend.

This castle is set on a spectacular location on a rocky perch beside a loch, surrounded by verdant woodland. And its history is bound to impress too. It's the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and it's been the ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.

Outside, explore the grounds and get a seal-eye view of the castle as you enjoy a boat trip on Loch Dunvegan.

Kyle of Lochalsh & the Seaprobe Atlantis Kyle of Lochalsh

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Isle of Skye road bridge

In Kyle of Lochalsh, climb aboard Seaprobe Atlantis, the UK's only passenger carrying semi-submersible boat which gives visitors a close-up look at marine life through the underwater observation windows. You might see dolphins, otters and seals, as well as an old shipwreck on the seabed!

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Island Odyssey

This itinerary takes you touring up the West Coast of Scotland with visits to the Hebridean islands of Mull, Skye, Harris & Lewis.

It is an ideal guide if you want to stay several nights on the islands to really experience their history, culture, wildlife and landscapes.

In addition to famous island attractions, such as the Quiraing on Skye and Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis, we give you ideas for day trips to explore the magnificent landscapes of the Inverpollaidh Nature Reserve near Ullapool, and the many outdoor activities of the Cairngorms National Park.

Allow a minimum of 7 days to drive this tour route. The guide also contains extra day trip suggestions for extending the tour to 17+ days .

PLEASE NOTE: The Guides come in the format of PDF files. After payment, you will receive an automated email that enables you to access your Scotland Tour Itinerary.

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Tour Stats :

Guide Updated - 21 January 2024

Core Route Mileage:

Approximately 573 miles / 920 Km

Tour Duration:

7 to 17 Days

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Tour summary.

We provide a stopover guide to Glasgow’s main attractions and recommended restaurants. The guide also includes directions for a short drive to the villages around Loch Lomond , so you can choose between staying in the vibrant city, or in a scenic rural location.

Heading west from Glasgow, you soon cross into the “Highlands” and there is a marked change in the scenery when you arrive at the shores of Loch Lomond . You may wish to join a loch cruise or soak up the atmosphere of a haunted coaching inn that has changed little in 300 years. Further north, you enter the wild and timeless landscape of Rannoch Moor on your way to Glen Coe .

Fort William is just a short hop from Glen Coe, but we also supply a longer route option that lets you visit Glenfinnan where you might see the Jacobite steam train as it crosses the viaduct. If you arrive early in Fort Willliam , you might wish to detour into Glen Nevis for a closer view of the mighty Ben Nevis , Scotland’s highest mountain, or take a hike to a hidden valley with a spectacular waterfall which featured in the filming of the " Harry Potter " movies.

Driving Distance: ~103 miles

Stopover in the Lochaber Area (around Fort William)

we provide a choice of day trips for an extended stay in this area:

  • The Isle of Mull, this can be done as a day trip, or as another island stopover. The trip starts with a drive through the rugged hills of Morvern & Sunart to join a short ferry crossing to Mull. Mull has the distinctive Duart castle , charming village of Tobermory , a small distillery and opportunities for boat trips to Iona & Staffa . The guide gives you enough information on Mull to let you adapt the tour plan for a 2 (or more) night stopover on the island.
  • Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William is the departure point for the " Hogwarts Express " steam train that travels to Mallaig (May – Oct). This is one of the world's great scenic rail journeys and a must for “Harry Potter” fans.

For the journey to Skye, we have proposed 3 options:

OPTION 1 goes via an inland route to the Skye bridge , so you don’t need to plan your day around a ferry schedule. The iconic Eilean Donan castle is a highlight on this route and we give you tips on where to go for a different shot of this much photographed castle. We also supply directions for a small detour so you can visit one of the best viewpoints in Scotland. Driving Distance: ~77 miles from Fort William to Skye Bridge

OPTION 2 is the shortest route to Skye and involves a short ferry crossing from Mallaig to the southern end of Skye. To get to Mallaig, you follow the “ Road to the Isles ” which goes past Glenfinnan and the tropical looking beaches of the “ Silver Sands of Morar ". You are likely to see the Jacobite steam train (AKA “Hogwarts Express”) and may even catch it crossing the famous viaduct. Driving Distance: ~43 miles from Fort William to Mallaig ferry plus a ~35 minute ferry crossing

OPTION 3 provides a quieter route to the Mallaig ferry . It is a longer and slower drive via a meandering road through the wilderness and forests of Sunart and Moidart . The scenery in this area is magnificent and it is all the better for the lack of other tourists. Driving Distance: ~70 miles from Glencoe to Mallaig ferry plus 2 ferry crossings of ~10 minutes  and ~35 minutes

Stopover on Isle of Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area

Skye is a large island with many of the places of interest located along dead end single track roads. As a result, you are limited in how much you can cover in a day and you need to schedule at least a 2 night stopover.

  • Explore Skye - We provide directions for a tour that includes the famous scenic landmarks of Skye as well as Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, craft shops, tearooms, pubs and walks. More than enough to fill 2 whole days on Skye. Driving Distance: ~138 miles
  • Alternative Day Trip around Loch Alsh & Loch Hourn - Skye can be a very busy place so we also provide directions for a tour around this quieter area where you can take in one of our favourite viewpoints, soak up the atmosphere at mysterious Iron Age Brochs , or enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the remotest tearooms in Scotland. You can return to Skye via a tiny car ferry that operates from Easter – October.

Stopover on Isle of  Skye or the nearby Lochalsh area

The ferry crossing from Skye to Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris , takes around 2 hours and there is never more that 2 sailings per day. You may have to spend most of the day on Skye before heading for an afternoon ferry, or you may need to make an early start in order to catch the morning service. However, the arrival on Harris makes it all worthwhile as this is arguably the most beautiful of the Scottish islands.

If you arrive early enough, you can start your exploration of the Western Isles with a drive down to the magnificent beaches on the west coast of Harris. It has often been said that the light in Scotland is special and you can appreciate this when you watch the subtle hues of Scarista Bay changing with the weather that rolls in from the wild Atlantic Ocean.

2hour ferry crossing from Skye to Harris

Stopover on Lewis & Harris

You could fill a week with sightseeing in the Western Isles, but you really shouldn’t consider anything less than one full day to do Harris and another full day to do Lewis.

We will supply you with a detailed guide for touring the attractions of Lewis (e.g. Callanish standing stones , the Iron Age broch at Dun Carloway , the Black House villages , Butt of Lewis lighthouse , and the fantastic scenery of Uig Bay ).

Harris is the most scenic part of the island so we will give you tips on the "must see" viewpoints in this part of the Western Isles 

We also include some ideas for short trips that you could do from Stornoway (the capital of Lewis).

The ferry times from Lewis are usually painfully early in the morning or just after lunchtime. If you get the early morning ferry, you arrive in Ullapool early enough to start the drive to the next stopover location in the Cairngorms National Park.

If you aren’t on a tight schedule, it is more enjoyable to take the early afternoon ferry and then spend a night, or two, in the pretty village of Ullapool, which was established in the late 1700’s to capitalise on the abundant herring stocks of Loch Broom. Ullapool is still home to a fishing fleet so the catch doesn’t take long to get from the sea to your plate and we’ll give you tips on the best places to eat. 

If you wish to plan a longer stay in Ullapool , you can follow our directions for a back road drive to Lochinver that takes you past the distinctive peaks of Stac Pollaidh , Suilven and Canisp. These mountains   emerge like rocky icebergs from the wild moorland of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve . This is an area of true wilderness and we recommend some hikes of varying degrees of exertion.

~2 hour ferry crossing

Optional Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver area.

You could drive from Ullapool to Aviemore, in the Cairngorms, in under 2 hours, but we suggest diversions from the main route so you can take in some attractions and hidden beauty spots. On the drive to Inverness, you can test your courage by crossing a bouncy little footbridge over a 200 foot deep gorge , or relax with a picnic beside a river where you might catch a glimpse of wild salmon as they leap upstream.

On the approach to Inverness, you can either take a direct drive along the Beauly Firth, or follow a longer route via Loch Ness for a visit to Urquhart Castle and the various “ Nessie ” attractions.

After a journey break in Inverness , you pick up the main road for a fast drive down to the Cairngorms National Park where there is a wide range of tourist attractions for all ages and interests. For example, if you time your day right, you could fit in a sheepdog demonstration before heading to your accommodation.

Driving Distance: ~91 miles

Stopover in Cairngorms National Park (Aviemore / Grantown on Spey area)

To give you the option of an extended stay in the Cairngorms, we provide a route around the many attractions of the National Park and the Rothiemurchus forest. The route has options for woodland walks to beautiful lochs, nostalgic steam train rides, a climb up the Cairngorm mountains in a funicular train (if they get it fixed), entertaining sheepdog demonstrations and lots of energetic outdoor activities.

Stopover in Cairngorms National Park

From Aviemore, you can either take the fast main road south to Pitlochry, or follow a more scenic back road route that weaves through the Rothiemurchus forest with options for gentle woodland walks, wild swimming in a plunge pool and a visit to Ruthven Barracks where the Jacobite army last rallied after Culloden.

We break the drive south in the neat Victorian Spa town of Pitlochry , where you can visit the “ Salmon Ladder ” and a Whisky Distillery (or two). Also nearby is the grand Blair castle which boasts its own private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

Continuing from Pitlochry, we guide you to Perth via back roads with visits to Dunkeld , a charming 18th century village, and Scone palace , the ancient crowning place of Scottish Kings. From Perth , you speed south to Edinburgh, but can extend the drive with a visit to the pretty village of Falkland where Mary Queen of Scots had a favourite country retreat. The market cross in  Falkand might look familiar to you if you are a fan of the "Outlander" TV show.

Driving Distance: ~127 miles

Stopover in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. We provide directions for three  walking routes that show you different sides of the Capital city; a walk down the historical Royal Mile , a leafy riverside walk to the Botanic Gardens that escapes the hustle & bustle of city life, and a more energetic walk to Arthur’s Seat with a good pub at the end. Edinburgh boasts a great range of atmospheric old pubs and we steer you to a selection of our favourites.

The guide also includes options for day trips around the surrounding area by car or bus / train.

The day trips by car take you to West Lothian where you can visit many of the sites used in the filming of “Outlander” and to East Lothian where you can visit some spectacular castle ruins, a distillery and lots of pretty villages.

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Accommodation

To help you book the best places to stay, we offer a guide to Recommended Accommodation along the route of this tour.

We personally visit all the accommodation featured in the guides and only select places where we would wish to stay ourselves. Read More...

When you "Checkout" , you will have the option to buy the Accommodation Guide.

Preview Accommodation Guide

Car Hire - How to Save Money

When you buy a Secret Scotland Tour Itinerary you will receive a Discount Code that gets you a 10% reduction on the cost of Car Hire from Arnold Clark Rental .

Simply use the Secret Scotland code when you book via the Arnold Clark website and your car hire discount will automatically apply.

Testimonials

I convinced my other half to get the Scenic Tour 4-5 Days guide (even though he very much wanted to do it all himself), and it was the best experience ever. In fact, ever since this trip, we're trying to re-create the experience. Of course, Scotland can hardly let anyone down, but this guide truly made it an adventure. We found so many hidden and not so hidden gems, and everything was perfectly laid out for us so that all we had to do was decide how much time we had and what we wanted to see next. I can't recommend it enough and wish more guides like this existed!

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Excellent! We thought the information provided was fantastic and allowed us to see things I am sure we would have missed. Mike was very helpful in sending the itinerary through again for us when we had trouble with our downloads. Would definitely recommend this site. We have been travelling for a number of years and normally would just rely on the internet and books but decided to give this a go. So glad we did.

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Secret Scotland is EXCEPTIONAL in providing guidance for itinerary planning and accommodation referrals for those wanting a self guided driving vacation in Scotland.... Simple to use.  Thorough in suggesting ‘must see’ venues. Complete - sites, restaurants, pubs and experiences.” That is how I would describe what they do and provide.  Exceptional accommodation recommendations. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

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The itinerary Secret Scotland provided was a trip saver. We loved the suggestions for sight seeing, eating, and places to stay, but the best part was the detailed driving directions. Driving on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car was a little easier without having to worry about how to get there! We will definitely use this service the next time we visit Scotland!

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Secret Scotland's itineraries, accommodations guides, and other resources are incredible value with great attention to detail.  Their owners, Mike and Aury, are experienced and honest, and they helped us so much as we attempted to narrow down a very long list of things we hoped to do during our time in Scotland.  I feel so much more prepared for our trip and can now just look forward to our approaching vacation!

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We have just got back from an EXCELLENT holiday following the Borders to Orkney route suggestions. We can't say enough about how much the detailed information enhanced our experience in Scotland. We had a wonderful time seeing so many interesting sites that we would have passed by without your guide. Thank you so much.

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These guys really are the best.  We used Mike's Flexi Days East to West itinerary last July and it was truly indispensable.  His itinerary is full of detail, including driving directions and options.  Mike is also very responsive if you have any questions.  We had such a wonderful time we are going back again this year, and we will be using his itineraries again for our planning.  I would also recommend his accommodations guide.

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Just like pictures of Scotland can’t do justice to the magnificence of the actual landscape, words can’t do justice to the brilliance and sheer volume of work you put in your guide. The level of detail provided on each stopover sheet, in all the different itinerary options and on all the B&B features exceeded even my most crazy expectations.

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Mike and Aurey from Secret Scotland prepared a fantastic itinerary for us. It was a huge ingredient in the success and huge enjoyment that we got from our trip. It was absolutely worth every penny and there is no way we could have seen so much and so well without their itinerary. We felt like we belonged in Scotland, we knew what we were doing and what it all meant at every step. We recommend their services wholeheartedly. Scotland is such a marvelous place. Thank you Mike and Aurey... and we will be back!

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A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Updated On 23rd September, 2021

If you’re planning a trip to Scotland and are wondering what your Scotland road trip could look like or what you should do with your time there, you’ve arrived at the right blog post. In this blog post, I am going to share a 10-day west  Scotland road trip itinerary with you, jam-packed with all the best adventure on offer in this beautiful country.

Whether you’re coming from London, Scotland or somewhere else in the UK, this 10-day west Scotland road trip is perfect for those who want a real taste for what Scotland has to offer. From the beautiful white sand beaches of Arisaig and Morar to the swiss-like valley of Glen Etive, this 10-day road trip is for travellers truly looking to escape the city.

I will be taking adventures from my best places to visit in Scotland blog post and plotting them on a route that will take you on an epic west Scotland road trip. It will encompass all of the adventures I’ve been on in Scotland and more: visiting the Isle of Skye , spending time in Loch Lomond National Park , exploring Fort William and swimming in all the lochs!

Of course, this west Scotland road trip itinerary is going to assume you have a car with you. I’m not sure it would be of any use for me to write an itinerary for you whilst staying at your hotel lol. However, if you have booked to stay in one place during your time in west Scotland, you may want to use this post to inspire a day trip in west Scotland or to add an extension to your existing booking.

If like me, you are planning to drive from England to begin your road trip, you can check out my top tips for your Scotland road trip and my Scotland road trip planning guide . 

After all, road trips are the best!

Other blog posts you might find useful…

  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: my guide and the best things to do
  • Cairngorms National Park: my guide and the best things to do

The best places to visit in Scotland

  • The best walks and hikes in Scotland
  • How to plan your Scotland road trip
  • The best things to do on the Isle of Skye
  • The best things to do on the NC500
  • A 2-week Scotland road trip itinerary
  • Top tips for your Scotland road trip
  • The best things to do in Edinburgh
  • Glasgow: a quick guide
  • The best places to visit in the UK
  • How to plan your UK road trip
  • Van life in Europe: a bucket list of Europe road trips

Loch Lomond National Park, Scotland

A 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland...

I’m going to begin this west Scotland road trip in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park , travel north and then back south, ending this road trip itinerary in Oban. It would be easy to turn this into a loop and drive back to Loch Lomond at the end of the last day, though.

If you’re flying into Scotland then you’re likely to be flying into Edinburgh , which is only 2 hours from Loch Lomond .  If like me, you are planning to drive from England to begin your road trip, you can check out  my top tips for your Scotland road trip  and my  Scotland road trip planning guide . 

This is a 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland, but there’s no reason why you can’t adapt it to be a 1-week itinerary, or take your time and spend 3 or 4 weeks completing this route! Now, personally, I think by far the best way to explore this part of Scotland is in your very own home on wheels, so you will find me recommending campsites and overnight parking, rather than hotels. However this trip is equally doable in a car, if you prefer. I’d recommend using Airbnb , Booking.com and Hostelworld for the best accommodation along your route.

If you’re looking to spend a bit more time and make some more stops, or if you’re looking for the best wild camping spots in Scotland, be sure to check out my Scotland Google Map Legend .

tour west coast scotland

Scotland Google Map Legend

With this Google Map, you can have all my tips and recommendations at the touch of your fingertips. These are all the things I wish I knew and spent a lot of time researching before my 4-week adventure.  This Google Map Legend includes:

  • Best walks, hikes, viewpoints, beaches and activities
  • Lochs and waterfalls to visit
  • Road trip tips (campsites, laundrettes, lunch spots)
  • My favourite places for coffee, brunch and dinner
  • Things you must add to your bucket list!
  • Travel guide links within each location

Day 1: Loch Lomond

  • Driving time: 0 minutes

It’s Day 1 of this Scotland road trip itinerary and I hope you’re raring to go! We’re starting this west Scotland road trip at Loch Lomond , one of the most popular places to visit in Scotland. Once you’ve got all the supplies ready for your road trip (check out my UK road trip checklist and my top tips for road trips in Scotland to make sure you don’t miss anything!), explore the area for a while.

Loch Lomond’s proximity to Glasgow makes it a popular spot with weekenders and holidaymakers, but that in no way detracts from its beauty. As part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park , this area is home to some of the best hikes in Scotland , and they range in difficulty so there’s something for everyone. Conic Hill is a great one to kick off your trip!

Although I’d recommend arriving as early as possible to squeeze in a hike, chances are you’ve travelled a long way to get to Loch Lomond and therefore are arriving late in the evening. If so, take advantage of the great overnight parking here, and wake up to a magical sunrise over the water…. although I should warn you, Scotland isn’t best known for having the clearest weather. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 2: Loch Lomond, Falls of Falloch, Glencoe & Loch Achtriochtan

  • Driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes

On your second day of your west Scotland road trip enjoy a short boat cruise around Loch Lomond in the morning, or take a dip in the icy water. There’s a small hidden bay at Firken Point, just off the A82 where you can swim and get a feel for these famous Highland waters. Always be mindful of where you swim however, as in some areas it can be incredibly deep and there have recently been cases of bathers getting into difficulty.

On from Loch Lomond you’ll find the cascade of waterfalls known as Falls of Falloch.  There are so many beautiful spots to pull up and enjoy lunch, or even cook if you’re in a van! (I’ve pinned some spots for you in my  Scotland Google Map Legend ). The falls are  a short walk from the car park, and another popular spot for a swim. 

In the afternoon, venture north through the jaw-dropping Glencoe valley. You’ll want to keep your camera close as there are tonnes of places to stop and capture the most incredible views. It is quite simply breathtaking all the way from Loch Lomond to Glencoe.

Along the way, take a small detour toward (but not all the way) Glen Etive, where scenes from James Bond’s Skyfall were filmed (it’s even marked on google as James Bond Skyfall Road). This is one of the most scenic drives in Scotland! 

Just after passing the Glencoe Mountain Resort is a left turn that will take you down a single-lane road zig-zagging along the river Etive. This valley is reminiscent of the Swiss alps, and one of the best spots for wild camping in Scotland. There are multiple waterfalls and lagoons to bathe in so it’s well worth spending the rest of the day here.

After sunset, it’s a 40min drive to your next and final stop for the day, right on the shores of Loch Achtriochtan. There’s a free overnight car park which is one of the best spots to camp in Scotland and if you snag the right spot, you’ll be opening your doors right onto the loch for sunrise. It’s definitely another view worth waking up to on your west Scotland road trip.

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 3: Fort William, Glencoe & Glenfinnan Viaduct

  • Driving time: 1 hour 45 minutes

I’d recommend swinging by Fort William in the morning to stock up on food and supplies… especially midge spray if you’re doing your west Scotland road trip in the summer. These little bugs are a nightmare during the warmer months. See all my top tips for a Scotland road trip here. 

Glencoe is one of the best places for hiking in the Scottish Highlands and there are plenty to choose from – catering to hikers of all levels, from leisurely wanderers to expert mountaineers.

Three of the best hikes in Glencoe include:

  • For those wanting an easy hike that has incredible views, I’d recommend the An Torr/Signal Rock Walk. This hike can be completed in 1.5 – 2hrs, and there’s a free car park.
  • If you’re looking to crank it up a notch, try the Lost Valley hike. This takes 3hrs and has a few steep sections, but they’re worth it for the view. 
  • If you’re really keen then test yourself with the Bidean Nam Bian hike or even attempt the summit of Scotland’s highest peak: Ben Nevis. Both are full day hikes. The closest car park for the Bidean Nam Bian hike is the Loch Achtriochtan viewpoint ca rpark, but for Ben Nevis, visit the Bens Nevis Centre to plan your trip.

See all the best hikes in Scotland here.

If hiking in Scotland is the main reason for your trip, then you can easily spend a couple of days here, but in the interest of time… we carry on.

From Glencoe and Fort William, it is a very short detour to one of Scotland’s most ‘magical’ destinations – Glenfinnan Viaduct, where Harry Potter fans can witness the iconic Hogwarts Express train cross the bridge. The best viewpoint is actually at the end of a dirt path, just up the road from the visitors centre. In the high season, from mid-June to late September, there are 4 train times, but in the low season there are only 2 so be sure not to miss it! (Top tip: the train usually passes the Glenfinnan Viaduct 30-40 minutes after it leaves Fort WIlliam). 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Other must see places to visit in Scotland for Harry Potter fans:

  • Loch Shiel – the iconic lake which surrounds the entrance to Hogwarts.
  • Loch Elite, Eilean na Moine island — the exact location where Dumbledore was buried and an absolutely beautiful place to watch the sunset.

Day 4: Lochs, Eilean Donan Castle & the Isle of Skye

  • Driving time: 3.5 hours

Get your playlist ready and hit the road early for day 4 of our west Scotland road trip! Follow the A82 north out of Fort William, before turning onto the A87 where you’ll be driving through an endless stretch of lochs: Loch Gary, Loch Loyne and Loch Cluanie (which is especially beautiful). This is honestly one of the best drives of this west Scotland road trip so take it slow and soak in the view. 

After about 2hrs, you’ll arrive at one of the most famous castles in the West of Scotland: Eilean Donan. It is open from May to October and the bridge is a great spot for an Instagram pic. See my travel photography tips here. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

If, like me, you’ve finished all of the snacks bought in Fort William, then grab a bite to eat at The Clachan or pick up some delicious baked goods at Manuela’s Wee Bakery.

Eilean Donan is our last stop on the mainland before crossing over to the Isle of Skye, where the mountains and lochs give way to stunning coastline, white sandy beaches and rugged rocky pinnacles. 

After crossing Skye bridge, follow the coastal road east toward Portree. This is the largest town (albeit still very small) on the island, and your best bet for accommodation. However, for those enjoying the campervan life, continue through Portree to the Old Man of Storr. Snag yourself a spot at the overnight car park at the base of the Storr walk. While pay and display in the daytime, at night this car park is free to stay in and provides the perfect place to wild camp in Scotland and begin your sunrise hike to the Old Man of Storr, before the crowds arrive. See all the best things to do on the Isle of Skye here. 

Day 5 & 6: Isle of Skye

  • Driving time: 3-5 hours (across two days, depending on where you decide to explore)

You’ve made it to the Isle of Skye and you’re halfway through your west Scotland road trip. Time to really enjoy this historic place and enjoy some of the best things to do on Skye !

Unlike most of the trip, we’re now on a very small island so it’s much easier to get around and explore! My top 5 things to do on the Isle of Skye are:

  • Stroll through Portree, the main town on the island and a great place to grab coffee and top up on supplies. 
  • Head to the beach for a swim or enjoy a picnic at either Corran or Coral beaches.
  • Hike to the infamous Old Man of Storr. The hike starts at this car park and takes 2-3hrs there and back, depending on how long you spend enjoying the epic views.

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

  • Take the Quiraing Pass up to the Quiraing Loop Hike.  Much like the Storr, this landmark is a needle-like rock formation and one of the most photographic spots on the Isle of Skye. This 2hr walk is actually twice the distance as the Old Man of Storr hike, but without the steep inclines. However, if you’re just looking for a good view then it’s hard to beat the car park, which is where the picture below was taken.
  • Sunset at Neist Point Lighthouse. This is the most westerly point of the island, where the wind is gnarly but the views across the Atlantic Ocean are mind blowing.

If you want to set off early in the morning, try and stay overnight on the south of Skye near Armadale, as this is where we are taking the ferry from on day 7 of our west Scotland road trip. 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Days 7: Camusdarach

  • Ferry crossing (Armadale to Mallaig): 45 minutes
  • Driving time: 10 minutes

Take the ferry across from Skye to Mallaig on the mainland.

Then take the short drive down to Camusdarach. Spend the night at one of the many campsites that line the beaches here, the most ‘luxurious’ being Silversands Caravan & Campsite. Many won’t in fact have websites to book, so it might be a case of calling around to see what is available.  There are lots of great places to swim here, so it’s a relaxing day today! 

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Days 8 & 9: Isle of Mull

  • Driving time: 3-3.5 hours (including a ferry)

From the coast of Arisaig, it’s a 3-4hr drive south to the postcard-perfect Isle of Mull, where beaches like Calgary Bay and Langamull wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean. Toward the south-west there are more beaches in Knockvologan, Traigh Gael and Tinkers Bay – all beautiful, secluded places to spend the night. These are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland, so make sure you don’t miss these on your Scotland road trip!

Other notable places to visit on/near the Isle of Mull are:

  • Iona (a small island off the west coast)
  • The Inner/Outer Hebrides (a small yet striking archipelago of islands, with impressive views!)
  • Ben More (the highest mountain on Mull)

A 10-day west Scotland road trip itinerary

Day 10: Oban

  • Driving + ferry time: 1.5 hours + your journey home

It’s easy to spend a few days on Mull, but we’ve run out of days on our west Scotland road trip, so it’s time to hop back over to the mainland, via Oban. Take the ferry from Craignure to Oban and enjoy a morning stroll through this seaside town, or even book onto their infamous distillery tour!

Most campervan rentals will need to be returned by midday, so from Oban continue south toward Loch Lomond and onto Glasgow or Edinburgh , depending on where you picked up your camper. For those heading back to London or the south, let the long journey home begin.

It is so easy to spend more time in this beautiful part of the world, but this is the end of our ultimate 10-day west Scotland road trip. 

  • See my guide to planning your Scotland road trip here. 
  • Buy my Scotland Google Map legend here. 

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Love as always and happy adventuring,

tour west coast scotland

I’m Sté, short for Stephanie. I’m a 27 year-young photographer & travel blogger who travels between places capturing the untold, the unseen, and the stories in-between. Fuelled by creativity and curiosity, my hope is to inspire others to explore the world beyond and within themselves.

See all of Ste’s adventures here.

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A 10-day road trip itinerary for west Scotland...​

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I’D LOVE TO SHARE THE JOURNEY WITH YOU, WE’VE GROWN A LOT SINCE THEN!

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Ultimate List of Things to Do – West Coast of Scotland

The ultimate list of things to do on the west coast of scotland.

The West Coast of Scotland is a treasure trove of delights for visitors, with its sweeping landscapes, big skies, dramatic seascapes, romantic castles, spectacular wildlife, superb food and drink, and friendly locals.

Here’s our ultimate list of things to do when visiting Scotland’s West Coast .

  • Calgary Bay, Mull: Quite possibly the best beach in Scotland, Calgary Bay may be small but it’s perfectly formed. It has a sheltered location, backed by a forest and castle straight from a storybook. Best of all, the beach has silver sands and crystal-clear shallow turquoise sea.
  • Sanna Bay: Located at the most westerly point of mainland Britain at the tip of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, Sanna Bay is a stunner. It’s is renowned for its magnificent white shell-sand beach, turquoise waters, and stunning views over the isles of Eigg, Rum and Muck.
  • Kiloran: Situated on the northwest coast of the Isle of Colonsay, Kiloran beach is great for frolicking on the white sands and splashing in the river that meanders across the beach when the tide goes out. A top spot for surfers, it’s also good for wildlife lovers with dolphins and otters regularly seen.
  • Camusdarach: Lying south of the estuary of Britain’s shortest river, the Morar, Camusdarach is an arc of white sand with stunning views along the coastline, taking in the jagged peaks of Skye’s Cuillin Mountains and the rugged outline of Eigg and Rum. An excellent spot for rock pooling with some fabulous sunsets.
  • Cuillin Mountains, Skye: The view of Skye’s Black Cuillins from across Loch Scavaig is one of the most dramatic in the UK. Jump on a boat to the head of the loch for a view to remember.
  • Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park: Scotland’s first national park is 720 square miles of stunning mountains, glens, lochs, rivers and woodlands. It’s a playground for outdoor enthusiasts who head here to hike, cycle, watch wildlife or participate in a number of adventure sports.
  • Argyll Forest Park: Take a walk in the woods in Britain’s oldest forest park. Stretching from the Holy Loch on the Firth of Clyde to Arrochar Alps, this is a land of hidden glens, craggy peaks, rushing rivers and peaceful sea lochs.
  • Glencoe: Magical Glencoe is the most famous and most scenic glen in Scotland. A paradise for walkers and climbers, the region has high mountain peaks and ridges, gushing waterfalls and rivers, and offers Alps-esque views.

Wildlife

  • Sea Eagles: The fourth-largest eagle in the world, sea eagles were wiped out in Britain thanks to the Victorians, but a programme of reintroduction on Mull has been successful and you can watch the birds on their nests.
  • Whale Watching: The waters around Mull are the best place in the UK to watch whales. Minke whales are the most common here, though you can also see orcas, as well as dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks.
  • Lake Sunart: The oak woods by Lake Sunart haven’t been spoiled by tourism, and they’re a fantastic location to spot wild cats, red squirrels, otters and eagles.
  • Puffins: The unmistakable puffin is a delightful bird. They winter at sea, but head ashore to breed in colonies. One of the best is Lunga in the Treshnish Isles, just off Mull.
  • Scottish Beaver Trial, Knapdale: This unique conservation project aims to reintroduce beavers into the wild. The project monitored 4 beaver families over a 5-year period and, although the monitoring phase is over, you can still visit the beavers.
  • Inveraray Castle: Romantic Inveraray Castle, situated on the banks of Loch Fyne, is one of Scotland’s finest stately homes set in an area of spectacular natural beauty. Its fairytale façade houses an equally enchanting interior, and the gardens are pretty special too.
  • Castle Stalker: This picturesque castle is surrounded by water at the mouth of Loch Laich. It’s privately owned although tours can be arranged. Most people simply go to admire the iconic view.
  • The Auchindrain Trust: The most complete surviving example of a Highland township, visitors gain an understanding of life in the old Highlands. Wander through the settlement, and explore the restored buildings and everyday objects its inhabitants used.
  • Arduaine Garden: This coastal garden is a tranquil oasis on the Arduaine peninsula, south of Oban. It’s a horticultural tour around the temperate world, with giant Himalayan lilies, Blue Tibetan poppies, Chatham Island forget-me-nots, and an array of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias.
  • Crarae Garden: A magical spot near the banks of Loch Fyne, Crarae Garden is an exotic Himalayan-style woodland garden in a dramatic gorge setting. The trees and shrubs have been chosen for their spring flowering and autumn colours, while the rushing water gives it the feel of a Himalayan valley.
  • Geilston Garden: An intimate, tranquil place, Geilston has an attractive walled garden and a burn winding through woodland. The woodland is a magical area, with mossy paths and bridges over the burn, while the walled garden is a riot of spring and summer colour.
  • Ardmaddy Castle Gardens: A garden for all seasons, Ardmaddy Castle Gardens are in a spectacular setting, shielded by mature woodland and the elevated castle. The Walled Garden has some unusual plants and shrubs, while the Clock Garden produces cut flowers, fruit and vegetables.
  • Oban: The busiest and best-known town in Argyll, Oban is the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, as it’s the hub for boats leaving to the Inner and Outer Hebrides. It’s also known as the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’.
  • Inveraray: Situated on the shores of Loch Fyne, Inveraray is noted for its fine Georgian architecture. Popular spots include Inveraray Castle, the jail and the woollen mill, while many come just to witness the stunning reflections of the landscape and town in the still waters of the loch.
  • Tobermory: The capital of Mull, Tobermory is instantly recognisable thanks to its colourful buildings surrounding the natural harbour. Built as a fishing port, the town has a mix of shops, cafes and restaurants, hotels and guesthouses, and an excellent selection of locally produced arts and crafts. Famous as the setting for the children’s programme, Balamory.
  • Portree: The main town on Skye, Portree is a bustling port set around a natural harbour. It’s also the cultural hub of Skye, and its Aros Cultural Community Centre runs theatre, concerts and films, plus it has an exhibition about the rare sea eagles that live on the island.
  • Tarbet: A small but picturesque village, Tarbet sits on a neck of land separating Loch Lomond from Loch Long. It’s connected by the famous West Highland Railway Line and is a popular spot for joining a pleasure cruise around Loch Lomond.
  • Skye: The largest island of the Inner Hebrides, Skye is a gem of an island. It has stunning mountain scenery, beautiful sea lochs and some interesting geological features. Swim in the Faerie Pools of Glenbrittle, visit the Old Man of Storr rock pinnacles and keep your eyes peeled for spectacular wildlife.
  • Mull: One of the most mountainous of Scotland’s islands, Mull is best known for its wonderful wildlife, with nesting sea eagles and plenty of marine life in its waters, including whales. Visit Duart Castle, take a trip on the narrow gauge railway, go hill walking and sample whisky in the local distillery.
  • Iona: Nestled off the coast of Mull, the peaceful isle of Iona has been a place of pilgrimage for almost 1,500 years. Visit the restored Benedictine Monastery or simply gaze in wonder at the spectacular white sandy beaches.
  • Arran: The most southerly isle, Arran is small with a remarkable diversity of landscapes and seascapes. Visit the distillery, sample the local beer, explore the standing stones of Machrie Moor, climb Goat Fell and tour Brodick Castle.
  • Eigg: On a beautiful sunny day on Eigg, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Caribbean. Walk along the singing sands and climb An Sgùrr, the final hurrah of Eigg’s ancient volcano.
  • Rum: Diamond in shape, the Isle of Rum is a jewel of the Inner Hebrides. Visit the eccentric Kinloch Castle, walk in the stunning mountain and coastal scenery, stroll on the beautiful beaches and enjoy the wildlife, especially the hardy Rum ponies.
  • Muck: The smallest of the Small Isles, Muck is a low-lying island with sandy beaches and rocky shores. Climb the 452 ft. Beinn Airein for views over the surrounding islands.
  • Coll: The Isle of Coll is a hidden gem, around 40 miles west of Oban. With numerous sandy beaches and an abundance of wildlife, it’s a little off the beaten track and is tempting for intrepid explorers seeking some peace and tranquillity.
  • Sea Kayaking: If you dream of landing on an uninhabited island and lighting a fire on the beach (safely of course!) the Outer Hebrides are a dream location. With over 200 islands, most of which are uninhabited, this is one of the world’s best destinations for sea kayaking.
  • Kitesurf on Barra: The beach at Traigh Mhor on Barra is the UK’s only sand airstrip. It’s also a prime spot for kitesurfing, thanks to the near-constant wind.
  • Surfing & Windsurfing: The windy island of Tiree is little more than a raised beach but it’s blessed with wonderful surf, making it a hotspot for surfers and windsurfers. It also has the most hours of sunshine in the UK.
  • Horse Riding: With its stunning landscapes and variety of terrain, the West Coast of Scotland is the ideal place to go horse riding . Ride along shady forest trails, or gallop along wide, deserted beaches.
  • Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa: This sea cave is composed of hexagonally jointed basalt columns, much like those of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Take a boat trip to this uninhabited island and listen to the eerie echoes in the belly of the caves.
  • The Jacobite Steam Train: One of the greatest rail journeys in the world, the Jacobite steam train runs between Fort William and Mallaig. Starting near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, it passes through some splendid scenery including the Glenfinnan viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films.
  • Explore the Seafood Trail: Seafood and shellfish feature heavily on menus across the region, and the Seafood Trail showcases the best local seafood and an eating experience that values freshness and flair.
  • Sample Whisky Distilleries: The West Coast is synonymous with whisky, and it’s said Scotland’s single malts vary with the landscapes. Only one way to find out! There are a number of family-owned distilleries to sample, including Oban, Arran, Springbank, Talisker on Skye and Tobermory on Mull.
  • Try Local Cheeses: Scotland produces some of the world’s finest cheeses, many handmade on the islands. Don’t miss the delicious Isle of Mull cheddar.
  • Visit the Loch Lomond Farmers’ Market: Farmers’ Markets are popular throughout Scotland. The market on the shores of Loch Lomond is one of the longest running in the country and it’s set in a stunning location.

If you’re planning a trip to explore the wonderful West Coast of Scotland, contact Bonawe House to find the perfect holiday cottage for your stay.

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Argyll & Isles , Inner Hebrides , Isle of Colonsay , Isle of Islay , Isle of Jura , Itineraries , Kintyre Peninsula , The Isles

Itinerary for the west coast of scotland [1- & 2-week options]: the west coast waters of argyll.

When you think of Scotland do you envision epic cliffs and coastlines? Towering mountains and sprawling glens? Crystal clear waters and sandy beaches? Delicious whisky and tasty local produce? This 2-week itinerary for the west coast of Scotland covers all that and more. Follow this route and take in some of the most beautiful places in the Inner Hebrides and Argyll – a trip to the west coast you will remember for a lifetime!

This post contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. Find out more here . All opinions are my own.

This post is part of the West Coast Waters campaign and focuses on Wild About Argyll . Regions all along the west coast of Scotland have joined forces to promote the country’s beautiful west coast from Argyll to Wester Ross. 2020 is the Year of Coast and Waters – the perfect excuse to plan a trip and immerse yourself in the sounds, views, aromas and textures of Scotland’s west coast!

If you ask me, nothing beats an escape to the west coast of Scotland. What could be better than being surrounded by mountains, yet never far from a Caribbean-looking beach or a lush blooming garden? Every time I visit, I am blown away by the diversity of landscapes and things to do near the coast. 

My trip to ring in the Year of Coasts and Waters brought me to one of my favourite regions in Scotland – Argyll and the Isles. Not only is it easily accessible from cities like Glasgow or Edinburgh, but it also has the longest coastline of all Scottish regions – two good reasons to plan a trip here and follow my footsteps!

This blog post contains everything you need for your extended trip to the Scottish west coast: from travel info for the region to a day-by-day itinerary for your holiday. I kept the description of each destination deliberately brief in this post, but make sure to click through to my destination guides for more detailed accounts of what to see & do. Don’t worry, it’s still a “monster post” with lots of practical advice and inspiration!

Without further ado, let’s hit the road!

If you are here for inspiration for a Scotland staycation, you should also read my guide to adding oomph to your staycation .

Need help finding cheap airfare to Scotland? Check out  my tips for booking flights to Scotland !

Dreaming of Scotland? Listen to my immersive travel podcast Wild for Scotland !

The sandy beach at Balnahard Bay on Colonsay in Scotland

Table of Contents

West Coast of Scotland Road Trip Video

Travel Info: Argyll & Inner Hebrides

Where is argyll.

Argyll is a large region in the west of Scotland and covers an area spanning from Kintyre peninsula in the south, across the Isle of Bute and Cowal to the western shore of Loch Lomond in the east, up towards Bridge of Orchy, Loch Etive and Loch Creran in the north, and Oban in the west. Additionally, the region also contains most of the Inner Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland. The Heart of Argyll, or Mid-Argyll, which is covered in this itinerary lies south of Oban and includes places like Loch Awe, Kilmartin Glen, Loch Fyne, Inveraray, Crinan Canal, Knapdale Forest and Tarbert.

What are the Inner Hebrides?

The Hebrides are an archipelago of islands off Scotland’s west coast and are split into the Inner Hebrides, closer to the mainland and the Outer Hebrides also called the Western Isles. The Isle of Skye is the largest and possibly the most famous Inner Hebridean island. 

The Inner Hebrides that are part of Argyll are the Isles of Mull, Coll, Tiree, Islay, Jura and Colonsay and a vast number of smaller islands such as Kerrera , Lismore, Iona, Staffa and Gigha. 36 islands in the Inner Hebrides are inhabited and this itinerary takes in seven of them .

Explore the Inner Hebrides with my ready-made Island Hopping itinerary !

Map of the Inner Hebrides & Argyll

Check out my interactive map below or click through. I’ve marked all the places I mention in this itinerary, including places to stay, natural points of interests such as beaches and hills, things to do such as distillery tours and outdoor activities, where to grab a bite to eat, and a few practical places to know such as petrol stations and shops.

Transport for this itinerary

Hire car | I hired a car for my west coast adventure. This trip is conceptualised with a car in mind and ideal for a Scotland road trip.  I covered about 470 miles on the road and took eight ferry crossings, some of which must be booked in advance with a car. 

Check out my practical guide to renting a car in Scotland .

Nervous about driving? Learn about UK traffic rules & etiquette with the useful online guide by Tripiamo .

Ferries | Regardless of how much time you spend on this itinerary (see below for shortened suggestions), it is important to check ferry time tables. Not every crossing mentioned in this itinerary is available every day of the week and winter timetables (roughly Oct to April) can vary significantly from summer schedules (roughly May to Sept).

Don’t miss my practical guide to island hopping in Scotland !

TOP TIP It makes sense to check ferry schedules before you book your flights in order to choose the best arrival/departure days accordingly.

Public Transport | Most places on this itinerary are also accessible by public transport. However, keep in mind that not having a car will slow you down and limits how many stops you can fit into one day. Bus services on islands can be limited (Islay, Jura) to non-existent (Colonsay), so it’s important to be realistic and prepare for active days without motorised transport.

Cycling | You can cycle to the majority of destinations on this route or hire a bike to explore individual islands. Colonsay and Gigha for example, are perfect to explore by bike because they are small and there is very little traffic on the roads.

Cara Island Bay

How much time to spend in Argyll & the Inner Hebrides?

I actually did this itinerary in 10 days, but it was a tour de force . Additionally, I had been so some of the regions before, so I didn’t mind picking some activities over others I had done in the past. If this is your first trip to the Scottish west coast, I, therefore, recommend spending 2 weeks on this route (13 nights/14 days). This allows you to slow down a little and experience each destination to the fullest.

Here is a quick overview of this itinerary: Kintyre Peninsula | 3 nights Isle of Islay |  2 nights Isle of Jura |  2 nights Isle of Colonsay | 2 nights Heart of Argyll (=Mid-Argyll) |  3 nights Glasgow |  1 night

What if you only have one week? 

If you only have one week to explore the west coast of Scotland in Argyll, I recommend cutting one of the island destinations from this itinerary (Islay, Jura or Colonsay) and reducing your time in Kintyre and Mid-Argyll by one night. If you fly out on the next day and unless you have a very late flight, I recommend sticking to the final night in Glasgow instead of racing to the airport from Argyll – just in case there are issues with traffic. 

What if you have even less time?

Of course, you can visit Argyll with less time at your hand – that’s the beauty of its proximity to Glasgow! If you have less than a week – say 3 to 5 days – I recommend choosing one or two destinations to focus on.

You could stay on the mainland and explore Kintyre and Mid-Argyll, like I did for this 3-day Argyll itinerary , or mix it up a little and choose one mainland region and one island. Islay and Jura work well in combination with Kintyre or Mid-Argyll, as the ferry terminal in Kennacraig is easy to reach from north or south. Colonsay is better reached via ferry from Oban and thus best to combine with Mid-Argyll.

Two cars standing on line at a ferry jetty by the sea

Two Weeks on the West Coast of Scotland

Visit the kintyre peninsula (3 nights).

Kintyre is also known as Scotland’s only mainland island. Looking at the map of Argyll, Kintyre is the long finger-shaped mass of land separating the Firth of Clyde from the Atlantic ocean. 

Legend has it, that in a dispute between the Norwegian king Magnus Barefoot and the Scottish king Malcolm III, Malcolm told Magnus that he could rule over all land he could encircle by boat. Up for the challenge, Magnus made his men drag his boat across the 2-mile strip of land that connects Kintyre to the mainland and thus claimed authority over the entire peninsula. It was only a few years later that Malcolm’s younger brother invaded Magnus’ stronghold on the Scottish west coast and won back the isles, Kintyre and the mainland region of Knapdale. 

While signs of this early medieval Viking rule in Kintyre remain tangible today – from place names to archaeological finds – the region offers a quintessentially Scottish experience, which is perfect for anyone looking to discover Scotland off the beaten track without missing out on all things “typically” Scottish.

Spending three nights in Kintyre allows you to explore the peninsula in-depth. I suggest a road trip to Southend on the first day, a day on the east coast, a day trip to the Isle of Gigha and a day on the west coast to fully immerse yourself in everything Kintyre has to offer.

You might also like: 13 Things to do on the Kintyre Peninsula

Day 1: Arrive in Kintyre + Road trip to Southend

After landing in Glasgow and picking up your rental car, make your way to Campbeltown – see the yellow Travel Essentials box below for two different route options.

From here, head out on a road trip to Southend , the southern tip of Kintyre, and the Mull of Kintyre . Don’t forget to download Paul McCartney’s song Mull of Kintyre and play it on full blast along the way – if you are like me, this song will be stuck in your head until you move on to the next region… There are several things to do at the Mull of Kintyre, including a walk to the historic lighthouse from where you can see the coast of Northern Ireland – at least on a clear day. In Southend, pay a visit to St Columba’s Chapel and his Footprints . St Columba landed in Kintyre before continuing his journey to Iona. Across the bay, stop by the ruins of Dunaverty Castle , a former stronghold of the MacDonald clan, the Lords of the Isles.

After refreshments? Stop at Muneroy Tearoom for a full meal and/or home baking. 

In the late afternoon, make your way back to Campbeltown or on to Carradale , a charming village along the east coast of Kintyre – the perfect starting point for tomorrow’s adventures.

Beach on the Mull of Kintyre

Day 2: East Coast of Kintyre

Today you will spend time on the east coast of Kintyre. From Carradale, head out to Torrisdale Bay to take in the views of the beautiful beach and explore the rock pools to the north. At the nearby Torrisdale Estate, book a tour at Beinn An Tuirc Distillery of Kintyre Gin. The distillery produces small-batch craft gin and is entirely powered by a hydro-electricity plant on the estate. Pretty green and very delicious! 

For lunch, head back to Carradale for a soup and sandwich at the lovely Drumfearne Tearoom . 

Driving south once again, stop at the entrance for Saddell Castle . Park your car near the gatehouse and walk the rest of the way towards the sea. The castle is privately owned and rented as a holiday let, but the beautiful bay is open to the public. Soon you will, without doubt, stumble across Antony Gormley’s cast-iron statue which is perched on the rocks of the bay, exposed at low tide, submerged in waves at high tide. It’s eerie, but a beautiful encounter with public art in nature. 

Finally, make your way to Campbeltown for a tour at Glen Scotia Distillery . Campbeltown was once the most prolific whisky region of Scotland, with more than 30 distilleries in the same town. Today, there are only three left. Glen Scotia was founded in 1832 and is one of Scotland’s smallest whisky producers. Distillery manager Iain McAlister showed me around the distillery and brought out the big guns – a tasting of several drams drawn straight out of the casks at the distillery’s Dunnage Warehouse. The Managers Tour is available for £75 per person, but the standard tour starts at only £7.

Torrisdale bay in Kintyre

Day 3: Day Trip to the Isle of Gigha

The Isle of Gigha lies just 3 miles off the west coast of Kintyre and is connected by a regular ferry to Tayinloan (multiple crossings per day) – about 30 minutes from Campbeltown. It makes for an easy and rewarding day trip in the Kintyre region. You can either bring your car across or hire bicycles on Gigha to get around – there are only a few roads on Gigha and very little traffic.

After the short crossing, head north to some of Gigha’s beautiful beaches. The Twin Beaches at Eilean Garbh can be reached via an at times muddy footpath from the main road (park on the grass near the wooden sign for the beaches). The two sandy beaches lie back to back and open up to two beautiful bays and views across to Islay and Jura. Take plenty of time to explore along the coastline and keep an eye open for birds and seals. 

For lunch, heat to Gigha Hotel who have a wide range of meals including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.

In the afternoon, choose between a trip to the surprisingly exotic Achamore Gardens and Leim Beach in the southwest of Gigha; or charter a local fishing boat to take you to Cara Island . I found my own captain in Stuart McNeill, a local fisherman, who took me out on his boat ( phone to book: +44 78860 07090 ). We sailed past Gigalum Island (which made me giggle a lot), seals sunbathing on the rocks exposed by the low tide and on to Cara, where I went on land to explore the bays in the north. 

The beach near the village (Johnny’s Shore) is a great place for wild swimming and snorkelling.

You could spend your third night in Kintyre on Gigha or around Tayinloan, or return – like me – to your accommodation in Campbeltown for a fresh start tomorrow.

You might also like: A practical guide for snorkelling in Scotland

Twin beaches on Isle of Gigha

Day 4: West Coast of Kintyre

Spend your final day in Kintyre on the peninsula’s west coast. If you are curious and active, book a surf lesson with Pete’s Surf School at Westport beach . The surf is great here and on a good day, there are always plenty of others out in the water. Pete is a great teacher, very reassuring, and keen to make sure you’re having a great experience on the board. I really enjoyed myself!

Another beautiful beach in this area is Machrihanish Bay , which is also great for birders. The Seabird Observatory provides a hide for wildlife enthusiasts.

Hungry after my surf lesson, I drove to Glenbarr Cafe for a delicious and rewarding vegan meal.

In the afternoon, head back to the east coast one last time and visit Skipness Castle – or hang around Glenbarr for a little longer and get your energy back after a tiring morning (which is what I did). In the evening, make your way to Kennacraig to catch the day’s last sailing to the Isle of Islay.

Woman in a wet suit with a surf board at the beach

KINTYRE TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Kintyre | There are two ways to get to Kintyre: by land or by water. I chose the latter and boarded the Calmac ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown – an hour’s drive southwest of Glasgow. Taking the ferry does not necessarily save time (either way it takes about 3-4 hours to reach Campbeltown), but it did save me exhausting driving time on the same roads I would travel on later during my trip. Additionally, taking a ferry is simply the best way to start a trip to Scotland’s west coast! The Ardrossan to Campbeltown ferry runs only in summer (May to September) and frequents six times a week on four different days. Check the timetable here .

Vegan food in Kintyre | The Kintyre peninsula is very remote, but it was surprisingly easy to find vegan food! Both accommodations where I stayed made an effort to stock vegan-friendly supplies for breakfast and created delicious plant-based evening meals for me. Read more about them below. I also enjoyed two delicious lunches at Drumfearne Tearoom in Carradale (east coast) and Glenbarr Cafe (west coast). I also was not disappointed on the Isle of Gigha and had a great lunch at Gigha Hotel , which also offers vegan evening options.

Kintyre Accommodation | I tried two very different accommodations in Kintyre during my trip. Carradales Guest House is a five-star bed & breakfast in Carradale, a stretched-out village on the east coast of the peninsula. I also spent two nights at the Seafield Annex of Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown. In addition to spending time on the mainland, I recommend trying to book a night on the Isle of Gigha to allow more time on the island. There are many options, such as the Gigha hotel, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation and glamping pods.

Visit Islay and Jura (2 nights each)

The Isles of Islay and Jura are often visited together. They are very different, very close and well connected, but an additional factor is surely that Jura does not have its own car ferry connection to the mainland – although, there is a passenger ferry during the summer. 

Islay, also known as the Queen of the Hebrides or Whisky Island, is the third-largest island in the Inner Hebrides and offers a huge variety of landscapes, activities and attractions. From the obvious – whisky distilleries – to the new and exciting, such as fat-biking on the beach or sampling wine made from barley; Islay does not get boring. 

Jura is its rugged neighbour to the north. While it is over half the size of Islay, it counts less than 10% of its population. Only about 200 people call Jura their home and most live in the bustling village of Craighouse. Most of Jura is mountainous, bare and boggy, which makes for stunning, but challenging days out on the trail. A small ferry commutes between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin on Jura. Many visit Jura on a day trip from Islay, but I recommend staying a while to immerse yourself in the wilderness – and the welcoming local community.

You could consider visiting during the Islay whisky festival Fèis Ìle, but the island is super busy then and it may not be the best time for in-depth distillery tours.

You might also like: Unique Experiences on Islay, Jura & Colonsay

Day 5 + 6: Isle of Islay

Begin your first day on Islay at the island’s Whisky Coast , where three distilleries – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg – lies within just a few miles from each other. All the distilleries on Islay are open to the public and offer tours and tastings – it is a must to visit at least one! My personal favourite is Ardbeg Distillery , which produces some of the peatiest whisky in the world. Their visitor centre has a lovely cafe with delicious vegan options.

In the afternoon, tour some of the other distilleries, taste locally produced wines at Islay Wines in Port Ellen, visit Kildalton Cross or go for a rewarding walk to the American Monument on the Mull of Oa .

On your second day on Islay, get active. Book a half-day activity with Kayak Wild Islay . Together with Dave, you can either head out in sea kayaks – or if the water is choppy or you’re up for a new activity, try fat biking on one of Islay’s beautiful beaches!

For lunch, treat yourself to a meal at The Machrie Hotel , overlooking the golf course and the ocean beyond. The vegan food here was my favourite of the entire trip, but of course, there are also plenty of non-vegan options!

In the afternoon, take in Islay’s beaches in the north. Saligo Bay will make your jaw drop, as will Machir Bay a bit further south. And why not visit Islay’s newest distillery Ardnahoe – you might not be able to taste their whisky yet, but from the tasting bar and the still room you get the most beautiful views of your next destination: the Isle of Jura!

At the end of the day, catch a ferry across to Jura and drive to Craighouse for the next two nights.

You might also like: A 4-day Whisky Tour to Islay with Rabbie’s [Review]

A woman cycling a fat bike on a beach

ISLAY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Islay | Calmac operates four to five daily ferry crossings from Kennacraig on the mainland to the Isle of Islay. Ferries alternate between Port Ellen in the south and Port Askaig in the north. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Port Ellen to Port Askaig, so in terms of where to stay, it barely makes a difference. You can find the full timetable here .

Vegan food on Islay | Like anywhere in Scotland, vegan food is becoming more popular and easier to come by on Islay. I highly recommend the restaurant at The Machrie Hotel , because the chef is actually vegan himself and prepares some of the most creative and mouthwatering meals I’ve ever tried. There are also vegan options available at Lagavulin and Ardbeg Distillery on the south coast, as well as Peatzeria in Bowmore. I also ate at Islay House Hotel, where the chef created an indulging vegan menu just for me.

Islay Accommodation | There is absolutely no shortage of accommodation on Islay, but I highly recommend booking far in advance to avoid disappointment. For anyone who is looking for self-catering accommodation with stunning views of Lagavulin Bay, I highly recommend Storm Pods . For the indulgent couple, Islay House Hotel near Port Askaig is the right choice!

Day 7 + 8: Isle of Jura

You will arrive on Jura late on Day 6 and leave early-ish on Day 8, which means you have one full day to spend on Jura. Make the most of it!

Craighouse is the bustling centre of the island and great for a little shopping sprawl, for example at the Whisky Island Gallery & Studio and a tour at Jura Distillery . Their tasting room is certainly one of the most beautiful and impressive I’ve ever seen! There are several walks you could do near Craighouse too – for example to the village viewpoint (description here ), to Market Loch (description here ), the distillery’s water source, or along the bay to Corran Sands , one of Jura’s most beautiful and easily accessible beaches. Along the way, you can often spot seals perched on the rocks exposed at low tide – they look like upside-down bananas!

If you’re a bit more adventurous, you could climb the highest peaks of the island, also known as the Paps of Jura (description here ). The hike takes about 10 hours, so make sure you leave early in the day and tell someone about your plans. 

If you are visiting in September, try to schedule your stay on Jura during the Jura Music Festival , which has been going on for many years and brings local, national and international musicians and visitors together for a weekend of beats and rhythms.

After two nights on the island, on Day 8, head back to Feolin in the morning. Get the ferry to Port Askaig, only to board yet another boat to take you from Port Askaig to the Isle of Colonsay.

Corran Sands beach on the Isle of Jura

JURA TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Jura | While there is a passenger ferry from Tayvallich on the mainland to Craighouse on Jura during the summer, most visitors arrive via the small ferry between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin on Jura. You can find the timetable and price information here . This ferry allows cars and the crossing only takes about 5 minutes.

Vegan food on Jura | I had a couple of nice meals on the Isle of Jura: at The Jura Hotel, where they always have a few options; and at The Antlers Bistro , which also has a nice deck for sunny days.

Jura Accommodation | There is significantly less choice for accommodation on Jura, so booking in advance is essential. I spent a night at The Jura Hotel , which offers stunning views over the Small Isles Bay, has a lovely restaurant and lively pub – the only one on the island!

Visit Colonsay (2 nights)

Depending on the seasonal ferry schedule, you might get to Colonsay around mid-day (summer timetable), in the late afternoon (Nov, Jan, Feb) or early in the morning (Dec, Mar).  I arrived on a Saturday around 1.30 pm, which gave me enough time to spend the afternoon exploring parts of the island. The ferry back to Oban leaves at 7 pm on Day 10, which means you might actually have 2.5 days on Colonsay if you stay 2 nights.

Day 9 + 10: Islay to Colonsay

The ferry arrives in Colonsay’s main village of Scalasaig , which is also home to most of the islands 124 inhabitants. Even though you can see Mull, Islay, Jura and the mainland from Colonsay, it feels like you are at the end of the world – it’s so remote. But also breathtaking!

One of Colonsay’s most famous beaches is Kiloran Bay , a vast stretch of sandy beach on the north of the island. From Kiloran, you can climb Carnan Eoin , the highest point of the island or explore a series of caves in the next bay over (description here ). Alternatively, you can follow the broad farm track leading north to Balnahard Bay , hands-down one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Watching the crystal clear water from the wind-sheltered sand dunes, one could easily forget that they are in Scotland and day-dream of swaying palm trees and rum cocktails with little umbrellas. Scotland or the Caribbean? Who knows!

Colonsay also has a very productive larder, especially when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Wild Thyme Spirits , who produces Colonsay Gin , offers tours and Gin Retreats at their stunning house in Upper Kilchattan. In Scalasaig, you can visit Colonsay Brewery and Wild Island Botanic Gin for a tour and a taste.

Another absolute highlight is a trip to Oransay – or Oronsay – in the south of Colonsay. You can reach this island by foot – but not via a bridge or causeway, but when the tide retreats and reveals a land-bridge across The Strand.* 

TOP TIP Wear wellies or brave the cold and cross The Strand in bare feet as there is usually remaining water in the bay. It only takes about half an hour, but it’s better than getting to Oransay with wet shoes!

Kiloran Bay beach

* Note, that the crossing is only safe at low tide and current time tables are available at the local post office, The Pantry, the Colonsay Hotel and other local businesses. It is important that you know when it is safe to cross and don’t attempt to outrun the tide. 

COLONSAY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to Colonsay | There is a regular ferry service from Oban to Colonsay operated by Calmac, but for this itinerary, you need to coordinate your plans with the crossing from Islay to Colonsay. Due to the timetable, Day 8 must be a Wednesday or Saturday, as these are the only days of the week when the ferry goes from Islay to Colonsay. It’s Saturday only on the winter timetable! Find the full timetable here .

Vegan food on Colonsay | If you stay at The Colonsay Hotel, they are happy to accommodate you and offer vegan options. A true gem is The Pantry near the ferry terminal, which actually won a Hidden Gem of Scotland award in 2019!

Colonsay Accommodation | I stayed at The Colonsay Hotel , a lovely boutique hotel near the ferry terminal with comfortable rooms, a restaurant with stunning views, a bar and plenty of space in the lounge area. 

Visit the Heart of Argyll (3 nights)

You will get to Oban late on Day 10, so it is up to you where you want to spend the night – either in Oban or closer to next day’s activities. 

Day 11 + 12: Heart of Argyll

Despite a late night on Day 10, I rose early on Day 11 and made my way to Ellenabeich on the Isle of Seil . I joined a boat trip with Seafari Adventures to visit the Gulf of Corryvreckan , which is the third-largest tidal whirlpool in the world. An adrenaline- and fun-packed morning!

After the boat trip (approx. 2 hours) you could spend more time on Seil or cross over to the small, car-free Isle of Easdale for a wander. 

Next head south to Arduaine Garden , which features a wide variety of rhododendrons, magnolias, Himalayan lilies and more. There are several trails crisscrossing the garden and stunning viewpoint over the bay below.

Stop for lunch – or check-in for a night – at Loch Melfort Hotel next to the Garden. Spending a night in one of their sea-facing rooms will make for a morning view you will never forget! 

On the next day, it is time to deep-dive into Scottish history. Drive south to Kilmartin to visit Kilmartin Museum and a collection of Sculptures Stones at the cemetery. The glen below the village is home to a huge number of ancient and prehistoric monuments from standing stones to cairns and carvings. The Nether Largie Standing Stones are a must to see, and from there you can follow the farm track to the Temple Wood Stone Circle and one of the Nether Largie chambered cairns. Further down the glen, make sure to stop for a walk up Dunadd Fort , the former seat of the ancient Scottish Kingdom of Dalriada.

Find out more about these and more things to do in Kilmartin Glen !

Boat in the Corryvrecken Whirlpool

HEART OF ARGYLL TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Getting to the Heart of Argyll | In this itinerary, you will take the ferry from Colonsay to Oban and drive south to the Heart of Argyll. In general, the Heart of Argyll is just a 2-3 hour drive from Glasgow. Perfect getaway material!

Vegan food in the Hear of Argyll | I had a delicious vegan meal at Loch Melfort Hotel, stayed at a vegan B&B in Kilmartin and enjoyed a dinner at Cairnbaan Hotel right on the Crinan Canal.

Heart of Argyll Accommodation | I recommend spending the first night on or near the Isle of Seil. I spent a magical night at Loch Melfort Hotel , which is a pure treat, and my final night in Argyll at Kingsreach Vegan B&B with gorgeous views of Dunadd Fort. Read my review of the B&B here ! 

Day 13: Argyll to Glasgow (1 night)

Today is your final day on the road and it is time to return to Glasgow. From Kilmartin, it is a 2-hour drive to the city, but there is a lot to see along the way! That’s why I recommend driving back to Glasgow on Day 13 and heading to the airport from there on Day 14. 

Leaving Kilmartin behind, you will make your way through Lochgilphead and up the coast of Loch Fyne. You could stop at Crarae Garden or in Inveraray to visit the Castle. My favourite place for a walk is Ardkinglas Woodland Garden which is home to some of the biggest and tallest trees in the UK. The Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint makes for a scenic stop to enjoy a peaceful glimpse of Highland scenery. The final stretch of the route leads along Loch Lomond , where you could stop for lunch and a wander in the scenic village of Luss, or join a boat cruise on the loch from Tarbet.

Before you know it you will be back in Glasgow, looking back at an eventful 2-week journey to the west coast of Scotland.

You might also like: Money-Saving Budget Tips for Scotland

Purple flowers in front of Inveraray Castle

Day 14: Departure Day

Time to head back to the airport and bid farewell to bonnie Scotland – haste ye back!

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This 2-week itinerary for the west coast of Scotland takes in some of the most beautiful places in the Inner Hebrides & Argyll - for the trip of a lifetime!

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17 Best Places to Visit on the West Coast of Scotland

Posted by Francesca Brooking | Scotland | 0

From volcanic peaks and long sea lochs to ancient landslides and mystical castles, West Scotland offers a landscape filled with drama. 

If you’re looking for the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland, you’re truly spoiled for choice. 

On the southwest coast, you’ll find one of Europe’s stargazing locations. Further north are the West Highlands which are characterized by rugged mountains and wild glens. 

Lively port towns brim with whisky and fresh seafood while scenic railways traverse the landscape. 

Across the sea, Scotland’s Inner and Outer Hebrides have some of the best beaches, wildlife and scenery in the country. 

Read on to discover 17 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in West Scotland and some of my favourite spots you won’t want to miss. 

Map of Scotland’s west coast

Mainland scotland .

Wondering how to get around? If you don’t drive, the West Highland Line will be your best friend when touring the west coast of Scotland, alongside long-distance coaches and buses.

1. Glen Coe 

A squat white house sits at the base of a mountain by a river in Glen Coe on a misty day.

One of the most famous places in Scotland, Glen Coe is a valley ringed by steep mountains. It’s located in the West Scottish Highlands close to the shores of Loch Leven. 

Its dramatic landscape is characterised by ancient volcanic lava floes and glaciers that shaped the land thousands of years ago. Don’t worry, all volcanoes are long extinct! 

Glen Coe is a popular place to go hiking with famous peaks including, Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian.

You can also stop for a coffee at Glencoe Village. There’s a Glencoe Folk Museum with traditional, 18th-century thatched cottages and a Visitor Centre where you can learn about the brutal massacre of Clan McDonald in 1692. 

  • Climb up Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian
  • Visit the Glencoe Folk Museum and Visitor Centre 

2. Fort William 

A jetty juts out into a Loch Linnhe near Fort William on a misty day. Fort William is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for hiking.

Fort William is a town located on the shores of Loch Linnhe, a sea loch which sits partway along the Great Glen Fault. Its most famous neighbour is Ben Nevis, aka the highest mountain in the UK. 

The town is referred to as the Outdoor Capital of Scotland thanks to having iconic landmarks such as Ben Nevis, Glen Nevis Valley and Glen Coe nearby. 

Fort William is one of the best places to stay on the west coast of Scotland for exploring the West Highlands and islands. Visitors often make the town their base on their way to the Isle of Skye – I did! 

You can also ride the Jacobite Steam Train (the Hogwarts Express for some). It starts from Fort William and travels to Mallaig via the Glenfinnan Viaduct.   

  • Ride the famous Jacobite steam train (aka the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter). It’s one of the most popular things to do in West Scotland!

3. Ben Nevis 

View from a stony path up Ben Nevis near Fort William. A loch and moutains in the distance.

Standing at 1,345 metres above sea level, Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK. It belongs to the Grampian Mountains, one of the three main mountain ranges in Scotland. 

Ben Nevis is located on the western end of the Grampians and towers over Fort William. It’s a popular hike and it takes about 7-8 hours to reach the summit and climb back down again. 

It’s not a trail to take lightly though. Always bring the right equipment and do a group tour if you’re not confident on your own. 

If you would prefer a more relaxed walk, ride the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola nearby. It takes you up Aonach Mòr Mountain (the 8th tallest mountain) and offers spectacular views of Ben Nevis and the Great Glen. 

Highlights 

  • Hike up the tallest mountain in Britain (safely and weather conditions permitting)
  • Ride the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola for an easy way to get great views 

4. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park 

View of mountains and a river in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs is a national park which spans 720 sq miles across its four main areas. It features high mountains in the highlands to the north and rolling hills in the lowlands of the south. It’s a must-stop on your West Scotland itinerary. 

Loch Lomond is the largest lake in Great Britain by surface area and the second largest by volume after Loch Ness. It resides in the shadow of Ben Lomond mountain which is popular with hikers. 

An easier walk is the smaller Conic Hill. It’s fairly steep but it rewards you with gorgeous panoramic views of the loch and surrounding mountains. 

The national park is situated about an hour north of Glasgow and is connected by the West Highland Line. 

  • Do a one-hour boat trip on Loch Lomond 
  • Climb Ben Lomond for panoramic views of the Trossachs National Park (moderate difficulty) 

5. Glenfinnan 

View from a red steam train (the Jacobite) going over the cement arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland.

Glenfinnan is a small hamlet in Lochaber on the edge of Loch Shiel. 

It’s famous for the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line which the Jacobite train trundles over depending on the season. The best place to watch it is at Glenfinnan Viewpoint. 

The area is also home to the Glenfinnan Monument which was erected to remember the Jacobite Rising in 1745 and the Highlanders who lost their lives in the Battle of Culloden. 

Glenfinnan has a visitor centre where you can grab a bite and some beautiful walking trails around the local area. 

  • Photograph the Jacobite train going over Glenfinnan Viaduct. The viaduct is still pretty cool too!
  • Visit the Lone Highlander at the top of Glenfinnan Monument 
  • Take a stroll along Loch Sheil for serious Harry Potter vibes 

Editor’s tip: This group tour from Edinburgh takes you to Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glencoe on a full-day tour. It’s handy if you’re short on time and want to see the best of the West Highlands.

6. Oban 

View of Oban with McCaig's Tower on the hill above. Known as the Seafood Capital, Oban is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland.

Tucked on the Firth of Lorn, Oban is a resort town which is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Isles.’ You can catch a ferry from here to the Isle of Mull and the Outer Hebrides. 

Oban is still a destination in its own right. Scotland’s Seafood Capital is packed with award-winning seafood restaurants, making it one of my favourite places to see on the west coast of Scotland. 

There’s also a whisky distillery, McCaig’s Tower, Dunollie Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle and more to explore. 

  • Eat seafood! Fuss-free Oban Seafood Hut absolutely knocks it out of the park (or sea?) with the best fresh catch of the day
  • Have a wee dram at Oban Distillery 
  • Take a ferry to the Inner Hebrides 

7. Eilean Donan Castle 

View of Eilian Donan Castle and its bridge on a grey cloudy day.

On the road to the Isle of Skye on a small islet where three sea lochs collide is Eilean Donan Castle. The 13th century castle is a strategic fortress and photographing it has become one of the best things to do on the west coast of Scotland. 

It’s joined to the mainland by a bridge (the fourth version) and is set against a stunning backdrop of the forest-covered Kintail Mountains. 

The site was first established in 634 CE by Bishop Donan as a monastic cell. It was later turned into a fortress in the 13th century by Alexander II to ward off Viking invasions. 

It was used in a Jacobite revolt in 1719 and its ruins were restored between 1912 and 1932. You can buy a ticket and have a look inside but many people say it’s not worth it. I can’t comment as I’ve only seen it from the road!

  • Take a photo of the famous castle 

8. Mallaig 

View of the harbour in Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland.

Mallaig is a small port town on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the last stop on the West Highland Line and the only stop for the Jacobite Steam Train. 

You can catch a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye which is a short distance across the Sound of Sleat. 

There are some excellent seafood restaurants, a bakery and a heritage centre here. The Mallaig Circular Walk is a pretty stroll or you can walk up to the Morar Cross. 

  • Eat fresh seafood. The Cornerstone is popular for its scrumptious fish and chips 
  • Go beach hopping in the local area. The closest one is Camusdarach Beach 

9. Ullapool 

A mountain rises up from the coast near Ullapool on the northwest coast of Scotland.

Tucked on a sheltered sea loch on the west coast of Northern Scotland is Ullapool. The port village only has about 1500 inhabitants but it’s still one of the largest settlements for miles around. 

Ullapool is one of the stops on the famous North Coast 500 (NC500), a scenic 516-mile road trip around the North Coast of Scotland starting and ending in Inverness. You can also get a ferry here to Stornaway on Lewis and Harris. 

Things to do in Ullapool include mountain biking, wildlife boat trips, golfing, kayaking, hiking and taking art lessons at Bridgehouse Art. 

  • Use this pretty fishing village as a base from which to explore the Northern Highlands 
  • Ullapool is also a stop on the famous North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland 

10. Glasgow 

The Victorian building of Glasgow University and its famous tower.

Glasgow is a port city on the River Clyde in the western lowlands of Scotland. If you’re thinking “Hmm but is it REALLY on the west coast?”

I’ve included it here because I consider it a gateway to Scotland’s west coast – particularly for non-drivers like me! 

It’s also a great place to start your Scotland west coast road trip. 

The city is the start of the West Highland Line, a scenic railway line which runs to Oban or further north to Mallaig. It links up many of the places in this guide. 

As for Glasgow itself, the Cultural Capital of Scotland is home to the Scottish Ballet, the National Theatre of Scotland and a lively music scene. It’s also known for its Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture. 

  • Explore Glasgow’s West End, one of the ‘coolest districts in the world’ according to Time Out
  • Take a walking tour of Glasgow City Centre with top sites like the Botanical Gardens, Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

11. Dumfries & Galloway 

The lighthouse on the edge of the Mull of Galloway on the southwest coast of Scotland.

Dumfries & Galloway is one of the top places to visit in South West Scotland. The council area extends from the Scottish Borders and juts out into the Irish Sea, extending to the Mull of Galloway.  

It’s a bit of an underrated gem. It might not have the dramatic highlands of the north but if you love castles, stargazing, history and hiking, you’ll want to stop at Dumfries & Galloway. 

The area is home to Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s only Dark Sky Park and one of over 100 designated dark sky places worldwide. On a clear night, you can see over 700 stars and planets with the naked eye! 

Another must-see is the ruins of Caerlaverock Castle on the Solway coast. The 13th-century castle is surrounded by a moat. 

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point and it’s a beautiful spot for beaches and walking. For Robert Burns enthusiasts, the Burns House Museum in Mauchline is dedicated to the poet. 

  • Go stargazing! Galloway Forest Park is one of over 100 Dark Sky Places in the world and it’s one of the best places in the UK to enjoy the night sky
  • Go castle hopping! There are around 100 castles here with the top ones including Drumlanrig Castle, Cruggleton Castle, Dunskey Castle, Threave Castle and Caerlaverock Castle 

Scotland’s West Islands 

Island-hopping is one of the top things to do on the west coast of Scotland. Most of the main islands are accessible via the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferries. Visit the website to book tickets and find the most up-to-date information on timetables. 

Some like Skye are reachable by road and others like Lewis and Harris have tiny airports. 

12. Isle of Skye 

Fairy Glen stone circles from above on the Isle of Skye, one of the most popular places to visit on the west coast of Scotland.

The Isle of Skye is probably the most famous of all Scotland’s islands. It’s the largest island in the Inne Hebrides and it’s joined to the mainland by the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. 

Skye’s rugged landscape attracts millions of visitors every year and it’s a must-do on your west coast of Scotland itinerary. 

Some of its most beautiful scenery is on the Trotternish Peninsula , where you’ll find the Old Man of Storr, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock and an ancient landslide known as the Quiraing. 

Other popular landmarks here include Neist Point Lighthouse, Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, Skye Museum of Island Life and Sligachan Old Bridge. 

The main town on Skye is Portree at the base of Trotternish. 

  • Explore the Trotternish Peninsula including Fairy Glen, the Quiraing and the Storr 
  • Visit Fairy Pools and Dunvegan Castle 

Editor’s tip: You will need some form of wheeled transport (bike or car!) to see the best of Skye. If you don’t have either, I recommend getting to Portree by bus and then doing a full-day tour of Skye from there.

13. Isle of Mull 

The colourful houses of Tobermory surrounded by trees and with a harbour in front on the Isle of Mull.

The Isle of Mull is the second-largest island in the Inner Hebrides. It lies just off the west coast of Scotland with Kilchoan to the northwest of it and Oban to the south. 

Mull is characterised by hills and lochs, and its lone mountain Ben More. It also has some beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters that look almost tropical. The not-so-tropical breeze gives it away though… 

The main town on Mull is Tobermory with its colourful houses, award-winning fish ‘n’ chips and pretty coastal walks. Don’t miss out on Isle of Mull Cheese Glass Barn, a cafe with a living vine growing inside it. 

From Mull, you can also take a boat to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles or to Iona just off its coast. 

  • Visit Tobermory, the capital of Mull (and the inspiration for Balamory if you watched that children’s TV programme way back when)
  • Eat at Isle of Mull Cheese Glass Barn, this beautiful cafe is one of the best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for foodies 

14. Iona 

Iona Abbey with Mull behind on a grey day in Scotland.

The tiny island of Iona located just off the Ross of Mull is best known for being the site of one of the oldest known Christian religious centres in Western Europe – aka Iona Abbey. 

In 563 CE, St. Columba and his companions came to Iona from Ireland and founded the monastery. It became one of the most influential religious sites in the British Isles. It’s still a place of pilgrimage today.

Iona also has a community with restaurants, art galleries, sandy beaches and a graveyard which is the final resting place of about 48 medieval kings from Scotland, Norway and Ireland. 

Even Shakespeare’s notorious King Macbeth is buried here!

  • See Iona Abbey, one of the oldest Christian religious centres in Western Europe 

15. Treshnish Isles 

A large basalt rock cave on Staffa Island in the Treshnish Isles in Scotland.

Are you a puffin fan? Get yourself to the Treshnish Isles. The archipelago of small, uninhabited islands and skerries is located to the west of the Isle of Mull. 

They’re a haven for marine life and seabirds including puffins which make a home on Staffa from April to July. 

Staffa is also famous for its intriguing Fingal’s Cave made out of hexagonal basalt rock. The cave has surprisingly good acoustics and it was the inspiration for the composer Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture. 

You can do a tour of the Treshnish Isles from Tobermory on Mull or Oban on the mainland. You’ll see minke whales, dolphins, cormorants, seals and more!

  • Walk inside Fingal’s Cave on Staffa. It’s known for its incredible natural acoustics
  • See the puffins of Staffa (seasonal) and the sea life of the Treshnish Isles including whales and dolphins. It’s one of the top places to visit on the west coast of Scotland for wildlife lovers

16. Outer Hebrides 

White sands and golden grasses of Luskentyre Beach on Harris in the Outer Hebrides with mountains behind.

Endless white sand beaches, turquoise waters and ancient Neolithic history are key features of the Outer Hebrides. 

The chain of interconnected islands on the outer edge of the west of Scotland includes Barra, Uist, Lewis and Harris. The islands are inhabited and the biggest town is Stornaway on Lewis and Harris. 

Some of the best things to do in the Outer Hebrides include the Bronze Age Callanish Standing Stones , Luskentyre Sands, Gearrannan Blackhouse Village as well as hillwalking, wildlife spotting and boat tours. 

Another archipelago in the Outer Hebrides is St. Kilda. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated 40 miles west-northwest of North Uist. If you can make the distance, it’s one of the most rewarding things to do on the west coast of Scotland. 

It’s been uninhabited by humans since 1930 but over a million seabirds have made it their home instead. 

  • Visit Luskentyre Sands in Harris. Enjoy soft white sands and crystal-clear waters. It’s rated as one of the best beaches in the UK 
  • See the Callanish Standing Stones and other Neolithic sites in Lewis

Editor’s tip: Confusingly, Lewis and Harris is one big island but you might come across ‘Isle of Lewis’ and ‘Isle of Harris.’ The Harris part is to the north while the Lewis part is to the south. 

17. Islay and Jura 

A horned highland cow stands near a fence on Islay with Jura in the background.

Enjoy your whiskies? Islay and Jura offer the perfect conditions for whisky production. Currently, there are nine working distilleries on Islay and one on Jura. 

The two southernmost islands in the Inner Hebrides are separated by the Sound of Islay, a channel which is less than a mile wide. They’ve both been inhabited since 10,000 BCE!

Islay has rolling hills, a rugged coastline and more people than Jura. Jura is less populated but features mountains and red deer. 

  • Go distillery-hopping on Islay, one of the best places in Scotland for Scotch whisky
  • Go hiking on Jura and see Barnhill, the house where George Orwell finished his most famous novel, 1984 

The best places to visit on the west coast of Scotland: Final thoughts

The bumpy basalt rock of Staffa island with grass on top in the Treshnish Isles.

If you’re still wondering, “Where should I go on the west coast of Scotland?” You can’t go wrong with starting from Glasgow and following the West Highland Line north to Mallaig. From there, it’s up to you. 

The west of Scotland is home to some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes. From ancient landslides and volcanic peaks to white-sand beaches and glass-like lochs, it’s got it all. 

Add historic castles, skies free of light pollution and remote islands inhabited for millennia and you’ll have no trouble falling in love with Scotland’s west coast. 

I hope this guide has inspired you to visit some of these places on the west coast of Scotland and see this beautiful corner of the world for yourself.

Looking for more Scotland travel tips? Check out these posts!

  • 10 Days in the Scottish Highlands: The Ultimate Itinerary
  • 13 Awesome Day Trips From Edinburgh By Train Or Bus
  • Complete Scotland Packing List: What To Wear For Every Season
  • A Complete Guide to Scotland: Everything You Need to Know
  • Caledonian Sleeper Review: Is This Train Worth The Hype?
  • The Best Time To Visit The Isle Of Skye For The Perfect Trip

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About The Author

Francesca brooking.

Francesca Brooking is the Founder of Little Lost Travel. A travel expert with a passion for the planet, Francesca is on a mission to help you travel well. From Costa Rica to Jordan, she's travelled all over the world. When she's not off on an adventure, she's reviewing sustainable travel products and writing travel guides.

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tour west coast scotland

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Last Updated on 08/12/2023

adeo Travel: tailor-made tours of England, Scotland and Wales

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  • 1-866-209-4554 US & Canada Toll Free
  • +44(0)2921 660 747 UK / International

Scotland’s West Coast by Rail

Scottish Highlands Rail Tour – Enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys as you tour the scenic Western Highlands and the West Coast of Scotland by train. Experience the famous West Highland Line, cross the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct and travel over the sea to the tranquil Isle of Skye. You’ll experience the best of both worlds with overnight stays in the cultural cities of Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh and day trips to the remote landscapes of Glencoe, Skye’s northern peninsula and the shores of Loch Ness.

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Arriving into Edinburgh Airport (or Glasgow Airport), board the train to the thriving city of Glasgow. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and home to modern Scottish culture. Explore the Victorian monuments of George Square, the bustling Sauchiehall Street and the imposing Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. In the leafy West End you can visit the Kelvingrove Park and Museum set around the university quarter or head to the Merchant City to enjoy a host of modern Scottish bars and restaurants.

Overnight: Glasgow

Journey details: 1 hour 10 minutes from Glasgow Airport / 1 hour 20 minutes from Edinburgh Airport (approx.)*

Today enjoy a small-group excursion to for a taste of Scotland’s dramatic Highlands. Meet your driver and group in the heart of Glasgow then head North passing the historic town of Inveraray and its white-washed castle on route to Scotland’s scenic West Coast. Pause in Oban “Gateway-to-the-Isles” for lunch before continuing deep in to Glencoe Valley; one of the most eerily beautiful areas of Scotland and home to a tragic history of clan battles. By afternoon you’ll return South over the barren Rannoch Moor and along the banks of Scotland’s largest Loch, Loch Lomond.

Meals: Breakfast included

This morning embark on one of Scotland's famous rail journeys as you travel the West Highland Railway to Fort William. On route you will pass scenic coastline, the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond and through the heart of the desolate expanse of the Rannoch Moor. Arriving in Fort William you can spend the afternoon walking the harbour overlooking Loch Linhe, visit the Ben Nevis Distillery or the West Highland Museum for a candid history of the region. Alternatively, the brave might choose to take a hike in the foothills of the towering mountain of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest peak.

Overnight: Fort William

Journey details: 4 hours (approx.)*

Departing Fort William, continue your rail journey North on the second leg of the stunning West Highland line. Your journey will take you over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct (which features in the Harry Potter Movies) offering panoramic vistas over the Glenfinnan monument and Loch Shiel beyond. Arriving in Mallaig, board the ferry to the beautiful Isle of Skye. Here you’ll enjoy a private transfer from Armadale port to the island’s main town of Portree where you can spend the balance of the day wandering this charming port town of pastel fishing cottages overlooking the tiny harbour with the Cuillin mountains in the distance.

Overnight: Portree, Isle of Skye

Journey details: 1 hour 20 minutes to Mallaig followed by 2 hours to Portree (approx.)*

Meet a local guide and join a small-group tour for a journey dedicated to exploring the very best of Skye. Your journey will take you to the farthest reaches of the small island on a journey of discovery of its dramatic natural landscapes; spot sea and bird-life in the chilly Atlantic waters from Neist Point, pass through the enchanting Fairy Glen and tour the Trotternish Peninsula which is home to a host of unique geological features such as “The Old Man of Storr” and Kilt Rock. There’ll be ample photo-stops and the opportunity to take in some of Skye’s cultural highlights including Dunvegan Castle and Talisker Distillery.

Today, you’ll enjoy a private transfer from Portree over Skye Bridge to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the Scottish mainland. Here you can board the train and pick up yet another of Scotland’s magnificent rail journeys as you travel the North Highland Line. Your journey takes you over the barren wilderness of the Northern Highlands with views of the Torridon peaks before descending to Inverness, capital of the Highlands. Straddling the banks of the river Ness, explore this picturesque Highland town from the cobbled Mercat Cross and St Andrews Cathedral to the hill-top castle and museum.

Overnight: Inverness

Journey details: 50 minutes to Kyle of Lochalsh followed by 2 hour 40 minutes to Inverness (approx.)*

Meet a local guide and join a small-group tour dedicated to exploring the Highlands and the scenic area surrounding Scotland’s most famous loch, Loch Ness. Your journey will take you along the dramatic shores of the loch with an opportunity for a boat rip on the chilly waters and a stop at the iconic Urquhart Castle perched on the loch-side. There’ll be stops at various points of interest including the Highland towns of Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus and the picturesque Falls of Foyers.

This morning, make a final rail journey south to taking you through the heart of the Cairngorm National Park with stunning mountain vistas before arriving in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. Explore this magnificent city from the winding streets of the cobbled old town to the wide avenues of the opulent Georgian new town. Stroll past the Gothic Burns Monument and through Princes Street Gardens before climbing the Royal Mile to the city's centrepiece at the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and St Margaret's Chapel.

Overnight: Edinburgh

Journey details: 3 hours and 30 minutes (approx.)*

Today explore Edinburgh in more depth; perhaps enjoy a spot shopping along Princes Street, visit Scotland’s national museums and galleries or discover “Royal” Edinburgh with visits to the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queens Edinburgh residence, or the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith Docks, the official Royal yacht for over forty years. You may choose to visit the seat of Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, climb Arthur’s Seat for amazing cityscape vistas or simply soak up the Edinburgh’s excellent pub scene.

Today bid farewell to Scotland as you return to Edinburgh Airport for your return flight to your home nation.

Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Glencoe, Scotland

Glencoe, Scotland

tour west coast scotland

Fort William, Scottish Highlands

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

tour west coast scotland

Inverness, Highlands, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness, Scotland

Panoramic view of Edinburgh castle from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Panoramic view of Edinburgh castle from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

*Journey times and distances are estimates and are based on the direct route between the start location and end location for each day of the itinerary, where applicable. They do not include detours or stops for sightseeing.

Map - Scotland's West Coast by Rail 2024 + day tours

What's included

  • 9 nights accommodation (suggested accommodations listed below).
  • Full cooked Scottish breakfast each morning.
  • BritRail Spirit of Scotland (8 in 15 day) Rail Passes – Passes offer 8 separate days of travel on the Scottish Rail Network within a 15 day period. Travel is fully flexible and completely unlimited on each day of use and will cover all outlined rail journeys. Rail pass also covers your ferry crossing to the Isle of Skye.
  • Private transfers to / from Portree on the Isle of Skye.
  • Oban, Glencoe, Highland Lochs and Castles tour from Glasgow.
  • Best of Skye day tour from Portree on the Isle of Skye.
  • Loch Ness day tour from Inverness.
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Adeo travel documents pack and suggested rail schedule information for each of your point-to-point journeys including journey durations and departure stations and travel departure times etc.
  • Toll-free calls (from USA and Canada) to your Britain vacation specialist whilst planning your trip.
  • Expert assistance during the planning of your trip and local out-of-hours number for use during travel.

Suggested accommodations

  • Hotel Indigo Glasgow, Glasgow x 2 night
  • The Garrison Hotel, Fort William x 1 night
  • The Cuillin Hills Hotel, Portree x 2 nights
  • Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness x 2 nights
  • Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh x 2 nights

As our rail tours are fully customizable we can tailor the suggested accommodations for your particular quotation based on your preferences, budget etc.

Unless otherwise requested all suggested accommodations for our rail tours will be within walking distance or a short taxi journey from the local railway station.

Optional extras

  • Add a city sightseeing open top bus tour in Glasgow, Inverness or Edinburgh.
  • Add a day-tour from Edinburgh to visit he historic town of St Andrews and the fishing villages of Fife.

Customize this tour!

  • Add a night in the central highland town of Pitlochry on route between Inverness and Edinburgh.
  • Combine this tour with one of our other rail itineraries.
  • Travel on the Glasgow Subway rail networks – these are separate to the national rail network and your Britail Passes will not be valid.
  • Taxis / transfers from train stations to your hotels (except on Skye) – taxis are readily available at all major train stations in the UK and hotel receptions / concierges will be happy to call local taxi firms for collection on days of departure.
  • Trip Insurance – we ask that our guests purchase suitable cover in case planned travel is affected or disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances. More information on the benefits of trip insurance can be found here .
  • Flights – adeo Travel do not book air travel but are happy to offer advice on where to seek competitive airfare.
  • Meals and/or sightseeing other than that outlined above.

Departure Dates 2023/2024

This self-guided tour is customizable and can be taken at any time throughout the year and starting and ending on any day of the week - simply let us know your preferred dates of travel!

Pricing 2023/2024

Twin/Double - from GBP £2,095 per person.

Single supplements apply for single occupancy rooms, please ask for a quotation for details.

Pricing Notes

  • Above pricing is an estimated "from" price based on shoulder-season travel (April/October). As this tour can be taken at any time pricing will vary dependent on departure day, date of travel, selected accommodations etc.
  • Above pricing is based on suggested accommodations listed however please note that we can tailor your specific quote to accommodate your budget and preferences.
  • Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room with one adult BritRail pass per person as specified. (Please enquire for single supplement)
  • Prices are for land only travel and do not include flights.
  • Prices are in GBP£ currency, for approximate amounts in other currencies please contact us.
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Where to go in West Scotland: a 2-week road trip itinerary

Jemima Forbes | Posted on March 15, 2023 |

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It’s 100% true: Scotland is filled with dramatic craggy mountain ranges, miles of open road and dozens of white-sand beaches that really do rival those found in the Caribbean (trust me, I used to live in the Cayman Islands). Wondering where to go in West Scotland? A road trip around the west coast is a wonderful way to soak up the nation’s most outstanding locales, sample some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste, and immerse yourself in a little Scottish history. Driving is a pleasure in this part of the world, with spectacular views at every turn. Not got the time or the budget to spend a month island-hopping around the entire Outer Hebrides? This shorter two-week route takes you on an adventure around a chunk of the Highlands and two incredible isles.

You’ll want to choose when you go carefully. Too early in the year and you’ll be hit by stormy weather, ferry crossing delays and a lack of places to dine (many venues, especially on the islands, close in the winter). And while mid-summer may bring the warmest climes, it’s also prime time for midges. Spring or September are your best bets.

Day 1-3 – Loch Lomond and Inveraray

Day 3-6 – glencoe, fort william, fort augustus and glenfinnan, day 6-10 – isle of skye, day 10-14 – harris and lewis, loch lomond.

tour west coast scotland

Beginning your trip in Glasgow? It’s an easy drive north-west to the bonnie shores of Loch Lomond. Scotland’s largest loch is a playground for outdoor lovers and you’ll have no trouble filling a day or two with activities.

Things to do in Loch Lomond:

  • Balmaha on the east side of the loch is a must-visit for water sports. Catch the small local ferry across to Inchcailloch island (takes just 10 minutes) to explore its wild, untouched interiors and charming coves.
  • Alternatively, hire kayaks or paddle boards from Balmaha House and explore Milarrochy Bay, just north of Balmaha.
  • If the weather’s decent, there are heaps of hiking trails. Complete a section of the West Highland Way or tackle the lofty heights of Ben Lomond.

Where to stay : Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel

tour west coast scotland

Set off early and head around Loch Lomond’s western shores, stopping off in Luss for a mid-morning coffee. The small village is extremely photogenic with its traditional stone cottages and vast beach. Continue north, taking in the stunning loch views, and then turn off at Tarbet towards Arrochar.

To get to Inveraray, you’ll drive along the dramatic Rest and Be Thankful Road (aka the A83). Make sure you pull in at the car park at the viewpoint for a photo op. When you reach Loch Fyne, you’ll find the road traces the shoreline. Make a pitstop at Loch Fyne Ales at the northernmost tip to pick up some locally-brewed beer before continuing to Inveraray.

Things to do in Inveraray:

  • Tour the interiors of grand Inveraray Castle (which has been featured in several films and TV shows) between April and October.
  • Alternatively, explore the castle grounds for free. If you have time, walk up to Dun Na Cuaiche (takes about 90 minutes) for epic vistas across Loch Fyne and beyond.
  • Head into Inverary Jail (one of Europe’s best-preserved 19th-century jails) to explore its courthouse and cells.
  • Stroll around the town centre to admire its black and white Georgian buildings.
  • Feeling peckish? Check out Brambles Café for a mix of hearty Scottish and global food, including plenty of seafood. There’s also The George for pub grub or the FYNE Fish and Chip Shop.

Where to stay: Inveraray Hostel

Day 3-6 – Glencoe, Fort William, Glenfinnan and Fort Augustus

tour west coast scotland

After breakfast in Inveraray (Ocho Inveraray if you’re feeling fancy, Campbell Coffee if you prefer a simple caffeine hit), head north on the A819. After 20 minutes, you’ll come across the ruined Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe. Stretch your legs by wandering around its exterior and then make a minor detour to the wonderfully ornate St Conan’s Kirk. Even if you’re not a fan of churches, this lochside one is pretty spectacular.

Afterwards, retrace your steps to Kilchurn Castle and head west on the A85 to Tyndrum. The town’s mountainous, tree-lined scenery is reminiscent of Canada and there’s a quirky diner called the Real Food Café that’s ideal for lunch. From there, it’s only a 40-minute drive along a truly stunning stretch of road to Glencoe.

Things to do in Glencoe:

  • Visit the Glencoe Mountain Resort and catch the chairlift up to the summit for a walk or to admire the views. The lift is open all year round, not just during ski season.
  • Pop into the Glencoe Visitor Centre (note it’s £4 to enter the car park) to discover more about the area’s history and geography.
  • Pull on your hiking boots and trek one of the many trails in the area. The Glen Lochan Trail is a nice easy pick that traces the Loch Leven shoreline. Or, you could trek through lush Glen Coe itself to An Torr and Signal Rock.
  • Take a drive down the Glen Etive Road that was made famous in the James Bond film Skyfall . Keep your eyes peeled for red deer and stags.

Where to stay: Glencoe Youth Hostel

Fort William

tour west coast scotland

After a morning exploring Glencoe, journey north to Fort William. As well as its historical significance during the Jacobite Rising during the 18th century, it sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest mountain.

It’s also the jumping-off point for several brilliant day trips. Harry Potter fans will want to journey 25 minutes west to Glenfinnan to see its impressive viaduct. There’s also Fort Augustus further north which sits on the shores of Loch Ness.

Things to do in and around Fort William:

  • Tick Ben Nevis off your hiking bucket list – there are two major routes up this now inactive volcano, with the more straightforward one leaving from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre.
  • Check out the Caledonian Canal on a hike, a bike ride or by hiring kayaks/canoes. This 60-mile-long waterway was built in the 1820s and cuts through a trio of lochs between Corpach (just outside Fort William) and Inverness.
  • Soak up some local history at the West Highland Museum. It might be small but it’s got some excellent displays about the clan wars and the Jacobites.
  • Visit Glenfinnan to snap pictures of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. You can then walk the well-signposted trail to its vintage train station. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a steam train on the tracks!
  • There’s also the Glenfinnan monument on the shores of Loch Shiel which commemorates the Highlanders who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite Rebellion.
  • Drive 30 miles north to Fort Augustus to glimpse the legendary shores of Loch Ness. The Caledonian Canal also passes through the town and there are lots of cafes overlooking its impressive tiered lock system.
  • Seek out the WWII Commando Memorial near Spean Ridge (en route to Fort Augustus) for epic vistas of Ben Nevis.
  • There are various other walking trails in the local area. Why not walk a part of the West Highland Way or trek up to Steall Waterfall – the second-highest waterfall in the country?

Where to stay: There are several hostels in Fort William . The Glen Nevis Youth Hostel is ideal if you want to wake up early and tackle Scotland’s highest peak.

tour west coast scotland

You could spend a week on Skye and still not do it justice. A few days is just enough time to get a taste of this magnificent island – from its abundance of natural beauty spots to its intriguing heritage sites and countless places serving tasty local cuisine.

There are two ways to reach the Isle of Skye from Fort William: by road via Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge or by ferry from Mallaig. The first option is free and gives you a chance to stop off at Eilean Donan Castle – one of the most photogenic castles in Scotland.

Things to do in Skye:

  • Visit the iconic Fairy Pools for a hike. If you’re brave enough, pack your swimming stuff and take a dip in one of the bright blue (yet absolutely freezing) plunge pools. Stop at nearby Café Cuil afterwards to warm up with a coffee and cinnamon bun.
  • Seek out the town of Dunvegan in northwest Skye. Its handsome castle overlooking the sea is owned by the MacLeod clan and it’s worth the entry price. They organise seal-watching trips on good weather days, too. Afterwards, check out the Dunvegan Pub for tasty local food and a great choice of Scottish beer and cider.
  • Drive beyond Dunvegan Castle to Coral Beach. It’s about a 20-minute walk from the car park to the small cove which gets its name from the crushed pink and white coral sand along its shore.
  • Head to Carbost on the west side of the island. It’s home to the Talisker Distillery (which has a very cool visitor centre) and The Oyster Shed – a rustic market and dining spot serving fresh oysters, soft-shell crab and other local seasonal seafood.
  • You can’t visit Skye without glimpsing the Old Man of Storr. Located a short drive north of Portree, the craggy hill is insanely picturesque and offers up brilliant views across the Sound of Raasay. Further along the coast is the Quiraing, another epic destination for a hike.
  • Go for a walk around the enchanting Fairy Glen. Its hilly landscape is like something out of a fantasy novel.
  • Potter around Portree, Skye’s main town, for a few hours. Its harbour is lined with colourful buildings and there’s a wide selection of places to eat, from fish and chip shops to vegetarian-friendly bistros.
  • Got some time before your ferry? Stop into the Isle of Skye Brewing Company shop in Uig to pick up a few local ales and stouts.

Where to stay: Portree has plenty of hostels and is within easy distance of the Uig ferry port.

tour west coast scotland

Despite their separate names, Harris and Lewis actually form two sides of the same island. They’re part of the Outer Hebrides and are a once-in-a-lifetime destination to visit thanks to their wild landscapes, including plenty of idyllic beaches.

The pace of life is slow and it’s not uncommon to have to stop to let wildlife – whether that’s herds of sheep or the odd furry Highland cow – pass by. Getting to Tarbert in Harris is easy by ferry from Uig in Skye and takes under three hours (you might even spot dolphins swimming alongside the ship).

It’s worth booking your ferry well in advance, especially if you’re bringing a car, as spots are limited.

Things to do in Harris and Lewis:

  • Visit the Isle of Harris gin distillery in Tarbert for tastings and gifts. There’s also the Harris Tweed shop opposite if you want to buy a tartan-themed souvenir.
  • Go beach hopping along the west coast of Harris. Luskentyre is the most famous (and for good reason – it is simply stunning), but don’t skip Seilebost, Sgarasta Mhor or Nisabost.
  • Brave the windy single-track road (don’t worry, there are plenty of passing places) to Hushinish. The remote beach is truly breath-taking, with turquoise water and soft white sand that’s flecked with wildflowers during the spring and summer. There’s also a small, unmanned visitor centre with hot showers if you want to take a dip in the sea or stay overnight in a campervan.
  • Hike from Hushinish to a secret beach. Secluded Traigh Mheilein is one of the most stunning sandy beaches in the Hebrides and you’ll likely have the entire thing to yourself. The walk there is an adventure, too – wear sturdy shoes and watch out for wandering sheep.
  • Visit the Callanish Stones in Lewis. There are at least five different ancient stone circles scattered around the Callanish area. The most intact lie right next to the visitor centre, although if you drive north down the B8011 for a few minutes, you’ll spot the Callanish 4 stones on your right.
  • Do a loop around Harris (takes about an hour) to admire the rocky moon-like landscape. If you’re driving at dusk, keep an eye out for seals playing in the shallows along the shore.
  • Enjoy a scenic drive around Lewis’ east coast to seek out coastal beauty spots like the glorious Garry Beach. Alternatively, the desert-like Uig Sands beach is a 30 minute drive from Callanish.
  • Crust – perhaps the most remote pizza takeaway in Scotland located en route to Callanish.
  • Lorna’s Larder – serves scallop-stuffed rolls and other seafood delights at Tarbert Marina.
  • Island Bites – also in Tarbert and perfect for picking up ciabatta sandwiches before catching the ferry back to Skye.

Where to stay: If you’re travelling in a campervan, you’ll find plenty of scenic spots to pitch up for the night. There are also a few excellent campsites, especially on Harris.

If you’re not extending your trip to include the rest of the Hebrides, hop back on the ferry at Tarbert to Skye. To break up your return journey, you could always stop off in Fort William for a night (it’s roughly halfway to Glasgow).

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tour west coast scotland

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Tobermory, Treshnish, Staffa

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In and Around Mull

Explore the island on our local bus routes

The insider's guide to Mull, Iona, Staffa and the Treshnish Isles.

Tours from Mull

tour west coast scotland

The Three Isles Tour (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Adult £71 | Child £35

tour west coast scotland

Mull and Iona (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Adult £38 | Child £19

tour west coast scotland

Tobermory, Treshnish and Staffa (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Adult £81 | Child £40

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Tobermory and Staffa (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Adult £69 | Child £35

tour west coast scotland

Wildlife Tour (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Adult £75 | Child £37

tour west coast scotland

Three Isles Early Bird (Departing from Craignure, Mull)

Best of the west coast – scotland’s hidden gems.

Scotland undoubtedly holds a bounty of riches for travellers and explorers visiting the country, from the historic and bustling cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to the majestic highlands and our world famous exports.

Best of the West Coast - Scotland's hidden gems

But only a short jaunt away from the shopping, nightlife and modernity of the central belt, travellers can uncover a trove of thriving towns and communities along Scotland’s West Coast. Blending seamlessly into modern cosmopolitan Scotland, the islands of the West Coast offer an insight into more traditional Scottish culture, and boast some of the rarest and most sought after experiences in the world.

Set against the backdrop of Ben More, one of Scotland’s most famous Munros, the Isle of Mull is renowned for its incredible wildlife and nature. Eagles, otters, dolphins and whales adorn the landscape, providing a unique experience for naturists and hillwalkers alike.

The island’s capital, Tobermory, is popular among tourists for its great coffee shops and famous colourful houses, as well as the beautiful Aros Waterfall. The famed Tobermory topper gives tourists a fully-guided coastal tour from Craignure to Tobermory. With the weather on your side, make the most of Mull’s distinct beaches and coastal views; the clear waters and white sands of Calgary Bay can match the best in the world.

Located just west of Mull, Staffa is known as Scotland’s ‘magic isle’. Despite covering less than a quarter of a square mile, Staffa impacts tourists and prominent cultural figures alike, from the artist JMW Turner to composer Mendelssohn. The most awe-inspiring feature of Staffa is certainly Fingals Cave. Part of a great network of sea caves, the ‘Cave of Melody’ (An Uamh Binn in Gaelic) was formed over 50 million years ago in the same lava flow that shaped the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Surrouned by a mass of sea birds and flanked by the imposing basalt columns, the entrance to Fingals cave is both a geological and ornithological marvel. Visiting the island you’ll also learn of the mystery and myth that surrounds 3rd century Irish general Finn MacCumhail and his warriors, for whom they say the cave is named.

Known for its peace, tranquillity and stunning landscape, small Iona has a mysterious and spiritual past. Revered by many, the ‘holy isle’ is said to be the final resting place of over 50 Scottish, Norwegian and Irish kings. The island is peppered with spiritual sites, mainly from early Christianity, with stunning celtic crosses and the beautifully restored Iona abbey. The island is also believed to be where the famous celtic crosses were first created. You can also sample some of the freshest and most delicious seafood Scotland has to offer.

Over the summer months the town of Oban turns into a bustling hive of activity, with tourists flocking from all over the world to make the most of the unbeatable views, excellent cuisine and inviting atmosphere. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is superbly located to make the most of the surrounding islands with a number of fantastic, widely varying tours available.

Venturing beyond Scotland’s contemporary urban sprawl is a must for any traveller and explorer. Scotland’s west coast offers unparalleled experiences that have inspired some of the most important cultural works in its history.

With daily tours and trips available from Oban (only 2 hours from Glasgow), there’s a unique experience to be had for every traveller and explorer of Scotland’s west coast.

Thinking of The Three Isles?

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The Treshnish Isles from Oban

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A Foodie’s Road Trip on Scotland’s West Coast

Home > Blog > A Foodie’s Road Trip on Scotland’s West Coast

“Eat local, eat fresh, eat natural.”

It’s a mantra resounding across the foodie world and, luckily, an easy goal to strive towards in Scotland. The entire foundation of Scottish food culture and identity is based on natural ingredients easily found in our great outdoors – think Scottish raspberries in a traditional cranachan dessert, haddock that abounds in the surrounding seas used to create our traditional fish soup Cullen skink, or a Scottish roast beef accompanied by local root vegetables grown in Scotland’s fertile green spaces.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Porter & Rye (@porterandrye) on Jun 2, 2018 at 7:13am PDT

While haggis may spring to mind when you think of Scottish cuisine, what epitomises our cooking is not the stereotypical dishes but rather our fresh, natural produce. By the end of this blog, you may be sick of me using the words “local” and “home-made”, for they chime out of tiny cafes and large restaurants across Scotland.

Scotland’s west coast offers jaw-dropping scenery and some of the very best Scottish food experiences, and this is my guide to making the most of this foodie coastline. The incredible seafood bars and Michelin-recommended restaurants feature, of course, but so do smaller cafes that serve up a hearty slice of cake and a creamy cappuccino. It’s all about exciting your palate and warming your heart as you drive this stunning country …

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Stacy Smith (@stacy__j__smith) on Feb 16, 2019 at 7:59am PST

First nibbles …

Starting from Glasgow, my foodie journey begins by heading north to beautiful and mesmerising Loch Lomond – the biggest expanse of inland water in the UK and the perfect spot for a picnic. Take a stroll up one of the iconic hills close at hand such as Conic Hill beside Balmaha, or the Cobbler at Arrochar. Here you can have a welcome stretch of the legs ready to pack in as much food as possible.

At the picturesque village of Luss, stopping for refreshments at the  Coach House Coffee Shop  is compulsory. Here they fill their teapots to the brim and their cakes come in generous slices.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Coach House Coffee Shop (@coachhousecoffeeshop) on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:15am PDT

Loch Fyne …

Venturing on towards the shores of Loch Fyne along the A83, you’ll travel past the iconic beauty spot the  Rest and Be Thankful . On the shores of Loch Fyne is the legendary  Loch Fyne Oyster Bar , a Scottish gastronomic icon where clean and unfussy seafood allows you to delve wholeheartedly into the fresh flavours and beautiful views. The menu continuously changes depending on the season and the catch brought in by fishermen each day.

The restaurant focuses on supporting the local community through the provision of the very best seafood sourced with the least environmental impact possible. Some favourite dishes are the oysters served with smoked anchovies and parmesan and the Tarbert scallops, smoked bacon and garlic butter – a sublime culinary experience.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Home of Good Eats & Recipes (@that_foodguy_scotland) on Jan 23, 2019 at 3:42am PST

Close at hand the exemplary seafood can be washed down with a beer from  Fyne Ales Brewery , made using water from the hills surrounding their spectacular Glen Fyne location.

Stock up on some bottles for later or perhaps choose to try the succulent steak pie served up in their bar, made using beef sourced from their own herd of highland cattle.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Fyne Ales (@fyneales) on Nov 21, 2016 at 4:34am PST

Heading up the coast …

The coast now beckons, but along the way I’d visit picture-perfect Inveraray for some sightseeing at the 19th-century Jail. A caffeine and cake hit is again needed upon passing Lochgilphead – the thick chocolate tiffin from The Square Peg would be my traybake of choice.

From here it is just 15 minutes to Crinan where the renowned seafood bar of the Crinan Hotel awaits. Dinner is served just 50 yards from the pier where the freshest seafood is landed each day. Dine on jumbo prawns, crayfish, clams, lobster, mussels or oysters as you watch the bustling life of the sea lock.

Upstairs, the Michelin recommended Westward Restaurant offers five-course gourmet dinners overlooking the sea towards the Isle of Jura and the whirling Corryvreckan. Their seasonal menu features delights such as Sound of Jura lobster and whole Loch Crinan langoustines with garlic aioli, as well as non-seafood dishes such as a roast rack of mouthwatering Argyll lamb.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Crinan Hotel (@thecrinanhotel) on Jul 4, 2018 at 5:28am PDT

On to Oban …

Meandering up the coastline to my next eating destination, stop for some culture at Kilmartin Glen. This is a special place and one of the most important archaeological sites in Scotland – start at the museum and be sure to visit their stone barn cafe and courtyard. The homemade (of course) white chocolate and cranberry scones are unequivocally delicious.

Reaching Oban, ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital’ – the choice of seafood and classic fish and chips is overwhelming. By the ferry terminal, you can purchase langoustines plucked fresh from the sea. Nearby, a hot smoked salmon sandwich from the Oban Seafood Hut or Food From Argyll at The Pier may be the best bread and filling combination you’ve ever eaten.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Shehnaz Bashir RD ???????????????????????????? (@gutsy_dietitian) on Jul 22, 2018 at 12:13pm PDT

Along the main street, you can buy salt and vinegar-laden chips and look out to the harbour.

For something to satisfy that undeniable post-savoury sweetness craving, the  Oban Chocolate Cafe  serves up white and milk chocolate fish and chips in a newspaper-lined box, Irn Bru and whisky truffles, and chocolate orange waffles topped with handmade chocolate flakes.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Oban Chocolate Company (@obanchocolate) on Dec 16, 2018 at 1:00pm PST

Hopping across to the Isle of Mull …

Having sat staring out to sea admiring the beautiful views and basking in the joy of trying some of the best seafood in Scotland I wouldn’t yet be content. The sea itself calls and my next stop is across the water.

A 45-minute ferry from Oban, the Isle of Mull is famous for wildlife, the coloured houses that line the pretty harbour of Tobermory and most importantly, its wonderful, locally-produced food and drink.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Hidden Scotland (@hiddenscotland) on Feb 9, 2019 at 5:44am PST

Mull is home to the world-famous  Isle of Mull cheddar  – a brand synonymous with premium quality. At the island’s dairy farm you can watch firsthand as the ivory-coloured cheese is crafted to create a distinctively sharp and fruity flavour.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by bridgeland market (@bridgelandmarket) on Dec 3, 2018 at 1:51pm PST

A visit to Mull would be incomplete without visiting the amazing  Cafe Fish  in Tobermory where the portions are enormous and quality sublime.

Set idyllically overlooking the harbour, their menu is scribbled onto a board each day and features the freshest ingredients possible. Their Sound of Mull scallops with a Malaysian coconut and turmeric laksa sauce are the perfect fusion of international spice and sea flavours.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Luca Magaró (@lucamagaro)

Off the beaten track …

Would you take a ferry just to reach exceptional food? A delicious idea to me! Getting to  The Whitehouse Restaurant  by Lochaline is not easy, but after the Corran ferry and a 12-mile drive south, your tastebuds will be richly rewarded with a menu underpinned by locally-foraged ingredients and simple flavours. They offer a carefully-sourced 4 to 6-course tasting menu that is worth every picturesque mile.

Perhaps try smoked mackerel terrine, Gigha halibut exquisitely decorated with edible flowers, or crab and smoked salmon ravioli … need I say more?

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Whitehouse Restaurant (@thewhitehouserestaurant) on Sep 5, 2017 at 11:24pm PDT

Inland to Fort William …

For the crème de la crème of Scottish dining experiences, head to the opulent  Inverlochy Castle Hotel  for a once in a lifetime meal in magnificent, royal surroundings. Their fine dining rooms are charmingly decorated with decadent furniture gifted by the King of Norway and their 3 AA rosette restaurant runs seamlessly under the expert rule of legendary father and son duo Albert and Michel Roux. Not to mention the setting …

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Inverlochy Castle Hotel (@inverlochycastlehotel) on Jul 20, 2017 at 2:28pm PDT

The menu focuses on modern British cuisine with French influences, created using the best local produce. Their tasting menu is a fabulous option to trial your taste buds on exquisitely presented and mind-bogglingly creative dishes such as their recent seaweed cured sea trout or roast Atlantic cod.

If you fancy a truly British experience you could also book in for  afternoon tea   for a memorably indulgent end to your Scottish foodie adventure.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Inverlochy Castle Hotel (@inverlochycastlehotel) on Mar 3, 2018 at 6:51am PST

Eat Your Way Around Scotland

If you are a foodie like me I highly recommend basing your holiday around a few iconic Scottish culinary experiences. Didn’t I mention you’d be sick of me saying that everything is local? Come and see for yourself!

Caitlin Rush

P.S.  Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in  self-drive holidays  in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job – we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one.  Send us an enquiry  now and start planning your delicious trip to Scotland!

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West Bay: Video shows three rockfalls block beach

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Drone footage has shown the extent of three large landslips that have blocked access to a beach in Dorset.

The video showed the aftermath of the cliff collapse and large pieces of rock left jutting out perilously over the beach at West Bay, Bridport.

The last known large collapse on East Beach happened in November following Storm Ciarán.

Dorset Council has warned people to stay clear of the area and in a post on social media added: "If you are out on the coast, please stay safe by taking notice of warning signs and keep to existing paths."

Video by West Bay Photography

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