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4 Days in Scotland Itinerary: Castles, mountains & mythical creatures

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Desperate to visit Scotland but completely lost on where to start? Check out our 4 days in Scotland itinerary, with multiple options to help you plan your trip. 

Flag of Scotland and view of Loch ness
Loch Ness Scottish Highlands: 4 days in Scotland

Scotland is known as a country of rolling hills and breathtaking landscapes. From the rugged highlands to the picturesque lochs, Scotland is a country of beauty and adventure. When visiting this country, you can explore its vast array of historical sites, take in its majestic scenery, and sample delicious whisky at the distilleries.

Use this thought-out Scotland itinerary 4 days (or one of the extra options) to help you plan your own trip to this charming country. 

4 Days in Scotland Itinerary: At a glance

4 day Scotland itinerary

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The main attraction in this gem of a country in the United Kingdom is the many castles located throughout the country. From Edinburgh to Stirling, there are plenty of opportunities to take in their history and stunning architecture. 

Scotland is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with an abundance of activities on offer. These include sailing on lochs like Loch Lomond or climbing Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest peak.

Lochness: 4 day Scotland itinerary

The country offers ample possibilities, from exploring world-class museums, hiking through stunning glens, or visiting some iconic whiskey distilleries. 

Can you do this all in 4 days? Probably not. But here’s a quick look at how you can fit in as many of the highlights as possible. 

  • Day 1 of 4 days in Scotland itinerary: Spend your first day exploring attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland in Old Town. In the evening, visit some of Edinburgh’s many pubs for live music and drinks. 
  • Day 2 of 4 days in Scotland itinerary: Spend the morning taking a guided tour of Loch Ness and other stunning sites within the Scottish Highlands. End your day at Fort William for dinner and an overnight stay. 
  • Day 3 of 4 days in Scotland itinerary: Explore some of Glasgow’s top attractions. Get a taste of traditional Scottish food with dinner at one of the local restaurants or pubs in Glasgow. 
  • Day 4 of 4 days in Scotland itinerary: Take a short drive or train ride from Glasgow to Stirling before heading back to Edinburgh to catch your flight home.

Getting to Scotland

The best way to get to Scotland depends on your location and budget.

If you’re coming from the United States, your most cost-effective option is flying into Edinburgh or Glasgow International Airport. It is possible to find good flight prices in the off-season, or you can sign up for Wayaway for a cashback.

From the airport, you can either pick up a car rental or book an airport transfer here

Edinburgh Airport
Edinburgh Airport

You can also take a ferry from Northern Ireland’s ports of Larne or Belfast to Cairnryan in Scotland. 

If you’re traveling from Europe, then you have a variety of options, including trains, buses, and flights. Train services run from London, Paris, and Amsterdam directly into Scotland and take around 6-8 hours. 

Buses are also available from various European cities, with the duration of travel ranging between 10-14 hours.

Where to stay in Scotland? 

Scotland offers a variety of accommodation options for travelers, including hotels, B&Bs, self-catering apartments and cottages, hostels, and camping sites. 

Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge
Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge

Hotels can be found in all major cities and towns throughout Scotland, with some of the most popular being located in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Here are our top hotel picks:

For a more local experience staying in a B&B or self-catering accommodation can be especially enjoyable, allowing you to get to know the locals while having all the comforts of home. Camping sites are also popular with travelers looking for a more rustic experience when on a road trip!

Perfectly planned Scotland itinerary for 4 days: Road trip option

Even though most of the itinerary below can be done using public transport, it’s a whole other experience to do it in your own car (or a rented one). Driving yourself means you have full control over your schedule.

Scotland road trip 4 days

Reserve your vehicle early, to save money on car rental prices.

Reserve Car Rental: Prepare Ahead

If you need a car rental, we recommend comparing and checking prices on Discovercars.com to book yours.

Day 1 of your 4-day Scotland itinerary: Discover the capital city

You’ll most likely fly into Edinburgh International Airport, so starting your itinerary here is an obvious choice. There are quite a few important Scottish landmarks and attractions in the capital city, so be ready for a full day in Edinburgh. Here is our one day in Edinburgh itinerary.

Visit Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle views
Edinburgh Castle views

Situated on a majestic volcanic rock, this castle can be seen from all over the city and serves as a prominent reminder of its history. 

Edinburgh Castle has a rich and varied past, having served as a royal residence since the twelfth century. It also held army barracks during the warring years and is now one of Scotland’s most important tourist attractions.

Girl at the Princes Street Gardens
From the Princes Street Gardens

As you walk along Princes Street to approach the main entrance of Edinburgh Castle, you’ll notice its dominant presence in the skyline above you. Once you’re on the castle grounds, take time to marvel at its majestic walls and turrets that have overlooked Edinburgh for centuries. 

Tip: Take a guided tour to save time and energy.

Take a stroll down The Royal Mile

One of the oldest streets in Edinburgh, the Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle at one end to Holyrood Palace at the other, connecting many of the city’s most important landmarks.

Royal Mile
Royal Mile
Royal Mile
Royal Mile

Along its cobbled length are iconic buildings, shops, and restaurants, as well as vibrant pubs and bars. 

Edinburgh castle is on one end of this street, and your next stop, Holyrood Palace, is on the other. 

Enjoy a guided tour of Holyrood Palace 

Holyrood Palace served as the home of the British monarchs in Scotland for centuries and is now open to the public. The palace features various state rooms and galleries with stunning décor and furniture, including works by artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens. 

A guided tour of the palace allows you to learn more about its history and get an insight into the life of royalty from centuries ago.

Check out Arthur’s Seat 

Take in panoramic views of Edinburgh from this ancient volcanic peak in Holyrood Park. The hill can be seen from miles away. Of course, the best way to take in this breathtaking view is to hike up to its peak. 

Arthur's Seat
Arthur’s Seat

The route can be quite steep and challenging at times, but it is worth it for the panoramic scenery that awaits you at the top. 

Explore Greyfriars Kirkyard 

Take in more than 400 years’ worth of history with a visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard, said to be one of Scotland’s most haunted places!

This graveyard is home to some of the most important figures in Scotland’s history, including George Heriot – founder of Heriot’s School, and James Gray – author of the popular children’s book ‘Greyfriars Bobby.’

Stop by Calton Hill 

Get sweeping views of Edinburgh’s skyline from this iconic hilltop park located near Waverley Station. This historic landmark was once home to the Scottish Parliament and is now a great place to take in views of the city. Especially for a sunset. 

Nelson Monument, Calton Hill

From this position, you should be able to spot Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, and even Salisbury Crags. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Firth of Forth.

Day 2 of your 4-day Scotland itinerary: Keep an eye out For Nessie in the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish highlands are a breathtakingly beautiful region of Scotland known for their majestic mountains, deep-blue lochs, and lush green glens. Getting to the Highlands is about a 3.5-hour drive from Edinburgh, with gorgeous little towns and rolling hills along the way. 

At Loch Ness
At Loch Ness

See the mystical Loch Ness from Fort Augustus

If you don’t see Loch Ness, did you even visit Scotland? Possibly, but we wouldn’t suggest you leave this off your Scotland itinerary. 

While the lake is notoriously known for its mysterious inhabitant, the Loch Ness monster, it is also home to some of Scotland’s most breathtaking views and stunning countryside. 

Tip: Book a Loch Ness cruise to see the surrounding area from the waters. 

Walk the ​​Allt na Criche Trail

The Allt na Criche walk in Scotland is an incredible experience for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. 

Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this gorgeous mountain trail provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, from rolling hills and lush valleys to rugged peaks and crystal-clear lochs. 

Take a moment at ​​Invergarry Castle

Jumping in the car again, drive toward the banks of Loch Oich. Invergarry Castle is a historical castle built in 1602. It’s been left to weather the elements on its own and is now a shell of the opulent building it once was. 

Ruins of the Invergarry Castle, Loch Oich, Great Glen, Scottish Highlands, Scotland

Parking a little away from the castle, you can walk the short trail to where the ruins stand against the stunning background of Loch Oich.

Stop for a stretch in ​​Laggan Locks

This small village is an ideal lunch stop on your way through the Highlands. There’s a small cafe to refuel at and an array of fantastic walking trails to stretch those legs.

See the Laggan Parish Church and take some time to admire the locks themselves. 

Taste whiskey at Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William

Located at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis Distillery offers visitors a glimpse into the traditional whisky-making process. From stills to barrels to bottling, each step of the whisky-making process can be viewed and explored by visitors. 

A guided tour will take you through the entire distilling process and explain exactly how whisky is made. 

Discover West Highland Museum

Visiting the West Highland Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon. The museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits that bring history to life. 

All while providing visitors with an in-depth look into the culture and history of this beautiful region of Scotland. 

Day 3 of your 4-day Scotland itinerary: Soak in the true Scotland feel in Glasgow

Driving from Fort Williams, you’ll reach Glasgow in about 2 hours and 50 minutes. Again, the drive is so magnificent that this will seem like a much shorter trip. 

Admire Glasgow Cathedral

Start off your day at Glasgow Cathedral, located just across the Clyde River from Kelvingrove. Enjoy exploring this historic landmark with its stained glass windows and beautiful architecture.

Glasgow cathedral aka High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern or St Mungo
Glasgow Cathedral aka High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern or St Mungo

The exterior of the cathedral features traditional Gothic architecture: pointed arches, ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, and two tall spires that rise above the building’s roofline. 

Inside, you’ll find a variety of stained glass windows depicting saints’ lives and other religious stories, along with an elaborate pulpit and carved stone sculptures. 

Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Head over to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It is a popular attraction in Glasgow and one of the most visited museums in Scotland. It’s also completely free to visit. 

Towers of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland
Towers of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland

Spend time exploring the permanent collection and visiting one of their temporary exhibitions. Make sure to take a stroll through the nearby Kelvin Grove Park. 

Take a breather at Glasgow Botanical Gardens

Glasgow Botanical Gardens is a beautiful park located in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland. The gardens are home to a variety of plants and flowers from around the world and feature some of Scotland’s most iconic species. 

Glasgow Botanical Gardens

Here, you can stroll through the gardens while taking in the fresh air and sights of the city. The grounds are also home to an array of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, ducks, and even frogs.

Browse The Riverside Museum

Glasgow Riverside Museum celebrates the city’s rich history and culture. The museum features interactive exhibits and displays about the area’s maritime history, science and technology, transport, local industry, and more. 

Glasgow Riverside Museum

Explore stories from the city’s past through multimedia presentations, hands-on activities, and evocative displays. 

Learn more about whiskey at Clydeside Distillery

Visiting the Clydeside Distillery is a must for any whisky enthusiast. Located in Glasgow, Scotland, the distillery offers an immersive experience of the whisky-making process from start to finish. 

From grain selection to mashing and fermentation, you’ll get a close-up view of how truly special Scotch whisky is made.

The knowledgeable guides provide detailed information on how each step of the whisky-making process works and why it’s so important. You can even purchase bottles straight from the stills. 

Day 4 of your 4-day Scotland itinerary: Dive into the history of Stirling before heading home

Stirling is just under an hour from Glasgow and a little over an hour to Edinburgh, so it’s a great bonus stop before you leave. The city’s history dates back to the 11th century when King Malcolm III built a castle on its site. 

Today, Stirling remains one of Scotland’s most enchanting locations, boasting a variety of attractions for visitors to enjoy. 

Stirling Castle

Start your day off with a visit to Stirling Castle, the largest and most impressive of Scotland’s renaissance castles. Take a self-guided tour of the castle to explore its rich history and stunning architecture. 

View of Stirling Castle on top of the rocky hill in central Scotland
View of Stirling Castle on top of the rocky hill in central Scotland

Afterward, you can stop by the Church of the Holy Rude for a look at the church where King James VI was crowned in 1567.

Doune Castle

Spend the afternoon at Doune Castle, which was used as Winterfell in Game of Thrones and Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Explore the grounds and admire the 14th-century architecture before heading back into town. 

Baker Street

Take a stroll down Stirling’s main street, Baker Street, to get a feel for traditional Scottish life. 

Haggis in Scotland for dinner!

Then enjoy great food. Have dinner at one of the many pubs or restaurants along the way before making your way back to your accommodations for some much-needed rest after an exciting day exploring Stirling!

Scotland Itinerary Option 2: Scottish Highlands Itinerary (With Isle of Skye)

This second Scotland itinerary option focuses more on the stunning wilderness that Scotland has. It can also be done as a fun Scotland road trip, but Harry Potter fans may opt to rather book most of the trip on the Hogwarts Express (AKA Jacobite Steam Train)

Day 1: Visit Inverness

Spend your first day in the Highlands shopping in Inverness, enjoying delicious local cuisine, or exploring more of the historic sites that surround Loch Ness. 

Inverness Castle taken from Ardross Street
Inverness Castle taken from Ardross Street

Be sure not to miss Inverness Castle. This is a good start since you can take the train from Edinburgh to Inverness in about four hours.

Day 2: See Isle of Skye

A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Inverness will see you arriving on the Isle of Skye. Explore dramatic coastlines, wander through rugged landscapes, and take in the beautiful views of magical Quiraing. 

Day 3: Find The Loch Ness Monster

Take a boat trip from Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye to Plockton and explore the Cullin Mountains before heading out to explore Loch Ness.

Beautiful Loch Ness views (from the viewing restaurant)

Spend the day searching for Nessie, or visit one of the many monster-themed attractions like the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. 

Day 4: Discover The Wonders at Cairngorms National Park

On your last day, head to Cairngorms National Park and explore its stunning landscapes.

Visit some of Scotland’s most iconic mountain peaks like Ben Nevis and Lochnagar, or soak up some culture at a local whisky distillery. 

Scotland Itinerary Option 3: Day Tour or City Day Trips From Edinburgh

Another great way to see Scotland in 4 days is by staying in Edinburgh for the entire trip and organizing a day trip on each day. You can get to most of the best Scottish towns and cities within just a couple of hours. 

Day 1: Start The Day With a Visit to Edinburgh Castle

Take a guided tour and learn about Scotland’s history. Check off the famous castle and beyond. 

Afterward, enjoy a leisurely walk through the Royal Mile, an iconic street lined with cobblestone streets and historic sites. 

Girl in Edinburgh city centre
Edinburgh UK

Visit the Grassmarket and sample some delicious Scottish dishes for lunch. Then stroll up Calton Hill for incredible views of the city below. 

End the day by exploring Edinburgh’s unique underground Vaults. 

Day 2: Drive out to Stirling to explore two of Scotland’s most famous Castles – Stirling Castle and Doune Castle

Enjoy lunch at one of Stirling’s many cafes or restaurants and take in some of its traditional architecture along the way. 

Return back to Edinburgh for dinner before heading off for an evening ghost tour around town.

Day 3: Head North to Inverness 

Next morning, spend some time viewing the loch from Urquhart Castle, followed by a cruise on the loch itself with breathtaking views of the surrounding Highlands hillsides. 

View of Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom
View of Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom

Enjoy lunch at one of Inverness’ many pubs before driving back south towards Edinburgh in time for dinner in the city center. 

Day 4: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park 

Start at Loch Lomond, which is the largest expanse of freshwater in Great Britain.

Here you can enjoy stunning views of mountains, forests, and lochs. You can also take part in activities such as hiking or water sports like kayaking or canoeing. 

Afterward, head over to The Trossachs National Park, where you can wander through ancient woodlands dotted with lochs and beaches. Keep an eye out for red deer and other wildlife that inhabit the area.

4-Day Scotland Itinerary Map

Click to view the full map

Scotland Tours

If you do not wish to do a lot of planning and driving for your 4 day Scotland itinerary, then consider joining one of the small group tour companies to make the most of your visit.

3-Day Isle of Skye and The Highlands Tour:

This 3 day Highlands tour is perfect to add to your overall Scotland itinerary 4 days. As part of the excursion you will get 

  • Round-trip transportation (accommodation charges are extra)
  • Popular tourist attractions on this guided tour include the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Ness, Glencoe, and The Highlands
  • Plus you get to appreciate the stunning scenery while relaxing in a comfortable minivan
  • You can also check out filming locations used in James Bond, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Outlander
  • Click to find more information about the 3 day tour

2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express:

Fan of Harry Potter movies, this 2 day tour from Edinburgh is a great addition. To best utilize this guided tour we recommend staying in the capital city for 2 days, and exploring the entire city for 1-2 days before embarking outside. 

The 2-day tour includes the following,

  • Round-trip transportation and bed and breakfast accommodation
  • Enjoy a nice and quick in the Highlands at Dunkeld
  • Go on a ride on the famous Jacobite Steam Train
  • Admire the natural beauty of Glen Coe
  • Book this tour here

Tours in Edinburgh:

In addition to the recommended tours above, you can also add sightseeing excursions with a local guide to explore more of Edinburgh. Most of these tours require you to get to the city centre and then join the group. 

Here are some of our favorite tours,

Scotland Itinerary Tips

  • Pack for all weather conditions, as the Scottish climate can be unpredictable. Make sure you have rain gear, but also clothes for walking in warmer weather. 
  • Make sure to sample the local cuisine — haggis, whisky, and shortbread are must-haves.
Whiskey ice cream in Edinburgh
  • Bring your best walking shoes! Scotland has plenty of great areas for exploring on foot. 

Is 4 Days in Scotland Enough?

Four days in Scotland is enough to get a taste of the country and its culture. But if you can spend longer there, you should definitely do so in order to fully experience all that Scotland has to offer.

Scottish Highlands

What Month is Best for a Scotland Itinerary?

Scotland is a beautiful country to visit at any time of year. However, some people prefer to visit during the warmer months (May-September), when the days are longer and there is less chance of snow and ice. 

Others may want to tour Scotland during the cooler months (October-April) when the landscape is often covered in snow, and there is a festive atmosphere around Christmas and New Year.

What is The Best Way to Explore Scotland?

The best way to explore Scotland is to go on a road trip. This way, you can see the country at your own pace and make sure that you don’t miss anything. You can also stop at different places along the way to explore them more thoroughly.

Planning your trip to Scotland

However, if you’re not a fan of driving or can’t for whatever reason, the country has a sophisticated train system that will take you almost anywhere you want to go.

Guided private tours also offer a more structured kind of road trip to the wilderness and through the cities. 

Final Thoughts on The Ultimate Scotland Itinerary

After spending 4 days in Scotland, you too will have a newfound appreciation for the country’s beautiful landscape and rich culture. From the rolling hills of the Highlands to the vibrant cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, there is something for everyone in Scotland. 

Edinburgh Castle in the evening

The locals are friendly and welcoming, and there is plenty to do and explore. The food is delicious, and there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy. 

Scotland is an unforgettable journey, one that you will look back on with fond memories for years to come. Just don’t be surprised if you start planning your next visit as soon as you’re home.

Read more of our United Kingdom travel guides below:

Visiting Ireland? Read our 4 days in Ireland itinerary

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Scotland 4 day itinerary

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