7 days of iconic sightseeing in the west of Scotland
The west of Scotland has it all: culture, castles, striking islands, seafood specialities, towering mountains and mystical lochs. Take a scenic drive from Glasgow, and see all the top sights for yourself, experiencing the irresistible charm of the locals at every stop.
Luckily, VisitScotland have planned it all out for you with this seven-day itinerary. Discover the highlights of the west and see how much you can pack into your trip!
Begin with a day discovering Glasgow's culture. Scotland's biggest city is renowned for its style, energy and huge personality, so it's the perfect place to start.
See all the city's best bits from the top seat of a double decker bus! With multi-lingual guided tours, a great view of the city and plenty of fascinating facts, this is a fabulous way to get acquainted with a brand new city.
Located right in the heart of Glasgow, The Lighthouse is Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Housed in the former Glasgow Herald building, it was the first public commission of Glasgow's own Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Admire the panoramic views of the city from the top floor, and check out the artworks and exhibitions on display.
Glasgow's trendy West End is home to Kelvingrove, a free museum packed with over 8,000 intriguing objects and artefacts. The museum houses an extraordinary collection of art, from the Dutch Old Masters and the French Impressionists, to perhaps its most famous piece, Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali.
Afterwards, take a wander along Byres Road, a pleasant, bustling street lined with a variety of independent shops. You'll find some great places to eat and drink in this part of town - be sure to try Ashton Lane for a few local hot spots. Glasgow also has superb accommodation options, so you can rest and recharge your batteries after a busy day in the city.
Leave the city in your rear view mirror and drive towards the 'bonnie banks' of Loch Lomond. Here, you can start to unwind with a spot of pampering and a big dose of fresh air. You can rent a car in Glasgow from several locations - the drive to Loch Lomond should take about an hour and a half.
Indulge with a lengthy luncheon at this magnificent baronial mansion, where you'll find a selection of restaurants and brasseries, including the Michelin-star Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond. Golfers can tee off at the 18-hole championship course, and there's also a tranquil spa, complete with a rooftop infinity pool.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is a hiker's paradise, with stunning vistas in every direction. Lace up your boots and explore the Luss Heritage Trail, a lovely short walk around a quaint loch-side village. Alternatively, why not spend another day here and challenge yourself to something a little more strenuous? The most southerly Munro Ben Lomond, Ben A'an, and The Cobbler are all rewarding climbs nearby.
Take in the glorious views of Loch Lomond from the top of this eight-metre-high, pyramid-shaped viewing platform on the west side of the loch, made entirely from sustainable timber. The perfect spot for a selfie!
Dragging yourselves away from Loch Lomond might be tricky, but there are islands, boat trips and many more adventures ahead! Upon arrival in Oban, take the Calmac ferry across to the Isle of Mull and explore this island for the day, before heading back to the harbour town for a stroll and some of Scotland's finest seafood.
Embark on an exhilarating ferry crossing from Oban to Craignure, and keep your eyes peeled for Duart Castle in the distance, or even a few seals bobbing out at sea. When you arrive, catch the bus and go north to the isle's 'capital' of Tobermory, and explore this wee port town with its distinctive row of pastel-coloured houses. There's a distillery, a local museum and several pubs here too.
Step off the ferry and stretch your legs by taking the short climb from the town centre up to McCaig's Tower to admire the views across the bay and towards the isles.
If you haven't yet experienced this region's top quality seafood, what are you waiting for? Oban is Scotland's seafood capital and is famous for its flavoursome feasts. Along the harbour, fresh catch is hauled straight from the shores and onto your dinner plate. Enjoy!
Now it's time to visit one of the most striking and other-worldly places in Scotland. The A82 road through Glen Coe takes you into a deep valley carved out by glaciers. The sheer size of the valley ridges will make you feel tiny in comparison.
The glen has lived through a turbulent and dramatic history, leaving an atmospheric imprint on the landscape. Stop for a cup of tea at the eco-friendly visitor centre, before going on a short walk to the infamous location of the Massacre of Glencoe of 1692.
With towering peaks looming out of every window, the cosy Clachaig Inn has made room for weary travellers for over 300 years. It's the perfect place to stop and refuel after a day in the outdoors. Get to know the locals and try some of the regional ales and beers, or settle down for a hearty pub dinner.
This exciting section of the trip will take you past some spellbinding Highland landscapes before crossing over to the Isle of Skye. Stop the car to admire the views at Glen Sheil, before taking the A87 across the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh to discover this famous isle.
Lying in the shadow of the imposing Cuillins, Broadford will be the first town you come to after crossing the bridge. Stretch your legs and stock up on some picnic supplies here - you'll need some fuel for the rest of the day.
Gazing out at these peaks might help you understand why Skye's name comes from the ancient Norse meaning 'cloud island'. The mist-enshrouded Cuillin peaks will delight all walkers, whether you fancy a gentle amble or an energetic hike. Visit Walk Highlands for more information about routes or watch this 360° video. Always check the conditions before you head out.
Portree is a great base for exploring the island, so it might be wise to book a cosy B&B here. Skye's busiest hub, travellers and locals are always coming in and out of the town. There are plenty of dining options and you might find yourself getting to know the islanders on a merry pub crawl.
With sensible shoes and waterproofs at the ready, embrace the rugged natural features of Skye's northernmost corners on foot, before learning more about Skye's clan legends at Dunvegan Castle and raising a toast to a brilliant day with a dram from the Talisker Distillery.
It's easy to get distracted by Skye's natural beauty, but the island is also filled with folklore and centuries-old history. Built on a rock in an idyllic loch-side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and has been home to the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
Finish off the day with a Talisker Distillery tour and enjoy the sweet tastes of the island's full-bodied whisky before heading back to Portree for the night. Make sure to book a tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you've got more time to extend your trip, spend another day on Skye. When it's finally time to drive back, you can break up the five-and-a-half-hour drive to Glasgow with a couple more scenic sights. Why not stop at one of Scotland's most photographed castles, or see the train that took Harry Potter to Hogwarts?
On the shores of Loch Duich, Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland's most recognisable castles, situated on its very own island at the point where three sea lochs meet. You might have already seen it on a shortbread tin or a postcard!
As you travel south, take a little detour at Fort William to see the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct, which featured in the Harry Potter films. The steam train travels to Mallaig along the West Highland Line - perhaps an adventure for the next time you come to Scotland?
A lovely little half-way stop, the Green Welly has become a famous place for road trippers travelling through Scotland. Take a well-earned break here, pick up some Scottish souvenirs in the gift shop and enjoy a cup of tea and a homemade scone in the café.
It's certainly been a busy seven days, but all good things come to an end. Your camera will be bursting with beautiful pictures and memories from the west, so once you're back in Glasgow, enjoy a little bit of chill time to reflect on your adventures.
Next time you come to Scotland, why not consider doing seven days in the east of Scotland?