A region filled with craggy cliffs, rugged mountains, and mesmerizing lochs, the Scottish Highlands have captivated the minds and souls of visitors for centuries. Dreary overcast often overlooks the landscape but there is an eerie beauty that simply cannot be matched. For those seeking a thrill of a lifetime, the Highlands will certainly not disappoint.
Where to Begin
You have an endless array of enchanting towns and picturesque villages to spend a night or two. Inverness, the largest city in the Highlands, is a fantastic place to start your journey. Before you pick up your car, go for a stroll through town to check out the lovely cathedral and enchanting castle.
The world is your oyster in the Scottish Highlands with heart-racing sights in every direction.
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park – credit: MiloszMaslanka/Shutterstock.com
Just east of Inverness, you will find the snow-capped mountains and evergreen forests of Cairngorms National Park. Scotland’s largest national park features hundreds of miles of scenic hiking paths. Soaring mountains, colorful flora, and stunning wildlife encompass the terrain. Driving through the Cairngorms can be a riveting experience but the weather can change in a heartbeat. If you plan on driving through the park during the winter, be mindful of the forecast and the type of vehicle you have.
Ben Nevis & Glen Coe
Ben Nevis Summit – credit: josefkubes/Shutterstock.com
Drive southwest from the Cairngorms to meet Scotland’s tallest peak, Ben Nevis! Stay at Fort William, known as the outdoor capital of the United Kingdom, and your mornings will be welcomed by this breathtaking mountain. Standing at 1,344 meters, climbing to the summit of Ben Nevis will give you astonishing views over the peaks of the Scottish Highlands. This popular ascent is one of most formidable Munros in Scotland (mountain in Scotland over 3,000 feet).
Valley View below the mountains of Glencoe Lochaber – credit: Eyestravelling/Shutterstock.com
Once you have taken in the sights of Ben Nevis, hike to Glen Coe for one of the most remarkable glens in the Highlands. The steep-sided cliffs that overlook the valley create incredible scenery that will take your breath away. The overlapping shades of green glisten in the sunlight on a clear day. For travelers who love relaxing on the water, nearby Loch Leven is a pristine location to hop on a boat or kayak surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
Isle of Skye
Portree Harbour – credit: RichieChan/Shutterstock.com
Driving back in the direction of Inverness, steer west onto A87 for the most cherished gem of Scotland’s wilderness. The Isle of Skye boasts some of the country’s most magnificent geologic formations that highlights its prehistoric history. The fishing village of Portree is a brilliant location to find accommodation that is easy driving distance from every adventure on the island.
Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye – credit: stocker1970/Shutterstock.com
A short drive from Portree, you will find the jagged Old Man of Storr looking towards the sky. The hike towards these otherworldly rock formations is not dreadfully long but can become extremely challenging on a windy, rainy day. As you stare out to sea, the gloomy surroundings create a natural setting for a horror flick. Once you reach the Storr, hold on tight to make sure you are not blown off the cliff!
Keep following A855 for more dramatic scenery like the nearby Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. Water tumbles onto the rocky shore below as basalt columns stare at the sea. If you are up for another breathtaking hike, the Quiraing offers spectacular cliffside views overlooking grassy plateaus and shimmering lochs.
Taste Scotland’s #1 Export
A quintessential tasting in Scotland is Scotch Whisky and you can have a dram at numerous distilleries in between your Highland adventures.
Three distilleries perfectly located along your drive include:
The Tomatin Distillery
Ben Nevis Distillery
Experience the grand tour and learn how the spirit is exquisitely crafted or just pop in for a quick sample. Immerse yourself in Scottish culture while exploring the exhilarating natural wonders of the Highlands.
Ben Nevis from Corpach Sea Port - Credit: HarryFeather/Shutterstock.com
Valley View below Glencoe Lochaber - credit: EyesTravelling/Shutterstock.com
Glencoe Scotland - credit: HelenHotson/Shutterstock.com
Ben Nevis Summit - credit: josefkubes/Shutterstock.com
Portree Harbour - credit: RichieChan/Shutterstock.com
Old Man of Storr - Credit: stocker1970/Shutterstock.com