It's always difficult to find a way to explore a region when you don’t have much time. If you choose just one place, you feel that you are missing lots of things and, if you try to travel around, your trip can become a cursory glance at points on a map. The Highlands and Isle of Skye: Rail and Hike is a great way to discover the fascinating Scottish culture and landscape. I recommend travelling by train. It's an easy and comfortable way to enjoy your 7 days in Scotland. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery! This would be our 7-day itinerary to see the best of Scotland:
Day 1: Edinburgh
The trip begins in the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. It is part of what is called the central belt. An area that runs from coast to coast and where the majority of the Scottish population live. Drop off your bag at the train station and start to walk through the city. The old town, dominated by the castle, is full of narrow streets and closes to explore. I am particularly attracted by panoramic views. In Edinburgh, there are certainly plenty of options. I highly recommend a walk to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano very close to the city centre. Take the train that connects Edinburgh and Inverness and stop overnight at Blair Atholl.
Day 2: Blair Atholl
Located in the South of the Cairgorms National Park (the UKs largest National Park), Blair Atholl will be your doorway to the Highlands. Its castle is a physical reminder of important events in Scottish history (the Civil War, the Jacobite cause and the visits of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria). Blair Atholl has lots of walks to offer. From easy paths around the Atholl Estates to more challenging longer walks.
Day 3: Inverness
Take the train from Blair Atholl to Inverness, travelling through the Cairngorms and along the river Spey. Located in the heart of the Highlands, Inverness is a city defined by its castle and the river Ness. You can travel back in time to Scotland´s Ancient history visiting Craig Phadrig's hill fort, or walking along the river Ness and the North end of the Caledonian canal, one of the greatest Scottish engineering works, or take an excursion to the well known Loch Ness.
Day 4: Travel to Portree
Take the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and a bus from there to Portree. The journey will take you half the day but you can enjoy the changing landscapes and you’ll arrive in time to explore the coastal village of Portree. Skye surprises you at every corner and it’s a good choice for those looking to sample one of Scotland’s hundreds of islands.
Day 5: Portree
From Portree, you can easily take a bus to The Old Man of Storr and do one of the most popular walks on the island. Instead, maybe you prefer the imposing cliffs and remarkable views of the coastal path that connects the Damn of Storr to Portree.
Day 6: Fort William
Take the bus to Armadale, the ferry to Mallaig and then the train to Fort William. If you fancy something special you can take the Jacobite train. Fort William gives you the opportunity to see the south end of the Caledonian Canal and the iconic Neptune Staircase (you can see it from the train), to admire Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK) or to visit one of the many distilleries spread throughout Scotland.
Day 7: Glasgow
Use the West Highland Line to head back to the central belt. The trip ends at Glasgow, a city full of life. You can walk along the River Clyde from the Riverside Museum to Glasgow Green or explore other green areas of the city, like Kelvingrove park and Pollock park. They all offer a good combination of nature and culture. Glasgow has a solid tradition in the music and the theatre. So why not finish the trip by enjoying one of the concerts, live sessions or open mics in the city.
For more on adventures set amidst dramatic scenery and wild landscapes see our range of walking or cycling tours in Scotland or contact a member of the team at Macs Adventure!