Edinburgh is renowned for its historic architecture, stunning landscapes, and rich culture, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. But beyond the city limits, Scotland offers an array of breathtaking destinations that are best explored by car. From the dramatic coastline to the rugged mountains and rolling hills, there are numerous drives that promise to take your breath away. Here, we've put together a list of the best drives from Edinburgh that you simply can't miss.
The Scottish Highlands are home to some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world, and the best way to explore them is by car. Beginning your journey from Edinburgh, take the A9 road north, and brace yourself for one of the most beautiful drives in the country. Along the way, be sure to stop at Pitlochry, a charming town nestled in the heart of the Highlands. From there, continue on to Inverness, the gateway to the Highlands, and explore the stunning scenery of the Cairngorms National Park and Glen Coe, one of Scotland's most famous valleys. With soaring mountains, shimmering lochs and cascading waterfalls, the Scottish Highlands offer an unforgettable driving experience.
Aside from the breathtaking landscapes, the Scottish Highlands are also rich in history and culture. Visitors can explore ancient castles, such as Eilean Donan Castle, which dates back to the 13th century, or visit the Culloden Battlefield, where the Jacobite uprising came to a tragic end in 1746. The Highlands are also home to a vibrant Gaelic culture, with traditional music, dance, and language still thriving in many communities. Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a ceilidh, a traditional Scottish social gathering with music and dancing, or by trying some of the delicious local cuisine, such as haggis, neeps, and tatties.
The North Coast 500 route is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful driving routes in the world. Starting from Inverness, this 500-mile circular route takes you around the stunning coastline of the Northern Highlands, offering breathtaking views of beaches, castles, and mountains. Along the way, take a detour to the remote village of Applecross, where you can relax and enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the country. As you continue your journey, be sure to visit the historic town of Ullapool, and the picturesque village of Dornoch. The North Coast 500 is a true gem that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
One of the highlights of the North Coast 500 is the opportunity to see some of Scotland's most iconic wildlife. Keep an eye out for red deer, golden eagles, and even dolphins and whales in the waters off the coast. If you're lucky, you might even spot a rare Scottish wildcat.
For those who want to explore the area on foot, there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from. The Torridon Mountains offer some of the most challenging hikes in the region, while the Fairy Glen near Uig is a more gentle option. Whatever your level of fitness, there's a trail to suit you.
East Lothian is a hidden gem that's often overlooked by visitors to Scotland. But with its stunning coastline, rolling hills, and quaint villages, it's a fantastic place to explore by car. Beginning your journey in Edinburgh, take the A1 road east and head towards the coastal town of North Berwick. From there, follow the coastline south, and explore the beautiful beaches, wildlife reserves, and golf courses that make East Lothian a truly unique destination.
One of the must-visit attractions in East Lothian is the Scottish Seabird Centre, located in North Berwick. The centre offers a range of interactive exhibits and live cameras that allow visitors to observe the local seabirds, including puffins, gannets, and terns, in their natural habitat. It's a great place to learn about the local wildlife and the importance of conservation efforts in the area.
The Scottish Borders offer a perfect mix of stunning countryside and interesting history. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A68 road south and be prepared to be astounded by the beautiful scenery. Along the way, be sure to stop at Jedburgh, a charming town that's home to the impressive Jedburgh Abbey. From there, explore the rolling hills and picturesque villages of the Scottish Borders, and visit the towns of Melrose and Kelso, before heading back to Edinburgh.
One of the must-visit attractions in the Scottish Borders is the Abbotsford House, the former home of Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scottish author. The house is located near the town of Melrose and is open to visitors who can explore the beautiful gardens and learn about the life and works of Sir Walter Scott.
If you're a fan of outdoor activities, the Scottish Borders won't disappoint you. The region is known for its excellent hiking trails, including the Southern Upland Way, a long-distance trail that stretches from the west to the east coast of Scotland. You can also go cycling, fishing, or horse riding in the countryside, or try your hand at golf at one of the many golf courses in the area.
St Andrews, located on the east coast of Scotland, is world-renowned as the home of golf. But beyond the fairways, the town offers an array of attractions that make it a popular tourist destination. Starting your journey in Edinburgh, take the A92 road north, and enjoy a leisurely drive through the Kingdom of Fife. Stop at the charming villages of Crail and Anstruther, and explore the historic ruins of St Andrews Castle and Cathedral. Whether you're a golf enthusiast or not, St Andrews is a must-see destination that shouldn't be missed.
Aside from its golfing heritage, St Andrews is also known for its prestigious university, which was founded in the 15th century. The university's stunning architecture and beautiful grounds make it a popular spot for visitors to explore. Additionally, the town boasts a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, offering visitors a chance to indulge in some retail therapy or sample some delicious Scottish cuisine. Whether you're interested in history, golf, or simply soaking up the charming atmosphere of a Scottish town, St Andrews has something for everyone.
The east coast of Scotland is dotted with charming fishing villages that offer a glimpse into Scotland's maritime heritage. Beginning your journey in Edinburgh, take the A1 road north and head towards the picturesque village of Dunbar. Along the way, explore the historic coastal towns of North Berwick and Dunbar, and visit the charming fishing villages of Crail and Pittenweem. The east coast of Scotland is a hidden gem that offers a unique glimpse into Scotland's culture and history.
As you continue your journey along the east coast, make sure to stop by the village of St. Andrews, known for its famous golf course and historic university. Take a stroll through the town's medieval streets and visit the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century.
If you're a seafood lover, don't miss out on the chance to try some of the freshest seafood in Scotland. Many of the fishing villages along the east coast have local seafood restaurants that serve up delicious dishes made with locally caught fish and shellfish.
Aberdeenshire is home to some of the most impressive castles and historic ruins in the country, and the best way to explore them is by car. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A90 road north and head towards Aberdeen. Along the way, explore the stunning countryside, and visit the historic town of St Andrews. From there, continue on to the picturesque town of Braemar, and visit the stunning Braemar Castle. Aberdeenshire is a fantastic destination for history enthusiasts and offers a glimpse into Scotland's rich heritage.
One of the most fascinating castles to visit in Aberdeenshire is Dunnottar Castle, located just south of Stonehaven. This medieval fortress sits atop a rocky cliff overlooking the North Sea and has a rich history dating back to the 14th century. Visitors can explore the castle's ruins and learn about its role in Scottish history, including its use as a hiding place for the Scottish crown jewels during the 17th century.
Another must-see attraction in Aberdeenshire is the Culloden Battlefield, located just outside of Inverness. This historic site marks the location of the final battle of the Jacobite rising in 1746, where the British army defeated the Jacobite forces. Visitors can explore the battlefield and learn about the events leading up to the battle, as well as the aftermath and its impact on Scottish history.
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is a stunning destination that offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. Starting from Edinburgh, take the M9 road north and head towards Stirling. From there, continue on to Loch Lomond, where you can explore the stunning loch and the nearby Trossachs National Park. Along the way, be sure to stop at the charming village of Callander, and the historic town of Stirling, where you can visit the impressive Stirling Castle. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is a true gem that offers a fantastic driving experience.
One of the best ways to experience Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is by taking a hike. There are numerous trails that offer breathtaking views of the loch and the surrounding mountains. The West Highland Way, which starts in Milngavie and ends in Fort William, passes through the park and is a popular choice for hikers. If you prefer a more leisurely stroll, there are plenty of shorter walks that offer stunning scenery.
In addition to its natural beauty, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is also home to a rich cultural heritage. The park has a number of historic sites, including the ruins of the 13th-century Balloch Castle and the 18th-century Inveraray Castle. There are also several museums and galleries that showcase the area's history and art. Whether you're interested in nature, history, or culture, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has something for everyone.
Cairngorms National Park is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in Scotland, and the best way to explore them is by car. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A9 road north and head towards Aviemore. From there, explore the stunning Cairngorms National Park, and be sure to visit the charming towns of Grantown-on-Spey and Braemar. Cairngorms National Park is a true gem that offers a fantastic driving experience that's not to be missed.
Perthshire, also known as Scotland's 'Big Tree Country', is home to some of the most impressive forests and woodlands in the country. Starting from Edinburgh, take the M90 road north and head towards Perth. From there, explore the stunning countryside, and visit the charming town of Dunkeld, home to the stunning Dunkeld Cathedral. From there, continue on to the picturesque town of Pitlochry, and explore the stunning forests and woodlands that make Perthshire a truly unique destination.
The Isle of Skye is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Scotland, and the best way to explore it is by car. Starting from Edinburgh, take the M90 road north and head towards Fort William. From there, take the A87 road west and head towards the Isle of Skye. Along the way, explore the stunning scenery, and be sure to visit the charming town of Portree, the largest town on the island. The Isle of Skye is a true gem that offers an unforgettable driving experience.
Glen Coe is one of the most famous valleys in Scotland, renowned for its stunning scenery and rich history. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A82 road north and head towards Glen Coe. Along the way, explore the stunning countryside, and be sure to stop at the charming village of Tyndrum. Upon arrival in Glen Coe, take the time to explore the stunning valley, and visit the historic Glencoe Village, home to the infamous 1692 massacre. Glen Coe is a true gem that offers a fantastic driving experience that's not to be missed.
The Kingdom of Fife is home to some of the most charming towns and villages in Scotland, making it a fantastic destination to explore by car. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A92 road north and head towards the picturesque town of St Andrews. From there, explore the charming villages of Anstruther and Crail, both of which are home to fantastic seafood restaurants and quaint shops. The Kingdom of Fife is a true gem that offers a unique driving experience that's not to be missed.
The Pentland Hills offer a fantastic day trip destination for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Scotland. Starting from Edinburgh, take the A702 road south, and be prepared to be astounded by the stunning scenery. Along the way, be sure to stop at the charming village of Penicuik, and explore the stunning hills and rolling countryside. The Pentland Hills offer a fantastic driving experience that's perfect for those who want to escape the city and explore Scotland's natural beauty.
From the stunning coastline to the rolling countryside and rugged mountains, Scotland offers an array of fantastic driving destinations that promise to take your breath away. With Edinburgh as your starting point, these 12 drives are the best way to explore the beauty and charm of Scotland. So, what are you waiting for? Rent a car, hit the road and explore the best drives from Edinburgh.