Scotland may not be first on the list of places to go exploring in your campervan. You might have embarked on adventures further afield. Perhaps you’ve been on a European road trip. However, Scotland might just hold a few more surprises than you think and it’s definitely underrated when it comes to amazing driving routes.
Scotland is perfectly suited to campervan adventurers, thanks to its impressive roads to drive on, varied scenery and abundance of incredible places to see. Whether you’re completely new to driving around in a campervan or you’re a seasoned road trip pro, Scotland could be a brilliant option for you.
If you really want to get to know the magic of Scotland, a road trip is an ideal way to see this breathtaking country in all its glory. You could find yourself meandering through white-tipped mountains, gazing out at deer in the highlands and stumbling upon historic ruins.
Oh, and did we mention there are 300 castles in Scotland? Plus, for the adventurer's out there, you’ll find the ten tallest mountains in the UK on Scottish lands. You can see as many castles and mountains as you like whilst road tripping in your trusty VW campervan. Driving around Scotland is easy, and you can visit most places by car or van.
But if you’ve never been before, picking out the most impressive things to see can be tough as there are so many places to choose from. We’ve done the hard work for you and come up with some of the top places to see in Scotland when touring in your van. Here are our top picks, plus some handy information to help you plan your trip.
Scotland road trip planning - a handy introduction
How long does it take to tour Scotland?
It’s difficult to say exactly how long it would take to tour Scotland because this depends entirely on just how much you want to see. If you’re just after a whistle-stop tour, then you could probably squeeze all the main hotspots into a week to ten days, though we’d definitely recommend longer. If you want the full experience, and to have a bit of downtime whilst exploring in your recreational vehicle, the chances are you will need at least two to three weeks. Whether you opt for a short trip or an epic drive, be sure to get your campervan insurance sorted before you leave.
Where can you drive to from Edinburgh?
A lot of tourists will begin their Scottish holiday adventures in the capital Edinburgh. It’s fairly easy to get to Edinburgh from England, you can hop on a train from London Kings Cross that goes directly to Edinburgh.
But if you’re driving your trusty van, it depends on which direction you are coming from as to whether it makes sense to stop off in Edinburgh at the beginning, middle or end of your trip. We’ve made some handy calculations of how long it takes to get from Edinburgh from different Scottish hotspots.
- Perthshire - 2 hours
- Inverness - 3.5 hours
- Aberdeen - 2.5 hours
- Borders -1.5 hours
- Edinburgh to John O’Groats - about 6 hours
Where can you drive to in Scotland?
Just about anywhere. The only real complications are the weather and the islands. If you plan to see some of the Scottish Islands (many of which are absolutely gorgeous and well worth a visit), just keep in mind you will need to get a ferry. This will cost a little more and add some extra time to your journey.
You’ll also want to keep the time of year in mind, because if you’re visiting during the colder winter months, the snow and ice may make driving to certain places (particularly rural and remote spots) more difficult. Again, ensure you’ve got adequate campervan insurance as you just don’t know what the weather and road conditions might throw at you.
Where should I go on a road trip in Scotland? A few top driving routes
Looking for specific places to drive in Scotland in a campervan? You’ll need to know some of the best driving routes and stop off points. Here’s some handy road trip and route planning advice:
- There is the famous NC500 route which you can do over a few days. It’s around 500 miles starting in Inverness and it takes you around the northern tip of Scotland. It’s an obvious choice for a road trip route but it’s simply breathtaking and often referred to as the Scottish version of Route 66. But if you want to embark on a less mainstream trip, this may not be the route for you.
- You can find a variety of lesser-known routes that are just as impressive as the better-known roads. Cottages & Castles has a handy list of some short but beautiful routes to take across Scotland. They include Balloch and the Trossachs which is around 4 hours, the Loop around South Harris which is around 1.5 hours and Edinburgh to St Andrew's via the East Neuk of Fife which is roughly 2 hours 20 mins.
- The NE250 is a new route starting up which covers the northeast coastline and inland of Scotland. It includes the castle trail (over 300 castles and ruins) and also covers the whisky culture as well.
- Combining road tripping and island hopping looks like great fun. For example, starting in Glasgow, going through Argyll, across to Mull, back on the mainland to Kyle of Lochalsh, then across to Skye and doing Uist, Lewis and Harris, too! This would be an incredible experience and you could do it over ten days to two weeks.
The top 9 places in Scotland to visit in a campervan
OK so let’s get down to it. What are the top must-see places you should schedule into your Scottish adventure? From National Parks to mountains and pretty islands, here are some top places you should most definitely include on your itinerary.
Torridon features on Undiscovered Scotland. It’s a particularly appealing place to visit if you love the great outdoors. Here you’ll find numerous jaw-dropping mountain hikes, an abundance of nature including red deer on the hillsides and 18 miles of walking paths. Torridon sits within Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve where you can go nature spotting and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the infamous golden eagle.
Applecross is not the most accessible of places, but its remoteness is part of its charm. It’s a village that’s only home to about 100 people. If you’re after peace and quiet and the feeling of getting away from it all, this is the place to go. But keep in mind it’s only accessible via two roads. One of which is the coast road from Shielding and the other is Bealach na Ba, otherwise known as ‘Pass of the Cattle’, which reaches 2053 feet high making it one of Britain’s highest roads.
Pay a visit to Scourie Bay which boasts soft white sandy beaches and vibrant turquoise waters. It’s an ideal stop off if you’re taking on the famous NC500 route. If you visit during the summer be sure to take a dip in the waters and watch the sunset from the shoreline. Scourie is another quaint little village but one that’s worth spending a few hours wandering around. It’s a great example of the peacefulness of the North West Highlands.
Planning a summer trip? You might want to visit the beaches of Durness. The shoreline here is dreamy and inviting, and perfect for an afternoon stop off. There are also some tough walking trails if catching some rays on the beach isn’t your thing. Durness is home to rugged cliffs, little sandy coves and even a cave.
- The West Coast between Fort William and Oban
You might also want to spend some time driving along the West Coast. Two of the main hotspots to visit here are Oban and Fort William. Fort William is home to Ben Nevis and it’s a town located in the Western Scottish Highlands. Of course, Ben Nevis is a big attraction, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see Fort William has other charms. Taste exquisite whisky in warming pubs, get stuck into outdoor sports like mountain biking and have a ride on the steam train. Or for history buffs, there’s the West Highland Museum.
Oban is another town in the Western region, but with an entirely different appeal. Stop off for lunch or dinner and enjoy some seafood in one of the harbour restaurants or visit the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary at Loch Creran.
- Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond should definitely make it onto your to-do list. Experience quintessential Scotland and relax along the shores of the mighty loch. With Trossachs National Park on its doorstep, there’s no shortage of woodland walks or wildlife to see. Be sure to visit one of the 30 islands around the loch and go shopping by the water at one of the most picturesque shopping centres you’ll ever visit.
If you need some time off from the road, there’s no shortage of activities here whether you fancy cruising on the lake or getting out amongst nature. There’s even a bird of prey trail and a fairy glen that’s named after a Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Cairngorms National Park
As far as driving routes go, this is an absolute beauty. You will be blown away by the variety of scenery throughout the Cairngorms National Park. From darker heathlands to vibrant green fields and snow-capped icy mountains, this place is truly stunning. You can even stop off part way through to walk up a snowy mountain (depending on the time of year).
It’s just a wonderful place to drive through and the winding roads through the towering mountains won’t fail to impress you. This is an enormous National Park, the UK’s largest in fact. To put things into perspective, the Cairngorms Park is double the size of the Lake District. Drive 90 miles through this route and see the park in all its glory.
- Isle of Mull (you have to get a ferry)
If you’re visiting in the summer months or during busier times you’ll need to book your ferry crossing in advance. The Isle of Mull is the fourth largest island in Scotland, and it’s known for having a varied selection of wildlife including eagles and whales! It may be a bit of a detour but if you’re planning a longer trip to Scotland you might just be able to fit in a visit. See some of the little villages, spend some time on the beaches and feast your eyes on some of the Island’s castles.
- Isle of Skye (no ferry needed)
There’s no need to catch a ferry to the Isle of Skye as you can drive there. It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge and is only around 50 miles long. If you’re a fan of marine wildlife, you’ll enjoy trying to spot the dolphins, seals, whales and adorable otters that reside here. Dunvegan Castle is a must visit, as is The Mealt Waterfall and whisky fans will want to stop by the Talisker Distillery. The sweet village of Portree with its colourful houses and scenic bay is also worth seeing.
Epic road trips need the right insurance
You just never know what might happen on a trip to unknown lands. Winding roads, snowfall, unexpected obstacles - it’s always best to be properly prepped. Ensure you’ve packed your van properly with everything you might need should you break down or run into issues. Knowing that you are fully covered by campervan insurance means you can see the sights of Scotland without having to worry.
At Motorhome Protect, we can compare a range of quotes for you. Get a campervan insurance quote online today and have everything sorted well in advance of your trip. Find the right sort of cover for your requirements and compare insurance policies today.