Scotland road trip ultimate guide – Choose your route

An empty twisty road going through the Scottish highlands

Scotland is probably one of those places that many people, especially bikers, have on their road trip list. And I completely get it. Scotland is perfect for bikers, it’s got all you need – good roads, long twisty bends, jaw-dropping scenery, legal wild camping, mountains, lakes, rivers, whiskey, and cheap food.

We finally did our Scotland road trip this May and it gave me loads of ideas on how you can make your road trip completely unique and tailored to you and your needs!! Thus, this ultimate guide in three parts!

Part number one, as you probably figured out by now, is about routes and trails you can take while in Scotland.

Everyone who is into bikes or performance cars knows about North Coast 500, but there are so many other roads right up there on the list with NC500. And guess what? Most of them aren’t the farthest north like NC500 so your chances of having warmer, drier weather are better.

From our trip and some digging online, I bring you six alternatives to the famous NC500.

1. A82

As mentioned in my previous post, the A82 goes from Glasgow, through Loch Lomond and Glencoe, up to Fort William where it veers to the right and goes along the shores of Loch Ness and ends in Inverness. In total, it’s about 167 miles (269 km).

We drove almost the whole of this road but in stages. We took it from Inverness all the way to, let’s say, halfway of Loch Ness and then coming back from Isle of Skye we drove from Fort William to Loch Lomond where we peeled off to a smaller road instead of continuing on the A82.

The road has loads of scenery to admire and it is considered one of the best drives in the UK.

2. Malt Whisky Trail

Cragganmore, one of the distilleries en route

This particular trail is in Speyside, the land of whiskey distilleries and even a cooperage! There are about 8 distilleries en route, but there is so much more you could do on this trail like checking out textiles mills (eg. Knockando Woolmill) chilling out in cosy seaside cafes, or opt in for some outdoor adventures (there’s loads of those in the Scottish wilderness).

The Malt Whisky Trail is one of the shorter routes, but I don’t know how long it is.

3. Snow Road

I have heard people call the Snow Road a better experience than North Coast 500. Two years ago when a business trip took me to Scotland, we were driving on the pat of the snow road in the Cairngorms and I did see quite a few expensive cars “marring” the views of autumn coloured Scottish hillside.

The Snow Road is a 90-mile ride (144.8 km) through some of the best landscapes in the east Cairngorms. It even goes through the highest public road in Britain. That would probably be the part where we suddenly realised we were driving through more and more snow, just before hitting Braemar and a hot drink stop. BTW, Braemar is beautiful with some of the loveliest views.

4. Argyll Coastal Route

I don’t have any photos from this route so enjoy this funny plaque I found somewhere in the Highlands.

This is one of the routes I wish I knew about when I started planning our whole road trip. As the name says, it is a coastal path, meaning you are following the sea (duh!). The route is about 129 miles (208 km) long and it goes from Tarbot (Loch Lomond) to Fort William. As it is the west coast of Scotland it will most likely have sunsets that will stop you in your tracks.

The good news is that this route is not too far north so chances of us going up to Scotland and doing this run are quite high.

5. Deeside trail

This 108 mile (174 km) route from Perth to Aberdeen follows some gorgeous landscapes and passes by several famous Scottish castles like Scone Palace and Drum Castle. It is also a good trail to take if you’d like to go looking for red deer.

It is called the Deeside trail as part of it follows the River Dee. This is the river that runs through Braemar! If you check the photo above, you will see it from the cafe’s terrace.

Fun fact, river Dee is one of Scotland’s best rivers for fishing salmon.

5. Scottish Borders tourist trail

This 89 mile (143 km) route starts north of Carlisle and goes through the heart of Borders all the way to Edinburgh. Borders are famous for the textile mills and there are many stately homes en route.

As the name says, this is the border between Scotland and England, meaning it has a very bloody history. Of course, this has now been romanticised for the masses in an attempt to entice tourists. One of the traiditons left from the “bloody years” is the Common Ridings, the oldest horse-riding festival in the world.

Borders might not have the rolling hillsides and dramatic landscape of the Highlands, but it has its own beauty worth exploring.

You can check out more Scottish routes and trails on this website. The map will also show you some points of interest to help you plan your trip.

Whichever route you choose, there is something interesting to see or some instagrammable Scottish hillside to take a photo of. Just remember to pack for any weather!

What is your “must take” when packing for a road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Scotland road trip ultimate guide – Choose your route

  1. If Scotland had better weather and no midges, it could be the most perfect place on earth. The scenery is stunning and the people friendly. Good post. 🙂

    Like

    1. haha, I wouldn’t say better, but maybe less volatile? Gotta say, I managed to avoid midges on each of my trips so far. But I completely agree with the scenery, it can be so dramatic then gentle and calming. And thank you, I appreciate you took the time to read it.
      I actually put your Scotland poem in my previous Scotland post, not sure if you saw it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😂 I’m glad you’ve avoided the midges and you are right, Scotland’s scenery can be so dramatic. Thank you for posting my poem BTW!

        Liked by 1 person

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