Scotland 5 Days Itinerary
Are you planning to go to Scotland for 4 or 5 days for your next vacation?
Very good idea !
To help you prepare for your trip, we have put together an itinerary for you to visit Scotland in 4-5 days and discover some of the must-see places of interest in this United Kingdom nation.
Over these few days, you will start by visiting Edinburgh then go on a road trip to the Highlands. And of course, for each stage, we give you our best advice as well as our selection of the best hotels to sleep in during your stay.
You will see, thanks to our tour, organizing your trip to Scotland will be super easy!
So, what to do and see in Scotland in 4 or 5 days?
What to do and see in Scotland in 4 or 5 days
Day 1-2: Edinburgh
For this 4-5 day Scotland itinerary, I suggest you start with a visit to the capital Edinburgh.
To visit Edinburgh in 2 days, it is best to dedicate one day to each part of the city. I therefore suggest that you see the Old Town district on the first day and spend the second day in the New Town district, the more contemporary area of Edinburgh.
We therefore begin our stay in Scotland with a walk in the historic center of Edinburgh. It extends mainly around the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare from the castle down to Holyrood Palace.
You can start by visiting the city’s iconic landmark, Edinburgh Castle. It is a very touristy monument and I strongly advise you to book your tickets in advance here so as not to queue and waste time.
On a short stay of 4 or 5 days in Scotland, it’s very appreciable, you’ll see!
The castle sits on an ancient volcano and dominates the city. You can visit both the interior and the exterior.
It is worth seeing for the famous crown jewels but also for the war museum and the gardens which are splendid. It is also from the castle grounds that you will have one of the best views of Edinburgh.
Continuation of the tour program with one of the oldest tourist attractions: the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
This original and unusual museum is ideal for families. It presents numerous optical illusions and also allows you to observe the city live thanks to an animated 360° panorama.
Leaving the Camera, continue down the Royal Mile to wander the lanes and admire the medieval architecture.
The main monuments to see on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile:
- Saint Gilles Cathedral, the oldest religious building in the city of medieval Gothic type.
- The Canongate Kirk, a small, quiet church
- The Real Mary King’s Close to visit the underground streets and houses
- Dunbar’s Close Garden, a quiet and charming little garden
- White Horse Close, a collection of picturesque houses
- Scottish Parliament House, the seat of the Scottish parliament
And if you like history and want to learn more about Edinburgh, I advise you to visit 2 museums: the Edinburgh Museum and “The People’s Story” museum, about the city’s inhabitants. They are also located near the Royal Mile and they are free.
After all that, I suggest you continue your tour to visit Scotland in 4-5 days with a gourmet break in one of the best tea rooms in the city: Clarinda’s Tearoom.
British atmosphere guaranteed with flowered tablecloths and porcelain tableware. Address : 69 Canongate Street, almost at the end of the Royal Mile.
Then visit the second very touristy place in the city: Holyrood Palace. Now the Queen’s second home, it houses beautiful art galleries as well as the ruins of the abbey and gardens. You can also discover the state apartments.
Here too, the best way to avoid queuing is to buy your skip-the-line tickets for the palace in advance by clicking here.
At the end of your tour, head up to Arthur’s Seat where you can climb to the top of an ancient volcano. Up there, a splendid view awaits you.
Finally, to end this first day in Edinburgh, at nightfall, don’t hesitate to go and get a little scare in the Greyfriars cemetery, renowned as one of the most haunted in the world. You will have the opportunity to take part in one of the guided tours which are organized there every evening. Book here!
Tips for your Scotland itinerary
To visit Edinburgh’s old town and benefit from detailed explanations from a guide, you can also opt for a guided tour! And good news, this visit is in French!
You will have the chance to learn more about the city’s great historical sites such as Holyrood Palace, the castle or Parliament.
For this second day of this 5 day Scotland itinerary, I suggest you continue your discovery of Edinburgh with a stroll in the New Town district.
This more modern district is organized around 3 main axes, Princes Street, Queen Street, Georges Street and is characterized by large squares and typical Georgian architecture.
Places to see in New Town, Edinburgh:
- Princes Street Garden: to stroll through the alleys and enjoy the beautiful view of the medieval city.
- Charlotte Square where the official residence of the Prime Minister is located.
- Calton Hill: the hill allows you to admire a panorama of the historic center (Old town) all the way to the sea.
- The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery, 2 free museums, perfect if you like art and painting
- Dean Village: A former milling village, you can reach it in 15 minutes on foot from the center of Edinburgh.
- The royal botanical garden, one of the most beautiful in the world.
At the end of the day, if you haven’t had your fill of ghosts and haunted places with Greyfriars Cemetery, I recommend that you opt for a Ghost Tour. Get on a black double-decker bus and travel around the city and the darkest places where torture and executions took place! Book directly here!
To find out more about things to do in Edinburgh, check out our article: The Complete Guide to Edinburgh.
Tips for your Scotland itinerary
To visit Edinburgh, you can also get the Royal Edinbhurg Ticket right here. It gives access to the castle, the palace but also the Royal Yacht Britannia and a guided bus tour.
Accommodation in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located just 800 meters from the train station and Princes Street. Dormitory bed from €30, breakfast at €6. The most: cleanliness, location, pleasant staff.
- Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket: Located right in the city center, 10 minutes’ walk from the castle. Contemporary and elegant double room from €90, breakfast included. The most: very helpful staff, spacious rooms, very comfortable bed. It’s our favorite for its performance/price ratio!
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh: Located on the historic Royal Mile, 10 minutes from Holyrood Palace. Chic and refined double room from €200 per night, breakfast at €14. The advantages: the central location, the spa, the heated indoor swimming pool, the gym, the excellent breakfast.
- Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh: 5-star hotel located in the Royal Mile, 600 meters from the castle. This luxury hotel offers designer, comfortable and elegant rooms, from €300 per night, breakfast at €18. The best: right in the historic center of Edinburgh, the interior decoration, the adorable staff, the absolute comfort. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Edinburgh.
Day 3-4: The Highlands
For the second stage of this 4-5 day Scotland itinerary, head to the Highlands!
I suggest you spend 2 days visiting one of the most beautiful regions of the country.
For this step, you will need to rent a car to be able to see as much as possible.
Tips for your Scotland itinerary
If you do not want to rent a car, the other solution is to opt for organized excursions from Edinburgh.
The big advantage is that you won’t have to take care of anything! Your guide and driver will take care of everything .
And to make your life even easier, I have selected the best for you. Simply click on the links in orange to book and have more information:
- From Edinburgh – Loch Ness, Glen Coe and Highlands: Spend the day driving along the roads to admire the landscapes of Loch Ness and the Highlands. A cruise to Loch Ness is also planned in the program.
- Edinburgh – Visit to Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and Stirling Castle: Visit Stirling, pass by Doune Castle, stroll through Trossachs Park and finish with a cruise on Loch Lomond.
- From Edinburgh – 1-day tour of the Highlands, Stirling Castle and whisky: one-day excursion by minibus with a visit to Stirling, the discovery of the Trossachs Park and a visit to a whiskey distillery with tasting of course. If you are not a whiskey fan, you may also prefer to choose to visit Doune Castle instead.
- Visit the Highlands on the Hogwarts Express! – Harry Potter fan favorite trick 😉
- Excursion to discover the lakes and castles of Scotland: visit in a small group (maximum 16 people) to Doune Castle and Argyl Castle, stop in front of Stirling and Kilchurn Castle. Passage by Callander, Loch Luibnaig, Loch Fyne and Loch Lomond.
- From Edinburgh – St Andrew and Fife fishing village: visit the historic and picturesque villages of the Kingdom of Fife and the medieval town of St Andrews where the oldest university in Scotland is located. Discovery of Falkland, one of the most beautiful villages in the country.
- From Edinburgh – Outlander Tour: Small-group tour of the filming locations of the Outlander series, adapted from the novels by Diana Gabaldon.
- From Edinburgh: Rosslyn Chapel and Scottish Borders: day trip to discover Rosslyn Chapel (famous thanks to the film Da Vinci Code) and the remarkable Melrose Abbey founded by the Cistercians.
If you chose the road trip option:
After collecting your car, head to Glencoe, approximately 3 hours’ drive from Edinburgh.
The village is the starting point for many walks in the Highlands. Choose the one that seems most suitable to you depending on the duration and difficulty.
For example, you can do the Lochan Trails walks or a longer hike like Pap of Glencoe which allows you to reach the summit of the mountain of the same name. The view at the top is just superb! For the latter, allow around 4 hours for the round trip.
Another famous hike in the area is the Lost Valley, lasting around 2 to 3 hours.
Do not hesitate to inquire at the Glencoe Visitor Center for the different possible hiking trails.
Spend the night at Fort Williams, 25 minutes from Glencoe.
The next day, for the rest of your 4 or 5 day itinerary in Scotland, leave for the famous Loch Ness!
The Loch is the second largest in the country and lies between Inverness and Fort Augustus, a 1.5 hour drive from Fort William.
In the morning, I suggest you head towards Fort Augustus which offers beautiful views and which, above all, is the starting point for cruises on Loch Ness.
You can choose between the quiet version by tourist boat or the faster version by zodiac. In any case, you can try to see the monster!
After the boat trip and a good lunch break, head to the village of Drumnadrochit (40 minutes by car). There you can visit Urquhart Castle, a medieval castle built on the banks of the Loch.
To combine the 2 key activities to do at Loch Ness, namely the cruise and Urquhart Castle, you can also opt for an excursion for only €25 per person. It includes 1 hour by boat on Loch Ness and a visit to the castle. You must book it in advance right here.
If you are not too tired and you have time left, you can then go a little further up towards Inverness, capital of the Highlands to take a look at its castle.
On the way back, stop at Dores, a cute little village with a beautiful view of Loch Ness.
Return to Fort William for a second night in the Highlands.
Do not hesitate to read our detailed article on the Highlands: What to do in the Highlands?
Tips for your Scotland itinerary
Another tour option for the second day in the Highlands (instead of Loch Ness) can be to go to Glenfinnan, 30 minutes from Fort William. This is where the Jacobite Express passes every day on the famous 21-arch viaduct, where the film “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was filmed. There are several beautiful walks to do nearby.
Accommodation in the Highlands
- Fort William Backpackers: Located in downtown Fort William. Dormitory bed from €22. The best: the warm atmosphere, the welcome, the location.
- Ben Nevis Hotel & Leisure Club: Located 1.5 km from Fort William. Double room in pure traditional Scottish style from €100 per night, breakfast included. The extras: heated indoor swimming pool, free parking, full breakfast.
- Nevis Bank Inn: Located on the banks of the Nevis River, 10 minutes from the center of Fort William. Spacious and warm double room from €190 per night, breakfast included. The pluses: the friendly staff, the cleanliness, the good hotel restaurant.
- Inverlochy Castle Hotel: 5 star hotel located 6 km from Fort William. The establishment is in fact a small castle which offers double rooms with views of the gardens and the summit of Glen Nevis from €550, breakfast included. The most: the sumptuous and extraordinary setting, the very generous breakfast, the attentive staff. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in the Highlands.
Day 5: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
And there you have it, you have already arrived at the fifth day of this day Scotland itinerary.
Today we will have to think about getting closer to Edinburgh and for that I suggest you go through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The Loch is the largest in the country and the national park is also the first in terms of size.
Here you can see superb landscapes and lots of sheep!
On the trip to Trossachs Park, first reach Tarbet (1h40 from Fort William) where you can take a cruise on the loch.
Then continue to Luss (towards the South), a village known for its view of the Loch then pass through Balloch. Allow 15 minutes of driving between the 2.
In the afternoon, you can go for a hike to Conic Hill, the summit of which offers a panorama of Loch Lomond but also the entire east coast.
Before returning to Edinburgh, pass by Doune Castle, a pretty little medieval castle and don’t forget to stop to visit Stirling Castle, one of the largest in Scotland. You can buy your entry tickets directly here.
From Stirling, you will still have about an hour’s drive to reach Edinburgh.
Tips for your Scotland itinerary
If your tour in Scotland only lasts 4 days, you can spend just one day in the Highlands instead of 2.
Or, if you don’t want to do as much driving, you can also spend 2 full days at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park by skipping the stage in the Highlands.
Between a cruise and the numerous hikes, there is no risk of getting bored! And Loch Lomond is only 1 hour 45 minutes from Edinburgh instead of 3 hours for the Highlands.
You can also stay in Edinburgh for the entire duration of your stay and take day trips.
Don’t hesitate to give us your opinions and suggestions on our 5-day Scotland itinerary!
Are you going to Scotland? Read also
Discover all our articles on Scotland: All tips about Scotland are listed here.
- Itinerary: A week in Scotland – The ultimate itinerary to visit Scotland in 7-8 days
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Scotland – Our recommended itinerary to visit Scotland in 14-15 days
- Edinburgh: Top 20 things to do and must see
- 2-3 Days in Isle of Skye: Itinerary with Top 20 Things to Do
- 2-3 Days in Glasgow: Itinerary with Top 20 Things to Do