3 – 5 days in Scotland

If you Google “3 days in Scotland” you will find lots of Travel Bloggers claiming to have the “Ultimate” 3 day Scotland itinerary

It’s all a load of baloney!

Because your ultimate 3 to 5 days in Scotland is really dependent on what you want to experience and how you like to travel.

Some people will want to rush around ticking off a bucket list of famous places such as Edinburgh Castle, Culloden, Loch Ness, Eilean Donan, Glen Coe and Skye.

Others will want a slower pace of travel so they can connect with the land and its history.

For this reason, we have crafted a range of 3 – 5 day itineraries for different interests and paces of travel.

3 – 5 Day Tours from Edinburgh

Express Explorer East to West

This tour plan is aimed at the first time visitor that wants to do a “bucket list” tour of Scotland in a short time. It could be condensed for a 3 day itinerary, but we would recommend that you allow at least 4 days in Scotland and pace the tour as follows.

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh
  • Day 2 – Edinburgh to Inverness
  • Day 3 – Inverness to Skye
  • Day 4 – Skye to Glasgow or Edinburgh

Highland Explorer East to West

This itinerary is similar to the Express Explorer but it adds in a night (or 2 if you wish) in the Pitlochry area. This allows you more time to meander and explore back roads on the way from Edinburgh to Inverness. If you have 5 days in Scotland, this itinerary could be paced like:

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh
  • Day 2 – Edinburgh to Pitlochry
  • Day 3 – Pitlochry to Inverness
  • Day 4 – Inverness to Skye
  • Day 5 – Skye to Glasgow or Edinburgh

Whisky Taster

If you only have 3 days in Scotland, you could condense this Whisky Trail itinerary to fit. But we recommend you schedule it as a 5 day itinerary so you can relax and enjoy the distillery tours. The focus is on Speyside and Highland malts, but you can visit Glenkinchie and thus tick off a Lowland malt too.

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh
  • Day 2 – Edinburgh to Pitlochry
  • Day 3 – Pitlochry to Speyside
  • Day 4 – Speyside to Royal Deeside
  • Day 5 – Royal Deeside to Edinburgh

Romantic Scotland

We recommend this itinerary if you wish to tour Scotland in 3 to 5 days at a more relaxed pace. This itinerary keeps the driving times short and features lots of pretty villages, woodland walks, and romantic settings. If you start with a half-day in Edinburgh and then drive to Pitlochry, you could condense this itinerary for 3 days in Scotland.

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh / drive to Pitlochry in Afternoon
  • Day 2 – Pitlochry to Inveraray via Loch Tay
  • Day 3 – Inveraray to Glasgow via Loch Lomond

Alternatively, have a relaxed 5 days in Scotland by doing this:

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh
  • Day 2 – Edinburgh to Pitlochry
  • Day 3 – Pitlochry to Inveraray via Loch Tay
  • Day 4 – Day trip from Inveraray to Oban
  • Day 5 – Inveraray to Glasgow via Loch Lomond

Castle Explorer

In 5 days you can explore lots of Scotland’s most iconic castles. This itinerary features the castles of Edinburgh, Stirling, Doune, Blair. Balmoral, Crathes, Dunnottar, Glamis and lots more you’ve probably never heard of. There is enough in the guide to fill 11 days, but you could pace it over 5 days as suggested below.

  • Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh
  • Day 2 – Edinburgh to Pitlochry via Stirling
  • Day 3 – Pitlochry to Royal Deeside
  • Day 4 – Royal Deeside to St Andrews
  • Day 5 – St Andrews to Edinburgh

3 – 5 Day Tours from Glasgow

Express Explorer West to East

Our most popular tour itinerary for 3 days in Scotland, the Express Explorer from Glasgow is a fast paced road trip around Loch Lomond, Skye, Loch Ness, Culloden, Stirling Castle. We recommend allowing longer, but if you are constrained to a 3 day tour it can be paced as follows.

  • Day 1 – Glasgow to Skye via Loch Lomond and Glencoe
  • Day 2 – Explore Skye then drive to Inverness via Loch Ness
  • Day 3 – Inverness to Edinburgh via Culloden and Stirling

Highland Explorer West to East

This itinerary is a variation on the Express Explorer. It features a stopover in Pitlochry so you have time to explore quieter roads away from the tourist crowds. If using this itinerary for a 5 day Scotland road trip we would suggest a schedule as below.

  • Day 1 – Glasgow to Skye
  • Day 2 – Tour Skye
  • Day 3 – Skye to Inverness
  • Day 4 – Inverness to Pitlochry
  • Day 5 – Pitlochry to Edinburgh

Argyll Coastal Trail

An ideal itinerary if you only have 3 to 4 days in Scotland and want a relaxed tour. The Argyll Coastal Trail features the Highlands & Islands, Castles & Standing Stones, fishing villages and world-class seafood restaurants. The route can be driven in 3 days, but we include several day trip options so you could extend this tour over 7 days.

  • Day 1 – Glasgow to Loch Fyne
  • Day 2 – Loch Fyne to Oban
  • Day 3 – Day trips from Oban
  • Day 4 – Oban to Edinburgh

3 to 5 Day Tours from Inverness

Essential Highlands

This tour starts and ends in Inverness so that you can make the most of your time in the Highlands. To really take in the scenery, we recommend you pace it as a 5 day itinerary and schedule the tour as below.

  • Day 1 – Inverness to Gairloch via Ullapool
  • Day 2 – Gairloch to Skye
  • Day 3 – Tour Skye
  • Day 4 – Skye to Fort William / Glencoe
  • Day 5 – Fort William to Inverness

Northern Highlights

This itinerary follows the most scenic sections of the NC500 and is ideal if you want to see the “Highlights” of this famous road. If you are in a rush, it could be done in 3 days, but we’d recommend you take it slower and allow at least 5 days.

  • Day 1 – Inverness to Skye via Loch Ness
  • Day 2 – Tour Skye
  • Day 3 – Skye to Gairloch
  • Day 4 – Gairloch to Ullapool
  • Day 5 – Ullapool to Inverness via Dunrobin