With thousands of miles of dramatic coastline, peaceful countryside, remote islands and high mountain roads, Scotland offers some of the most spectacular road trips in Europe. Dozens of magnificent beaches edge otherworldly landscapes in the Outer Hebrides, while Mull’s rugged coast is dotted with sheltered bays and harbour towns known for excellent seafood. On the mainland, the Heart 200 route rolls through Big Tree Country and the Snow Roads goes over the highest public road in Britain and deep into the Cairngorms National Park. These are some of the most scenic road trips in Scotland, each passing incredible sites and rest stops. And while you can’t appreciate all of Scotland’s beauty in a single hit, each visit provides a truly unique experience – so with every season, you’ll want to come back and drive them all over again.
THE SNOW ROADS, CAIRNGORMSThis 90-mile scenic route winds through the wild landscape in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The road heads north from Cateran Country in Perthshire before traversing the highest public road in Britain, the Cairnwell Pass in Glenshee. The area is popular with skiers and climbers as it has some of the country’s highest peaks. Further north, Braemar village in Royal Deeside has lovely riverside walks and is home to the richly decorated and art-filled The Fife Arms. The road follows the River Dee east past several castles and wildlife-rich nature reserves before heading north again through ever-changing countryside towards Speyside, an area scattered with world-famous whisky distilleries.KIMBERLEY GRANT
SOUTH WEST COASTAL 300With stunning scenery, rolling hills and forests and dozens of historic buildings, the South West Coastal 300 is a 300-mile circular route along quiet country roads. Nature lovers can explore sandy bays, protected reserves and Scotland’s most exotic garden, Logan Botanic Garden, which is packed full of palms and tree ferns. The route also passes Galloway Forest Park, home to many picturesque walking and cycling trails and the UK’s first Dark Sky Park and observatory, where keen stargazers can enjoy the night skies. For history buffs, there are plenty of castles, charming coastal villages and stately homes such as Dumfries House to book for the night.KIMBERLEY GRANT
OUTER HEBRIDESNot an official route, but the vast and varied landscapes and stunning coastal scenery make the western isles perfect for road and cycling trips. Starting at the Butt of Lewis in the north, drive south along the west coast, stopping to explore or stay in a traditional blackhouse village before continuing to the rocky moonscape of Harris. Visit Luskentyre bay’s miles of sweeping sands and turquoise waters backed by mountains. Further south lie the Uists, which, with hundreds of freshwater lochans, seem more water than land. At the end of the chain of islands is Barra and the Barra Isles, accessible by ferry. Spot planes landing on the beach at Barra Airport and drive over the causeway to Vatersay for more machair-backed dunes and pristine beaches.KIMBERLEY GRANT
HEART 200, PERTHSHIRESpanning Perthshire, Stirling and Scotland’s two national parks, this 200-mile circular route is split into six sections covering some of the country’s top scenery. Highlights include the Highland North, which passes Loch Tay and Loch Tummel (stay at the local inn for lovely views) and the charming conservation village of Fortingall. From here, take a detour into Glen Lyon, described by Sir Walter Scott as the ‘longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland’, which is particularly appealing in autumn. The Riverside East section includes an area popular for its riverside and forest walks such as the Hermitage, which follows the River Braan through an impressive stand of Douglas firs. Stop overnight just down the road in the twin villages of Dunkeld and Birnam – home to bakeries, pubs and the Scottish Deli.KIMBERLEY GRANT
ROAD TO THE ISLES, LOCHABERThe A830 road begins in the shadow of Ben Nevis and passes through spectacular highland scenery. This drive takes in the beautiful western coastline overlooking the Small Isles and Skye. After heading west along Loch Eil, the road winds through Glenfinnan, past its famed viaduct and picturesque Loch Shiel, into an area of rugged terrain known as the Rough Bounds. Eventually, the drive reaches a series of silvery-white beaches, pretty villages and wild Loch Morar. The area has plenty of campsites and holiday cottages and is popular with kayakers and wild swimmers who take to the calm sea, weaving between rocky outcrops and swimming in the bays.KIMBERLEY GRANT
NORTH COAST 500This popular 516-mile route takes you on a round trip through the most dramatic coastal and mountain scenery in the northern highlands. On the east coast, discover the fairy-tale Dunrobin castle and the windy fishing port of Helmsdale. Further north in Caithness, the vast expanses of peat bogs and moorlands known as the Flow Country are framed by spectacular cliffs and the pointed sea stacks at Duncansby Head. To the north west, there are isolated white beaches and smart stopovers such as Lundies House. As you drive further south anti-clockwise, the route winds past the distinctive mountains of Assynt and on towards Bealach na Bà – a notorious single-track mountain road with hairpin bends and far-reaching views of the Applecross peninsula.KIMBERLEY GRANT
THE A82, WEST HIGHLANDSThe A82 road connects the central belt with the western Highlands, passing several spectacular sites along the way. Starting in Glasgow’s city centre, the route heads north along the east bank of Loch Lomond and past the Arrochar Alps, which include the distinctively shaped Cobbler. Continuing north, the road passes through the stark Rannoch Moor before entering the famous Glen Coe. From here you can explore Glen Etive, which is a wonderful pit stop for wild swimming. The road passes through Fort William and wraps around Ben Nevis before continuing north past several lochs (including Loch Ness) and ending in Inverness.KIMBERLEY GRANT
ISLE OF MULLSlightly less busy than Skye but with just as spectacular scenery, Mull is perfect for those seeking an island adventure. To get there, take a car ferry from Oban or Ardnamurchan before making your way along the rugged coastline. Start in the colourful harbour town of Tobermory, sampling seafood and exploring the local shops. Driving west from here, pass the Isle of Mull Cheese farm and café and the well-situated Glengorm Castle, which has guest rooms. Further along the coast, white beaches, cliffs, scattered isles including Staffa and its majestic Fingal’s cave are overlooked by Ben More, Mull’s highest mountain. South of here, a road leads west to more bays such as Fidden and the peaceful island of Iona.